Friday, December 27, 2013

Footprints on the Moon

The scars of love 
upon a heart,
forever undisturbed 
like footprints
of journeys past 
on a cold and half-dark moon
adrift in a galaxy of memories
that twinkle like stars 
out of reach,
in lonely orbit
and damned eternal 
with sight of a world 
once beautiful.


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   December 2013

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Christmas Wish


My two children are young adults now,
out on their own,
earning pay checks, making babies,
experiencing the joys and harsh realities 
of the real world,

we are far removed 
from their childhood celebrations of Christmas morning,
the late night assembling of complicated toy machinery,
concocted explanations of mysterious traveling via rooftops 
and what happens when apartments have no chimneys,

though now I must deal with others in the family
who whip themselves into a frenzy 
of self-induced panic each year
over what the perfect present would be 
for someone they spoke with 
exactly three times all year,
the same people 
who never believe great-grandpa 
when he says he just wants a card 
and a nice family gathering,
though I'm fairly certain he really means it.

When I give family members 
a personal note or poem
and place it in a Christmas card 
adorned with snowy scenes,
I doubt that most of them notice 
I've just showed them 
that giving from the heart 
can be simple and easy,
they just think I am putting in 
the least amount of effort I can
into a children’s holiday 
that no longer holds any interest for me,

and because of that,
nobody bothers to ask me
what I want for Christmas anymore,
but if they did, I’d tell them that
every year at Christmas time
I find myself dreaming 
of living in a trailer on a beach in Mexico,
just me and Jack the Dog
watching surfers and sunsets
with my guitar and just enough whiskey
to take the chill off the night air,
far removed from the worry 
of who's giving what to whom,
appreciating my extended family
from a safe distance,
missing my two grown children and their babies,
and looking forward to seeing them all
after The Super Bowl
when The Season of Mass Hysteria
has passed.


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   December 2013

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Requiem For One Shoe (The End of Sharing)


You see them on roads, paths,
even freeways,
alone,
staring blankly ahead
with a dazed sort of "what do I do now?" look,

and we try not to stare because if we do
we are instantly filled with their sadness and aching 
as we pity the lost sense of purpose
of a single shoe.

We wonder
what happened to its companion,
and what was the great disturbance 
that separated them here,
ending this perfect pair?

I always assume it must have been 
something pretty substantial,
because, after all,
they were made for each other,
their relationship
so much more than gloves
easily lost from lack of commitment.

When new, they were a couple,
common with purpose and characteristics 
and except for a slight leaning of perspective left or right
their direction united - forward or back,
they stood ready,
always together
for daily conquests
or grand evenings of celebration
or flip-flopping on the beach.

Now, in separation,
they think of each other and wonder,
are they living some grand new life
glad to be rid of their annoying partner
and that incessant squeak,

or have they also been retired
to their quiet final resting spot 
in eternal reflection of fading glories, 
mountain paths unconquered, 
unaware of the last dance,
realizing the end of sharing
and the lost hope of return.

I always wonder how long it took
before they knew the other was gone
to an unceremonious resting place,
unmarked by the side of the road.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Perfect






You grew up
I grew old,
that's fine.

I've done two things
perfectly in my life,
I'm alright with that.

I wouldn't change
a single thing
about us.

You always make me smile,
I hope I always make you proud.

for Kelly and Kenny, Christmas 2013


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   December 2013

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Smile


I remember that night I saw you
sitting in a pew at church
playing your guitar and singing,
practicing your performance 
for that evening.

The youthful innocence 
of your beautiful music
seemed to drift and float
through the cavernous hall
directly to me.

Then you looked up
and gave me the smile of a friend
with a strange familiarity 
I just couldn't place.

Puzzled,
I smiled and stared 
and tried to attach you 
to some fuzzy memory 
of a nameless person I once saw,
but even then
I wasn't sure I knew you,
but your smile said I should.

You played and smiled again.

I smiled again,
convinced now 
I must be listening to music 
from a friend I'd misplaced.

I began madly rummaging 
through closets of dusty memories,
certain that your name and place 
must be around there somewhere,
while my mind splashed and played in your song
and really didn't want to be bothered
in remembering.

You played and sang and smiled.

I smiled and listened and stared
until the moment finally arrived
when I realized...

...we had never met,

and I had been staring and smiling at you
for the last 5 minutes
like long lost friends reunited.

