Leaving No Trace

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Leaving No Trace

Wide-open all along,

this hallowed midnight thoroughfare

stirs discussions of the ancient Way --

the one that goes from the Mirrored-Eye

to the deep caverns of the heart

and back out to the cosmos turning-in on itself.

 

The old instruction still stands:

Be full-of-care what you cast your eyes upon.

Ignore that which does not help you or the world to bloom.

 

Someone remarks that this time

feels like she's throwing pearls before swine.

The Teacher says:

Stay close and guard your heart-mind in this age of decline*.

The Heart-Mind-River knows which way to flow.

 

So, friend, you are just a crazy cloud like the rest of us;

part of this tribe of foolish beings passing through.

Who's keeping score?

Fade over the horizon, anonymous.

It matters not

if others realized

you were really the rain

falling on their parched and thirsty fields.


*"In our tradition, we are living in what is called Mappo - the Age of Dharma Decline. There is a pain that can come in being awake during such times. Even without temples, or small closet-shrines, we can still draw great strength from Kannon - the One Who Hears the Cries of the World. So, keep breathing. Keep walking. Keep keeping your heart-mind, and remember you are well-trained in knowing how to step lightly in this realm. Follow the fragrance of the Dharma to the places of rest and restoration. Even the birds are chanting the nembutsu. Even the trees and mountains are singing of Kannon's ever-renewing grace. The Tao is eternal." --Kuma-sensei


(c) 2017 / Frank LaRue Owen (Wandering Stone Lantern) / purelandpoetry.com

To learn more about the music of KOSIKK, visit their Bandcamp page.

 

 

 

 

 

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Offerings

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Offerings

I wept tonight

with the earth weeping rain

 

for all that's been lost

and all that is the same.

 

Then the sky filled with bullet-like hail

and I ate the icy offerings like a warrior's last meal.


(c) 2017 / Frank LaRue Owen (Wandering Stone Lantern) / purelandpoetry.com

To learn more about six-string Jedi David Darling click here

To learn more about vocal maestra Sylvia Nakkach click here

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Exchanging Self for Other

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Exchanging Self for Other

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"If the sleeves of my black robe were more ample

I'd shelter everyone in this floating world."

--Taigu Ryokan, Zen hermit-poet (1758-1831)

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Eyes swimming in sockets like hungry fish

scooping up small morsels of agony and insight 

from the steady flow of this Great River we're in.

 

Swimming alongside each other, I see you.

I see all you're trying to do.

I see you leaning forward, trying to get through.

I see your strained back, your strained smile.

I hear the muffled song inside you as you glide by.

 

I see you throwing your shoulder into it all,

asking the great question of questions:

"In this Quest-I-On...

am I who and where I need to be? 

Is this how the Great Force of Life

would choose to use me?"

 

Speaking of rivers and flowing,

there is a Great River within us too.

It meanders from Eye to Heart - from Heart to Mouth,

and the hardness of life can sometimes freeze or dam it up.

If this happens, we have to drop everything, unblock it,

lest we drown in a lake of gathered regret.

 

Tomorrow,

with the arrival of the Dawn Star,

it will be ALL our birthdays, my friends.

Let the first words of renewal we speak

become our Way-Ahead again:

- Unguarded -

- Without Armor -

- Moving Through The World Open-Hearted -

 

- Unguarded -

- Without Armor -

- Moving Through The World Open-Hearted -

 

- Unguarded -

- Without Armor -

- Moving Through The World Open-Hearted -


(c) 2017 / Frank LaRue Owen (Wandering Stone Lantern) / purelandpoetry.com

To learn more about the lush, Asian-inspired soundworlds of Forrest Fang's ANIMISM, visit the Projekt label's Bandcamp page.

 

 

 

 

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The Jumping Off Point

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The Jumping Off Point

"Pieces everywhere. The perfectly formed, slab stone altar of who you and others thought you were, imagined you’d become, dreamed your legacy would be,...the remains of all of that lies before you with everything you'd laid on it and the hammer you used to break it."

--Tad Hargrave


Each vertebra of a burdened slumping spine

had a distinct chain tied to something.

A false belief. 

Someone else's expectation.

Other people's ideas and stories of who you are.

Some personal narrative inseparable from a road that doesn't lead anywhere.

A scaffolding of "visions of success" that you yourself had been propping up.

 

Now...falling through space,

you give up the chase.

