Monday, December 11, 2017

A Dream I Had

I just remembered
a dream I had.

I was at a party
sitting at a table
but everyone else was standing
looking down at me with
disdain and contempt 

and it felt like
I had just said something 
that everyone in the room
disagreed with

but here’s the thing:

I remember very distinctly 
that I felt calm
with absolutely no need 
to explain myself further.

That’s when I knew
I was dreaming.

Ken Owen   
Van Niddy Press   December 2017

Thursday, November 30, 2017


       You should be more selective 
with your use of the word


   otherwise you will have nothing 
 to call it when the real stuff 
comes around 

as you look back at 
 these moments of your rage and realize 
the insignificance of their cause.

We need to be sure 
of what we are looking at because 
Anger unchecked becomes Hate

 and bringing more Hate into the world 
will never be a way 
to defeat anything.

Ken Owen  Van Niddy Press   
November 2017

Thursday, November 23, 2017

And Death Said . . .

I gave thanks for my day 
and Death said 
“You are most welcome.”

I asked, “See you tomorrow?” 
and Death said 
“We’ll see.”

I cried, “I fear the future!”
And Death said
“Worry not,

we do 
exactly as planned
without knowing.”

Ken Owen 
Van Niddy Press,  November 2017

Saturday, November 18, 2017

There Goes The Neighborhood

While everyone is complaining
About Millennials ripping the heart
Out of their neighborhood

There are a few things
You should remember:

The Colonial English said that
When The Irish, Germans, and Italian came in

And The Irish, Germans, and Italian said that
When The Africans came in

And The Africans said that
When The Asians came in

And The Asians said that
When The Great Generation came in

And the Great Generation said that
When The Beats came in

And The Beats said that
When The Hippies came in

And The Hippies said that
When The Cops came in

And The Cops said that
When The Drug Lords came in

And The Drug Lords said that
When Generation X came in

And now everyone is telling The Millennials,
Who did what we told them to do
To be successful and productive,

“Get out of my neighborhood
You self-entitled over-paid shit,
You’re destroying my Sanctuary City!”

It’s called Change: the universal constant
that has come to every village on the planet
since we crawled out of our cave and said 

“I was here first!”

Guess what; 
you weren’t.

Of course
you could always move 
to another neighborhood
but. . .what would people say?

Ken Owen   
Van Niddy Press   November 2017

Monday, October 30, 2017

Haiku: Fall 2017

Ukiah Haiku:
      majestic beauty demands
our quiet worship

Encouraging grass
      to grow stronger does not work
by shouting at weeds.

30 miles from the ocean
     the fog still finds me;
memories damp and cold.

     as poems
forever                       floating

The List

#3) make a poem
      using the word ‘imperial’.

Fall moon rises 
     to appreciate 

Hidden symphony
     in a neighborhood tree. . . 
the dog signs his review.

the kitchen window . . .
     outside, Fall leaves slowly turn;
inside, restless chores.

     connecting the planet . . .
pictures of dinner.

It took a while
     but you can't hurt me anymore. . .
please stop trying

     from years of neglect . . .
three middle shirt buttons

Perfectly still
     guarding the moon rise--
dragon cloud.

Your startled look
     leaving my dream--
the alarm.

. . . and just like that
I thought of Harry Dean Stanton.
I was drunk; it made sense.

Thirty thousand feet,
     three seats, four arm rests, six arms;
“Sit back and relax!”

Las Vegas to Oakland, October 2017

cleared for departure
your hug
  my carry-on 

for Kelly, October 2017

The traveler surprised 
     by midnight thunder. . .
Texas sleeps.

Aubrey, Texas, October 2017

 I will not be
 the cause
of your cause.

     She’s almost perfect:
     toilet paper rolls
under instead of over.

  a benevolent king
     in a former life,
many princesses, no queen.

Alviso, October 2017

Warm vacuum tubes,
     Princeton Reverb . . .
Smells Like Teen Spirit, 1965

 one news source
  no longer enough

Ken Owen
Van Niddy Press  October 2017

A Quiet Moment

a quiet moment 
  staring at a 

  waiting for words 
to describe people 

 a quiet moment
   staring at a 

Ken Owen
Van Niddy Press   October 2017


It takes every ounce 
of mental strength
to project

Ken Owen
Van Niddy Press   September 2017

Today is The Perfect Day

  is the perfect day
    to take off your watch
      put away your phone 
        and start measuring your life 

                 in moments 
               not minutes

              in memories
          not money

         in what you’ve touched
     not what you missed

      in the joy of your blessings
  not the pain of your trials.

is the perfect day.

