Rochelle Owens: 'Beloved the Aardvark,' Part Two

[Rochelle Owens has been working over the last several decades on a corpus of poems in-series, while her later work, however refined, has maintained the unique power and pitch ascribed to her earlier poetry by Marjorie Perloff, among others; “Rochelle Owens’ writing ... is sui generis. She is, in many ways, a proto-language poet, her marked ellipses, syntactic oddities, and dense and clashing verbal surfaces recalling the long poems of Bruce Andrews and Ron Silliman. But Owens is angrier, more energetic, and more assertive than most of her Language counterparts, male and female, and she presents herself as curiously non-introspective.” Part One of Beloved the Aardvark can be found here on Poems and Poetics. (J.R.)]


Next to a wall

of concrete stands a man

covered with tattoos 


orange  yellow  green

astrological signs etched into

his skin  


tendons and nerves

drink color  his hand balled

into a fist


a fringe of drool

and blood circles the mouth

his lips move 


a secret tribal language


then he counts

the months in a year  his thumb

and forefinger moving


back and forth along a wall


‘who eat up my people as they

eat bread’




Morning to evening 

evening to morning  audible 



the rhythm  the rhythm

of spontaneous changes  sunlight/



blinking in and out


piles of sand appear 

disappear  audible  inaudible

the sound of digging


digging deeper

precise  methodical  searching

always the Aardvark


moves in circles  moves in circles

in the here and now


swaying side to side 


piles of sand appear 

disappear  work is a binding



suffer the Aardvark children        




Out of an ant hill

a waft of air  lovely the ant hill

curved like an embrace 




Rays of sunlight

penetrate the roof of your skull

warming  your back


warming your hands

and fingers holding a piece

of charcoal


drawing zigzags of

black lines  tendons  nerves 



spirals of veins pulsate 

blood in  blood out




On a concrete wall

lit up by fluorescent light

vibrating particles


shape the contours of an animal


the face of the Aardvark

is its parts  the eyes  nose

and mouth 


the cylindrical tongue


the long ears

heating to the temperature

of human skin




Pale and red

the mouth of a child eating

an apple


a montage of bite marks


your hand balled into a fist 




Press button to hear

morning to evening  evening

to morning


a  s o u n d s c a p e


of everlasting duration

evening to morning  morning

to evening


out of the digital age


a course of events

the scientific explosive realm



the twenty-first century



Press button

to hear a musical interval

in the afternoon


sipping Umbrian wine 


tearing off the wing

of a roast pigeon  a musical



evoking the rhythm 

the rhythm of spontaneous changes

Louis Armstrong’s 


“Black and Blue” 

a Bach cantata  Native American flutes

Buddhist chants  singing dolphins


Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again” 




You turn in

the direction of a voice

spelling out a word  


A m f a t t e h r


a voice repeating

an unknown word  motionless

the Aardvark


stands listening

a voice repeating  spelling

out a word


A m f a t t e h r


made of the letters

of a noun  drawing zigzags

of black lines




a piece of charcoal

held with fingers and thumb

body of data


data of body

an animal from Africa

a member


of the mammalian order




Mounds of sand

appear  disappear  massive

the claws digging 



long ago  an hour ago 

only a minute


the universe contracts  e x p a n d s


disease  famine  torture  war


rhythmic a flow

of hormonal forces  blood in 

blood out 


disease  famine  torture  war


the Aardvark

comes out in daylight to lie

in the sun



                    — Rochelle Owens