Rigor Vitae: Life Unyielding

Thursday, March 16, 2006


KEN BREWER 1941-2006
Ken Brewer, Utah's Poet Laureate, Professor of literature, writing and poetry at Utah State University for 32 years, and a delightful human being, died at home last night of pancreatic cancer. A gifted teacher and ambassador of the humanities, his hundreds of well-crafted and accessible poems stand as a tribute to a great guy. Here's one of my favorites:


Before humans,
dogs flew everywhere.
Their wings of silky fur
wrapped hollow bones.
Their tails wagged
like rudders through wind,
their stomachs bare
to the sullen earth.
Out of sorrow
for the first humans--
stumbling, crawling,
helpless and cold--
dogs folded their
great wings into paws
soft enough to walk
beside us forever.
They still weep for us,
pity our small noses,
our unfortunate eyes,
our dull teeth.
They lick our faces clean,
keep us warm at night.
Sometimes they remember flying
and bite our ugly hands.

-- Kenneth W. Brewer


Anonymous Roger B. said...

That's a lovely poem... but I think I'd need a heavy-duty umbrella to live in world of flying dogs!

2:15 AM  
Blogger Alex said...

The page is great, welcome to the blogger front page!

(Go to the blogger editor, you are the latest blog of note.)


10:37 AM  
Blogger Elder Faery said...

My dad was a poet and when he was alive I never really gave his poems the attention they deserved. He died three weeks ago and when I stripped his house down I found his last batch of poems...I read them..suddenly got it...read the older ones...got them....then began to write poetry again myself. There can be no greater gift to the living on Earth than the poems left here by the now dead.

10:40 AM  
Blogger Encarna said...

Finally...a blog about an animal lover. I like...

10:48 AM  
Blogger booda baby said...

and THIS is what blogs are for, to turn us on to the best and the beauty and the secrets. (i think i've hit my threshold of celebrity gossip. and i don't even read it)

11:34 AM  
Blogger a wandering woman writes said...

Thanks, I loved this and I'd never heard of him.

12:00 PM  
Blogger nomadshan said...

beautiful poem - thanks for posting it!

12:05 PM  
Blogger Online Degree said...

Thanks for sharing one of his poems. It is sad to know that he is no longer with us, but joyful to know that he has left behind something that we can all carry with us.

12:05 PM  
Blogger Abi said...

I think it's sad that crap writers make it to the top of the lists and yet they don't discuss this sort of poetry in Lit class. I really liked this poem. I certainly believe that dogs once flew!

2:35 PM  
Anonymous RU-486 said...

Longing to be one with you, it hurts me when you rudely ignore what I say

Longing to love you, it personally pains me when you simply walk away

Times I have tried and tears that I’ve cried trying to reach into your heart

But further and farther you turn
from the father just tearing us apart

Come back to me
and I will love you all my life
Come back to me
and in me you can hide
Come back to me
and know you’re alive
I’ll sooth you and save you
lift you and raise you
Feed you and heal you
love you and praise you
Come back to me

Leaving you to be done with you racing to run from you I wash the dust from my feet

My memory of misery all throughout history shows my devotion complete

Times I have wished all written in lists all the things I need from your heart

But later and longer fuller and stronger I long for your love to restart

Come back to me
and I will love you all my life
Come back to me
and in me you can hide
Come back to me
and know you’re alive
I’ll sooth you and save you
lift you and raise you
Feed you and heal you
love you and praise you
Come back to me

3:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like yr poem ru_486. It expresses volumes of care.

4:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your lovely poem brought a tear to my eye.

4:25 PM  
Blogger Steph Dawe said...

Great poem. Sad to hear that he's no longer with us, but his memory will surely remain with those who knew and loved him.

5:31 PM  
Blogger Clark County Diva said...

That's a wonderful poem for us dog-dependents. It is wonderful to see a fellow artist with such a broad repertoire. You might enjoy my blog, www.clarkcountydiva.com.
Keep painting and posting.
Clark County Diva

6:00 PM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

I love this poem. It's great to see something so fresh. I never would have read something like that in a lit class.

6:53 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

Makes me want to get back to poetry again :)


7:32 PM  
Blogger Julia said...

My first looking of this blog, and I find a poet that dies from the same disease than my husband, 2 years ago...I dont speak english very well, but, well...I dont know...

8:12 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

R.I.P. A sad day indeed, and I only stumbled across this blog.

8:20 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

R.I.P. A sad day indeed, and I only stumbled across this blog.

8:20 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

RIP. A sad day indeed. I stumbled across this page while just browsing and found myself spending quite a deal of time within the folds of your life.

8:21 PM  
Blogger Andrew said...

Thanks to author! Nice poet.

8:41 PM  
Anonymous Silvia Cássivi said...

Cute poem,did he write some one about cats?....Sounds he was a great person...RIP...

When i 1st saw the name of ur blog i thought i was about vampires....

8:52 PM  
Blogger fat old rose said...

what a lovely poem!

