Rochelle Owens: 'Hermaphropoetics' / 'Ice Water'

[The fifth installment published in Poems and Poetics of Owens’s work in progress, Hermaphropoetics.]


A master photographer

focusing her lens  

a figure trussed and lying down


A glass of ice water sparkles

and shines under  jagged trees  

blinking in and out


A strange rain

vertical/horizontal   altering perception

a camera flash   an image


A round white tent

a little girl in harem pants

 fickle he saunters by


Her elbows winging out   moving

in circles   blowing kisses

his long pale eyelashes


And gazes upwards smiling     

beautiful the face of a child

teasing femme/homme


Her legs collapsing under him

his hands and feet dangling

out of the frame


An asymmetrical form

vertical/horizontal   an impure creation



The physical poetic   the flesh of the apple

beautiful the hermaphrodite

in the concrete space


A white screen   video  

audio recordings   a black vinyl mask

the hermaphrodite peeling almonds


A master photographer

nodding his head   clapping her hands

moving in circles   closer   closer


Molecular the creeping tension

the cheekbones   sharp-edged as a cube

earlobes jingling little bells


The harelip in light and shadow.

smelling   tasting cinnamon   honey

his tongue licking a clot of blood 


Her throat a prolonged

muscular twitch   the throat  of a deaf mute

swallowing colors


Dark blue the smell of his breath

the flavor of her sweat   seawater

a hermaphrodite   captured after the siege


Out of the mists the mists of Cumae

a boy warrior  

his head curiously small


Her shape insectoid from nose to tail

wearing body paint

stripes of black on his cheeks


A pollock-like rhythm

spirals of color   dripping multiple hues

falling drops   splattering purple


Splashing green   lemon   orange

her mouth watering

his tastebuds pulsating


She could feel and taste colors

bulbous and blood-packed his lips

meek sweetness the face


The face of the hermaphrodite

her platinum blonde curls

bringing millions to their knees


A master photographer

altering perception   spiritual/carnal

a camera flash


A beauty queen wearing a thong

a strip of woven lambskin   bare-assed

in the foliage


His soaring paper thin shoulderblades

out of the center page  

the edge sharp


A hermaphrodite  

covered with tattoos   a hermaphrodite

emptied of allegory


Teasing femme/homme

hypermasculine   hyperfeminine

murderous sex cells


A little girl in harem pants

pale and red the folds   the petals

the flower vulva   cut away


Shards   shards of green glass

slashes   slashes of color seeping

veins darkening ruby-red


A flow of hormonal forces

her/his body   basil   sea water





How did the one

the one in the gypsy camp

make up the story?


a hermaphrodite

an impure creation   captured

after the siege


How did the two children

merge together? 

His/her body   carnal/spiritual


an asymetrical form seated

on the stump of a tree 



Three said that it was a legend

waxing poetic

a hermaphrodite falling  out of the sky


an altruistic mother’s deathless love

Deathless love saved the babe


See the photos

of a master photographer

focusing her lens


a beauty queen wearing  a thong—

a strip of woven lambskin

Out of his mouth protrudes her tongue


Four bearded elders circling   

circling clockwise


Meek sweetness the face

the face gazing upwards smiling

his lips blowing kisses

her platinum blonde curls

bringing millions to their knees


Wedding bells   Wedding cake

a little girl in harem pants

his long pale eyelashes


a boy warrior in a leather skirt

her long toes   stalk-like legs  

fickle he saunters by


strands of her hair blowing

the taste of his sweat    seawater

His/her body 


more than a daughter  more than a son 

teasing femme/homme

Out of the mists   the mists of Cumae


Wedding bells   Wedding cake

berries and apricots under the veil

joyful the groom lifting the veil


the harelip in light and shadow

a long curved fingernail

circles the cleft


Amorous the greedy seed   amorous

tasting    licking a clot of blood   


Five lambs slaughtered for the feast



teasing femme/homme 

captured after the siege    murderous sex cells         



a boy warrior in a leather skirt

her cheekbones 

sharp-edged as a cube

a little girl in harem pants 

dangling a charm bracelet made in China


lapis lazuli    silver and rubies

blinking in and out   sunlight/blackness


A master photographer

altering perception   a wall of brown dust


Six musicians chanting   drumming

squatting on their heels

Seven dancers


flexing    contracting hips   rump

thighs    sunlight/blackness

blinking in and out


Eight days of feasting

Signs and Wonders   the RUINSCAPE  



a strange rain   vertical/horizontal

blinking in and out

a glass of ice water sparkles


Nine bearded elders circling clockwise

a boy warrior with bright red lips

with pierced nipples  


Ten war lords circling clockwise   

a little girl in harem pants

A camera flash   


circling clockwise

an asymmetrical form seated

on the stump of a tree