Featured Poet–Scott Owens

How to Make Sure Your Boys Stay Boys

Raise them to be tough
and self-sufficient.
Don’t coddle them
or accept excuses.
Don’t dote or pamper
or get excited
about anything they do.

Demand persistence,
ambition, grit,
and absolute obedience.

If they fall down,
tell them to get up.
If they get hurt,
tell them to toughen up.
If they cry, tell them
If you don’t stop,
I’ll give you something
to really cry about.

Never talk about anything
but sports and how they are always
wrong, how they are too young,
too naïve, too idealistic,
too stupid to understand,
how they’ll think differently
when they’re older.

Never hold them.
When you get that urge
to touch them,
use punches instead of hugs.

Make sure they know
no matter what they do
it will never be good enough.

And when you leave their mother
for the third and final time,
don’t call or write,
offer no apology
or explanation, no heart
to heart, man to man.
Offer, as always,
nothing at all.


Repeating a Word Doesn’t Make It So

He likes having thought of it so well
he says again
–Robert Frost

He could have stayed
to begin with,
four simple rooms,
an easy smile,
good intentions,
farmfed beauty.

He could have been more
instead of wanting
more. Pudgy fingers
holding pages open
should have been enough.

is a place that when you have to go there
there is no one to take you in.

Light. Light! he screams,
as darkness
to fall.


I Know People

I know people
whose parents nailed
them beneath the floorboards,
locked them in trunks,
left them in darkness for hours.

I know people
whose mothers hung
themselves in the barn,
slit their wrists,
swallowed the barrel.

I know people
whose fathers beat
them to unconsciousness,
raped them repeatedly,
left them before they were born.

Still, I know people
who inhabit my darkest
nights and place their hands
on the back of my neck
to rub my fears away.
Farm Story

Otis tended that mare every day
for three years, called her Darling, Sweetie,
Sunshine, hugged her neck, cleaned hooves,
gave her fresh water, hay, apples,
hummed a lover’s tune while brushing out
every knot and burr.  She had cost
him plenty, and he was proud to have her, thought
he might even breed her when time and sense coincided,
but then, when she kicked Brenda full in the chest
for nothing more than walking too close behind her,
he hardly lost the time it took to see her
safe in her mother’s soothing arms
before returning, rifle in hand,
to leave no doubt where his allegiance lay.

13 Ways of Using a Big Backyard

Children swing from limbs
of maple and oak.

Under the trees
a hammock out of sight
of anyone despite
the absence of fence.

Yesterday two Cooper’s hawks
chased each other from maple
to pecan to housetop
while I stood silent below.

Tree fort, canebrake, grape vine hideaway,
tunnel beneath acuba hedge,
endless source of secret worlds
without ever leaving home.

Lying on my back
in this year’s vinyl pool,
I teach Sawyer to see
dragons swimming in the sky.

After midnight the boys
have friends over again,
building a fire in the detached porch
safely away from lethal roads.

Once fixed,
the dog never
had a need
to leave.

The herb garden grows
basil and oregano,
rosemary and thyme,
amid things
I’ll never use,
mullein and valerian,
wormwood and heal all.

Even this close to downtown,
three rows of corn
can’t ruin the landscape.

When the peach tree
arose from last year’s
discarded pit
I let it stay
where it started.

Even in a yard this big
the imagination fears
what might not happen, what days
may never be dreamed.

In the backyard
on a night when sleep
seemed as far away
as whippoorwills
he counted stars
amid the white
noise of cicadas.

If he winds up alone
he knows it will take days
for anyone to find him.


10 Responses to “Featured Poet–Scott Owens”

  1. great stuff

  2. Good poems! I always enjoy reading Scott Owens.

  3. Scott Owens Says:

    Thanks, Pris and Mel. I’m glad you liked them. And thanks for reading Rusty Truck. Scot does a great job keeping fresh poetry before us.

  4. Scott,

    Since you know where and how I grew up, you know that I can relate to these poems, especially one and three.

    Great series of poems.

  5. Joie Cook Says:

    These poems are so organic, clear and gut wrenching—
    I immediately had a physical (as well as other) response
    to them. Brave and brilliant work!

  6. I find all of these to be excellent poetry — truth telling. But I can’t stay with the ones about violence. Sorry. They are too heartbreaking for me — could hardly finish the one about the horse, but knew I had to.

  7. Scott Owens Says:

    No doubt, DB. Thanks for reading these. This is a good place for people like us.

    Joie, thanks for reading and leaving such a nice comment.

    Chin up, Jean. I’m sure you’ve encountered worse than this in your history readings.

  8. Great poems. Thanks for sharing them.

  9. trruth be told. you’ve got the knack. thanks, winnie

  10. wildgoosepoetryreview Says:

    Winnie and Amy,
    Thanks for reading and for taking the time to leave a comment.

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