Saturday, December 19, 2015

No More Poems About Rain

...and when the rain finally came
you could feel the collective
sigh of relief rolling through
the 9 counties all the way
to the Central Valley
like a ripple in a pond

Brown lawns
got stoned drunk
and lie there giggling
while flowers could
finally relax and watch gutters
protest that break time
was over

That morning
folks rewarded themselves
for years of conservation
with guilty pleasure showers
that lasted an extra minute or two
while dreaming of reservoirs
glistening blue and full again
in a hot summer sun

It would be alright
to stay inside and let the clouds
remember how to do their thing
while we gazed wide-eyed
from the other side of the window
and stayed out of the way
and off the streets
and out of cars
because the only ones
that know how to drive
around here when it's wet
are you and me.

With so much
in the world
to worry about
at least
it was raining again.


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   December 2015

Friday, December 18, 2015

Gun

(A Modern Tale)

He brought a gun
into the garden.
The days of sassy 
hydrangea were 
about to end.

He brought a gun
into the barbershop.
If he had to wear 
his hat when he left
there'd be trouble.

He brought a gun 
into the bookstore.
The clerk had better 
be able to explain 
e.e. cummings 
once and for all.

He brought a gun 
into the jazz club
and demanded a 
recognizable melody.

He brought a gun
to the circus.
He enjoyed the 
trapeze act while 
keeping an eye on 
those creepy clowns.

He brought a gun
on his commute 
and fixed all the 
broken turn signals.

He brought a gun
into the parking lot
and gave lessons 
on parallel parking.

He brought a gun
to work and presented it
as his status report.
(They got the message.)

He brought a gun
to the movie house
and all the cell phones 
went quiet.

He brought a gun
to the grammar school
and made spirits
from angels.

He brought a gun
to the high school
and made heroes
of the innocent.
(He was neither.)

He brought a gun
to college because he
was incapable of 
higher learning.

He brought a gun
on his date. He finally
got her attention.

He brought a gun
to the Army base.
They never saw 
it coming.

He brought a gun
to the Bible study group
then showed them 
what he'd learned.

He brought a gun
to the ocean and 
issued his demands.
(There would be no negotiations.)

He brought a gun
to his bedroom
and made the demons 
sleep forever.

for James


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   December 2015

Each Day My Love

When you dream of love
in visions clear and true,
delivered from above
a precious jewel to you.

Beneath the evening sky
as lover's stars align,
hearts take wing and fly
bound in endless time.

Each day my love
you'll see through shining eyes
burning with the passion of the sun,
each day my love
will hold you when you rise,
to know our hearts forever beat as one.

From our lonely hour
searching souls repealed,
behold the highest power
the grace of love revealed.

Delivered to the light
that keeps us safe and warm,
a love to fill our nights
in love we are reborn.

Each day my love
you'll see through shining eyes
burning with the passion of the sun,
each day my love
will hold you when you rise
to know our hearts forever beat as one.


for Mitch and Hilary
inspired by the lyrics "This Kind of Love" by Mitch Polzak


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   December 2015

Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Conversation

(I'm Cool with Walking)

so, do you have any loves?

no.

how come?

  I’ve lost the nerve for battle.

love is not a battle.

  then i guess I've never
  been in love, cause they
  all felt like battles to me.

are you at least looking?

  you mean the interview process?
          trying each other on for size? no,
          i am not holding auditions.

so that’s it, you just give up?

  there comes a point in your life
          when you realize that the bus doesn't  
          stop here anymore and it’s time to
          walk and see what there is to see
          without having to explain to someone
          else what the fuck you're doing.

what the hell does that mean?

  it means i’m cool with walking.

well, thats depressing.

  i’m hungry. you ready to order?

sure.


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   December 2015

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Between Storms (Still Still)

In the park
between storms

the dog stands
statue-still
one paw raised
at the front door
of a gopher hole
waiting to deliver
the end of days.

In the park
between storms

a Chinese grandma
doing Tai Chi on the
baseball field slowly
keeps 80 years of
toil and hardship at bay
while exorcising demons
of bad calls at home plate.

In the park
between storms

majestic trees shake
themselves off to
purge their dead then
stoically pose as if to
say to the passing rain
"how do you think I've lasted
all this time?"

Back home
between storms

the spider living
in the corner of the ceiling
hasn't moved in so long
that it's hard to tell if she's
sleeping or the last one to
die of her entanglements.


