Rochelle Owens

'Patterns of Animus,' Part Two, a continuation

[Rochelle Owens remains, as she has been for the preceding half-century, a necessary voice among the growing company of those American and world poets writing and performing at the limits. The work presented here is a follow-up to the first part of “Patterns of Animus” presented earlier on Poems and Poetics, and a harbinger of yet more works to come. 

      P.S. For an excellent analysis of Part One, check out the review by Susan Smith Nash, moving toward the conclusion that “in this fragile world, ‘animus’ — with all its contradictory suggestions — is a requisite condition for the creation of a poetics.” The relevance to Part Two should also be noted. (j.r.)]

The engraver draws                                                                                                  

a black line vertical/horizontal

when your eyes move


a latent image 


chasms and fissures

in the earth  etched into the

metal plate 


patterns of animus


subatomic particles 

vibrate  pulsate  zigzag  split 



long ago  an hour  ago


only a minute  your eyes

move constantly while reading

 in sequential order  


an amalgam of letters


how tightly the words

hold you  through the gaps

of your fingers


Earth  Air  Fire  Water


a flow of hormonal forces

biomorphic  geomorphic  polymorphic 

amorous the greedy seed 


the bacterial slime


the Universe contracts

                                 e   x   p   a   n   d   s




Inside the kitchen

of the palace corkscrews

of white smoke


five lambs slaughtered


for the feast                                                                                                                  

work is a binding obligation

blood in  blood out


black and hot my coffee

disease  famine  torture  war




Diverting from a course

of events  long ago  an hour ago

only a minute


molecular the skin’s mind   


moving back and forth   

moving back to front  vertical/



animal soul  spiritual hole


black and hot my coffee

disease  famine  torture  war




‘Mother may I go out dancing

yes my darling daughter’ 


A dead paysanne floats

in the  swamp near the palace 

in the drizzle and wind


of early morning


biomorphic  geomorphic

polymorphic  zones of inclusion



amorous the greedy seed


spirals of veins pulsate 

vertical/horizontal  a green lily

emerges from the mud 




Body of data  data                                                                                                       

of body  lung and liver to my right  

heart and spleen to my left                                                                                                                                                                                                                            


a purple line moves


back and forth moves  

front to back  precise  methodical

vibrating particles


fill the spinal column


cells form cartilage 

shape the dome of the skull

 a breast vein


as thick as a finger 


a hand balled into a fist

vigilant the babe sucking  carnal/



black and hot my coffee

disease  famine  torture  war




Archetypal scenes

etched into the metal plate

each successive image


splits vertical/horizontal 


every day bears the data 

the love of logic  the logic of love

a goat smile on your lips


black and hot my coffee

disease  famine  torture  war




‘Mother must I go on dancing

yes my darling daughter


The butcher sees                                                                                  

the world with his nose  the smell

of fat  suet and tallow                                                                                                                  


out of his mouth


protrudes his tongue

hair and nails in the feces  sweat                                                                                     

mucus  tears  urine 


black and hot my coffee

disease  famine  torture  war


the heavy blade moves

vertical/horizontal  moves back

and forth


cutting away rotting parts


the heavy blade

moves back to front  hacks off

bulbous deformity 


black and hot my coffee

disease  famine  torture  war




Every dawn each day 

good the deboning  good

the flaying 


blood in  blood out


good the curing 

good all dirty work  carnal/



black and hot my coffee

disease  famine  torture war




‘Mother must I go on dancing  

yes my darling daughter’


Every dawn each day                                                                                                                                                                                                         

the butcher sees the world

with his tongue


‘salt in the stew 

salt in the butter’  sings

my giggly daughter 


the apple of my eye


her legs collapsing

under her  between her thighs

the black rose


the heavy blade moves



moves back and forth  front

to back  gouges out


the root of love


black and hot my coffee        *

disease  famine  torture  war