Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Party (Patti Smith Saves The Manatee)


You arrived at The Party
and went room to room, circle to circle
eager with anticipation of liking and sharing
an evening of informative discourse 

but your search was in vain
and all your comments 
though crafted with the best intent
landed clumsily like heavy stones

and so began 
your frustrating descent into madness
as you made your way through

The Living Room:
chattering guests announcing 
the joys of their new status
or cryptic slanders of their last one:
("some people will NEVER grow up!)

The Hallway:
where people complain 
that they just don't 
make music like this anymore

The Patio:
a review of last night's dinner
at the latest fashionable restaurant 
complete with pictures of dessert

The Den:
home movies of grandchildren and grumpy cats
and fantastic things that will change your life forever
("You won't believe what happens next!")

The Bedroom:
a lively discussion of what women really want:
recipes for butternut squash soup
and 50 Things To Do with Coconut Oil
("#37 will blow you away!")

and suddenly you feel woozy
when you realize this party
is full of faces that seem familiar
but you can't remember their names 
or where you met that friend of a friend of a friend.

Later that evening
you notice folks disclosing
their medical afflictions
complete with photos of gaping wounds
("This was right before 
they wheeled me into surgery . . .")

and a mysterious women in the corner
gathering personal information and telling people
what rock star they were in a former life
("Hey, I got Patti Smith! Yeah!”)

while her sister pleads
for you to sign a petition
that will give the endangered Manatee
a fighting chance
(Won't you please help?)

2:00a.m. 
your head is spinning
when you discover that
the only ones left are drunk in

The Kitchen:
where discussions of great social injustices
create passionate cries for equality and fairness
as the mob plans their protest
against The Corporate Evil

but your clumsy attempts at offering 
a different solution are shouted down
while guests fidget and mumble under their breath
("Well, he's not at ALL like I thought . . .")

and that's when you realize
all the circles are the wrong circles
and no one is really listening
to anyone with something different to say

because you've been dropped off
at the wrong party
there are no cabs 
and it's a long walk home.

The next morning
you sift through your broken rhetoric
trying to remember what you said
that was so wrong and made people so upset

while you empty your pockets
and find recipes for butter nut squash soup
written on the back of a petition 
to Save The Manatees

and your grand daughter's picture--
your only successful contribution 
for the evening
that everyone could agree on.



Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   November 2014

A Rush To Judgement


When love fails us
we banish it from memory 
with a series of charges

In sorrowful deliberations
the heart pronounces judgement
victims and villains
demands for restitution 

In its passing
we are quick to bury love
with a eulogy of its sins
and no celebration of its gifts

In solemn days of retrospection
as we wait patiently 
for justice to balance 
the mortal scale 

we search for words to capture 
the heights of love's ascension
and the depths of our fall 
from its grace

until the day gratitude arrives
to relieve our grief with one simple lesson:
There can be no failure in knowing love
only success in touching it at all


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   December 2014

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Parading in the Rain



On that strange day 
with rain on the other 
side of the street

while I sat in sunshine
reading your message
that parted the clouds

I let myself be entertained 
by the possibility of you                
gracious you.

As my heart leapt and ran 
quickly down the street
parading in the rain

in silent observation
my mind--buried deep in 
the noisy crowd--would soon realize 

your act of kindness
was nothing more than caring 
one heart for another
   
but rather than mourn 
the dream unrealized
I gave thanks for you

and a vision so strong
the sun came out to see it
on a rainy day

and as I quietly watched 
my foolish heart 
leading the parade 

my only thought was
“Let him have his day,
I’ll tell him later.”



for M.M.



Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   December 2014

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Reign, Reign, Go Away


"In God We Trust"
but why do that?
I'll put my faith
in a stylish hat,

to keep my big head
warm and dry,
when God learns I've left him
and has a good cry.



Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   December 2014

While You Were Sleeping (A Night on the Town)


I saw your shadow 
last night

                    lurking

in the corner of the room


It took a seat
at a table           

                   in the dark

for only a moment


with another shadow
who wondered 

               why this place

was chosen for haunting


That silhouette
the restless energy
                                  
               nervous hands in pockets

I knew it was you


It didn't look happy
then 

a phone call          more bad news 

and it was gone



Creepy, huh?