Ken Owen   Van Niddy  Press   December 2015

Saturday, December 5, 2015

First Impressions


At my new job
my Manager's Boss can't
remember my name.

His face goes blank
and his head tilts slightly
whenever he sees me.
He is a busy man with many
things on his mind.

My name is not one of them.

There is another person at work
who keeps calling me Tom
which is a fine name that
I would have no problem with
had my parents given it to me.

The last time I quietly corrected
this person, I made a point of
telling him how much I like the name

and that he should just go with it
and call me Thomas in his best
English accent when he sees me

that way way he could shout at
me like King Henry and say things
like "Good God Thomas, are you mad?!"

He looked at me with a degree
of bewilderment that is hard to describe,
but I think I finally made an impression.


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   December 2015

Friday, December 4, 2015

I'll Be Your Baby Tonight

Now when someone
suggests that song
her image
comes with it.

Last time it happened
him and I looked at each
other and grew quiet
remembering her gone

then he said

Now she knows something
we don't

Soon enough,
I said.


for KKG


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   December 2015

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Your Wrong about Bukowski



                                   I think your wrong about Bukowski.
                                   he's great. you just have to sift through
                                   piles of his drunken bullshit to find the
                                   occasional corn kernel, but trust me,
                                   they're there, I've found them. you should
                                   go back and try it again.

                                   when I read his stuff it's like I'm right
                                   there in his crappy apartment at 3:00a.m.
                                   sitting on his Goodwill couch watching
                                   things go from bad to worse and when
                                   I go to the kitchen to get some more beers
                                   and flick on the light and get dirty looks from
                                   interrupted cockroaches I don't feel sad that
                                   I have no reason to leave and nowhere else to go.

                                   besides
                                   it's not what you write about,
                                   it's how you write about it.

                                   the train conductor who counts his sober
                                   moments down to the hours just told me he
                                   loves Bukowski, read him all the time when
                                   he was drinking too much in North Beach and
                                   thinks he should go back and read him again.
                                   he was smiling too hard and talking too fast
                                   and I was glad he wasn't driving the train.

                                  when I congratulated him for putting himself on
                                  the right track, all the excitement left his body
                                  and he dropped his head and mumbled some Bill W.
                                  bullshit about facing your demons instead of living
                                  with them. You could tell he really missed visiting that
                                  crappy apartment.

                                 I didn't have the heart to tell him
                                 that going back and reading Bukowski
                                 probably wasn't the best idea for him


                                 but for you

                                 yeah,
                                 try it again.



for B. M.


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   November 2015

Friday, November 27, 2015

Sunday Nights (Too Many Good-Byes)


When you were a little girl
I used to put you on a
northbound bus by yourself
to get you back home
every other Sunday night.

You tried really hard
not to cry.

Now you put me
on a southbound train
to get me back home
after weekends of bouncing
your beautiful babies on my knee.

I try really hard
not to cry.


 Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   November 2015

Friday, November 20, 2015

Mo


I thought I heard you
singing on the radio,
while sitting at the
kitchen table long ago.
"Hey, that sounds
like Mo," I said
as your sad song
went through my head,
"I always knew he'd
make it to the show."

I pulled my chair up
closer to the tune,
and watched your music
float around the room,
as broken hearted lovers cried
eggs and bacon slowly fried,
coffee with two
tablespoons of gloom.

She handed me my plate
and then she said,
"Someone in this song
will end up dead",
and sure enough
right through the heart,
a soundtrack for
a brand new start,
her white linoleum
turned crimson red.

for m.t.


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   November 2015

Thursday, November 19, 2015

One of Us is Upside Down

There is a spider
living in a corner of the ceiling
above the shower in my bathroom
that has no window

Based on my observations
I have decide she poses no threat
and therefore requires no relocation as it
is a big house and I am not using that spot

and because of her long slender legs
and graceful dancing on invisible wires
that she is a she even though we called them
Daddy Long Legs when I was young

Now that I'm older
I seem to have lost the insistence
to force my place in the grand
scheme of all creatures

I have no idea why
she chose this spot

Perhaps the outside world
proved too much for her
Perhaps to her it's like
living at a day spa

I beg her pardon daily
for my morning interruption
as I scrub and observe
and she dances in the mist

One of us is upside down

I have thought about that
for so long I am no longer
sure which one of us is
right-side up and if
there really is a right-side up

One day I noticed she was carrying something
and she stayed frozen in position for days
until one day I found a very small spider
dead on the shower floor

