"The practice of Zen has no secret,

except standing on the verge of life and death."

-- Takeda Shingen, samurai, Zen man (1521-1573)


"Where does your poetry come from?" she asked.


An innocent enough question

but to answer is akin to holding up a mirror to the sun.

To tell the origins of a poet's verse

requires a full accounting of what they've burned away

and given up.


I am mid-stream in the journey of this life.

Fewer years ahead than behind.

Thus, new terrain.

The only words that remain are after a thorough stripping away.

At the very least, it's but a pattern in the turning water

from one who has largely sidestepped the world.


Aspirations for wealth and fame --

eliminated a long time ago.

The allure of Mara's daughters.

An evaporated mirage, leaning on the old formula

of the Earth-Touching Mudra.

I'll stick to the Way of Tea in the mountains.


This poet is not a poet first.

I am a piece of old bark falling off the World Tree.

As with all wayfarers who have stepped into the Watercourse Way,

there is no home or place of arrival for the likes of me.

Now you know what we Followers of the Way mean

when we say "wanderers" and "crazy clouds."


Like the samurai of old, we embrace the void.

We're already living inside the light-body that leaves this mortal coil.

We breathe this truth with every step and our eyes tell no lies about it.

How to live with such bone-deep knowing day to day?

This is how some of us are brought to the shores of poetry.

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

sound-source: Chado / Muichi Motsu / Maneki Neko