BRIDGE OF BELONGING

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Yes the Star in me
solicits to dream
and dear yearn

Yet when yearning’s burn
spends and softens

becoming just Being
and finding no fear
in me

I stretch heartfingers
pruned of pity
and pride
and groomed of greed

by which is meant we meet
on the bridge of belonging

Touch and touch met
in equal measure

weaving from all things
smooth and holy blooms

I see you there.

Let us open our everything

and walk together.

WHAT IS IT?

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We’ve all been there
the way we bare our teeth
to ourselves
in our sleepwalking

tearing open
skin and scars

barely pausing
to notice it gives no nourishment
nor pleasure

yet the gruesome frenzy
continues unabated

sometimes gnawing
on our own bones

is a final desperate act
of wanting to feel alive

as the incisors cut in
to our precious femurs

This is called self-abandonment
in some circles

and there are 17 thousand glorious methods—
we all have our favorite.

“Oh my what big stories you have!”

We might say
as we lend our curiosity

to that moment
our lips begin to curl
and we begin to salivate.

It can go either way.

What is it
that relaxes our jaw

that brings our gaze
back up to witness
the mess
that awful trail of blood

with our paw prints
slopping through?

What is it
that bells us awake

that instead of chomping down
yet again

moves us to lick the wound
like a lion cub?

After all, weren’t we only following gravity
and a song of desire?

What is it
that instead of devouring

finds us feeding
that exquisite sensation
of hunger
with an epic love?

What is it?

BLESSINGS OF THE MORNING MET (for Mom)

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Early this morning the first thing on my commute through the forest was a chirpy herd of quail. I then heard and saw warblers, jays, ravens and robins, and countless other birds I don’t yet know. I’m got most excited about the thrushes, who have returned, and whose enchanting melody fills me with peace and joy.

I say this all because it was from my mom that I got a model for meeting the morning and its many gathering things with presence. I inherit much of my love and observation of nature from my mom, who is a photographer, naturalist, artist, and craftswoman. She also got me started on the blessing that is gardening. She’s not afraid of the dirt or to see things from a unique perspective. These are gifts that can’t be repaid, only received with gratitude and wonder. Thanks mom!

This poem is for her.
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Those were the days I slept in.
Past when the day had swept in
and grinned. But then
I found what had commenced and gone,
past retrieval, past the dawn.

The many-gathering things had fled
while still I slept in my bed, but

The image of her sitting sits
in my bones and sitting yet–
the woman from whom I came
at door of dawn and garden met.

Not doing, but the resting in the being with beings best
at day break bring their
radiant zest

First dew before warmth fell in
the inchèd crawl of light begins
the lavender, approaching thin
tumbled through distant cloud, now became
persimmon, pink, and rose-filled same

Among the marvels I had missed, she said
amidst the meandered mist, ahead

were many feathered friends in flight
or simply perched to sing the light
ten and five by her own eyes
different types, from land and skies:

Robin, warbler, cardinal, jay,
hummingbird, thrush, bushbird greys,
common corvid, hawk, and owl,
woodpecker, wren, and water fowl
but one that brought such joy to soul,
the black and orangèd Oriole

She penned them in her notebook list
that in which she keeps them all
gathered in as dreams persist
that might be lost, not seen at all
unless one sits and in sitting gets
the blessings of the morning met

Those were the days I slept in.
and missed the things that dawn had sent.

But now I greet the light and flight
and fog and song and scent and sight
and have within that image bold
of her awake in morning’s fold

inviting all the sounds that sing,
the rhythms of the bells that ring,
with the light that brings
the many-gathering things.

THAT HOLE ON THE HORIZON

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Every evening I dig a hole
in the horizon

and place what I love
and what I want to love
into it

Though if I want to love it, doesn’t that mean I already do?

Is meant to be a real question,
not an answer.

I’ve thrown lawless songs
and dances
into that hole

and too many queries to count
should have filled it up by now

fists and furies
wounds and whys
and all my favorite fears

resistances and clingings slough into it
with scarcely a word

and each day
I cover it up
with the dregs of the day
while water rushes in

as the sun takes them all
to where all things woven
from foraged lives go

And a truce gently crawls
into every crevice of me.

Sometimes, on champion days
I ask the sun,
what can I do for you?

If it answers, there’s no riddle—it’s so much more
down-to-earth
than you’d think

for being a star.

But good thing there’s no end
to the hole
because there’s no end
to my digging

ATOPIA

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There you go again
half way to somewhere
else

which is a somewhere
that you’ll also try to flee

without really being there
with the tidal fog
and nettles of you

one foot out of the door
of the moment

allergic to the shelter-in-
the-here-and-now

and its ravine of awe-full voices

On the other hand—
on which there are at least five
more ways of touching things—
Perhaps no place

is exactly where you need to be
for the strange and slick surprise to unfold

Without some tight agenda
some do-gooder-grasping
for a spring on the other side
on which you really belong

Perhaps it’s no u-
nor -dys

but -a no place

the deepest center
of everywhere and when

inside which your breath
is found
and how to get from there
to the next season of things
is anybody’s guess

even the nettle seed
and tidal fog
and the ravine that holds them all

SOMETHING BEYOND SHINY HOPE

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I. It has no legs

I’m not going to speak
of shiny hope today.

It has troubled us for too long
tripping us down the stairs
leaving the bruises
that stick around.

We want to jump over truth
straight to hope
that we bought in the
shadow of our striving

It’s not surprising it has no legs
and collapses
as soon as it gets out of bed.

We can’t get to the other side
of things
without touching the ground.

II. Let us stop

To stop jumping
running
chasing
filling
filling filling
filling filling filling
filling filling filling filling

stop.

Then, if grief
and all its cousins
should arrive

trying to suffocate you
in your sleep
embrace them
like long lost loved ones.

They’ve waited so long.

III. When the lights turn off

Will we stumble?

Or will we have learned
to believe
in our own breathe
and the dirt under our feet?

Will we have practiced
how to say hello?

All the beautiful things await.

IV. Something sturdier than shiny hope

Your own dawn
looking earth in the face
saying, I remember you

Start crawling.

Mix the kernel of your true heart—
that improbable spark
in the vastness—

with the clay of where you live,
deep with dreams.

#ryanvanlenning
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Included in the new collection ‘Silence Begins Here.’ That and my collection of love and erotic poetry, ‘Wild Rose Hips’, and 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. Follow me for mythopoetic inspiration and @wildnatureheart for my heart-centered nature connection & 1-on-1 inner/outer wilderness work. 🙏🌍🤠🦊🌲💚