THAT HOLE ON THE HORIZON

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Every evening I dig a hole
in the horizon

and place what I love
and what I want to love
into it

Though if I want to love it, doesn’t that mean I already do?

Is meant to be a real question,
not an answer.

I’ve thrown lawless songs
and dances
into that hole

and too many queries to count
should have filled it up by now

fists and furies
wounds and whys
and all my favorite fears

resistances and clingings slough into it
with scarcely a word

and each day
I cover it up
with the dregs of the day
while water rushes in

as the sun takes them all
to where all things woven
from foraged lives go

And a truce gently crawls
into every crevice of me.

Sometimes, on champion days
I ask the sun,
what can I do for you?

If it answers, there’s no riddle—it’s so much more
down-to-earth
than you’d think

for being a star.

But good thing there’s no end
to the hole
because there’s no end
to my digging

INELEGANT UNRAVELING

5919D585-52AE-4356-88AA-3D29267644CB
It’s not so elegant after all,
this unraveling.

It’s a mess
and full of grief
too deep to hold

but too old to keep to ourselves

Of course the confusion underneath
scrambles up us like a crab

and we try to keep it down
with endlessly creative distractions

but nonetheless it
pins us with its claws

The numbest poet in me wants everything beautiful

and that sells but doesn’t get you very far.

Addicted to redemption and the payday.

It’d be better sometimes to remain numb
Says the wound.

I’m no sun. Not even a moon
Lives in my face.

I’m not half the sky I used to be
Or half the dirt I want to be
So please forgive me when I say,

It’s over—
this pooling up and hanging on
to all the small hopes
and the big easy.

Lost. Loss. Less.

Ok, Things aren’t okay.

But of course, We can’t say that.

But that doesn’t mean what we think it means.

Okay isn’t what it used to be
and has a new face.

Go to the corner and collapse.

Oh how long can you hold it back?

Go to the corner and collapse
for gods’ sake.

Or if not for them, then for you.

And if not for you, then for the birds at dawn

or that small secret scrap of flame
that wants to find you
in the scintillating darkness

Wants to find the seventh generation laughing around campfires

We’re not getting anywhere spinning our wheels in knowing things.

Owning things.
You can always get more

Is a question now.

But can you stock up on meaning?

And love is just there.

It’s just there
behind every wall and eye

We might have to open death cafes on every street
If life is to return.

All this flooding
All the debris washing ashore
All this stumbling says
re-learn to cry and give up understanding.

It’s clear I can’t sell this, can’t even give it away—
but It’s not what we thought.

The unraveling is here.

Can we be brave
and let it move us?

I don’t mean brave
as in strong legs at the wall
with guns
and a righteous chin

I mean brave as in bare
as in play
as in pray
for our heart-eggs
to be broken open
by our own consequences

and the stories to hatch
that are worth hatching.

I mean stay still and collapse—it’s the only sane thing now.

And then we will be ready
to rise
and meet dawn
for the first time

without the knots
and armament

without the thousand stale stories

with nothing in your hands
and everything in your heart

SOMETHING BEYOND SHINY HOPE

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I. It has no legs

I’m not going to speak
of shiny hope today.

It has troubled us for too long
tripping us down the stairs
leaving the bruises
that stick around.

We want to jump over truth
straight to hope
that we bought in the
shadow of our striving

It’s not surprising it has no legs
and collapses
as soon as it gets out of bed.

We can’t get to the other side
of things
without touching the ground.

II. Let us stop

To stop jumping
running
chasing
filling
filling filling
filling filling filling
filling filling filling filling

stop.

Then, if grief
and all its cousins
should arrive

trying to suffocate you
in your sleep
embrace them
like long lost loved ones.

They’ve waited so long.

III. When the lights turn off

Will we stumble?

Or will we have learned
to believe
in our own breathe
and the dirt under our feet?

Will we have practiced
how to say hello?

All the beautiful things await.

IV. Something sturdier than shiny hope

Your own dawn
looking earth in the face
saying, I remember you

Start crawling.

Mix the kernel of your true heart—
that improbable spark
in the vastness—

with the clay of where you live,
deep with dreams.

#ryanvanlenning
—————————————————————————————
Included in the new collection ‘Silence Begins Here.’ That and my collection of love and erotic poetry, ‘Wild Rose Hips’, and my polyRiverous celebration of rivers, mountains, and souls ‘Riverever’ will be out later this year. In the meantime, You can get 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. Follow me for mythopoetic inspiration and @wildnatureheart for my heart-centered nature connection & 1-on-1 inner/outer wilderness work. 🙏🌍🤠🦊🌲💚

DEAR MUD

94D3D73F-7BA0-4E5E-BAAD-81D240BB3084Dear mud,

This is a hard letter to write.