I felt my face flush red with embarrassment
as I winced slightly at the prospect
of concealing my false bravado
while you finished our private concert.

When we finally met
you were very sweet,
and when you gave 
your performance,
I had to keep reminding myself
that your memory 
had only just arrived.

It took a while,
but I realize now 
what that night was all about:
it was a lesson in trusting 
the power of a smile.

I haven’t seen you since,
but whenever I remember that night
I always smile.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Shift Change at The Skyline Lounge


If you look to the sky 
in the dawn of early morning,
you may notice The Moon 
hanging around The Skyline Lounge,
done with his shift and having a drink 
with the stars who have finished their shine.

Though everyone knows perfectly well
that he sleeps through most of the night
like some old celestial night watchman, 
he recites his grand adventures 
of slipping through shades undrawn
to glisten bodies exhausted from love making, 
and giving fathers light 
to look for monsters under the bed.

He boasts of the majestic splendor of his reflection 
in great waters and snow-capped peaks,
but, as always, 
is overcome with melancholy
at the vision of still bodies on lonely city streets
huddled in his shadow,
and all those beds 
still empty on one side.

The New Morning Sun 
nods in silent agreement
and tops off his drink,
the stars snicker quietly behind his back - “there he goes again”,
and the planets feign their royal indifference
from their card game in the corner - 
they've heard this all before.

And then,
with a quick look at the horizon
and a blink of his sleepy quarter-moon-eye-lid,
The Moon heads off for his next shift
bidding all a good day.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Winter Morning Routine


You start your morning 
in fleece pajamas
summoning the courage
to remove yourself
from the people-dehydrator
known as the electric blanket
that gave you reprieve from the night chill
and dreams of burning desserts.

Mental countdown complete
you burst forth in cannon shot
to land like a Ninja
jabbing your feet in darting thrusts
into strategically placed bedside slippers
and with a sweeping toreador pass
quickly wrap yourself in your wearable blanket - 
the bath robe,
resurrected from the back of the closet
and not worn since that summer morning
when you staggered outside to get the mail
thereby announcing to the neighbors 
you had a cold and would not be going to work.

You race in hurried snow-shoe-like shuffles 
across cold floors 
down the hall to the steamy shower
with only one quick stop 
to wake the slumbering furnace
so you can enjoy breakfast 
in your climate controlled kitchen
while you stare at images of “Real Florida Oranges”
and wonder what, if anything,
The Quaker has to do with oatmeal.

Standing at the doorway
ready to brave the cold brisk morning
you shudder slightly 
at the thought of your ice box car
and then, as it is done every morning, 
you deliver the declaration 
that the winter version of The Bermuda Triangle lives on:

"Where the hell is my other glove?"

Variations on this theme 
performed daily all across the world
yet sometimes
when I see pictures of people shoveling driveways
for the chance to have their cars 
dance a dangerous glide on slippery freeways
in winter-white scenes
I feel a bit embarrassed by us folks here in California
faithfully executing this winter morning routine
and all the while whining about 
51 degrees and cloudless skies.


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   November 2013

The Music is You


If down beat were a butterfly
you'd be jazz
fluttering about.

If music were a river
you'd be a little fish
darting among the rocks.

If song were a forest path
you'd be a doe
wide-eyed in wonder.

If melody were a memory
you’d be a specter
haunting lonely dreams.

If the soloist were a painter
you’d be a sunset
of fading blue love and golden sadness.

If instruments were the voice of the heart
you’d be a golden harp
that sang to angels.

If orchestras were grand mountains
you would be the view from on high
that goes on forever.



Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   November 2013

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Sky Tonight


I was going to write you a poem 
when I got home tonight,
about how the sky
right after the storm
as sunset began
looked like a brilliant blue canvas
with splattered milk puddle clouds
that the Sun was trying to light on fire
before it left for the day,
but then I realized
you were probably looking at that same sky 
and thinking the same thing.


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   November 2013

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Morning Sounds


It's 9:30 in the morning
and I've just reheated 
the same cup of coffee 
for the third time.

I am in the baby's room
with it’s colorful decorations and wall murals
with my once-again-hot-coffee and notebook.
She's fallen back to sleep 
after having breakfast
and a wonderfull playtime session
where we made each other smile
with our chants of "goo-goo"
as I marveled at the thought 
that babies really do say "goo-goo"
and at three months 
she is really becoming quite good at it.

