Thursday, October 15, 2020

In Proper Measure: Life in The Time of Covid-19






Our world has been reduced to

bedroom, bathroom, 

kitchen, couch, and desk


and when we do brave beyond our gate

we do so with great caution

masking nervous stares.


               ***


Our constructs of time 

are being

redefined—


days have lost their borders 

forced to stand on their own carrying 

names of lost distinction and useless numbers 


when none but the first and last 

can help the calendar 

retain any purpose


and a clock 

serves only to announce 

the afternoon nap


so we task ourselves each morning

with goals to earn the day

that we may continue the


one unalterable tradition

of celebrating our daily successes and 

numbing ourselves of our failures at 5:00p.m.


               ***


Our closets 

have never been 

so tidy


as the clothes that still fit 

have been narrowed down 

to a select half-dozen items


each one christened 

with samples of 

‘project paint’


and masks in all colors and styles

for our rare personal appearances

are the only new additions


as our old wardrobe

dies quietly, day by day

item by item.


               ***


The computer as our only social tether

and bearer of all news, good and bad, real and fake,

is now unbreakable


we have become experts in 

home video conference 

lighting technique, and


“What have you been doing?”

has been replaced with

“What have you been watching?”


               

               ***


All of this feels 

like a strange way 

forward


and going back to what was

seems impossible 

from here


as we recalibrate our lives

with the lesson of valuing time 

in proper measure 


and practice our gratitude 

for all we have been given

while surrounded by so much loss.



Ken Owen    October 2020

Van Niddy Press

Monday, August 10, 2020

And So...(Joe's Hardware Store is Fucked)

And so…


of all the god dam

universal possibilities

we could be expected to endure

 

we are now eight months into 

a global pandemic

that no one saw coming


except, of course

the people whose job it is 

to see these things coming


but, of course 

when they told us about it

we thought “not me”

 

and we didn’t listen to them

and when we finally did 

we quickly realized 


that they were making shit up as they went along

because they were as completely baffled 

as we were on what to do.


And so…


we then learned that 

Safeway would deliver 

food


and BevMo 

would deliver

booze


and the local dispensary 

would delivery 

cannabis in a dizzying variety of functions and flavors


and The Feds 

would delivery 

an extra $600 every week


to help pay for all your pizza, 

booze

and cannabis


and that we were now exempt from

getting off the couch and ironing a shirt 

and putting on long pants


to go make chit-chat

as all boring social functions 

had been canceled 


and we began to think

perhaps this won’t be so bad 

after all.


And so…


the extra $600 has kept Safeway in business and

BevMo with customers and 

the cannabis dispensaries afloat, but


Joe’s Hardware Store 

          is                       

        fucked


because his customers are now more

fat, stoned, and drunk than ever before

sitting on their couches realizing

 

that everything they need 

will come right to their door 

and


that leaky toilet 

can run

forever.



Ken Owen     Van Niddy Press

August 2020

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Another 24 Hours

8:30 a.m.


Another 24 hours 

Granted,

Calendar day

Unknown.


Waiting for 

Caffeine

To pour on 

Kitchen clouds


And blue screens 

To deliver headlines of 

A rudderless nation

Adrift in chaos.


Another 24 hours

To practice 

Our being 

Good citizens within distance 


When to stay safe 

Is to do nothing but

Wash your hands

And mask your thoughts 


Lest you touch on

The wrong idea

And infect someone

With a different truth


Or inhale 

An unpopular narrative

And exhale 

The wrong opinion


And even with 

Only that

Still

We struggle.



Ken Owen     Van Niddy Press

July 2020

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

The Doomsday Stockpile

Go ahead,
admit it:

every time you
go to the pantry
or hall closet
or check under the bathroom sink
or wherever it is that you keep it

you feel slightly embarrassed

by the ridiculous supply of
toilet paper
you have accumulated 
over the last three months

when they told you
the world
as we knew it 
was ending

and The Hive Mind declared
toilet paper 
of all things
as the one commodity
that would determine our future happiness
in the new world.

But you quickly reconcile the guilt
as you survey your
doomsday stockpile
with the story that your supplies 
are a personal testament 
to you as a steadfast tribal leader 
being ready for battle while saving his family 
from the unspeakable horror
of unsanitary public humiliation

and as you do a quick visual tally 
with the keen eye of a 
War Time Supply Sargent
to make sure your supply levels 
are at the ready
you take solace in knowing 
that your tribe can rest easy
and shit
care free
until 2023.


Ken Owen,  Van Niddy Press
June 2020

Saturday, April 4, 2020

A Letter from Behind the Curtains


Dearest Ones:


Death is flying 
all around us now
unseen
unchecked
just outside 
doorways
and windows
everywhere 

and if not careful
we could be 
the next to meet it

and after watching 
the news of the world
when we need a 
reassuring handshake
or embracing hug

they tell us that 
death could be hiding
there as well
waiting
buried deep
in those small gestures 
of comfort.

To say
these are different times
does not come close
to our new reality
of staying indoors 
hiding behind the curtains

while counting how many 
eggs you have left
before you need to brave 
the crowds parading with
eyes wide and desperate
in stores full of panic 
and empty shelves.

This will change
many things 
and many people
forever
and its unimaginable from here
what the other side may look like
but they say
if we are diligent and 
perhaps
lucky
we will make it through this.


I so look forward 
to hugging you again.


-Ken



Ken Owen      April 2020
Van Niddy Press

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Covid-19: The Lexicon Explained


Death flies past your door
     while you reassess your life---
Sheltering in Place.


The freedom to yell
     "Back up, you mother fucker!"---
Social Distancing.


Pandemic removes
     self medicating stigma---
Stay at Home Drinking.


Mental inventory
     every trip to the fridge---
Disaster Ready.


Hoarding essentials:

     booze, toilet paper, Clorox---
Panicked mob shopping.


Unseen enemy
     steals things taken for granted---
Corona Virus.




Ken Owen       March 2020
Van Niddy Press

Monday, February 10, 2020

Deli Plater: The Movie


Act 1, Scene 1: 

She picks up 
a dropped piece of 
sliced mozzarella cheese 
that had fallen from 
his salami and cheese platter. 

She sniffs the cheese deeply, 
winces slightly, 
looks at him 
with a combination of 
vague disgust and sympathy, 
then places her fingers
under his nose 
and says:

“Smell that?”

    “Yeah.”

That’s not my feet, that’s 
your cheese.”

At that moment, 
he knew.


Ken Owen    February 2020
Van Niddy Press