Leaving the Grass

First rain of the season!
Though the stalks are dry
though they may have been dead for years

How you, in the tall grass, still hide

Though whatever hunts you–
or you think hunts you–
hunts you there as well

And while you feel safer
among the reeds
you can’t see well
nor stretch your powerful legs

Nor cast your astonishing voice
into the wide-net sky

The sky, who needs your songs
to unlock the clouds
and release the new rain

So today, walk out and cast it—
So much depends on you
leaving the grass

My Book of Poems of Earth and Soul Is Here

BB758211-32E7-49CA-A28F-2CF5E5BD1D6DI’m excited to announce that my book Re-Membering: Poems of Earth and Soul is now available.

Re-Membering has 75 earthy and soulful poems in it, an unabashed celebration of the sensuality and mystery of wild nature. Redwoods reach without apology towards the sky, rivers flow with unflagging energy towards the ocean, and souls add rings towards their biggest expression. This collection re-collects for all of us a time when our kinship and inter-connectedness with the natural world was self-evident, and invites us to fully re-inhabit and say “Yes!” to our sensual natures, our animal bodies, our playfulness and creativity, connection, mystery, and our instinctive love for this beautiful, sentient Earth. In turns evocative and playful and always vivid and soulful, the poems in Re-Membering are beautiful catalysts of remembering, little sparks in the dark of forgetting that make one gasp, “Oh, I remember that!”

Gratitude and much love to everybody who has been there all along and believed in me and found inspiration in the poetry (you know who you are, my inner redwood circle)!!! I have been equally inspired by your fierce and big wild nature hearts.

If you have enjoyed some of the flavors of my poetry here on Rumi and the Shadow, you’ll probably love the poems in Re-Membering. Or maybe you have a friend, lover, family member who loves nature and poetry–it makes an easy and affordable gift. Pick up a copy here–and if you like it, leave a review on Amazon-I’d really appreciate the love!

Early Praise of Re-Membering:

“Bless Ryan Van Lenning for listening to the wild voices and bringing back the news for those who have lost their way. Bless him for reminding us of our original love affair with the earth and of what we know deep in our souls. His poems give wise counsel: let go of the debris, remember who you are, do not abandon your luminous thread.” —Lorraine Anderson, editor of Sisters of the Earth and Earth & Eros

“Grandfather knew to ‘Look out for rattlesnakes and rusted nails’ and he also knew what too many have forgotten, the primacy of the earth and our place with her. Ryan Van Lenning’s poems restore what’s been lost to our souls, knowledge and love that was once considered basic and obvious. Poems are the perfect form for this remembering— Van Lenning takes us back to mud, to fire, roots and leaves, restoring what our species will not get far without.”
-Patrice Vecchione, author of Step into Nature: Nurturing Imagination and Spirit in Everyday Life

“Ryan’s poetry speaks deeply and clearly to the awakening to our true interconnected nature, which is the only way we can transform our world.”
-Molly Young Brown, Author of Coming Back to Life: The Updated Guide to the Work That Reconnects (co-authored with Joanna Macy), Editor of Deep Times: A Journal of the Work That Reconnects

“Ryan’s poetry sprouts out of him from moist, fertile soil – painting a lush landscape of sensual and philosophical magic. His poems transport you to a way of living in relationship with the earth that is lovingly intimate. Ryan integrates body, spirit, and social commentary into a vision of how to live a nature-inspired life amidst noise and overrun technology. ” -Ariana Candell, LMFT, Founder of The Earthbody Institute

This provocative nature poetry is heart and soul enlarging. Try reading it out loud, especially to trees and rocks and humans too. Re-membering is likely to change the way you relate with the wild outside and the wild within you if you pay close attention and come back to your favorites often. Think of it as love songs written to the earth. I’m looking forward to the next collection by this poet. Highly recommended.” -Katie Baptist, LCSW, Co-Founder of Wild Nature Heart

The Poem Pretending to be a Friend Reacting to My Poem

308CEA68-A51D-4E54-B949-1D0F98089F41All poems are love poems,
he said.

