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Thursday, December 02, 2010


by Rochelle Owens

In front of a
carved wood sculpture
in the violet light
Mary Magdalene Mary Magdalene
In the violet light
there goes a Gila monster
a Gila monster
majestically formed
a monster of gorgeous color
her body an astrological plan
studded with yellow and black
beadlike tubercules
like atoms locked into a pattern
vibrating particles
dabs of orange blue and green
forming an image in
the violet light
light rays entering the eyes
of a Gila monster
her body sovereign of
stems branches roots  plants
of bones flesh blood vessels
sovereign of the wood sculpture
of the long slender limbs
delicately modeled hands
and feet carved with a chisel
Mary Magdalene cut from cut
from a single length of poplar
her hair highlighted with gold leaf
strands of her hair blowing
blowing across the lidless eyes
eyes of a Gila monster        

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. This section of "Ode to a Gila Monster" is Rochelle Owens' sixteenth New Verse News poem.