Star Eyes


Star Eyes

from Temazcal: The Steam House Chronicles

Last night, the weight of time and age

hit me like a freight train.

Not mine.
My mother's.

Retiring for the night,
she ambled across the room
hunched over like a bear
heading to her cave.

I gasped.

"I haven't noticed you slumping forward like that before. You okay?"

"I do this at night. It's this cancer medicine...and, my foot hurts."

She's cancer-free now
but she carries the scars of battle
like one of her Viking ancestors before her.

We looked at each other for the longest of silences.
A hard-to-name realization cascaded around us.
I still don't fully know what to call it, but a thought passed right through me:

I'm really not going to enjoy living as much after she's gone.

Her face beamed with a sudden smile.

"Hey. I'm okay. Mornings are better. It's only at night that I ache."

In that moment, I saw and understood
why some among the Skidi Pawnee call her Star Eyes.

She carries a medicine of soul-brightening.

I know I will need to kindle the same

for my own impending nights of aching.

(c) 2019 / Frank LaRue Owen /

sound: Light and Mist / House Made of Dawn / Coyote Oldman

image: Andreas Wagner


The Holy Invitation


The Holy Invitation

from an evolving collection Temazcal: The Steam House Chronicles

When it happens, it doesn’t feel like a holy invitation.

Yet, when the weight of the road has worn you down

and the lattice of your carefully-stacked beliefs

has started burning away inside you,

the remaining ash

like a snake shedding her skin

is the tell-tale sign you’re standing

in front of an ancient and cherished doorway.

You are on the precipice of something great.

What it is not

is a call

to cast the robe of the body away.

As one of the old travelers of the Way used to say:

“By all means, kill your “self”….

just don’t harm your body when you do it.”

What he meant was off-loading what no longer serves.

What he meant was off-loading what no longer brings you alive.

What he meant was off-loading what is holding you back.

What he meant was tilling the ground

planting the seeds

watering the soil within you;

finding at least some place in your day or night

that can be an eventual harvest of delight.

I know you can barely speak of it now.

No one is asking you to.

I could barely speak of my own

but that’s how dying dreams and dismemberments go.

They don’t occur with shredding skin

and cracking bones anymore.

They fade, gradually,

like the subtle retreating light

in the eyes of some of the elderly.

I know you know what I mean when I say

the slow drift of things comes with a life-numbing price.

It becomes a trance the old mariners called the doldrums.

Being more-spirit-than-body now,

and more wolf than man at that,

where most people see

the subtle swaying of Spanish moss on a branch,

the muscle in me tying together

shoulder, eye, ear-tip, and haunch

raises up and knows I am seeing the winds of change.

Trust in what is passing away in you.

Don’t cling.

Let go.

You are a custodian of new realities seeking to come through.

Tend your fire.

Tend your fire.

The arc of stars

in a brand new sky

is calling to you.

(c) 2019 / Frank LaRue Owen /

sound: excerpts Sphere 7 & Sphere 8 / HelioSphere / Radiant Mind & Steve Roach

image: Anna Anikina


Longing for the Familiar

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Longing for the Familiar

from an evolving collection entitled Temazcal: The Steam House Chronicles

-- a tribute poem to an old warrior amiga (and any others who have made it through the terrain of heartbreak into the territory of renewal) --

Arriving before the light of day,
the dawn bird alights upon branch
and fills the dark silence
with a song-filled declaration.

Your dreambody is pulled back, abruptly,
across some great expanse
before you were ready
to join the waking world that waits for you.

You rise
and you do join;
you join all the other delicate creatures
stirring slowly on this cold morning.

Beaks fluff feathers under wings
dogs, cats stretch their spines
nuthatches, finches, wrens
chirp and dance down fence lines

and in this same kaleidoscope of movement
you shuffle on sock-feet
across cold floorboards
to a kitchen only you have inhabited.

Steam rises from your morning cup —
reminds you of the heat of summer
even as ice on the window
says the bounty of spring is still weeks away.

