It’s time to die.

You know it’s time to die because that weight
you’ve been carrying around
in your chest

is no longer a treasure.

Because the sacred stories have all become tall tales.

Because the egg that cracked
in you
brought that bright golden bird
but hasn’t built its new nest yet.

Because the debris
has accumulated

and there’s not enough space
for the Big Grin—
the shape your heart makes
when all the sunspots
are cleared.

Don’t worry, death is not
what it used to be.

Just ask the spring
and its relentless pinking
and purple petaling.

Its gregarious greening
is nearly unbearable

and just like it, who you are
keeps surfacing

whether you want it to
or not.

But not first without
the exquisite requisite—
the slow sloughing off
of stale skin of seasons past.

Nothing’s meant to last.

Not youth or bloodless truths
or all the yous
no longer you.

So honor the hour
and die well with wow
making a ceremony of it

with a bow towards your corpse
and a bow towards the clearing
where your new season
is arriving.




I want my words to be loyal
to the earth

a celebration
like the spots on a fawn
prancing through young pine

or new dawn dancing
past the night

I want my words to be soft
as a bunny’s butt
and feather grass

smooth as madrone skin
or a woman’s inner thigh

Yet also, I want them to be hard as wild walnuts
tough as granite
breaking feet
and ego

deadly serious
like lightning strikes
splitting spruce

Like climate chaos
and corona crisis
carrying away the normal
on waves beyond control

as prickly as a yellow jacket
or poison oak,
that’ll leave you itching
for weeks

Words that wake you up
like a cold splash
of mountain creek
on your morning face

I want them to lead you
gently into the arms
of your DreamGiver
or an owl’s hoot
under impossibly dark skies

But also startle the rut mind
like a buck launching
from the brush

Or a bright red snow plant popping up among ice cups
in the fir forest

an eager invitation
to all of Spring’s erections

or a surprise double rainbow
after the thunder storms

I want my words
to be stained purple
from picking wild blackberries
and juicy plums

Or sexy like a peach rose unfolding
and borage bringing all the bees
to the yard

I want them to allow the wind
to blow through
like invisible currents
carrying secret scents

tickling the hair on your forearms
that you only notice
once it’s gone

above all, I want them to grow
from the soil, telling truth,
loyal to the earth


Photos: Scenes of magical trillium and kin from today’s rainy walk in the redwoods. Ancestral Wiyot Territory



The idea of what a Tree is
Is hugely variable
Is not different
than an idea of what
a Human is. A Human Is
a creature that creates
is a being that emotes
that aesthetes that prosthetes
is part mammal part microbial mama is
part plant part star
part purr part roar
Part silent looking up yonder
part soaking up water under
What a Human is a Tree is
a promise is
permeable to clouds and Love
and Love is something
Humans and Trees exchange
and Love is
a Tree is a Human is something
the idea of which
Is highly variable



Like limbs thrown down and wildly thrashed
a harvest of a mighty breath
the soft cables of our bond
so quickly cut, so soon withdrawn

By what savage gale overthrown
or by what wrenching circuit blown
this force that together drew
now splits us into more than two?

Oh rage that fells the solid spruce
and rips the redwood roots so loose!
Only a dizziness remains
debris from feral hurricane

It is not yet known why we agree
to that first long, unfathomed fall
when a deeper one is guaranteed
and tied to the end of it all

Or why, with that first flirty start
we court our own slow aching heart
Or do we give wind consent
to our own imminent descent?

—Ryan Van Lenning



93FC754B-79DC-4382-88D7-A1CC22C300B5What could send me down this far
But your wild path bizarre?
Who could bring me down this deep
But your crooked steady stream?

All bowed over and needles fine
You curvy as the number nine
Stitched together in woodly scents
to pitch me in here like a tent

Red o red o green o green
I wondered if you heard my screams
Flow and free and green serene
I wondered if you’d seen my dreams

Branched like brooks like roots like lungs
Inside me run your ancient tongues
Your hermit thrush to tuck me in
Then golden-green to wake again

Redly barked and greenly packed
I wondered if you’d bring me back
The world’s noise had got me good
Until you whispered through my blood

What could send me down this far
but your wild path bizarre?
Who could bring me in this deep
But your steadfast summoning?

—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 poetry, Wild Rose Hips, will be out later this year. Follow me @ryanreturntotheearth for ecosensual mythopoetic inspiration and @wildnatureheartfor my heart-centered nature connection & 1-on-1 inner/outer wilderness work.


111B8BFC-EE21-4D35-A6B8-7E5D5AABCFB1National Writing Month DAY 30 (Final Day!!)
(Word Count: 1045)

In the distance looms Mt. Diablo. Not as shadow, but as guardian. Diablo–but that’s the colonizer word. The Chochenyo Ohlone call it Tuyshtak, which can mean ‘at the dawn of time.’ I learned this at the Watershed Environmental Poetry Festival from Vincent Medina, a local Muwekma Ohlone poet. He is a leader in reviving the traditional language, & now a co-owner of the new Ohlone Cafe in so-called Berkeley.

What a difference in meaning of those two words: Devil and Dawn.

Tuyshtak is the roof of the East Bay and I can view it from the roof of my home, which is a madrone- and oak-lined ridge above a canyon full of bay laurel, horsetails, flowering currants, poison oak (I call it guardian oak), & redwoods, after which the park is named.

Perhaps we should start calling it by its pre-colonial name. Perhaps all names should be decolonized as we re-sacralize the land. As we re-dream our relationsip to the world-than-human world out of which we emerge.

How ironic I find a deeper connection to the land and indigenous history & a deeper commitment to decolonizing work as I squat illegally on the land in a local public park.

But aren’t we all settlers?

I feel we’ve lost something. Perhaps on some level we all know we’ve lost something. I am dreaming into living/doing/being a new-old way. I want to re-member. I want to re-connect to those ancient pulses in our bloods & bones. I want to re-wild & re-set. I yearn for something real. I want to breathe in & out the Deep Be-Longing.

Something in me is dawning. I don’t pretend I’m living some ancient lifestyle, w/ my REI gear and solar Luci lights. But I find that the more I befriend the trees & water & birds here, the more I greet the dawn, the more I slow down & LISTEN, the more that beautiful dream flows out of me/through me & becomes the real thing—the thing that doesn’t lie, more real than the bad dream of this dominant/dominator culture.

Perhaps this is the beginning of what is meant by right belonging & right relationship–and I find there’s a depth and peace in it. I vow to keep listening. (Vulnerable Mountain Heart)

For #NaNoWriMo2018, we (Katie and Ryan @wildnatureheart) are each writing our memoirs, our Wild Nature Heart stories so-to-speak, sharing a glimpse of our progress throughout November. We really believe what the organization says: the world needs your story! Everyone has a story to tell—What’s your Wild Nature Heart? We look forward to sharing this journey of vulnerability and self-discovery.
Ryan and Katie