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Tuesday, October 19, 2010


by Rochelle Owens

There goes a Gila monster
in the beginning
of the triumphant twenty-first century
there goes a Gila reptile
following soundlessly
soundlessly following
is a Gila monster a mute animal
a monster of brilliant color
there goes a Gila reptile
studded with yellow and black
beadlike tubercules
there goes a beautiful reptile
with lidless eyes
devoid of dread and shame
in harmony with the microscopic algae
in harmony with a zygote in a moist habitat
in harmony with a basil plant
in harmony with fern and poison mushroom
there goes a cold-blooded Gila monster
a cold-blooded messenger
an ingenious reptile
seeking and smelling insects fruit rodents
the aromatic plants
in harmony with hibiscus and sand dunes
in harmony with chemical molecules
with amphibians and their larvae
with layers of water
in harmony with jellyfish corals and seaworms
with giant redwood trees
in harmony with mammals scorpions fish
crustaceans and turtles
in harmony with layers of water
in harmony with symmetry with layers of water
in harmony with Alpha and Omega
in harmony with the rays of the sun 

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. "Ode to a Gila Monster" is Rochelle Owens' fifteenth New Verse News poem.