Wednesday, December 26, 2018

My Book of Thoughts

I sat down to
finish 
a book of Japanese poetry

but my mind was 
racing
and kept jumping off the page. 

It felt like I was 
reading
two books at the same time.

Sadly, my book of 
thoughts
was not nearly as elegant.


Ken Owen  Van Niddy Press 
December 2018

Friday, October 19, 2018

She Before Me


(Soft Eggs and Toast)

The counter seats of 
most restaurants 
are full of men 
who have no one at home
to cook their 
soft eggs and toast.

These elderly gents
leave the house wearing their
favorite baseball cap and 
“Worlds Best Grandpa” 
sweatshirt

and take their 
place at the counter
with their friends from 
the neighborhood 
who have unwillingly joined the
“She Left Before Me” club

(though some silently refer to it as the 
“I Was Supposed to Go First” club)

and though they boast 
bravely 
of their willingness to be 
done with it all
happy once again
reunited with love

they do their best to 
hide their fear 
on days when 
their destiny 
overwhelms them

with news of
an opening in the club
and a place at the counter.


Ken Owen    Van Niddy Press 
October 2018

Thursday, October 4, 2018

The Flight Attendant

is beautiful 
but seems
very 
unhappy. 

She has not 
smiled since I’ve boarded 
the plane 
(and I’m not taking that personally).

It looked like
she took great exception
to having to parade
down the aisle
during the safety 
demonstration 
as part of her duties

but I enjoyed her
parade
very much.

It is 6:00a.m.
so
perhaps expecting 
anyone
to smile now
while teaching the public 
how to use a seat belt
is asking a bit
much.

As a young girl
when she realized she 
wanted to travel the globe
seeing all the great cities 
of the world

I’m guessing she never 
imagined 
that teaching 
uninterested passengers 
how to use a 
floatation device
would be part of the deal.


Ken Owen   Van Niddy Press
September 2018



Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Like You


In a moment of panic
I found myself
desperately searching 
for the book you gave me

I could see it 
clearly
in my mind

a small black book of 
haiku 
by Kenneth Rexroth

and I was sure 
you had written in it

but when I finally 
found it
there was no 
inscription

It must have been in 
the note I didn’t keep
that came with 
your present 

I realized then
I went looking 
for your hand
but it wasn’t there

and this would be 
the first of
many times
this would happen
from now on.

                   ~~~~

          I cherish your gift,
       a little book of haiku 
        filled with art, like you.

-for Marlene 


Ken Owen   October 2018
Van Niddy Press 

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Misdirection


(Tonight's Battle with History)


Lately
I have been watching historical 
documentaries about war

and I am fascinated and saddened 
by the long history and incredible 
depths of man’s inhumanity against his brothers 

and though I have watched 
these same films many times 
it seems I do this to remind myself

that the events we are experiencing now
these things that have everyone so distraught 
so depressed and hopeless with fear

are nothing more than
Hollywood headlines meant to 
keep us distracted from the reality

that our pockets were picked
while we sat there stupefied
watching America’s Got Talent 

instead of reminding ourselves
that the history of the world
is filled with great battles over 

atrocities that really mattered 
when people stood up and 
changed things forever.

     ~~~~

The next morning 
on my way to 
the kitchen for coffee 

I survey the battlefield where 
the dead bodies of once 
proud beer soldiers lie

and a critically wounded 
Kentucky bourbon general
clings to life 

and through the morning fog
that hangs over this now quiet place
I remind myself 

to send the order for reinforcements 
before we suffer the inevitable 
casualties in tonight’s battle with history.



Ken Owen
Van Niddy Press   September 2018

Monday, September 17, 2018

A New Bear in The Woods

My new
girlfriend
told me

“I truly believe that
the secret to a long marriage
is separate bathrooms.”

I smiled because 
that’s when I knew
this one was different

and when I told her
to get stronger toilet paper
and more air freshener 

for her guest bathroom 
because there was a new 
bear in her woods

she said 
“Safeway’s open until 11:00pm,
good luck with that.”


Be still 
my beating 
heart.


Ken Owen
Van Niddy Press   September 2018

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Desperate Rain


A fur trimmed hat
and a crushed red rose
on a Saturday side walk
eight stories below.


