The Theology of Laughter at the End of the Day

7ED966B3-14DB-4197-91FB-29EDCB2EC255Pay attention to the kernel
of your ache

the one coiled up inside
all the others
like a rattlesnake
hidden in the tall grass

Don’t mistake that for something
you have to kill
and dump in the ditch somewhere

Even if you left it there
it will find a way back to you

until you see it for the catapult it is
swinging you to the other side
of the water
the pit
the desert and the dark night

When you get there it’ll still be there

But it’ll have a different look in its eyes
gleaming and knowing
eager like dawn
calm like midnight

and so will you

Like your head on the pillow
of a Magellanic Cloud
a wound unwound
a jaw unclenched

dancing with
the tail of the rattlesnake
in one hand
the hand of the center
in the other


I Stayed Late

floating rootsI stayed late.

Yes, I wanted to see.

To see what would happen
once the sun went down

The same thing always happens
when you wait too long to leave—

things disappear
silhouettes emerge
and a cunning dark delivers up slices
of woolly silent parts
that now have something to talk to

or at least echo pulsingly

inside their own crooked canyons

as you trip over roots
because your feet forgot their eyes

and eventually it comes up again
but you wonder if a conversation ever happened

memories like papercuts

eventually it comes up again
but never exactly where you think

and never shining
on the same you
that is never exactly what you think

I wanted to see.


(Image: Source)

Awake to Wings – Eight Spring Haiku

lake2At morning and dusk
scooping up their breakfast bugs—
these madcap martins

At the water’s edge
a family of seven ducks—
bedtime is at nine

Playing hide and seek
the kids roam from shore to shore
yelling for their dog

Silhouetted lake
has spring swallows dancing to
ukulele songs

Blue wings, white bellies—
thrill-seeker aerialists
enjoy the sunset

June on the water
swallows and shadows swaying
in the evening breeze

Wood rat scurries in
picking up after picnics
at the city lake

Schedule for the month:
mallards morning exercise
I awake to wings

Windowing Into Our Turquoised Truth

IMG_1452This poem is not efficient
nor convenient
and won’t make things easier for us

It’s doubtful it will get anything done
and it’s not going to fit
into a Saturday night gown
of 144 characters

or inspire us in the half a second
it takes to scroll past its first line
against a Lo-Fi filtered sky

The end is built into it,
like everything
but we’ll have to follow the thread to get there
like Theseus
who we can be forgiven for not knowing
because he hasn’t yet been played
by a well-muscled blonde Brit in the theaters

but whom we might resemble/play/admire
being so lost in a dark cavern
we haven’t noticed yet
and we’re not even looking for a way out

There may be a moment when time slows down
just enough when the incessant filling in
the incessant filling in
the incessant filling in

takes a sacred pause

and the gap looks like a giant darkness
windowing into our turquoised truth
but we mistake as holy terror

instead of our holy caduceus

We could try to google the meaning of this poem

Maybe the poem itself is the *clew
one might follow to escape
the cave we didn’t know we were in

but not without first looking the monsters in the eye

The sunset here
is made up of a hundred wide-winged birds
that fly down the horizon
of our thought sinking slyly

into the space between that
and the other thing
flying between them undetected
and unanticipated
not unlike a red coyote at dusk

who might just be the one
who brings the sun back too
plucked from the head of the monster.

*clew = ball of thread. This old English word shares a root with Sanskrit, glauḥ, meaning lump.

–Ryan Van Lenning

Dream a Constellation Together

IMG_8833Tell me, do they have lavender sunsets
in the land where you live?

Was there a river in your childhood
that flows through your dreams?

Shall we fight over which river is better
and who owns the sun?

Or shall we tell stories
around the fire

and balance our souls along the banks
while the day is pulling her shades down

and the stars that no one knows
begin to dot our mutual horizon?

Perhaps someday we will dream
a constellation together

and it will matter not
whether I call it the Great Blue Heron

or you call it the Giant Spruce
or our sister calls it the Goddess Ostara

for in that day,
the sun will shine on us both

and the stars will guide our nights
filled with better tales

The Last Poem of The Last Poet

IMG_0436In the way summer never catches up with fall
and fall never catches winter,
and spring is a dream of winter
that winter never lives

In the way that
each unfolds an invisible season
from within,
she went up to unfold herself
into the mountain
one last time

to paint the sunset of her life
with words of affirmation

and share some unadorned moments
where the sky has eyes
and the rocks breathe fathomlessly.

She felt the lichen on her skin
before she saw them

arching her bare back against
a great granite boulder
bronzed belly
sipping the autumn sun

“There were so many I never got to,”
she whispered into the mountain’s ear.

“All my ahitas, the little aha moments
and sounds begun but never sung
barely sketches, mere glimpse of notes
could not be caught, will not be rung.”

“A title is all they have.

A memory of a True Account of a Conversation with a Worm
Got her musing about the Secret Chord
that the Sun-Eater plays, always
One Shore Beyond Desire
in his Wounded Vision
Drinking Water From A Wooden Bowl
Until the Bright Logic Is Won
and the Carefully Calculated Collapse
evokes all the Sextillions of Infidels
and we shall all be Moderately Immortal.”

“Perhaps a future poet
will find them scattered on this mountain
and make of them what I could not.”

From below in the mist
it had all looked so grey,

But now, above the clouds
atop Mt. Parnassus
there was nothing that was not
overflowing with color
there was nothing that was not

Including the splendid cerulean Sierra sky.

“What a great word,” she thought,
as sun bent seaward.

Turning her body over in wide embrace
her cheek pressed softly
against the hard rock
warm from late afternoon
flecked with silver, green, and pink
like stars trapped within.

“The moments I fully met are enough.”

Her breathing slowed
to match the mountain
inhaling and exhaling
in the marrow of her bones

“All is sound and color and texture,
a great coming together
and pulling apart
when we come to this place.

Have I been brave enough to feel it all?”

The great western eye closed its lid
as it sunk into an unseen sea

and with a tremendous sigh of love over fear,
she too closed her lids
lending her final syllable to the Deep Breath.