Ken Owen
Van Niddy Press   September 2017

Weekend Gig Notes: September 2017

Weekend Gig Notes, #1: Coming into The City from my gig in Marin county via the Golden Gate Bridge, I immediately rolled down the windows and let the returning fog into the car so I could tell it how much I missed it. It didn't have its usual zing - probably too tired from dealing with the heat wave like everyone else - but it was still a treat. We shared a laugh as I deliberately drove over the ball caps that the fog had smacked off the heads of tourists and landed them in the roadway (the hats, not the tourists).

When I got to the toll booth I learned that I was to pay $7.75 for the privilege of coming home. Apparently I was in such a state of bliss in my momentary relief from the heatwave that I didn't find the “I've lived here all my fucking life so I get a break on the toll” lane. 

So, just curious: automate the toll taking process with cameras and computers, and the toll price goes up? Perhaps we could keep toll prices lower for residents and natives by charging tourists an extra premium for a “fog-less photo-op crossing” toll.

Just a thought.

Weekend Gig Notes, #2 (While The Cat's Away…): at last night's Seducers gig at Bird and Beckett, band leader and pedal steel master Joe Goldmark was absent on a well deserved vacation, so Mitch Polzak, Hank Maninger, and I carried on in his absence. Mitch and Hank do many trio shows of their own leading some of the finest musicians in the Bay Area, so there was plenty of material to choose from to put on a great show, which they did easily.

Though I'd guess I know somewhere around 75% of their material, it quickly became apparent that Mitch and Hank have been trying out some new tunes and ‘extended arrangements’ in their trio work; things that may not necessarily work for a more traditional quartet like The Seducers. But being well versed as a “substitute drummer” whose main task is to “follow the leader(s)”, I was surprised but game for the challenge. 

Billed as a night of “country honky tonk music”, I am fairly confident most bands playing country music aren't doing 8 minute versions of country classics with multiple time signatures and extended solos. Of course, Mitch and Hank did their great versions of standard country classics, but it sure was fun dropping into fourth gear and seeing if you could make the turn!

At the end of the night, Hank looked at me and said “Mitch Mitchell plays country!” I don't remember if I ever told Hank that Mitch Mitchell, drummer for Jimi Hendrix, was my biggest influence when learning how to play, but it was the best compliment he could have given me (assuming it was a compliment!). We all laughed and I responded with “Chris Squire plays country!” (Chris was the bass player for the progressive rock group “Yes”). We shared another laugh when we remembered how we “lost the 1” a few times but kept on going until we got it back, which served as proof that we were creating something on the spot; not the usual approach for a “country band”. 

Of course, we all missed Joe and his wonderful playing that makes a Seducers show special, but a good time was had by all as the country band stretched out.

(Don't worry Joe, everyone stayed until the end of the show, and no one asked for their money back.)



(What If . . .)

What if they held 
a hate rally
and no one cared?

What if they held 
a hate rally
and everyone else 

made it a point
to go to the beach
and have a wonderful day
just like any other Saturday 

picnicking in the sun 
playing in the waves
with their families 
and loved ones

and make new friends
of different persuasions 
and ask them 
to tell their stories

of how they got 
to where they are
and the troubles they are facing
and if they need any help.

Shouting down hate
does not promote love.

Ken Owen
Van Niddy Press   August 2017

Random Travel Notes: August 2017

Random Travel Notes, #1: Put down the phone, people watch, make eye contact, smile; it totally creeps most people out. As long as they don't call Security, you're doing it right. 

Random Travel Notes, #2: Went to the local Von’s (Safeway) to get dinner, and got to the checkout counter with a grass-fed (uh-huh) ribeye steak, a bottle of Makers Mark, and a bottle of speciality microbrew. The following conversation then ensued between myself, the young checkout clerk, the bagger, and the lady behind me:

Clerk: Cool, dude; looks like you got everything you need! (smiles)

Me: I am a man of simple pleasures. (smiles)

Bagger: (guffaws, bobs his head, and snorts in the affirmative)

Lady Next in Line: Please tell me there'll be a side dish or salad, at least.

