D6A52611-6978-4212-A7D8-C76EC3CB7930In a mountain cave
under the spell
of a turbulent creek
I listen to lichen grow

Under the smell
of a winter rain
I listen to a landscape’s
green resurrection

Enchanted, I become velvety
like moss

I become patient like stone

I become beflowed like water

and suddenly remember
that I am
a songbird
a spiderweb
a sprouting buckeye

and wild like worms
in the hill beside me
escaping the flood

What do you hear when you listen to lichen grow?
Included in a new collection ‘No Lies on the Mountain’. That and my collection of love and erotic poetry, ‘Wild Rose Hips’, my book of mystery poems ‘Silence Begins Here’, my polyRiverous celebration of rivers, mountains, and souls ‘Riverever’ will be out later this year. In the meantime, You can get RE-MEMBERING: Poems of Earth & Soul. and High-Cooing Through the Seasons: Haiku From the Forest through your local bookstore, on Amazon or Indiebound, Link in bio. 🌿🐝🐺🌲🔥 🌍🙏🏽

Sip the Season Darkly – Within the Cave Something Pulses

Solstice Blessings!

I. Sip the Season Darkly

Darkness has arrived
wrapping its inky cloak
across the season
of our lives

long shadows and owls stand tall and salute
autumn’s bright slow song
becoming winter’s march

asking us not skip too quickly
over the hour
with an eager eye
grasping towards cherry blossoms
awaiting on the other side

Drink deeply from the season,
they say, from the cup overflowing
with the sweetness of the fruitful darkness

Sip the season darkly
in its slow inward night embrace

Wisdom hidden from summer’s glare
may yet pass our lips
should we have the thirst for it

Until finally, the world becomes too much with us:

We go to the cave, the secret one
in the mountain of ourselves
seeking stillness, a retreat
an inward looking

and listen for it, our own voice amidst

The Silence – can you hear it?

heart sunII. Within the Cave Something Pulses

Within the cave something pulses.
We hear it even now
feel it even now

that which deepest dark cannot smother,
and even winter’s hands cannot touch

tender tendrils of our very own vine,
bearing the wine of our heart

A Remembering–Aha!

Some secret vial of our heart’s fuel
distilled for this very hour
to sip the season brightly

And the sun too misses its lover earth
and cannot too long stay away

The sun was meant for this: to shine

To not share the big love is a wounding

So in this darkest hour
the sun knocks on the nearest horizon
and announces The Return with a subtle beat:

“Dear Love, I’m Here.”

Which is exactly what we find
written on the walls of our cave

“Dear Love, I’m Here.”

And we open our new eyes of dawn
with a deep breath

and though it’s just a whisper now
it is enough to start it all again
and again…again….again…

Included in the new collection, Within the Cave Something Pulses, forthcoming 2020. You can get RE-MEMBERING: Poems of Earth & Soul. and High-Cooing Through the Seasons: Haiku From the Forest through your local bookstore, on Amazon or Indiebound. A book of mystery poems, Silence Begins Here, book of love and erotic poetry, Wild Rose Hips, and a celebration of the flow of rivers and souls, Riverever will also be out in 2020.


INTO THE CAVE Courses begin January 8. What emerges in the fruitful darkness?
Two groups—one All/No Genders Cohort and one Men Only Cohort.

DEEP BELONGING Courses begins January 9. Re-Belong yourself to Place and Purpose. Day and evening times.

Take the self-paced WILD NATURE HEART CHALLENGE at anytime, from anywhere.


73E95A87-9780-48F6-A917-E0B8F3732A5FBEFRIENDING THE DARK

In these darkest days and longest nights approaching the winter solstice, I am participating in an apprenticeship to dark, silence, slowness, solitude, shadow, and soulstice.

The season contracts, things slow down, energies withdraw, go underground, and the earth releases and composts the old in order to recharge for new life. We honor the season and ourselves by doing the same.

Now the dominant culture sure as hell doesn’t necessarily abide by these energies. In this culture dedicated to light and production, business and speed, wasteful consumption, the notion of valuing and celebrating the darkness, slowness, stillness, spaciousness for rest, poetry and dreaming, the unconsciousness, cocoon and cave and womb energy, is a radical notion.

Yet life and creativity are born in these spaces. The natural cycle and balance of seasons both external and within exists for a reason.. We can dedicate ourselves to syncing our body, energy, psyche to the season by honoring the darkness, shadow, stillness, slowing down, withdrawing in. We can say no to things. We can let go of things. We can take sacred pauses to simply BE, not do.

