I HATE RAINBOWS

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🌈 It was morning all afternoon
and the rain was somehow involved
in who we were

when it disappears, a rainbow emerges
end to end, a bold one
full of lessons

a girl in the backseat says,
I hate rainbows—
they remind me how nothing ever lasts

and looks in the mirror
making sure the colors she painted
on her face
are staying where they should

and saying the things
she wants to say

The moon is cool, though, she admits
because it gives me evidence
that we actually spin

she translates from french
my own poem
that had been carried across the sea
from its native tongue
and it comes out better

It occurs to me now
it was a poem
about how the butterflies and bees
are disappearing fast in the world
she’s inheriting—
how nothing ever lasts

And I want to be something that lasts for her, so I say
I’ll help you write that poem
about your uncle

not knowing too much
about helping anyone
with poetry
but I never get the chance

I want to tell her
that despite not knowing
how to speak her language

she’s taught me so much
but I don’t

I want to say to her,
yes, change is hard

harder than the falling rain

harder than rainbows are soft
but I don’t

I want to say,
feel what you feel,
it’s okay
even if you have to hate rainbows
but I don’t

I want to tell her what a strange courage they give me

a reminder that we only have
this moment

but I don’t

the moment passes
the rainbow fades away

and morning finally
and too soon
becomes night.

#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

SAVAGE PULSE

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A savage pulse
asking of you
more than you think
you can handle

lives here.

Did you expect to love the world and not die daily

from the sundry shocks
both sharp and subtle?

Did you expect to find
on the edge of every granite cliff
a pillow for a weary head?

A sweetness in every mouthful bit off from the big loaf?

Surely the wintered sun
and rough and gripping tide
disabused you
of such sentimentality

Yet surely the same sun
and the lunatic arriving
of a faultless sea
taught you, Beautiful Gambler,
how a lover shows up
with an unconditional caress

But if you’ve yet to find
the capital C in celebration
in the seed of each moment

strap the searchlight
around your ribs

and shuffle like a crescent moon
over all your little resistances

your feet becoming wiser
with each toe-stub
in your heart

until they become sandpipers dancing at dawn
around the fingers of the sea
knowing exactly where to go

No Room In These Wings For That

822EBBBA-930D-4F97-89E6-C8C64E940A6DThey say as long as it’s not
a poem about Nature
or god forbid,
Love

Whether in its burning purity
Or complex demands

So don’t expect nightingales here
I’ve turned all my warblers into ravens

and put in an order for dread
and the heavy metals of a world bent on celebrating gross things

and thrusting swords at all
the Others
it thinks lives out THERE

But it boomerangs back as a dark bird singing sonnets

Summing up the kerneled heart
inside the fist

I climb down the tree
watered with freedom
seeding uncompromising truths in the shade

Shaking out eternities of tunes
from the raven-lit branches

The opposite of love
isn’t hate
but indifference, it says
and there’s no room in these wings for that

That skunk of a Raven squawks something about how
every tune is a love poem
even the damned curses

Every word a wild word
and challenges me to defy him

How can I argue with someone like that?

LOVE ON THE TABLE

9CAB1217-D9DB-475D-99F7-2C1E671F8612You recall a cabin
on the edge of town
in woods of alder and oak

There were big windows
on every side
and a porch stretched around
like a loose fitting belt
just barely keeping things in

sometimes it was a stepping stone to the world
and sometimes it was a moat keeping things out

You recognize it
because it was your house
and a life was built there
once upon a time

And on the porch you recall
there was an old table
crooked, but round and steady

And Love was on the table
resting shiningly

and whenever the front door cracked open
it flooded in like dawn

sometimes you noticed
other times not

Each morning you raced to all the Theres
trying to earn your belongingess
of an eager world
wanting proof

And when you returned later
the porch and the table
were still there

and when you cracked the door
to the home you built

sometimes you noticed
the light pouring in
and sometimes not

When dusk settled in
for its daily prayer

Love became the moon
illuminating parts of the cabin
that even the sun can’t reach

and flowed through the window
silhouetting a figure curled up
before the fireplace—
a dog or a wolf—
your memory isn’t clear

But then a particular morning came.

After a long, winter night—
that kind that is both cold and cozy
and full of memories and rest and safety—
a morning greeted you different
than others.

You remember because
the door wouldn’t close
and after a while you didn’t want it to close

and abhorring a vacuum
the light couldn’t help itself
and went swimming through
all the rooms

and instead of rushing to all
the Theres of the world
you paused on the porch
here

you noticed something out of the corner of your soul

And pulling a chair
up to that crooked table

you broke your fast
and had a morning meal
with Love
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One of 75 poems in RE-MEMBERING: Poems of Earth & Soul. You can get Re-Membering and High-Cooing Through the Seasons: Haiku From the Forest through your local bookstore, on Amazon or Indiebound, Link in bio.

AND LOVE IS A TREE IS A HUMAN IS

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The idea of what a Tree is
Is hugely variable
Is not different
than an idea of what
a Human is. A Human Is
a creature that creates
is a being that emotes
that aesthetes that prosthetes
is part mammal part microbial mama is
part plant part star
part purr part roar
Part silent looking up yonder
part soaking up water under
What a Human is a Tree is
a promise is
permeable to clouds and Love
and Love is something
Humans and Trees exchange
and Love is
a Tree is a Human is something
the idea of which
Is highly variable