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   December 2014

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Feed Your Head

     I live in Fremont, CA, curry-kitchen suburb to Silicon Valley, where East Indian software programmers in sandals play Cricket (aka 'baseball, but not') on the field in the park where Jack and I take our morning ramble. 

     Fremont is home to all the big-box super-stores, with the exception of the two that have folded like cheap lawn chairs—Borders and Barnes and Noble. Their rapid collapse left all the locals surprised, apart from the East Indian software programmers who knew that you could download any programming language manual directly to your computer or have a hard-copy delivered to your front door by amazon.com. To add insult to injury, these quietly respectful and unassuming gents from Bangalore don't need to steal Internet access while nursing an over-priced caramel macchiato for three hours. Big box book stores never had a chance here. 

     That's why I was surprised when someone here in Fremont - the birthplace of the technology that has been slowly killing the large national retailers - decided to open a used book store, and beyond my wildest expectations, it has become a thriving and successful concern.  Our local bookstore is now the first place I go when I need a gift or a card; I don't remember the last time I willingly went to the mega-mall. 

     It was during a recent visit to our little book store that I realized why I feel so at home there: stores like this are a pleasant reminder of the record stores and head shops that I was fascinated with when I was a teenager. These stores were so different from the Sears and J.C. Penny's my parents dragged me through, and they were speaking to a different section of the population that I wanted to be part of. One of my happiest memories is record shopping at the Record Factory store in my hometown, my father in the classical section reviewing my rock and roll selections with parental encouragement mixed with a dash of watchful concern.

     The local book store is my new head shop. I'm just feeding my head with different things these days.

     Our little book store always produces a reaffirming flashback to the counter-culture that defined me in my youth, but my experiences are slightly different now. I always chuckle at the abundant volumes people have given up on in the new-age philosophy section. I find it slightly disturbing to walk past the collectable comic book section complete with guys that will never stand a chance at dating your daughter, and I am always comforted to see a section containing what is now the rarest of all media that is making a slow and steady comeback into style: the long playing (LP) record. During my last visit I almost bought a Hank Williams Sr. record for $15.00 on principle alone (my record player was last seen in the attic), but instead I supported our local economy and the ‘alternative shopping experience’ with two "Happy Holidays to me!" used book purchases for a grand total of $15 with tax. The place was buzzing, people were buying and selling, and there was groovy music on the house sound system. It was beautiful, just like I remembered how shopping could be.

     Perhaps you have grown accustomed to or even spoiled by places like Amoeba and Rasputin and local independent book and music stores like Bird & Beckett in The City, but to have a store like this thrive here in the land of commuters in 2005 grey Toyota Celicas (software programmers) and 2012 Priuses (program managers) is a rare treat of new-age counter-coulter that makes me warm and fuzzy all over like a good hit from a 1974 bong.

Cool.


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   December 2014

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Happiness (Your Seat At The Table)


How silly
you must have felt 
when you realized

happiness
had been there 
the whole time

smiling, shaking its head
laughing at you from a table
in the corner of the room

watching your performance
of wailing and moaning
over nothing

now you make your way
across the crowded floor
to the table by the window

head bowed, nervous grin
past anger, fear, and grief
and all that blocked your view

to rest easy and raise a glass
to the death of those things
that blocked the light

and wonder no more
what happiness might say
if you took the time to listen.


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   December 2014

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Bookmark's Wish


Story done
Reckless heart

Sunshine smiles
Midnight tears

Bookmark lies
Cast aside

Marking time

Job complete

Restless sleep
Lonely nights

Visions haunt
Somber dreams

Bookmark's wish
Story new

Chapters full
Graceful love



Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   November 2014

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sunday, Thoughts of Rain


Outside my window
It's raining like hell
On my neighbors orange tree

It's California
In November
And it's finally raining

A real storm
And everyone is thankful
For the gift from crying clouds

That same gift
They don't notice anymore
In Hawaii

Or Florida, where I remember
It rained every day of my vacation at 3:00p.m.
And went unappreciated by everyone but me

They say California is mostly high desert
They say we should treat water like gold now
They say we should have been doing this all along

But, of course, nobody listens because 
We always grow careless with what we have
When we think there's plenty

And we live our days
Like there is a never-ending supply
And an abundance of all things

So now I collect the cold water
That gets pushed along
By the hot water slowly crawling 

Through the old pipes
as it makes its way to my shower
And last night's dirty highball glass in the sink

And I sprinkle these buckets of gold
On the dying plants in the garden
And give the rest to the dog

On days when there are no crying clouds 
Swollen with nature's gold
To wash my neighbors oranges.