Now 
I can sit quietly 
and listen.

Outside her window
it's raining from a dark grey sky,
trees moan at the wind's command 
to give up helpless leaves,
house gutters make their rain dance
in metallic rhythm,
wet car tires on wet roads
swish people off to work.

Inside her window,
baby breathing sounds
undisturbed
by a loud banging
like some friendly dragon in the attic
whipping it's great tail 
to wake up the old heater
and keep the baby warm,
and the dog snoring at my feet
because he also decided 
it was a good morning
to go back to bed after breakfast 
and some quick relief
in the backyard rain.

Everyone asleep, not to be disturbed
by the sounds of a perfect morning
to be on the inside of the window
in the baby's room.

The coffee is cold again.


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   November 2013

The Grandpa Button


You don't have to rock the baby anymore,
there is a machine that will do it for you.
It's a swing with multiple speed settings
and I must admit, it looks pretty comfy.

You don't have to sing to the baby anymore either,
there is a switch on the swing
to play modern renditions of insipid nursery rhyme music
that fall very short on musical merit for adults
by the fourth or fifth time through
while waiting for the baby to fall asleep,
but I guess it does the trick.

You don't have to make funny sounds and faces 
to entertain the baby anymore,
the swing has a button that will play jungle animal sounds
and spin a circular mobile with various shaped objects.
I wonder what a new baby thinks when she hears
the sound of monkeys and lions and elephants
that aren't in the room?
I suppose someone did plenty of research 
so they could say to their Boss:
"Babies love the sound of a roaring lion"
which, unless you’re a baby lion, doesn't make sense to me,
but if that person is the one who also recommended the music
then that might explain things.

And so, in this modern era,
just put the baby in her automated push button swing
and you're free to clean bottles or wash diapers 
or any of the other tasks new parents have to do 
along with everything else in their busy lives
that have been turned completely upside-down
since they brought home their new baby.

There is, however, 
no grandpa button on the automated swing
and I'm thankful for that,
so I can rock the baby in my arms
while making funny faces and weird animal sounds
as I carry her around the house and show her things to look at
and softly sing silly made-up songs to her
like only a grandpa can do.

No button required.

written during nap time, November 2013


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   November 2013

Friday, November 15, 2013

Riffing on Love



Love,
a sweaty promise in the night
to still be there in the morning
because this is different,
a possibility
that may not pay off
but always a bet worth taking.

What does it mean to say 
i love you?
my heart is yours?
your love is mine?
why do we run 
from that we seek,
from those three little words?
some run from it
some run to it
commit to it
promise it
proclaim it
even Hallmark card it
but until you say it 
I hold my breath
that you'll one day say it
that you'll one day feel it.

Just Say It!

…and when you do
the walls come down
and there
two hearts 
staring at each other 
for the first time
naked
exposed
alive with excitement
now
we've put a word to it
and there it is
breathe now
breathe it in
let it flow through you
you've found what you were looking for
that beating heart in your hands
cherish it
praise it
hold it close
hold it near your tender heart
feel it strengthen you
it beats, glows, yearns when we're apart
until reunion bliss smothers us
once again.

The greatest gift 
realized
lucky you
there is nothing like this
ever,
with all emotions at their peak
nothing compares,
this is love
this is love
this is love
and dance
and sing
and laugh
and beam with pride
and smile.

No wonder we love 
and love this so,
the completion
of me
makes us,
Love Dance,
love is a dance
learn the dance
study it
always moving 
and yes
we'll step on each other's toes
inevitable
don't worry
keep moving
and smile
at the jazz dance of love
keep moving
keep me close
and we'll be fine
you and I
we can do this
because
well
you know.

written with minimal edit while listening to Bill Evans solo piano and the dog was sleeping....


Ken Owen    Van Niddy Press   November 2013

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Change Not

Were tears to rise
instead of fall
to paint the day
with rainbows small,

if suffering 
did sooth and heal
the heart once whole
from love’s repeal,

if prayer was answered,
if pleas be heard,
if wind carried hope
on the wing of a bird,

if the sun went cold 
in eternal night,
if the moon burned hot 
in lonely light, 

if all this and more 
were true,
change not
my love for you.


