C8C8741B-E991-4174-9454-4580A00C13A6National Writing Month DAY 17:
(Word Count: 956)

“I began the new year with skin exposed to sheets of rain
and trust exposed to the elements—an apprenticeship to vulnerability.

A break up, a break out, a break down, a break in.

I suspected a master craftsman lived within me, soothing a tenderfoot’s tender heart, pierced with perceived ruin. One of those end-of-the-world moments. It’s often the end of the world as we know it. And then…the new one.

I pitched a tent under a semi-shelter of long redwood limbs. The rain and tears came in buckets for days and nights without end. Then colors returned.

For the moment, I was dry. But I found there’s no protection for my heart because there’s nothing to be protected from.

What did I know already that I didn’t want to know? That I was scared to know? At some point I knew my heart could hold it all and more. And much more. It’s a question I’ve asked myself many times since.

On day 3 my fear dissolved in the coming clouds, knowing once again that water rolls through a parched land as tears fall as rain. On day 4 and 5 my pain became a glorious lotus bloom.

I had forgotten—Love will always be bigger than fear—and then I remembered. And then forgot again and then remembered—this is the dance.

It’s the same trust that sees even the darkest shadows radiate like a beacon signaling home—My own and others.

On day 6 I vowed to keep cracking—to meet the lightning bolts hidden on the magenta horizon as my long-lost best friend.

Oh how we missed each other.

On day 7 I walked back to town, to the beat of my heart.”
For #NaNoWriMo2018, we (Katie and Ryan @wildnatureheart) are each writing our memoirs, our Wild Nature Heart stories so-to-speak, sharing a glimpse of our progress throughout November. We really believe what the organization says: the world needs your story! Everyone has a story to tell—What’s your Wild Nature Heart? We look forward to sharing this journey of vulnerability and self-discovery.
Ryan and Katie


Re-Membering is Here!

EC961FDD-EEA2-4EBA-AD0F-AC14440DF67AEvidently, I posted my 400th poem yesterday on my website. Geez I’m wordy! 🙂 But more importantly, I’m excited to announce that my book Re-Membering: Poems of Earth and Soul is live and on the market!

It has 75 earthy soulful poems in it. The book is dedicated to the Big Play, the Sacred Ear, and Deep Memory. I’m very proud of the result–it’s beautiful and accessible–but also extremely humbled that Wild Nature and Muse have been my intimate partners in creation throughout the last year or so. It was neat to read a poem from it for the first time this morning at our Wild Nature Heart gathering in the redwoods.

A little about the title, Re-Membering:

The how and why and when of the Great Forgetting is open to debate and not the subject of my book, nor even something that poetry might excavate. But what poetry might do is spark a remembering, to catalyze a spark in the dark that makes one gasp, “Oh, I remember that!”

Wild nature has been my intimate partner in creation. Wild nature is always there to jog our memory– to whisper, to sing, or sometimes to yell, “Hey, remember your childhood curiosity? Remember your creativity and your gifts for others? Remember your senses and your animal sensuality? Remember your great love affair with the earth?”

The poems in Re-Membering are about evoking that gasp of memory. To re-member is not only to recall the treasures that have been lost to forgetfulness, but about re-integrating the body and soul, putting the members of our whole selves back together, and to re-belong ourselves to the vast and beautiful and endlessly fecund home we call earth, to become full members again in the great earth community.

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!

P.S. The e-book version will also be available in a week or so. And it will be in some local bookstores as well, I’m hand-shopping it around. I will also be selling versions on my own website, but I don’t have that set up yet.

What We Defend

7E819C35-83F4-473C-8FE5-0B0544C9B3A2The sunflowers are conducting their slow waltz
around the world
turning their faces towards life
with no thought to protecting themselves
or the sun

and I think of the things we turn towards
and what we try to defend, and why.

And what it says about us.

One person defends:

a flag a grizzly a river
a border a house a god
a culture a child an idea
a church made of stone, a church in the stone
bad habits silence

the hues of freedom
of body and of spirit–
truly we are all soldiers.

I admit, I’m merely a weed,
and won’t last long in the vast games of war
What weapons have I?

What if in the long run
the best defense is joy
and not a well-aimed weapon?

My ears know well the hum of the wind
playing the trees
but I still don’t know
how they will defend themselves
against that insane mammal
roaming the world

If they try to take this forest…
If they try to silence the doves…
If they come for the sunsets…
there’s no telling what I…

What does that say about me?

The flickers have already sounded the alarm.

I love the water
and the birds know me
but will I kill for them?

Will I love for them?

What do you do to defend your home?

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

The Moon Says Nothing

F420D19A-9D8B-4034-8370-63CA1D92FECEJust me, the moon, the river–

when I get up to relieve myself
the forest is quiet
except for the factory in my head
producing haiku

The forest is still
but engineers in my head
are busybodies

Then assembling a poem
about not being able to take a leak
without being a haiku geek

Sometimes a guy just wants to pee in peace

The river and me–
moon watches us both flowing
through the dark forest

but words pour in one end
jostling to find a way
to get into the product on the other end

It’s like those people who have to take a photo
of everything rather than be in the moment

except my camara lens is made of words
and the shot is on a delayed timer
the shutter won’t snap until
each word falls into place

and all I want to do is go back to sleep.

Sounds of the forest:
river flowing, man peeing
The moon says nothing.


The Nearby Faraway Day 365

E56199F5-46A8-4799-90E4-91C3ABAE6F4ENearby Faraway Day 365: Today marks one year of my experiment of living outside. When I went to the woods, I didn’t quite know what I was in for, nor that I was going for the long haul. It was as much out of expediency as experiment.

But then something happened—I started hearing things. I don’t mean in some woo-woo way, but rather hearing as in remembering, reconnecting, and realigning with the voice of the soul, of spirit, of the voices of the land. In the context of close living with nature through the seasons, I could hear my true voice, I could remember yes, this is our human birthright, I felt grounded and alive! I felt more creative, healthier, stronger. I felt a bigger self come online.

Then I made a commitment-I said I would apprentice myself to the land through the fall and winter. I would apprentice myself to the craft of poetry. And I would apprentice myself to sharing practices of reconnection with others who found their way to the threshold, as I called it. That is, the threshold between the city and wilderness, between their busy lives and the longing in their souls. This eventually became Wild Nature Heart which I started with my friend Katie.

And I did it! Through the autumn colors and dying back, through the cold and dark but green and rainy winter, until spring burst like a supernova of a thousand scents and colors. And I knew I couldn’t turn back. I had learned so much and found liberation in ways I could scarcely imagine a year ago.

The forest taught me, the muse taught me, my authentic self taught me-the alignment that occurs organically when one slows down and listens, and is not overwhelmed by the myriad voices, distractions, addictions of the dominant culture.

In the past year, I have stayed indoors for a total of only about 4-5 weeks, either house-sitting or visiting friends. Those times helped me in other ways, though I always felt the urge to return to my tent or open air, getting my fill of distraction and bad habits, and missing the fresh air, sunsets and sunrises, wild encounters, creativity, and sacred time that is now daily life.

So now on to year two of the experiment. And while it is uncertain what will unfold, it’s certain to be an adventure of learning and growth.