WHAT DO YOU HEAR WHEN YOU LISTEN TO LICHEN GROW?

D6A52611-6978-4212-A7D8-C76EC3CB7930In a mountain cave
under the spell
of a turbulent creek
I listen to lichen grow

Under the smell
of a winter rain
I listen to a landscape’s
green resurrection

Enchanted, I become velvety
like moss

I become patient like stone

I become beflowed like water

and suddenly remember
that I am
a songbird
a spiderweb
a sprouting buckeye

and wild like worms
in the hill beside me
escaping the flood

What do you hear when you listen to lichen grow?
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#ryanvanlenning
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Included in a new collection ‘No Lies on the Mountain’. That and my collection of love and erotic poetry, ‘Wild Rose Hips’, my book of mystery poems ‘Silence Begins Here’, my polyRiverous celebration of rivers, mountains, and souls ‘Riverever’ will be out later this year. In the meantime, You can get RE-MEMBERING: Poems of Earth & Soul. and High-Cooing Through the Seasons: Haiku From the Forest through your local bookstore, on Amazon or Indiebound, Link in bio. 🌿🐝🐺🌲🔥 🌍🙏🏽

WHAT TO SAY

DE3C650C-6354-40BF-AA51-E444D1003127That I chose the well-brambled life
Or it chose me when I untamed

That I lived a well-Warbled life
Or it lived through me just the same

But time there was when I knew not
the moon nor rivers by their names

And there was an era when ears were dim
no trills and chirps amidst the din

A time forlorn with all the dams
at every slightly hurdled rock

when feet and heart were weary weak
and all my paths and trails blocked

But then I ate the mountains whole
or they ate me when once I walked

That then I heard the rivers’ flow
Soft in bending unflagging song

That then I sipped the heron slow
Fished in water for silence deep

And cast my line in patient art
to catch the things for us to keep

Suddenly, A Bear

FC6C025E-AC0E-4315-9602-974D7E83898DCrooked trail, glint of sun
wild flowers and the wind—
Suddenly I was a bear.

I knew I was a bear
because when I went to the creek to drink
my hands were paws, wet with liquid mountain
sharp in claw.

From a snout distinctly not my own
unfurled a long pink tongue.

But I tell you, the day was warming up
the water tasted good and fresh
so I lingered as a bear by the creek
sniffing the sundry sun-dried scents on the wind.

I had no names for them.
I had no names for anything, so I lingered yet more.

If there’s such thing as bear-thinking
it’s a gigantic knowingness
a granite certainty
a muscular intimacy
with the mountain and its landscape of aromas
its overflowing and lupine laziness.

Signaling the anchoring of the day
the dark ridge leaned its broad shoulders into the light.

As my bear awareness shrunk
I could feel a dimming.

I began to retract my claws
pull in my hair
shorten my nose and a tail.

And once again I stood as a man
on a crooked trail
with wildflowers and a wild wind
carrying scents of pine and Sierra duff
wild onion and sweat
and the hint of something ursine
sharp and familiar.

 

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.

THE TRUTH WANTS TO FORM A SYLLABLE INSIDE ME

D39F759B-1AAE-4815-A0FB-14DAF074067ETHE TRUTH WANTS TO FORM A SYLLABLE INSIDE
(Word Count: 956)

I’m stuck down in the canyon—and the truth wants to form a syllable inside me. It whispers my real name.

And I discover: I had abandoned myself. So many times. So many years. And it hurts. Everything hurts too much. Everything is on fire.

I am too thirsty. The fire says, die here or climb. It is not a koan. Die here or climb.
I think about what I should write in my journal should they find my body. But I think—If I abandon myself now once again, I will abandon everybody I claim to love. And I can’t love without taking myself into the big heart. So I begin.

My body moves up the mountain and I find there’s nothing pulling me up except one thought—I have too much love to lie down here under the big hard sun and give up. The way love finds me comes in the shape of hot desert heart rocks that appear as I climb my way out…hand over fist over hand over fist, claiming my life with everything that is still alive in me.

They are screaming my name with a strength beyond muscle, until I finally reach the rim of the world.

The desert and the mountain and the heart of the world have tattooed the shape of love in me and I know now with a vibrating certainty: I will never abandon myself again.
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For #NaNoWriMo2018, we (Katie and Ryan @wildnatureheart) are each writing our memoirs, our Wild Nature Heart stories so-to-speak, sharing a glimpse of our progress throughout November. We really believe what the organization says: the world needs your story! Everyone has a story to tell—What’s your Wild Nature Heart? We look forward to sharing this journey of vulnerability and self-discovery.
Ryan and Katie
#mywildnatureheartstory

Why Should I Write About You, Water Bug?

24B7C278-306D-43F7-A8B7-F156FEC42189When the heavens are rolling out encores
of mulberry processions
and the river is performing not-stop
a cappella hits

Why should I write about you, water bug?

While the elegant bats somersault
in dusky diners
and the thunderstorm breaks its head
on distant peaks

what have you to say to me, six-footed floater?

Then, I see you flash and slide
and if I didn’t see it with my own two eyes
the way you disappear
only to reappear two inches upstream
I’d be inclined to think I was dreaming

and for the life of me
I don’t know what you eat
so I can only assume it is water and air alone

but now I know better
it has been revealed:

you are an advanced species
of micro-teleportation devices and magic
hydrophobic microhairs
dancing the river down
with sophisticated water choreography

not tiny and insignificant
in the scheme of things
but the whole show–
the entire mountain and sun extravaganza–
is for you

the moon-rise
the coyote rips
the distant storm
and towering pines bow
to your practiced patience
and river spells

That is why, water monk,
I write about you
and join them in the bowing