10:23 PM  
Blogger Babs said...

Thank you for sharing his poem and your amazing work.

10:29 PM  
Blogger Gyrobo said...

We're gonna get along just fine.

10:29 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

Here I am - another visitor who came across your site because of the blogger front page. Glad I did. Wonderful art work. Interesting thoughts.

And the poem? Thank you for that. I'll pass it on to my dearest friend. Her furry companion helped her go on while she was close to despair.

Have bookmarked your page.

3:37 AM  
Blogger Tabor said...

Found you as a result of Blogs of Note (of course) and they finally picked a good blog! Love the poetry about man's best friend.

5:10 AM  
Blogger slskenyon said...

I really like the concept of that poem. It is too bad that modern poetry tends to be rather overlooked by our society.

6:13 AM  
Blogger Alex said...

Yeah in this time of war, famine, disease, global warming... Poetry could really help :)

No I love poetry, all statements suggesting that it is just art aside.


6:19 AM  
Blogger Bobbb - Citizen of Earth said...

I have always suspected this was true
I once wrote a short story about an argument between a man and his dog.
The point in contention being who was supposed to be Gods supreme being; man or dog...
Guess who won?

7:40 AM  
Blogger Bobbb - Citizen of Earth said...

Farewell Ken - I did not know you in life -
It took all of five minutes on a Saturday morning to fall in love with your work
And I miss you already

Whenever a voice is taken from the choir there is a subtle but distinctive change

I feel your loss
I cannot replace you
But I have a voice - and I intend to use it
40 + years here on this planet have taught me somthing about what to say
But it has also spoken volumes to me about why I should say it.

And so I have begun...
Who will hear me?
I don't know - It doesnt matter
Let the audience find itself


7:54 AM  
Blogger priscilla said...

Hi, I dig your blog!

10:32 AM  
Blogger SportyChick said...

A potential NASA spokesman posting a poem about flying dogs? Has a certain poetic irony to it, no?

...adding myself to your list of fans.

11:11 AM  
Blogger breeze said...

amazing to knw tht there r ppl who give dogs the credit they really deserve....esp thru poetry

good job!

11:43 AM  
Blogger Ron said...

Most news out of Utah is on the ridiculous side, but this is indeed very sad. For many years I found Ken a welcome spirit on a campus that needed it, and though I haven't seen him since I left nine years ago, it is painful to know I never will again.

3:27 PM  
Blogger Elder Faery said...

Well. Personally, I think fame hs it's price. Am still going for the leather bound edition though;)


xxx (faux groupie kisses) xxx

4:05 PM  
Blogger Wadard said...

Nice blog, enjoyable poem. This is the second time I have come back. Good luck

7:04 PM  
Blogger Ms. Karen said...

Thank you for sharing such a lovely poem.

7:12 PM  
Blogger meg said...

what a lovely poem! really simple but full of imagery, not peppered with flowery words. and about dogs! i love dogs.. what could be better? :)

8:57 PM  
Blogger BionicBuddha said...

Thanks for sharing the poem...A fitting tribute to a noble individual.


10:37 PM  
Blogger kodeureum said...

Well, thanks for the obit and the poem. Seems like you lost more than just an inspiration. My condolences to all the bereaved, including that wingless creature on his lap.

2:31 AM  
Blogger bot said...


3:46 AM  
Blogger Alex said...

That dog is a cute little guy :)

6:03 AM  
Anonymous Blogue da Magui said...

Que pena !Mas ate os inteligentes morrem.Sorry for his died!

8:10 AM  
Blogger cpbvk said...

Wow!! Welcome to all of the new viewers directed this way by the "Blogs of Note" listing. It's kind of frightening to see all of this traffic; posting ones writing takes on a whole new aspect when you're aware of actually being read. I'm really happy to have been given the listing concurrent with this post. It's gratifying to be able to share Ken's legacy with so many. Thanks for all of these wonderful comments.

8:44 AM  
Blogger Mauro said...

troppo bello il cagnolino...Ciao da Mauro.

9:47 AM  
Blogger Wild child said...

I am a dog lover. I like the poem, its sweet,

11:34 AM  
Blogger Wild child said...

I am a dog lover. I like the poem, i think its sweet.

11:35 AM  
Blogger TCW said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:04 PM  
Blogger TCW said...

As a cat-lover I have to hand it to you. Your tribute to dogs is sweet and touching.
Lovely page and your tribute to the poet is heartwarming.
I have to ask. With a name like Carel Pieter - is there South African blood flowing through your veins?
I do and was just wondering...

1:05 PM  
Blogger cpbvk said...

TCW: As far as I know, I'm not derived from any Afrikaaners. The Dutch traveled widely in previous centuries, leaving names like mine in many places, South Africa among them. My ancestors settled in Indonesia at the end of the eighteenth century. My father ultimately emigrated to the United States, where I was born. Tot ziens!

1:33 PM  
Blogger ThomYorke said...


2:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Relamente ugly hands, for deprive them of the freedom, and in some cases to maltreat them... if you want to know as a person values the people whom she loves, of to them one plant, or an animal... Generally the plant dies, due to cares, and the dog is esbofetiado by its domo in which unloads the being estresse diario in the animal poor person. But the dogs stop to fly, when they leave to believe its dreams.... Ana Mail: sininho.ana@gmail.com

2:58 PM  
Blogger slskenyon said...

Yes, I was just reading the comment about the cat above--I hadn't thought of it that way until now (I am more connected to cats than to dogs), and every once in a while, in the eyes of a pet, you see this depth of "knowing"--like they know what you need....or something. Oh, I miss my kitties...Thank you for reminding me of what they mean to me as my pets (or really, me as their pet, I suppose).

5:05 PM  
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6:21 PM  
Blogger magenta said...

i like your blog

7:04 PM  
Blogger Abhialldeway said...

I personally feel dat a wrld with flying dogs wud b so much fun. Keep up de spirit. Hell Yeah.

9:28 PM  
Blogger Jill said...

Utah rules

11:15 PM  
Blogger Jean said...

J'aime beaucoup les peintures de ce blog !
De véritables chef d'oeuvres !!
Un grand bravo !

12:11 AM  
Blogger Alex said...

You know this poem reminds me of the issues over the Iditarod and other dog races.

Many feel that these are cruel to the dogs, which can get injured or die.

However, I feel that most dogs would rather life such an exciting life than just sit around in a house all day. To be able to fly, as you say, they way they used to.


5:34 AM  
Anonymous Cindy said...


8:52 AM  
Blogger Gyrobo said...

YOu want to know the REAL reasons dogs don't fly anymore? Genetic engineering. It was the only way they could survive the fall of the Great Dog Civilization.

Unfortunately, dogs have since been unable to reclaim their ancient technology, as the genetic modifications removed their opposable thumbs and sentience.

11:11 AM  
Blogger Under Formica said...

What a wonderful and funny poem. Poetry is such an underrated art - EVERY word of that poem was perfectly chosen. Thanks for sharing it!

1:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cannot find a more perfect timing to read your poem...just brought my 12 year old son to watch Walt Disney's 'Below Eight', a movie inspired by Antarctic Expedition Team including 8 sled dogs.

7:19 PM  
Blogger Online Degree said...

I read this poem a few days ago, and loved it... I just came back and re-read it and loved it even more.

10:04 PM  
Blogger radar said...

The poem was a beautiful thing, wise and sad and lovely.

I grok! I would not think there would be much to Utah poetry but obviously there was....was.

10:14 PM  
Blogger The Ghost said...

god blessed you a talent a talent to write but now you came away from the world but you left your work behind thank you god bless R.I.P. Rigor Vitae my your words spread to all to give inspiration like it did to me.

4:32 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

What a great poem!

1:28 PM  
Blogger ann illusion said...

very lovely poem indeed

10:38 PM  
Blogger Kay said...

Loved the poem, wonderful tail wag and so perfect with the poet's picture.

11:28 PM  
Blogger salty said...

ah, dogs, what would we do without them?

6:10 PM  
Blogger i5 said...

dogs understood... you seem like someone that would enjoy these:
The reason a dog has so many friends is that he wags his tail instead of his tongue.

Don't accept your dog's admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful.
-Ann Landers

If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.
-Will Rogers

There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face.
-Ben Williams

A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.
-Josh Billings

The average dog is a nicer person than the average person.
-Andy Rooney

We give dogs time we can spare, space we can spare and love we can spare. And in return, dogs give us their all. It's the best deal man has ever made.
-M. Acklam

Dogs love their friends and bite their enemies, quite unlike people, who are incapable of pure love and always have to mix love and hate.
-Sigmund Freud

I wonder if other dogs think poodles are members of a weird religious cult.
-Rita Rudner

A dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance, and to turn around three times before lying down.
-Robert Benchley

Anybody who doesn't know what soap tastes like never washed a dog.
-Franklin P. Jones

If I have any beliefs about immortality, it is that certain dogs I have known will go to heaven, and very, very few persons.
-James Thurber

If your dog is fat, you aren't getting enough exercise.

My dog is worried about the economy because Alpo is up to $3.00 a can. That's almost $21.00 in dog money.
-Joe Weinstein

Ever consider what our dogs must think of us? I mean, here we come back from a grocery store with the most amazing haul -- chicken, pork, half a cow. They must think we're the greatest hunters on earth!
-Anne Tyler

Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.
-Robert A. Heinlein

If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you; that is the principal difference between a dog and a man.
-Mark Twain

You can say any foolish thing to a dog, and the dog will give you a look that says, 'Wow, you're right! I never would've thought of that!'
- Dave Barry

Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.
-Roger Caras

If you think dogs can't count, try putting three dog biscuits in your pocket and then give him only two of them.
-Phil Pastoret

My goal in life is to be as good of a person my dog already thinks I am.

10:21 AM  
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