"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quite like an outdated 'self-told story'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


around us



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'



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