Let the Mountains Carve Me

C8D9C0E9-5875-4E2D-9276-FCC777E43446I. SEVERANCE

Commodities, the cold machine.

Scandals and plastic–all
the Gottahaves.

Virtually there. The Chase Inside
The Shining Hamster Wheel.

Too full but empty.

Duller than a balmy day
sharper than a winter gale
this slow and sucking dry.

All the lies will die.


With wind and water I
carry my discourse, fly
up and over
and let the mountain carve
monuments out of me
epiphytic and free.

With river itself take my counsel.

With mud and mushroom heed
all the wondrous whispers.

My tail prefers a winding path
once my face found itself
in that ancient blessed lake.


I’d rather eat beetles,
do you understand?

Once I knocked on the wrong moon
until I hitched with a wild wind

finding that belonging is not a place
but a skill
honed with a fierce heart.

I shift shapes from mountain pass to alley way,
while what is hidden remains my treasure,
and what is visible a sword and flute–
to the woven ones.

And when I say my preposterous names
risible and rooted
Oh, how it ripples on and on.


I Have Been Known To Bark

8067CFC3-E444-456F-9B58-F42162DFE6DDI admit I’ve been known to bark
loud and unrestrained,
less a dog than a wolf
or like a sea-lion and a bear
when no one is around to leer, or hear
or twitter too, like killdeer do
when they’re settling in for you

But not the heron’s croaking lark
for that I judge him much too harsh
despite the wisdom in his eyes
I find I’m not the croaking type

But for many tunes, I dare admit
I’ll cry alone and sad
at the ways of a wicked world
at the latest rage or fad

But also in a startled joy
of beauty so alive
laughing’s not so far behind
when warblers sing and otters dive

The impossibility of it all
like feathers flown as seeds are sown
and blown far out on the wind
you see, analogies all come from her,
all metaphors on her depends

Babble and skat outloud to hear
the echo over water near
bouncing off the cliff so stark
Yes, I have been known to bark

In That Old Country

278B8E0E-298C-4A8D-8397-3B9B39243596In that old country of open air
and littered leaves
we adhere to that traditional religion
the one of earth and trees
of wind and winding rivers

Conducting those ancient rituals
of walking
and listening around the fire

Here, all of us are born
with priestly ears
and sacred feet

There is no exile
and everyone is at the heart
of belonging

We sing the sacred stories
and know gratitude

We migrate, following the seasons
and herds of beasts
across the continent of our souls—they know where the water that nourishes is

When the rains come
we drink deeply together
in that old country

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

It Could Be Anyone’s


Morning Moon Set


I don’t know.

It could be anybody’s moon–
it was here when I got here.

Anyhow, it’s far too up and away now
to hitch a ride
and for those kinds of things I find wings.

But whose-a-ever it is,
I hope they find it–
I don’t want them to be too lonely
for lack of lunacy.

But at the same time, I kinda like it there,
just out of reach
floating eversomoonly this way and that–
makes me feel all…what do they say…
at home.