As all things are clouds,
even mountains
and the rocks they are made of.

And I can see that,
they are indeed,
filled with love–
of a type.

An easy thing to say,
but harder to practice.

So when he tells her
‘I’m a dream you had
under the full moon,’
he thinks his is the Big Love
and holds up a big rock
letting it fall with gravity

Without possessiveness
and not merely a callous detachment
as if had it floated up instead of down
it’d be all the same to him

As if things are not particular
like this apple, red and round
not generic but juicy, an autumn delight
core of the world’s turning

Or this stone I pick up, small and blue
which I throw at him
or just over him
not to hit him,
but to make a point

(His aloofness has me
in convulsions–
what point was I making?)

And it lands in that particular lake,
at Polly Dome,
brimming with moons and duck love,
not Big Love.

And of responsibility?
He, who never had children,
what could he know of sacrifice?
of dreams deferred?

Of dark hallways in houses
not your own–
Of what could he know
of that?

He is good with otters
and mountains,
and of trees
he knows some things
I give him that much.
But of a woman’s heart
and duties multiplied,
desires confounded?

His is a too easy love.

Or is it a facade, this equanimity
of his, this having no preferences
and dedication to soul growth
a hiding, his abstractions mere fear?

For all particular love is lost
in the end.

Preferences matter
and have consequences–
that I will stoically accept
(or not stoically, but take nonetheless)

And when I wake up and find him gone
because he was a dream I had
under the full moon
and find my own love that was always there

I will throw a rock
at no one in particular

but I will also smile.

No Excuse For It

52820D30-1E15-4797-A81E-806BAFE4CB88for e.e. cummings, without whom never would I but then again

…and, and, and…

(It being the land of the fallen
alder leaves and ever spruce
no less the 10th moon lit
I found no excuse for it.

Why sun fog fire log
crashing green
bright grey
waves and all the yelling I’m alive

Whoever said spring springs more than this here fine young fall?
a rotting black cormorant
crystal teeth and undulations
from all corners of her

!love is a blooming, love is a supernova, leaks like water!

I’m mindful of the seasons
yet my mind knows no
reason for it
let alone an argument

unless it be:
pour and pour, speak all at once
build it up, tear it down
we, who shall be all of you
spray your everything through everything

—->My “worldview” consists of…
and so forth and so on,
how feeble against the facts
when meanwhile
feathers are disappearing into the sand<——-

*They’ve got big brains at the institute
studying the sea lions as we speak
and whales tick tock on the tidal pools
we’ll get a chart
how many microplastics per…

preserve the coast
protect the forest
pickle it
tack ’em up on the wall
get to know ’em*

Sure, sure, we wish ’em luck.
Oh, How it eats them alive–
these brave and powerful ones.

We’ve got Deep Time on our side.**

Fine print–so fine they forget to print:

No one knows how
the monarchs get from there to there
whales and butterflies may share their secrets with one another, but
why oh why would they tell us?

death love death love
in no particular order
same cloud)

…and, and, and…



**whose side?

Palimpsestuous Autumn

89C8159C-A77D-4C41-87D7-516C51577FB8Definition of palimpsest:
1 : writing material (such as a parchment or tablet) used one or more times after earlier writing has been erased
2 : something having usually diverse layers or aspects apparent beneath the surface

With what rage she knocked on doors of spring
Now at gates of fall, flows mild yet sings

Wild–already red alder’s yellowing
And falling along the bend and bit
By all the hungry critters crawling, but
Still the season simmers slow, brightly lit

And bragging tunes of littered leaves
As well as river’s subtle weaving
On cool and moonbent nights, the dreaming
By dropping downward into arms
Embracing all the changing forms

No stone left unturned to paint the hues
Of all the rocks on well-turned pages
Across which skittered otters slip
And tap their toes like well-learned sages

Guardian oak flush red and blushing
Alongside luscious well-hung bushes
Serving blackberries sweet and melting
Like the last of summer’s freedom

Her palimpsestuous bed inscribing
How prolific her pellucid inking
How many times crossed out, rewritten
From fall to spring to yet fall again?