Monday, February 28, 2011

Venus of Brassempouy

The above figurine was found in a cave in Brassempouy, France in 1892. Known as the Venus of  Brassempouy, she  was carved from mammoth ivory, and  at about 25,000 years old, is one of the earliest known examples of representational art depicting a human face.

Venus of Brassempouy

Neanderthal venus
walks the proto-forest
very carefully.

She has no lipstick
but her lips will be red
as soon as she eats.

Under the furflare of hair
her occipital bun is tidy.

Her berry eyes glow beneath
an artfully ash darkened
supraorbital ridge.

She has a leopardskin miniskirt
and is goin clubbin.

The ferny air is like a gravy
of wet delicious smells.

Soon, she will invent gravy.

 But first she must catch
the makings.

She pauses in a feral crouch
dead in her tracks with a pair of ughs
pulls a fat snail from under a hairy heel.

She has invented h’ors d’oeuvres.

Crunching this gastropodian bonne bouche
between her mandibular prominences,
she scuttles through the underbrush

searching for the ever fragrant
slender and succulent
Cro Magnon man.

February 2011 

Image and information on Venus of Brassempouy courtesy wikipedia and wikimedia commons.


The following music clip is totally optional, and other than containing the refrain 'Cave Woman,' and being as non-serious and possibly offensive as the poem, has nothing to do with the subject. Nonetheless, a casual hearing after many years inspired me to write this, and I can't get it out of my head, so I'm including it as it seems to want to hang out with the piece. (This is all your fault, anonymous person who knows who she is.)


  1. Now THAT kind of clubbin' a gal could get excited about!! Very clever. So clever I suspect you may once have been a medical student:)

    p.s. the verification word was "subtler" - no kidding!

  2. Ur killin me with the gravy!

    This piece might inspire Dan Hicks and the girls to sing "My Old Timey Baby". :-)

    "She's a bit old fashioned/ as you can plainly see/ but my old timey baby/ she's young enough/ she's hip enough/ she's good enough for me"

  3. I love the life you breathed into her, hedgewitch. And for once I think ughs would be fashionable (as well as cushy for hairy heels). And if she did invent gravy, I will always be grateful. :)

  4. I hope she bought him dinner first.

  5. I've dug in the same cave, and love what you found there ... If human culture shows its evidence from 270 centuries ago, who we are today must take stock of Her face -- and, as you get into the personae, it shows that culture changes little if any. Civilization speeds with its technical whims, but the heart and its passions still live in that Airstream trailer parked in the paleolithic caves of southern France. Culture's repitition-compulsion -- fix the hair, grab some grub, club a handsome Cro Magnon with her scent -- repeats itself in Rome and Tokyo, Normal and Orlando every night. The line about "goin clubbin'-- what a hoot. Five venereal clubs smeared with Cro-Magnon Vitalis. - Brendan

  6. Just simply amazing how you managed to bring her to life so very clearly. What an image you paint :)

  7. Joy,

    I've always respected my Venuses, usually thought of as 'Willendorfs', but those were faceless with plenty of bod. I'm enlightened that this gal is 25K years old and has a face!

    But notice, no mouth.

    How did women voice their poetry then?

    (P.S. Dan Hicks music has a special set of memories for me. He's on the 'dying edge' of that era that lasted until about 1974.)


"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats