Cambio de un Año (The Turning of a Year)

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Cambio de un Año (The Turning of a Year)

Final poem of the Michiziibi collection.


--a poem to myself

 

The time of the sun's setting.

Much earlier than expected.

 

The rising cold along the spine.

Even scalding water and steam doesn't change its grip.

 

The depth of the valley leading to the underworld.

Far deeper than anticipated.

 

Mind your step in the arroyos.

Even if it means shivering awhile,

glowing eyes

are a sure sign

to pause

and wait out the night.

 

When faced with a cosmic gauntlet,

you will be left flayed by all that came before.

 

All

that

came

before.

 

That which was.

That which could have been.

That which was lost.

All that was released.

All that was taken.

 

The old handholds

and footholds

offer a strange sense of solace on the way down.

Ancient familiarity.

 

The fact that you've

passed this way before

is your only real intimacy.

And now, where else can you go?

 

It is the same mind

as when you will cross over from this life,

so best to make friends with it now.

 

This is what the old ones call

making the heart-mind an ally.

 

Everything else

is part of the mirage

left over from your passage

in the desert of ghosts and fevered dreams.

 

For a while,

you will be convinced

they are your only companions.

And then, one by one,

once they’ve paid a visit,

they vanish.

 

Face it.

Face it all.

 

Face it

as more turning weather.

 

Face it

as more drinking lightning.

 

Face it

as more sacrifice.

 

Face it

as more purification.

 

Face it

as more purging.

 

Face it

as more stripping away.

 

This is the hand of the Great Mother

cracking you open

so you may one day find

the broken seeds

and desert blooms

fermenting deep inside your heart.

 

Face it all.

Then, settle deep.

 

Hear the words again of a trusted companion:

It is good to remember, isn’t it?

 

Settle into yourself

even as your “self” is left in shambles again.

 

Settle into yourself

even as your “self” is shattered into a million shards

scattered across the galaxy.

 

You are being sung back to life.

 

Sung back across the cosmos

to a source from which you came.

 

Sung back across the cosmos

to a source for which you are forever bound and homesick.

 

Sung back into yourself.

Your million shards gathered again

into a crystalline heart.

 

Before now, you thought yourself ready.

You thought yourself ready to begin anew.

You are but a child

falling silent

for another turning of a year.


(c) 2017 / Frank LaRue Owen / purelandpoetry.com

sound: "South Kiva: Mother Ayahuasca," from KIVA / Steve Roach, Michael Stearns, Ron Sunsinger

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Mitote

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Mitote

At some point, when you create yourself [to make it],

you're going to have to either let that creation go

and take a chance on being loved or hated for

who you really are; or, you're going to have to kill

who you really are and fall into your grave

grasping onto a character that you never were.

Jim Carrey, from the documentary Jim and Andy

<> <> <> <>

 

The surf doesn't ask permission to come ashore.

But, when it arrives, it does so with the energy of surrender,

sculpting and shaping the hard edges of things

with the spirit of quenching and smoothing.

It is 100% committed to softening the edges

where two worlds meet.

 

<>             <>             <>             <>             <>             <>     

 

With full awareness of the past

and all that entails,

may we grow a new set of wings;

the right: comprehension of the need for recompense

the left: received permission to be here from the spirit of place.

The agreement of both: working in unison, to be here, truly.

After all,

We All

are the Children

of the Great Salt Sea.

 

<>             <>             <>             <>             <>             <>     

 

When fangs sink deep into trembling flesh,

you will not hear the words:

"Is it okay that I am a jaguar feeding?"

Anyone else hungry that way?

 

<>             <>             <>             <>             <>             <>     

 

When Hail Storm and his bride, Lightning Maiden,

move their way through the high peaks of Weminuche,

they don't ask:

"Should we tippy-toe

our way through

so as not to wake the valley?"

May our feet

remember how to walk

through the world that way.

 

<>             <>             <>             <>             <>             <>     

 

It's only us Two-Leggeds

who put on false-faces

and assume twisted forms

like the warped spine of Tadodaho

 

Talon of eagle piercing salmon's back.

Crashing of antlers up on the Medicine Bow.

Wolves and lions thinning out the sickest of the herd without apology.

Despite the naysayers

and the relentlessly sarcastic,

there is an intelligence

to the wider living mesh of life.

 

But, right now, the sickest of the herd is out in front.

Here's to the Great Spirit of Thinning-Out.

You cannot arrive too soon.


(c) 2017 / Frank LaRue Owen / purelandpoetry.com

sound: "Temple of Dust," from Ancestor Circle by Steve Roach and Jorge Reyes (1952-2009)

image: "Renunciation" by Misha Gordin

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Wintercount, Summercount

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Wintercount, Summercount

 

We aren't taught anymore

that we each carry

a hidden calendar within us.

Events and happenings etched inside.

 

Yet, the long-stored forgotten memories stir

when our dreams become a living ally again.

Summers flow into winters.

Winters flow into summers.

Months and years become imbued with holy names

for the events that came to pass.

 

An uncle mumbles: 'The Year I Gave Up.'

One sister leans forward and whispers: 'The Year I Lost My Baby.'

A brother beside her weeps and nods and recounts his:

'The Year I Finally Put the Bottle Down.'

An auntie losing her physical sight

while gaining the inner-sight of Raven, remarks:

'The Year I Became Unclear of My Purpose...and Then Discovered It.'

 

Perhaps yours is recorded on shimmering blue-green sea-glass.

Maybe it is a bundle of dark feathers you've collected over the years,

one...for...each...of...your...lost...loves.

It could be a fire-burned stave

with markings for each time you lifted your voice

and a man, infected with power,

told you to close your mouth and stay in your place.

 

In the old days, The True Human Beings would stake out a hide

and record the most important events of the year.

Thirty-seven turnings of the moon.

This is what we call participating in a life.

 

It happens when we pay attention.

It happens when the dreams return.

We acknowledge the gains, the losses, what was never ours.

We close the doors...and the windows too.

Somewhere between first snowfall and first thaw,

we come to comprehend a truth.

Regardless of where we may come from,

the soul knows the Way of True Counting.


(c) 2017 / Frank LaRue Owen / purelandpoetry.com

 

sound: R. Carlos Nakai, "Elk Meadow," from Sanctuary

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Night Feast

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Night Feast

Out beyond all the brick and glass of the city,

colors are falling to earth in the form of luminous rain.

 

The music of the spheres is cascading down in the untouched forest

as the souls of people who have long fought the good fight

are finally crossing over into the realm of rest and healing.

 

Those of us left behind, busy ourselves.

We're caught in that familiar push-and-pull tide;

wanting to pay homage...

needing to let go, move on, and rest ourselves.

 

We light our candles and prepare.

A Night Feast of remembrance is upon us yet again.

How is it that the nights seem longer

yet each passing year feels shorter than the one before?

 

To those who have lost recently, let me say:

Despite what they say, it does become lighter.

The one who has departed has left you with a wondrous gift.

Memory.

That glowing force is a radiant flower

in a hidden garden that only you keep.

When the world disappoints you,

and it will,

pay a visit there.

Open yourself to the welcome surprise

of something new growing within you

all because you made the time

to pay attention to what matters most.


(c) 2017 / Frank LaRue Owen / purelandpoetry.com

sound: "Forest" from a compilation of sound-weavings by the lovely Vi An Diep

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Viajero (Traveler)

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Viajero (Traveler)

--an homage--

 

Though an ever-present ache has always led me on,

this human experiment's litmus test finally has a clear reading.

Now I see, at every point along the way, 

a dream has preceded all the important meetings.

 

In the first one, I was a young child.

A man with a wolf-face headdress sat facing me. 

We were in a birch bark longhouse, a fire crackling between us.

He was telling me stories in a language I did not know.

Sparks flew.

I awoke.

 

Years later, I was sitting with the People of Black Rice and Three Fires*

inside a longhouse out from Lac Du Flambeau.

Sparks flew and the dream returned.

A closing of the loop. A vision confirmed.

 

In another dream, while living on Chahta** land,

the spirit of the earth there dreamed itself up through me.

A black wolf, bathed in afternoon light, slipped through the trees.

She turned and looked at me, hungry, but not hungry for me.

 

Sometimes when I walk at dusk, I feel ol' Neshoba behind me,

or off at the edge where the two worlds touch, moving and watchful.

A closing of the loop. A vision confirmed.

 

In my teen years, I learned to close my eyes in this world

and open them in another.

For three nights in a row, the same dream appeared.

A Plainsman, wrapped in buffalo robe, handed me a pipe adorned with feathers.

I didn't speak his tongue. He did not speak mine. We understood each other perfectly.

This guided me to people who know themselves as 'They Scatter Their Own'.***

I chopped wood, carried water, Danced the Sun.

A closing of the loop. A vision confirmed.

 

At another point in this connected braid,

a dream fluttered in like a flock of wrens lighting on a winter branch.

A druid - long white hair, long white beard - shoulder cloaked against the wind,

kept telling me: Keep your eyes open. Keep your eyes open!

I found it funny because he only had one.

 

This one arrived somewhere over the Atlantic.

I was the first of my ancestral line

to make the journey, returning to the green lands

from whence some of our old ones came.

A closing of the loop. Another vision confirmed.

 

At every turn, however, when I've entered "a world," 

there have been those voices that said:

If you aren't from this world, go away. You don't belong.

Eventually I took the hint from them all...and I moved on.

 

This is when my dream-eyes saw wolf tracks walking alongside the tracks of a bear.

By the third turning of the moon, I had "settled in" to learn

from a wise dreaming woman out in ol' New Mexico.

A vision confirmed. Another closing of the loop.

 

Part-bear, part-river, part-lightning bolt, part-holy clown.

Every day with her was like walking through an arroyo of rattlesnakes, blindfolded.

A mix of danger and beauty, the air crackled with truth and electricity.

Desert blossoms and wine-stained maps.

Reposado and piñion smoke.

Night-walks and chiles drying from rafters.

Questions that never held back, and never backed down.

 

She taught me there is no need to leave one's dwelling-place

to link-up with the Vast World Beyond.

 

Claim your seat. Sit like a mountain, she said. 

Spirit, medicine, your triple-world-connection

is inside your own bones. It's everyone's birthright. Trust in that.

Allow it to lead you on. Leave the other worlds alone, she'd say. 

Open to the pure land around you with the poet's dreaming body.

What opens to you, opens to you for a reason. Trust in that too.

 

When I awoke this morning, I was dreaming of a home I have never been;

a home that's been under my own skin all along.

With that, a conscious reclaiming of something in the blood has begun.

An awareness restored of the Always-Has-Been-Here and the Remains-To-Be-Spoken;

parts in-born and parts received

that has always been the culture that makes me, 'me.'

 

Cowboy boots kicking down a trail.

Tobacco smoke lifted with gratitude at dawn.

Love of land.

Love of poetry.

Love of dreaming.

Love of sending the soul-spirit out for a session of Wind-Riding.

Love of entering into dialogue with that which cannot be seen.

Sitting Like A Mountain.

Breathing Like A Forest.

Flowing Like A River.

Making time to work with The Great Mirror.

Feeling the heart be moved by sunsets, crickets, cicadas, warm breezes.

Spiritual feasts made with the Three Sisters****, warm tortillas, roasted green chiles.

Full-Time, 24-hour dreaming, attuning to The Flow with second-attention.

 

Without me even knowing it, in the middle of the night,

some part of me followed the long-cherished advice

of one of our elders of verse:

"You must learn one thing.

The world was made to be free in.

Give up all the other worlds

except the one to which you belong."*****

A closing of the loop. A vision confirmed.

 

I stepped out onto the north-facing veranda,

offered tobacco and orange-blossom water,

and presented myself to the light of dawn

as the only thing I've ever really been:

a Traveler.


(c) 2017 / Frank LaRue Owen / purelandpoetry.com

image: "Driving on the Range" / painting: Hap Owen, Sr.

sound: "Thunder Chord", from In Beauty I Walk by Coyote Oldman, Hearts of Space

* Anishinabe, the Menominee, the Potawatomi

** Choctaw

*** Oglala Lakota Sioux

**** The Three Sisters: corn, beans, and squash

***** from "Sweet Darkness" by David Whyte

 

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Sippin' for Two

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Sippin' for Two

There are unseen forces

that operate as an underbelly of culture.

You can't see them, and yet they run through it.

--Dr. Reginald Ray, spiritual director, Dharma Ocean Foundation

 

This 'time spirit'

of the collective phase we are all moving through

seems to be an ancient familiar

in old coyote's rustic moon dances.

 

A knocker-on-doors.

A knocker-over of great plans.

A puller-backer of self-installed curtains of concealment.

A great jostling force that leaves no stone unturned.

An entity of wide-sweeping shadow-revealments.

 

Don't get lost in the mass condemnations.

Don't engage in defeatist self-flagellations.

The message coming in is the same for us all:

Each and every one of us is eating and sipping for two.

 

Oh the dreams are really going to be good

on the other side of this moon.

In fact, they've already begun

by you

entering

the heart of this poem.

<+>

Grief,

your old friend,

says you must leave even 'it'

in the next cycle.

 

The door swings wide.

The light shines in.

You see now: There is no more compromise.

 

All the borrowed ways

of propping-up the prayer house

have become empty shells.

Now, you must enter, truly.

 

I know you never thought the word

R E C O V E R Y

would apply to you.

Me either.

But, if you take a step back

and take a breath in

you'll remember quite clearly

that we signed up for the full ride

that is The Journey of the Wounded Healer.

 

Alone.

Quiet.

Mountains of debt -- soul-based, and otherwise --

you hear the door close before it actually does.

 

An old white crow lands nearby and groks:

Welcome welcome

to your year of silence.

Welcome welcome

to your extraction point.

 


(c) 2017 / Frank LaRue Owen / purelandpoetry.com

 

sound: Earth Island by Suspended Memories

 

 

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Notations

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Notations

Así como pasa la sombra,

así como pasan las nubes,

así la vida.

--Proverbio Maya

Just the same as how a shadow goes,

just the same as how a cloud goes,

that is how life goes.

--Mayan Proverb

<+>

I'm alone, but after the first cup,

the wine jar pours itself.

Everything at rest, dusk: a bird calls,

returning to its forest home. Chanting,

I settle into my breath. Somehow, on this

east veranda, I've found my life again.

T'ao Ch'ien (T'ao Yuan-ming), 365-427


The human body is not the beginning, and it isn't the end.

Its momentary appearance represents the end of a very long trail

that has its start in the spirit world before this life; and, onward it goes.

We dreamed ourselves into being

with the help of our ancestors...

and, still are.

 If we are not in the right flow in the one world,

we will not be at peace in the others.

 

Like patches of ground,

walls, roof beams, floorboards,

dreaming caves, charnel grounds,

the body holds memories, energies, signs.

Thus the need for paying attention.

Thus the need for purification.

Thus the need for conscious dying and rebirth.

This is when the body

becomes the dreaming body

and the great changing of the worlds

happens first-within, then-without.


yt.jpg

 

(c) 2017 / Frank LaRue Owen / purelandpoetry.com

sound: Earth Island by Suspended Memories (Steve Roach, Jorge Reyes, Suso Saiz)

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Dispensation

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Dispensation

People are essences;

essences that come in

and parade around as two-leggeds.

 

Some: resplendent warm guardians  > > >  humble and pure, healing flames sustaining others.

 

Some: cold serrated sorcerers  > > >  calculating, conniving finaglers, side-glancing graspers,

pondering the existence of others as a means of getting what they want.

 

Others: bent-light wavering sombra  > > > parched, hungry shadows,

unconscious how they enter a room and feed off people.

 

They drink from the well of other people’s souls

rather than their own the way they’re supposed to.

If you're not careful with this last one, they will leave you depleted, empty,

as if some dark wind sucked all the sweet fragrance out of your well-planned garden.

 

Here’s a little poet-curandero medicine to hang around your neck.

Ask yourself in the presence of another:

Are we equal in spirit, or am I an eventual meal for a viper?

 

Here’s a little curandera-poet medicine to wrap over your shoulders like a shawl:

When you depart the radiating atmospheric-aura of ‘so-and-so' and 'such-and-such', do you feel:

 

Uplifted

Loved

Cared For

Softened

Tenderized

Strengthened    

Seen

Fortified

Embraced

Witnessed

 

Emptied-Out

Taxed

Beaten Down

Blistered

Scraped

Burned

Sliced

Bruised

Neglected~Unseen

A Stranger

 

?

 

To quote the whispered words of one Traveler now gone: “You already know.”


(c) 2017 / Frank LaRue Owen / purelandpoetry.com

 

sound: Forgotten Gods by Suspended Memories (Steve Roach, Jorge Reyes, Suso Saiz)

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Old Crusty and the Pine Tassel Wars

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Old Crusty and the Pine Tassel Wars

Eventually, for your own sanity and freedom,
you have to put down all the old grudges.
All of them.
Everything you've ever held against anyone else.

You can feel when one of those poisons
has set itself up inside you.
It makes everything heavy
and stains your view.

Shrapnel in the heart. A thorn in the foot.
A splinter in the hand. A log in the eye.

None of these compare to a grudge in the soul.

The same can be said when the weight of a grudge is finally put down.
Nothing compares to that lightness of being.

Suddenly the soul becomes cottonwood fluff drifting on an autumn breeze.

Forgiveness is the road only angels dare to tread.
We might even call it the Least-Traveled Thoroughfare instead.

It's why some people glow
and others sound like magpies squawking,
constantly complaining about what is ultimately a blessing.


(c) 2017 / Frank LaRue Owen / purelandpoetry.com

sound: Steve Roach, Roger King, Dust to Dust

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Sutura (Suture)

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Sutura (Suture)

To Begin... ...With

To begin... ...with

try waking up tomorrow

with the embedded melody

of the Deep Song on your lips.

 

It binds us all

to the great saddle blanket

of the Great Shaper that's riding through.

 

Once you’ve found your own version of it, sing it, then mount up.

Vámanos!

Time to ride among the stars again!

 

Back Here On This Spinning Orb of Green and Blue

I don't use terms like "Lord" or "Father" or "King on High."

I don't like the word 'god' either...unless it stands for Good Overall Direction.

 

Like that blind traveler

who fell down The Great Well of Being,

who tried clutching after vines and hand-holds all the way down,

but then found himself landing in the arms of something he couldn't explain,

we are the same.

 

I’ve come up short on how to name

this inexplicable unfurling energy

that holds everything together (that’s worth holding together),

that heightens the senses of the poet's body,

that impels us to strive to be our better Selves.

 

Maybe, like that ol’ cowpoke from Zhongyuan,

we can keep it simple and say:

Here we are on The Way.

 

Or, maybe "Being and Becoming” will do.

Some days, when I puff on my pipe at the close of day,

I think: The Shapes - The Shaping - The Shaper.

What a marvelous glowing net in which we find ourselves.

 

Perhaps it is enough

to look each other in the eye and say:

I see you.

Without speaking, I feel your story here in my own heart.

I, too, am tending my own daily shredding and blooming.

I care what happens to you.

I’m honored to be in the Earth School with you.

 

There's something stirring within you

that makes you lean toward life and reach out.

Here's to that…

...and a good overall direction.

 

Resuming the Flow:

This morning, I woke up

hearing the melody of the Deep Song again.

 

It flowed in from outside

and instantly let me know

the fences and walls I've erected over time

are no longer to be found.

 

My own breathing became the vital strand of evidence

that the Great Matter has been shift-shaped.

I felt a fierce punch and rumble of something that exists

beneath this flickle Shimmer-Glimmer World around us.

 

Whatever this invisible river, we all know it is there;

but in our condition of shared shyness

we are reticent to speak of it.

 

All I can do is break with local custom, and say:

My half-waking heart,

feeling the boundless territory again,

prays that the same will come true

for this fractured and fracturing world.


(c) 2017 / Frank LaRue Owen / purelandpoetry.com

 

sound: Curandero by Miguel Espinoza

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Ripen

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Ripen

"Silence is the mother of sound."

--Alcvin Ryuzen Ramos

<+>

When Resting Seeds Take Root

Another day of sunbursts on this incomprehensible trackway.

The illusion of distance evaporates.

Another phase of introduction to wayward travelers occurs

in the groundless land of no maps.

 

Desert-dwelling wizards between green mountains stir again.

Suizen teachings in the Far North.

Blanket-clad grandmothers in cedar plank houses talk of salmon runs.

Coyote-faced tobacco prophets sit in sunlit caves.

Healers deep in jungles I have yet to meet re-weave the world.

Rinzai caballeros tell me I am one of them now.

Different threads woven into a serape of dreaming.

One thread -- the long-distance view.

 

This still being taught inside dreams is a Blessing Way,

even though my sleeves are wet from sitting over flower-strewn shrines.

The two crows Beauty and Memory visit again, and again.

 

I can still hear her voice out in the garden: 

"Your Heart-Mind-River has known all along, guerrero.

Stay with the river. It is a river of grace.

Give it voice until its own voice makes yours vanish.

When that voice appears, surrender, and ride the current."

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Tutelage

Shapes shifting

Shifting shifting the shapes

Shapes shifting the shifting 

under the watchful eye of The Great Shaper.


There is no landing place on The Way, even when being still;
only tumbling, relentlessly wandering, a crazy cloud.

And what do clouds do but ceaselessly soak up vapors
and release them again and again as rain, wind, and lightning?

The nectars of different spirit lands,

in whose fine-hearted keeping we have earned a home,

put us on notice to become vessels, cauldrons, hollow bones.

Their freely-offered wisdom is squeezed
into the mortar and pestle of the self.
Half the year is spent grinding up seeds of wisdom,
and then, as Traveler,
the other half of the year we are expected to ferment,
to hold,
to embody whatever the result.

The desire for escape is put on hold so the full circuit can be complete;
and then, like orange blossom water cascading through soft air,
the medicine radiates outward from you.

What else is needed but these churning tributaries of learning?
All of this is in service of a future that we feel
but which we are not yet able to see.

This is what it means to work for the spirits.
This is what it means when the Dharma takes root.
This is what it means to be a wayfarer, the Self rising out of the self.

I hear her voice say: Vaya Con Dios, dear,
and one of those pointed warnings she always had for us.

The trick is to stay moist with life.
Take the necessary measures
to prevent the heart from becoming
just another piece of tough leather.

On this path, you become different.
Different to the others (and they'll even tell you so).
Different to yourself from season to season.

But you accepted the invitation, and the path has been defined:

The Ever-Mysterious Road of the Traveler

who journeys all over the world

without ever leaving home.


(c) 2017 / Frank LaRue Owen / purelandpoetry.com

image: Casa del Rio de la Gracia, Cerro Gordo, Santa Fe, New Mexico -- the old teaching house of my late teacher

sound: Letters to the Farthest Star, Forrest Fang

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Orenda

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Orenda

orenda (aw-ren-duh), noun:

a supernatural force believed by the Iroquois to be present,

in varying degrees, in all objects or persons, and to be the spiritual force

by which human accomplishment is attained or accounted for.


In my fifth year, I became a friend of the orenda.

In my fifteenth year, the orenda became a friend of me.

In my thirty-eighth year, I lost all hope and vision.

In my forty-eighth year, I regained clear-seeing and precision...

 

which is why the view of our Grandmother is splendid tonight

from the vantage point of the Seven Sisters.

I'm up here, again, wandering like I used to,

blowing across the sky, wondering where we all went wrong.

 

The Original Instructions were so simple.

All was provided for us.

Two-Leggeds breathed the Bright Knowledge

from deep inside their bones,

and knew what it meant to work toward balance.

 

Doorways of moon huts,

dreaming lodges,

and council houses

were oriented to the East

so each new dawning sun

could remind each and every one

the whole point of this earth-walking:

 

the heart-mind

conscious of the movement

of renewal.


(c) 2017 / Frank LaRue Owen / purelandpoetry.com

 

 

sound: Mark Seelig & Sam Rosenthal, Journey to Aktehi

 

 

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The Bouquet of the Last Direction

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The Bouquet of the Last Direction

When the soul becomes unburdened

it's like a new saddle on a fresh horse.

 

Suddenly the trail feels right again,

and the strong horizon line in front of you as you turn

becomes its own form of soothing medicine.