She had held on for as long as she could
but she had to let go of her young one

Up to heaven and down the drain

then she retreated back to her corner
to be alone as I performed the ceremony
and offered condolences then respectfully
closed the curtain on her private grief

I wonder if she is a refugee or a migrant
or was just seeking a better life
for herself and the family she lost

She is alone now
and some mornings I tell her
there is nothing to catch here
no husband, no food

just the sight of an old man
who can end her lonely nights
in a bath room with no window
by bringing rain to her short days
while upside down with no wires at all

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Time Marches On (The View From Here)


The printed word
      blurs 
at any distance

The pounding heart 
acknowledges 
every stair step

The mirror
throws mental images 
out of sync

Days quicken 
as pace
slows

Nights grow long 
as sleep hides 
off in the distance

Gravity pounds 
the skin suit 
to a relaxed  fit

Mysterious aches
take up residence
without permission 

The soul surrendered  
in passionless toil is penance 
for the sin of want

Perspective begins to manifest
within view of the finish line

Truth jumps off your tongue 
like a springboard and smashes
all the dinner dishes
and you don't 
give a 
shit


Sunsets 
    awaken
        gratitude 


Love is a weathered monument 
to years of destruction and rebuilding 
in the garden of memory 

Children are
a joyous measure
of our distance

We gaze fondly at the laughing 
picture of invincible youth
and would not trade places

for everyday brings a lesson
now that we're paying attention
and not holding important
all the wrong things


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   November 2015


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

What's In Your Wallet?


All the presidents men
             facing forward
numbers, HIGH-to-low

The Great Emancipator
in quiet reflection between the
stoic Secretary and The Father
who looks quietly over his shoulder
wondering where it all went wrong

The Great Inventor who makes
snide remarks about this sad
landscape and apparent lack
of motivation that has produced
such paltry attendance

All the presidents men
             facing forward
numbers, HIGH-to-low

secretly sneering at those plastic cards
but parade-ready and organized
for the next transaction that will
explode them into copper and silver
images of their former selves

soon to lie in state in
The Tomb of The Left Front Pocket
until they are unceremoniously
buried in their final resting place
under the couch cushions.


-finished backstage at Litquake Conference
San Francisco, CA


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   October 2015

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Original Hipster (I Saw Jesus, Part 5)


I saw Jesus again
(the guy is everywhere)

It was after the gig
as I walked home alone
down the empty street

I looked up to see a glowing light
from the window and there he was
sitting on the couch of his studio
apartment with his girlfriend

their faces shining in the light
of their individual laptops
as the room glowed blue
from a television show
no one was watching

And I wondered what he does
to afford the rent in this town
and I must admit

I was disappointed to
see him wearing a flannel shirt
in September.


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   September 2015

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Indian Summer (The Season of Wispy Clouds)


Each year there are a few quiet weeks
where Summer and Fall share the day
in sibling rivalry until Summer concedes to let go

where Fall brings a crisp edge
to the morning and evening air
to ease us gently into what lie ahead

but Summer still rules the day with boastful pride
sending us searching for shade on our lunch hour
just to remind us who has been running things

and the Sun looks on, smiling
at this game of tug-of-war
and offers them a special light

and together they join hands each night
and make the wind sit down and watch
as they command wispy clouds to hang still
for their majestic sunset canvas


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   September 26, 2015

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Do


   What I do
What I can do
What I should do
  What I want to do
What I am here to do
                         are all          
different

What I'm supposed to do
        What I need to do
        What I must do
   is make them all

the same.

Do.


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   September 2015

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Heartbreak International


She was on the phone
in the next cubicle
softly crying, quietly pleading
in a language I could not understand

I could feel the pain and suffering
as her sad words drifted over
the walls like clouds of pain
to blot the sun from my day

She had no idea I was sharing
her private moment and that
I had convinced myself someone
was telling her their final good-bye

It was a reminder
that heartbreak is
universally recognizable
in any language

Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   September 2015

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Bay Area Regretful Transit


The BART train
    at rush hour: one surf board
for five hundred people

          ~~~~~

BART train riders--
    forced to share someone's
tuna and sweet pickle sandwich

          ~~~~~

BART train riders--
    skinny suits to Spear street,
sandals to Silicone Valley

          ~~~~~

BART train riders--
    expressionless
while clandestinely farting

          ~~~~~

BART train riders
   telling off their Boss
in a daydream



Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   September 2015

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Home Upon The Hill


[1st verse]
In the light of early morning
each day when I drive slow
past your place upon the hill top
from the valley far below,
I look up to see your vision
and think about the time
when you were still here with me
and I still called you mine.

