Back When – April 22, 1591

by Frank LaRue Owen

Winner 2017 Homebound Publications Poetry Prize 


I was sitting on a rough-hewn bench

eating a meager meal

in a small roadside saké shop.


A large jar of saké sat in front of me.


I ate, I sipped, I watched:


…an ant walk across the table


…rain drip-drip-dripping down a rain-chain


…the shuffle-shuffle-swish of a fine lady in late Spring kimono.


Two women at a nearby table,

maybe sisters, maybe aunt and niece,



Disturbing news rippled through the village.


Sen no Rikyū had committed seppuku.


I awoke from the dream, crying, openly,

in this life,

having comprehended

the profound teaching

lost on tyrant Hideyoshi.

Frank LaRue Owen

Frank LaRue Owen


Born into a family of artists, clergy, cowboys, fly fishermen, and poets, Frank LaRue Owen studied for a decade with a New Mexican wise woman and wilderness guide who guided him through a “curriculum” of Zen meditation, dream-tracking, poem-incubation, and earth-spirit work in the mountains, forests, and arroyos of Colorado and New Mexico. Influenced by the Chan (Zen)/Daoist/Pure Land hermit-poet tradition, American eco-poetry, and the wider human lineage of cross-cultural mystical poetry, Owen’s poems are shaped by dreams, the seasons, diverse landscapes, myth-lines in the deeper strata of ancestral memory, and experiences with a practice he calls “pure land dreaming.” Currently, he is working on his second book of poetry. Owen’s other poetry and writing can be found at: www.purelandpoetry.com.

The School of Soft-Attention

by Frank LaRue Owen