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 

vertical/horizontal

 

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/

horizontal 

 

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

exclusion

 

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/

spiritual

 

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/

spiritual

 

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

 

vertical/horizontal 

moves back and forth  front

to back  gouges out

 

the root of love

 

black and hot my coffee        *

disease  famine  torture  war