 

Something of the sting and burn of the old poison may linger

but having crossed over from the Shadowlands into new open territory,

one can almost pick up the scent of blooming flowers within.

 

You start to notice all the things you hadn't been

all because you'd been so bound up

with the echoes of losses and hauntings.

 

You know you're ready when ghosts start chanting from the edge of your life:

Traveler! Good Traveler!

Your 'Crying for a Vision' Time is over.

Time to re-inhabit the Human World!

 

Then, the simplest of the ten thousand things

start to reach out to you to welcome you home again.

The Morningstar.

The blue sky with its utter completeness.

The serrated clouds coming over the rising pine-covered hills.

Even the food tastes better in the Land of the Great Eastern Sun.

 

You may find the wandering wild animal of your heart

is somehow more free to travel back through time…

...to pick back up with sources of beauty and power you had put down.

 

And maybe, just maybe,

you’ll see yourself now

through your childhood eyes

and you’ll stand forgiven and realize

the magic you had then never left you;

you just forgot how to listen.


(c) 2017 / Frank LaRue Owen / purelandpoetry.com

sound: Calexico

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The Quiet Map

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The Quiet Map

All poems at Pure Land Poetry are optimized for desktop, with speakers or headphones. Click the white triangle below for sound.

--a birthday poem dedicated to my mother and the medicine work she has done with people (including me) on her earthwalk. she is an expert guide for walking people through birthquakes.

 

I've sensed the Other Side within this world

since childhood days of tender feet kicking through the dirt

but touching it

and being touched by it

has always been fleeting.

 

It explains why I never finish anything.

It explains why the cells in my body

have always been dreaming of leaving.

It explains why I have always failed in matters of love.

I haven't known, until now, how to surrender or truly bow

or maintain the connection.

 

My spirit has been like the buzzing bee

drawn deeper and deeper into the high meadow

chasing after subtle fragrances bursting forth after rain.

The wandering bee may get the honey by day

but the harshest of hungers sets in after nightfall.

 

Last night, the Pollen Maiden spoke of new life.

You are not the tapestry, she said.

You are not the weaver.

You are but a thread.

With that, something let go in me

and I crossed a great chasm within.

 

I stand in the faint light of a fallow sun

abandoning all the plans I had before arriving.

A scaffold has crumbled 'neath the weight of the unseen.

There are no more divisions, no demarcations left for anything. 

Even my soul's compass has ceased its ancient ache for a new star.

 

That old aimless wandering, of reaching for reference points outside,

has become a soft practice of resting on the quiet map within.

There's nothing else to point to now

but my flute-like bones breathing the wind,

a heart full and stirring with the perfume of the far-away hills.

 

What once was a cold stone

waiting with devotion

for small sips of passing sunlight

pulses with its own fire now

and feels the warmth in everything.


(c) 2017 / Frank LaRue Owen / purelandpoetry.com

 

 

sound: "Celeste", from Blueberry / Jean-Jacques Hertz, Francois Roy, Johar Ali Khan

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Confluence 2

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Confluence 2

 

With the slow-dropping blink of the Fox Eye Moon,

I bow low and bury my Zen robes.

Forever an anchor,

like tears for those who have crossed over,

or that grandfather stone I found in the crook of an Ojibway cedar,

or those light-swallowing feathers from that druid cloak offered to a Samhuinn fire,

I honor it all,

release it all,

and turn to face the final direction on this journey of learning,

stripped naked by the season of deep inner-working.

<> <> <> <>

The leaves are turning...up on Yonah Mountain.

Though not fully here,

down in the foothills and flat lands the Autumn Spirit whispers:

You are being prepared.

<> <> <> <>

Despite the darkening of these times,

I still feel love on the move in parts of this great earth.

The way a hound leans in against a knee to say:

I am here. I am traveling with you, cousin.

 

The way the autumn wind blows

thousands of acorns to the forest floor, singing:

I'm already

thinking of shade for you

for when you will be

old men and old women.

 

The way a tendril of tobacco smoke from a pipe

becomes a memory trail to a softer time,

both in front and behind.

 

A raven on a branch groks-groks:

Slow down. Slow down.

Waking, sleeping, focus on dreaming.

 

It feels good to strip off one's summer skin.

With it -- new movement of once-frozen rivers beneath the surface.

May the spirits support you wherever your navigation may lead.

 

As for me,

I have no more words

for this movement back to ordinary reality.

I only know this:

There are no longer the Two Worlds.

There is only the One.


(c) 2017 / Frank LaRue Owen / purelandpoetry.com

 

 

 

sound: Steve Roach, Early Man

 

 

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Descent

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Descent

"There's no death knell

quite like an outdated 'self-told story'

being surrendered."

--doña Río--

<><><>

It isn't a language we are taught to read

though it is written on everything

everywhere

around us

within.

 

We pretend it isn't there

that it isn't a silent form of communication between us

but no one is shaded

from the light of the open-secret...

no one stands outside

this moving tapestry of rising and twilight...

no one is exempt from the ancient training

of fierce grasping turned letting go.