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   November 2013

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Day of Knights


    
photograph by Bo Putnam


     And so it was, on a beautiful clear day near the end of a long and twisting road a mile before the end of the western world, The Prodigal, upon his long awaited return, took a walk through the fields of the kingdom with The Mad King who was digging a hole to the other side of the world and all the while screaming, "I shall hold The Pope accountable for his actions because I KNOW things and I'm going to write a letter soon!" "Yes, yes" nodded The Prodigal as he soon realized nothing much had changed here since he’d left.

     Soon after, The Prodigal and his knights, brothers reunited, assembled once again in the great hall to hold court in honor of days since past. They looked deep within and offered their gifts to the collective heart, still beating steady and strong after all this time, while The Keeper of The One, his smile gleaming like a child inside a man, held it in his hand just tightly enough so it would not fly away; so proud was he of the friend he had brought this day, a gentleman of southern smiles and clever sayings in soft mumblings almost indecipherable. Together they all gave tribute to those no longer here with reverent prayer in song.

     It was a day where some read poetry alone in the corner and searched for new ways to describe love and pain while battling the demons of The Great Unspoken for the cause of the greater good, where The Gypsy Queen appeared with a smiling wolf behind dark eyes, where beautiful sad dancers claimed their space and tried to understand why love changes partners, but most importantly it was a day to help all remember that the best way to honor the past is to honor each day.

When the celebration was done The Prodigal thought, “What a strange and joyous place, this palace, this land, where you can keep the clouds away if you let your passion dance burn hot and raise your voice in song,” and he knew this came to him from the spirit of this ancient valley that will never change no matter who works this land or who calls the tune here on a clear day near the end of the long and twisting road a mile before the end of the western world.



Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   October 26, 2013

Friday, November 1, 2013

Light A Candle


Light a candle
for hearts in darkness,
nay for souls departed
seek not thy reverence nor honor,
share thy light
with those who walk among us 
lost in solemn searching
that they may see
hope and love
abandoned not
and ne'er forgotten.


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   October 2013

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

That's That


He's got a key,
he’s always had one and can use it anytime he likes,
to think otherwise all that time was foolish,
so rather than be envious, 
I’ll be thankful I wasn't there when he used it 
because that would have been awkward for everyone,
to say the least...

...which means 
there is more that could be said
but won’t
however
I might have chosen
'that's that'
which would indicate
the final thing
to say about that
had been said
though sometimes 
people choose to say
'it goes without saying'
yet that
is usually followed by
saying precisely that
which they said
would not be said
and of course 
should not to be confused with
'it is what it is'
which
I think
is the new version of
'that's that’
so
in conclusion
I'll stick with 
'to say the least'
as a way to report the minimum
while giving the reader the heavy lifting
to figure out what I didn't say
while making my cryptic understatement
for the sake of brevity
which this poem lost all chance at 
many lines ago.

So now
it goes without saying
nothing more need be said,
so that's that
to say the least.


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   October 2013

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Johnny Loved Baseball

     It was wooden-clickity-clack-la-la-la music all the way up and over the mountains of Woodside and La Honda on my way to that first gig at the old store in San Gregorio. Peter couldn’t do the gig so he recommended me to the boys in the band. I played their CDs in the car on the way there. Someone told me once “You fucking drummers wouldn’t learn any song without CD players in your car!” and he was right. It was all nice little love songs with mysterious lyrics and hushed singing and I thought this will be nice and easy on a beautiful day. The music was lilting and beautiful and perfect for the drive through redwood forests and down the mountain past expansive fields full of cows and sunflowers, but it was anything but wooden-clickity-clack-la-la-la music when I got there.

     There was Johnny, dressed in black pants, black boots, a black shirt and playing a black guitar and looking imposing like the side of a great dark mountain at night where you can’t really judge how high or long but you know it’s big, real big, but his smile gave him away; it projected an honest-to-goodness ray of warm light and you knew instantly he was OK and there was nothing to worry about.

     Johnny played his guitar as hard as he could on every song, taking huge mighty swings like a guide with a machete clearing a path in a jungle. He took one solo while shouting and grunting and making noises as if his guitar couldn't say everything he needed to say and I thought, “ Who is this guy?! I’m following him!”  His solos made the sound of solid doubles off the base of the wall and produced majestic home runs that made everyone gasp and hoot, even his strikeouts you had to admire for the sheer beauty of his swinging so hard on every pitch.

Johnny loved baseball.

