-Ring One-

The travel tonight was not what we expected.

A shake of a six-ring shakujo opened up a doorway

to the Three Worlds of Knowing.

-Ring Two-



along time’s Great Spiral



the Gates of Seeing were revealed.

-Ring Three-

Lured like hungry salmon

back, back

back to the swirling memory pools

where things forgotten are restored;

where heavy weights of karma are finally put down.

-Ring Four-

I don’t know about you

but my first stop was to memories of my sunlight-delighted self.

My Sunlight-Delighted Self basking; basking in summer’s warm glow.

Basking in a sense of adventure, a sense of arrival,

a sense of welcome and perfection before a great childhood wound had been cleaved.

-Ring Five-

Another deep flow of crystalline memory;

birds on the wing, laughter, a sweet flowing river,

explaining to a child the mystery of tadpoles.

Long languid days exploring orchards, mystified.

Fiery shrieks as webworms were burned in the hot wavering air.

-Ring Six-

Another gateway called me back,

this time to a life before this one.

I can see your jet-black hair pulled back

shimmering in the autumn sunlight.

Your obi the color of fresh peaches, the red of turning leaves.

The clip-clop clip-clop clack of your wooden geta on the path.

The near-final songs of the cicada buzzing as we walked.


I remember how it felt to walk beside you

your small frame edging up the path like a bright flower flowing down a stream.

The delight in your eyes shining like sunlight.

The leaves rustling as the wind flowed through

like an invisible silk scarf getting caught on the branches.


Your breathing

my breathing

the forest breathing




We passed a wandering mendicant that day.

You smiled and bowed as did he.

You asked for a blessing.

He obliged and bowed again

a one-handed half-gassho aimed from his heart to yours.


You and I could have spent years beside a sunlit window together

but we left that life as strangers.

Until now, I haven't been able to put that down.

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

This poem appears in The School of Soft-Attention, now available for order from Homebound Publications or Amazon.com

To purchase Steve Roach's Prayers to the Protector visit The Timeroom