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, September 24, 2020

PATTERNS OF ANIMUS: A New Poem by Rochelle Owens

[For some years now, Rochelle Owens has been a regular contributor to Poems and Poetics & before that a key part of the poetry world which many of us have shared with her.  Of the power of her work, Marjorie Perloff has written: “… brilliantly inventive, immensely learned, sophisticated, and witty in its conceits. She is, in many ways, a proto-language poet, her marked ellipses, syntactic oddities, and dense and clashing verbal surfaces. Hers is a universe of stark gesture, lightning flash, and judgment, a poetic microstructure in its superb modulations of rhythms and internal rhymes, its ironies and paradoxes. … Owens's lyric voice is unique among contemporary poets. An astonishing body of work.”  For all of its ongoing changes (the symmetry of her strophes in the present instance), that assessment, I think, still holds true. (J.R.)]

 Etched onto                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            the metal plate  zigzags

of black angles  




chasms and fissures

in the earth  the engraver draws

a  geometric form


fatal the design 


when your eyes move

vibrating subatomic particles

split  vertical/horizontal 


spirals of colors pulsate


through the gaps

of your fingers circles of

burning silver


light into heat


earth yields dandelion  

yields lemon trees  biomorphic

geomorphic  polymorphic


through the gaps


of your fingers 

a glass of ice water sparkles

red violet the light


of early morning




The scenic order

tells the story of the noble

and ignoble


like the bone at the end


of your little finger                                                                                    2

the distal phalanx  tells the story

of  your hand 


like the tail and stinger


tells the story

of the scorpion long ago 

an hour ago

only a minute 


through the gaps of

your fingers spirals of colors

pulsate  red violet                                                                                                   


the light of early morning




Molecular the skin’s mind moving

back and forth




In the swamp near

the palace  a dead paysanne floats

a dead paysanne floats


in the swamp near the palace 


in the drizzle and wind of

early morning  moving back and

forth  drifting in circles


microscopic algae


harmonious with mold

and fungus  evoke the rhythm

of spontaneous change  


the flesh of the apple


moving back and forth

front to back  her bulbous tongue

and blood-packed eyes


her broken knuckles                                                                                                         3                                                                                                                                                                                        


blowing kisses along

the folds of her neck  the burned

skin of her palms


the Universe contracts

                                e  x  p  a  n  d  s


on her inner thigh

a tattoo of a scorpion  animal soul

spiritual hole  carnal/spiritual                                                                                          


Behold  Amadeus!




A jagged black line

zigzags  chasms and fissures

in the earth 


patterns of animus



biomorphic  geomorphic  polymorphic 

a flow of hormonal forces 


the bacterial slime


amorous the greedy seed 

mosquitoes amass  rotate in circles 

soaring  hovering 


moving back and forth 



a pale green lily emerges

from the swamp


long ago  an hour ago 


only a minute




Inside the kitchen

of the palace  the smell  of                                                                                                4

fat  suet  tallow                                                                                                            


meat on a grill


‘salt for the stew

salt for the butter’ sings my

good daughter


morning to evening


evening to morning

an unlit cigar in the butcher’s

mouth  ‘shoot you 


cut you  stomp you too’


morning to evening 

evening to morning  no teeth

to bite  no claws to maul


blood in  blood out




In the swamp near

the palace  a dead paysanne floats 

a dead paysanne floats


in the swamp near the palace 


in the drizzle and wind of

early morning  the heavy blade

moves back and forth 


hacks off bones 


front to back  vertical/

horizontal  the heavy blade

moves back to front 


hacks off diseased parts


moves back and forth

hacks off hard skin  moves front

to back  vertical/horizontal


hacks off tails  heads


work is a binding

obligation a set of skills in                                                                                        

sequential order


‘shoot you  cut you


stomp you too 

no teeth to bite  no claws to maul

salt for the stew 


salt for the butter’


sings my good daughter

on the fat folds of her neck

dark marks of burns


between her thighs


the black rose




Inside the stable

in the zone diverging from

a course of events 


past  present  future


the engraver draws

archetypal scenes  staged

and scripted


out of a lost narrative 


the mute eye witness

sees  through the gaps of

your fingers 


a kneeling figure


the feet enclosed

in sandals  on the fat folds

of her neck


dark marks of burns                                                                                            6


the mute eye witness sees

the contours of arms  shoulders

through the gaps


of your fingers


moving back and forth

death strapped into riding boots

each successive image                                                                                  


splits vertical/horizontal


like subatomic particles

chasms and fissures in the earth



Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Heriberto Yépez: A Sketch on Globalization & Ethnopoetics

[The essay by Yépez following the translation, below, of Jean Louis Battre’s Portuguese poem, “The Cave,” is re-posted here as a tribute & acknowledgement of the work & thought of Mexican poet Heriberto Yépez in the development of a future-facing ethnopoetics from a perspective outside the familiar U.S. nexus.  It was originally published in the radical magazine R.A.U.L. / Red Anarcho Utopista Libre in May 2012, and a related work by Yépez, “Ethnopoetics. What Is It?” appeared earlier in Poems and Poetics.]

