Three Love Lessons

My mother ridiculed me
for cleaving to one pair
of boyish arms
instead of embracing many lightly
and clinging less tightly.
Always more, always less
never enough
she always said.

It took five decades
to learn that my yearning
was as natural and good as heartbeats
‘cause burrowed between
that kind boy’s arms
was the first and only place
I ever felt safe
ever was truly held
ever could fully melt
into gravity.

Her critique
was but a statement
of her own self-hatred;
my elsewhere clinging
an indictment
of her maternal failure.

This is a lie:
“You cannot love someone else
until you love yourself”,
for we are taught to love ourselves
by being loved.

It took me four decades
plus five years
to first know self love,
after clasping dozens of boys
both kind and cruel.
On a high desert ridge
over an ancient valley
during waning summer
I imagined turning
the same adoration and tenderness
that gushed for my dear ones
back upon myself
like a rebellious river.

It was a Revelation
like lightning crackling down
upon Moses’ mythic mountain
I received Divine wisdom
suddenly grasping self love
like a woman having a real orgasm
after 1,000 nights
of hoaxes.

So this time
it only took two months
to realize
there’s a difference
between missing him
and feeling lonely.
I now recognize
I don’t miss what we had
as much as I miss
what we never had
I miss what’s been missing
my entire life.
I’m a lonely child
never truly seen
who studied to be Big
and Impressive,
who practiced having Presence
in Intellect and Form
so she would not evaporate
into the impotent,
dusty air.

I felt cradled
in the arms of a hungry ghost
who wasn’t really there
but it was enough.

I mistook his fickle affection
for love
his calculated walls
for good boundaries
his ambivalent loyalty
for kindness
his lack of stewardship
for whimsy.
I carried his baggage willingly
until their weight slowed my steps
and their rotting contents oozed
onto my shoes.

Our inconsistent joy
and his partial presence
made my long solitude
more bearable
A parched woman stumbling in the desert
needs a sip of water
from time to time.
His oasis quenched me enough
to solider on
alone again
across the dunes again
unable to give up
this yearning
for true gravity —
this searching
for home.

© S. Rinderle, November 2021

Photo: Three Hearts Center, West Allis, WI

I’ve Been Published! Again! (Snapdragon Journal)

Greetings Poetry Fans and Poetry Fam! I’ve just been published … yet again! I’m thrilled to announce that my work appears in the latest issue of Snapdragon: A Journal of Art and Healing. They are a femme-and WOC-led artistic journal I’ve long been a fan of, and after submitting 14 poems over the past 5 years, it finally happened!

Snapdragon comes out quarterly, and each issue has a theme. This year-end issue”s theme is depression/acceptance, and my poem “Silence” is the first up!

snapdragon-2021-cover

I wrote “Silence” in 2013, and many of its sentiments are still true today. If you, too, are living with mental illness — a result of trying to be sane in an insane society, or well in a civilization that profits from illness — you are not alone! I hope you find comfort and connection in my poem and in all the beautiful work in this issue. The journal is not available for free, so please consider purchasing a copy to enjoy, or to gift a friend!

You can read the original poem here.

Thank you for reading, cheering, and caring. Happy holy-days!

Go Where The Love Is

Go where the love is.
Do not hate
the funny shape
that is you.

Contorting yourself
into some twisted turmoil
changes nothing
but your own happiness
proves nothing
but how poorly you regard
your true nature.
They have no right
to dictate or mold
your final form.
They have not earned it.

Remove that stifling mask.
You can’t breathe.
You know better.
Experimentation is for the young.
You’re too grown
for lies
and wasted sunrise.

Know this:
It matters not how you throw the pearls.
Not
how many
how far
to where
or when.
It’s got nothing to do
with your timing, technique,
or delivery.
It’s not you.
The problem
is that they are
swine.

You can shout louder and longer –
they cannot hear you.
Your hoarseness is in vain
for they do not
have ears.

Give up your useless laboring
Drop your arms
Stop striving
Change the channel
Inflate your lungs

Go where the love is.
Stop trying to make them
love you
or make yourself
their type.
Stop insisting
on what they cannot give.
You will fail.

