EB7515F6-0598-41AD-A5B4-63C13F0861A2That poem that lives under your skin?

That poem may be so far under your skin
you might need the raven’s cry
to claw its way in at dawn

You might need an unkempt trickster
to fool your eyes
in order to fling a true word or two from within your pretty vault

But then the poem will roll off
your skin
all mist and moist
an offering to the earth

It’ll stain your fingers with beets
Your lips with wine
Your thighs with blood

It’ll write your forehead with mud
Your back with her scratch
Your arm with Hafiz

Your story with a wound
will shapeshift and a wild coursing will resume

It’ll entangle your head with the storm
Your hair with twigs
Your eyes with the moon

Or are you here to let your poem sleep through it all?

Then form your raw rituals
and let the world nibble it awake

I Hate Rainbows

7B829405-609D-49BB-AB5C-B86858015AF8It was morning all afternoon
and the rain was somehow involved
in who we were

when it disappears, a rainbow emerges
end to end, a bold one full of lessons

a girl in the backseat says,
I hate rainbows–
they remind me how nothing ever lasts

and looks in the mirror
making sure the colors she painted
on her face
are staying where they should
and saying the things she wants to say

The moon is cool, though, she admits
because it gives me evidence
that we actually spin

she translates from french
my own poem
that had been carried across the sea
from its native tongue
and it comes out better

It occurs to me now it was a poem
about how the butterflies and bees
are disappearing fast in the world she’s inheriting—
how nothing ever lasts

And I want to be something that lasts for her,
so I say I’ll help you write that poem about your uncle
not knowing too much about helping anyone
with poetry
but I never get the chance

I want to tell her that despite not knowing how to speak her language
she’s taught me so much
but I don’t

I want to say to her, yes, change is hard
harder than the falling rain
harder than rainbows are soft
but I don’t

I want to say, feel what you feel, it’s okay
even if you have to hate rainbows
but I don’t

I want to tell her what a strange courage
they give me
a reminder that we only have this moment
but I don’t

the moment passes
the rainbow fades away
and morning finally and too soon becomes night

—Ryan Van Lenning
You can get my books RE-MEMBERING: Poems of Earth & Soul, and High-Cooing Through the Seasons: Haiku From the Forest through your local bookstore, on Amazon or Indiebound, My book of mystical poems Silence Begins Here and book of love and erotic poems Wild Rose Hips will be out later this year. 🙏😀🎄💚

Rainbow Eater

D9E7585D-BF89-4FE8-BE19-EE937F7BF0E7She wants to be inside them
and them to be inside her

So she eats the rainbow
with her eyes
her mouth
her fingers

savoring each hue

and brings red juice
to the redwoods
singing Hallelujah.

Her blood runs red
but her eyes run turquoise—
sapphires suffer envy
when they look upon them.

With them she sees the beauty in the bones
of the baby bovine

and stacks pine cones
to find the structure
where each one can be itself
with its edges
among a community

Which is what she yearns for.

And she remembers
that she already knows

and brings her way of seeing
to nourish the world.

What the Eagle Wants

IMG_1174Some want to ride the eagle
through cerulean skies
others are in their feathery nests
learning how to fly

Tickle of the sprouting wings
to feel so bold and brave
a type of living into
a freedom that they crave

But some would rather shun
for freedom has its fear
it implies an awful gaze
in a much too faithful mirror

The rest want to be taken
by the talon and by the beak
to get inside the eagle
by a beautiful death they seek

But what does eagle want
he who rides the wind?
What does eagle want
of lovers and of friends?

He wants to live the spectrum
of the loves in the breeze
to share with the world
the colors that he sees

He wants to fly the mountains
and carve his poems in air
with winged archery shooting
arrows with craft and care

He wants to share his vision
from his rainbow lair
to spread his wings around you
and caress your restless hair
draping feathers across your skin
vulnerable and bare

But he wants what’s below
beneath the skin and bones
the living pulse of beating heart
and make it his carnal throne

He wants to feel its fleshy beat
in his claws and beak
to fuel his rainbow eyes
from the mountain peak

to feel the taste of throbbing heart
between his beak and claw
to gather its pulse and energy
making magic of it all

Seven Shadows and Eagle Worm


The first of these
a shattered mirror
shard to shard
eyes of fear

The second of these
the noise forlorn
brought me to my knees,
my lord

The third of these
the lies reborn
from truth it flees
that awful morn

The fourth of these
a memory torn
the images retreat from
storied storm

The fifth of these
I couldn’t trust
it fled forever from my grasp

The sixth of these
a midnight scorn
a venom seethed
and deeply born

The final shadow
stopped me fast
I could not breathe
it was my last

and left me on the edge of things
until I found my roots and wings

what could save a shadowed man
but eagle worm with rainbowed hand?

Heir of Eternal Spring – Part III

icarus rainbow feathersA continuation of what I am calling “The Epic of the Feather Queen” or “Heir of Eternal Spring.” In this installment, the Woman tells of her experience receiving the rainbow feathers. For background on the origin of this very different species of poem, see Part I. Part II, the Wondering in the Mist and the reception of the Black & Silver feathers, is still being dictated.

The final, the Glory,
wherein the bounty lay:

The memory clear, a mirror
in warming light
(I weep at the memory now,
not from grief
but from melting away
for the colors still adorn my face)

A field o’ flowers without end
purple, gold, ribbon blue
well wide enough to hold the TWO

I mentioned battle
in that there is some truth,
but here the rages of war
are not a sound
no swords unsheathed
nor arrows unleashed
nor poison drunk
or clenched fists feast


on the road to this very field
and that is a story yet to tell…

Lavender and sage
and all the lightly-framed scents,
hinted through the cerulean sky
touched and danced bemused
like butterflies
of which scores appeared
about their merry way

it tickles merely
upon my memory.

At this point, you must simply TRUST OR TURN AWAY
(which perhaps is the only thing mortals may do)

For the tale of this feather is far-fetched, I know,
almost too lovely to be true
yet there I was,
these feathers may be the proof,
but of that need I am cured.

I, too, like you,
have seen and loved a rainbow
upon a time,
with joy and awe, full and ripe

Yet here in the field I lay
’tis was not mere glimpse, nor beheld
with eyes alone,
but rather one such came
into me

A rainbow pierced each cell
body, mind
and lifted me to heights
I blush to say

Of what shall one say
of rainbow play?

To convey in haste,
I’d say of honey it tastes.
But even that’d be so far removed
from the truth o’ it

this, a nectar
touched within
with the pure tongue of simple heart
or in the spine
refined joy
of which honey is but crude remains
I sipped, not gulped
as one would wine
for the sensation so sweet
so sublime

From here, the Proving
proved unneeded
The Chasing, chased away
the Blame, no target found
here or there
Struggle, a most constant fiend
through the years
now was but a friend

….and thus my final feathers
took their place upon my crest
a rainbow, ‘longside black and red
my plumaged gleaming guests