It Gives One Ideas

plum blossomsHere you can laugh in February

the unexpected is to be expected

a midnight creature leaves
bay nuts for you
and the creek is singing for its supper

woodpeckers and owls
tell you what time it is
but what about the new birds
that weren’t here in dark December?

You might think that February
is dreaming spring,
the equinox on her mind.

It’s easy enough to do

but not to get ahead of ourselves
is a good morning task—
February is dreaming February

The season is laughing stinging nettles
and sticky monkeys

the month is grinning meadow flowers
as pink ox eyes at dawn

and yes, a yellow saluting
affirmation of the still slanting sun
inching higher in the sky
day by day by day
like a toddler learning to stand

urging the arroyo willow
and wild currants
to see who can bud best
by the end of the month

and I’m not opposed to opening
my sun-starved belly
to it all

skin smiling wildly
with mild stone fruit
freely singing its scent
into the canyon breeze



like only this season can
see it while you can:
a one-tree performance
of White Petal Extravaganza

as the western wind applauds
and kicks his heels up
to play the eucalyptus
like a harp
and runs his fingers through
Monterey’s long pine hair
when he really gets aroused

and they seem to like being tickled
in that way
letting out a moan
now and again

as if stretching for the first time

it gives one ideas
on a February morning
here in the nearby faraway

which is not unlike a thousand other mornings
that have come before
and will come after

but it is

-Ryan Van Lenning

Photo Credit: Diane Dew Photography


Something Draws You Out

FullSizeRender(1)The poem you live inside of
is not much different
than a walk in the forest—

Something draws you out

Perhaps you know what
or perhaps you do not

But there you are

one foot in front of the other,
drawn forward
like a migrating buffalo
across the continent
of your butterfly soul

syllable after syllable
wrangled wordward
and woodward

watching, you catch a glimpse
of something flying
from out of the corner
of your self

the way the magnolia lives
as a scent on the wind

and you make it a part
of your body

the way a true poem lives
beyond the borders
of the words

and the moon moves among
the branches
as a mysterious midnight dancer

Something in you knows
the true walk is happening
between each step

like the creek’s echoes
rushing beyond its banks
to join the promenade
among the shadows.

To find who cast them
is one reason you left your house
to walk in the first place.

The other reasons only you know
and the world is waiting to hear.

But the slower the pace,
the more the walk
the slower the pace
the more the poem

stepping into you
with each fall
of your foot

and the moment between each
a wintry space is born
from the same place as the wind
where no one knows

O, mind, if winter comes
can the spring
in your steps be
not far behind?

Suddenly, you’ve ‘taken’ a walk
with each springy footfall
having no choice
but to speak its blossoms

You’ve reached the end of the winter
poem you’ve been hearing
and the trail ends

You forget the midnight cold
because now summer is a dream
on the lips of your feet

creating a new trail
with each new dreamprint

You could interpret a walk
asking, ‘what does it mean?’

but it’s a question asked backwards
up the hill

If the meaning could be told,
why, just stay at home
and let the forest be

Your feet will be innocent
and happy.

But you must know
your poem will find other ways
of being heard.

It has taken you.
The walk.
The poem.

The seasons spin you
and a conversation has begun.

-Ryan Van Lenning

Variations On a Feather

DSCN0702Four Haikus and a Cherita:

From the sky it floats—
silver dove’s tail feather
landing in my hand

Falling from the sky
band-tailed silver plumage
catch it in my hands

Feather of a dove
falling from a sky of grey
my cold hands catch it

Band-tailed doveling
somewhere in a cold, grey sky
gifts a tuft of white

A bare-foot man at dawn

with three rabbits
and a bevy of doves

rehearse the day
when out of the sky
feathers fall like rain



Fiddlehead Fern Plays An Early Note

Here’s the 7th installment of winter Haikus. My goal: a total of 107 Forest Haikus and mini ‘coyote’ poems over the winter, sharing in groups of 10. (See the others: Cricket’s Eye Point-of-View, Being Stalked By A Forest, Wings Like Boomerangs, My Tent is Leaking Haikus, Always Coming and Going, and Dancing Naked In the Rain)

IMG_7830Nettles in my cup
eastern light slides over plum
blossoms popping white

In a morning mood
a choir of coyotes
sing the winter morn

Early second moon
haikus in the morning frost
jays write them better

Mushrooms emerging—
A Potawatomi word
has it: puhpowee!

Pink in the morning
white and yellow with the sun—
daisy eyes open

Music of the woods
fiddlehead of lady fern
play you on my tongue

A fiddlehead fern
early note of forest spring
makes a tasty treat

On the edge of flight
will she jump out of her nest,
Little fledgling moon?

February moon
caught in the branches again
will she ever learn?

Cold night, morning frost
only thing hot is my blood
on a low boil

Mid-winter dream:
liberation by solstice
But first—bad habit


From the Throat of Your Own Bones

heart earIn the countless echoes of the night
the hearing happens:

you know the whisper
because it comes from the throat
of your own bones

A dangerous syllable
slick with lightning blood

If today is not the day for hearing…

That ancient song of earth
sings itself in your animal subterranean

thrusting leaf crimson
and fertile debris
while the wind creature unfolds
and hugs your ribs
at midnight
speaking the images
trying to break out

Hear you not the
shell spiraling upward
in indigenous sea sounds
of magenta mellifluous?

The way in opens with each step

If today is not the day to feel it…

If today is not the day
to turn an ear towards your
bones exquisite…

Crack of ice flow
River walking out of the
depths into your present

If today is not the day….

When is?

A Currant Affair


Pink-flowering Currant (Ribes sanguineum glutinosum)

A mid-winter warmth wins your hand
and draws you out for pendulous play
to blossom right in front of me
a dream of pink in light of day

Draw me in your inflorescence
Draw me in with all your senses
Draw me with sweet sagey scents and
Draw me in with rosy fervence

Fragrant is your dangling racemes
bunching grapes of blushing dreams

Your pretty little grape does dangle
in morning dew at such an angle
I want to pluck but dare not do it
perhaps the spring brings ripened fruit

I want to be a tiny ant
and on my tongue take in the sweet
But I’ll wait a little longer
and savor all your lovely treats

Coffee berry is your partner
the ruby-throated loves you too
a sparkle in the green and grey
it doesn’t take you much to woo

Grow in flow of warming current
purple berry in longer days
I want a taste, Sweetest Currant
before the birds take you away