 

Fluency comes from plumbing the depths --

surrendering to heat, steam, and dream

traveling through the strata of accumulated layers

releasing the hardened 'formations of self'

all...the...way...down.

 

Every tenancy of cramped, unfriendly spaces.

Every 'could have been', regret,

clinging to memories, places, faces.

Every message: I can't.

Every loss. 

Every vacuous distance.

Every jealous slight, wounding from betrayal.

Every wasted moment and uncompleted dream.

All the gleaming scales that make the skin 

before we start shedding and turn within.

 

Nothing can prepare

for the grief that comes

from seeing the years so clearly.

Yet, when else are we honest with ourselves?

When else do we perceive the infinite layers?

How else will we become our own medicine and relinquish our fears?

 

<> <> <> < > <> <>

 

Last night I dreamed of my own heart.

A cramped dying bird behind a cage of ribs.

 

In my hand - an ancestral knife made of prayers and bone.

Carved in the handle - the rune for a year, harvest, inside a Zia sun.*

 

With samurai precision,

I used the knife to separate skin from sternum

sternum from muscle

and cracked open my ribs

like the door of a long-sealed tomb. 

 

With the door open wide, the bird flew free.

A path then appeared that leads into a cave.


(c) 2017 / Frank LaRue Owen / purelandpoetry.com

*The Zia sun symbol is sacred to the Zia Pueblo people of New Mexico. Embedded within it are teachings about stages of life, the seasons, the directions, periods of the day, and aspects of the self a person must cultivate for a well-rounded, healthy life. In the 1920s, the symbol was misappropriated without permission from the Zia people as a symbol for the New Mexico state flag. Since that time, a coming to terms has occurred between Zia Pueblo and the State of New Mexico with regard to the free and honorable use of the symbol.

 

 

sound: Steve Roach / Jorge Reyes, "Holy Dirt", from Vine, Bark, & Spore

 

 

 

 

 

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Ascent

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Ascent

On the mountain everything becomes clear.

 

Who and where the true allies always were.

How you were right all along

about staying close to the gentle,

and the gentle-hearted.

 

How the time-tested methods don't betray.

How silence is a healer.

 

How the old maps provide a year of unburdening,

faithfully,

every time.

 

How that tightening below your shoulder blade

is a true barometer

for when someone only sees you

as a way to get their fix.

 

Before the mountain, the foothills.

 

The old Zen way speaks of mountains walking;

how they do that are foothills rising, stretching toward vistas.

Even the foothills are the minds of buddhas-to-be.

 

Before foothills, the forest.

 

Standing sentinels welcome you.

As you step in, their swaying is an embrace like no other.

 

The forest has a strange way

of pulling other people's hooks out of you. 

You can almost hear them drop at your feet

like clanking swords or harpoons.

Then, the lungs fill with sweet air

and you know you've arrived in a realm

beyond the reach of hungry ghosts, sorcerers, Soul-Eaters.

 

Before the forest, the river.

 

Her sweet song puts the mind at ease.

She quiets the senseless chatter

one absorbs from the Grasping World like a thick tar.

 

Herons mindfully walk the shoreline.

Trout jump.

The heart leaps.

Grasshoppers click-click-click away with caution.

Dragonflies click-click-click closer

as if to tempt you with entrance into the dream world.

 

Before the river, the path.

 

Each step an in-breath,

an out-breath,

accepting a standing invitation.

Ambling along, welcoming the animal in you to loosen tight tendons,

a joining-up happens with something unseen you realize your soul has been missing.

 

Path to river

river to forest

forest to foothills

foothills to mountain...

 

as you make your way to the summit,

the pure breeze initiating you,

you comprehend why the ancient apex

is seen the world over as a shrine of renewal.

 

Circumambulation.

Contemplation.

Lamentation.

Purification.

Liberation.

Integration.

Transformation.

 

This is what it means to 'come back to your true body'.

This is what it means 'to cross over the bridge of the self'.

This is what it means to 'become the mountain'.


(c) 2017 / Frank LaRue Owen / purelandpoetry.com

 

 

sound: Robert Rich / Alio Die, Fissures, Hearts of Space

 

 

 

 

 

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Halcón Escucha (Hawk Listening)

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Halcón Escucha (Hawk Listening)

As with all poems at Pure Land Poetry, this one is optimized for viewing on desktop computer (i.e. not mobile devices, phones, or iPads). Click the white-triangle for sound... These are not poems. These are movies for the moving pictures of the mind.


Pure womb of darkness.

Two sparks flash, then a third.

A fourth spark fills the darkness with sudden sun-like brightness.

 

Five candles are lit and placed into lanterns -- one for the center, one in each of the corners.

Above -- a lattice of vines form a roof.

 

Just beyond the open-air lantern-lit platform -- an orchestra of night sounds.

A low rumbling growl -- not menacing; more like a purr of satisfaction.

A jaguar rubs a smooth dark shoulder against rough tree bark.

