Like limbs thrown down and wildly thrashed
a harvest of a mighty breath
the soft cables of our bond
so quickly cut, so soon withdrawn

By what savage gale overthrown
or by what wrenching circuit blown
this force that together drew
now splits us into more than two?

Oh rage that fells the solid spruce
and rips the redwood roots so loose!
Only a dizziness remains
debris from feral hurricane

It is not yet known why we agree
to that first long, unfathomed fall
when a deeper one is guaranteed
and tied to the end of it all

Or why, with that first flirty start
we court our own slow aching heart
Or do we give wind consent
to our own imminent descent?

—Ryan Van Lenning


No Velvet-Covered Love/No Casual Clouds

raincloudI don’t want no velvet-covered love

No cautious clouds
casually passing through each other
untouched and unknown

No uncorrupted alto-cummulus

I want to form extravagant shapes
like gremlins jumping out of the closet
unicorns hammering drywall
howler monkeys stealing guavas
and hurling them down the valley

I want to become a ferocious thunderstorm together
that feeds the earth
and sends bolts down to split trees

Zeus himself will take cover

No tepid love, no gentle creek—
I want a flood over hidden rough rocks
in a deep and crooked arroyo
and cuts canyons so deep
there is no way out
but by digging to China
or drowning

I want our calves to be as strong as our hearts
making the path by walking

Bring a machete, a beating heart, and two strong legs

I hear the rhythm on the horizon:
deep beats, the pulse of thunder

Let’s dance like idiots
and run through a field of fire
play hopscotch on Mars

Then exhausted,
let’s siesta in the sun
beside an alpine lake
dig our feet and souls in the mud
then string a hammock between horizons
and get to know one another

Show me what’s under that boulder
show me where you got bit,
the shadow where no light got lit
take that stone fruit that’s all pit
and throw it down the mountain

Leave me dizzy, a milky way spinning
like a drunk across the cosmos

Then, like cosmic dust, settle
and compose ourselves for the next act

Open Letter to Rocks, From a Geologist of the Heart

0264C498-EE9D-46E6-B7A4-CF17C3D9B591.jpegLove rocks

Yes, I do
Yes, it does.

All unique
beyond compare
I touch each one
like it’s the first rock
I’ve ever seen
rolling it in my hands
feeling the texture
savoring its shape

If I’m bold, taste it

What is it made of?
What colors live in it?
How big or small is it?

Some are smooth
and simple
like sandstone,
layers added gently
over time
things get through
you can scratch
initials in it
bury your fossils
see where you’ve been
form fascinating patterns
exposed to the elements
it can erode over time

Others are complex
and tough
like granite,
an amalgamation
of colored scars
formed from
enormous heat and pressure
pushing material
from deep below

Its quartz are
micro prisms
elements within
wanting to be reflected
in the light of the sun

Some transform
from one to another
like gneiss
banded with stretch marks
from its constant
not sure
what it wants to be
before it reaches the sea

Other rocks begin scorching hot
burning wildly
but cooling rapidly
leaving a shiny surface
with nothing left to do

A trial by fire
an igneous experiment
below the surface
or sometimes out in the open

Some rocks remain a mystery
with elements beyond
the periodic table

Love rocks–a whole collection
rests on my altar
and I pick one up
from time to time
just to admire

But I’m always finding new types
never seen before

Because I’m a geologist of the heart
and the earth
is made of rock and love
and so am I

Widening One Wave At A Time

45D49B59-7F0C-40EB-8135-F226C8136E40On the edge of the west
the sea’s many voices
sibilate across the waves
and through the Sitka spruce

It’s wide sound no one can hear
without also widening hearts

The moon poured herself down
on us pouring ourselves together for the first time
among the sands and hands
discovering some us,
that until autumn’s first moon
had been only a you and a me

In celebration, we became a wild coyote singing back to the sea
then returned to our selves
a wave or two wider

Strange Flavor

B92E2251-43AA-447C-BE60-FCD6FD1EBC96Yes, I had asked to try all the flavors and textures

But when she served up Full Moon Cinnamon Palo Santo Blackberry Italian Sorbet with Sage Coconut Chips
I didn’t quite know what to do with it.

It seemed dangerous.

Consulting the experts is futile
in situations like this because
there are no experts.

And so I do the only thing that seems reasonable—
take two heaping scoops worth
with whip cream and a Salah-berry on top
down to the beach
and gobble it up

And because ice cream likes being worshipped
and my tongue likes worshipping

I enjoy the hell out of it
as if it’s my first time
tasting this strange and exquisite flavor—-
because it is.

And also might be my last.

I’ll worry about the calories later.

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