     So with me all jacked up following Johnny and making bashes and splashes and blams right behind his every note, we brought the wooden-clickety-clack-la-la-la music to a different place, took it on a different road entirely, and I saw David smiling with a grin of pure joy that this giant of a man had found someone to run behind him and scream in his ear that it was OK to swing away as hard as he could because I’d be right there to play catch with his notes and if we dropped the ball every once and a while, who cares?

Charlie said “There’s a lot of DNA on that guitar.” Sure enough true. 

     We all followed Johnny, looked to him to see what he would do, where we should go, but we eventually lost him on the trail. He went on ahead and we couldn't follow, and we lost our spirit for adventure when we lost our guide. We rambled around for a while, but it was never the same, the path never looked as good and clear. We’ll all meet up with him again sooner or later. I’ll bet he is still swinging away, hard as ever.


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   October 2013


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

On The Road

I am reading Jack Kerouac's "On The Road" for the first time.

You've been warned. I can feel the shift.

     Been working a lot in North Beach over the last year, mostly on Grant Street at The Saloon, The City's oldest bar. Story has it The City firemen saved it from the 1906 earthquake because that's where they did most of their drinking. The original Ground Zero. It has landmark status and smells like a toilet and has some of the best blues bands in The City. It has taken some getting use to working there, but I think I'm getting the hang of it. The place is full of old drunks and burn-outs and fidgety bar tenders and frightened one-beer tourists, yet I always seem to meet cool surfer tourists from Australia there who love the place and the way we Americans play the blues and rock and roll. "They'd go bonkers fer ya in Asstraawlia, Mate!"

     During a break between sets someone pointed out the original piss-trough directly at the base of the long bar. Seems when the bar was built they didn't want the male patrons to interrupt their drinking in order to make room for a few new beers. I didn't believe it at first, then the same story teller pointed out the close proximity of the sewer line cover to the front door, something you'd not see anywhere else. Of course, the piss-trough is no longer in service, but that doesn't keep the smell of The Saloon from being anything but toilet-like. The trick to playing music at The Saloon is, once you are inside to stay inside as long as possible, which seems counter-intuitive, but once you get accustomed to the smell you're fine; leaving for fresh air and coming back in becomes problematic. Someone told me there are rooms upstairs which is the cheapest rent in The City. One room big enough for a small cot. The rooms used to be part of a brothel, so no matter where your pride was dangling in relation to your pants, you had everything you needed at The Saloon.

     So one night while playing music there and failing miserable to pay attention, it came to me that I had never read "On The Road" by Jack Kerouac, and look where I was! North Beach, Home of The Beats! So during a break I went down to City Lights book store, the center of the Beat universe, and figured to easily grab a copy from a display set up right in front for tourists, but I couldn't find any poetry which I found out later was up on the third floor which I didn't know about. That's when I remembered the Beat Museum, and yes, there is such a place, two doors down from the world famous Condor strip club, home of stripper Carol Doda in the 60s and 70s. I've played music in the Condor a few times, subbed for a guy in a jazz/r&b band with a lady singer,  but I couldn't keep my focus because right above her in my line of sight was a screen showing the history of burlesque with tassels going in every direction. Good band, long night.

     So I ran into The Beat Museum and called out "I need a copy of 'On The Road'." The proprietor of the store sprang into action and quickly responded "Which version?" Yes, multiple versions lay on the display near the front door. My perplexed look gave him the right response; "If you've never read it, try this one", which was a simple paperback,  not the original more detailed 'scroll version'. I liked the idea of buying this book here, like buying a book about jazz in Congo Square in New Orleans. Perfect.

     I've read some of his poetry and spontaneous prose before and it's pretty amazing stuff; one poem will be drunken rambling bullshit, and the next will be a god damn masterpiece. There's hope for my writing yet.

     I can imagine how this book must have caused quite a stir back in the time of post-war America; stories of young people wandering coast to coast living on coffee and cigarettes and box cars and pan handling for money. That kind of life would give a guy plenty to write about. So the next time I have trouble paying attention while playing music for drunken nutballs at The Saloon, I'll remind myself that I'm in a place where Kerouac and Cassidy and all them cats probably had many a glass of beer while figuring out where to get money for their next great road trip, and for all I know, those cats would have had no problem using the piss-trough and the rooms upstairs.


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   October 2013


Like You Never Left



Walk right in,
take your place
like you never left
because you can
and you should.

I knew you’d be back someday,
if only for a short while
to tell us great adventures stories
of lush forests in canyons deep 
with strange creatures from distant lands...