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   November 2014

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Fire On The Mountain


I remember the day
the Sun dove straight into the ocean
                             as fast as it could

                  in a ball 
             of blazing glory
               to escape 
                
         the dirt brown haze
     and its own runaway heat
         that was smothering 
                everything

             while clouds 
         turned the colors
of a distant fire on the mountain

and there was 

no rain 

in sight.



Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   November 2014

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

My Father's Friend


My father's friend is one of many
in a field of faded marble stones
that get a small American flag
one day each year,

the stone has no mention
of a wife or the house they bought 
and how they worried they could not afford it
but somehow did,

no mention of his children or grand children
or the car that he drove
that always smelled 
like cigarettes and aftershave,

no mention of the friends that loved him
and the place where they all went
every night after work for just one or two
but always stayed longer,

just a few chiseled sentences 
describing a short but significant period
from a lifetime of events worth noting.

For many people, my father's friend 
will always be more than just a faded marble stone
that gets a small American flag
one day each year,

and I wonder but never ask
how it makes my father feel
to remember his past while looking at his destiny
as he walks the field of faded marble stones.


inspired by a photograph by Colleen Granero Ramirez


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   Veteran’s Day, November 11, 2014

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Wrong Man, Wrong Dream (Spirits in Dreamland)


A strange man walked 
through my dream last night.

A small bohemian attic,
low pitched ceiling, an empty cot 
and a table with one chair and a candle
near a half-circle window full of moonlight,

and as I wondered 
whose room this was 
and what my dream was trying to tell me
suddenly, from out of nowhere

a person whom I did not recognize
walked right in front of me and looked directly
into the camera lens of my mind's eye
to see if he recognized me,

he didn't--you could see it in his face.

He was in the wrong room.
He was in the wrong dream.
So he opened a door and left.
It startled me awake

and I wondered 
how many doors in how many dreams
before he found the dream 
he was looking for

and I wondered
how many spirits walk the night
searching for the right dream to haunt
so as not to be forgotten by those they miss.

written while waiting for Maurice
backstage at Lagunitas Brewery, Petaluma, CA


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   November 2014

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Empty Side Of The Bed


You can learn a great deal 
about a person by what they keep 
on the empty side of the bed

You can gain insight from the night stand
with its reading lamp, water glass (coaster?)
and collection of medicines easily swept 
into the drawer should a guest arrive

but the empty side of the bed 
will show you what a person wants near 
when they reach for comfort 
with the bleary eyes of day break 
and the lonely heart of night

and if the empty side of the bed has become 
a library of unfinished books and magazines
a graveyard of lost reading glasses
and an orphanage for pillows

you can bet it's been a long while 
since they have entertained the thought
of finding someone to share the blankets
on the empty side of the bed.