 

Though the spine can become ossified,

let us give thanks

to breathing

dreaming

bloodstreams moving

the sea-salt stardust-infused Watercourse Way

that flows up and down our spines.

 

They are our constant reminders

there is something beyond

becoming human fortresses.

 


I held an all-night vigil for a dying friend.

 

Not "dying" in the bodily sense.

We only do that once each life, if we're lucky.

 

Rather, the kind of "dying"

when the Light-Body of the True-Self

grows too large for a Coffin-Like Existence.

 

The kind of "dying"

that leads to a sloughing-off of skins

like water dragons

that have suddenly developed

a taste for mountain wine.

 

About that vigil.

 

Did I happen to mention

that the friend

was me?


I reach into my bag of words and come up empty.

I've reached the end.

I cannot speak clearly 

of this Blue Mountain Spirit

renewing itself inside this soul of mine.

 

The whole journey has been one of walking back through time;

shifting through innumerable shapes

moving from forms to formlessness

until there is nothing left

but the silhouette of a man

sitting on a cloud-pine platform

overlooking the mountains.

 

What else can a Man or Woman of The Way say? 

 

What a relief

to pour all of this ink

back into the river of the void!

 


 

This child of samsara is leaving the world of red dust,

moving beyond the ephemeral realms of human praise and blame.

Where I am going

there is only

the gray-green days of rain.


(c) 2017 / Frank LaRue Owen (Wandering Stone Lantern) / purelandpoetry.com

To learn more about the Korean gayageum music of Master Byungki Hwang visit his site here.

To listen to and buy Forrest Fang's majestic new recording, Following the Ether Sun, visit the album's Projekt Bandcamp page

 

 

 

 

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Departing the City

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Departing the City

--poem before my 10th annual mountain pilgrimage in 2017

 

Don't get me wrong. She was gorgeous.

Tan legs like long pines.

Laguna Caldera eyes.

Pink dress like a neon camellia.

But she wore her saturated red dust materialism on her sleeve

and like all of Mara's daughters

came bearing honey-covered hooks.

 

She lamented the dating scene in this dirty old town.

I nodded, smiled, knowingly.

No comment. 

 

Transaction complete

it was almost as if she wanted to hold my purchase hostage

but I already had a date

with a bottle of seishu

and my lady the moon.

_ _ _ _

Horns from a train cry in the distance. 

A light coral sunset drops.

Steam rises from a dark sea-green tokkuri.

Kusatsu-Bushi pipes into my ears.

I imagine I am wandering in a far away city

where people actually know me;

where no matter where you are within it

you can see the turning leaves on the mountain.


(c) 2017 / Frank LaRue Owen (Wandering Stone Lantern) / purelandpoetry.com

sound: Tower of Babel / Above the Desert / Chihei Hatakeyama

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Throwback & Leap Quantum

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Throwback & Leap Quantum

It was one of those days that started like a hammer

predictable

teeth aimed inward

softened only by a Mozart's Mule

or some other concoction from the waiting wall of bitters.

I thought about how the luster had worn off of everything.

How every relationship seemed virtual, passing, surface;

a mere going through the motions to satisfy agreed upon civil pleasantries.

 

This led to thoughts of how we are all

in a time of retrogression-with-aggression,

when tea and sympathy aren't going to cut it

and certainly won't cut through all the ferocity, deceit, aging, and rust.

 

Suddenly, I felt the "spirits" calling out to me.

'How interesting,' I thought, 'that we call spirits spirits and bitters bitters.'

 

I looked around and saw waif-like men displaced from themselves,

"No Hara", they would say in Japan -

trying to squeeze 'some-elusive-something' from Life

but going senseless in the process.

 

Some of the women, too, were trying to find themselves

in the fawning cult-of-image,

or in a man; blind leading the blind.

 

The Apothecarian saddled up across from me,

on the other side of the counter, and asked, "What'll it be?" 

'What'll it be, indeed,' I thought.

I started to say: 'Surprise me'

but a deeper wish caught these words in my throat.

Instead I responded:

"Everyone here is trying to forget. I want to remember."

 

His eyes flashed wide, as if his invisible lineage suddenly showed up.

He nodded, knowingly, from behind his heart-length beard

and stepped away to do his alchemical calculations.

 

A few minutes later, a solid base Old Fashioned glass

was lowered to the marble in front of me.

 I raised it to my hawkish nose and inhaled.

Tanned women on white sandy beaches somewhere south of here.