Me and The Clerk: (exchange of puzzled looks and mumbled half-sentences)

Lady Next in Line: (head bobble side-to-side in the negative)

Elderly Man Shopper next to Lady Next in Line: (a wink and a clandestine thumbs-up)

Now I know why people say 'I love L.A.'

Random Travel Notes, #3: A short conversation while at dinner at Vic and Anthony's Steakhouse, Las Vegas, Nevada:

Elderly, coiffed, and obviously rich gentleman leaving the restaurant by himself while walking past my table: “If one must eat alone, one should do it at Vic and Anthony’s.”

Ken, snapped back to reality from a food induced dream-state and a mouth full of lobster: “Um…oh…yes! Indeed! 

Elderly Gent: “Have you tried the quail egg appetizers? They're excellent.”

Ken, chewing rapidly while trying to act dignified (and failing): “Oh, uh, no, next time!”

I raised my martini glass in his direction, he nodded in the affirmative as he left, and it was then I remembered that if you dress nice, carry yourself well, and keep your mouth mostly shut, no one need know that your just renting the penthouse.  


Thursday, October 26, 2017

I Woke Up Dreaming

I woke up dreaming
and knew the truth 
had been lying

that minutes are a 
false measure of 
the incalculable

that the differences 
they sell you and I
are an illusion 

that the answers worth seeking 
are found in silence 
not rhetoric 

and if I could just 
breathe and step back
I would see destiny 

flowing easily by
carrying all things 
to their proper place.

Ken Owen    
Van Niddy Press   October 2017

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Observations on a Crowded Sky

Military jets at 50,000 feet
     leaving trails of mystery
too heavy to move

Commercial planes at 5,000 feet
     prepare for delivering 
anxious tourists 

Black birds at 500 feet
     heading east en masse
never finish the sunset 

Hummingbirds at 30 feet,
     our empty feeder
long forgotten 

Gnats circle at 20 feet,
    frantic action
with no collisions

Charcoal and lighter fluid drifts at 10 feet,
     the neighbors dinner 
ready in one hour

Dragonflies at 2 feet
     buzzing the lawn
for dinner
 The dog and I at Ground Zero,
     eyes skyward,

Ken Owen   
Van Niddy Press   September 2017

Thursday, September 7, 2017

The Wrong Enemy

The naked emperor 
is not your enemy

he is just a rotting corpse
of a once great idea

a powerless ornament
on the hood of the car

it's what's under the hood
that should concern you.

Ken Owen    
Van Niddy Press   September 2017

Monday, September 4, 2017

Try Not to Think

Try not to think;
it will usually

It does 
you see
but perhaps for you
it will be different.

On most occasions
if I think of something
it reaches right in
and cuts me to the quick
almost immediately.

The trick is this:
the experience 
but don't think about it,
just let it happen in front of you

let it fill 
your heart and senses
but not your mind
where you'll over-think it.

Not easy.

to Randy from Ken, August 2017

Saturday, August 26, 2017

My Side of the Mountain

During each of my
childhood summers
I watched my mountain burn

dry brush and parched weed
set aflame with the boredom of kids 
with no teachers to distract them 
with math and history
and keep them from idle mischief.

Back in those days
there were no homes 
on my side of the mountain

so the fire fighters would just
park their great machines 
on the road below
and watch it burn.

Sometimes when
my mountain 
burned too quickly 

helicopters would fly overhead
and toss great billowing 
clouds of orange dust
on the running flames
while we pleaded with our parents 
to let us watch until bedtime.

My friends and I
could never understand why anyone
would burn our mountain 

so we figured 
it must be the high school kids 
because we didn't 
understand them either.

When we became
a high school kids
we still went up to my mountain 

and did all the things 
you weren't supposed to do 
until you were much older
and we never 
burned my mountain
but someone else always did.

My mountain 
was an all-day 
private kingdom 

yet the only thing our parents 
cared about was that we were out 
from under their feet until 5:00pm.

I don't remember 
anyone in my house asking 
what I did all day on my mountain

and that seems 
strange to me now.

Ken Owen   
Van Niddy Press   August 2017