[chorus]
I drive the lonely road
past your home upon the hill,
when you look down you'll see
the one that loves you still.

[2nd verse]
I see your smiling face
a vision soft and true
remembering a time
when it was me and you,
our hopes for the future
and all the dreams we shared
I had to let them go
the day I left you there.

[chorus]
I drive the lonely road
past your home upon the hill,
when you look down you'll see
the one that loves you still.

[3rd verse]
On Sunday I'll come visit
at your place upon the hill
we'll sit and talk for hours
amongst the trees so still,
I'll leave your favorite flower
upon the cold grey stone
that marks the resting place
of your eternal home.

[chorus]
I drive the lonely road
past your home upon the hill,
when you look down you'll see
the one that loves you still.

(Refrain tag): The one that always will.


Ken Owen.  Van Niddy Music.  August 2015

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Commuter Blues: Dharma Pops on a Bus


He fought the good fight
    but lost the battle--
Cactus flower wins

                                  for Rudy

Show me how
    then I will make
a different way
                              for L.T.


Commuters parade
    into town,
no smiling, no waving


"Money no matter,
    more important be happy"--
Wisdom in broken English


Working mothers 
    hand off their babies--
Morning heartache, evening redemption


Beautiful woman
    plays with her hair,
men watch and dream


written on a commuter bus
Santa Clara, CA  August 4, 2015


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press  

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Writer on a Train


Familiar destination,
    different path-
Eyes open again


Low tide,
    dead tires in mud--
What gives?


Along the tracks
    rusting piles of junk--
Nobody cares.


Garbage everywhere--
    We are making
a mess of things.


Trains run through
    the poor side of town
so not to wake the rich.


From this view
    everything needs
A fresh coat of paint.


Horse in a field
   watches us pass--
where would he go?


Small white church
    shines like a beacon
in a sleepy town


Young couple under a tree,
    heads bowed in discussion--
"It's not you, it's me" perhaps?


Field of dead sunflowers--
    parchment brown,
 faded gold


Do you see what I see
    when you look out
that window?


written on the Amtrak train
from Fremont to Sacramento


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press    August 1-2, 2015

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Dharma Pops


Dharma Pops: American Haiku as outlined by Jack Kerouac
(seeking simplicity of expression through compression, 3 lines, no syllable count, 
no seasonal reference, minimal punctuation, indent second line)


Cat in the garden
    decides I am no threat
to his nap


Seat belts and suspenders
    highlight what should
stay hidden


Every language I hear
   sounds more exotic
than my own


OK,  Yeah,  No--
    words that make the leap 
between uncommon tongues


Jazz on the restaurant
    speakers, surprisingly
good for McDonalds


The smell of Doritos
    drifts behind the fat man--
mystery solved


At the train station
    not going anywhere--
bums wave goodbye


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   July 2015

Monday, July 27, 2015

Images of Blue

     
        Things are different now
      The old routines are gone
                               Good-bye

   Change must show me how
   To rise and face each dawn
                               Good-bye

The days that saw us through
        Have all come to an end
                               Good-bye

            With memories of you
             New journeys I begin
                               Good-bye

Good-bye
              to all we knew
              images of blue
Good-bye
              to me and you
Good-bye

             New stories everyday
     New lessons to be learned
                               Good-bye

          New joys along the way
         New hearts at every turn
                                Good-bye

    With waves of endless time
                lapping at the shore
                               Good-bye

           I leave the past behind
   and learn to love once more
                                Good-bye

Good-bye
              to all we knew
              images of blue
Good-bye
              to me and you
Good-bye


for b.b.

Ken Owen. Van Niddy Press. July 2015

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Drought



California--
carefree mountains sun themselves
we play with buckets


California--
lawns no longer laughing at
rolling golden hills


California--
the front lawn got the message:
brown is the new green




Ken Owen.  Van Niddy Press.  July 2015

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Redwood Haiku


Appreciating
each day as a supreme gift,
age brings gratitude.