...and just like that,
smoldering fires burn again.

Together
we’ll give passion to the old songs
while we sing to the spirit in the window,
and the day you left 
will seem like a bad dream 
from long ago.

(Rise above it, rise above it, it’s the right thing to do.)

Welcome home
my old friend,
back to the place
where our journey began,
we’ve lived lifetimes since then.



Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   October 2013


Saturday, October 12, 2013

Passion in Reserve


Passion in reserve
waiting patiently for love
to answer the phone.


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   October 2013

A Million Billions to One


Consider the odds
that you and I are here
and found each other
to share
a passing glance
a genuine smile
a seeking day
a warm meal
a slow walk
a moment in time.

Consider the things 
that make us
shape us
break us
rebuild us,
all those things worked to perfection
to put us there and then
here and now.

Consider the events
in the history of time immemorial
that had to line up just as they did
so that you and I 
could have a walk on an empty beach 
that windless day 
when the clouds hung still like paintings.


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   October 2013



Thursday, October 3, 2013

Sunday

Dawn breaks
as the world rolls slowly over
town by town, country by country,
into a rising tide of Sunday.

The first wave 
lapping at your toes
as we lay together,
breakfast in bed
after one more kiss
one more dream,
then a peek through the curtains
at Sunday skies.

Ankle deep in Sunday,
the possibilities of the day
buzzing like summer bees
drifting on the smell of bacon and coffee.

All God's children
wading through their sins
on the penitent path
seek forgiveness 
in their own way and place,
alone or together,
because that's what they've always done
on Sunday.

A day of chores, a day of rest,
naps on couches and freshly mown grass,
games watched and played,
gardens, parks, beaches,
bike rides and trail walks
when someone looks at the sky and says
“The day is half gone already!”
and you realize
you are waist-deep in Sunday.

Sunday Dinner,
the meal for family
here and remembered
as waves of Sunday pound your chest,
a toast to love and health,
grateful
for one more Sunday.

Too tired to tread Sunday waters,
with one big breath
you slip under,
drifting
until dream tide leaves you 
to wake on gentle shores,
as the world rolls slowly over 
town by town, country by country
into a rising tide of Monday.


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   October 2013

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Spiderman Lunchbox


We saw him on our morning walk
a small boy 
tethered, just barely
hand in mother’s hand
on their way to the school 
next to the park.

He looked at Jack The Dog with wonderment
and looked at me briefly
to see what type of person 
walks a great beast in the park.
He smiled as we distracted his focus a few times
but moving always forward
he could barely contain his excitement
as he drew near his destination.

And I tried to remember 
what it felt like
to have so much excitement 
buzzing around inside you
that it made you skip
while Mom escorted you to that magical room
that smelled of paste and disinfectant
where your best friends in the whole-wide-world 
would be there waiting for you, excited on your arrival,
bursting to ask you great questions 
and compare stories of
what you saw on TV last night
as we waited for those sessions
out on the hungry concrete 
that ate skin from girl’s knees and boy’s elbows
while we we ran and screamed with abandon
to the sound of playing on clanking metals bars
and hoped to be picked 
for the greatest kickball game
15 minutes would allow.

And I wondered
what was in his Spiderman lunchbox.

Is it still a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (no crust),
lots of wee-size snacks
not made for kids but for tired moms,
and a small box of something 
trying to pass itself off as real juice (100% natural!),
or did his lunch box come with a matching thermos
that now holds the eternal smell of spoiled milk?

And when opening his lunch 
and seeing slices of apple or celery (good for trading with a girl)
instead of those mini-cupcakes,
is this what will teach him 
his first lessons in repeated disappointment 
in the name of "It's good for you"..?

So,
what would it take 
to get you to skip to work tomorrow
in appreciation of the possibilities 
of another beautiful day?
Once upon a time
it was as simple as the anticipation 
of what's in your Spiderman lunchbox.




Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   September 2013

Friday, September 13, 2013

Tired

On a tired old day
a tired old man
and his tired old dog
sought the shade
of a tired old tree
to escape the heat
from a tired old sun
that beat down on a tired old world.

The tired old man 
looked at the tired old dog and said,
"I'm worried about these problems of mine.
I don't know what to do."

The tired old dog did not say anything.

