Some women will draw blood
in the way that you like it

Some women have dark wells
drilled by death
you can’t find the bottom

Some women are made of feathers
always floating
while others eat rocks
and never get off the ground

Some women will want to fuck
your poems
and instead find you

Some women kidnapped themselves–
neither you nor they can find them

Some women will let you eat them
like a grapefruit for breakfast
but won’t let you make them
breakfast in bed

Some women carry a handcrafted knife
and etch their name into everything
including your back

Some women do what they’re told–
stay away from them

Some women can’t look you in the eye
some because of what they did
others because of what you did

Some women are convinced you are
what is wrong with the world

Some women are convinced you are
what is right with the world

Some women let you carry their bags for them
others let you carry their dreams
yet others know how to carry what’s theirs

Some women have a mirror in their pockets
others are a mirror in your pocket

Some women only want your mirror

only want your hands
only want your mind
only want your cock

Yet some women don’t know what they want

Some women are so sweet and innocent
you will love them forever
yet never fall in love with them

Some women will take off all their clothes
and roll in the mud
the sand
the snow
with you, after singing, “I’m alive!”

Some women will let you tie them
to a tree in the backcountry
pretending to be a wolf
under the full moon

and the moon will blush

Some women will kiss you on a volcano
Some women are a volcano.

Some women will use you as a safehouse,
fleeing danger
and others will seek a safehouse
fleeing from you

Some women give their heart out
like pollen to spring bees

Other women’s hearts shift like the moon
waxing and waning
when all you want is the sun

Some women can’t withstand the full sun
of you

Some women want the talons of you
to devour the mouse of them
so they can fly

Some women are made of wild water
and fir tips
and bits of bat’s wings

Other women are made of ideas and microplastic

Some women play hide and seek
and will keep hiding
until both of you forget which closets
you both went in, never to be found

Some women have a good game,
some have several

while some women show you all their cards

Some women know the secret
some want to know the secret
some women think you have the secret

Some women will pee in front of you
and the redwood sorrel

Some women are moths
only coming out at night

Some women are daytime creatures
afraid of the dark labyrinth

and some grab your hand
as you torch the darkness together
and then you know

some women you will never meet,
and will never meet you,
even long after you meet.

(after Kim Addonizio’s The Matter)


5CFF08CA-9967-4406-BD6D-5652FDD7AAE0What am I trying to truly say
to my Self
in this split infinitive
and affable alliteration?

Om—sometimes infinity need a little space to stretch out in

but that’s not quite it.

In search of a world to modify
and dangling a participle,

a big bangs
a heat waves
a cold snaps

A breath taking
I opening
order forms

then falls

over and over

Did I mean to modify
an unintended Subject?

Or was my intention to become
an object subjected
to play?

Look, this is what I can do!

I cannot be split, only forget.

I cannot not proliferate.

I cannot not come together
and pull apart.

Consider this from your point
of view.

Consider this from mystery’s point of view.

Overflowing, I join me. Overflowing, I leave me.

You can see the dilemma.


D7B72233-D238-4F3C-BBC2-E2AE831BB79ADecember comes to the forest
as an ocean on the head

Something finally dissolves
and a man turns to mist
as struggle takes its leave

Most birds play it safe
but some brave birds still sing—
the rain makes the kid in them
get up and dance

Their whistle
and the tappity tap tap
on the roof of the hut
are the only sounds

The moss grows by the minute
greening boulder and bolder yet

Conquering the forest with Greenness
thereby settling it
once and for all

Drinking the rain
as the night drinks the dark
and the man drinks the season

-Ryan Van Lenning


078423B7-B365-4E70-B78B-3931A5746861Here you can laugh in February
the unexpected is to be expected—
a midnight creature leaves
bay nuts for you
and the creek is singing for its supper

woodpeckers and owls
tell you what time it is
but what about the new birds
that weren’t here in dark December?

You might think that February
is dreaming spring,
the equinox on her mind.

It’s easy enough to do
but not to get ahead of ourselves
is a good morning task—
February is dreaming February.

The season is laughing
stinging nettles
and coughing up hail

The month is grinning meadow flowers as pink ox eyes at dawn

and yes, a yellow saluting
affirmation of the still slanting sun
inching higher in the sky
day by day by day
like a toddler learning to stand

urging the arroyo willow
and wild currants
to see who can bud best
by the end of the month.

No, I’m not opposed to opening
my sun-starved belly to it all
skin smiling wildly
with mild stone fruit
freely singing its scent
into the canyon breeze

like only this season can

so see it while you can:

a one-tree performance
of Pink Petal Extravaganza
as the western wind applauds
and kicks his heels up
to play the eucalyptus
like a harp
and runs his fingers through
Cedar’s long hair
when he really gets aroused

and they seem to like being tickled in that way
letting out a moan
now and again
as if stretching for the first time.

It gives one ideas
on a February morning
here in the Nearby Faraway
which is not unlike a thousand
other mornings
that have come before
and will come after.

But it is.

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

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