I HAD MY HABITS

35D03E9D-A61C-4E22-86DA-A9BE3909CDCDDid I go wild in the woods
or find merely
a measure of meaning
bright as a storm?

It’s not something one speaks about publicly.

Yet I recall growing dawns
on me like leaves
such rivers running through me

Something exquisite Becoming both green and grey
in the body. Oh, I could dance
and dance

and never reach the bottom of the tree.

The world was a ladybug, a lichen left to be.

All was rainbow, Everything
a universe
the poison oak a guardian
and ox-eyed daisies lazy free
the winter sky, abundant muddy me.

I had my habits—Living
on my in-and-out breath

Under a mushroom
Over a bough, bowed with moss.

Seasons saw me.

I drew a few to my hearth
Foxes from their hidden dens
Bears from hibernation
Falcons from their perches

Feral ones fleeing cages.

Conversations with the least of them,
the most of them.

I had no scrap of saddle
No undue doing
No yoke of note
but her sweetest voice.

Dropped my dreaming stone
in the creek
and fleshed it out so still.

Still…What eyes opened! What I opened?

Where else could my heart stretch so wide
But the path past the gates
away from the machine?

Will I ever find that clearing again
smack in the middle of things
wild in the woods?

IN THIS DEEP

93FC754B-79DC-4382-88D7-A1CC22C300B5What could send me down this far
But your wild path bizarre?
Who could bring me down this deep
But your crooked steady stream?

All bowed over and needles fine
You curvy as the number nine
Stitched together in woodly scents
to pitch me in here like a tent

Red o red o green o green
I wondered if you heard my screams
Flow and free and green serene
I wondered if you’d seen my dreams

Branched like brooks like roots like lungs
Inside me run your ancient tongues
Your hermit thrush to tuck me in
Then golden-green to wake again

Redly barked and greenly packed
I wondered if you’d bring me back
The world’s noise had got me good
Until you whispered through my blood

What could send me down this far
but your wild path bizarre?
Who could bring me in this deep
But your steadfast summoning?

—Ryan Van Lenning
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You can get my books RE-MEMBERING: Poems of Earth & Soul, and High-Cooing Through the Seasons: Haiku From the Forest through your local bookstore, on Amazon or Indiebound. My book of mystical poems, Silence Begins Here, and book of love and erotic poetry, Wild Rose Hips, will be out later this year. Follow me @ryanreturntotheearth for ecosensual mythopoetic inspiration and @wildnatureheartfor my heart-centered nature connection & 1-on-1 inner/outer wilderness work.

THEY JUST KEPT LETTING ME IN

A5951042-2FCA-4B2A-9B04-DFF3FDFB46CBI finally stood in the lush truth of it.

I never walked so slow, never ate
so many trees
savored so many stars.

Dawn hung around my neck
like a sigil
the river stones emblems of belonging.

Some I in me had said, I can’t live
like this…but an owl replied, Yes.
Yes you can—an archetype
is breathing through you.

They just kept letting me in.

Everywhere I didn’t knock.
No keys.
No doors.
Ears as windows.

The living sky my heart-home roof.

Only the silent here of things
on the back of the map
where all the real places are.

–Ryan Van Lenning
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You can get my books RE-MEMBERING: Poems of Earth & Soul, and High-Cooing Through the Seasons: Haiku From the Forest through your local bookstore or on Amazon or Indiebound. My book of mystical poems, Silence Begins Here, and book of love and erotic poems, Wild Rose Hips, will be out later this year. Follow me and @wildnatureheart for my heart-centered nature connection & inner/outer wilderness work.

NOT ALL YOUR PREPOSTEROUS BELONGINGS NEED A WITNESS

310E9A65-B2CB-460D-AAD5-A0898BC805D3The light with sweetness court and keep
The dark, with song and moonly weep

Wage your love ungauged and then
Open the blessed spiral again

With splash of red, hunt a head
Cast over cliffs all that’s dead

Erect your No, stretch your Yes
The weeds need not outgrow you yet

Of all the Hows to say your name
Use the one that you became

When out of houses full of shame
And out of houses without a flame

You left to find the one remaining
The one with colors, the one untamed

And moving into the one that stood
The house you built with love and blood

Welcome to that home within
So silent, so still beneath your skin

Let the Mountains Carve Me

C8D9C0E9-5875-4E2D-9276-FCC777E43446I. SEVERANCE

Commodities, the cold machine.

Scandals and plastic–all
the Gottahaves.

Virtually there. The Chase Inside
The Shining Hamster Wheel.

Too full but empty.

Duller than a balmy day
sharper than a winter gale
this slow and sucking dry.

All the lies will die.

II. THRESHOLD

With wind and water I
carry my discourse, fly
up and over
and let the mountain carve
monuments out of me
epiphytic and free.

With river itself take my counsel.

With mud and mushroom heed
all the wondrous whispers.

My tail prefers a winding path
once my face found itself
in that ancient blessed lake.

III. RETURN

I’d rather eat beetles,
do you understand?

Once I knocked on the wrong moon
until I hitched with a wild wind

finding that belonging is not a place
but a skill
honed with a fierce heart.

I shift shapes from mountain pass to alley way,
while what is hidden remains my treasure,
and what is visible a sword and flute–
offerings
to the woven ones.

And when I say my preposterous names
risible and rooted
Oh, how it ripples on and on.

From Inside These Wild Ones

125B1937-D207-4AEE-9E22-F3F10E7432E1I’d apologize
but that isn’t what bears do
and that is what I’ve become

For a summer day my fists turned into paws—
THAT anyone could understand.

But if it were only a day
then why now does my snout
draw itself towards the winter cave
sitting on a canyon hip
like a tea cup
about to pour itself
into my hibernating belly?

Why does fur cover my body like an old-growth forest
and why does the scent of the woman
a half mile down canyon
enter me like a sword of truth?

That turtle-bear in me is slow and steady
because I’m already where I’m at
I carry my home and the weight is significant
but no matter how fast your rabbit-mind,
it will not catch up with my tortoise soul
it’ll have you running circles around yourself
like the great task of Sisyphus

I’d attempt an explanation,
but my words come out as chirps and squawks,
even bright whistles at dawn.

So many birds have landed in me
I fear my tongue is tied
and I can’t feel my arms
without clutching a claw full of feathers
the color of midnight rust
or mid-day blue.

The fear perhaps belongs to the worm in me
but I won’t let that stop the eagle in me
from hunting you

Or the worm in me from hinting to you
how I’ve dug in your soil
and turned you over
how I compost even your darkest
shit
and bring up flowers from it all

You can thank me later
once you’ve managed to blink me out
of your terrible night-time vision

Give up on laws
and let your paws touch the ground
let your beast roam
and sink your claws into me

I won’t act too surprised if you’re glad
when the moon comes out
in the form my eyes can take
once a month
looking at you
like a benevolent lunatic

When they look deep in you
from inside these wild ones
you’ll know—
the ground inside you
will rumble