Nothing Between You and the Song of Dawn

oak rootsSometimes the storm comes
to reclaim the things only borrowed

and washes the ground
from under your feet

that cold night took one leg
and the river took another

until half your roots
sailed to sea

yet you flourish deliciously
picking up rocks with your toes

and let birds play
in your time-worn beard

nothing will come between
you and the song of dawn

for you have a contract
with the world of change

swirling and opening
opening and swirling skyward

gnarled knuckles bowing to earth
fingers caressing the sky


What the Whole World is Trying to Be

creek reflection2With this hand I touched
the skin of a madam madrone
silky red winter blush
bending springward
through the fog

And with this hand
I reached into the water
cold with the taste of seasons
and scooped the mud
that had waited all year
to feel my face

A lavender whistle
petaled into me
like a feather
from an unseen canopy

and as the bright syllables of the dawn
uttered themselves
deliciously into my ear

someone who had my hands
became a mud person
unlocking an image within

The great tree awoke
remembering a dream:

that it had been a man
standing on the banks of a creek
one hand on a madrone
the other full of mud

and wondered at having five-twigged
hands and moving so quickly
from rock to rock

Then, shaking this strange image
from its limbs
got up and stretched, saying,

“I am what the whole world is trying to be”

and washed its face
in the morning mist

—Ryan Van Lenning, Forest Poet

It Gives One Ideas

plum blossomsHere you can laugh in February

the unexpected is to be expected

a midnight creature leaves
bay nuts for you
and the creek is singing for its supper

woodpeckers and owls
tell you what time it is
but what about the new birds
that weren’t here in dark December?

You might think that February
is dreaming spring,
the equinox on her mind.

It’s easy enough to do

but not to get ahead of ourselves
is a good morning task—
February is dreaming February

The season is laughing stinging nettles
and sticky monkeys

the month is grinning meadow flowers
as pink ox eyes at dawn

and yes, a yellow saluting
affirmation of the still slanting sun
inching higher in the sky
day by day by day
like a toddler learning to stand

urging the arroyo willow
and wild currants
to see who can bud best
by the end of the month

and I’m not opposed to opening
my sun-starved belly
to it all

skin smiling wildly
with mild stone fruit
freely singing its scent
into the canyon breeze



like only this season can
see it while you can:
a one-tree performance
of White Petal Extravaganza

as the western wind applauds
and kicks his heels up
to play the eucalyptus
like a harp
and runs his fingers through
Monterey’s long pine hair
when he really gets aroused

and they seem to like being tickled
in that way
letting out a moan
now and again

as if stretching for the first time

it gives one ideas
on a February morning
here in the nearby faraway

which is not unlike a thousand other mornings
that have come before
and will come after

but it is

-Ryan Van Lenning

Photo Credit: Diane Dew Photography

Bare Bones

bare tree at dawnYour flashy garments gone
And stripped austere you stand
Thrust extravagant your eager hands
In splashing persimmon-dawn.

Who but you owns your bones?
None other than sips your roots
Or with delicate fingers caress
The moments eternity loans.

Be not impatient for the buds
That flow from your marrow blood
But revel in your naked form
In the season’s quiet flood.

Believe in your bones sincere
In quiet unadornéd dance
Who you are in winter
Is who you are all year.

Today in Fall Foraging News

IMG_6546So many treasures today:

72 walnuts (and a gorgeous red leaf Walnut tree)
Two tarps for winterizing
a giant Monterey pine cone as big as my head
a creek still flowing
an apple tree by the old fire station
a milk crate
coyote scat
a maple bush (that’s what I call it)
an Alameda striped racer snake
a new secret spot under….(wait, I can’t say)
a Mir-hug
a katieface
and 4-5 poems, some of them keepers