Daniel Lusk – Asp of Jerusalem

Lusk profile Dec 2020

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing, Volume Two, December 2020.

Daniel Lusk is author of several poetry collections and other books, among them The Shower Scene from Hamlet, The Vermeer Suite, and a memoir, Girls I Never Married.  Well-known for his teaching, he also has been a Visiting Poet at The Frost Place (Franconia, NH), Eigse Carlow Arts Festival (Ireland), and Juniata College (Huntingdon, PA), and a Resident Fellow at Stranmillis University College-Queens (Belfast, N.I.), Yaddo (Saratoga Springs, N.Y.), and The MacDowell Colony (Peterborough, N.H.). His genre-bending essay, “Bomb” (New Letters), was awarded a Pushcart Prize.

Asp of Jerusalem

Also cabbage blue.
Fierce, the Picts of old
were the cabbage men.

It was after berry-picking
somewhere Illinois.
A stranger. Invited to join
naked swimmers in a pond.

They were not attractive.
They were young.

Like being in a play in which
the poet Pablo Neruda plays himself.
So far from home and no regrets.

In the aspens yellow-bellied sapsuckers
laughed themselves blue.

Dawn at Seapoint

County Dublin, Ireland

First the blue water, pale
and reverential. Seen from a broad window
above the rooftops, past the dog-blind
skylights of shadow buildings
off Belgrave Square.

Now pearl grey-and-sand glass sea.
Almost spirit approaching imperceptibly,
cleaving to the far edge of horizon
whence it comes.

A winking buoy warning no one
echoed by glimmering lights of Howth
beyond and shadow mountains of Wales
farther on across the way.

A single bird pedals over the soldiering
silhouettes of stoic chimney pots.
The baleful cry of a black-backed gull
harks to the frail quality of mercy
that envelopes the sleeping town.

Glow of a streetlight off a brick hedge
by the seafront. No cyclist on the road,
no dog-walker, no swimmer with rolled togs
under her arm returning home.

A blackbird pipes from a garden wall.
Wood pigeon and taxi man,
like my father born this day in June, yet asleep.


County Donegal, Ireland

The cliffs here
refuse the sea,
over and over

and over. Yet
see this rock fall—

in a thousand years,
they yield.

Every Slow Thing


Awoke, alone
in a hotel room, a word
in my mouth.

There is beauty
in every slow thing.

Tonight O’Hare Airport
a woman materializes
among the teeming crowd.

How light clings to her shift,
shaping her as mountain slopes
and glades of light and shade.

Isthmus, I say to no one
as if…isthmus she moves

a languid symmetry.
As if translucent,
a liquefaction of shadow and light.

Call her Isthmus. Or Jeroboam.
I say it in a whisper: Jeroboam.

Chicago, I say to myself. Rococo.
The noisy crowd
has fallen away. Pulse
of the room decrescendo.

And she approaches like a…
tidal shift, a mirage at sea perhaps.
What errand? What insouciance.

Hello, I want to say.
Enchanté. But nothing entre nous.

© Daniel Lusk