I opened my mouth and inhaled again.

The 10,000-step rose garden of the Alhambra in Granada, Spain.

I took a first sip.

A soul-part returned; an 'other life' part of me

that is actually an ancestor of myself.

 

Orange citron on the front...

Smoke, Earth and Freedom on the back.

I felt thick pine winds swirl around me as if I were flying.

 

I paddled my way through the mixture,

which I named "Goma: Liquid Bonfire Sutra";

umami bitters, Zirbenz pine, Campari,

essence of smoky lapsang souchong reduction.

 

I visualized the I Ching hexagram:

Mountain Above, Lake Below.

It, too, is all about reduction.

 

Reduction is very auspicious and blameless if there is truthfulness.

It is appropriate to be steadfast and upright.

It is worthwhile going somewhere.

There is a lake below a mountain. Reduction.

Thus, cultured people eliminate wrath and stop cupidity.

 

I stepped away from the counter,

bowed to the Memory-Nectar Conjurer,

and reclaimed my oldest poet-name.


(c) 2017 / Frank LaRue Owen (Wandering Stone Lantern) / purelandpoetry.com

To learn more about the guqin (seven-stringed zither) music of Li Xiangting visit Soundings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tzu-jan: The Tough-Love Teachings of Itself So

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Tzu-jan: The Tough-Love Teachings of Itself So

Miles away from all the clear-cuts, this skin feels it.

Yellow-Hair Custer Termite-Culture

still busy taking women's scalps.

 

Miles from "earth-movers" carving into Her body,

my own muscles separate from tired stone-like bones.

 

Miles from wolf, bear, coyote, fox

all caught in steel-toothed traps

waiting the long night for a bullet to the brain,

my ankle throbs. I shiver. My heart drains.

 

Miles from the forest floors of the Quinault, the Haida, the Yurok,

I lay my head down here in "Michi'zii'bi";

the soft-gray network of Pacific mycelium

has begun sending messages to me.

 

The messages speak of saturation

impending purification

this DNA changing

merging with the Great Transformation.

 

While modernistas and Floating World-types

lull themselves into another dark-sleep

Game Day

QVC

another episode of House of Cards

 

the real house of cards we are all in

is preparing to receive tough-love teachings all over again. 

They will arrive slowly at first,

then in the form

of giant spirals

of water and high-wind.


(c) 2017 / Frank LaRue Owen (Wandering Stone Lantern) / purelandpoetry.com

For more information about the music of Michael Hewett, visit the Michael Hewett Bandcamp page.

 

 

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When The Practitioner Looks Back and Sees The Lineage

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When The Practitioner Looks Back and Sees The Lineage

"Even at the time of death,

the lineage is there to call upon."

--Kuma-sensei (1949-2007)

Gray Day.

Sentinel Pines.

Swaying Wind.

Falling Silent.

No words...of my own.

 

Like the old man said last night --

narrow

is the road

to the interior.

 

Lightning strikes --

sizzles down the spine.

Warm breeze

gentle relief --

cascade of memory.

 

How did you think

the permission would be given

to chart your own course?

 

Would you know your own authority

if it bit you in the ass like trickster Inari?

 

Small bird

untested wings

kicked from the nest.

Falling through the air for years,

not trusting the wind;

then, filled-lungs, no-thinking, flight.

 

There is no greater stranger

than the soul

who has yet

to recognize herself.

This is the purpose

of the Dark Night of the Soul

the Night-Sea Voyage

the Long Hall of Mirrors.

 

There is no part of this journey

that isn't about turning you back onto yourself.

It's the work of finding practice-equilibrium.

 

Conditions change.

Waves arise.

Adjust heart-mind.

 

If you are paying attention to your life,

whether or not

you are the same person from day-to-day,

that is The Way;

that

is what the lineage

has always called

a practitioner.


(c) 2017 / Frank LaRue Owen (Wandering Stone Lantern) / purelandpoetry.com

To learn more about Erik Wollo's recording, Different Spaces, visit the album's Bandcamp Page

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Namo

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Namo

namo (Sanskrit: नामन् ): name; syllabic utterance to convey the essence of a deity, person, place, object, memory, or species.


Four Poems About Names, and Naming


I. What’s In A Name?

 

A voice mumbled across the table in the tavern, with a subtle hint of disdain:

"So, what's with this name?"

 

I said something about poets, and teachers of poets

poet-names and Dharma names.

