A Story of Touch in Three Haikus

handSmallest spark of touch—

A wake up call to the heart
That had been sleeping

Electric fingers
Kindle forgotten fires
Reaching deep within

Tuned now and trembling
My skin remembers your touch—
After-shock earthquakes


Head Like A Trophy

brain-heartI carry my head around
like a trophy
won at some contest
I don’t remember entering

My body—having been forgotten—
loses touch with itself
and acts out in a 1001 ways

a dull tool for carrying
around my trophy

and my heart—having been buried
by a fickle brain—

patiently awaits in the dark
soil of my seed-time hibernation

Sometimes in the muted nest
of a late winter morning
when the slanted light sneaks in
through the branches, whispering,

“Wake up….”

I can hear a throbbing
beneath my feet
miles below the tree-top canopy
of my one-song skull

a purple-bruised pulse
desperately singing for its own
springtime resurrection—

the true trophy

-Ryan Van Lenning, Forest Poet

From the Throat of Your Own Bones

heart earIn the countless echoes of the night
the hearing happens:

you know the whisper
because it comes from the throat
of your own bones

A dangerous syllable
slick with lightning blood

If today is not the day for hearing…

That ancient song of earth
sings itself in your animal subterranean

thrusting leaf crimson
and fertile debris
while the wind creature unfolds
and hugs your ribs
at midnight
speaking the images
trying to break out

Hear you not the
shell spiraling upward
in indigenous sea sounds
of magenta mellifluous?

The way in opens with each step

If today is not the day to feel it…

If today is not the day
to turn an ear towards your
bones exquisite…

Crack of ice flow
River walking out of the
depths into your present

If today is not the day….

When is?

No Time For Fly-overs

flyoverFor the fly-over poets,
politicians and preachers,
we’ve got no time

For the generals
and over-reachers
we’ve got no time

Let us look into the soles
of their feet on the ground

Let us see the reflection
of the silvered moon
in their exclamation point eyes

Are the bright windows burning?

Show us the scratches on their calves
a sting on their arms,
Have they walked along their path?

Let us hear a sacred song somewhere
from behind their sternum
however deeply buried

a song for the child
a song for the trees
a song for the water
a song of belonging
a song of together
a song with dirt on its lips

let us hear it,
let us hear that,
let us hear THAT,
and we have all the time
in the world

The hour is late
we don’t have time for the fly-overs

Conversations With An Emperor of Dust

black holeAmor vincit omnia (Love Conquers All)

“Rust may never sleep, but then, neither does moss.” – Brian Awehali

Emperor: I am Conquest.

My dark army vanquishes all
with its settled presence,
The wide world yields before my dusty scepter.

What I don’t cover with my relentless rind
I break and tear and dissolve into me–
my appetite knows no end.

All to ash, I say, All to ash.

I: Pin not your proud imperial hopes on me,
for I’m the rebel to thwart you, Dust.

You may fall, I’ll sweep you clean.

Emperor: What you build, I devour,
for at last you and it and I are one.
I will fade your brightest colors.

Call me King, subject!

I: You may tear down my citadels,
rend each wall and roof asunder,
but I shall thrust up once more
a sparkling edifice, refulgent

with a heart beyond your dark fingers,
my lineage is indefatigable
its coat-of-arms bears the Phoenix
on whose feathers no dust remains long

Emperor: Look around, what pitiful Phoenix do you see?
I’ve ground each beak and wing to dust.

My soldiers have thrown to their tasks well
rewarded with their own unending meals
Nothing is beyond the vast reach of my march,
All submit to my…

I: NO! All do not submit!
This is the voice of the one
who does not.
My head you shall cover,
my feet you shall sully,
my works you shall dissolve,
with Time as your conspirator.

But No, ‘King’, my heart slips through your grasp.

‘O King, O King, O King’,
the word mocks itself
on the tongue of my fierce beat.
I’ll make of your crown a tiny watermark
within my ferocious design.

Whatever power you usurp through the eons–
from the imperial center of decay
to your outposts of dirt–

I defy it like a riot.

My heart is no subject of yours.
Its riotous root runs deeper than your Rome,
where your empire has no purchase.

Should your mindless soldiers
dare ask its name, it’ll reply,

“Tell you master, my name is Defiance.
My task, Creation, my motive, Love.
My will be done.”