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so quickly cut, so soon withdrawn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

Humboldt Haiku

0A0CD771-A674-46DB-9DE6-09CEC2E003C9Mist in deep summer–
two barefoot woodland creatures
walk the cool redwoods

Small creek, tall redwoods
she jumps in the cold water
clothes on the boulder

August fog, tall trees
reaching out in deep summer–
a redwood romance


Blackberries and mist
chipmunk enjoys his breakfast
atop the brambles

Big boulders, big creek
mammals exploring bodies–
Monday morning joy

Lying side by side
in the center of the creek—
a deep summer treat

Sometimes in the woods:
plant identification
can be so sexy

Cold Jacoby Creek
Artemis puts her bow down
for warm caresses

In the coastal fog
special kind of Humboldt mold
growing on dog poop

Skinny Dipping Winter

IMG_8063Here’s the 8th installment of winter Haikus. My goal: a total of 107 Forest Haikus and mini ‘coyote’ poems over the winter, sharing in groups of about 10. (See the others: Fiddlehead Fern Plays an Early Note, Cricket’s Eye Point-of-View, Being Stalked By A Forest, Wings Like Boomerangs, My Tent is Leaking Haikus, Always Coming and Going, and Dancing Naked In the Rain)

River flowing fast
taking winter into spring:
done hibernating

Sweet purple fragrance
Oh, I wanna be a bee
kiss all your blossoms

I can really breathe
in this circle of giants—
a deep in and out

The form of each thing
unfurling fearlessly
like forest fern fronds

Head in the water
your duck tail feathers up—
searching for something

Two kids on one bank
me on the other, shouting
“Hey you over there!”

Shimmering duck heads
good day for a skinny dip—
they don’t seem to mind

A muffled morning
melancholy mist moves through—
only crows are up

Clothes dry on drift wood
along the American
the land of the free

A great blue heron
stands still in watery dusk—
sees his reflection

Egret to the east
Naked man in the middle
Heron to the west