 

I started to talk about people who follow these old traditions of being and naming,

like my teacher,

and the names placed in front of us like horizon lines to aim for.

 

I started to mention the tapestry of waking-dreamers before us --

how Tao Yuanming, at mid-life, became Five Willows

how Bai Juyi left the city and would only answer to the name “First Mountain”

how Matsuo named himself Sobo, then Tosei, then Basho

how Buson took his dead teacher’s poet-name, Yahantei, Midnight Studio

how Otagaki Todo, after a whole life of loss, gave herself the name Lotus Moon

and stayed hidden within the town, writing poetry, firing pottery, moving every year as if she lived on the surface of a stream.

 

I stopped myself, knowing full-well I cannot convey

this multidimensional mandala of oversouls and lush places of memory.

So, I just left it at: My teacher gave it to me.

 

II. Walking Toward Something - Not Running Away

 

How do you explain the poet-name?

Will it be a nourishing feast or a kettle of rotten fish to the listener?

 

How do you articulate the age-old practice

of trading-in ego concerns and Floating World grasping and greed

all in service of filling oneself up with the guiding spirit of the seasons?

 

What poem can be written, or story told,

that conveys Dawn-Light Clarity

--this stepping beyond

--this stepping into poems

--this making room for the memory-flow

--this making space for dead teachers to have their say

--this wandering with long-gone poets who are still teaching The Way

--this daily guarding of oasis-like spaciousness

for those moments when life-changing conversations need to take place?

 

How can it be described that multi-verse travel is not only possible

but happening all the time,

all while you, the poet,

are trying to maintain a body

in the here-and-now?

 

III. Scientific Classification of a Poet for the Literal Minded

 

Classification:

Mississippiensis naturae x japonicus mahayana indicus religiosa chinensis homo noeticus occidentalis mons dao poetica

Characteristics:

Nocturnal, solitary; attracted to the sound of cicadas, owls, and the scent of junmai ginjo sake'

 

IV: Our True Name Is Found in the Dawn Light

 

You have to present yourself to the morning.

The whole lot of yourself.

The bags under your eyes.

The pain from being betrayed.

All the things you were meant to give birth to

which you aborted for a half-lived life.

The travel-worn lines in your heart, hands, and face.

The scars and burns and multiple brandings from being made an exile.

Bring it all.

 

Whether shy to the light or broken-winged,

you have to present yourself to the morning

and give her

your everything.

Only then, will you be given your true name.

 

From seed-catchers

to sandpipers

bottom-feeders

to dragonflies clicking through the sunbeams --

all are after only one thing:

one humble taste of The Flow.

 

After offering your "self" to the morning

the night is where you receive your True-Self back.

This is when you learn about the Long View;

that the only mountain you need to climb is yourself

and everywhere there is a great Circle of Solace waiting;

you just have to be fully present in that moment

and enter from there.


(c) 2017-2018 / Frank LaRue Owen (Wandering Stone Lantern) / purelandpoetry.com

This poem will appear in the forthcoming September 2018 release of The School of Soft-Attention

To learn more about the improvisational guqin (Chinese zither) music of Vi-An Diep, visit her Bandcamp page

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Field Notes from The Tumult

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Field Notes from The Tumult

"We rarely converse about it really, 

but it's a topic we all have in common."

--Kuma-sensei, reflecting on the importance of shadow-work 

 

We don’t need the prickling cautious skin of deep ancestors to inform us.

 

We don't need the tilting ears of brother fox

or the sudden shiver of frightened birds

to relay the same signal to the center of our brain:

Something has gone awry in the world.

 

The Bright Essence Mind is closer at hand

under the surface

bone-deep

and reminds us each day

from the Reservoir of Quiet-Seeing-and-Knowing.

 

It may arrive as a faint sensation, or a full-throated roar.

It may be a subtle uneasiness, or shouts heard through a wall.

Unseen threads being clipped.

Fragile filaments of life being snipped.

Night-Sleep-as-collapse

rather than

The Holy Mother's Ritual of Soul-Restoration.

 

We maneuver through the trembling world

look at faces

hear them as voices:

Is this the time of feast or famine?

Are we in the time of flood or fire?

Have we landed in a hellish corner of the Bardo

or are we "right on time" in this churning gyre?

 

Some days I am convinced we’re all misfired souls

whose parachutes failed to open.

Our destination

was the lush green pleasure palaces of Sukhavati;

having shot-short, we landed in the Boneyard of Innocence.

