Count Stanley, Pretty Cool Cat

celloshe made a date with a music man

tall as a shadow and well-dressed
with calloused fingers, chiseled chin
stripes like a skunk
lopes like a fox

he plays cello in upscale restaurants
dive bars and private pool parties
where he does lines of coke
off his horse-hair bow
and takes home hookers
calling them baby

but generally he’s disciplined
playing perfect notes
and didn’t become a master cellist
by accident

behind his sunglasses
he’s so damn dark
he can’t keep track of the gods
inside of him

and hired her as an assistant
to organize that shit

her name is Wandaya
and she’s good at her job
but started to like him
perhaps a little too much

she has heard rumors
that he beat the hell outtuva man
merely for playing the radio too loud
at a waterfall

the most she’d seen his temper
was when he seed-bombed
his neighbors perfect cookie-cutter lawn
after being up for three days
and she catalogued the whole thing

including at the end
when he took his cello
out on the roof
and demanded that the piano man come
and join for a sunrise jam and mimosas

the whole time wearing his black and burgundy
double-breasted silhouette blazer
and fancy fedora

pretty cool cat, she thought
but always complaining

that the piano’s outta tune
outta time
outta town

he expected perfection
and made her feel like a better woman

special like his vintage cello
oh, how he made it sing

he called it his Countess of Stanley
and she wanted to be his countess too

wanted his fingers
to play her like that

oh, how she’d sing




new sparks are everywhere
if one is not asleep

that was never the question

the world is nothing but sparks
from a certain perspective
specks forming clouds of infinite variety
or doled out like El Nino
shedding raindrops

can’t catch them all
yet none are wasted

but still, choices:

which ones are for the tinder?
(easily combustible)
which ones are for the magic trick?
(flashy and mysterious)
which ones are for the fireworks?
(pretty colors and a big bang)
which ones are for the kindling?
(a flame to play and read with)
which ones are for the fire?
(providing heat, light, beauty, and intensity)

which ones are for the glowing embers
once the fire dies down,
yet keeps you warm
through chilly winter nights?

which ones are for the fire
around which friends sing songs
and shoot the shit
but also share secrets
and themselves?

which ones are for the fire
’round which
lovers’ bodies are kept warm
and hearts kept even warmer?

Which ones are for the fire
’round which
plans for future fires
are formed?

which ones will be the ashes
that fly away on the quiet wind
and are forgotten

and which are to remember warmly
with the eye of our heart

when in the end
darkness comes calling
and all the sparks have sparked?

In Between Seasons

https _upload.wikimedia.org_wikipedia_commons_8_85_Prothonotary_Warbler_-_Protonaria_citrea_Leesylvania_State_Park_VirginiaBy definition I’ve never had one
like this

it begins mysteriously
in medias res
in the middle of the day
the conversation
the song, the garden

growing half-way up the hill
in between seasons
before you have a chance to decide
what clothes to wear

behind it lurks the terrible
I mean outrageous
I mean beautiful question

with no answer
other than its own time-line built in

like a knock in the middle of the night
at half-time of the big game
when your soul comes on-line
and your bodies fall like gravity
into each other

Still, by definition I’ve never had one like this
by definition I never had one
by definition I never will

because it wasn’t in the dictionary
they provided me with
that I threw out long ago

and you can’t own what’s only loaned
on borrowed time
and touch

which is everything

but only to live inside it
for a moment

like a ripe currant
waiting to be eaten
by the yellow warbler
carried by an invisible current
to the eastern shore

the warbler
whose song is a musical strophe
rendered “Sweet sweet sweet,
I’m so sweet”

makes living in the mystery
in the middle of it all
the only place you want to be

What the Eagle Wants

IMG_1174Some want to ride the eagle
through cerulean skies
others are in their feathery nests
learning how to fly

Tickle of the sprouting wings
to feel so bold and brave
a type of living into
a freedom that they crave

But some would rather shun
for freedom has its fear
it implies an awful gaze
in a much too faithful mirror

The rest want to be taken
by the talon and by the beak
to get inside the eagle
by a beautiful death they seek

But what does eagle want
he who rides the wind?
What does eagle want
of lovers and of friends?

He wants to live the spectrum
of the loves in the breeze
to share with the world
the colors that he sees

He wants to fly the mountains
and carve his poems in air
with winged archery shooting
arrows with craft and care

He wants to share his vision
from his rainbow lair
to spread his wings around you
and caress your restless hair
draping feathers across your skin
vulnerable and bare

But he wants what’s below
beneath the skin and bones
the living pulse of beating heart
and make it his carnal throne

He wants to feel its fleshy beat
in his claws and beak
to fuel his rainbow eyes
from the mountain peak

to feel the taste of throbbing heart
between his beak and claw
to gather its pulse and energy
making magic of it all

Stepping Stone

IMG_1036I am not the one you are looking for
but a stepping stone for you
to find the one you are
(It/she/he/we said to each other)

you are closer than you think
as the water washes over me/you/us

we trade moments being the stone
and see how easy it is to get confused

and think that you are trying
to get to the other side
when you are really the Water

see the rock and the one stepping
as your left and right eye

and with your other Eye
see both shores and the river
that flows between them

as your big heart cracking
into the deep well

-Ryan Van Lenning

Palm Sunday

palmThe way the palm fronds
rub against each other
reminds her of debris circulating
on the surface of the sea
carried by currents beyond their control

and when she puts her ear
on the window sill
a 1000 quail sing

and she doesn’t want to fall asleep again.

But when the big love announces itself like
a falcon from above
her face falls into her palms

and the fingers of her mind
grasp the hand of her heart
and the palm of her body
for the gut of her soul

no beautiful bullshit, it cries

The big love is not her next step

It looks too much
like the hard ground far below
that she can’t quite see
from the nest

So she puts her four palms together
in a prayer against the Predator:

“Please protect me against my ancient patterns.

I am my own hearth.”

Who knows
whether the ground
will come hurtling up so fast
breaking her to pieces
or whether the ground
will disappear altogether?

Or whether the ground and sky
are the same thing
seen through different eyes?

Trusting the belly of her wings
against the invisible hand of the air

she flings her frizzy hair
and fuzzy feathers out

I am at peace
and long for all the beautiful bullshit

and the quail begin to chirp

her springtime resurrection
is a spark in the dark
flying from the stones
in two of her hands

and the other two
she holds out

palms open