Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Starry Starry Night

(You Look Very Familiar)

While you were making 

your grand entrance 

shining in regal ascendence 

to assume your rightful place 

as the light dimmed

and all fell silent 

with awe and respect

I once again suffered

my private embarrassment

that though you looked 

so very familiar

I could not remember

if you were a star 

or a planet

and all I could do 

was study your movement

long enough to make sure 

your elegant saunter across the night sky

was not an attempt 

at a graceful landing 

at the airport.

Please forgive me,

your name again?

Ken Owen   November 2020

Van Niddy Press

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Eleven Weeks

(The Smell of Pancakes)

The fog seemed to lift early this morning

making way for a relaxed sun 

and a cool gentle breeze

that could barely raise enough energy 

to make the tree tops move

and somewhere from our apartment building

someone was cooking pancakes 

which gave the day a sweetness 

that had felt missing 

for quite a while.

The news showed people in large crowds 

dancing, parading, cheering in celebration

in relief knowing that someone else

someone new

would now try to make right

what the last person

could only make worse

while the losing side

as is now to be expected

could only manufacture complaints

of corruption, malfeasance 

and suspicious results which

reminded us that our divide 

still needed great repair and

would not disappear


and even though I could share 

in the relief of seeing 

a new start on the horizon

I couldn’t keep from wondering

after all the trials this year had laid before us

how many more challenges

for ourselves and our democracy

would we have to endure

over the next eleven weeks

before we could start again.

November 7, 2020

Ken Owen    Van Niddy Press

Monday, November 2, 2020

The First Monday in November

Tomorrow night

there will be great celebrations and rejoicing

that our country’s path forward 

is once again clear

while at the same time

much consternation and wailing

that the end of our democracy 

is imminent 

and yet the next day

the sun will rise as expected

and stay low in the autumn sky

painting a warm glow on all we see

as we move forward with the day’s tasks

while trying not to be overwhelmed 

by the great divide we’ve carried since birth

that marks us still.

Ken Owen     November 2020

Van Niddy Press

Thursday, October 15, 2020

In Proper Measure: Life in The Time of Covid-19

Our world has been reduced to

bedroom, bathroom, 

kitchen, couch, and desk

and when we do brave beyond our gate

we do so with great caution

masking nervous stares.


Our constructs of time 

are being


days have lost their borders 

forced to stand on their own carrying 

names of lost distinction and useless numbers 

when none but the first and last 

can help the calendar 

retain any purpose

and a clock 

serves only to announce 

the afternoon nap

so we task ourselves each morning

with goals to earn the day

that we may continue the

one unalterable tradition

of celebrating our daily successes and 

numbing ourselves of our failures at 5:00p.m.


Our closets 

have never been 

so tidy

as the clothes that still fit 

have been narrowed down 

to a select half-dozen items

each one christened 

with samples of 

‘project paint’

and masks in all colors and styles

for our rare personal appearances

are the only new additions

as our old wardrobe

dies quietly, day by day

item by item.


The computer as our only social tether

and bearer of all news, good and bad, real and fake,

is now unbreakable

we have become experts in 

home video conference 

lighting technique, and

“What have you been doing?”

has been replaced with

“What have you been watching?”



All of this feels 

like a strange way 


and going back to what was

seems impossible 

from here

as we recalibrate our lives

with the lesson of valuing time 

in proper measure 

and practice our gratitude 

for all we have been given

while surrounded by so much loss.

Ken Owen    October 2020

Van Niddy Press

Monday, August 10, 2020

And So...(Joe's Hardware Store is Fucked)

And so…

of all the god dam

universal possibilities

we could be expected to endure


we are now eight months into 

a global pandemic

that no one saw coming

except, of course

the people whose job it is 

to see these things coming

but, of course 

when they told us about it

we thought “not me”


and we didn’t listen to them

and when we finally did 

we quickly realized 

that they were making shit up as they went along

because they were as completely baffled 

as we were on what to do.

And so…

we then learned that 

Safeway would deliver 


and BevMo 

would deliver


and the local dispensary 

would delivery 

cannabis in a dizzying variety of functions and flavors

and The Feds 

would delivery 

an extra $600 every week

to help pay for all your pizza, 


and cannabis

and that we were now exempt from

getting off the couch and ironing a shirt 

and putting on long pants

to go make chit-chat

as all boring social functions 

had been canceled 

and we began to think

perhaps this won’t be so bad 

after all.

And so…

the extra $600 has kept Safeway in business and

BevMo with customers and 

the cannabis dispensaries afloat, but

Joe’s Hardware Store 



because his customers are now more

fat, stoned, and drunk than ever before

sitting on their couches realizing


that everything they need 

will come right to their door 


that leaky toilet 

can run


Ken Owen     Van Niddy Press

August 2020

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Another 24 Hours

8:30 a.m.

Another 24 hours 


Calendar day


Waiting for 


To pour on 

Kitchen clouds

And blue screens 

To deliver headlines of 

A rudderless nation

Adrift in chaos.

Another 24 hours

To practice 

Our being 

Good citizens within distance 

When to stay safe 

Is to do nothing but

Wash your hands

And mask your thoughts 

Lest you touch on

The wrong idea

And infect someone

With a different truth

Or inhale 

An unpopular narrative

And exhale 

The wrong opinion

And even with 

Only that


We struggle.

Ken Owen     Van Niddy Press

July 2020

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

The Doomsday Stockpile

Go ahead,
admit it:

every time you go 
to the pantry
or hall closet
or check under the bathroom sink
or wherever it is that you keep it

you feel slightly embarrassed

by the ridiculous supply of
toilet paper
you have accumulated 
over the last three months

when they told you
the world
as we knew it 
was ending

and The Hive Mind declared
toilet paper 
of all things
as the one commodity
that would determine our future happiness
in the new world.

But you quickly reconcile the guilt
as you survey your
doomsday stockpile
with the story that your supplies 
are a personal testament 
to you as a steadfast tribal leader 
being ready for battle while saving his family 
from the unspeakable horror
of unsanitary public humiliation

and as you do a quick visual tally 
with the keen eye of a 
Wartime Supply Sergeant
to make sure your supply levels 
are at the ready

you take solace in knowing 
that your tribe can rest easy
and shit
care free
until 2023.

Ken Owen,  Van Niddy Press
June 2020

Saturday, April 4, 2020

A Letter from Behind the Curtains

Dearest Ones:

Death is flying 
all around us now
just outside 
and windows

and if not careful
we could be 
the next to meet it

and after watching 
the news of the world
when we need a 
reassuring handshake
or embracing hug

they tell us that 
death could be hiding
there as well
buried deep
in those small gestures 
of comfort.

To say
these are different times
does not come close
to our new reality
of staying indoors 
hiding behind the curtains

while counting how many 
eggs you have left
before you need to brave 
the crowds parading with
eyes wide and desperate
in stores full of panic 
and empty shelves.

This will change
many things 
and many people
and its unimaginable from here
what the other side may look like
but they say
if we are diligent and 
we will make it through this.

I so look forward 
to hugging you again.


Ken Owen      April 2020
Van Niddy Press