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   November 2014

Monday, November 3, 2014

Haiku on The Wind


The tired wind
won't bother the sea today ---
resting quietly.

~~~~~~

Morning wind voices ---
    trees offer praise, singing streets
         break the morning calm,

         evening wind voices ---
    trees wail and moan, dark streets howl
pleading for mercy.


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   November 2014

It's The Little Things


You're going to miss me,
but not for the reasons 
you think:

you probably never noticed
the salt and pepper shakers 
were always full ---

that was me,

or how the vacuum cleaner bag
was always empty
and the cord magically redone

after you shoved them 
unceremoniously back into the closet
in a fit of housecleaning rage ---

me also,

or the couch pillows returned 
to their proper order by size and pattern
but slightly askew to show casual style

and our snuggly couch blanket folded and ready
for another night of watching your latest
conspiracy theory documentaries 

and the collection of remote controls 
in an orderly row on the coffee table
at the ready with fresh batteries ---

me again,

and the dogs latest bone
removed from harms way
of midnight bare foot trips to the bath room ---

yeah, me.

So, before I forget...

garbage goes out on Wednesday night,
you should clean the espresso maker 
with white vinegar when it gets slow,

you mow the lawn
shorter in Winter
and longer in summer,

change the water filter once a month
and the smoke alarm batteries 
on New Years Day,

and please be careful on the ladder 
when getting down the holiday decorations
(trust me, there are no killer spiders in the attic).

Call any time if you have questions.


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   November 2014

Friday, October 31, 2014

Morning is a Woman

Morning is a woman
cloudy-eyed
humming softly
sheer gown of night
tossed slowly to the floor
standing bare with possibility
in front of her wardrobe of seasons
deciding her mood

today
a flowing sky blue dress 
with pattern of easy clouds
the morning star her necklace
hair down to catch the wind
with perfume of evening rain.

I hate to see her leave.


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   October 2014

Friday, October 24, 2014

House Party


October was tipsy
and having a beautiful time
but not managing things very well

a few rainy days
then a week of heatwave
and the drought records were making everyone crazy

then Fall showed up 
late to the party and screamed
"What the hell are you guys doing?!"

Summer and Winter 
sitting together on the couch and mumbling
gave each other that "party over" look

then Summer passed out
and Winter got up to take a shower
and get ready for work with a big headache

as Fall started cleaning up
and October stumbled to the door
while sheepishly looking for his coat.


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   October 2014

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Demon Dance: Notes from Hell's Saloon


No Beard, Part 1: A beautiful woman I know was walking slowly across the dance floor towards me; it was a vision I'll never forget: grinning slightly, eyes smiling, looking right through me while she gave me silent commands to 'stay right there, here I come,' and I froze in my steps. Trying to keep eye contact with her as she came towards me was like staring at the Sun. Then, suddenly, she tried to kiss me on the lips. I had no reason to expect this, no idea what she was doing or why; I was baffled, the situation threw me completely off course. I hugged her with genuine affection and as I released her she did it again and was successful. It was sweet; it was delicate. I was confused and embarrassed at my embarrassment. She had no way to know about my rule: I never kiss any woman on the lips except the woman I am with: date, girl friend, wife, whatever . . . so it's always a quick head-dodge when someone tries that little innocent peck on the lips with me, though in this instance many parts of my conscience were immediately screaming for a suspension of such a silly rule, but it has become a natural reflex action for me now. (I wonder what people think? Germ-A-Phobe? Too good for my kiss? Freak? All of the above . . . ?)
    Turns out, I had shaved off my beard, and she was checking out what it felt like to kiss me without it (though she had never kissed me with it). "I don't know" she said, staring and thinking and comparing the incomparable, "I like it both ways!" to which we both exploded in laughter at the ridiculous double meaning of the remark she just made on the dance floor of Hell's Saloon. I'm not sure who blushed more, me or her.

No Beard, Part 2: "You’re gettin' (sex...but that's not what he said), aren't you!" he shouted as he made the clean-shaven motion across his face referring to my now-gone-beard, which I had forgotten about but kept getting reminders from people on how much I was associated with it. "No, that's why I shaved it -- to get some," was all I could come up with from my Clever Comeback Department, which seems suspiciously depleted as of late. He made the startled look of displeasure at my response (there was no correct response other than to lie and say 'yes'), as if to say, either way, don't go changing yourself for that, and he was right to think that.

The Traveler: It was good to see her after all this time. She had been traveling extensively and would be in town now while she figured her plans for the future. She talked non-stop for 10 minutes and reduced me to a silent head-bobber while I offered an occasional "uh-huh" as she weaved one adventure story into another, and I couldn't blame her one bit. I was jealous listening to her stories because she had been doing what I dream of: traveling to places you hear about and experiencing the beautiful locations of this great country. She was alive and buzzing, full of stories and pictures and scenes and could barely contain them. Jealous, me.

