First, before entering,
you stop and pay homage
at the Juniper Shrine.

It's off the path a bit.

City-dwellers rarely see it, despite the neon-lavender berries being brighter this year.

Then the swaying Linden says:

"Come on in. The air is just fine.
Leave the world of red dust behind."

A thousand steps in
and the dry, sandy loam
starts telling stories
of rains yet to come.

You look at the earth
and know it is beneath you

...but you swear you're seeing clouds there, forming despite the bright blue sky.

Grandfather Pine points to his grandchildren at his knee:

"Look at all their new yellow tassels. Soon the rain will come to wash them clean. They’ll be ready for late-Spring all fresh and green.”

At the Honeysuckle Gate,
croakers and chirpers
second the stories of Old Man Pine.

"Any moment now,
Any moment now,
Any moment now,
Any, Any, Any..."

"Any moment now,
Any moment now,
Any, Any, Any..."

And then you hear it.

The western thunder.

(c) 2017 / Frank LaRue Owen /

To listen to more of, and purchase, Roy Mattson's forest-inspired album MESMER, visit the MESMER Bandcamp page.

--with great thanks to eco-philosopher David Abram, who, on an Alaskan journey, taught a roomful of sea-sick city-dwellers how to listen to the birds and creatured realms with awe-filled ears, all while sliding back-and-forth on stage in unison with Inland Passage waves; and for encouraging me on a completely different stage, in San Francisco, to "...stick with the poetry moving through you", even though, in that moment, I was considering giving it up; also to Roy Mattson for listening to the forest and bringing her closer to us through the immaculate album, MESMER, now one-year old. [Thanks also to David DeWolf for the flute contribution on Track #8, above. Truly stunning.]

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