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 / purelandpoetry.com
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.