The Dark Side (a conversation on the band stand):
Musician 1: "Hang on, 'cause next set we're going to the Dark Side." 
Musician 2: "I don't know about you but I'm already there."

Musician 3: "Me too, man. Really, what are you expecting, eye liner?!"

It made perfect sense at the time.

Demon Dance: . . . and the dance floor was full of the usual wild dervish dancing, and I noticed that there are Drinkers Who Dance and Dancers Who Drink, two completely different animals: serious dancers put their drinks down when they dance which thereby gives priority to their Demon Dancing (not by much) over their drinking, while serious drinkers never put their drink down no matter what they are attempting (some might say they are multi-tasking, but I think that's modern day bullshit). There is an older women who comes in using a walker then sets it aside and goes immediately to the dance floor which invokes a mystical Lourdes-like healing quality to the proceedings. . . there is a young war veteran who sits quietly, assessing the musicianship while nursing his beer that I assume Uncle Sam buys for him on some sort of monthly pension for his service (I hope). . . there are people of all races and colors, smiling, staring, laughing, and drunks who like to stay in dark corners and never move from their seat at the bar. . . and there are happy tourists who were frightened when they walked into the place that everyone at the hotel told them they must go see, but then the band started, and the wild dancing began, and they realized what this place was, and they embraced it like they belonged even though it smelled a lot like what Hell must smell like - an eternity of piss and puke and sweat and cheap whiskey and stale beer. . .and the musicians were just as sweaty as and even more glassy-eyed than the dancers and drinkers from too much time in the alley between sets.

    I am there, slightly stoned, watching, and I'm thinking this is the bar scene in Hell, and it's wonderful and frightening and these people weren't damned here, they came willingly and they love it, and they'll be back . . . and I fit right in . . . and I'll be back.

- North Beach, San Francisco, Fall 2014


Friday, August 29, 2014

I Was Dreaming


I was dreaming
         I was dreaming

        drifting through consciousness  
        a dream's dream
        weary time sleeps
        the spirit searching
        dreams to hold

       dreams to believe
dreams to dream.


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   August 2014

Monday, August 25, 2014

A Flea On The Royal Dog


In dark of early morning
Mother Earth did tremble
from the weight of our worried dreams 
and sent a simple message

like the cranky down stairs tenant
banging on the ceiling
making her displeasure known
of the senseless racket above

that sent buildings quick to prostrate
while streets rose up like waves:

Your place in time is limited.

Your power is an illusion.

You are a flea on the royal dog.

Behave yourself 
or you may be removed 
without warning.


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   August 2014

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Prayer of Universal Intentions


Let us choose the giving path
     that leads us from gathering
and returns us to offering 
     alms without question:
                                       let us be kind.

Let us greet someone new
     and appreciate the common 
and unique in the stories we tell
     as they open the door to their world:
                                                            let us share.

Let us say how we feel
     so that no emotion goes untold
and the songs of our heart are sung
     by the choir of man:
                                    let us listen.

Let us smile, laugh, and cry
     with those who suffer
and remind them they are not alone
     as we help lay down their burdens:
                                                          let us comfort.

Let us raise all spirits
     and bring light to the darkened soul
with sonnets of praise and gratitude
     of the beauty that surrounds us:
                                                     let us appreciate.

Let us heal ourselves and others
    with the power of simple offerings 
to those in need
     wherever they may be:  
                                       let us care.


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   August 2014

Sunday, August 17, 2014

At The Tone, The Time Will Be...


I looked at my watch
and realized right away
that the time was not right

but as I watched the second hand
perform its dutiful head-down sweep 
like Mr. Hardy's grain mill mule

peacefully unaware
that the glare of the hot sun
meant it could not be 7:35

I thought...
Well, I only need to measure
a small chunk of...space

no matter if 
the start and end points
are not who they think they are.


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   August 2014

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Prayer of Remembrance (Let There Be)


Let there be no difference 
between our lifetime of greetings 
and our last farewell,

let there be no difference
between our loving
and our suffering,

let there be no difference
between our days together
and our nights apart,

let there be no difference
between living life
and life remembered,

let there be no difference
between this world
and the next,

let there be no difference
between the beginning
and the end,