 Sad reminiscing
 memories of life and love--
 the old man reflects



Open the window--
        in spiriting l shall fly
to your silent heart

for marlene, inspired by the story of
Jeanne Hebuterne and Amedeo Modigliani



When he sang, the leaves
blew down to sit at his feet
and enjoy the tune

for peter




written on the way to 
The Redwood Ramble, Navarro, CA
July 2015

Monday, July 13, 2015

Listens to The Wind


They called him
       Listens to The Wind

       for he heard songs 
delivered from The Great Spirit
through dancing trees and singing 
grass that others did not hear

     and magic in the words 
of those who did not recognize
that the source of great wisdom
spoke directly from their own hearts

He began each day 
     by giving thanks

    and caressing these words gently until  
they took form and grew wings to fly 
back into the world to build a nest 
in an empty soul that needed healing

     so they could teach people that 
The Wind can speak to anyone who
takes the time to quiet their mind 
and listen with their heart

They called him
       Listens to The Wind

       and these were his gifts
to the world



Ken Owen.   Van Niddy Press.   July 2015

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

High Ho, High Ho (The Rutted Road)


Oh the rutted road
        we trace
Our spirit resigned in
        daily toil
Shoulders bowing from
       the weight
Of hearts without passion
       gone quiet
Souls without seeking
       gone lost
Eyes without visions
       gone dark
Lives without meaning
       the cost



Ken Owen    Van Niddy Press     July 2015

Thursday, June 25, 2015

What Happened to Macy’s? (The Death of Brick and Mortar)



    I went shopping for a pair of dress slacks at Macy's the other day. Though my history of shopping at Macy's is limited, I am confident in my assessment that this once grand lady of department stores has lost her luster and, at least in my particular American suburb, is not aging gracefully.

    The first thing I noticed when I walked in was that there had been some sort of explosion of spring and summer pastel colors and criss-crossy checkered patterns over all the clothing; it was as if the Easter Bunny had hopped in and thrown up all over everything and no one had bothered to clean it up. I don't recall ever seeing anyone dress in these types of M&M candy-colored clothes, but I'll know where they came from when I do.

    The next thing I experienced was the 'bomb shelter after an air raid' state of things: clothes tossed everywhere in various stages of disarray along with abandoned racks of clothing waiting for a shelf to call home before being unceremoniously thrown to the floor by an angry shopper who can't wear 'slim fit'.  Ah yes, slim fit: everything is slim fit now, which, after further review, I'm guessing is some sort of collusive effort between clothing manufacturers, diet meal plans, your local membership health club, and chain restaurants that serve over-sized 'American portions'. It goes like this: gain weight, sign up for the gym and have diet meals delivered to your house with hopes of fitting into new slim fit clothes; an unrealistic goal for most of us, which is why they still make 'relaxed fit'. 

    When I realized I was in the 'hey old man you're in the wrong section' section, I wandered aimlessly until I found the 'now you're in the old man section' section only to find more slim fit clothes. Slim fit suits just look wrong to me, and I honestly don't think it's envy on my part based on the fact that the days of me wearing anything slim fit are long gone. Frank and Dean and Sammy didn't wear slim fit suits. They were thin. There's a difference. Elvis? Relaxed fit, for sure.

    One of the many things I was quickly reminded of in my shopping experience was 'never trust a hanger', meaning that just because the hanger says 'large', the odds are greater that the clothing on that hanger is anything but 'large'; it might as well say 'hot dog' or 'beer' or anything else to remind you why you'll never fit into anything labeled 'slim fit'. Experienced women shoppers probably know this already; I'm guessing this information has been handed down through generations of women shoppers who take their sport very seriously, similar to the father who tells his son to never get a beer or hot dog at the stand nearest the gate when you come into the ball park because that one is the most crowded. Simple and basic truths for the real world.

    I had asked an experienced shopper friend to meet me at the store, but she wasn't there yet (fashionably late?), and of course, there were no sales people to help me sift through the piles of clothing ruble for my size and style. As far as I could tell, the two people working there were attending to the registers (no longer 'cash' registers) and the lines of 14 people each. I was on my own...and beginning to sweat.

   I was in such a state of mental and physical exhaustion by the time I got to the fitting room (no longer the 'dressing room') that I just wanted the whole exercise to be over. Ten minutes in the fitting room and it was then I realized I was standing there in my underwear staring at six pairs of pants and three of them were the exact same size, color, and brand. When I came out of the fitting room (yes, with pants on), my experienced shopper friend was sitting there, and when she saw my red faced exhaustion, she shook her head slightly and sighed at my rookie failings. "What size?" she barked. I mumbled something about my estimates at size conversion numbers between regular and slim fit, then I began a disjointed ramble about how they now make pants that purposely sit below your waist (do you still need one hand to hold them up? - my mind was racing!). When I finished my speech on the state of modern clothing styles, I noticed she was gone, but by the time I had made some sense of what I was doing back in the fitting room, she opened the door and threw in two pairs of the exact pants I had been searching for along with a different (non-M&M) color option. "Anything else?" she asked. I managed a sheepish "No thanks." I was dizzy and beginning to dehydrate.

