The Old Names Don’t Call Me

swinging bridgeLet’s talk about change.

Of all 50 states
the landscape of my homeland
is the most transformed

tiled and squared
skinned and gutted
hooked and hunted

the old farm is gone
the old school is paved
the old house is buried under rubble
the old rivers poisoned

The old names composted
and don’t call me any more
and perhaps that’s why everybody’s confused

and though my roots have grown deeper now
I’d like to think
some of my many meandered feet
still have dirt on them
from the old land
which never went anywhere

Do you remember me heartland sun?
the way you used to turn me red?

Do you remember river run
the way my skin would swim you in?

How about you, soil black?
Swinging bridge?
Welcome back?

I have new names now
and they will never forgive for that
it sticks in the wind of their throat

my names of yesterday
are tiny creek
and gentle breeze

today they’re roaring rivers rainbow black
and eagle worm on western winds

my accent runs thick
as the Iowa River
and I seek translations

but like biting flies
they’re always escaping me

-Ryan Van Lenning

Paints Herself Inside My Sky

50CF6722-59B2-45E9-911A-C199DE418227This night-owl Luna wild-eyed
she paints herself inside my sky
washing walls that gather dust
making murals moonly must
of love and lonely lunar lust

illuminating rivers lost
coloring canyons filled with moss
or mud from eroded banks
from many months of ambling aches
leaving light in her wake

got no gate to keep her out now
she waxes why and wanes my how
gliding through with brushes wide
painting pictures, pulling tides
evoking images inside

Wrap Your Name Around My Ribs

cloudI see them all with one eye

the velvet laurel limbs
of my fingertip soul
drape themselves across

the landscape of pomegranate hips
contouring your feminine

soft as granite is hard
the face of your inner lips
launch me

as I drape my nose
across your scent
against the sunset screaming lavender
into the summer night
around the love
layering firefly butterscotch buckeye
astride the mulberry marvel

my skins on all your skins
around the cupid of necks
I lace my talons

wrap your name around my ribs
until my tastebuds string themselves
through the forest
of all your whispered dreams

the eye they can’t see
my eye insplicable
with which I see them all

that eye is one nose
one touch one tongue

To Move With a Smooth, Wavelike Motion

wavesIf I ever had a daughter her name would be Undula

from ‘unda’ in Latin meaning wave,
to move with a smooth wavelike motion

to rise and fall,
surge and swell,
heave and ripple,
billow flow and roll,
wind and wobble,
oscillate, fluctuate.

Of a leaf, to have a wavy surface or edge.

‘Undula’ is a wavelet

and when you pronounce her d softly like a j,
it gives a Hindi sound
like Angela.

Anja is a female name meaning grace

and also in Russian and Hungarian
though in the latter two it is pronounced Anya
softer yet
instead of with the j
and means mother.

I’d name her Anya, if I ever had a daughter.

Tell me about giving birth.

Was it a surge, a swell, a heave?

And afterwards, did you sleep?

If I ever had a daughter her name would be Anja

In the Berber language Anja means rhythm or melody
related in sound to ‘onja’
meaning to taste, test, investigate
in Swahili

and if I ever had a daughter I would name her Onja

But I do have many daughters
little undulitas

my little Anjita grew up fast

her parents are the big ocean,
the big Unda and myself,
and we are constantly consummating
and therefore always pregnant.

Shall I marry her someday?

Does it matter?

But you can’t always be pregnant, right?
That can’t be good for a body.

I think of the cows.
The poor cows.

The Ocean has a deeper womb.
The Cosmos even deeper.
The Biggest Wave — the Unlimited Unda

And when the contractions come,
of course it’s going to hurt.

But those big wet undulations
on the first day of summer
the longest day
when light is king

and the giant wave of energy rushes
from within like a geyser
and bodily pours through like some deep howl
of anguish and joy

it can’t be contained
cue the grunting and face contortions
that face of giving birth

and the screams arrive out loud
for a change

and I worry the neighbors will hear
me giving birth

to my little undulitas

I Stayed Late

floating rootsI stayed late.

Yes, I wanted to see.

To see what would happen
once the sun went down

The same thing always happens
when you wait too long to leave—

things disappear
silhouettes emerge
and a cunning dark delivers up slices
of woolly silent parts
that now have something to talk to

or at least echo pulsingly

inside their own crooked canyons

as you trip over roots
because your feet forgot their eyes

and eventually it comes up again
but you wonder if a conversation ever happened

memories like papercuts

eventually it comes up again
but never exactly where you think

and never shining
on the same you
that is never exactly what you think

I wanted to see.


(Image: Source)