Saturday, December 24, 2016

The American Experiment


The American 
Experiment 
is not dead

regardless 
of your despair
or what they tell you.

The American 
Experiment
is not broken

but doing exactly what 
we should expect it to do 
if left attended 

by a select group 
and not the collective 
for whom it should speak. 

The American 
Experiment 
has delivered

a painful lesson in neglect 
and made public the shame 
of our complacency. 

The American 
Experiment 
has survived 

greater afflictions than this
and given us a vision of the perfect 
because we have experienced our imperfections 

and lessons in healing 
because we have suffered 
and caused great suffering.

The American 
Experiment 
grants no immunity 

to the righteously indignant
who deny their guilt
and cast blame upon their neighbors.

The American 
Experiment 
sings 

the song of the Body Politic 
written with the echo of voices
complicit in their silence.

The American 
Experiment 
pauses at all crossroads

as we determine 
if these are the times that were
or the times that shall be.




Ken Owen    Van Niddy Press   December 2016

Monday, December 19, 2016

Move The Bed

In the room
that I rent
the bed faces
a closet

with full length
mirrors
on each
door

and
for the
life of
me

I cannot think
of a more
disheartening
or torturous way

to begin
and end
each day
than by subjecting
myself
to the review

of what
all those days
of crazy
living
and bad
decisions

have done
to this image
that was
once
beautiful.

Tomorrow

I move
the
bed.


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   December 2016

Friday, November 25, 2016

The Haunting


Since I could 
not put an end 
to the
haunting 

I have decided 
to become
cordial 
with the ghost.

I've made my way 
back to 
the edge 
of the chasm

where we 
can now be
civil and
exchange 

heartfelt 
greetings 
and 
well-wishes

from across the 
unspoken forever-space 
high above the ruins of
our smoldering bridge.

Not what I had imagined,
but it's better this way
as long as you don't
look down.




Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press        November 2016

Friday, November 18, 2016

The Beauty of Dying


There seems
a rural
mystery,
an unwritten law
amongst people
who live
out in the
country:

they let
old barns
die
at their
own pace.

There is
something
about an old barn
past it's prime
abandoned
alone
in a field

it is
architectural death
in slow motion
on public
display.

There is an instant
fascination
when we see a barn
crooked
stooped
held up by
the wind and
visions
of its
former glory

that causes us to
pull over on our
Sunday drive
and instantly
award ourselves
the title of
artist
or
historian
and take a picture
to document
the beauty of dying
slowly
in a rolling field

and we think
to ourselves

all it would take
is one good
push
to end the
suffering

so
why
don't they do it?

The Japanese are
famous
for the
respect
they bestow
upon their elders

but we hide our
old folks
away
from places
they want to return

in places
they don't know

and pay people
to make sure
they stay there

while we turn
away
from discussions
of suffering
and one good
push

yet

we let
barns
take their time
dying
where they have
always been
and we
pull over
to watch.


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   November 2016

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

You Know Something She Doesn't

I have always
thought
that if sex could sing
it would sound
like Mavis Staples.

I have also thought
yet
I carry no
supporting evidence
that Mavis Staples is
most likely
a deeply religious person
who would bristle
at the very mention
of that analogy

Chances are slim
at best
that I will ever
get the opportunity
to meet Ms Staples
but even if I did
I would
never
see myself
telling her this
even though
I'd be dying too

so that creates an
unwritten comfort
out there
in the dark:

Mavis Staples
will live out
the rest of her days
never knowing
I think her singing
sounds like sex

but
now
you do.


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   November 2016

Monday, November 7, 2016

Fall Haiku 2016


In formation: birds
     fly south effortlessly above
crawling freeway cars
          ~~~~~


Golden light of Fall
     dances upon still waters--
High tide at sunset.

-West bound on the San Mateo Bridge, October 2016
          ~~~~~


Without reflection
     the mirror holds no answers.
Become The Mirror.
          ~~~~~


Fall quickly, blossom,
     and embrace your destiny 
in the world beyond.
          ~~~~~


The old dog sleeping--
     twitching limbs, quivering lips,
dreams of love and war.
          ~~~~~


Waves upon the shore
     proclaiming a steady pulse---
the earth's beating heart.

