Humboldt Haiku

0A0CD771-A674-46DB-9DE6-09CEC2E003C9Mist in deep summer–
two barefoot woodland creatures
walk the cool redwoods

Small creek, tall redwoods
she jumps in the cold water
clothes on the boulder

August fog, tall trees
reaching out in deep summer–
a redwood romance


Blackberries and mist
chipmunk enjoys his breakfast
atop the brambles

Big boulders, big creek
mammals exploring bodies–
Monday morning joy

Lying side by side
in the center of the creek—
a deep summer treat

Sometimes in the woods:
plant identification
can be so sexy

Cold Jacoby Creek
Artemis puts her bow down
for warm caresses

In the coastal fog
special kind of Humboldt mold
growing on dog poop

What the Whole World is Trying to Be

creek reflection2With this hand I touched
the skin of a madam madrone
silky red winter blush
bending springward
through the fog

And with this hand
I reached into the water
cold with the taste of seasons
and scooped the mud
that had waited all year
to feel my face

A lavender whistle
petaled into me
like a feather
from an unseen canopy

and as the bright syllables of the dawn
uttered themselves
deliciously into my ear

someone who had my hands
became a mud person
unlocking an image within

The great tree awoke
remembering a dream:

that it had been a man
standing on the banks of a creek
one hand on a madrone
the other full of mud

and wondered at having five-twigged
hands and moving so quickly
from rock to rock

Then, shaking this strange image
from its limbs
got up and stretched, saying,

“I am what the whole world is trying to be”

and washed its face
in the morning mist

—Ryan Van Lenning, Forest Poet

The Song a New Creek Sings

cosmic creek

Studying texts and stiff meditation can make you lose your Original Mind.
A solitary tune by a fisherman, though, can be an invaluable treasure.

From the world of passions returning to the world of passions:
There is a moment’s pause.
If it rains, let it rain, if the wind blows, let it blow.
-Ikkyu, 15th Century Japanese Zen Buddhist monk & poet

Already dreaming of sea and soil
this gifted fluent flow
appears overnight
beside my sodded hut–
a wink in time

Already dreaming of roots and return
it assumes a virtue
washing the forest clean
of all the detritus left behind
by fall’s decay

yet creating more
resurrecting autumn’s handful of dust
as muddy munificence

telling a tale en route
of things that happened long ago

no different than
what is happening right now

its ancient dialect
chimes a melody
difficult to hear
with the labyrinthine ears
of us civilized men
used to thick and soupy din

it is the sound of light pouring
from eternal efflux
cracked effulgent
from the dark

the cosmic diapason
silvery sacred symphony

tearing towards the big sea
at play with and as
the proliferous multitudes

first, in thicker accent, rushing, roaring
then, in thinner accent, whispering, warbling

back and forth and in between

the bushbird hears it, and hums harmony
the oak hears it, and lifts a greeny bough
the happy slug hears it, slimes its melodic march
the newt hears it, a pilgrim by its meter

they’ve washed their ears clean with it
it’s why they can sing along

Drinking the Season

IMG_6974November comes to the forest
as an ocean on the head

something finally dissolves
and a man turns to mist
as struggle takes its leave

most birds play it safe
but some brave birds still sing
the rain makes the kid in them
get up and dance

Their whistle and the tappity tap tap
on the roof of the 20 square foot hut
are the only sounds

though sometimes the man swears he can almost hear the moss
grow by the minute
greening boulder
and bolder yet

conquering the forest
with Greenness
and thereby
settling it once and for all

drinking the rain
as the night drinks the dark
and the man drinks the season




IMG_6440Redwood Creek, Elevation 685 ft., Population 4.3 million, Temperature 61

old needles and a few big arms
thrown down by last night’s midnight wind
cover the perfect messy floor
the price of being tall
nice contribution, group effort

all green and brown and redwood
except the bright blue plastic bag
full of dog shit
so frequent (one of 11), you’d think they too were native
but it’s likely they’re an invasive species

“Come on, boy, come on. Good boy!”

so a story goes
rainbow trout named here
from this very creek
now more bed than flow
(they’re making a comeback)

that’s probably a good thing

(Stay on Defined Trail)
rock graveyard looking thirsty
in deep autumn

middle-aged woman tight yoga clothes
playing motown, trips on roots

“Did your dad quit drinking, or was it smoking?”
“I think he quit smoking.”

yet a flow finds its way further down
from a spring hidden like the
larvae of California newt
tricky toxic Taricha torosa
going through growing pains
also awaiting November rain
(a camper croaked from accidentally boiling one in his morning coffee)

heart appears among tree debris
floating on the water

probably a good thing

jet engines roar (Alaska Airlines)
woosh of the large bird
elderly chinese man shoes so white playing music

eternal wrestling match
with silence
or is that just my conflict mind?

“You know, I think I saw something about that on her Facebook,
she was gonna hike the John Muir Trail by herself. Crazy.”

probably a good thing

Ravens hopscotch on upper limbs
bounce from one bare branch to another
breaking them
can’t tell if they’re squacking from the fun of it
or fighting (also for the fun of it)
either way, tearing the forest down in the process

probably a good thing

poison oak brightest thing in the forest
burnt red rusty orange yellow green
like toxic newt skin, poison has its beauty

probably a good thing

smiles wide at me
I’m looking talking with a small round bird
hopping up the side of course bark
breaking bugs

“I was thinking about getting one of those…”

Sequoia sempervirens sighs
breathes cool into my blood
making it redder
lungs lighter
never take clean air for granted

probably a good thing

Like a dog, creek birds tilt tiny heads
look at me like,

The Silence Beyond

Silence beyondI sit at the feet of the tall ones
Apprenticing to redwoods
to learn an ancient dialect

Sitting in circle:

Grandmother teaches stillness
Owl sings lullabies
Bird tells stories
Creek gently trickles

In time, the chirps settle down
Gurgles fall away
even that high-pitched tale from the treetop of my head,
that strange frenzy
loses all energy

the canyon is at peace

Yet beyond that
in the cave behind the waterfall
I hear the language of Deep Time
Where even words of wisdom
are mere distant echoes on the wall

In the grammar of stillness
A patient heart seed
takes a cosmic breathe
and I hear it
closer than my own heartbeat:

the silence beyond sound