     When it was finally our turn at the register, my shopper friend whipped out a coupon from her purse like a ninja unsheathing a sword and plopped it down on my purchase. The lady working the register never blinked and quickly snatched up the coupon; it was as if they were playing a commerce version of  'go fish'. I stood there with my mouth open and eyes dilated. Then, as if suddenly presented with a karmic reward for my suffering and her diligence, we saw the price for one of the pair of pants come up on the register screen with the wrong (much cheaper) price. I looked self-consciously at my personal shopper, but she never took her eyes off the register lady as she mentally commanded her to finish our transaction by using her powers of shopping telepathy (I could hear her thinking "There is nothing wrong with the price of those pants.") Though I was briefly worried about enlisting karmic payback for purchasing mislabeled goods, at this point, having been rendered dumb(er) by the whole experience, I said nothing. 

    I barely remember finishing what I can only hope was my final experience at the local
mall as I staggered out to my car with a few scattered thoughts:


1) Amazon: shop while drinking
2) FedEx: receive your purchase in your bathrobe
3) If Macy's goes under, will Amazon take over their Thanksgiving Day parade?
4) I bet the dancers they hire in the parade are the only ones left that can wear slim fit.
5) Maybe I should start working out?
6) Fuck that; what's for dinner?



Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   June 2015

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Now Everything


When mind clouds lift 
with the steam from morning coffee 
to reveal my conscience 
trying to sell me defeat by mumbling 
"Now what" 
(a statement, not a question)
the response I use
to snap me out of it is
"Now everything”


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   June 2015


Monday, June 22, 2015

California



Golden rolling hills---
waves of earth frozen in time
soon to move again



Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   June 2015

Dreams of You and I


Telling you
            no
was not easy
but it was the right 
thing to do

To touch your glowing 
heart just briefly
is all it would take 
to be lost in another 
slow death of waiting 
for something 
you could not give

Instead, I chose to live
with dreams of you and I 
unrealized 
that end perfectly 
every time


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   June 2015

The Smell of Her Perfume


He woke up in jail 
to the smell of her perfume

He held his head with trembling hands 
pain screaming like a siren in his ears
Cold sweat danced on his forehead
as his stomach mounted the
occasional escape attempt
All this consumed him until he realized 
the private cloud of sweet scent
that calmed his body and mind was
the smell of her perfume 

He tried to piece together what happened
but all he had were scattered images
a bad ending
and the one thing that let him 
escape back into sleep was 
the smell of her perfume

He chased her image 
as it floated between dreams
while a voice deep inside screamed 
“she was here, can't you smell that?"
but he could summon no vision
to satisfy a mind unconvinced
she had left him with anything more 
than the smell of her perfume

Four cold walls
one metal door
one surveillance camera
the glare of one humming fluorescent light
three snoring drunks
no shoelaces, no eye contact
no dignity, no pride
the only thing not surrendered
into a plastic bag of possessions was
the smell of her perfume

He woke up in jail
at the end of one story
and the start of a new one 
and staggered bleary eyed into the hot morning
a long way from home
$7.00 in his wallet
wearing last nights clothes
and the smell of her perfume


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   June 2015


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Still Dreaming of You


(1st verse)
At the end of each day I'm so weary
from thinking of you all day through
and when I come home
I spend my nights alone
feeling so lonely and blue

(2nd verse)
The moon stops by every evening
to make sure I’m doing alright
but it's sad to see
you’re still there with me
in my lonely dreams every night

(chorus)
The moon shined bright
through my window tonight
and brought all my sad dreams in view
it started to cry 
when it said good-bye
because I'm still dreaming of you

(3rd verse)
I still dream of the days when you loved me
I still dream of the nights you were here
But when dreams are through 
it's just memories of you
For me, the moon, and our tears

(chorus)
The moon shined bright
through my window tonight
and brought all my sad dreams in view
it started to cry 
when it said good-bye
because I'm still dreaming of you


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   June 2015

Long Road Home


(1st verse)
Hard travels and trials my life has seen,
I've climbed high mountains searching for dreams,
but the view always showed another valley below,
with a path never-ending and a long way to go.