-a day in Pacifica, CA
          ~~~~~


Oh sleepy suburb,
     Tonight, 8:00pm, Magic!
Country AND Western!

Live Music at Bird and Beckett  Books and Records
San Francisco, CA
          ~~~~~


Experiencing
     his image in the mirror,
what would the dog change?
          ~~~~~


Let impermanence
     bring not fear of tomorrow 
but joy for the Now.
          ~~~~~


Leaping to his death,
     the leaf hit a spider web;
"Stick around," said Fall.



Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   November 2016

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Sharp As A Tack


One morning
as I was
walking into a local
burger place for a
breakfast sandwich
a white haired gent
was coming out.

He looked happy
but he was shaking his
head and saying

"My oh my oh me oh my oh."

He didn't notice me
until I said

"My sentiments exactly."

Startled, he turned
looked up
looked me over quickly
and said with
a big smile

"Yeah, but I'm retired!
Are you retired?"

I couldn't figure
what that
had to do
with anything.

"I'm working on it"

was all I could
come up with.

"Great pun!"
he exclaimed
with an even
bigger smile.

Retired
Happy
Crazy

and sharp
as a
tack.


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   October 2016

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Large Puddles of Rain

Ruby, age 3: "Popi,
we should go to
the park and see how
the swings are doing."

Popi, age 58, laughing:
"Well honey, since you
put it that way,
sure.

Just then
Grandma came for a visit
and in the excitement
all thoughts
of checking on
the swings
were lost

so Popi sat back
in his chair
at the backyard
picnic table
opened a beer
and watched his girls
continue to play in
large puddles of rain.


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   Sacramento, Fall 2016



Monday, October 3, 2016

Advice to a Sad Friend


Get a journal. 
Start scribbling. 
Now. 
Do it. 

Keep it with you. 
Look up. 
Look around. 
Be quiet. 
Notice. 
Listen. 
Write it down. 

Document your 
experiences 
for your own posterity
to remind your future self 
what a shitty mess this felt like 
and how 
in the end 
it was nothing more
than a small blip. 

Turn your suffering 
into beauty.
You'll be glad you did
and so will we. 

Chin up, dearest.


-Ken


for j.d.o.


Van Niddy Press   Fall 2016

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Eyebrows of a Dog



. . . and it was then that I realized 
he was my equal. 
He knew it and I knew it 
yet there I was, drunk, drinking whiskey 
and eating bits of salami and cheese 
and throwing him the occasional morsel 
like I was Henry the 8th or some shit
when really I was just another drunken asshole 
with a dog who loves him and looks up at you 
thinking, "Really? Again?" 

George Carlin was right, it's their eyebrows that kill you.


(stream of consciences while reading 'Post Office' by Bukowski)

Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   August 2016

Friday, September 16, 2016

Summer Haiku


The Universe is
experiencing itself
through my consciousness.



Playful cat chasing
summer shadows, unaware
the hawk chases him.



Observing the fly
walk the blades of summer grass,
I feel like a god.



The Journey of Life:
stumbling between two dark holes
alone with reason.



Morning dew lingers
then hangs heavy in the air
spurned by listless clouds.


            ~~~~
Fat woman snoring
across the aisle, a bad day
to forget headphones.

On awakening,
fat woman eats her Cheetos--
My diet starts today.

Son of Fat Woman:
reeks of smoke, saggy pants, hoody.
We do not judge...much.

Full figured woman
losing gravity's challenge,
I wish her good luck.

Amtrak, Fremont to Sacramento
            ~~~~



Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   Summer 2016

Monday, August 15, 2016

Three Stars


We stand in silent awe
Heads tilted, lips slightly parted
As we orbit their perimeter
With envious gazing
Wondering what it must be like
To live in their circle.

