IMG_8288It begins with winds of change
that threaten to blow the house down
in the night

Forget about the pictures
on the walls
and the things left cooking
on the stove

If you’re lucky even the nails
will be swept away

and that little secret word
you use
in emergencies like this will
be useless

It’s time for new words

All the pickets are gone
and even the posts now look like bones,
skeletons of the past

Don’t worry about the why
of your heaving body
and indecipherable gutturals
snaking through you

just accept that energy wants to dance
and requires a vast vessel

the one you are
the one you are becoming

A night that seems too long
blesses you with a dawn
revealing a new landscape

inviting you to rebuild your house
only from what you find within

the shelves are stocked
with everything you need

and a sacred sign suspends itself
from the center beam:

Come in, wondrous one
you are second to none

From a new collection called ‘No Lies on the Mountain’, out later this year. In the meantime you can get Re-Membering: Poems of Earth and Soul, available on Amazon, Indiebound, and your local bookstore.


8DB52C15-D273-4B42-97AF-B5248CD9800AThe unburying began
the moment my ancestor
uttered yes

and those unquenchable waves hurled themselves in all directions

At each juncture, what felt
like fugitivity
was merely crisis of form

Crisis in the way birth
is crisis,
in the way tip-toeing around
the edges of old belonging
is crisis

an audacious death
nibbling at the curtains
and peering through the holes
we ourselves bit and shred
with insatiable hunger

that is, a bountiful breaking
into the new
and strange. Strange isn’t it when things you’ve worn
your whole life don’t fit anymore?

Strange isn’t it, this
of form

I happened without warning without a plan
without an exit strategy

I happened like dawn spilling itself recklessly

I happened like lichen spreading over boulders for decades before finding the colors
that suited the scene

And I’ll continue happening
as long as the yes abides


A60E4815-227F-47B7-AAA2-BC0D3DC506FBLet the voices speak for themselves

the undulating mentors called waves and trees

the choir of storms in your pulse

the endless still lake holding it all
in the basement of your being

The black pebble is your ally
the hidden footprint
of the mid-autumn wind your friend
carrying the next turn within

So why then are you pretending
to be so alone?

Become a true citizen of earth
and apprentice yourself to the convergence and the breakdown

Receive that sometimes fierce thrust, sometimes gentle caress of a world wanting
to open you up

With no small talk, but questions
that make you bigger
by the mere asking of them

Yes, change you must—You accept that
but can you surprise even your secret self
at your grand unfurling?

Lean into the raucous conversation.

Can you overhear yourself?

Are you startled by those dangerous utterances
flying from your endless beautiful cavern,
like bats hungry for dusk,
the hour of change?

-Ryan Van Lenning

The Waves Know It

Summer pulled itself out
from under me
and slunk out to sea

slowly or suddenly
depending on whether
I showed up or not

When I belong to the moment
rather than the moment belonging to me
nothing is lost

though everything’s a shapeshifter
and I’ve been sitting with the waves
asking about the turning of the tide
of life

finding I have more in common
with the bright green sea lettuce
than I ever knew
and with the rotting algae
than I ever wanted

Let me break it down for you,
the sand bugs said.

What would it mean, the sea asked,
what would it mean to roll over
the surface of things
and roll back out again?

To keep coming back?

To touch and not take
the boulders, proud sentinels of the coast
or the love that happened to grace your shores?

There’s a moon inside everyone
according to that improbable creature Rumi
and the waves know it
but why don’t I?

I never did hear the moon complain
of its imperfect reflection
on the bay

nor the water complain
of the moon constant changing

It’s not that I wished for an easier world
it’s that I get into things
like a mussel
a barnacle of love
fastening myself to rocks called dreams

when all I really want, (I lie)
is to wave
(I lie)

to tell the truth of it.

I want to be here. I want it all.

But I can’t seem to float like kombu:
the storm comes
the storm never happened.

I want to be the barnacle,
the sun and the moon,
the wave and all the tidbit poemlets on the playa.

I dare to be and I am
what the land and sea
agree to be in me.

I wanted to be here. I wanted it all.

How the Night Becomes the Day

8ECDB130-3E64-4AD9-8E2D-7243715CA7ADI’ve looked through telescopes
and microscopes
Scanned the hills under all the skies
I’ve conducted all-night vigils
just to find out
Even climbed inside one
from time to time—But I still don’t know how the night turns to day.

I’ve set up hi-fi recording equipment
I’ve planted, watered, and harvested
Even climbed inside one
from time to time, but still—I don’t know how the seed becomes the tree
becomes the fruit

I’ve looked to all the experts
Gathered all manner of stories
and hired an inside informant
Even climbed inside one
from time to time—Yet I’ve no idea
how the boy becomes the man

I’ve asked the best
and searched the great compendiums of wisdom
I even resorted to creating some myself
and climbed inside one
from time to time—
However, I’ve still not a clue
how nothingness becomes a poem.

-Ryan Van Lenninh
You can get my books RE-MEMBERING: Poems of Earth & Soul, and High-Cooing Through the Seasons: Haiku From the Forest through your local bookstore, on Amazon or Indiebound, Link in bio. My book of mystical poems, Silence Begins Here, and book of love and erotic poetry, Wild Rose Hips, will be out later this year. Follow me @ryanreturntotheearth for ecosensual mythopoetic inspiration and @wildnatureheartfor my heart-centered nature connection & 1-on-1 inner/outer wilderness work.


1AC220ED-E13D-4C93-9C41-2D9E2A1B0D16If it’s not you with one foot out
the door of the moment
It’s the moment ever fleeing itself
afraid of it’s own center

How we disappear when we disappear ourselves—we live nowhere
fleeing all the time. Never arriving
until Midnight
when old hair and petals become dirt
and fragrances fade even if
they never found a nose

How so many of the species of our love don’t make the endangered list until after they’ve gone extinct

How the infant wants whatever it can’t have
and rejects what’s right in front of it.

The last touch before the doings of the day
And it’s always the last touch
says the sun sliding into the sea

Even the thought-we-knews and all the familiar hearts so soon take leave
and memory walks around like a ghost
Stirring up the scattered wind once in a while

How even now, when spring barges in with its thousand clarion calls
and comings-out
one hears the sound of leaves dropping
on the other side
all the goings-under

No, we don’t want to hear it.

How everything is perpetual departure
but we, the fragile ones, we live
for the tender intervals
thin as new feathers

And perhaps if we’re lucky,
if we show up, we can bring
one bright and real caress
to the thing


(The title is taken from
a line in Rilke’s French poem Les Roses)