Eye of the Beholder


Out of stock

Poems by

Scott Owens

Poetry book, 92 pages, $14 cover price

ISBN: 978-1-59948-441-9

Released: December 2013

SOwensPix_1Scott Owens is originally from Greenwood, SC. He holds degrees from Ohio University, UNC Charlotte, and UNC Greensboro and currently lives in Hickory, NC, where he teaches at Catawba Valley Community College, edits Wild Goose Poetry Review and 234, writes for the Outlook Newspaper, and serves as vice-president of the NC Poetry Society. His previous 10 books have received awards from the Academy of American Poets, the Pushcart Prize Anthology, the Next Generation/Indie Lit Awards, the NC Writers Network, the NC Poetry Society, and the Poetry Society of SC.

The poetry of Scott Owens traces the contours of loss and hope, possibility and renewal. A determination to speak honestly and courageously of important personal matters, pervades this book and gives it emotional urgency page after page. Owens embodies Cocteau’s definition of tact–“knowing how far to go in going too far”–while striking a similar balance between long poems and haiku-like or koan-like short ones. Especially notable at the book’s center is a love poem Neruda would have been happy to write, the laser-intense “You in the Tomb of My Eyes.” Owens knows poetry is a serious business; while various other poets these days might seem caught up in gamesmanship, this poet plays for keeps.

–Philip Dacey, Editor of Strong Measures


In EYE OF THE BEHOLDER, Scott Owens explores the shaping of partnership, singing the body in all its passioned curvatures. Absence proves as intoxicating as presence; in one standout sequence, “This moon knows how I feel, / to be held apart from its sun.” Yet there is a grounding vernacular–rose petals fashioned into a sandwich, beans pickled for the jar, a bed whose headboard and frame resist alignment–that keeps one foot, pleasingly, in the everyday. Owens’ warm, sensual images are in the tradition of Pablo Neruda, Marc Chagall, and other artists of “this coupling, / this circumstance we call love.” This is a heartfelt, bold, and energizing read.

~Sandra Beasley, author of I Was the Jukebox


The eye in Scott Owens’ “Eye of the Beholder” is the passionate “I” of the poet, watching every turn and gesture of the beloved and speaking from it, sounding the lineaments of desire in each poem and pulling the reader into its embrace. Over the years, Owens has ranged widely in subject matter and style. This is his most intimate book yet, his voice tender, full of longing and anticipation. He beholds what he loves, whether woman, blossom, or falling leaf, all of it gathered up in the world’s body, the ultimate beloved, after all, that he renders in finely tuned lyrics.

–Kathryn Stripling Byer, author of Descent and Coming to Rest


Stick, you might think,
rubbing two of them together,
or jabbing with one at an anthill,
reaching high fruit
to bring it down, or digging
in the ground for edible roots,

or stone, maybe, to break
the stick to suitable size,
crack open melon or nut,
pound seed to meal,
anything used as means
of accomplishing a task.

The poet would like to think
the old ones got it right,
that in the beginning was the word
wedging itself between
the tightly shut lips of being
to pry open meaning.

More likely it would have been
simply sound, grunt
of assignation, or open
hand, even upward arched
eyebrow saying, Here,
here is what you want.



Pulling the house down piece by piece,
we see each other at our worst
before we’ve even had our first date,
my face itching with black insulation,
yours covered with white dust of sheetrock.

We scrape off paint and paper, buff out
spots, old glue, unexplained
stains, remove tacky paneling
revealing forgotten charm, original
beadboard, hardwoods, solid ceilings.

We’re woefully unprepared, untrained,
undertooled, cutting off pipes
with hacksaws, filling holes with toothpicks,
brillo pads, good wood pulled
up from where it wouldn’t be seen.

An odd sort of courting really,
hammer and nails instead of flowers,
microwaved Hot Pockets for meals,
red wine in paper cups, all glasses
still mysteriously packed away.

Ripping out rotted casements of windows,
hollow doors, seven layers of floor,
we sweat together, swear together,
bend in unison towards the necessary
destruction that always precedes renewal.



The doctors cut holes in both your cornea,
reshaped your eyes, repaired
what hadn’t been right since birth,
giving you vision better than perfect.
Still, in the mirror, you see nothing
but flaws, hair too gray, cheeks
sagging, lines that hold the shape
of smiles, circles beneath the eyes
they fixed. I don’t even try
to counter your claims anymore.
You never believe this eye,
what words I use to frame the beauty
I see, the youth you were embellished
with memory of what we’ve been together.

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