July 7, 2016

Two poems by Bruce Owens: "Quiet Within" and "Taking a Walk"

Bruce Owens has been writing poetry for 50 years. One of his poems appeared in the Robinson Jeffers Newsletter (No. 93 & 94, Winter & Spring) in tribute to friend, and fellow poet William Everson. He has been a guest lecturer at various colleges in California, lecturing on the nature of the creative process, and he has conducted poetry workshops, mainly with young adults, especially those struggling with various addictions or having come from an abusive household, using poetry as an instrument of discovery for both self, and as an entry into the world around us. His collection of poems: Eddies in the Rush (ISBN 0-971256-0-0 [149 pg.]) was endorsed by C.C. Bailey and poet William Stafford (1914-1993) a "National Book Award recipient."

Quiet Within
for Robinson Jeffers

The years I spent
escaping from under your shadow, Jeffers,
that glided over me
like the great wing of the hawk.
In my youth, I was caught by your vision,
but my pride fought off the claws of your words
that snagged my soul. Now I return,
somewhat glad for the traces of prophecy
that gild your thought like the set sun on the Pacific
that gilds the cypress and the pines of Carmel.
That high flicker of youth has burned the candle down
into a quiet reflection in myself. I argued Christ
with you, and my verse fought back at your vision of God.
Now, a deeper surrender, as my wry grin
fades in the mirror like the last light at sunset
fades from the stone house you built so many years ago.

I now wander into the hills and lie down to sleep
with the shadows, and the moon over my body, glowing clean.
I walk at dusk with those slender trees, never to be captured
by man or his dream, and let the roots of my feet
slip into an icy stream. I lived long, down in the city,
and gagged on chemicals, and a synthetic vision,
a digital empire empty from within; a Wasteland
of lights awash in a spiritual death.

Yet Jeffers,
I come back to you, and smile
at the windfall of apples in the orchard,
and I surrender to all that returns to mother,
and all that is quiet within us.

(Note: Quite Within... is witness to the synthetic cities we inhabit and "spiritual death" in a technological wasteland and a surrender (freedom) to the windfall of leaves and renewal of the spirit offered by the natural world)

Taking a Walk

As I go out the door
I wonder what I wished for.
Maybe it was nothing.
But I desire to be free somehow, free
of this body, free of the phone, free of the mail,
free to just walk and spot a flower or two,
look up into that big sky overhead and try
and remember what the clouds are called
as they scurry their way
with no names, no worries, only
storms in their bellies.

There on the porch is the cat,
the cat that always
seems to be there this time of day
when the sun is warming the neighbor’s porch.

I hear piano lessons being given
inside the house.
The missed note is returned to until it has
found the fingers of the young pianist to be
and the small fingers help to remember the sound of the note 
that is like a drop of water.

I stop a moment in the shadows of the sidewalk.
The cherry blossoms are in bloom.
I listen into the music
that shapes my mind, for a instant,
into a dream.

The cat on the porch yawns in the light.
A small wind catches the sound
of the distant surf pounding the cliffs.

I listen carefully now
as if it all depended upon what I hear:
the piano, the surf, the rustling of leaves,
children laughing somewhere, a door closing,

And all that I hear is a wonder of sorts,

and then someone calls out my name.

They seem to be calling from a distance,
And I am walking towards their calling.

Yes, I hear them calling. All my friends
are calling. The ones that have left are calling
and I can see each and every face
of those I played with and fought with
in that long ago playground.

Yes, I hear them calling

And what I hear is a wonder of sorts.

(Note: In the first stanza in "Taking a Walk" the word "free" appears like a hummingbird at the window, three times....)

© 2016 by Bruce Owens
You can read/purchase more of Bruce's poetry at the following links: 
Catalog Record: A passage through stone : poems | Hathi Trust Digital Library

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