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Friday, January 07, 2011


by Rochelle Owens

 When as an incarnation
mother of the milky way
in the triumphant twenty-first century
O monster of harmonies
flying descending
into this world
O Gila monster O virgin queen
imperial reptile
hatched from the egg of the sky
flying Gila
descending into this world
around her a spreading hibiscus
O philosopher with lidless eyes
eternal wunderkind
devoid of dread and shame
O head and fatty tail
majestically formed with yellow
and black beadlike tubercles
pure as alabaster shining gold
mother of the milky way
of metamorphosis
her gift of spit
her healing reptile spit
spit of power spit of cure
vulnerable flesh eater
spiritual carnivore
wafting incense sanctifying
the four directions
slowly slowly slowly slowly
scuttling over the sand
a cold blooded messenger
a monster of rapture
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. This section of "Ode to a Gila Monster" is Rochelle Owens' seventeenth New Verse News poem.