Then the tired old dog 
looked up at the tired old man 
and turned his tired old head slightly to the right 
as if he knew what the tired old man had said 
but was unsure as to why he had said it, 
as if he was thinking it all over very carefully, 
as if he knew this was very important 
and deserved a good answer.

The tired old dog had no answer.

"Perhaps if we sit here a little longer, 
something will come to me" 
said the tired old man.

The tired old dog looked at him as if to say,
"That seems reasonable to me."

They both thought about things for a while longer 
and watched the tired old world go by.

The tired old dog had no objection 
to more time in the shade of a tired old tree.
He sighed heavily and put his tired old head
on the cool grass under the tired old tree
and stretched out his tired old dog bones.

"Don't worry, I'll figure something out"
said the tired old man,
and he went back to thinking 
about his tired old problems
that were holding him down 
with the weight of this tired old world.

The tired old dog took a deep breath 
and sighed a long tired sigh 
and looked at the tired old man as if to say, 
"You'll think of something. You always do. 
Let me know when you've got an idea.
I'll be right here."

And the tired old dog took a nap,
because thats what you do 
in the shade of a tired old tree
to escape the heat 
from a tired old sun
on a tired old day
in this tired old world.


Ken Owen    Van Niddy Press   September 2013

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The View From Here


have a seat
right here 
next to me,
we'll dream share
as the sun 
fades morning mist
into futures revealed,
our gift of love 
received in reverence,
hearts bound together
forever.



Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   September 2013

Friday, August 30, 2013

Notes From A Sickbed



   --- ~ ---

I've been in bed for two days with excruciating and debilitating back pain. I can't tell if the pain pills are helping with the pain, but they are offering up words like debilitating and excruciating, so I suppose they are having some affect. I was hoping for exhilarating, but it seems there is no exhilarating in these pills, only fuzzy nap times with dreams of people you haven't seen in twenty years rushing through your room and yelling at you that you are late - though they never say for what - and I just look up at them with sleepy eyes and sigh "Yes, I'm late again, but I can't move so go on without me". I don't know where they are going or what I'm missing, but when you can't move from your bed you feel like the whole world is having a party to which you were not invited, a great and joyous celebration going on right outside your window and just over your back wall, but you can't get there from here, and you're late.

And you know that's not true, but still...

Jack The Dog knew I was in pain by the loud guttural yelps I made every time I moved the wrong way. I didn’t know I could make sounds like that. My muscles were howling, I was howling, and Jack The Dog was concerned. You could see it in his face. He knew the daily walk was a goner, and I felt bad about that. He came and lay down with me and put his head on my lap. I almost cried. I like to think he was concerned for me and not just mourning the loss of our morning walk, but that’s the great thing about dogs; you can project anything you want onto a dog, and it works.

Apparently there are large doses of boring in these pills as well, because you cant hurt yourself, in theory, when you are lying around bored. In all our daily hustle and bustle, we long for days in bed with no outside expectations, yet when it arrives it's just boring, no matter how many lists you make or books you stack on the night stand or old movies you plan to watch. Up at 4:00 a.m.? Sure, why not. Nap after breakfast? Not a problem, you've no where to go.


   --- ~ ---

There is nothing to see outside the bedroom window I have not all ready seen. Nothing new to inspire great stanzas of poetry or intellectual observations. All I have are talking heads on the television, and after listening to what they had to say, I found it much more entertaining to turn the sound off and try to imagine what they had to say or give them new lines.

We are getting sensitive as we get older. As a society, I mean. In old movies, cigarettes were everywhere; in church, at the dinner table, places we could not imagine now. I grew up around cigarettes. Both my parents smoked cigarettes. I became accustomed to the smell because it was everywhere. Now, people get very upset by the smell of cigarettes. We've talked ourselves into it, or out of it, depending on how you like to look at it. There may be something to this 'second hand smoke' business, but I have always been skeptical of it. Sure, cigarettes are not good for you, but you have to admit that the characters in an old detective movies looked just fine holding a cigarette. Of course, they are all dead of lung cancer by now, but hey, back then, they looked great. Andre Aggasi once said “Image is everything” in a commercial, but I bet he never smoked a cigarette in his life. Good for him.

Talking on the phone bothers me more than cigarettes. Sharing a bit of your second hand smoke does not cause me to have great fits of indignation at you stepping on my personal freedoms, but if given the choice, I'd rather not share your telephone conversation. How did your husband ever do any grocery shopping before he was able to call you from aisle 6A with a question of low sodium or gluten free? I am most certain that anyone living in a large city that has a phone conversation while walking in a cross walk is telling the world that they laugh at death.