Instead,
Embrace your gorgeous needs
Celebrate your worthy longing
Un-pretzel and re-discover
the sublime shape
that is you.

Go
Where
The Love
Is.

© S. Rinderle, November 2021

Somnambulance

It can’t be saved.
Much of it ain’t worth savin’
anyway.
Most of it
don’t even need us
and would just
be saved if we
simply went away.

We created problems
to give us purpose
when our purpose was already for us
to make food
make love
make art
– that’s all –
the very things
we don’t make time for
need a pill for
say we’re no good for.

Lies we believe
because this imaginary life we lead
ain’t nothin’
but a dream.

© S. Rinderle, November 2021

Sunday morning stroll

Grief is a Sunday morning alley
eerily quiet
in the early light
unclaimed baggies of dog shit
tossed about
overfilled dumpsters
of rejects
empty boxes
piled carelessly
cars parked partially
rocks strewn
from abandoned construction

in the soothing cool.

On Sunday morning
things look so different
from the dark drunken jubilation
of Saturday night.
More can be noticed –
visible dangers
that were missed
sweetness
that was hidden
surprising finds
among the refuse.
The still, quiet aftermath
allows a more balanced assessment
of the chaos.

The mess left by guests
after the party
makes the party no less festive
the guests no less welcome.
Yet we’re better equipped
to notice the toll
on Sunday morning.

Grieving
is like a Sunday morning stroll.
It awakens us
from our previous stupor
sheds a new angle of unfiltered light
on the familiar
introduces us
to new faces
reveals
what is emergent
or was always there
ignored
or once insignificant.

Grief is not a loss of love
but an exchange
of one love for another
the change
still disorienting,
vulnerable and tender.

Like a Sunday morning stroll
for night birds,
grieving shows us
that despite our fatigue
we can rise anyway
we might even find
our favorite fresh delights
more easily.

In fact, we may wonder
despite the difficulty of waking
why
don’t I do this
more often?

© S. Rinderle, September 2021

Legion

It’s not you.
It’s the world.
It placed one more unnecessary straw
on your already-straining back
and you’ve fallen to your knees
in the sneering dust.
Anyone would.

It’s not you.
It’s the vampyrs.
They drank you dry
oblivious of their greed
leaving you
like a spent cicada shell
at season’s end
frozen on a branch
nothing left to give
waiting for the wind
to free your bones.

It’s not you.
It’s the Earth.
She wearies
of our practiced ignorance.
She turns
in her omnipotence
leaving us
to our consequence.

It’s not you.
Those tears are justified.
They announce your humanity.
They proclaim your sanity.
They say:
you’ve carried far more than your share
far longer
than was fair.
You cry
because no one else
is listening.
This empathic holding
is our birthright
yet now so rare
like a verdant island
in an ocean of flame
that once teemed
with life.

It’s not you.
The mobs froze like Mars
while you followed
your natural arc
like Venus.
You were the one that changed
while they flailed
in place.

It’s not you.
This cocooning
– this hiding away –
is your Spirit
yearning
for that which you
utterly need
but too long denied.
You can bear its absence
no longer.

It’s not you.
There’s only so much
one skin
can hold.
Your soul’s trajectory
bursts
at its seams.
But it’s not you.
You are no
solitary aviator.

I mean –
it’s not just you.
You are not crazy.
You are not alone.
We
are waking legion.

© S. Rinderle, October 2021

Most Best Lessons

Tonight
amidst the smoke and flowers
the primal beat and
boozy showers
I ached to tell you
to never doubt
I loved you, and
I love you still
just the way you are:
perfect.

I yearn to connect across the miles
and distance of our goodbye –
I think
maybe
my words might matter,
might make you reconsider.
But if my daily devotion
over hundreds of days
weren’t enough
to make you stay
forsake
those unfinished tatters
that get in our way
surely one call
won’t change
your stubborn mind
or wobbling heart.
I just hate
this you-shaped hollow
between my ribs
that makes all other men
thin paper –
a pale mockery
of our many best moments.