let there be no difference
in the words we said then
and the words we say now:

I love you

I forgive you

You are with me always.


inspired by and dedicated to R.W., Tiburon, CA


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   August 2014

Saturday, August 9, 2014

My University (home schooled)


There is a book, marked and ready
to offer me a lesson 
in each room of the house
where I may find a still moment:

Kerouac is drunk again
and riffing at the kitchen table
on poetry as jazz,

a lecture on life in the year 1215 
is being given in the bath room,

Billy Collins poems 
travel easily with a glass of wine
to the back porch at sunset,

while an essay on Buddhism 
rests on the nightstand
ready to teach enlightenment 
as I begin and end each day.

My desk—-the faculty lounge
where volumes rise in dusty piles
like teachers patiently waiting
their turn at the lectern
as I review the curriculum:

'Poems by Ginsberg'
        (I don't get it, I get it, I don't get it)

'Biographies of Johnny Cash and Art Pepper'
        (why is it always drugs?)

'Atlas Shrugged' 
        (3 more chapters then drop the class...again)

'International Economic Policy in The New World'
        (for that serious student on a serious day).

So remember, dear students,
when we open our books
to the sound of turning pages
and the smell of fading time,
we open our minds
to the collective knowledge of man.

Until next time,
class dismissed.


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   August 2014

Friday, August 8, 2014

Alms of Dew


Dying grass 
straw-brown weeds
thirsty beggars plead for alms of dew
as mighty pines shake 
the cool grey blanket
of morning fog.


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   August 2014

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Endless Tear


Tis the season
of the endless tear

weeping always weeping
without relief

drying your eyes
with the heart on your sleeve

salt water sorrow
streams up from the soul.



Ken Owen.  Van Niddy Press.  August 2014

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Mercy Rain


No rest content nor joy within,
confront thy demons, confess thy sins,
search the skies
for signs of Mercy Rain.

Parched and dry the barren heart,
clear horizon, time to start,
the journey long
in search of Mercy Rain.

Mercy Rain, Mercy Rain,
anoint the wounded, ease their pain,
suffering's end
begins with Mercy Rain.

The endless path will show no gain,
thirst for pleasure, fear of pain,
receive the gift
of healing Mercy Rain.

Wandering pilgrim sad and grim,

cry no more, forgive within,
bathe your seeds
of love in Mercy Rain.

Mercy Rain, Mercy Rain
anoint the wounded, ease their pain,
suffering's end

begins with Mercy Rain.


inspired by j.s. of the state of Jefferson





Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   August 2014

Friday, July 25, 2014

Death Makes a Ripple


          "What was that?

He's gone.

          Oh no!

Oh yes.

          I didn't know...

Couldn't you tell?

          Well, now that you mention it...

The signs were all there.

          Yes, I see them now...

Now it's too late.

          but I was busy...

Busy with what?

          rowing as fast as I could!

Aren't we all?"


and they rock gently 
in silent reflection

remembering
in sunsets and clouds

until life's waters
lie still again.


in memory of g.w.c.



Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   July 2014

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

What The Wind Is Saying


Some days 
I keep the window open 
just slightly 
to give a voice to the wind

and I listen 
to the howling messages

like
      "I just came in from Hawaii---Paradise!"

or
    "Do something, anything!"

perhaps it's 
           "The people next door hate your barking dog!"

or maybe even
             "There are great atrocities out here 
               that you can't fix from your room!"


Some days
I keep the window open 
just slightly 
so I can hear what the wind has to say

but most days
all I can make out is
"What's done is done, 
come on, let's go."


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   July 2014

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Good-Bye to Dreams

I woke myself up
kissing the dream of you
good-bye

Your face in my hands
I kissed tenderly
upon those gentle lips

I woke alone
watching the image
of love drift away

An unreachable cloud
erasing itself from memory
with every blink.


Ken Owen  Van Niddy Press  July 2014

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Oh Unrequited Lover


Visions new the eyes do seek
life's beauty undiscovered
to burden ease and heart to please
oh unrequited lover.

Hobbled mind and spirit torn
seek love not from another
thy gifts within let healing begin
oh unrequited lover.

As thou has loved at greatest height
in depth so shall ye suffer
with tears of pain the saddest rain
oh unrequited lover.

And as these clouds shall one day pass
tis then you shall discover
the world is love in all your view
oh unrequited lover.


inspired by the poems of Hafiz, Suffi poet, 1320-1389


Ken Owen.  Van Niddy Press.  July 2014


Friday, June 27, 2014

A Kiss at the Bottom of the Sea






He had seen visions
from the waters edge
of a beautiful siren
on distant rocks

He knew of the legend
how mermaids would swim up
to grab hold of your heart
and render you powerless

and bring you down
to the bottom of the sea
and once they kissed you
your air became water

under the blue sky ocean
where fish swim like stars
and you could never go back
to the life you knew.

To this he said simply
"then remember me fondly"
as he turned to listen
at the waters edge

to the song of love
from the beautiful mermaid
and when she reached for his heart
