Fields of Floundering

“Set your expectations down
  the day they get too heavy;
  take your worries one-by-one,
  for they will come in bevy.

Find your joys in moments felt,
  it’s there that they arise in,
  and do not lose the road your on
  in search of the horizon.”

I hear the voice as though the man
Who spoke them was still here;
The moment’s hazy, and confused,
But these few things are clear:

Comparison need not contest be,
And there’s no gain in blaming,
And attitudes can still be true
Though going through


Brick by Brick, Part 1

The calm veneer, the flowery scent,
The mold inside, the desiccant —
Deception: that’s our daily run,
But we think we’re the only one.

Now warning labels are attached
To butterflies, and zeroes,
With wolves in number at the door,
All advertised as heroes.

We do not know inside or out,
Nor when things end or have begun:
Our minds: too free or tightly held,
Yet we think we’re the only one.

Here come purveyors of the truth —
There’s always one around —
Who think they’re being honest when
They’re merely stripping down,

As though, in being naked, they
Have set aside their lies;
For truth is rarely shown when we
Decide to advertise.

But brick by brick is how we build.
And though not always honest,
There’s beauty still in simple things,
Like doing what we promised.

So we can struggle on, and know
We may miss out on many dreams,
But we are not the only one
Whose life just isn’t quite all

What it seems

At Syzygy

This poem’s ending happily,
I’ll tell you right up front.
It’s when the moon’s at syzygy
You question if that’s quite a word:
It is. And there’s the brunt

Of what I mostly meant to say
Today, tomorrow, yesterday —
For there are words that you can see
Like apogee, or perigee,
Of doubtless authenticity.
But this is like a stunt:

To use a word without a vowel,
And “y’s” slapped on it with a trowel:
I see it now – you’re doubting me –
That there’s a word like syzygy.
This seems like poem overdose
And not just that the moon is close.

Or better yet, that it’s in line
With earth and sun. All that is fine:
But Owen, really, must you flounce
About with words we can’t pronounce?
But I say we can plainly be
In harmony at syzygy.
And this is how my poem ends.
You see? We still are (mostly) friends…

The Moral Throne

I was taught that ignorance
Is to be pitied; none of us,
After all, came to earth particularly
Enlightened, and all of us came
Defenseless, selfish, and needy.
Many do not know what
You or I may particularly know,
But all of us come by our knowledge
(As we do all forms of riches)
By combinations of internal
And external circumstances.

We all know this.

We all know this. Yet…

Many take the ultimate position
Of privilege; namely, that they are
The only true possessors of morality,
Or ethics, or right-and-wrong distinctions.
From this position, they judge all others
Who do not see the world exactly as they do
Not as ignorant, but as evil.

All people who ever lived.

So the early twenty-first century
Woman or man sees themselves as sitting
On a sort or moral throne, and only
Their own ignorance of history has them
Believing themselves and their own ancestors
Innocent of the common shortcomings of humanity,
Or unaware that future moral judges will
Calumnize them, as well —

Which is very much to be pitied,
As it extremely unfortunate.

Happily, we as people
Are better than the ideals we often espouse;
We find individuals in life to be
Limited without ascribing those limitations
To wickedness, although we often do so
In the abstract.

People who came before us knew
Both more and less than we do;
They knew differently, as circumstances
Dictated. Some believed in ideas you or I
May find abhorrent, but most
Were the same as we are —


Trying their best,

Ignorant (like us!),

And full of all the good and evil
Humans are prone to.

It is almost universally accepted
That we should not accuse
Those not able to defend themselves,
And past generations cannot, by definition.

So make choices, as we all must,
With some degree of humility;
We are all in the dark, after all,
As to most of what there is to know,
And wisdom, while facing the future,
Treads lightly on the past.

No Sunset

So, what is real? It’s not these memories:
The halt, spasmodic assays of my past
Are pictures now, hung up in galleries,
Some early chapters, neither best nor last.

For love is not a happening. It is
A work of many choices, many deeds;
It is the touch that bears us through our grief,
The careful stitches to the heart that bleeds.

And you — you are the realest whom I’ve known:
A gentleness someway both fierce and strong,
And as the years have gone — and some have flown —
Love stronger grows the more that it grows long.

    There is no sunset I would rather see
    Than any with you still here next to me

{ m e p h I s t o p h e l e s }

a gentleman stopped me by the pool
to ask if i knew pleasure;
i said, “don’t bother me today.
i travel with my treasure.”

but twisted is the human way,
much anger, a disease —
and life a daily intercourse
with mephistopheles

Slowly, Slowly

Day is waning slowly, slowly,
Hearts are wrestling with rest;
Anxious lives are only, only
Struggles latent, unconfessed

Pity is a strange compassion,
Silence part of all that’s holy —
You and I are still in transit;
Love’s still growing



When you think you know the future,
Many strange things will you do;
When we’re right, we don’t think “lucky” —
That’s the human point of view.

Public lives are filled with hubris,
Most are not accountable,
For the world is asymmetric:
This seems insurmountable.

What was genius now is folly,
What was right’s been proven wrong —
Yet we think that we’re so different,
Like we knew it all along.

Those who can’t control their lives say
How the country should be run;
Promising a new tomorrow,
But when all is said, and done,

Billions upon billions of our
Choices make us what we are:
Termites on a tiny planet,
Circling a fading star.

Life: it is a vast unfolding.
Fate does not care how we feel —
Make the future that’s today, then:
It’s the only one

That’s real

Georgia Summer

We live in Georgis.
Summer sucks.
It’s hotter than Tabasco —

We need to find a cooler place,
Like Maine, or like

The pavement’s black
And radiates.
It’s positively solar —

That’s followed up
With hurricanes
To feed the general dolor

The beaches are
All far away;
We’re plagued by large mosquitoes

And all we have
For sustenance
Are chips and margaritoes

The summertime
In Georgia is
A thing best kept at bay

For once it’s here
We moan about it
At the Chick-fil-A

It’s hot and humid,
And generally a bummer

But college football
Precamp’s here.
That is a Georgia summer