I think to myself: Thank goodness. He sounds well-fed.

 

Hanging beneath bell-shaped leaves, tree frogs chant in both worlds.

A hand appears in front of me holding an earthen cup with symbols I don't recognize.

I take it and look up into a face that seems ancient yet ever-young.

The same hand then flaps like a wing; motions to me to imbibe.

Beberse todo, beberse todo. Drink up, drink up.

 

A cloud of tobacco smoke fills the air above my head

as bunches of leaves, feathers, dried seed pods

tap my back, my chest, my crown, my limbs.

The singing begins.

All lanterns are extinguished.

I lean back onto the woven mat and settle-in to my "dreaming station."

 

Body sprawled out, I feel utterly alone against the cloak of night.

Am I even human, or just a small bug turned on his back on the floor of the jungle?

 

The face of every one I've ever loved pass in front of my mind's eye.

There have been so many -- each a story of joy, sadness, friendship, disappointment.

A deep breath fills me as if something other than me is now doing the breathing.

I hear prayers and songs being uttered. I get lost in them.

 

I think of my parents: Have I been a good son?

I think of friends: Have I been good to each one?

I think of my job: Am I doing anything worthwhile?

I think of my apartment: Will it turn out to be my cocoon or my coffin?

I think of my late teacher: I wish we could take a walk in the desert again.

I think of different lovers: Why couldn't we find what we were looking for in each other's eyes?

 

I raise my hands in front of my face.

I no longer have skin or bones.

I am nothing but a tightly-bound collection of luminous strands, slowly loosening, separating.

All but one fall to the woven mat beneath me. 

A single flowing strand moves outward into the jungle and carries me along.

The only thing I am sure of is that my heart is still beating,...and that...

 

I am the jungle.

I've never not been the jungle.

I am the stars.

I've never not been the stars.

I see a man fishing.

I have never not been a man.

I see a woman collecting water.

I have never not been a woman.

I see a child chasing a dragonfly.

I have never not been a child.

I have never not been a dragonfly.

I have never not been a river, a jaguar, a frog calling the rain.

 

The single luminous thread that appears to be 'me'

is pulled from deep in the jungle valley into the high hills above.

Suddenly I am in a new body -- brown feathers fluttering in the wind.

Eyes sharp and clear -- the whole world vibrant again.

 

I hear a voice say:

Withdraw all investments from illusion.

The doorway beyond the heart's suffering is open.


(c) 2017 / Frank LaRue Owen / purelandpoetry.com

sound: Vine, Bark & Spore, Steve Roach & Jorge Reyes

 

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Blue Star Kachina's Strange Cosmic Theatre

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Blue Star Kachina's Strange Cosmic Theatre

Sometimes the body moves through something and takes the soul along for the ride.

Sometimes the spirit lifts up and out-of-the-body -- goes on far away travels, leaving the body behind.

This 'Love Is Stronger Than Death' Curriculum has a high tuition sometimes.


I'm not sure what will be the case this evening.
Too much of the heavy-hearted world of man is on me --
matting and staining the feathers of my Mountain-Dreaming Cloak.

Time to splash cold water on the face
and head up to where I put down a season's worth of accumulated weight.

A pinch of Isleta tobacco to the Four Winds.
To Lady Night Lamp above -- a pour of moonlit saké for safe travels...

and I'm off.

Halfway down the road -- a lightning bolt passes through.

I hear a familiar voice say:
In the Fifth World, new rituals will remind us of our shared human bond

that don't involve tragedy, sacrifice, nightmares, or deceit.


(c) 2017 / Frank LaRue Owen / purelandpoetry.com

sound: Ruven Nunez, The Holy Fountain

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Singularly Unimpressed, Coyote Predicts the Fall of the Republic of Clowns

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Singularly Unimpressed, Coyote Predicts the Fall of the Republic of Clowns

I was pulled awake from my blue agave dreaming

by a gust of cool air flowing through the screen.

At first, my skin - an independent animal-entity with its own preferences -

stirred suddenly as if to say: You have a visitor.

Then my mind kicked in, with all its strange ways of seeing-and-knowing, and said:

This is what renewal feels like if you seize it.

I didn't.

 

I drifted back into the depths

where all the ghosts, dancing ladies, and old gods gather around a central fire

to tell stories that break all the rules,

crack casting-molds,

and up-end everything with the tip of an ash.

 

 

Coyote puffed on his pipe, smiled, and said: Don't worry. I got this.

 

I say all of this, only to say...

We may be living in the Clown Republic right now,

being run by bozos and spiritual hobos,

but it's a house of cards fashioned on a turtle's back

and come the next good rain, there's going to be a whole lot of shaking going on.


(c) 2017 / Frank LaRue Owen / purelandpoetry.com

 

 

sound: Koichi Sugii

image: Newfoundland-American Arctic explorer Captain Robert Bartlett and local, 1933, Smithsonian. Photograph taken during Arctic expedition for the Invertebrate Zoology Department, Smithsonian 

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