 

Then my own shallow breathing

calls heart-mind back to Heart-Mind,

reminds me of the bodhisattva's intent,

and a luminous compass

pointing toward the western mountains

suddenly 'rights itself' inside my chest.

 

It makes me think of a roadside shrine I once saw,

rain-drenched and gentle in the soft blue night,

and the spirit of homage that fell over me

for a saint they say was good

at "burning through his shadows"

 

and I think he'd say

that's what's happening here

and what we are

and are not doing,

everywhere.

 

When we don't do the work

of burning through our own shadows,

we project them outward

and force everyone else to shoulder the burden.

 

If the holy work

of lightening-up the world

by lightening-up ourselves

is left undone at the very end,

the pallbearers

will find on that day

that the hole is too small

to receive our coffin.

 

Only by unbinding our hidden joy

from the prison of ribs

and chains of memory

are we granted free passage

to and through

the paradise promised us.


(c) 2017 / Frank LaRue Owen (Wandering Stone Lantern) / purelandpoetry.com

To learn more about the music of Steve Roach, and to listen more to the collaborative album Second Nature with Steve Roach and Robert Logan, visit the Second Nature Bandcamp Page.

 

 

 

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Supplication

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Supplication

--a final poem in memory of my late teacher--


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"The heart-mind is boundless.

Once you've become true allies,

there is no distinction between

arrival and departure."

--Kuma-sensei

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The Mizong mystics down in town talk about Great Surrender.

Fools in the tavern overhear this and think this means: "Go mindless."

Those vagabonds have even cooked up elaborate philosophies

to justify "tying their boat" to any ol' shimmering thing passing by.

 

The real wayfarers, though, have sampled it all, and handed it back.

They can tell you to your face without blinking:

It's all empty. Taste every morsel to your heart's content.

Just know: It still leads you right back to where you started.

 

This isn't a knock on emptiness; the Ten Thousand Things arise from it.

But as old Hui-Neng used to say:

You can catalog every blooming thing

or get to know the Source that causes everything to sing.

 

I'm not telling you not to enjoy yourself

as you move through this House of Smoke and Mirrors.

Even Crazy Cloud used to say: Have a drink, get laid; you're only human.

 

But two-legged dragons from the mountains

and peacocks down in the jungle

are masters because they're free from impulsive supping.

They've imbibed all the poisons of forgetfulness

and transmuted them from solids into tasteless vapors

through the luminous mesh of the Dharma Body.

 

You'll know such a one because they don't enter anything lightly.

No matter the sweetness of the honey dripping from the hook,

they by-pass 'the dangling'

and go straight for the heart of things.

 

Having drunk from the Deep Draught of Memory,

and seen back to the time when you and I were known by names

like Autumn Traveling Coat and Bright-Integrity Radiance Mountain,

there's no turning back for me.

But I can tell you this.

 

If you have the chance to cross paths with such a one,

and sit knee-to-knee,

you'll start asking questions of your whole life, like:

Am I really 'in' my life?

What am I inhabiting?

Are my days about new vistas of understanding

or am I being vanquished by illusions I've taken to be reality?


(c) 2017 / Frank LaRue Owen (Wandering Stone Lantern) / purelandpoetry.com

To learn more about the music of Jeffrey Ericson Allen and the Chronotope Project, visit the Bandcamp Page for the album Dharma Rain.

 

 

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Walking Dao

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Walking Dao

Walk a path enough times

it becomes as close to you

as your own spine.

The perfumed mist of valleys at dusk

songbirds nestled in branches

the slow-stepping heron at the water's edge

become companions ---

familiar travelers in the Softly-Lit World

of Flowing Movement Without Grasping.


(c) 2017 / Frank LaRue Owen (Wandering Stone Lantern) / purelandpoetry.com

Make the music of Roy Mattson a regular part of your daily flow by downloading the album MESMER.

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Lean

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Lean

You may not realize it

but the world is slowly tilting.

 

It has done so many times before

and each time there is great noise and grasping.

 

You may have thought

you were born into a certain family

in a certain town

in a certain time

with a certain name

with a certain flow of memories

and collection of faces

and that all of these things flow together

into the clay jar of your body

and it's only this

that makes you who you are.

 

But the world is tilting

and when the cycle is complete

even you will meet the new you.

 

It isn't that the stories and songs from the Time-Before

won't be just as good once the world has completed its full-tilt

 

but new stories will be made in the Times-to-Come

and the really good ones will be about the people

who learned how to lean.


