Holding Worlds

The heart inside you holds a world 
That none but you have fully known; 
A distance and an era gone,
As tears pool in your eyes alone 

For it's not right that only you 
Should hold all that within your soul, 
As you are just a child of earth, 
And holding worlds is a 

Celestial role

I am a simple guy: I like simple things, like pizza.

My father used to make pizza at home, and some of my earliest memories were sitting on a countertop, watching my dad spin dough and spread sauce, cheeeze and ingredients on it. Ground beef, mushrooms and black olives were his go-to ingredients.

His was my favorite pizza in the world, with the possible exception of a place called “Tony’s Pizza” we would sometimes go to.

It didn’t look that old at the time, which is one of the oddities about the past. The past was every bit as colorful and alive as the present — just not in photos.

A man I worked with for almost twenty years died this last week. He was a brilliant man, and very kind and patient man, as well. People at work were trading stories about him, his legendarily vast store of knowledge and historical trivia, his idiosyncratic eating habits. I just remember that he always found time for whoever might approach him with a question.

Sometimes all the people you’ve lost seem like a crowd of people, who are somewhere nearby, just not a place you’ve found yet. Other times, it feels like that entire crowd is inside your head, just trying to get out.

Maybe to get to Tony’s Pizza. It’s where I would go.

Autumn Candles, and Other Assumptions

I think, there for I am 
not sure; 
The eye, obstructed 
Takes in the truth 
so rarely that, 
the place we are 
's not where 

we're at

I am lighting a candle tonight for human weakness: mine, yours, and everyone else’s.

Some of you out there, I know, have no weaknesses, which is itself a weakness, so you get a candle, too.

I hear you say, “that’ll take a lot of candles, Owen.” And you are right. But I’ve got candles to spare. More than are in the photo affixed above. I think I have roughly 8 billion of them, but I haven’t counted.

Not keeping accurate records seems like a weakness. So I will light one more candle.

A Thing That You Do

I started taking piano lessons the summer between 5th and 6th grade. My piano teacher told me that it was very important that I keep my fingernails short. So I did.

It was a thing I was supposed to do.

Now, when I say, “so I did,” I mean, “Given my general lack of attentiveness and indifference to such matters, I would, when pressed, remember that I was supposed to keep them cut short, and act more-or-less accordingly,” — which is a much weaker sentence. More accurate, but definitely not as strong as saying “So I did”.

As I gradually grew into whatever level of attentiveness came to represent my maturity, I lost the discipline of keeping my fingernails short. I started keeping them short again after I got married, for reasons I will get to in a moment.

Unlike the stock photo that accompanies this piece, I have usually cut my own nails. I will admit to having gone through a period of my life where I got manicures, but the pandemic ended that, and I’ve never started back up again.

A lot of things have “never started back up again” since the pandemic.

I am thinking of all of this because I cut my fingernails just before writing this post. And I do it now, not for piano playing reasons, but because my wife likes the way my fingers feel on her skin. She likes the feel of fingernails less.

So it is just a thing that I do, because when I touch her, I want her to enjoy it. And once she has told me what she enjoys most, it is important to me to remember and act accordingly.

Much of love in the long term consists of what are commonly called “little things”, or what I am calling “just a thing that you do”. They are not dramatic or earth-shaking; they are just decisions that you try to make and then not simply unmake.

In the same way, much of bettering love in the long term consists of noticing and acting on other such things. My wife finds these things for me often.

And it means a lot.

Love is a paycheck, not a bonus; 
It's not the rain, but more the sea --  
Love is like breathing more than running; 
Best seen and showed in its 


Where I Live…

Where I live, the colors tell stories 
Of innocence, nascence, and rue, 
Of habits habitually forming, 
And letters between me and you. 

Where I live, the autumn in blankets 
Comes nestling over the cold, 
As everyone weary grows silent, 
And everyone silent grows old.

(The essay below is of a style known as a “stream-of-meandering”. You have been warned.)

The autumn here is gorgeous, or certainly this autumn has been.

The way modern life works, beautiful weather is met with news stories about droughts and warnings from the authorities of a heightened risk of fire. Because otherwise, we might be enjoying the weather.

Which is not to say that there isn’t a heightened risk of fire, just that telling us is a little like telling people swimming in the ocean that there is a heightened risk of drowning. We already sort of know.

The counter-argument, of course, is that we almost never really know what we obviously ought to know, hence the “do not take internally” warnings on things like bottles of shampoo. It is of course crazy that people have to be told this.

One of the basic rules of life I’ve observed since early adulthood was that any time there is a situation where people’s behavior makes absolutely no sense, there is a lawyer involved somewhere at the back of it. So there are lawyers in every shower, etching their wisdom on bottles of shampoo and conditioner.

I use conditioner, which is odd, given that I have little-to-no hair. We develop personal grooming habits when we are young, then continue them the same basic way long after it has stopped making sense. I mean, I look like a a grown-up, bearded Charlie Brown Thanksgiving parade float these days.

Parades mystify me, and always have. My parents would take us to various community parades, and when we each got old enough, we were part of them as members of school bands, clubs, and so on. I never quite felt the excitement of parades the way others around me did. Maybe it is because I dislike crowds and noise, and am frankly puzzled at the sight of women on the back of flatbed trucks vaguely waving at no one in particular while smiling bravely in the face of the meaninglessness of the entire enterprise.

