Part of my spirit has wings.

It keeps splitting off from the rest of me

and gliding, undetected,

across the one border no one is talking about.

Below me — the River of Spirits.

I see souls making the crossing.

Some turn back.

They can’t seem to let go

of what they had on the one side.

The river mirrors moon, cloud, stars,

silver-blue feathers of a macaw.

The river divides the hustle-bustle world

from the quiet terrain

where the ones who have gone on

are watching from afar.

I see the silhouette of my own plumage.


Each day, I realize I feel more at home there.

Each night, I realize I am just visiting here.

Each month, on this side,

feels like another nail

driven into the coffin lid

of hopes and dreams

I won’t see.

I cross over as a macaw.

I return as a coyote

smuggling night-songs

into the Province of Tyrants and Termite People.


Sometimes I see my teacher over there.

She’s making tortillas pocked like the moon.

She sips mezcal and smiles.

She doesn’t talk anymore.

She says I don’t need it.

She simply transmits thought-pictures.

I either smile, laugh, or weep.

We still sit zazen as if we were two old Chinese men.

She transmits the image of a mountain

and with it, says:

Even in the strongest of storms,

this is an unshakable foundation.


She said if I’m going to stay here,

I need to start taking much better care of myself.

Sleep more.

Drink less.

Put away the smokes for good.

Maybe even love again one day.

She guffaws at my incredulous upturned eyebrow.

I’m suspicious about everything —

except for the part about more naps.

I told her after my last go-’round

my heart feels like an old lump of strained coal.

Either light it on fire,

or crush it until it turns into a diamond.

The Lover. The Hermit.

Either way is falling in love with the world.

Either way will break your heart.



an ancestor has been showing up

on my way back across the divide.

Abuela Esperanza — from my mother’s mother’s line.

Al-Andalus. Cadiz. Longwater. Taysha. Tejas.

Crowned with a fedora,

wrapped in a poncho the color of sun-baked earth,

she hands me a care-package before I cross.

Hidden within loomed cloth —

a tin star, a milagro, a map.

Tuck this away

until after the eclipse.

Await further instructions.

I return with a craving for two things

so strong they nearly set my limbs into motion;

a spirited feast of spices and stories,

a need to travel like a tumbleweed.

(c) 2019 / Frank LaRue Owen /

sound: 7 Cielos Negros / Dharmaflamenco / Billy “Blanco” White

image: macaw, Costa Rica / Dan Hadfield