(c) 2017 / Frank LaRue Owen (Wandering Stone Lantern) / purelandpoetry.com

To learn more about the ambient soundscape collaborations of Alio Die and Antonio Testa visit the Prayer For The Forest Bandcamp Page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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One-Hundred and Thirty-Two Views of the Moon

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One-Hundred and Thirty-Two Views of the Moon

Eleven years shedding skin

drinking deep from the well of rough training.

Intimate with territories of heart-mind

reserved for orphans, widows, exiles.

No skin remains except lush word-filled silence.

 

This body in winter:

corpse-like under the blanket of night, dreaming;

in summer: jaguar-like, soundless, observant, moving through the humid dark.

I ponder what color Chan robe the Spirit of Time will put on these bones.

Even then...

that thought...

...falls away.

 

Then there are days like this one

when I wonder if, in some parallel reality,

beyond the great hallway of billowing quantum curtains,

there is another version of me

standing on a high hill with another version of you

overlooking a valley

talking about how the flowers

seem to shimmer in the afternoon light.


(c) 2017 / Frank LaRue Owen (Wandering Stone Lantern) / purelandpoetry.com

For more info about French/Malagasy ethno-ambient musician Ujjaya, visit either his Facebook Page or Soundcloud Page.

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Songs in the Open Air

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Songs in the Open Air

I. Rivers, Mountains, Names

 

Her body: Earth-Realm bone dust.

Her spirit: Graceful, flowing ether,

occasionally-visiting.

Her name: Now I call her Dao-Sentiment River.

 

She named me, too -- after mountains not of this Earth.

I had thought it would make me solid,

but when I look to the West each day,

I still feel the river's teaching

carving another part of me away.

 

II. Singing, Disrobing, Flying

 

When I was teaching

I used to think of the wolf as my totem. 

 

Now,

Zen-Mind following Dao,

I think it must be the cicada.

 

Their drifting cacophonic symphony 

wafts through the humid air --

blasts through the open sliding door,

sends me traveling back

to lives where this was always the soundtrack.

 

Like then,

every season I am stepping out of another layer of skin. 

This is why, regardless of who you are,

I have nothing solid to bring you.

 

Cicada Teachings say:

At this rate, death will be a piece of cake.

We enter the world empty-handed

and leave the same way.

Nothing to ponder but singing, disrobing, flying.


(c) 2017 / Frank LaRue Owen (Wandering Stone Lantern) / purelandpoetry.com

Sound: Maestro-Sifu ambient composer Forrest Fang, Following The Ether Sun

 

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 Yu: Apprenticing to Your Rainbow Body

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Yu: Apprenticing to Your Rainbow Body

--a poem written to myself, with the accompanying challenge of reading it every morning for a year.

>|< 

--dedicated to the soul-clarifying work of

Dr. Bairavee Balasubramaniam (The Sky Priestess)

>|<

"Yu literally means 'to play,' 'to enjoy oneself in a leisurely fashion,' or 'to go on a journey.' Zen inherits this term from Taoism and suggests free and easy wandering is the way we should experience the world."--William Scott Wilson, The One Taste of Truth: Zen and the Art of Drinking Tea


Go through this world of illusion

in free and easy wandering.

--from the Kannon-kyo, Chapter 25, Lotus Sutra

>|<

I used to doubt the astrologers.

After a year of listening to the stars, now I pay heed.

 

I used to doubt oracles.

Having witnessed the free-flowing dance

of thunder, sky, water, wind, mountain, lake,

The Book of Changes is now a daily companion.

 

I used to keep a strong scaffolding in place.

It separated Pure Land from Zen

Zen from Dao

Dharma quarantined from the way of mountain spirits.

Hell, like a Pure Hell separated from Paradise,

I quarantined the Dharma from the rest of my life.

 

With a sudden glance in the middle of a storm,

the bottom dropped out

the scaffolding fell

along with my mind

and all of these nectars poured into the same vat.

 

Human speech falls short on this one;

another poem that is not a poem.

 

It is about the moment you realize

you have been a stranger to yourself, 

and, thus, to everyone else.

 

It is about the moment you realize

there is no outside to your inside.

 

It is about the moment you realize,

if you let go

your breathing and summer breezes will become enjoined allies.

 

I only share it with you

to break the trance of constructed worlds;

to inform you that, just like me,

those shackles you wear

have a lock

whose key

is resting

in your

own

hand.