he gave it freely

and they drifted together
on waves of loves embrace
then with the kiss
of new beginnings

he looked up from the bottom of the sea
as ocean became his sky
and fish swam by like stars
and he knew he was where he should be.


for Danielle and Eric
June 14, 2014




Ken Owen    Van Niddy Press      June 2014


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Drought in the Heartland


I hope this letter
finds you.

Since you left
long days have become
mostly quiet 
and very still

Though I still tend barren fields 
that lie parched and waiting
I expect no harvest
anytime soon

On days when
great rolling storms
appear without warning
and block out the sun

I draw the shades
and hide inside
from the howling wind
that rattles the windows

Hope sees no reason
to visit here anymore
but I continue to work the soil
and check the sky for clues

It is hard to imagine you 
experiencing a drought of smiles
in these days of love's thirst
but they say times are tough all over

I hope things are better
where you are

Write when you can.


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   June 2014

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Modern Poetry is Bullshit


I have been reading
poetry of the modern masters
and have come to realize
that most of it is complete bullshit.

For example,
to make up for
their indecipherable passages
they do things with form like

                                                hang sentences out in the middle of nowhere

to make you feel stupid
if you were to admit
you didn't understand why they did that
while everyone else shouts "Brilliant!"


Bullshit.


And it seems
that if you are in a drunken stupor
and write a famous poem
that makes no sense to you or anyone else

when you sober up
they will still publish
anything you do in perpetuity
while shouting "Brilliant!"


Also bullshit,


because sometimes
if we are lucky we make art
but most times we are just
drunkards at life's banquet with our heads
                                              in the soup.


(See what I mean?)


written in a drunken stupor @ 12:30a.m.


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   June 2014

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Our Quiet Hearts


I have never understood why we cut down 
beautiful groves of living flowers and trees
to make fields where we plant dead souls
that don't seem the least bit interested 
in sprouting into anything.

I am certain when they plant our quiet hearts
you'll come up as a poppy of gentle beauty 
so I'll make every effort to come up as a mighty pine 
to watch over you at the edge of your field until 
they cut me down to make room for someone else.


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   June 2014

Friday, June 20, 2014

Rememberance of a Lifetime (in 30 seconds or less)


He killed himself
of that they were sure
but no one could remember
exactly how

there was quick consensus
the method used was irrelevant
one way or the other
the result was the same

they applied all the usual
post-death platitudes -
too bad, too young, what a loss, etc.., etc...
while speaking of the brilliant mind and his work

in conclusion they performed
the ceremonial reverent pause
demanded by stories ending with death
before easily moving to another topic.


in rememberance of Richard Brautigan



Ken Owen  Van Niddy Press  June 2014



Thursday, June 19, 2014

Angels Ride Bicycles in Berkeley


Beautiful angels
ride bicycles in the wrong direction
up one-way streets in Berkeley
with complete impunity
as the crowd on the sidewalk
goes silent.

written on break at The Marsh, Berkeley, Ca



Ken Owen Van Niddy Press  June 2014

Silent Suffering


Lately when I see you
it feels like 
there is something wrong
that you aren’t telling anyone

like you are trying
to do the noble thing
by not letting me worry
alongside you

Whatever it is
we could fight it together
even if we both know
there’s not much I can offer

perhaps a hug
a prayer
a massage
a cup of tea

while we laugh 
and tell the old stories
of where we’ve been
and what we’ve seen

Now that I think of it
we should do more of that
whether or not
you’re in silent suffering

so call me

I’ll bring Chinese food 
some jazz records
some wine
and we’ll be OK for a while.



Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   June 2014

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

When God Dreams


God was talking 
in his sleep again,
I think that explains 
why I heard your name in the wind,

he was dreaming
and that must explain
why I saw your face 
in every cloud and flower,

and when he woke up crying
that must explain
the painful longing I felt
in every teardrop of his rain.

I'm sure he doesn't mean to
but it seems
when God dreams of you
it breaks everybody's heart.


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   June 2014

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Oh Great Conductor


Oh Great Conductor
you have played me
the song I must hear

with your majestic symphony
of heart-string instruments 
breaking all at once

crying out in great discord
to awaken me
from my endless night.

No song of the wind for dancing clouds
nor song of the sweet bird
singing his love for the day

for these would not lift 
my veil of mourning
for a love I held above all others

but a song of great sadness
that would break my heart wide open
and set fire to painful longing.

Oh Great Conductor
you have played me
the song I must hear

complete in your wisdom
of how one song must end
before another can begin

so that we may go forward in gratitude
to compose our life songs
and sing of the love that surrounds us.


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   June 2014