Name or body, which is dearer?

Body or wealth, which is worth more?

Gain or loss, which is more harmful?

Extreme love incurs a great cost.

Vast treasures conclude in heavy loss.

Know sufficiency. It's beyond shame.

Know when to stop, avoiding peril.

That is how to live long.

--Lao Tzu, chapter 44, Tao Te Ching (trans. Hamill)

Morning tales of the first Daoist cowboy

riding west into unmapped territory

has me thinking of warm air turning cool

slow-moving sandstorms rather than blinding ones 

lightning faithfully holding hands with autumn rain.


Niúzǎi had his own spoken-lightning.

His silent shuffling off to the west that day

was a pronouncement of 'ain't gonna study war no more.'

Though the western mountains call to me just as fiercely,

I am content to move slowly through the humid cloak of Michiziibi.


Cicadas defy the seasons and carry on

with their electric-psychedelic orchestra.

Pulsing waves pass through the brightening air

and I am made all the more aware.

The early autumn heat causes me to slumber like an old lion,

not to be bothered with such trifling things as pride, prides, or hunting.

A gift of Slow Time, my "new religion."


And yet, my soul isn't entirely at peace.

When the bright neurons

of my spirit's wandering eyes

twitched awake today,

I felt a disturbance in the Great Tapestry.

I wasn't sure what I was seeing.

Roof beams holding up the cosmos,

or shy beams of the sun

hesitant to fall to earth

because they aren't sure

they will be welcomed properly?

(c) 2017 / Frank LaRue Owen /

sound: Dust to Dust, Steve Roach & Roger King


Niúzǎi (n'yo'z,eye): Chinese word for "cowboy." A nickname I have for Lao Tzu.

Michiziibi: an Algonquian word meaning "Big River." Root of the name, Mississippi.