Gluten. Don't get me started....

...and now there are words we can't say anymore. For some of those words it's probably a good thing. It bothered me at first because I don't like being told by society’s latest meme what I can not say or do, but I think I get it now. It's about respect, or more of it, to be exact. To call someone a name is to give up on the argument and reasoning and to dive straight into anger, and thats not the best way to get anywhere.


    --- ~ ---

With creditors buzzing all around him 
like flies on a summer day,
he spent the last of his money
on a book of poems
and that made him chuckle.
“No better way to escape,” he thought.


    --- ~ ---

They called him The Bond King. He did not appear regal to me in any sense. Perhaps for this interview he chose not to wear his Bond King crown. I could not tell if he was wearing a Bond King ring, and he seemed to carry no Bond King staff or shield. No outward trappings or markings of his royal rank, just a line across the bottom of the screen stating his title: The Bond King. He had a wisp of hair on his very polished dome, no royal wig under no royal mitre. Just a title. With the sound off on the television, I would not learn how he earned his title. I would not learn if he had, at one time, been a lowly Bond Duke, or perhaps he'd been born a Bond Prince from royal lineage and when the previous Bond King passed on to the Great Kingdom of Investment Products in the sky he was next in line to the throne. I would not learn if he was married to The Bond Queen, or if all the young girls of the kingdom were scurrying about to get invitations to the Bond King's Ball so that they may make a lasting impression on The Bond King. No matter. I've taken this as far as I should, I think, and will not make any reference to The Bond King and Queen producing little royal dividends. I thought of it, but I fear thats the pain medication making its way through my thought grinder.  I am sure it's still good to be the King of anything.


   --- ~ ---

According to the news report, you can now buy a car wrapped in bacon. They are decals, of course, but still...I assume they sell like crazy. After all, who wouldn't want a car with pictures of bacon on it? I can think of at least three people who would consider it. Yes, everything goes better with bacon. From here, I can not think of one thing that would not benefit from a side order of bacon. Not one.


    --- ~ ---

"Get the insurance you deserve!", was the exclamation from the man in the white lab coat whom, I assume, is an actor paid to look like a doctor but, when you stare at them long enough, they never look quite convincing. I’d be concerned if this actor came into the room and asked about my back problems.

"Call now!", it said.

Maybe later, it's nap time.


   --- ~ ---

We are on the brink of war...again....and theories are popping up like spring flowers shouting the answer as to why. One of them is right, but well never know which one, because soon, before anyone has a chance to sit down and rationally decide what we should do while not using names we shouldn't use in one of those large conference rooms with big round tables that used to have giant glass ash trays for people needing to smoke cigarettes in order to decide these great things, I’ll be watching video footage at 4:00a.m. live from our newest skirmish, and then I'll turn the sound back on the television, and thats when the party outside my window will be over.


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   September 2013


Friday, August 23, 2013

Time



Time is an ally,
time is an enemy.
It all depends
on what's inside
your heart and mind
at the time.


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   August 2013

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Rubíta

Ruby Juliet Leitner, born August 17, 2013

I will call you
Rubíta
my little Ruby
Popi's little jewel

and I will write you 
poems of magic lands
beyond the clouds and stars

and I will read you 
great stories of faraway places
to build your dreams

and I will show you 
the wonder of nature 
all around us

and I will teach you 
the good of the world
and everyone in it

and I will take you 
on great adventures 
to fill your soul with amazement

and I will protect you
while your spirit
learns to fly

and I will give to you 
the love you make
in me

and I will keep you 
in my heart forever
no matter where you are

and I will call you
Rubíta
my little Ruby
Popi's little jewel.



Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   August 2013

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

I Let You Go

           


          drift away

tireless
warrior

I let you go.


your reflection
         shines eternal
         in word and thought
still here.

your sounds
        floating echoes          
        through mournful silence
in dark hallways.
            
your presence
        buzzing electric
        in restless energy 
at the top of the stairs.

your scent
        I drink it in        
        from books and clothes
all things you've touched.

your memories
        grand battles
        the single voice of many
united in freedom cry.

your body
        in final sleep
        from battle last
battle lost.


            drift away

tireless
warrior

I let you go.


for Marlene, inspired by her remembrances of Robert


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   August 2013