THE EXPERIMENT ISN’T OVER

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What if we don’t really know
if the universe is expanding
or contracting

or both

because we don’t know
how willing or able we are
to stay open

We ask ourselves:
Can I withstand the crunch?

What if like a buried seed
the real question lurking is:

Can I bear the sound
of the shell cracking

with that sweet amber pain
mistaken for trouble?

But then, our ears pick up
the warbler’s woo

suggesting dawn is here
yet again

and we breathe a little deeper

Suggesting these cycles
are built into everything

Suggesting the experiment
isn’t over

#ryanvanlenning
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Included in the new collection ‘Within the Cave Something Pulses.’ 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. 🌿🐝🐺🌲🔥 🌍🙏🏽

BY INVITATION ONLY

C1F6A22E-394B-4591-B2DB-1660A8965680Everybody is here by invitation only.

In these parts she’s the host.

The Great River, whose ears
are never closed,
hears autumn knock gently
with mottled wings of crimson-gold
on her front porch.

But I find myself on the back porch
and fall doesn’t even notice me.

Here at the party,
there are no mutters or stutters
though when I’ve filled myself
with all the wrong things
that’s all I can manage.

I’m no good at small talk,
but I can’t abide my own snapping shut, my own slinking away—
so I’ll sit and listen, I say….
I plead
to somebody who has ears
and eyes, but no face.

Or rather, infinite faces.

Now I’m in it for good, I promise.

I’ve made the promises
it’ll kill me not to keep,
but it nearly kills me to keep them
the way winter nearly kills the sun and green in its fabulous dream.

I fall asleep. But this time,
THIS time, I’ll open everything,
I whisper to myself, braving the light
streaming through the door.

I’ll open everything. Did I say that out loud?

Yes, even the blasted bolts rusting
on the hinges of my hidden doors
will come out.

Because she hears everything
she just grins the welcome grin
and carries on,
the life of the party.

And I step in to join.

I’m in it for good, I promise.

The Bees of Love Have Come

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The bees of love have come—sound the alarm.

Oh, but what rampart have you wrought again?
how well you worked that stone within

Iron bound and tough beyond
which holds no entry to the throne at all
repelling any purchase on your wall

What sentinels on parapets posted
with fistly smiles and security boasted

Still you mute your extravagant heart?

The bees of love have come—sound the alarm.

Let the bells sound off:
Sing, Song, Sang, Sung!
Ring, Rang, Rung!

Ablaut! So loud! The bees are about!
They’re tickling
the castle east and south!

Abuzz! O bless! The bees are abreast!
They’re blasting the walls on the north
and the west!

Abominate with love your fear
dressed as noble knights in grey
and like your shadows at full noon
let the sentinels fly away

Once they’ve quit the realm
to move on to better positions
worthy of their vigilance

Let even your fifth throat
form an original conversation
with the open meadow

Letting the bees sip sweetly
your bold blood

Drunk on delicious dreams
in your throne room

Trust the Shimmering

5D11EDCA-71EE-4374-A3DF-F391803285EDDid you crack yourself open at dawn or at dusk?
Or did you slip away again?

How much beauty must the world wash over you
for you to break open onto the wet rocks?
How much for you to reach a conclusion?

I’m talking about the shimmering
the gleam and glittering
pure press of guttural uttering
in you like the first vibration

Your footprints, where are they?
Your bellyprints and moonburnt eyeballs?
You outrageous fire, dancing, licking, burning?

I’m talking about that fabulous blast
the sea-storm, that high terrible power
blue and vital
silver scream on the pummelled shoreline
in the wind carved caves.

The beasts are far. The beasts are within.
What clawed out of you at first light?

I’m talking about foraged and furry creatures
scurrying down the stream of your marrow–
slit your self down the middle
pull your skin to the horizon
and drip like a mountain.

Come to your senses,
cum in broad daylight
body lit with love.

I’m talking big trust like screaming thistles
surprised at its own purpling,

the dandelion through the concrete.

Now tell me, will you crack yourself open
at dawn or at dusk?
Or will you slip away again?

Rilke-Soaked Dreams and a Vulnerable Mountain Heart

IMG_4512A year ago this week I was trekking for 10 days in the Olympic Mountains.

I was struggling over several long, hard days climbing up the side of the mountain, the trail often obscured. Though it was June, winter was still up there.

I was struggling with heartache: my partner and I were estranged. I was struggling with trust and jealousy. I was struggling with my inability to fully receive love. I was struggling with ancient wounds of abandonment. I didn’t understand different kinds of love and connection. I was struggling with meaningful livelihood.

I arrived atop in a lake basin and pitched my tent above Heart Lake. I became stuck there for several days – it was cold and rainy and snowy. I was getting increasingly wet. In the clouds. No sun all day. Fully soaked. Boots undryable. Spending the day in the tent. The only warmth was from a little backpacking stove.

The clouds from every direction merged, climbed, surrounded, hugged the crevices everywhere. I couldn’t see anything. I was aware that I could soon be in danger of hypothermia, so knew I had to descend as soon as possible, if conditions didn’t change.

But I had a deep feeling that I didn’t want to leave the mountain top and the lake until all was revealed. Something was coming.

Finally the sun appeared on the 4th day. Joy! My first real moment of excitement! I was able to get dry. When the clouds opened up, I could get perspective. I could finally see Mt. Olympus. More importantly, the image of Vulnerable Mountain Heart kept appearing inside me. It had appeared a few days before at the beginning of my journey – it was now deepening and speaking.

Vulnerable Mountain Heart. What is it? Deep cosmic heart of vulnerability, source of love and strength. It’s the heart that stays open, that feels what it feels, that rests easy with what is, that doesn’t need to react to save itself, has no fear, that knows its strength in vulnerability, and therefore its wholeness and power.

Vulnerable Mountain Heart is unearthing and resurrecting our archaic connection with the natural world. That connection critical to healing ourselves, our communities, and the planet. It’s about meeting ourselves authentically, with nature not just as context, but as collaborator. A mountain doesn’t care what storms present themselves. It merely accepts and receives them, unphased. Mountain Heart is about embodying our strength and power, overcoming fear, and accepting what is.

Yet at the same time, by being willing to connect with our vulnerability, we allow healing and growth and remain compassionate. It’s about recognizing and feeling our old sacred wounds and finding love and power in that place. And it’s about liberation from unhealthy patterns inherited from our family and culture. Finally, it’s about listening, opening, and resting in uncertainty and change, and unfolding our authenticity layer by layer.

After a week and a half up there, I walked out of the rich, green Hoh Valley a changed person—richer, stronger, and more clear. I knew it was an unfolding story. The day after I hitchhiked out of the forest, I found myself in the city lying on my side getting a needle stuck repeatedly in my arm—I was getting a mountain heart tattoo in Olympia.

It did change me, but since then I have often strayed from that wisdom, sometimes so far off that it’s like I’m in the clouds again. Fear causes pain to ourselves and others. Can’t see anything.

It’s not a one time opening.

It’s choosing love over fear, moment by moment.