Her Sacred Labyrinth

2F186DA1-73DA-4A8A-9132-B7BA3D694207…And then I began walking ceremoniously towards her…

That which I feared yet wanted
rested silently at the center
past the guardsmen and the hounds
with their illusory barks

I was already there
when the golden maple leaves
adorned her stunning shoulders
green with promise

The exact moment
we were born in each other
no one knows
but it carries the scent of cedar-mud
and the texture of madrone skin

I had heard her beats
well-murmured from afar
like dreams caressing upon a shore

When a well-placed star from the fog
bled into me
signaling the first footsteps
into her sacred labyrinth

I learned how to step along
her riverine curves
and sea-born mystery
carrying trust in open hands
like a deep autumn release
surrendering to a greater force

My feet following a heart
well-worn with the seasons


Luv and LiberaXion

5414F941-0E9A-4D7C-A351-FA3BCCB7B68BYou just might get it,
though it won’t arrive like you expect it.

If you think you are tricking yourself,
it is only your wildness bootstrapping itself with a grin—your rabbit mind
cannot catch up

….with your ¡coyote-tortoise soul!

But be careful what you put on the calendar—the alerts will be sent out


If it’s a falling leaf you expect,
the tree will fall on your house.

If it’s a winter storm you see gathering on the horizon,
it may arrive as warm steady rain
pulling green from your land
like gravity from the heavens.

You may well try to grasp the sun—its rays will pour right through your hands
but may sneak into parts of you
about which you had long forgotten.

What It Takes to Write a Poem

E80B26F5-9A03-49F6-94FE-5582B73FF903Exile love death
Deep time

Having met oneself upon the clouds

Masks and the faces underneath
Innocent wonder

Thunder and lightening

Getting stuck in the mud
Surfing the wave

Connecting that 8-year old memory of a frog
you thoughtlessly skewered
to the death of the last one

Listening to crickets
on gigantic nights

Meeting the inconsolable origin of all tears,
the fathomless well of all joy

Rock Beats Scissors

rock beats scissorsI’m going camping and I’m bringing…
a sudden death

I carried with me two broken kidneys (1.2%)
and a bit of heart disease (26.9%)

Scissors beats paper and paper beats rock
rock beats scissors and cancer beats all (37.3%)

Hopscotch and jump rope
with chronic respiratory disease (4.7%)

I played leapfrog with stroke (4.0%)
and kissed her in the dark
I had a little accident (3.0%)
a fire from a spark

I’m going camping and bringing truth or dare
and miss my home in Georgia
I miss my lovely hair

Red rover, red rover, send diabetes (3.8%) right over

A little game of musical chairs
a bashful game of a liver I fear
has chronic liver cirrhosis tears (2.4%)

If not the body, then the soul
the brain has a mind that can’t be controlled
I went camping and split mine in two (schizophrenia 1.2%)
now which one is me, which one is you?

I’m going camping and made a marvelous leap
I killed myself and became a lion asleep (suicide 1.2%)

What time is it Mr. Wolf?
It’s time to play, it’s time to die
It’s time to wonder, wonder why

Tag, you’re it

What Can We Expect From a Poem?

AEAFD488-4ED6-4BC7-AD54-928DCEBF8E5BAn elucidation
making hidden things manifest
a jolt, a revolution
a delicious meal
a top-40 hit

A nugget like a burgundy sea-shell among the grey
a meteor shower
walking you home with an arm around your waist
make you feel something–

Face something you’d rather not face
too much – tell my poem to fuck off
a laugh or a tear
a grimace
a sadness
a joy
some thin strand of hope?

To see something new
as through a soft portal
to see something old from the underbelly
to see something from inside of the mitochondria
from the point of view of a worm
from the uvula-a-a-a-a hanging?

A reason to revolt
to live
to die
like waves crashing
relentlessly against the shore?

Chart the globe
a wordy longitude
blessed rage for order
to be a culture maker, a world maker
making me making you?

But what if, like life, it just asks a question
with no final answer?

What then?

My Book of Poems of Earth and Soul Is Here

BB758211-32E7-49CA-A28F-2CF5E5BD1D6DI’m excited to announce that my book Re-Membering: Poems of Earth and Soul is now available.

Re-Membering has 75 earthy and soulful poems in it, an unabashed celebration of the sensuality and mystery of wild nature. Redwoods reach without apology towards the sky, rivers flow with unflagging energy towards the ocean, and souls add rings towards their biggest expression. This collection re-collects for all of us a time when our kinship and inter-connectedness with the natural world was self-evident, and invites us to fully re-inhabit and say “Yes!” to our sensual natures, our animal bodies, our playfulness and creativity, connection, mystery, and our instinctive love for this beautiful, sentient Earth. In turns evocative and playful and always vivid and soulful, the poems in Re-Membering are beautiful catalysts of remembering, little sparks in the dark of forgetting that make one gasp, “Oh, I remember that!”

Gratitude and much love to everybody who has been there all along and believed in me and found inspiration in the poetry (you know who you are, my inner redwood circle)!!! I have been equally inspired by your fierce and big wild nature hearts.

If you have enjoyed some of the flavors of my poetry here on Rumi and the Shadow, you’ll probably love the poems in Re-Membering. Or maybe you have a friend, lover, family member who loves nature and poetry–it makes an easy and affordable gift. Pick up a copy here–and if you like it, leave a review on Amazon-I’d really appreciate the love!

Early Praise of Re-Membering:

“Bless Ryan Van Lenning for listening to the wild voices and bringing back the news for those who have lost their way. Bless him for reminding us of our original love affair with the earth and of what we know deep in our souls. His poems give wise counsel: let go of the debris, remember who you are, do not abandon your luminous thread.” —Lorraine Anderson, editor of Sisters of the Earth and Earth & Eros

“Grandfather knew to ‘Look out for rattlesnakes and rusted nails’ and he also knew what too many have forgotten, the primacy of the earth and our place with her. Ryan Van Lenning’s poems restore what’s been lost to our souls, knowledge and love that was once considered basic and obvious. Poems are the perfect form for this remembering— Van Lenning takes us back to mud, to fire, roots and leaves, restoring what our species will not get far without.”
-Patrice Vecchione, author of Step into Nature: Nurturing Imagination and Spirit in Everyday Life

“Ryan’s poetry speaks deeply and clearly to the awakening to our true interconnected nature, which is the only way we can transform our world.”
-Molly Young Brown, Author of Coming Back to Life: The Updated Guide to the Work That Reconnects (co-authored with Joanna Macy), Editor of Deep Times: A Journal of the Work That Reconnects

“Ryan’s poetry sprouts out of him from moist, fertile soil – painting a lush landscape of sensual and philosophical magic. His poems transport you to a way of living in relationship with the earth that is lovingly intimate. Ryan integrates body, spirit, and social commentary into a vision of how to live a nature-inspired life amidst noise and overrun technology. ” -Ariana Candell, LMFT, Founder of The Earthbody Institute

This provocative nature poetry is heart and soul enlarging. Try reading it out loud, especially to trees and rocks and humans too. Re-membering is likely to change the way you relate with the wild outside and the wild within you if you pay close attention and come back to your favorites often. Think of it as love songs written to the earth. I’m looking forward to the next collection by this poet. Highly recommended.” -Katie Baptist, LCSW, Co-Founder of Wild Nature Heart