Rob Omura


     There is a Zen parable about a warrior who slew his master, and to atone for his crime, he dedicated his life to building a tunnel so people could cross a dangerous stretch of mountain. Many years later, the master’s son, seeking revenge, found the warrior at work deep in the tunnel. The warrior promised the son that he would gladly die at his hands, but first let him finish the tunnel; the son agreed. After several months the son grew impatient, and to hurry the tunnel along, he began digging too. Years passed and the two men toiled side by side. When the tunnel was done, the warrior turned to the son and said, “Now, I am ready to die.” The son replied, “How can I kill you? You are my teacher.”

Mountains gold and free – 
heavy with a present that
is owned by the past.


Tiny feet run            to catch              the tram

skip across the cobbles
                                                    with the ease of birds

act as if the past has 

no center

no mass. 

   Even a Pokémon pack 

bears no weight. 

And the children chirp            with delight 

stop traffic

       with their song. 

                                  This is forgiveness.

Old men in clean, white shirts
                          pressed the night before

smell of lavender


   and cigarette smoke


                  outside the mosque


    wave to the afternoon sun like                                       fresh linens 

f  l  a  p  p  i  n  g                           o  n                     a                       l  i  n  e. 

    The wind 

shakes off 



old winter coats. 

                             Next to the mosque
young couples and families
                                                                      line up 

    for Ramadan 


flat bread 


like they were                                              lined up at the cinema.

      This is forgiveness

Daughters of wartime


wear black leather jackets


polka dot dresses


push strollers 

through the city park

and are       never seen 

just shade their babies’ eyes with 


open palm. 


  Pigeons and prayers swirl 


the old square and coo
                           feathers are softer than 

truth and

lighter than 


This is forgiveness



Red roses in mortar scars gain a foot in the market. 
Peace sticks to plaster and wood beams, smells 
of burnt coffee, tastes of barbecued lamb. Sheep 
knock down weeds in rocky fields, trigger a mine
now and then, so we stick to marked trails around 
the mountain. High up, the bobsled track snakes down 
through thickets with a new promise at every bend. 

Many hands had drawn petroglyphs up and down
the track walls, but graffiti’s indecipherable without
the whole story. And the story evolves. The past, a restless 
dragon, snores and settles in for the night and sometimes, 
the low sun glints off its clay scales to form perfect 
rainbows in the clouds. Old women sleep with one eye open,
every house has a dog and the dogs bark into the night,
and the men grumble and try not to sink too low in chairs.

About the Author

Robert K. Omura calls Calgary, Alberta, Canada home where he lives with his common law wife and three too many cats. He has resigned himself to finding cat fur in everything he eats. His fiction and poetry appears or is forthcoming in journals in the U.S., Canada and abroad including the New York Quarterly, 34thParallel, Chaffin Journal, CLR, Freshwater, barnstorm, and Blues Skies Poetry. He has been nominated for the Pushcarts.