You turn and enter the world,
inhabiting it in the way
that has become your way.

You join the scurry and rush
and push and pull of it.

Human beings
being human;
appearing from far away
more like migrating herds
or salmon trying to fight their way home.

You glide past anonymous faces
for weeks and weeks,
making note of occasional smiles;
so rare these days, they stand out to you like beacons.

You do what you do.
You toil and lift and press and lean.
You serve.

Yes. You serve.
You serve
because something ancient in you
says to.

You measure your days
by more steaming cups
by the arc of the sun
beams of light reflecting on
windows and stone.
The days come and go like dreams;
they rise and fade away like waves.

Recently, I asked you:
How is it with your world?

You said you had made it
from the Land of Heartbreak
to the Land of Renewal.

You announced
that you're going to be alright;
the comforting amber glow
of home lamplight
has become like an old friend
waiting for you
in the evenings.

You also said
that on some days,
like Valentine's Day,
you sometimes find yourself wondering:

Where is the love for you?
Where is the one for you?
Where is the love so great
it calls to your soul
from across the cosmos?

And then you shared,
(and this is the teaching for us all):

Until that day, you happily wait;

you serve
and stretch
and lean
and rise.

You rise
you rise again
in honor of the love
that stirs the entire world
awake every morning;
you rise
you rise again
in honor of the love
found flowing from the dawn bird
on the other side of the screen.

As a final gift, you reminded me
of one of the old teachings
of the Dust in the Wind School:

"The door to real love
does not open
without the presence
of reverence."
— doña Rio —

(c) 2019 / Frank LaRue Owen /

sound: The Sentience of Touch / Tactile Ground / Robert Rich

image: Ali Morshedlou

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from an evolving collection entitled Temazcal: The Steam House Chronicles

Her origins speak of The Great Origin.

Hers. Ours. The many nations of the living hoop.

She starts, as all wholesome bodies-in-motion do —

like a gentle hand planting seeds.

Just above Omashkoozo-zaaga’igan

Elk Lake in the tongue of The Good Humans,

a great font begins.

Tapestry of eloquence.

Soft colors bind life to life.


A distant pitch-perfect loon.

Sturgeon creates a swirl.




Beaver builds her lodge of downed birch.

A blanket-wrapped woman at the lake’s edge

offers tobacco to the dawn.

Icicles melt from branches of tamarack, balsam.

Another sounding from a lonesome loon.

A yelp, another — howls from a pack of wolves.





Lightning forks of water gathering.

Branching downward



to southlands.

Flowing past acorn songs.

Birch bark stories.

Stands of sweet maple sap.

Kinnickinnic dreaming.



Flowing past Osage, Sauk-Fox —

others we don’t know the names of

but whose memory is sealed in the breath of the wind.

Flowing down past Effigy Mounds.

Concealing mammoth bones, muskets dropped long ago.



like extending arms



Scooping up shifting sands.

Horseshoe lakes.

Oxbow islands.

Unseen currents below

carrying prayers from two-thousand years ago.

(c) 2019 / Frank LaRue Owen /

sound:excerpt from Lost Songs From The Endless River / Roy Mattson

image: Lena Rose


The River Flowing Through It All


The River Flowing Through It All

from an evolving collection Temazcal: The Steam House Chronicles

There's a river — quiet, flowing, sparkling, clear.
Felt-unseen — it has always been here.
It flows beneath everything.
It flows through everything.

— doña Rìo (a.k.a Dao-Sentiment River)

He was one of those stuffy professorial types;

so tight, if he ate coal he’d shit diamonds.

He wanted to know “my lineage.”

He wanted to know “who my teachers were” and “my teacher’s teachers.”

He wanted to know “by what authority” did I speak.

You don’t look like a Zen guy, he said, pointing to my cowboy boots.

I contemplated his line of inquiry for a moment

and imagined Bodhidharma or Suzuki Shosan grabbing him by his bowtie.

