MEMOIR: ALL THE HOLY THINGS

8AA9B247-9B06-42CF-92C8-59B6A3059201
In the 7th grade I invented
interstellar travel
via hydrogen ion propulsion.

Combined with giant sails
that would harness
the chaotic wind
from solar storms

we could go anywhere.

Even here.

I was in the library
where the sound and scent
of old books
were background to my life.

That was back when libraries knew how to be themselves.

They were quiet and sensitive.
I was quiet and sensitive.

Since then, I haven’t done much engineering. NASA, please forgive me.

Unless you count constructing façades,
adopting them as masks of belonging.

You see, earthstorms moved in
thrashing my branches
and I did the only thing I knew
how to do:

I deployed my earthworms
and became someone else.

Clearly, who I was wasn’t safe.

That was the wrong lesson.
But I knew not roots
and took to riot.

I learned to be noisy and insensitive.

I learned anger gets you things—Mostly the wrong things.

I learned, to my chagrin,
I couldn’t photosynthesize,
which led me to adopt some peculiar eating and moving habits.

I discovered walking and small talk.
I discovered cheese and liquor.
I discovered coffee and masturbation and chasing things.

Over time, I learned to need them.

Fantastic wounds and tornadoes refined me
and my feet walked it all together
into my torso.

This continued rather inelegantly
for decades

until one season
I gave myself the curse-gift
of walking with death
into the bottom of things.

How can I describe the down
and up of things
without mentioning love?

Oh fierce heart, I learned
to breathe, I learned
to eat
like it’s the first time.

I learned to honor the seasons

and all the splendid contours
of resistance
and its first mate, acceptance.

I guess what I’m saying is
at some level
I’ve always known
the value of silence

that sensitivity is a gift
and who I am is a sacred mystery

that storms are essential
to the journey

That being here is one thing

but really being here
is yet another way to love

and is the path
to all the holy things.
#ryanvanlenning

I DISPUTE THE PASSAGE NO MORE

06E387DC-FB29-4805-8DF6-E1954A6BD199Out of the twelfth-month
midnightic pull, a murmur

sings itself vigorously
with all the force gravity
and the old unspeakable yearn
can muster

towards the rocks
and the source sea
a destiny pointed and unpent

How I with flow feel
both the heavy and light of love
robust and whole

I am really here
swallowing all unstoppable creeks
a mere bubble and not
a mere bubble

I hang my head low as the winter sun
and bold blending with cold waters
sweeping the sweet pang of fate
to which I am subscribed

Dipping ears wet I dispute
the passage no more

It hums me through the deep night
with the whisper
that all things in time
eventually
find their flow

#ryanvanlenning

THANK YOU, BEAR, DEVOUR ME

53C98672-864F-4F71-A0CF-F5F43EAABC3EWhen bear came to evict me
I was almost ready to surrender

I knew there were new stages
I needed to be on/in
new abodes to inhabit

But what I never told you
or any one
but grandmother spruce
and the swamp lanterns hugging
the shoulder of the creek
that lent me flow

was I’d had an argument
with the gods
of love and fate

I’d had an argument with everyone

when the cold rains thundered
I thundered in return
my most furious curiosity
asking the age old questions

I made demands, I made myself
a fool, fierce and wet

I knew bear was coming
for he’d been arriving for some time

In my dreams
when he gave me a spring kiss
on the snout
and a winter warning
from the forest edge

I wobbled and froze in fear

He blessed me on the river,
and I stepped inside his fur
teaching me to shapeshift
under summer suns

and now, in my home, which was his first
we caught each other’s eyes
and I finally surrendered
as we came out of hibernation.

I’m becoming a bear
and I will be devoured
by a bear
at the end of this in-breath
this love-bud
this finger-wide moment

The puncture I gladly accept—
Not only accept but celebrate
as a fang of love.

For he, this great teacher,
fulfills his purpose

alongside River
and the OakSong of Old
beside Eagleworm and SisterOwl
and the delicate melody of Moon and Thrush
the hide and seek of Fox
the stealth of Bobcat

I won’t be found dying
without my purpose punctured

There is no escape—He is wild
and I am drunk on civilization

I accept my glorious annihilation.

HER SACRED LABYRINTH

DCC97231-2C02-4C5F-9D7C-47ED3783353BThen I began walking ceremoniously towards her

That which I feared
yet secretly wanted
rested silently at the center

past the guardsmen
and the hounds
with their illusory barks

I was already there
when the golden maple leaves
adorned her stunning shoulders
green with promise

The exact moment
we were born in each other
no one knows
but it carries the scent of cedar-mud
and the texture of madrone skin

I had heard her beats
well-murmured from afar
like dreams caressing upon a shore

When a well-placed star
from the fog bled into me
signaling the first footsteps
into her sacred labyrinth

I learned how to step along
her riverine curves
and sea-born mystery
carrying trust in open hands
like a deep autumn release
surrendering to a greater force

My feet following a heart
well-worn with the seasons

WHEN IT BOOMS FROM BELOW

9330F7E8-23FD-4F0E-9DBE-C50651F8E374It is not an indictment—
though it feels like one—
when the noise begins to ebb
and those first clear words
bubble up from your well

sharpened with deep time
like a dagger.

For eons you stayed busy
for lifetimes ignored
the vowels of your own voice.

But when it booms from below
and floats to the surface
you know you must change
your life.

It is tempting to whip
the back of your soul
for not knowing.

But that is not
the hand of love.

Fine, you didn’t know. You couldn’t hear.

Fine, you abandoned yourself.
You abandoned lots of things.

You filled your ears
with others’ bells, your eyes with ugly things.

You fueled your fears
with storied spells, your skies with wobbly wings.

That was yesterday. Not today.

Today you choose. Now it begins—
scoop up those sounds
and quench your thirst.

Walk your bright autumn truth home.

I Was a Wilderness

8DD55B5F-B1C6-4D7B-B77A-4476A530577E.jpegI was a Wilderness to my babies

My sons called me Unknown and
stayed aloof

My daughters entered the temple
to contemplate the Mysteries

Creatures scurried through my veins
and everything was a cloud,
coming together
and falling apart

The tales of a thousand centuries are written in calligraphy
across my shoulders

Tattoos dreamt in time

There were complications
and there were rumbles

Birth pangs among the syrupy moments
Wounds lasting eons

It didn’t matter if some mind
figured it out

Some tried and believed it so

Yet no one believed I was the fang and the puncture both

the grand opening and the deep penetration

the sacred burning in all your loins
and lion hearts

Some grasped the tail of my dragon
and learned to play

Some took a deep breath with me

Others needed to disown their flesh
and put me to sleep

But I cannot truly sleep

For there is no end to the dream
inside me

No end to desire

for desire is the mirror of awakening

No end to my need for you

No end to my need for you
to become a river
through your own vast wilderness
flowing back to me

To rest and play again