Kneel for Your Mugwort Blessing

IMG_8932Here’s the final installment of my winter Haiku series! (technically a few days overdue, as Spring Equinox was Tuesday). My goal was a total of 107 Forest Haikus. I achieved it and added one more for a total of 108. Some of you may know the significance of the number. (See the others haikus in the series: Plum Blossom Blankets, Skinny Dipping Water, 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)

Me and Ms. Otter
surprising one another
in the morning fog

Sunday morning church:
kneel for mugwort blessings
as turkeys sing hymns

Jackrabbits jumping
during their morning commute
no time for hellos

A pair of mule deer
eating the forest buffet
from sunrise to dusk

Egret flying by
when I open my tent door—
sure beats traffic jams

Final winter rain
spiders think my bed’s a raft
to float into spring

Last day of winter
an island in the river
sweet swallows swerving

Water’s edge at dawn
the fog and great blue heron
sipping life slowly

Hummingbird hovers
in a cerulean sky
chirping for the moon

Because words are food
chew on them and let them roll
around in your mouth

Spring arrives with rain
someone left their antlers out—
their head must be cold

Nearby faraway—
where the seasons still dance for
all our relatives

Last day of winter
geese are honking up a storm
for a midnight snack

From first light to dusk
back and forth and back again
geese fly the river

When Quiet is Queen
Winter speaks undying love
in her holy ear

Water’s edge at dawn
a river otter splashes
cold spring on his face

—Ryan Van Lenning


Eyes of Dawn and Dew

dew drop eyesWho closed your morning eyes
your eyes of dawn and dew?
Irises once bold and bright
have lost their lustrous hue

Once you loved the rainbow show
and felt that windy song
then you drank the grey-blue sea
and your gaze drifted on

Was it that grey bird of prey, they say,
who feasted upon your sight?
Or was it she, the heavy, weary thing,
that rides you through the night?

I’ve heard a tale of fancy
I don’t know if it’s truth or lie
of water running pure and fine
that’ll heal such wounded eyes

It’s found beyond the rush and roar
in the Nearby Faraway
amidst a grove of sacred trees
it flows there every day

they say to dip your eyes right in,
wash your head in waters cold
and if you’re bold enough, get in
and dunk your dusty soul

You eyes of dawn and dew return
their colors will resurrect
your morning eyes will brightly burn
one of many effects

but most of all, what happens next
a mystery at its best,
behind the breastbone, beneath the eyes
a brilliance builds its nest

Can one believe such a fable?
it sounds too good to be true
but just in case, seek the place
perhaps it will be proved



The Song a New Creek Sings

cosmic creek

Studying texts and stiff meditation can make you lose your Original Mind.
A solitary tune by a fisherman, though, can be an invaluable treasure.

From the world of passions returning to the world of passions:
There is a moment’s pause.
If it rains, let it rain, if the wind blows, let it blow.
-Ikkyu, 15th Century Japanese Zen Buddhist monk & poet

Already dreaming of sea and soil
this gifted fluent flow
appears overnight
beside my sodded hut–
a wink in time

Already dreaming of roots and return
it assumes a virtue
washing the forest clean
of all the detritus left behind
by fall’s decay

yet creating more
resurrecting autumn’s handful of dust
as muddy munificence

telling a tale en route
of things that happened long ago

no different than
what is happening right now

its ancient dialect
chimes a melody
difficult to hear
with the labyrinthine ears
of us civilized men
used to thick and soupy din

it is the sound of light pouring
from eternal efflux
cracked effulgent
from the dark

the cosmic diapason
silvery sacred symphony

tearing towards the big sea
at play with and as
the proliferous multitudes

first, in thicker accent, rushing, roaring
then, in thinner accent, whispering, warbling

back and forth and in between

the bushbird hears it, and hums harmony
the oak hears it, and lifts a greeny bough
the happy slug hears it, slimes its melodic march
the newt hears it, a pilgrim by its meter

they’ve washed their ears clean with it
it’s why they can sing along

Knock on the Moon (Full Moon #6)

IMG_4305Once more I step into the sky
and knock on the moon:

“Knock Knock.”

“Anybody home?”

“Would you like to come out and play?”

No answer

Turns out there’s no door on the moon
Number of entry points: zero
Only craters that masquerade as doors

the moon is a unified solid mass
a moving mystery
who reveals herself in phases

And bereft of water

That’s what the earth is for
and why it is misnamed:
should be called Planet Water

Do you ever wonder what would happen if
some stray drop of water
from an earthbound tide
would be drawn to orbit
and slowly seep into a tiny crack in the surface
and find its way downward
into the heart of the moon?

where a memory of that ancient collision
remains buried in the bones of her lunar body
that awful planetary cataclysm that birthed her
and split the primordial union with her mother?

It’s amazing how long a hard rock
can go without water

It’s amazing what water can do
given enough time

For now, a crater is as deep as one can go
with no doorways to knock upon

And Still the Water Flows

IMG_4060From an unknown woody hill
a dark and twisting path did call
there I met a stranger creek
and soon I found myself enthralled

the creek Islais was once a’wild
until they forced its flow below
now it is but meek and mild
a shadow of its former glow

They paved and pushed and shoved it down
until the water nearly drowned
piled beneath a culture’s demand
for squares and all the well-laid plans

Yet still a trickle flows
and yet the yellow warbler sings
and still the wild willows grow
with other mysterious things

Yet still the water flows
from a source within the earth
no concrete or willful act
can prevent it from giving birth

(I found myself wondering/wandering and found a creek. What nature and soul want don’t always align with what ego or culture or practicality demands-yet might need. We can bury the currents, but they will find a way to the surface.)

They Circulate Through You

img_3010Sometimes all you need
Is the blessing of
Of the February full moon

Giving a sermon on change
and powerful secret things

Adopted by your heart
They circulate through you

even when the clouds conspire
To play hide and seek

Sometimes all you need
is marmalade marshmallow sunrise
Or an impossible dawn

To circulate through you
Like a solar system jamboree

Sometimes all you need
Is the crisp  mountain breath
the living wild offspring
Of a million Manzanitas
and unending oak and pine

Adopted by your blood
They circulate through you

Sometimes all you need
are the succulent sounds of water gliding and gulping over glistening rocks at the muddy creek

As a reminder of flowing things
That circulate through you