Of Wind and Water

IMG_2122It’s surprising how little gets
done without them—
just try dancing without the dark blood
of the earth
coming up through your bones
as red sea water

or the rivers of wind
warmed by the sun
snaking through you

The wind carries its own center
with it across the miles
adding a ring with each breath

it is always en route
sparking conversations
with skin and scale
leaf and litter

When you think you’ve arrived
ask the wind and the water

When you know you haven’t arrived
and the labyrinth seems too big
ask the wind and the water

they are the peacekeeper
and the destroyer
he life-giver and the blood of the big body
the crack in the bell
the crack in the ego

The weight and the lack of it
draw them through the endless cycle

to ask where it begins
misses the point

not the hydrogen
nor oxygen
but the bond that brings
the thousand forms

the kind of bond you want
when you want to have a dialogue
about the shape of things
when you want to bring soul to the world

when you want introduce the sea to the mountain
to offer parts of yourself
you haven’t seen in years
to the parts you haven’t even met

the parts of yourself
you thought were a virus
so you fought them off
like a valiant, but confused soldier

thinking that it’s best to be safe
you forgot that nothing is outside
the circle

thinking for a moment you were
not the same center as the wind
you forgot the thundering imperative
of your audacious bodies

all of them
and the free bond that breathes you
in and out
in and out
carries its own center
at the edge of things


Ship of Remembering


shipHave you ever forgotten?

The keys. The number. The lists.

Where the well was?
The body of your dream or the dream of your dream?

That image in your bones
or direction of your ship?

If you remember that you have forgotten,
you’re nearly there.

But if you have forgotten you have forgotten
you are in the Deep

and the river of forgetfulness
has become a flood
and dashed your ship into pieces
joining the others

You grab a hold of any piece of debris
tossed atop the waves.

To get a breathe.
To get a glimpse.

But have you become convinced you were here
to float like debris?

You are not here to float like debris.

You are here to remember who you are
so you can be medicine for us.

A stunning fragment of the Dream
dreaming us whole.

It is not selfish to let go of the debris
in order to build your ship of remembering.

Keep following the glimpse, the breath
whatever allows you to grab a scrap of your own—
not theirs—
to piece together your extravagant vessel.

The swallow does not mimic the eagle
the eagle does not flicker like the lizard
and the lizard and the lichen have distinct paths.

They do not drink of the river of forgetfulness
and in their stillness is the total movement of their life.

And in your stillness is your total movement.

The stillness is where the remembering begins
because your ears can open there
and hear the things.

It may sound like the whistle of the swallows
or the hummingbird’s wings thrumming the air.
It may be the breeze through the needles.
Or the thunderous beat of a heart you had forgotten.
It may be the shattering imperative of your thunderbolt soul.

However it is
stay with it longer

listen so deep and rich
you become the big ear
remembering all.

Then, with what you hear
sail your beautiful preposterous ship
into the big dream.

Journey Day Prayer

IMG_0936I open all my ears
and hear the forgotten things.

Seeing the spectrum of the rainbow,
I know the landscape from deep red to magenta.
And teach them how to see
I feel the texture of the spectrum of loves.

The contours and rhythms unfold clearly.
No less the sound than light.
No less the love, than both, I trust the whole.
I see the gossamer threads connecting.

The raptor in me opens his eyes.
The worm in me digs and feeds the roots.
The tree in me whispers slow green and golden syllables.
The nest in the limb, the egg in the nest, the bird in the egg, the pulse in the bird.
The heart at the heart brings them together.

I see the shining shadows, beautiful sacred wounds.
I see the hooks with compassion, both my own and others.
Like a man walking from dawn to noon, I eat the long shadow into myself.
The wind is not silent
and I am the river for what is wanting to be created through me.

I settle into the notes that are humming
or pitch my perfect harmony, expanding new measures
with the momentum of their own unfolding.

I know who I am.
When asked for the single word, I said:
I remember.

I return with medicine for the people and the earth.

I Bent My Ear

slugThey were calling for attention
as I walked past—

the ladybugs and horsetails
the mugwort and the trillium
bellowing the rainbow through the redwoods

and baby ferns
curled like seahorses of the forest
confided in me

I suppose I could have kept up my pace
stepping past them,
never learning what song they were singing

or what the slug was saying
in its bright hum of the earth
from his banana mouth
and sure-footed saunter

But as they were calling
so charmingly and gently
I slowed down
and bent my ear
I had to give them what they asked for

Believe the Sky

IMG_8709Believe the sky
that speaks to you
long lost field of vision

Believe the whispering
red petals in the mud

The hand which holds the lover’s—
believe that
but not the grip
that pulls you under

The others will be calling
the voices that take you
from your belonging—
don’t believe them

they have nothing to do with your task

They are bloated fleas
lost and wasting away
on the poor old dog of your smaller self
and won’t survive another moon

Believe the skin of the sky
for the drum you’ll beat
in rhythmic desire

Trust the guts within
and their splendid heat
that pull you towards the greater fire

Believe the sky that speaks to you

The way you hear it
is like no other



Something Draws You Out

FullSizeRender(1)The poem you live inside of
is not much different
than a walk in the forest—

Something draws you out

Perhaps you know what
or perhaps you do not

But there you are

one foot in front of the other,
drawn forward
like a migrating buffalo
across the continent
of your butterfly soul

syllable after syllable
wrangled wordward
and woodward

watching, you catch a glimpse
of something flying
from out of the corner
of your self

the way the magnolia lives
as a scent on the wind

and you make it a part
of your body

the way a true poem lives
beyond the borders
of the words

and the moon moves among
the branches
as a mysterious midnight dancer

Something in you knows
the true walk is happening
between each step

like the creek’s echoes
rushing beyond its banks
to join the promenade
among the shadows.

To find who cast them
is one reason you left your house
to walk in the first place.

The other reasons only you know
and the world is waiting to hear.

But the slower the pace,
the more the walk
the slower the pace
the more the poem

stepping into you
with each fall
of your foot

and the moment between each
a wintry space is born
from the same place as the wind
where no one knows

O, mind, if winter comes
can the spring
in your steps be
not far behind?

Suddenly, you’ve ‘taken’ a walk
with each springy footfall
having no choice
but to speak its blossoms

You’ve reached the end of the winter
poem you’ve been hearing
and the trail ends

You forget the midnight cold
because now summer is a dream
on the lips of your feet

creating a new trail
with each new dreamprint

You could interpret a walk
asking, ‘what does it mean?’

but it’s a question asked backwards
up the hill

If the meaning could be told,
why, just stay at home
and let the forest be

Your feet will be innocent
and happy.

But you must know
your poem will find other ways
of being heard.

It has taken you.
The walk.
The poem.

The seasons spin you
and a conversation has begun.

-Ryan Van Lenning