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Tuesday, October 18, 2011


by Rochelle Owens

It is about skin
and hair of the yoga mistress
from Rosario Portugal
remember how I said her hair
was a long hanging rope
winding down
her collarbone
under her armpits
hanging down
her breastbone
ravenous the skin pulling apart
the skin like
the petals of flowers
ravenous the knives of Portugal
repetitive rhythmical
monotonous hacking off bones
slicing off rotting flesh
remember how I said
the hard horny skin and hair
shedding dead cells
transforming becoming a bud
becoming a bud
a flower a pale green lily
emerging from the mud
a place where oysters breed
from the mud of Rosario Portugal
remember how I said

unearthly pale and red light

her skin and hair
remember how I said magnetic
metal striking clashing
her voice saying
“les Portugais sont de grand voyageurs”
remember how I said
she had washed the bodies
of amputees
 winding the bandages
how she had clothed and fed
the  maimed
of automobile accidents  of train wrecks
of war
attaching their prosthetic limbs
 humming and singing in Portuguese
seeing them come back to life
rising up like Lazarus
like Lazarus rising from the grave
her kindness banishing evil
from the world

unearthly pale and red light

remember how I said
she dreamed of a black bull
of Portugal
amputated at the knees
she dreamed of a laughing dwarf
with a virginal face

unearthly pale and red light

it is about how she stood before
a hive of bees listening—
Barbara De Jesus of Rosario Portugal

unearthly pale and red light
the yoga mistress breathing
the long rows of students breathing
bending their hands backwards
like Balinese dancers
skin and hair shedding dead cells
remember how I said
she sat on the heel  of one foot
chanting chanting chanting
lingam yoni natal cleft  vida morte
vida morte lingam  yoni natal cleft
vida morte vida morte

unearthly pale and red light

Rochelle Owens is the author of twenty books of poetry, plays, and fiction, the most recent of which are Solitary Workwoman(Junction Press, 2011), Journey to Purity (Texture Press, 2009), and Plays by Rochelle Owens (Broadway Play Publishing, 2000). 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 is Rochelle Owens' twenty-second New Verse News poem.