Having danced with the Fractal Switchblade, let me just say:

All of us

are traversing

the Bardo of Heartbreak.


Tonight, I want to talk about one layer of it.

For the first time in a long, long time, I have perspective again.

I have unstitched within myself one of the great traps of man.

First, let me diagnose the conundrum.

Then, I will describe how I got here.


Let us begin with the topic of ‘Men Being Men’.

I am not referring to those beings of true privilege —
albeit “poor” in materiality, those of great wealth of spirit

born into cultures whose ‘making-of-True Human Beings’ is still intact.

I am referring to the rest of us —

recipients breast-fed on fermented trauma

inheritors of the dispensation of weaponized religion

receivers of this soul-deadening culture

into which we were born.

Warped and distorted maps and mapmaking

of what it means to really be a man.

It is precisely

embedded within this paltry, half-lit version of humanity

from which I make this commentary.


Let us turn toward the topic of mortality.

See my skull bobbing atop my Zen walking staff!

I want to talk about the kind of death we don’t shy away from.

The one with which we do not pretend.

The one we don’t try to skip to the side of

through endless distraction.

The one we stare in the face, and embrace,

because we finally see…

Death is not an end.

It is

but a gate.


Now, I want to talk about the way older men

at a certain point in our walking

suddenly find

that the only way we feel ourselves bloom inside

is in the presence of a younger woman.

Ah ha!

Have I got your attention now, lads?

We don’t talk about this in this culture.

We only point fingers and shake our heads.

We don’t ask the questions that lead

to the great interiority of men.

We don’t ponder, for example,

that in their every private moment

they are relentlessly meditating

on how they didn’t “add up”

on how they haven’t felt loved

on how there are

mere nuggets of days left in their hand

and how the rest of them

are days and nights that have already faded into the background.

Left unconscious,

this tornado of blades

will tear everything up in its path.


But, it doesn’t start there.

This trance is a two-way street.

It happens like this.

In middle-age, many men turn away.

They focus on status and career

and fitting into the empty culture

that has been fed to us.

Meanwhile, like an exiled citizen,

women cease to feel truly seen

by the ones who pledged to be at their side ‘til the end.

After many a silent tear,

the older man eventually reaches out

and finds the-once-bright-flower

who brought life to his eye

has withered

and soured

and turned the ground barren.

In pain,

like a lost thirsty traveler

wandering for days in a desert,

the man is drawn to every mirage

every beam of sunlight on the rocks

any bright flower that throws the life-giving light

back to the heart of his eye.


There is only one antidote.

Seek out

the wild man

in love with ALL of life

on the inside.


I am of the Ikkyu School.

Each morning,

we quiet priests of pine and cicada

mountain and cloud

moon-drunk stupor

and the practice of Conjure-Fantasy, See-Through-Fantasy, Release-Fantasy,

bend low and kiss the Kannon-kissed Earth

and chant:

Joy in the midst of suffering is the mark of the Ikkyu School.

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

sound: Kielo / Sylvi / Igneous Flame

image: Bombas Gen, Valencia, Spain / Sofia Bertomeu