5 Times 5

One last time:
She was the maid-of-honor, I
Was organist.
She stopped to ask me
How I’d been since graduation, she
Was now engaged, the wedding in a year.

But I’d been sick, and she
Could tell, much thinner, covered up in clothes,
As summer wedding: no real time for layers.

“You don’t look well,” she said.
“I haven’t been.”
“Can I ask what’s wrong?”
“If they knew, then I would, too.”

Out on the deck, beside the bay,
Just minutes from the fishing bridge,
But I recall like yesterday
Her, wearing that red hat.

I got an invitation later, but
Poor health prevented me
From going to her wedding, or
To work, or anywhere at all.

There is no moral to this story:
She moved on, and so did I,
And slowly age will cover up
These times we shared,

For all they were

Were times

5 Times 4

It ended; she’d met someone else,
And I was not that broken up.
It turns out he was there, out at
Her parents’.

A neighbor, in her old hometown,
Marine now, tall and rangy guy —
And we were friends again,
The way that goes.

I’d see her: music theory class,
Her headphones on, as
Beautiful as ever, but,
I too had felt something lacking, it was weird.

I should have moped, and raged, and stormed;
Instead, I dated someone else,
Who I liked far, far better
Within weeks.

Relationships, like interviews
Turn into something, or they don’t.
This one lasted several months, then
Died its death, and

No one really mourned

5 Times 3

I walked into her parents’ house just
Two days after Christmas;
I’d made the strange four hour drive
To see her in that place —

Her parents were the sweetest, nicest people.
I was her “new boyfriend”
And I met fifty relatives, it felt like;
All these names and faces, it was quite bewildering.

And later, after dinner, we
Sat down beside the Christmas tree;
She told me I looked tired, and
We went up to a room

Where I would soon be sleeping.
We had never slept together;
I know it’s not that cool, but
It’s my truth, and so I tell it here.

Then when we kissed goodnight, I felt
A longing in her, something new;
I didn’t and I couldn’t guess
What she was thinking, but

I soon found out

5 Times 2

Walking by the river, down from campus, near
The aging fishing bridge, we stopped:
We hadn’t really talked yet much, and I
Was asking what her dreams were, and her plans —

She worked in radio, but not yet
How and where she planned on doing;
She was a writer, a speaker, a thinker,
Who wanted, not to conquer the world, but better it.

And as I listened, I could see
The future as she laid it out;
I probed a little: details, things
That, at that age, we talk about

And it was funny: life’s so real.
We’re all the same down underneath
The masks we wear: with hopes and fears
That differ in the details only

Yes, we’d worn masks, and hers was beauty;
Mine was weary misanthrophy
Shown false through the joy I showed
In simply making a new friend

5 Times 1

You tell me. I was nineteen,
And she was more than life itself:
I would have cut my arm off, given
All my limbs to science, just
To be beside her, everyday.

But this was not a forlorn hope:
It was fulfilled, and day on day
It just got better, better, like
A string of cool fall weather,
And it seemed my trenchant heart was set to soar.

But what — what did I know?
I was alternately, a lunatic,
And one supportive, not that bad a guy.
And who — just who was she?
What is this magic blinds us to
Exactly who the people we love are?
I know not, now, or then.

But love’s a good thing, even broken:
Even made of hope and sneakers,
Even as smile in the park
That burned my soul way into dark

We ate dinner in silence…

We ate dinner in silence, both worn out,
But spicy Thai food woke us up again –
The dreaded day had come, and been born out,
Just like we thought it would, it had. But then

We drank and laughed and talked of other things.
She ate her massaman, I ate my beef;
There’re unexpected gifts life sometimes brings
When we are past all action but belief —

And as we left the place, I grasped her hand,
Which she squeezed back. No other words were said:
For lives are full of meanings, unexpressed —
Like living through a day
You’d come to dread

(11-7-2015)

Old Poem, Age 24 (Edited)

[I had completely forgotten this poem and the event it refers to. At the time, I would not have thought that possible, so hard did it hit me. – Owen]


One night, you gave yourself to me
  the next night you had gone away
I do not understand
I do not understand at all

I still remember how it felt
  to be right next inside of you
I do not understand
I do not understand at all

The wine the bath the touch the kiss
  the hours spent in all of this –
The feel of you the sound of you
  the taste of your intention

One night I do not understand
I still I do not understand
The wine I do not understand
I do not understand

Old Poem, Written Age 18

[I wrote this in a friend’s yearbook; with some editing, it is herein changed now into a poem. – Owen]

About these years we spent together…

I’m sorry about throwing rocks
At your window 5am on a Saturday,
Particularly when I found out
You lived next door…

I’m glad we got to go
To Disneyworld together,
If for no other reason than
Just to hear you call
The Hall of Presidents
“A bunch of dummies”…

I’ll miss catching you
Staring off into space in
The library; thinking
Some boy had broken your heart,
But finding out that you
Were “still depressed
About the Lakers – 76ers series”…

We’ve known each other since
Fifth grade, and I believe
You can go anywhere,
Do anything, and
Be anyone you want;
But, wherever you go,
Let me know, so
I’m not out there at 5am,
Throwing rocks at
The wrong house

— Owen

Arkansas Ride

Why am I so lost, why have
I driven here?
What was it I thought
That I would find?

Where is there another who
Can understand?
How is it my curse
Is my own mind?

Every day the body breaks,
The heart grows numb;
Every night, I only long
For sleep,

Every month, another kind of
Parody
Of what life’s supposed to be,
With love to keep —

So I turn the lock, and
Open up the door,
So I throw my suitcase on
The bed,

So I know, it doesn’t matter
Where I go,
When everything inside of me

Is dead