It is not unusual to resist these downward descent energies (and I myself in the past resisted), but one can find a vitality & wisdom in befriending the dark, sinking into the slowness, and owning the shadows.

I’ll be sharing poems, images, and inspiration that honor the season of dark and shadow and slowness, Using the #BefriendingtheDark.

How are you honoring the season?
INTO THE CAVE Courses begin January 8. What awaits in the fruitful darkness?
Two groups—one All/No Genders Cohort and one Men Only Cohort.

DEEP BELONGING Courses begins January 9. Re-Belong yourself to Place and Purpose.
Day and evening times.

Take the self-paced WILD NATURE HEART CHALLENGE at anytime, from anywhere.



96B244D0-1B10-456D-804E-4B538A5B3CE0I live among the hucklebush
and ferns and forest ever-lush
and learned to sing from hermit thrush
the slugs they taught me slow

The froggy croaks they keep me cracked
The crawling oaks they coax me back
These nightly cloaks they stroke my back
the moon she taught me whole

I’d hunted, hoarded all life long
but not the things that brought my song
Nor the things that made me strong
They sure did take their toll

Now hunting has a different aim
The gatherings a different game
The tools I use have different names
within this chest of soul

So still I watch the heron’s hunt
and listen to the river’s run
apprenticed to the earth and sun
These lovers taught me Flow

-Ryan Van Lenning


-You can get RE-MEMBERING: Poems of Earth & Soul and High-Cooing Through the Seasons: Haiku From the Forest through your local bookstore, on Amazon or Indiebound, Link in bio. My book of mystical poems, Silence Begins Here, and book of love and erotic poetry, Wild Rose Hips, and Book of Rivers: Headwaters and Heartrocks will be out later this year. Follow me @ryanreturntotheearth for mythopoetic inspiration and @wildnatureheart for my heart-centered nature connection & 1-on-1 inner/outer wilderness work. 🙏🌍🤠🦊🌲💚


902EB847-063D-4217-AA32-652630E765F6Don’t listen to me.

It’s NOT so elegant after all,
this unraveling.

It’s a mess
and full of grief too deep to hold
but too old to keep
and anger much too sharp to behold

Of course the confusion underneath
scrambles up us like a crab
and we try to keep it down
with endlessly creative distractions
but nonetheless it
pins us with its claws.

The numbest poet in me wants everything beautiful
and that sells but doesn’t get you very far.
Addicted to redemption and the payday,
It’d be better sometimes to remain dumb.

I’m no sun. Not even a moon
Lives in my face
I’m not half the sky I used to be
Or half the dirt I want to be
So please forgive me when I say,
It’s over—
this pooling up and hanging on
to all the small hopes and big.

Lost. Loss. Less.
Utterly. Without.

Ok, Things aren’t ok. But of course,
We can’t say that.

But that doesn’t mean what we think it means.

Go to the corner and collapse.

Oh how long can you hold it back?

Go to the corner and collapse
for gods’ sake

Or if not for them, then for you
And if not for you, then for the birds at dawn or that small secret scrap that finds you in the darkness.

We’re not getting anywhere spinning our wheels in knowing things.

You can always get more. But you can’t stock up on meaning.

We might have to open death cafes
on every street
If life is to return. I don’t see any other way.

All this flooding says
re-learn to cry and give up understanding.

It’s clear I can’t
sell this, can’t even give it away
but It’s not
what we thought.

The unraveling is here
let’s let it move us.

Pray for our eggs to be broken
open by our own consequences
and the stories to hatch
that are worth hatching.

But first stay still
and collapse—
it’s the only sane thing now.

And then….

Breaking the Spell

9BBD0572-1059-487F-8983-84C5D13716CEThe warning bells
take the shape of pain drowning
in the lagoon of her throat.

I’ll squeeze you shut
they seem to say

When the hand is held out
fast and full of nettles

Thinking it means she’ll be brought
once again to the underworld
this time with no chance of escape
to a nice house in the country
with plenty of room in the yard to play.

When did you stop singing?
the old women used to ask
when the younger ones came
to their huts with a sick heart
and a strange illness.

When did the dance leave your precious bones?

For whom do the bells toll? And who put them in there?

Can you dance your way through the canyon of the night
and let the song be your ball of string
to pull you through to spring?

Those old crones are always full of questions
but never answers.

For that, they say, you must sit still at the bottom, beside the big river.

And without a thought,
the dance and the song will once again swim through the ocean of you
and you will know the why of it.

So, she put her ear to the side of the bell,
lent her tears to the flow as well,
it was as if she had broken a spell
singing love songs to herself.