(chorus)
Tired, so tired as I lay down my head,
with comfort in knowing the words that you said,
my soul is fulfilled, I'm never alone,
as I make my journey on the long road home.

(2nd verse)
I traveled so far for a mighty long time,
with love in my heart and peace in my mind,
I kept the faith in doing what's right,
giving thanks for each day and praising you every night.

(repeat chorus)

(3rd verse)
My time here has ended, I bid you farewell,
remember me fondly in the stories you tell,
my searching is done, my struggles are through,
I give thanks for the road that led me to you.

(4th verse)
Give me to the wind, give me to the sea,
give me to the mountains that watch over thee,
I'll be always with you wherever you roam,
as you make your journey on the long road home.

(final chorus)
Tired, so tired as I lay down my head,
with comfort in knowing the words that you said,
my soul is fulfilled, I’m never alone,
I've come to the end of the long road home.

(tag)
Yes I've come to the end
of the long road home.


dedicated to the memory
of Fred "Skip" Okert


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   June 2015

Acceptance



I accept 
  the things I've done,
I accept 
  who I've become.
I accept 
  that change will come,
I accept 
  I am not done.


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   June 2015

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Writer's Curse (Midnight Haiku)



Howling with passion,
"two cats on a midnight fence"--
Get up, write that down.


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   June 2015

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Morning Reflection



Yours was once
the face of my enemy.
Yours is now
the face of my forgiveness.


Ken Owen   Van Niddy   Press May 2015

The Garden of My Heart (Waiting for Violet)



With great anticipation
I have set aside a special place 
in the garden of my heart
just for you

Awaiting your arrival I stand 
ready to tend and nurture
that you may grow 
forever unimpeded 

This garden has been home 
to many a flower of love and 
great beauty that time has 
placed in faded bloom

But few have held me 
captive in reverie
adrift and dreaming
before my first glance

So join us now 
that all may grow strong
from the gift of love 
eternal in the flower of you



written in anticipation of the birth
of Ms Violet Eloise Leitner

Ken Owen    Van Niddy    Press May 2015

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Creature Comforts


     We have come to a point in the evolution of our species where we lay claim to our superiority over all creatures with bold proclamations of our advancements, not from within the sacred halls of museums rich with our antiquity, but from the shelves of our locals markets announcing our gifts to the ages such as the all-natural peanut butter that requires no stirring (it seems separation for peanuts is normal and, hopefully, not as heartbreaking as it is for us) and bath room cleaning bubbles that need not be scrubbed (my small brain can not begin to imagine the effort it took to teach them the art of independent scrubbing).

     I, for one, have always found stirring the peanut butter a perfectly reasonable and symbiotic task to perform while the toaster and the espresso machine exchanged their morning pleasantries. Now I stand there like some sleepy-eyed bystander reflecting how later that day I will use my coupon for 8 seconds of non-stirring peanut butter time by assisting the no-scrub scrubbing bubbles (I still don't trust them) on the shower wall while I consider the proposition that washing my clothes with a soap that promises the smell of a spring rain and drying them with small sheets that will make people think I've just come from a walk in a summer meadow might constitute a technologically induced seasonal conflict of interest.

     So here we are, smelling fresh as a daisy grown in The Garden of Monsanto with a faux spring rain, our rung on the evolutionary ladder secured via no stirring, no scrubbing.

     It's hard to imagine things getting much better.


Perhaps our greatest distinction as a species is our capacity, unique among animals, to make counter-evolutionary choices.”  ― Jared Diamond



Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   May 2015

Thursday, April 30, 2015

April Haiku

Gendai Haiku



The moon and I
Contemplate each other
Behind curtains and clouds




Mountains step into dark silhouette
Prepare to guard the night sky
And offer the moon safe passage---
                                       Sunset




Squawking blackbirds
always so angry---
    If I knew why, I might agree.




        Birds on a wire
bunched closely together      except one.
Pawn, King, or out-of-towner?






Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   April 2015

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Poets: The Difference


Most poetry
is written by lonely women
with too many cats
or men who drink 
too god dam much but 
offer no repentance
because they've realized
hangovers start their day
with the prerequisite suffering

It is much easier to experience 
the melancholy of the women
than to search for lucid thoughts
from the men

The women are at ease 
when you join them for tea 
and sad reflections at the kitchen table 
while the men make you swim
in a pool of their hopelessness 
where you can't touch the edge

The women live long quiet lives
tending their garden of beautiful memorials
while the men self-immolate with their demons 
and leave us the ashes of "what if".

