CJ Muchhala – Four Poems



After “Children Dancing on the Strand” (oil on canvas)
by George William Russell, 1914

The Moon Goddess wakens the Daughters of Man
The Beautiful Boys lie dreaming
Through the undertow of sleep
They hear a whisper of feet
As the Young Girls flee to the strand

We are mist, we are song as we dance through the night
We are mist , we are song, dancing dark into light
while the Beautiful Boys lie dreaming

The Moon Goddess rides the waves into morning
The dancers return to their rooms, to their beds
The dance is forgotten, the song is a dream
But their hair is knotted with silver

We are mist, we are song, as we dance through the night
We are mist, we are song, dancing dark into light
on the milky sands of the strand

Moonset Over the Gulf

Luna moves
like a reluctant swimmer
who gives a sharp intake of breath
when her toes first encounter
cold surf and hesitates
after each step forward

or like a regal bride
slowly descending the staircase
to the bridegroom
waiting at the bottom step
with outstretched arms, a warm smile.

The kiss, though, will be cold
and Luna, leaden, will shrink
at the sea’s touch the way a swimmer’s
skin tightens in the lapping waves.

Luna, who rose without fanfare,
who guarded our dreaming selves
and all the darkened land,
all its creatures,
will fade beneath the watery foam
while we turn to watch, awed,
another sun rising.

fugue state

driving the length of Illinois

a few farmhouses    indistinct shapes
intervals far between
miles of factory farms        black slurry on exhausted fields

a hard wind snags on barbed wire    flapping
grasses dulled by cold    bend    under fog

shadow trees       emerge       merge
not even a crow
just one vertical slash       limbs leafless

pencil lines dotted with birds a fugue       soaring    plunging
amid stick poles drawing those lines through glaze

the odd bird       like a stray note       hovers
& me at the wheel      raveling

endless miles behind      endless miles ahead

How to Take a Real Sauna If You’re a


Sit for an hour or more on the middle shelf/steam wreathing your fervent face/pour
water on the rocks/be a four-beer bather/ but come out for your shot of whiskey/
your woman as chaser.


Move like the High Priestess of Sauna—precise, measured steps through the grass/
hands carefully folded around soap, shampoo, washcloth, lotion/never venture beyond
the lowest shelf/emerge with shining face and pinned-up hair/and heated.


Take the topmost shelf/pour buckets of water on the rocks/listen to the music of hiss
and crackle until your breath won’t come/then leap on sweat-slicked antelope legs
from sauna step to grass to dock/your lean body angling towards the lake/seeking
a baptism of ice.


Author’s Statement on Beauty

I have no words to describe beauty except through poetry—my own and that of others. When I’m open to it, all my senses are engaged and combine to create an experience beyond each individual sense. In my work I try to recreate, not the subject, but that effect, which is beauty. This planet is its epitome.


CJ Muchhala’s work has appeared in numerous anthologies, print and on-line publications, in art / poetry installations, and on CD-ROM and audio CD. Recent poems can be found in Birdsong (Foothills Publishing), The Absence of Something Specified, and Words & Other Wild Things—a Collection for Children (Brick Street Poetry). Early poems are collected in the chapbooks Traveling Without a Map and March Madness, later work in an assortment of broadsides, bookmarks and handmade, hand-bound “little” books.  She lives in Shorewood, Wisconsin.