 The Cave

This is the cave, when the cave is denied us / These pages are the walls of the old cave again between us / The new old cave / Ancient in its primordiality / in its essential sense / there where our ancestors sat around the fire / Here those who pass are in the verses of others / my verses are yours / yours mine / my selves yours / here we are all others / and others are not alone / others are us / we are brotherhood / humanity / we pass / reading others in ourselves / and each one who passes by leaves / this desire to not die / to follow / to touch / to communicate / we are alone among ourselves / the word is the search for meaning / search for the other / search of the brother / search for something beyond / perhaps a god / the search for love / the search for nothing and everything / any search whatsoever or just the way / what can we offer to each other but our own, aloof self? / what to offer besides our not knowing? / our loneliness? / we are alone in silence, but not in the cave / each one who passes by paints the wall of this cave with its symbols / like the doors of a metaphysical bathroom / this blog is a metaphor of the cave again between us / a bathroom door / where each other / in his crowd solitude / inscribes pieces of soul in the form of anything / verses / drawings / photos / art / literature / anti-literature / deregulation / inventing / reversing reversal around the world within solitary reverse verses of themselves / soul photographs / leave your souls here / at the end of these sentences I will have died a little / but as the poet would say, no one is the father of a poem without dying before
                                                                               Jean Louis Battre, 2010


Ethnopoetics as: theory-praxis related to crossing the conventional
borders between the theory-praxis of our culture and
the theory-praxis of other cultures.

Ethnopoetics as: putting into question the way in which our culture
became “our culture”, and putting into question how
other cultures became “other cultures”.

Ethnopoetics as: thinking about the risks of building an International
(paranational) Poetics, when such enterprise could
become a tool to make global homogenization easier.

Ethnopoetics as: keeping away from the danger of conceiving the
“Past” as another opportunity to extend our extreme
consumerism even to where-when we couldn’t.

Ethnopoetics cannot become the intellectual branch of
the Retro spirit.

Ethnopoetics as: the challenge to acquire a glocal
point of view without falling in LiteraTourism.

Ethnopoetics as: the thinking of the language practices of the “Third
World”, the “Primitive” and the “Marginal-Alternative”.

Ethnopoetics as: the thinking of our categories as something we inherited and so, something we always need to put into quotation marks (denaturalize language).

Ethnopoetics as: an on-going revision of the past through the point of
the present (J. Rothenberg).

Ethnopoetics as: the serious development of an imaginary
contemporary ficto-ethnopoetics (A. Schwerner, S.
Sarduy, M. Bellatin).

Ethnopoetics as: the self-consciousness of ethnopoetics; a constant
destruction of the theory-praxis of ethnopoetics in the

Ethnopoetics as: escaping the temptation of looking outside “Western”
literature or the “Mainstream” simply because “our” own
practices have become exhausted, boring or less

Ethnopoetics as: preventing that “our/their” practices are not misused
by the “West” simply because the “West” is exhausted,
bored or in market-driven-decay.

Ethnopoetics as: criticism against the use of other-poetic-practices as
a resource to revitalize a dominant (but tired) tradition.
As if poetics from other cultures could be used in the
same pattern as oil or any “natural” or “cultural”
resource from other cultures used for its own good.

Ethnopoetics as: helping to make traditions maintain a real diversity,
with or without the building of common ground (axis).

Ethnopoetics as: the belief that traditions around the world must be
different, polar, or even incompatible.

Ethnopoetics as: politics referring to the conservation of “nature” or
“city” that made/makes possible the existence of
specific poetics practices in certain communities.

Ethnopoetics as: politics referring to the conservation of the languages
that make possible the existence of specific poetic
practices in certain communities.

Ethnopoetics as: the impossibility of dividing general poetics from
specific politics.

Ethnopoetics as: a reflection on the concept of hybridization, cross-
breeding, etc. in the areas related to languages and
language in general (in general?)

Ethnopoetics as: anthropology + philosophy + Cultural Studies +
Literature + Another

Ethnopoetics as: the study of the poetic practices of “minorities” by

Ethnopoetics as: the study of the poetics practices of “majorities” by

Ethnopoetics as: Counter-conquest (Lezama Lima).
Ethnopoetics as: Anti-translation (Nathaniel Tarn).

Ethnopoetics as: The End of “Orientalism” (Edward Said).

Ethnopoetics as: a radical critique of any attempt to “understand”
(dominate?) the discourse and works of other cultures
without building an effective dialogue in which the
“others” can directly reply to interpretations.

Ethnopoetics as: a study and experimentation of individual or
communal language-combinations such as Frenglish,
Portunhol, Spanglish, etc or the presence of various
languages in a poetic space.

Ethnopoetics as: the study of the combination of several cultures that
“share” “one” language, or use traditionally separated
strata from that “one” language, resulting in a cross-
cultural (ethnopoetic) work “without” having to go
“outside” “one” “culture” (i.e, the work of José Kozer as
using the different Spanish languages around Spain, the
U.S. and Latin America, or the use of different
levels/vocabularies/social classes of English by Bruce
Andrews in the U.S.).

Ethnopoetics as: an exercise of using other (cultures-)languages
(away from Mother Tongue) as an alternative to
becoming “Translated” or “Translating”.

Ethnopoetics as: the study of the shifts in cultural paradigms on the
poetic subject since the explorations of contemporary
ethnopoetics (from the poet as “shaman” to “rockstar”
to “D.J.”).

Ethnopoetics as: a strategy to leave behind “ethnopoetics” as a curious
branch (60’s related) of literature and make it
inseparable from poetics, until the term is useless for being
so obvious and fancy.

Ethnopoetics as: the analysis of the international/global/intercultural
field opened by technology.

Ethnopoetics as: a radical exploration of the Internet as an experiment
on ethnopoetics.

Ethnopoetics as: an experiment away from paragraph & line. If
ethnopoetics has deepened the exploration of orality,
the pictoric, other-forms-of-writing, non-page-formats,
etc, as available resources for our own purposes, it’s
necessary to see all those explorations as a first stage
to finally leave paragraph and line behind.

Ethnopoetics as: “ethno” as the permanent prefix of every poetics.
“Ethnopoetics” not just applying to the poetics of the

Ethnopoetics as: the radical search beyond the end of translation.