My lineage is Dust in the Wind Zen, my friend.

I follow the Original Cowboy (Laozi) as best I can.

My teacher was Lady River, who followed The River, and guided people to The River.

Now, she meditates inside the Big Dipper.

Her teacher was a mysterious man named don Juan Alejandro from Guerrero.

I never met him. He’s nothing but ashes now, at the bottom of Sumidero Canyon.

I don’t speak by any authority but my own. I am a poet, after all. We don’t follow rules.

To use a spelling proffered by William Least-Heat Moon,

I am a product of this beloved North American Erth.

As for Zen, which Zen are we talking about exactly?

There's cooking-Zen





bird watching-Zen

flower and tree identification-Zen

wildcrafting-and-foraging Zen

meditating on trout and heron while fly-fishing Zen.


tea-drinking Zen

saké-drinking Zen

tequila-sipping Zen


fry bread and campfire coffee-Zen

blackstrap molasses cowboy beans-Zen

roasting green chiles and tortilla-making Zen.


thousands in one sangha-Zen

there’s no-distractions solitary living-Zen

there’s watching people in the city-Zen

there’s making love and basking in the afterglow-Zen.


black ink on brush-Zen

flute-blowing Zen

sword and bow-drawing Zen

routing bandits with a walking staff-Zen

sweating prayers in a steam house-Zen.



poem-making Zen

poem-receiving Zen

dreaming in the silence-Zen

wind-riding to the sound of a drumbeat-Zen.



sitting like a mountain-Zen


breathing like a forest-Zen.

There’s even throwing-away-the-word-Zen Zen….

where, every step of the way,

the Wayfarer brushes off the red dust of this mad world

off-gasses weighty residues and accumulated toxic vapors

and returns to the Pristine Heart-Mind of Silence

that is a child of the river flowing through it all.

Which Zen would you like to discuss?

(c) 2019 / Frank LaRue Owen /

sound: The Current Below / Cavern of Sirens / Steve Roach + Vidna Obmana





from a collection entitled Temazcal: The Steam House Chronicles

The light of day recedes.

In an instant, something churns within me.

Like a desert quail suddenly kicked up,

startled and fleeing from the underbrush,

a thought flutters to the surface:

This life is passing away.

With that, the twilight glow

beyond the trees

becomes a doorway.

I offer tobacco and copal

to the soft forces that stirred

this stream of feeling inside me.

Breath returns

as if suddenly being released

from a marbled tomb.

I contemplate going down into town

to pick up supplies

to imbibe a sip of smoky mezcal

to dine on the cuisines of ancestors

to be around other two-leggeds

to listen to their laughter and night-murmurings

to remind me of the elegance of humans passing time.

I opt not to.

I sit like a mountain instead.

I follow the shade lines down

into the root structure of the self.

A woven curtain is pulled back

to the great mystery of wayfarers….Way-faring.

I hear a reminder, put to me gently:

The soul is its own entity

over which we have no control.

It is doing its own work.

Our day-to-day self has little influence.

We are quiet, mindful observers taking notes, adjusting as we go;

occasional recipients

when the soul conjures a feast

alongside its own riverbank.

We must receive the gifts when the gifts arise.


Pulling Thread


Pulling Thread

from an evolving collection: Temazcal: The Steam House Chronicles

A great unstitching is taking place

followed by threads being pulled through

and patterned after The Great What Could Be.

In the deep-honeyed night, a hand reaches for another.

One is burnt-umber.

The other speaks of clouds and mist.

Beneath the same canopy of sorrows,

a lightning flash

a subtle smile

a knowing.

We’ve been here before, haven’t we?

Paddling along Clear-Awareness River,

the smoke of remembrance envelops everyone.

We make our way home,


for another night of dreaming.

(c) 2019 / Frank LaRue Owen /

sound: Devotion To The Shrine / The Secret Well / The Holy Fountain / Ruven Nunez

image: Igor Ovsyannykov