Lisken Van Pelt Dus is a poet, teacher, and martial artist living in western Massachusetts. Her poems can be found in numerous journals, including Conduit, The Comstock Review, and Main Street Rag, and her first poetry collection, Everywhere at Once, was published this year by Pudding House Press.




A column of energy
has gone out coiled from our love

circling now
ribboning in and out of clouds

flashes of white like egrets in a row
emerging from low fog

necklaces against dark hills
flying towards water

sweet surge
as it moves through me

moves through me

moves me.



Even after the tasting
what should we call it –

the bliss and plunge, the juice
of what was before
something completely different.
We broke the skin of it.

A as in Apple, a primal
fallacy of ease that falls
at the first plucking
and each time thereafter,
the burst a sidestep
into something else entirely.

Once we’ve eaten it, the scent
becomes us. The wonder
is that we guessed at it,
and bit.



Spread wide open like a book cracked
at the spine, flesh streaming
across the page of my ribs,
my redness the sound of
trumpets, love, and agony –

I cannot live as if the end
were in sight, always
burning and breaking.

Still I regret the ransom –
words I will never speak,
gods unattended,
stories not bestowed on me
like blood scent.

Lisken Van Pelt Dus 0029-iv
Considering the Letter

Despite the dangers,
it is inevitable
that it will be written
and sent, dropped
into a slot of no return:

what is said, said.

Everything else –

(this is the hope)
just as clear.



The windshield wipers passing back and forth
like a lullaby while I lay in the back
of the station-wagon.

The one-two of the screen door bouncing
when I ran out of the seaside cottage,
while inside an old man reached slowly for his book
and his wife sang in the kitchen.

Summer layered on my body –
sand and salt and heat
dark energy waking my awareness –
pulling atom from atom,
atom from self.

And a later remnant – an orange grove
enclosed in a stone courtyard,
its smell of deep green opening leaf by leaf
as the sun struck.

I was somewhere between child and adult,
sat all day in the grove,
bringing the oranges in and out of my vision,
hearing the flux of footsteps and conversation
come and go.

With gratitude I understand now
the old ones’ slowness.