I. The Top-Down Approach

A hermit of the mountain reached out to me.

The mad world had encroached on his quiet.

The irony:

He wanted a reminder

about the Grand Shape of Things

from this hermit down in the city.

I wish I had something bright to report, I said,

but nothing has changed.

Nothing has changed.

Everyone is still pretending...

pretending they aren’t strangers;

pretending that eyes aren’t being made blind

to the majesty all around us and within us

by the spiraling red dust of these times.

II. The Strange Air of Estrangements

A struggling brother reached out to me.

Estranged from his father, he wanted to hear

from another son who’d gone his own way,

who’d circled back around

and befriended his own father again another day.

Nothing has changed, I said.

The ancient rule of warriors still applies.

Sons still have to “kill” their fathers

so they’ll cease chasing after a blessing

their own fathers never got from theirs.

When sons and fathers

can finally sit at the same table

as brothers and dreamers,

then they can get down to business

with The Great Work they’re each meant to do.

III. No Shortcuts: The Tumbleweed Sutra

A former lover reached out to me.

The floor of the house of her life had collapsed.

In her own pained words, she felt “cast out to sea”.

She hoped to reorient to her life again

from the benefit of our long ago history.

Nothing has changed, I said.

If there’s a wound inside you,

you can’t take shortcuts

or drink or sleep your way around it.

You can only travel into it

and listen deeply

to what it needs to say to you.

Nothing has changed.

Romance is projection.

Two people, conjuring like sorcerers,

casting their illusions of the “ideal one”

onto the other, hoping for “completion”,


If you’re awake to it, it’s all well and fine;

but best to belong to yourself, first,

find your own completion, second,

and then, perhaps, one day you can live

with your best friend.

Nothing has changed.

If there’s a lonesome hole behind your ribs,

you will never be able to fill it

through shopping


winning awards.

Become a tumbleweed.

Roll on from all of that.

You can only fill the hole

with the soil of knowledge

and the sunlight of the Love-beyond-love.

Then, a garden will grow

whose harvest you can share with others.

This doesn’t usually occur

until after reaching a trail side sign

that reads:


Nothing has changed.

IV. Hoisting Sails

After all of this being reached out to,

I reached out to an old traveler myself.

I spoke of feeling the tide of life pulling back.

I spoke of feeling this body slowing down.

I spoke of entering a drift of time-aloneness-silence.

I asked, If I’m doing this now, what will my elder years hold?

The elder years aren’t for withering away, he said.

They’re for fashioning an invisible boat you will sail in one day.

A light and nimble vessel,

free of the barnacles of regret,

that will carry you across

the ocean of space and time.

The boat will need supplies:

an oar

a lantern for night-travel

for when clouds cover the stars

and you must consult your compass.

And the light in the lantern? I asked.

The hidden flame of heart-mind, the traveler said.

Nothing has changed.

Kindle it. Tend it. Follow its lead.

Look for it in other people’s eyes

in the smiles of people around a table

in your dreams.

(c) 2019 / Frank LaRue Owen / purelandpoetry.com

sound: As the Weeks Passed / Intangible Imbrications / Andrew Lahiff

image: Chen YiChun