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Monday, March 10, 2008


by Rochelle Owens

The paupers ears are drawn
with a quill-point a beautiful form
a calligraphy that is a curved stroke
like the letter C and the C multiplies
becoming cumulus clouds and paupers ears
the paupers ears are pale yellow silk
sliding through henna stained fingers
of the wealthy woman from Delhi whose
gift to her son her only son is a gift
a gift of a red stone bought from a global
market trafficking in human kidneys
whose only son has the dark blue skin
of Siva and Siva wears a rugby shirt
racing his chariot contracting his biceps
his skin mild moist racing his chariot
a bronze Hummer a gift from the wealthy
woman from Delhi her pale yellow sari
a glowing streak of light layers of silk
winding around Kali’s waist the folds
cascading down becoming cumulus clouds
and paupers ears her bloody thumbs and
index fingers knot and tuck cumulus clouds
and paupers ears and swirling around
Kali’s feet and toes light rays of sovereignty
sovereignty under the skin fat muscle
and bone sovereignty is a cutting tool
mass-produced like the toy monkeys
rattling spiral seashells the jingling bangles
of the deaf paupers the flutes sitars
the tam tam gongs

Rochelle Owens is the author of eighteen books of poetry and plays, the most recent of which are Plays by Rochelle Owens (Broadway Play Publishing, 2000) and Luca, Discourse on Life and Death (Junction Press, 2001). A pioneer in the experimental off-Broadway theatre movement and an internationally known innovative poet, she has received Village Voice Obie awards and honors from the New York Drama Critics Circle. Her plays have been presented worldwide and in festivals in Edinburgh, Avignon, Paris, and Berlin. Her play Futz, which is considered a classic of the American avant-garde theatre, was produced by Ellen Stewart at LaMama, directed by Tom O’Horgan and performed by the LaMama Troupe in 1967, and was made into a film in 1969. A French language production of Three Front was produced by France-Culture and broadcast on Radio France. She has been a participant in the Festival Franco-Anglais de Poésie, and has translated Liliane Atlan’s novel Les passants, The Passersby (Henry Holt, 1989). She has held fellowships from the NEA, Guggenheim, Rockefeller, and numerous other foundations. She has taught at the University of California, San Diego and the University of Oklahoma and held residencies at Brown and Southwestern Louisiana State.