Three sister stars
Aligned with unseen tether
Shining through the darkness
Their position fixed and eternal
In a sky that would change
Forever should they dim.

for Angela, Mandi, and Lopa


Ken Owen     Van Niddy Press   August 2016

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

How the Sun Feels

(On A Day Like Any Other)


On a day like any other
The Sun and I woke together 
and rubbed sleepy clouds 
of morning  from our eyes.

Time to face the day, I groaned.

Time to be the day, said the Sun
as it tenderly kissed my cheek 
and sent me on my way.

On a day like any other
I came out at noon to see the Sun 
shouting at ladies under parasols 
and gentlemen in tight collars.

Must you be so stern, I asked.

Must you be so insolent, demand the Sun 
as it stung my cheek with a burning reprimand 
and went on about his business of parching the distant hills.

On a day like any other
I sat facing west and watched the
The Sun look guiltily over its shoulder
as it left for the night.

Thanks for all your hard work, I said.

Thanks for understanding, said the Sun 
as it gently kissed my cheek and painted 
its apology in the clouds.



Ken Owen    Van Niddy Press    June 2016

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Us and Them

(Thinking in English)


On my way to work this morning, I stopped at the corner market for a lottery ticket and said good morning to the shop keeper from Pakistan who was arguing with his 
wife in Punjabi. He calls me Boss, and I like that, but I know he calls everyone Boss.

After I dropped off my laundry with the quiet Japanese man who owns the dry cleaning business and bows ever so slightly when I arrive and leave, I stopped in to say good morning to the husband and wife from the Philippines who own the train station cafe so we could show each other our latest grand baby pictures.

On the shuttle to work, I practiced saying "Good Morning" and yelling "You Crazy Fucker!" in Vietnamese at the other drivers with my friend Tien the Shuttle Bus Driver. This makes him smile.

At lunch time, I got something to eat from my friend Andy who runs the cafeteria. Andy is from China, works 6 days a week, 10 hours or more each day, and tells me he has no time to look for a wife. Andy likes the fact that I have a day job and a night job and whispers to me "Most Americans won't do that. Good for you!"

On the ride home from work, Tien the Shuttle Driver was having an argument on his phone and driving like he was maneuvering the streets of Ho Chi Minh City at noon, while the two Middle East software programmers sitting behind me were discussing code in Farsi. I asked Tien drop me off at the corner market so I could buy a bottle of beer from the owner who was now arguing with his son in Punjabi. His son was answering his father in combinations of Punjabi and English.

As I left the corner market, I was thinking in English that perhaps we could all have a ceremony one day to officially abolish the concept of 'us and them' once and for all.



Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press  May 2016

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Flowers of The Battelfield


I dreamed of wild flowers
sacrificed and buried
without ceremony

trampled under foot
by frightened young
farmers-turned-soldiers

and brave captains
shouting great rallying
cries of war

The crushed seeds from
Blue Belles and Buttercups
and Flowering Dogwood

fed with the blood of
patriot causes gave birth to
a new generation of flora

saddened with consciousness
and uneasy with the search
for answers beyond the clouds.


-inspired by "The Civil War" by Ken Burns



Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   April 2016

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Spring Haiku

Winter / Spring 2016     


     Off in the distance
shouting the time across town--
     the 8:20 train.

           ~~~~~

     The sparrow performed
a precision landing on
     a cactus flower.

           ~~~~~

     The Screeching seagull
answering the train whistle:
     "All clear from up here!"

            ~~~~~

     Let all your footsteps
kiss the earth with gratitude 
     for her patience.

            ~~~~~

     Resting on a cloud
just above the horizon,
     a sleepy spring moon.  

            ~~~~~

     Like kids in the car,
spring clouds barely made the trip
     before they let go.

            ~~~~~

     'Six Days on The Road'
is to Country Music what
     'Misty' is to Jazz.

             ~~~~~

     Who are we to say
of what should and should not be?
     Bow and keep quiet.

              ~~~~~

     Brother mosquito:
in life, annoying; in death,
     fine art on my wall.

             ~~~~~

     Stay with me, lover
watch the creeping moon shadows
     while we catch our breathe.