 

Student: How will it be when Maitreya, the Future Buddha, comes?

Master Taewŏn: Truly, it will be just like this.

--from Garden Chrysanthemums and First Mountain Snow:

Zen Questions and Answers from Korea, trans. Hongjin Park


(c) 2018 / Pure Land Poetry / Frank LaRue Owen (Wandering Stone Lantern) / purelandpoetry.com

image: "Brocken Spectre," Tanzawa Mountains, Kanagawa Prefecture, Honshu, Japan, Shigeru Rokujuu

To learn more about Kanagawa, Japan-based electronic musician Sugai Ken, visit his On The Quakefish Bandcamp page.

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The School of Soft Attention Is Now Taking Students

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The School of Soft Attention Is Now Taking Students

Here we are again, fellow traveler.

Here. 

Again.

You.

Me.

 

Have the memories started for you yet?

 

Here we are again, fellow traveler

in yet another troubled time.

 

Hearts are burdened.

Families are being broken.

Bonds of trust have been dissolved 

all with the quick-flick

of jet-black ink

on rough-feeling paper

that has never known empathy.

 

Here we are again, fellow traveler.

The curriculum is now set.

The School of Soft-Attention is now taking students.

 

Grandmothers of the Buffalo Nation

are out there crying and bleeding in the snow again.

The latest 'Great White Father' doesn't remember,

and hasn't really

let the full history

settle into his bones.

 

Here we are again, fellow traveler.

Mothers of the Desert

are out there fighting

to protect their young

along some unknown fence line.

 

And you and me...

students of the School of Soft-Attention...

 

...we're the witnesses

that have to see

because our hearts can't not

and our minds

are of The Way,

and it is our way

not to turn away

from what's really happening.

_______________________________________________

For more info about the music of Robert Rich, visit robertrich.com

(c) 2017 / Frank LaRue Owen / purelandpoetry.com

 

 

 

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Here's The Catch

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Here's The Catch

...a love poem...of sorts


part one: the longing

 

Are you fishing in your sleep again?

Oh, come on. We all know how it starts.

A deep pang inside. A longing.

That old familiar question rattling around inside your mind:

“Where is the one for me?”

 

And so, you start imagining a soul.

What do they look like?

What does their laugh sound like?

What does the curve of their body feel like in the dark?

 

All of this imagining gets the best of you.

It stokes an image inside...The Ideal One.

 

Don’t stand too close to the heat, pilgrim,

for a fire has been lit

and it’s burning up all of your commonsense.

 

This longing is ancient and powerful and vast.

It feels like it might even swallow you up

if you chose to stay with it.

 

We can’t have that, now can we?

 

So, you aim it all outward.

You become a Human Movie Projector.

 

“Hey you! Stand still! Stop moving! I’m busy projecting onto you.

No. No. Don’t speak. You might ruin the moment.”

 

Like a fisherman on the shoreline,

you attach this inner image of The Ideal One

onto a hook of your own making.

You don’t realize you fashioned a hook, but you did.

It happened somewhere between sleep and waking.

 

Don’t be so hard on yourself.

You were just following instructions;

the same troubled, outworn instructions

given to everybody else,

and you followed them impeccably.

 

You cast that inner image out --

out into the world, every day.

Multiple times a minute even.

 

And so, there you are...hoping

and hoping...and hoping "The One" will come and bite the hook.

 

You're fishing in your sleep again

fishing in your sleep again

not realizing the real prize-catch

has been swimming inside you all along.

 

Until you embrace the Indwelling One

there is only exile in the Territory of Love

...even

if you somehow arrange

to have a stranger’s warm body

sleeping next to you.


part two: the feast

 

We were never taught how to properly relate to the Indwelling World.

None of us were,

and our world isn't even set up for it.

So when longing shows up…

all hell breaks loose.

We become our own bull in our own china shop.

 

It has become so ingrained

to interpret longing-as-lack

instead of the fullness that it is.

 

And so, like cosmic clockwork,

we assume the longing is empty

instead of boundless and full

rich and fertile

ripe for the planting and eventual harvest.

 

Like the poor fools

in the Running of the Bulls

who get trampled

and are somehow shocked when they are,

the human condition is one of endlessly running around

trying to fill the longing

with something or someone.

 

It cannot be done, and never will,

as long as longing is seen through the eyes of poverty.

