SCENIC ALTERNATIVE

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It’s time to die.

You know it’s time to die because that weight
you’ve been carrying around
in your chest

is no longer a treasure.

Because the sacred stories have all become tall tales.

Because the egg that cracked
in you
brought that bright golden bird
but hasn’t built its new nest yet.

Because the debris
has accumulated

and there’s not enough space
for the Big Grin—
the shape your heart makes
when all the sunspots
are cleared.

Don’t worry, death is not
what it used to be.

Just ask the spring
and its relentless pinking
and purple petaling.

Its gregarious greening
is nearly unbearable

and just like it, who you are
keeps surfacing

whether you want it to
or not.

But not first without
the exquisite requisite—
the slow sloughing off
of stale skin of seasons past.

Nothing’s meant to last.

Not youth or bloodless truths
or all the yous
no longer you.

So honor the hour
and die well with wow
making a ceremony of it

with a bow towards your corpse
and a bow towards the clearing
where your new season
is arriving.

#ryanvanlenning

INELEGANT UNRAVELING

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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

IT JUST SO HAPPENED

8DB52C15-D273-4B42-97AF-B5248CD9800AThe unburying began
the moment my ancestor
uttered yes

and those unquenchable waves hurled themselves in all directions

At each juncture, what felt
like fugitivity
was merely crisis of form

Crisis in the way birth
is crisis,
in the way tip-toeing around
the edges of old belonging
is crisis

an audacious death
nibbling at the curtains
and peering through the holes
we ourselves bit and shred
with insatiable hunger

that is, a bountiful breaking
into the new
and strange. Strange isn’t it when things you’ve worn
your whole life don’t fit anymore?

Strange isn’t it, this
one-two
dance
of form
and
freedom?

I happened without warning without a plan
without an exit strategy

I happened like dawn spilling itself recklessly

I happened like lichen spreading over boulders for decades before finding the colors
that suited the scene

And I’ll continue happening
as long as the yes abides

NARCISSUS

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I. You. I see you there
celebrating the moment

hunter of all things beautiful
but brief

with your bold and arrowed heart
pointing me towards the spring
of me

like someone alive
and not merely a husk
of barely remembered things

II. Do you see me too?

I am more vital
because of you

I want you, need
to pluck you

to have and hold you
but please tell me

Do you need my touch
or just my eyes?

Why now do you avert yours?

Is it that you love
how I see you
more than me?

III. I thought you were someone else

Perhaps you were me
all along

Perhaps you are someone else
entirely
hunting different things

You thought I was someone else
all along
hunting the same things

Perhaps we were both right

living in each other
as fragments

IV. When you die back
with the break of spring

then, only then,
will I really see you,

then, only then,
will I pluck out
my own heart-eye
and let you be you

and I will be me

If the season cannot
be honored
then memory will be both
a blessing and a curse

and perhaps
on some bright morning
in another life
we will finally meet

——————————————————————————————
Narcissus is the Latin name or botanical name for daffodils, and daffodil is the common name for all members that fall under the genus Narcissus.

REST STOP ON THE ROAD TO SPRING

63776D44-1BC4-4F64-A6F2-FC5C507D01FFIt’s midwinter
and the cherry blossoms
rub their eyes in disbelief

Because the sky has greyed
its guts out
for a fortnight
and are shocked to see
so many noses on their porch steps.

But we noticed
and we took a little deeper breath.

Rather, the breath took us.

That some things fall
and others hurl themselves
toward the moon

That all must be seen
and all must be lost

is a long and hard truth.

But to arrive at this—
that even the mighty sky
is attracted
to the finest forest duff
to learn humility

and sends it’s love letters
soaked with joy and longing.

While old limbs are devastated
by winter’s breath
in all the best ways
and the mushrooms
take their cue.

That the breaking down
and growing out
slide simultaneously against one another
as the closest of friends
that generates its own kind
of warmth.

While sometimes it seems
we’re all just trying to thrive out here
in the vast loneliness

Stung from walking
so, so long
through the seasons

looking for friends
and a rest stop
on the road to spring
to warm our feet
and sooth our eyes

Saying, will you walk
with me
for a little while?

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THE TREASURE AT THE BOTTOM OF EACH BREATH

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The old way of holding things
sank into the sea
with the diving god

and sprouted dawnwings
as an owl flying out of one hand

gentle dawnfingers
caressing the earth with the other

with my mycelium strung between
finding nutrients in every thing
for the Fruiting Body of the HeartKing

I barely had a chance to say goodbye
to the old way

Before the way to say goodbye
became the treasure
at the bottom of each breath and day
the bottom of each moment’s play

Which was also how to pray hello
and mean it

like one of the great lovers
of the world

Without fists or fortresses
and only a cosmos to call home

—Ryan Van Lenning