You know how there is a season for everything? I feel
we were meant to be a season
for each other,
not a lifetime.

I do love you. You were
such an important
part of my journey.

But I can’t choose you. I’m sorry our paths aren’t aligned
any longer.

I so appreciate you
and what you bring to the world.

You are such a phenomenal force of nature!

You taught me so much,
about the trail of life
and about the trail of myself.

You showed me how
to slow down.

To really be with things.

You showed me where I’d been.

To
be
careful
where
I
step.

But also how not to be afraid
of really getting in there
and getting dirty.

Oh I’ll always remember the way we mucked each other!

So slow and sensual,
so earthy and juicy,
so alive.

You showed me the texture
of my sacred shining wounds.

Where I was stuck, but also
how to let the words ‘I’m stuck’
fall from my lips
and it be ok.

Yet you also showed
me how to get out.

It starts with saying the truth.
And doesn’t Everything come back to that?

And the truth is
I can’t do this anymore—
There’s a path ahead
I need to explore
on my own.

So I have to say goodbye now.

I’m sorry. Please forgive me.
I forgive you for everything.

I know we did the best we could with the boots and tools we had.

So I’m grabbing the ladder
of my own brave ribs
and with a gigantic sucking heave
pulling myself upward
towards the new sun.

I honor you.
I love you.
Goodbye.

NO AMOUNT OF MILES

943EA27B-68FA-4BC5-85D9-93F11F082436Finally a grand rain
and the killings continue unabated

I found a new forest
and by new I mean disturbed

The Company’s foreboding signs
and ribbons rubbing up against me
without my express consent

I find a new path, same feet
a new sky over a new dike
splitting fields of sheep from cows

which someone told me
are really smart animals

and someone else proved their intelligence
by letting us know that in fact cows are dumb
and that’s why we eat them

but not as dumb as bald eagles
which are dumb as rocks
someone else said.

Beautiful, but dumb as rocks.

But we don’t eat eagles.

Anyway, I hadn’t asked about these neighbors
or how smart they are

I had asked whether we might be able to love
love
love
enough to get us out

get us out of this mess
get us back to the breath
that will breathe us back into wholeness

It’s the fourth week
into the new year
and I’m foraging nettles
and mass shootings
mushrooms
and the good ol’ business of war

but don’t worry, the new nuclear warheads are low-yield

The climate emergency reports now outnumber monarchs
in so-called california
and those who love butterflies just a little too much
are found dead at the bottom of wells

Historic Lows heads every headline
and Baby Jails is now a phrase

I no longer seem to be able to collect griefs
separately, one for this meal,
one for that

I just put them all in one basket.

There’s an app on my phone that collects data
on how far I walk,
and yet I don’t much care how far I walk

I’ve already walked everywhere.

I’ve proven the hypothesis sufficiently:
you can walk from anywhere to anywhere
with enough heart and heart-

ache.

I can’t seem to summon
a real belief in fences
or the categories
they told me to believe in

Walking is holy
and when I go to walk now, I swear
I will see anew

swear one of these days I’m going out
with a fresh pair of hearts
and be able to tell you about what I see

that purple sunrise
that baby moon again

that deep hello
to every kin

to the stranger
the enemy
the parts of me I stuffed
in the long black bag

No amount of miles
will take away the sickness
from the missing dreams

the missing birds
the missing bodies
the missing justice
the missing village
and warming hearth

I’ve tested that theory too.

But what it might do
is make the sky inside me
a little bit bigger

not really enough to hold it all
but just enough to stay human

just enough to keep me here
running my gentle fingers
over the things
that need so badly to be touched

_______
For:

Jakelin Caal Maquin, 7
Felipe Gomez Alonzo, 8
Wilmer Josué Ramírez Vásquez, 2
Mariee Juárez, 2
Darlyn Cristabel Cordova-Valle, 10
Carlos Hernandez Vásquez, 16
Juan de León Gutiérrez, 16

Homero Gómez González, Monarch Butterfly Defender, 50

The 29,000 Western Monarch Butterflies Left in California, down from millions

Those who are walking into their wholeness and helping us walk into the deep belonging.

Whale of a Thing

7920D1AF-CA35-42AF-A96F-0C03C8F2F7D7But gusts by belly blew him back
swallowed silver dull and dull
without mercy without slack
took him in, a whaleful

inside dimmed forgot the way
which the up and which the east
towards what amorphous scummy stuff
he knew not what, some grief at least

but what it lonelied or what it meant
was quite enough. was quite enough.

grey makes one wan and spent, to stick
to any darkly thing or form
or flee to any colored storm

but what resolve to only float
and let the whale swim and soar

to look in wide worm of eyes
until spit back upon the shore