The longing in the soul

is the soul itself

wanting to know

the fullness of the soul itself.

It isn’t empty anymore than the darkness of space is.

It is a doorway into a vast realm that has no edges, no bottom.

 

It is an endless expanse

and the solidity we take to be reality

is formless and empty,

and the emptiness contains

an incomprehensible fullness.

 

"It"

--if we can even say that, for it is no-thing--

includes the person on the bus beside you,

the checkout girl in the grocery store,

the man who delivered your mail;

they all have a doorway

to the same endless expanse within them too.

 

And many of them are looking outside themselves

for something or someone

to fill the vast boundless longing

they are feeling right alongside you.

 

What is already inside this space

within you, them, everyone

is an energy --

a life-giving

life-bestowing

life-sustaining fullness;

 

but rather than bringing forth

the abundant feast that is there,

we go outward

and onward

hunting for scraps and crumbs instead.

 

This longing is ancient and powerful and vast.

It feels like it might even swallow you up

if you chose to stay with it.

 

Stay with it.

Stay with it.

If you do, it will lead you.

And one day,

maybe one day,

you will cross paths with someone

whose inner doorway reminds you of your own...

 

But it will never truly happen

if you don't learn how to be alone.


(c) 2017 / Frank LaRue Owen / purelandpoetry.com

To learn more about the music of Steve Roach, visit The Timeroom.

To learn more about the music of Greg Ellis, visit RhythmPharm.

 

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Medicine

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Medicine

The look on your face

is one I have seen in my own mirror.

 

I know you didn't think

you would feel this tired at this age

but this is just a phase.

 

You’re in-between lives within this life.

 

As the old woman used to say out in Peyote Land:

'Right on time, deary. Right on time.'

 

For now,

in the place beyond words

just know:

breathing is enough.

 

The world falls away in silence.

 

Whoever is secure enough

to let you enter the quiet-dark without them

is your ally.

 

Whatever is left standing

after your simmering ‘death-sleep’

is faith-worthy.

 

In these times,

when even a simple day

can feel like a firing pin,

stretching corpse-like

upon the earth

is not leisure.

 

It is medicine.


(c) 2017 / Pure Land Poetry / Frank LaRue Owen / purelandpoetry.com

This poem will appear in the forthcoming September 2018 release of The School of Soft-Attention (now available for pre-order from Homebound Publications or Amazon.com

sound: Chronotope Project

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The Seed - The Gate - The Path

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The Seed - The Gate - The Path

 

THE GATE

I know it seems hard to grasp

but it's about opening your hand,

reaching for the Cup of Truth

hidden within your silent life.

 

Hand the script back to the director of the drama;

tell the playwright to cease adding words to the page.

Dare to be alone,

to meet yourself for the first time--really

realizing that unless you enter the life of your Great Story

no one

and nothing around you

can ever really offer you

a gift worth receiving.

 

It's about pulling back the curtain,

revealing what you've long hidden in shame,

and coming to understand for yourself

how it was always a treasure.

 

It's about comprehending

the hard-edged fact

that if you don't love yourself enough to take care of yourself

no one can ever trust you

when you tell them that you love them.


THE PATH

It all started as a seed...

of consciousness, that is, beneath the World Tree;

which is any tree if you are there properly.

 

It was there that He sat,

and was tested, and challenged,

until he cast off the husk of the self.

From there, a seed was passed

across time and great distances

from hand to hand.

 

When the seed

was planted at Koyasan,

a golden mandala bloomed;

a resting place for flowers thrown.

 

When the seed was planted at Kailash,

turquoise-colored birds

with flowing red scarves in their beaks

began flying East;

the true governors of Shambhala.

 

When the seed was planted at Angkor Wat,

even the roots of the trees cried out,

"Liberation!"

 

When the seed was planted

atop Linh Son mountain

the moon and sun held council

and drank tea.

 

Now the seed

drinks from the earth out on Beara's land,

deep in the dreaming Catskills.

 

The seed has been passed.

It is small and indestructible

but easily lost.

 

The seed contains a map.

The map leads to a gate

and the gate to a path.

Here, open your hand.

(c) 2017 / Pure Land Poetry / Frank LaRue Owen / purelandpoetry.com

This poem will appear in the forthcoming September 2018 release of The School of Soft-Attention, now available for pre-order from Homebound Publications or Amazon.com

To buy Steve Roach's album Light Fantastic, visit The Timeroom.  

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