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.

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
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

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
alive with excitement
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 
lucky you
there is nothing like this
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
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
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
Nay for souls departed
That seek not 
Thy reverence nor honor

Share thy light
With hearts in darkness
Who walk among us 
Lost in solemn searching

That they may see
Hope and love 
Abandoned them not
And shall ne'er be forgotten.

Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   October 2013