The Flashes Buried Here

2CC49FE5-E6ED-44F1-B17A-E0D70ED16A01There are flashes buried here
in the hot sand of this poem

Some are mirages
others are mirrors

Who put them there
is not for us to know

Some say it’s not a place
for people to dwell

but sometimes you must
cross the desert
to find your freedom sunrise

even though it’s been shining through that
ache within an ache
the whole time

If the rabbit has it
and the sagebrush is lush
and the moon shower
brings the cactus flower

you have no right
to just lie down
and bury your feet

What if the cactus
abandoned the moon
before it’s bloom had bloomed?

How would the bat makes his way?

So keep walking
Keep drinking in what feeds you
Keep gathering the shimmerings

buried beneath your feet

Some are mirages
some are mirrors
and some are red-hot miracles
awaiting the eye of your heart


How To Disappear Into the River

ED3EB96A-5C81-4996-AF32-893A06A7DF43I don’t wanna see the river
I don’t wanna even tell you about it

I wanna drink myself so far into it
I stop making sense
because I breathe it
from the inside out
sucking down the mountaintop
and spitting into the sea

squeaking like a swallow
until a flock of rocks falls
out of my banks
and something in me hears the shoreline giggle—

did she mean to touch up against me like that?

Catch the light, carry the wind
test the world’s ear

rewrite the land
with my side-winding snake of a thousand hearts

not delicate, but deluge
not going somewhere new
but creating somewhere new

Growing the fish and fisherwoman
the poet pelican otter man
inside my river womb
Abraq ad habra

Swim in me—
I’ll drown you safely
to the other side

I chant river forever forever
not to show off for the water birds
though yes that too
but because I’m full
and overflowing

I sing wet my wild
singing yet the while
Forever foriver
Singing river river

Until these wicked words
in the slow of deep July
and I with them
into the flow

-Ryan Van Lenning

Your Dewdrop Desire

4711150E-7631-4EFF-BFB9-7731312B1444Don’t make the mistake of believing your dewdrop desire is different than the tide—
sometimes high 
sometimes low
yet always showing up 

Without it how would 
the birds and the shoreline 
feed themselves?

How would the world continue to be created?

Don’t be fooled into thinking
your red raw art 
or that sunbow wow on your face 
are any different than egret wings
flapping into the new moon

Ok, if you came at it sideways
with a Crab-eye-point-of-view 
the doorways do look different

They might appear as pockets of mud 
waiting for your thirsty feet
even if you bring your shell 
far into the day

But certainly don’t make the mistake of thinking 
your feet are different than your fathomless heart
deep as the memory of the sea

Of Wind and Water

IMG_2122It’s surprising how little gets
done without them—
just try dancing without the dark blood
of the earth
coming up through your bones
as red sea water

or the rivers of wind
warmed by the sun
snaking through you

The wind carries its own center
with it across the miles
adding a ring with each breath

it is always en route
sparking conversations
with skin and scale
leaf and litter

When you think you’ve arrived
ask the wind and the water

When you know you haven’t arrived
and the labyrinth seems too big
ask the wind and the water

they are the peacekeeper
and the destroyer
the life-giver and the blood of the big body
the crack in the bell
the crack in the ego

The weight and the lack of it
draw them through the endless cycle

to ask where it begins
misses the point

not the hydrogen
nor oxygen
but the bond that brings
the thousand forms

the kind of bond you want
when you want to have a dialogue
about the shape of things
when you want to bring soul to the world

when you want introduce the sea to the mountain
to offer parts of yourself
you haven’t seen in years
to the parts you haven’t even met

the parts of yourself
you thought were a virus
so you fought them off
like a valiant, but confused soldier

thinking that it’s best to be safe
you forgot that nothing is outside
the circle

thinking for a moment you were
not the same center as the wind
you forgot the thundering imperative
of your audacious bodies

all of them
and the free bond that breathes you
in and out
in and out
carries its own center
at the edge of things

Legend of River Woman

IMG_1103She stepped out on the back
of the night
shining the lending

no one knows what calls her out
dressed in flowing gown
of sky black and mountain blue memories

the sea?
the moon?
the play of her own flow?

A legend was born on the river
on the face of the wet rocks
blushing the white kiss of the moon

in the hour of birth
before the birds break
their succulent silence

and in her crawling
the river crawls

and in her drifting
the world drifts
across the wakening land

Heron is her first—
he knows without talking

the legend born here
before the humans came

owl heard it from jackrabbit
who heard it from mallard
who was told by a furry friend
of otter’s who knew heron’s sister
the red-cheeked merganser

they heard it because they too
were born of the legend
and it flowed like ripples in her gown
a silver memory over the land

the river and the spirit of the river

the one within its banks
the other at the tip of the leaf

the tongue of the otter sipping
the sun drying the feathers of the cormorant

and the kiss of the wind
inside you

one flows around these rocks
the other flows as the rocks

swirl of the swallow
shape of the soul

the legend continues