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14th Anniversary Edition, Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Volume One Nov-Dec 2023
Murmurs from the Dark Side of the Moon,
poems by Daniel Lusk.
Murmurs from the Dark Side of the Moon
With a holy host of others standing round me…
James Taylor, “Carolina in My Mind”
Dawn light meager.
Garden bare of melted snow
and pages of a borrowed book open
on my lap gone dim.
My eyes closed to envision how
a school of fish charged by a seal
will flow as one around
the whiskered assailant on account
of sensors called “the lateral line”
even if the fish are blind.
Something about science of the 17th century,
down 200 years and now
I am asleep, rocking on the undersea,
waves of unknowing, away.
Once, gazing at a gibbous moon, I appeared
(she would attest and suddenly awake)
at the bedside of a lover miles away.
What heavy touch upon my hand
recalls me from the depth and distance
of my drowse? What bold stroke
on the parchment of my skin
familiar as my mother’s voice?
Not rough: was it sweet, sour,
bitter or salt?
Am I a star-nosed mole to discern
in the glistening soil of daydream
the subtle intentions of such arrest?
Does one die so?
Was I “away” or nearly, to be called back
so summarily to myself?
Reflections on a 10th Century Fragment
—Central India, red sandstone, Davis Art Museum, Wellesley
A discreet elbow of the art museum,
the lower torso of a Yakshi—semi-divine,
notes the label on the wall. Location unknown.
Also lost, her naked wrists and ankles, their bangles,
her feminine abundances. A sprite fond of trees.
Coleridge in mufti stands transfixed, ignoring
agnostic admonitions not to idolize an icon.
The raddled hem of her garment,
subtle mons, tensile thigh poised as if a moment
in her hypnotic dance.
A goddess manque. Boat of a pelvis
meant to rock. Like the truncated mannequin
at L’Ivresse (a shop in Essex-on-Onion),
also without, except the suggestive twist
of knickers with (imagine) Ashoka flower lace.
Next to the foxy mannequin derriere,
as sister poet blew intoxicating verbal smoke
and veiled allusions, he dreamt eyes
soft as flowers and other figments of desire.
Mystery, how one fragment implies a fractal,
merges with another (all time being one time),
centuries ancient and at the reading yesterday.
A goddess is a goddess.
Paused a moment. Torque
of heart’s rest—nada that follows
each r-wave blip on the EKG monitor when spirit
animates flesh (skips a beat). Augurs admiration.
Look here: We all have a ticket to ride
(mind the gap). An iamb then a prayer.
…then there came down to the thither bank
a woman of no appearance, James Joyce, Finnegan’s Wake
A muted commercial on TV:
two young ones in one-pc swimsuits
leap from a dock into a pool
under water bare feet, bare legs—
mask of my face whelmed by the sense of water,
scent of chlorine. I am immersed
in the world of memory, a refuge.
My father was a musician:
for proof, when I was seven
I walked to school in my mother’s shoes.
A baritone reassuring, when
he sang us to sleep, as a saxophone.
Musing on the animus of Opera:
the azure and umber echolocation
of the coloratura soprano who quickens
pulses of introverts among us:
will she won’t she shed her skin
unbuttoning her climactic C or avian E♭.
A dream of Paris: picture in your ears
the clunking of my heart
as I enter on descending stairs
of the Musee d’Orsay
to idle among Impressionists with Camus.
In the arching hallways—voices
“Enchante´.” “Enchanté, Cherie.”
The puzzle of Courbet’s “Studio”
laid bare: the painter’s model a voyeur
Iseult, to her mirror image
in Joyce’s book—and everyone knows,
you do look lovely in your invisibles.
Consider Lady G in our time:
a walk about the neighborhood.
Old one with an eye for beauty
pruning roses in the front garden
stops chewing his tongue.
A workman with a gold tooth
who had been staring down
into an open manhole in the street
—his flashlight of a grin.
A dogwalker, oblivious
to the woman in a business suit,
small mutt growling in her handbag.
The doorman at the Foley, whistle
in his mouth, withdraws his finger
from the air to touch his cap.
A clutch of bare-chested basketball
players in the pocket park turn their heads
in unison as if she had whispered…
Has she escaped, was never such,
abroad on an errand of no consequence?
Put off her garment to try another
and bemused by the scent of cinnamon?
Would each one swear to what
they saw or keep her close,
an intimacy and therefore holy?
© Daniel Lusk
Daniel Lusk is author of eight poetry collections and other books, most recently Every Slow Thing, poems (Kelsay Books 2022), and Farthings, eBook (Yavanika Press 2022), His work is published widely in literary journals and his genre-bending essay “Bomb” (New Letters) was awarded a Pushcart Prize. Native of the prairie Midwest and a former commentator on books for NPR, he is a Senior Lecturer of English Emeritus at the University of Vermont (USA).