Or I might be overreacting.

The autumn here has been gorgeous, though, or at least this one has been…

seeking rest

my friend, you were (and i know how) 
a recluse and a polymorph: 
within a castle made of pine 
upon a branch within a tree 
of different wood than in your bones, 
  for you were scent and reticence, 
  a dissident, a fuzziness. 

and i (and you knew this) was where 
the ocean meets the endless sky; 
my head down low, my thoughts up high 
was all illusion, entropy -- 
this strange connection, made of hope
  and flowers, flags, and palindromes, 
  of tractors, beds, and mobile homes.

I am pretty much always tired. I think it has to do with lack of sleep and poor diet.

Oh, and being old.

I don’t want this to be all negative: there are certain advantages to sleepwalking through life. For one thing, you don’t have to be coherent. This works out well, as I frequently am not. For another, people will mistake incoherence for wittiness. I can’t really explain this, I can just note that it happens.

[Me] When is Thursday this week?

[Them] I’m not quite sure how to answer that.

I also realized something like 9 years ago that being incomprehensible is problematic in most areas of life, unless you are either an academic or a poet. Since being a college professor seemed the more remote possibility, I chose the path of poetry. Having written as much as I have, I frequently find myself unable to remember what I was trying to say when viewing an old post.

Probably something important. Or I was just exhausted.

No Such Truth

At one time or another, every one of us has believed a lie. It is among the most universal of human experiences. Almost equally common is to propagate a lie. A few moments reflection should bring to mind times in your life when you did just that, although a few of you will find that difficult.

Being the originator of a lie is where most of us draw the line. We do not want to cop to that. Sure, we were mistaken, got confused, didn’t have all the facts, read or heard something wrong. But lie? Surely not us.

To which I say: “Yes, us. And don’t call me Shirley.”

For most of us, the difference in lying and being mistaken is in consciously knowing that we are deceiving others. However, the human capacity for denial is so great, many of us never reach that level of consciousness.

[I don’t remember thinking, “hey, wait — what I’m saying isn’t true.” Therefore, it wasn’t a lie.]

One of the reasons many of us get into storytelling is that it is a sanctioned area for telling lies, and making them as detailed and interesting as possible. Cinema is almost entirely a set of elaborately technological tag-team lies. Which can be quite enjoyable, actually.

I’ve gotten to thinking about lies recently in the context of the number of cryptocurrency fraud cases that have made or are making their way into court. Some of the lies told there were extremely audacious, with owners of companies saying in public that they would or wouldn’t do something, while simultaneously doing exactly the opposite in the background.

If you have ever been burned by someone lying to you in your personal life, you may have reacted by becoming more suspicious, skeptical, or even cynical about humans in general. That has not been my personal experience, even though I have been lied to in my day; I was too cognizant of my own capacity / tendency to lie to find to much fault with it in others. Not that I’m in favor of it: lying is corrosive to relationships, and will destroy everything it touches, eventually.

Below is a poem I wrote on the subject while I was in my twenties. I was fascinated by the subject of lying, even then.

I do not call it lying 
For those who might keep score 
It's more like birthing truth where there 
Was no such truth



Other people have FOMO… fear of missing out. I, on the other hand, have FOBI… fear of being included.

There is nothing I dread quite as much as a party invitation. I almost never want to be at a party. The only time I really feel like a party-level of celebrating is appropriate is when I am leaving a party.

I also have some reason to think every party gets a little bit better when I leave it.

I am currently on a trans-Pacific video conference call at work. Almost everyone I work with got to go to Japan for this meeting. Words cannot express how grateful I am that I wasn’t invited.

And I love going to Japan. But I have the opposite of FOMO. I have FOBI.

Inclusion isn't everything; 
There's times, it is a curse --
You think it's better to be "in",
But I think that it's worse --

I know it isn't normal, but
I just am made this way --
I've made my bed, I'll lie in it,
And just enjoy

My day

saturdays, latter days

there's a place in the soul where these saturdays go 
as the years turn to grass and new life tends to grow 
and the sun shines and rain falls and night eases in 
and a sunday's upon us before we e'er know.

Every Saturday morning (after I am back from a few hours at work) one of my oldest grandchildren goes out with me to “run errands”. This started out exactly as it sounds, as they would simply accompany me to the drug store, the grocery store, the car wash, the gas station, and so on. However, it gradually turned into a type of planned amusement, where I am picking some place (along with the errands, or sometimes instead of them) for each one of them to go. It also usually includes lunch.

When I get home, my wife then has a planned outing of her own, meeting some women from church for a late lunch, so I am then home with between two and four of my grandkids, depending on the weekend. The pictures shown here are from the last few of such Saturdays.

I have, at this age, what I believe can fairly be characterized as a blessed life. My wife seems to be through her cancer treatment and the prognosis looks positive. I have a job, a career, and it seems to be going okay.

There are always heartaches lurking around corners, of course. Right now, we are waiting on test results for my stepdaughter who is the mother of the two dark-haired children in the pictures. It could be nothing, or it could be very bad, indeed. We found this out last night (Friday) so it will be Monday before she’s able to find out more.

So it is another Saturday, and I will do what I do, and these kids will do what they do, which is, mostly, just be kids.

Which is a wonderful thing, as simple as it sounds.