             ~~~~~

    With marijuana,
decriminalization
     serves the greater good.

-for Trick

             ~~~~~

     In grief I summon
no intermediary 
     to will you my love.

-for the people of Brussels, March 2016

             ~~~~~

     Angry waves reclaimed
the cliffs where we cast our dreams 
     to the horizon.

-for Half Moon Bay and Pacifica, CA, Winter 2016

             ~~~~~

     Spring day, winter day,
then back again, Mother Nature
     struggles to let go.

             ~~~~~

   California spring:
on a bottle of sun screen,
     sticky beads of rain.

           ~~~~~

          Flying overhead,
geese late for breakfast shouting
     "Good Morning Down There!"

           ~~~~~

     Mind the sidewalk snail!
Return to The Now, spare all
     brothers and sisters!

           ~~~~~

     In pale blue moonlight,
whispering breezes rescue
     glistening lovers.

          ~~~~~

     A drunken sailor
demanding everyone sing--
    The howling storm wind.

          ~~~~~

    Running from the rain,
the squirrel has bathed enough
    this blustery day.

          ~~~~~

    Green tea, warm slippers,
I fall asleep listening
    to the Winter storm.

          ~~~~~

    My voice to give you
the joys of my singing heart
    goes mute when you smile.

-North Beach, San Francisco

          ~~~~~

   Prediction of rain
became blue skies, quilted clouds.
    Either way is fine.

          ~~~~~

     Watching in wonder,
flowers along the freeway
     offering their gift.


    Staring straight ahead,
commuters on the freeway
    never see the blossoms.

-Morning commute, Milpitas, CA
          
          ~~~~~~

     My disappointment:
awoke from a flying dream
    earthbound and powerless.

          ~~~~~~

    Kissing tenderly
under a blanket of fog,
    sea and sky make love.

-Amtrak, Fremont to Sacramento 

          ~~~~~~

    Each Spring rain puddle 
circled with golden pollen
    brings tears to the eye.

          ~~~~~~

     "God is dead."  -Nietzsche
"God is dad."    -Mr. S. Freud
     "god is Dog."    -Owen

          ~~~~~~
          
     Workforce Reduction--
office mates yesterday, then
     one box and good-bye.

-Alviso, CA

          ~~~~~~

    Each morning I leave
the dog wondering why I
     gave away our day.

-Morning Commute, 9:15a.m.

          ~~~~~~

     Empty boats pass us
on the river of life when
     loved ones leave too soon.

In memory of Kimberley Kenney

          ~~~~~~

     What power, your vision!
Blissful reverie the cause
     of my silly grin.

          ~~~~~~

     Cowboy hat and boots--
A stranger in The City
    rustling free poems.

-Sunday at The Glen Park Library, 4:30pm

          ~~~~~~

     Old man observing
from the tavern window, dreams
     the old neighborhood.

-Sunday at The Glen Park Station Bar, 5:45pm
          
          ~~~~~~

     Policeman shouting
"Don't Move!" quickly ends the chase     
     on a moon bright night.

-Police action in the neighborhood, Fremont, CA, 12:30a.m.

          ~~~~~~

     Winter storm complete,
satisfied clouds deliver
     the morning rainbow.

         ~~~~~~

     The proposition
of our final certainty
      is beyond question.

         ~~~~~~

     To warm your old bones
Ladies and Gentlemen, Spring!
     Love, February 

         ~~~~~~

    You spit in the face
of our collective knowledge.
     Take your god and go.

-for Hitch

         ~~~~~~

     Yesterday's puddles
bored with their own reflection,
     waiting for the sun.




Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press    March 2016

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Roadside Cross



                                     home
                                     made
          roadside  cross   fading artificial flowers
                altar for the poor            candles
                              por los muertos
                                    to mark
                                    where
                                      the
                                     spirit
                                     broke
                                      free




Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press    January 2016

Monday, January 4, 2016

Most Nights...


Eyes
      open

      Eyes
shut

 no difference

   your
   image

won't leave


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press   January 2016