Being an empath in this world is like swimming nude in an ocean of thistles.
You walk by.
Our gazes connect.
I feel what's stirring in your heart.
Your betrayals, your disappointments, your longings.
It's etched in the landscape of your face
and bends your spine into a slump with a hump.
I'm not one to step beyond my bounds,
and I don't know you,
but I spend the rest of the night sipping sake
thinking about your beautiful, pained life.
The Relation of Passing Ships
Two ships pass in the fog.
For a brief radiant moment, they catch a glimpse of each other.
After that, they become invisible to one another
and try fruitlessly to be heard with blaring horns through thick veils.
Onward they drift, carrying fog-like memories, aching from not having been truly seen.
What A Real Christian Looks Like
My father was a minister.
One day, a drunk-homeless man
wandered into a church service in progress,
and sat down in a pew toward the front,
next to all of the "prim-and-proper" ladies in their crisp, white linen clothes.
Some "Christians" today would have dragged him out like it was a Trump rally.
"Get him outta here!" they would say,
not considering the possibility that he was
the spirit of the Christ come to test them.
My father invited him forward and served him Holy Communion.
Get Real (for Mississippi)
Have I ever told you I worked on a museum once?
I learned things nobody wants to talk about;
like the story of "fancy maid" sex slaves and Southern governors, for a start.
No wonder there is so much rage boiling under the surface of this nation.
We haven't owned the shadow of our history or gotten real yet about who we really are.
Some Things Never Change: The Lone Wolf Manifesto
When I was but a wee lad, I decided to leave home.
My parents were fighting and I'd had enough of it.
I packed my little suitcase, which was bigger than me, and informed them I was leaving.
I shuffled up the sidewalk into the darkness of night,
one toy and one coat my only possessions.
Unsure of how to feed myself, I came back, of course,
but it hits me like a Rinzai master's fierce Zen striking stick...some feelings never change.
So here I am, a modernista, embedded in suburbia;
a "ninja" practicing the ancient art of concealment and disguises,
all the while, day-by-day, taking up more and more of Musashi's Dokkodo.
(c) 2018 / Frank LaRue Owen (Wandering Stone Lantern) / purelandpoetry.com
image: Monument for Miyamoto Musashi, Ganryu Island, Japan
Composed one week before his death, The Dokkodo (獨行道), sometimes rendered as 'The Way of Walking Alone,' 'The Way To Be Followed Alone,' or 'The Lone Road,' is a short work composed by Miyamoto Musashi (Buddhist name: Niten Doraku), a master swordsman, artist, woodworker, philosopher, hermit, and author of The Book of Five Rings, a classic text on swordsmanship and strategy. Written as 21 precepts, the Dokkodo lays out a path of discipline, focus, solitary spiritual practice, and mind-training.