O W E N L U C A S | Monsoon 2014
DUKE ELLINGTON : Rude Interlude
It has been adequately written that life
Is an interlude of distorted noise
Between two crackling fields of silence,
And to state so is uncontroversial--
With a volley of broken chords we fall
Out of utero. There is a pause for breath,
And then a long, slow swell. Wah-waaah.
The measure of our life crunches forward.
At each second count, a knuckle of ivory,
And our bodies stagger into their shapes.
Somewhere around the age of twelve,
We develop a peculiar sass. The trumpet
Adopts a harmon tone and swallows its
Purity; so, we squelch on into adulthood.
At the turn of the third decade, we find
A sonorous voice blowing from our lips.
We startle, then recognise it as our own.
A sudden wind, and summer palms off
Its colours in a bluster of clarinets.
Curtains of brass are drawing down,
Curtains of brass and pearl draw down :
A bucketful of green pondwater, the voice
Of our maturity sloshes from its vessel.
The horns swell vigorously, and it is as if
A bridge of light bolstered in our view.
The recording ends abruptly with a tamp
On the hi-hat. We are convinced, however,
That we hear a reiteration, in the restless
Silence, of the first three broken chords.
It is eleven o'clock
And a sound hangs in the air
That says you are undressed,
Having eaten no breakfast.
Your keys, cercle des étoiles,
Are by the vase of painted
Juliets; further, you recall
That you sang last night low
And sweet your father's
Father's name twelve times
And retired stoopingly
From public life, considering
Yourself Grace Kelly,
And engaged to a grandiose
And lunatic authority.
The kettle clicks and a pleat
Of steam follows a pleat
Of steam up out of it: “Blute,
“Blute, ich blute, ich blüte.”
You prepare to recite from
An internal register the blustering
Total of your functions.
Owen Lucas is a British writer living in Norwalk, Connecticut. His poetry, fiction and translations have been published in more than thirty journals in the US, Britain and Canada. During 2013, twenty-two of his ekphrasis poems were serialized by Mountain Tales Press. Other recent credits include Off the Coast, Vector Press,Pacifica, Lost in Thought, RiverLit, Contemporary Poetry 2 and Paper Nautilus,with new work out soon in Qwerty and Free State Review.