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Friday, March 23, 2012


by Rochelle Owens

At dawn the tree cutter
under an occult sky

of greens and yellows
climbing higher and higher

considers the trades
of butchers  dyers  sailors

considers the calling
of artists  dancers  musicians

the tree cutter hearing the blues
the blues of B. B. King

climbing higher and higher
into wilderness

a nomad and a wanderer
a wanderer in a strange land

seeing organic forms  forms
of stems  roots  a donkey’s tail

the faces of mummies
the curves of hardened sap

cutting into bark
the tree cutter seeing mobiles

geometric shapes  houses
of the Cyclades  the Bauhaus
changing shifting circles
a frenzy of wood chips  a spastic dance

a  spastic dance of wood chips
witnessed by grackles
the tree cutter hearing
staccato notes  lopping off twigs 

cutting away diseased parts 
raised bumps  bulbous deformity

into a vertical wilderness
climbing higher and higher

cutting cutting cutting
working working  the tree cutter

contemplating Particle Theory
resting in the crotch of the tree

in the tree cutter’s brain
the flow of hormonal forces

in the trunk of the tree
a flow of moisture and nutrients
an unearthly glow
like the effects of the moon

sitting cross-legged
in the crotch of the tree

meditating on the cutting
the selected branches

musing on the languid tendrils
of pubic hair

sorcery of his female brain
climbing higher and higher

a wilderness of curving rhythmic
forms  twisting  reptilian

rotting snakelike branches
chopping away the branches
emerald the leaves whirling
whirling above

redundant the leafless branches
useless the branches

the tree cutter hearing
a Bach Cantata

contemplating Particle Theory
a flush of wet hot air

burning his neck and face
the flow of hormonal forces

feeling a twisting  a binding  
a corset of pain binding

the pain a passage
glorious the pain binding      

Rochelle Owens, a frequent contributor to The New Verse News, 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.