Being a poet 
is a hell of a thing.


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   April 2015

The Mirror


All those years
left their mark
lines, east and west
telling your story
without saying a word

All those tears
left their mark
trails, north and south
as they flowed back
to the heart that made them


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   April 2015

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Mrs. Oliver's Rules



I bought a book of Mrs. Oliver's Rules,
a list of things last seen in middle school,
so I may know again the things to do,
to make great poetry from word-play stew.

But rules have always been so hard to take,
pentameter a boring subject makes,
I now remember why in school I slept,
I hold no place where silly rules are kept.

I have no horse, no darkened woods of snow,
Just me, my iPad, nowhere else to go.
I'm certain that his horse did think it queer,
to force pentameter on gentle ears.

I'm sure to some these prove most useful tools,
but I shall be no chef of rhythmic gruel,
I’ll carry on the creed of fools unschooled:

To hell with rules.



for Eric


written while reading Mary Oliver's "Poetry Handbook" and Charles Bukowski's "The Days Run Away Like Wild Horses Over The Hills"


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   March 2015

Saturday, March 7, 2015

March Haiku




     Curious spring moon
wakes me with a question,
   "not anymore"---my answer.




         My busy mind
was writing you a love poem 
   while I slept---gone now.






Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   March 2015

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Cycle


I sought.
I found.

I battled.
I won.

I had.
I lost.

I cried.
I hurt.

I died.
I rose.

I learned.
I left.

I live.
I feel.

I dream.
I seek.


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   February 2015

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Messages and Commentary


I dreamed
a message:

"She's gone to find peace"

When I woke
my mind quickly added:

"on her own terms"

You might imagine
my concern when I realized 

I was receiving
messages and commentary

from beyond and within
all before 6:00a.m.

Today I will be calling
all my "she's"

to make sure 
everyone is still here.


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   February 2015

February Haiku



The commuter train whistle---
a cry of anguish
for its silent passengers.




She seeks a lover               he searches for love
                              sadly                          
                  two different things.




Each winter
his beard returns
with more snow.




Her perfume
on my fingertips—
fragrance for a day dream.




Clouds deliver rain---
I run for shelter and warmth
small birds calmly bathe




By the wind's command
flowers bow in her presence 
as my lover leaves





Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   February 2015

Thursday, February 5, 2015

My History (For My Children's Children)




I am documenting my history
in verse and song just in case 
I am too feeble minded 
to remember these things when I grow old

Perhaps someday my children
or my children's children
will sit by my bedside
and read me my poems

helping me unwrap dusty old visions
in one final appreciation of great loves 
long forgotten in dark corners 
of a mind going quiet

Perhaps I'll look at my children
or my children's children
and tell them I have no desire
to relive a life's worth of sadness 
and die again before I die

Perhaps I'll look at my children
or my children's children
with no memory of any of it
and ask them to turn on the ball game

Either way
someone will inherit my memories 
and place them on the family book shelf
where history goes to age unnoticed 


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   February 2015

Friday, January 30, 2015

The Chickasaw Bridge

As he drove home late one night
heading north on the Chickasaw Bridge,
he saw a hand-painted message on a billboard sign:
"there's someone else" . . . it was painted in red.

As the message burned in his mind,
he thought back on some things she had said
and her touch that seemed to grow colder each day,
and the distance in their bed.

That night brought a cold, deep chill,
made worse by the words that he'd read,
to a house where suspicion grew stronger each minute
while his jealousy fire burned red.

As he drove to work the next day,
heading south on the Chickasaw Bridge,
he couldn't keep from looking back
at the message that was written in red.

But a new one had taken its place,
and his heart seemed to stop when he read:
"she's not alone," so he turned right around
and went north on the Chickasaw Bridge.

She told the police she was startled,
all alone she was put to the test,
when he rushed through the door, then fell to the floor,
one shot put suspicion to rest.

The stares and the gossip meant nothing,
the neighbors all knew what she did.
No one was surprised when the new man arrived
at the house north of Chickasaw Bridge.

Months later on his way home from work,
heading north on the Chickasaw Bridge,
he saw a hand-painted message on a billboard sign
"there's someone else" . . . it was painted in red.




Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   January 2015