To begin ...

As the twentieth century fades out
the nineteenth begins
it is as if nothing happened
though those who lived it thought
that everything was happening
enough to name a world for & a time
to hold it in your hand
unlimited.......the last delusion
like the perfect mask of death

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Rochelle Owens: Hermaphropoetics / Brown Dust

[What follows is the sixth installment of Rochelle Owens’ Hermaphropoetics, a work in progress that continues the poetic & mythopoetic reach of her oeuvre as it has come to us since the 1960s.  For me she remains, as she was when we first came to know her, a poet who bends the resources of language toward the revelation & creation of a new & always startling vision of the real & more-than-real.  As I wrote of her back then: There is a voice in Owens’ work … like a fierce and unrelenting force of nature. Sharp and visual, she combines a landscape with a poetics, the domestic with the mythic, machines with the organic living world from which arises a construct and a fused vision: poetry and life.”  The photo image of the field on Mars that accompanies “Brown Dust” is a good example of what her work makes possible. (J.R.)]

The camera zooms and pans
blinking in and out   sunlight/blackness
a glass of ice water sparkles

The hermaphrodite
seated on the stump of a tree
his teeth overlapping
out of her mouth protrudes his tongue

Hibiscus   goose grass   leaves   mango
she could feel the shape of colors
the flesh of the apple   drinking colors
Blood of the months of the year

Four bearded elders linking arms
circling clockwise
every day bears the data   sweat   mucus 
tears   urine   corkscrews of earwax

A strange rain   vertical/horizontal
layers of brown dust   light   heat
see the subjects
spectacular the photos  

Photos of a master photographer
focusing her lens
the physical poetic   eyes seeing
an asymmetrical form

Blinking in and out   sunlight/blackness
eyes seeing
the size of the skeleton   the bones  
the shape of the head  

Micrographic photographs 
eye sockets   thickness of fat layers
eyes seeing a slit in the stalk  
blood seeping

The hermaphrodite emptied of allegory
 seated on the stump of a tree
The hermaphrodite
her/his body swaying side to side
one foot sunk in mud   a hand dangling
out of the frame

A flush of wet hot air burning
her neck and face
five musicians chanting   drumming
squatting on their heels

Sinuous the rhythms beneath the skin
the nerves   spirals of veins
fibrous tendons
twisting   zigzagging

Six bearded elders linking arms
circling   circling clockwise
a boy warrior with pierced nipples
Her soaring paper thin shoulderblades 

green and pale the scrotal lily

The muscles of his onion-shaped calves
spasmodic in the dust
an impure creation captured after the siege

Teasing femme/homme
her henna-dyed palms   his fingers
working black kohl  
the inner and outer eyelids

Rose gold the eyes of the hermaphrodite  
molecular the creeping tension
the flow of hormonal forces

Every day bears the data
a master photographer  altering
perception   the ruinscape disappearing
signs and wonders

In the concrete space   audio recordings   
fluorescent bulbs protruding  
a little girl dangling
a  vinyl mask

A little boy wearing harem pants
fickle he saunters by   the taste of her sweat  
seawater   his/her body  

Wedding bells   Wedding cake  
berries and apricots under the veil 
joyful the bridegroom
lifting the veil

A long curved fingernail
tracing the cleft  
pale and red the folds   slashes
of color seeping

the flower vulva cut away

Eight warlords singing
linking arms   circling   circling clockwise
bulbous and blood-packed
 their lips

Nine chanting the legend
waxing poetic  
a legend of a child falling out of the sky
see the photos   sunlight/blackness

A white swan shimmering
in scene after scene   a strange rain   vertical
/horizontal   blinking in and out
piles of rocks

Fluorescent bulbs protruding
a figure trussed and lying down
A camera flash

a glass of ice water sparkles

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