The village assembled 
with mournful cries
as the flames of hell
opened the sky.


No one spoke of locked doors
and stairways behind bars
until our daughters danced with clouds
and young brides joined the stars.


The chance of a future
with freedom to gain
washed away in the sadness 
of a desperate rain.


Inspired by historical accounts and dedicated to the memory 
of those lost in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire,  March 25, 1911.



Ken Owen
Van Niddy Press    September 2018

Monday, September 10, 2018

On a Lazy Day

Sitting quietly 
resting
on the banks of 
The River
of Thought

with absolutely 
no energy or 
motivation 
to chase any 
of the many ideas 
floating past to see 
where they might lead

though the last one 
was making quite a splash 
and might really have made 
something nice

(it wanted to be something about 
 happy shadows dancing 
 on her bedroom ceiling).

It took every ounce 
of mental strength I had
just to write 
these lines.

I’m exhausted.


Ken Owen
Van Niddy Press    September 2018

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Home of The Brave

(to fight
                       to run)


I.

I believed
they would never
lie

        I believed
        it wasn’t my time
        to die.


I wore the uniform
proud for all
to see

          I shouted for an end
          until they came
          for me.


I left with the possibility 
I may never 
come home again.

          I left with the possibility 
          I may never 
          come home again.


The bravest thing 
I did was 
point their gun

          The bravest thing
          I ever did
          was run.
II.

I did my best 
and prayed each day
to make it home alive

          I watched the news
          and prayed each day
          my country would survive.


Each night I watched
their country 
slip away

          Each night I watched
          my republic
          in decay.


A peace sign
on my helmet
when their lies were known

           A peace sign
           on my jacket
           to bring our brothers home.


III.

When I came back
my country 
had changed

            When I came back
            my fear
            mixed with shame.


I thought that they
would welcome me 
and honor me as their own

            I thought that they
            would understand
            my choice of life or home.


But they hated me
for fighting

          and they hated me
          for running

and we hated
those in power

          as we learned
          their deceitful cunning.


I cursed my country
and cried for 
lost brothers

               I had no answers
               to offer a million 
               mourning mothers.


IV.

The Black Wall
honors the sacrifice 
but my wounds will not heal

               The history of
               my secret life 
               a lifetime to conceal.


Nightly haunting 
memories 
of wrongs they said were right

               Nights of guilty 
               suffering
               for those who would not fight.



The bravest thing
I ever did
was go

               The bravest thing
                I ever said
                was “No.”


~~/ /~~


To know war
before love

To know hate
before peace

Lives change
forever

      When memories 
won’t sleep.



Inspired by the stories of the men and women of the documentary “Vietnam “ by Ken Burns. 


Ken Owen 
September 2018    Van Niddy Press

Thursday, August 30, 2018

My Computer Thinks I’m Gay



I have recently been
shopping online
for things like 

medicated shower soaps 
modern day options in 
breathable underwear

hair styling products
and a new shoulder bag 
to hold things like 

my tablet computer
my wallet
a comb

my inhaler 
and sunscreen when I’m 
out running errands

and lately I have been looking 
for a lavender colored shirt
to accent a new vest I wear to gigs 

(It would seem this last bit of shopping 
has made my computer sit up and take notice.)

          ~~~~

Now my computer 
is sending me ads 
for wild patterned shirts and skinny jeans

and for things I never knew existed 
that frighten me when
I figure out their true purpose.

I have been told that
greatly sophisticated 
computer algorithms exist 

that can determine exactly
what a person will shop for next 
based on what they shopped for last

but I am fairly certain I will never require 
jewelry for a piercing in the places 
these ads are alluding too.

          ~~~~

I began to wonder if I were to 
do some searches for things like
sledge hammers and welding masks

if that would bring things back into balance
closer to my personal experience 
(though I’ve never used either) 

or would I be creating a whole new algorithm 
for welders who use shoulder bags
while running errands wearing lavender shirts?

(Where I live, the chances of that algorithm 
already existing is very high.)

          ~~~~

I was going to end this with

Does my computer
know something 
I don’t?

But, on further review
perhaps the question should be:
Can I get a welding mask in lavender paisley?

(I’m pretty sure it would be awesome.)



Ken Owen
Van Niddy Press   August 2018