Oh
how do I survive
these whispers and shadows
of what could have been?
This time
I did not imagine
your possibilities –
they teetered on the cusp
of incarnation
but you could find
neither breath nor courage
to lean into the wind
instead
you fell backwards.

I am powerless
against your story.
I cannot
make you see,
cannot make you see
me
and so I cannot see
you.
I see myself
instead.

I cannot face time.
Most best lessons must be learned
the hard way.

© S. Rinderle, October 2021

Fixed & Free Anthology book release! Live reading this Saturday…

Hello Poetry Fans and Fam! Two live readings in one year? I’m on a roll!

Fixed&FreeCover2021_front_smallThe Fixed & Free Poetry Anthology 2021 is out, and we’re having a book release party! I’ll be joining over 80 of the 135 authors (yes, you read those stats correctly!) for a five-hour poetry-a-thon. It will run from 12:00 – 5:00 p.m. Pacific time this Saturday, October 16th, and I read at 2:45 p.m. Pacific. Held monthly since 2008, Fixed and Free is a love child of poet, Renaissance man, and fellow seeker Billy Brown.

Last week I got to visit Billy when I spent a few days back “home” in Albuquerque. It was really delicious to stand in his sunny living room, with this weighty tome in my hand, basking in Billy’s obvious pride in the book, and love for all things poetry and poet community. He has long been a kind and enthusiastic supporter of my work, and as I left, he said my work is “important.” I hope you agree, and I hope you will be inspired to drink up the imagery, emotion and humanity present in my fellow poets’ work — whether at the party, or in the book itself.Billy Brown

For more information, check out the Facebook event, or register on Zoom to join us live.

See you there!

I’ve Been Published (And Again)!

Greetings Poetry Fans and Poetry Fam! I’ve just been published … again! This time, my work will appear in the 2021 Fixed and Free Poetry Anthology.

Both the anthology and the Fixed and Free monthly poetry reading are the long-time labor of love of Albuquerque poet Billy Brown. This book contains some of the best work of the best poets in one of the most poetry-rich geographies in the USA — New Mexico! Fixed&FreeCover2021

I can get you a discounted advance copy of the book for $22.50, which is a 10% discount off the list price of $25. Please let me know ASAP if you want one — this discount expires next week!

The anthology contains three of my pieces: “A Reminder to the Tender Ones”, “Tethered”, and “To The Woman Who Came After Me”. The latter two were hits during my featured reading at Fixed and Free on March 25th.

Please consider buying a copy for yourself, or for a dear one as a holiday gift. I get zero money from the proceeds — your purchase says “YES!” to art and artists during a time when creativity is keeping many of us alive.

Thank you for reading!

Gathering Storm

I sense a gathering storm
just beyond the horizon.

It is the sound of a million voices roaring
when the hands clamped over honest mouths
and oppressed throats
are clawed away.
It is the flavor of salty tears flowing
when unconscious blindfolds are torn off
and the frozen stiffness of terror
melts and moves again.
It is the color of crimson blood gushing
when the hands that clutch our intimate bleeding
cease their protective duty
and transform from shameful stoppers
into fighting fists, upraised.

This storm is a tidal wave of fire
one hundred miles high.
It is the momentum
of a seismic shift
birthed miles beneath the crust
gathering for hundreds of years.

I see the orange glow simmering
just beyond the dawn.
This is not the smolder of cooling embers
left in the pit after a night
of laughter and story.
It is the blaze of ignited torches
held aloft by growing legions
spanning east to west.

This storm is inevitable as sunrise.
As unavoidable as the earth’s turning.
For so much rage, blood and tears
cannot be stifled forever.

This tidal wave of flame,
this crescendo scream of justice and history
bodes inevitable destruction
as certain as havoc wrought
by a crumbling dam
heaving before the weight
of the surging river.

Yet after such great suffering
so long dismissed
such necessary reckoning
so long denied
this spasm of righteous retribution
threatens to burn more than the guilty.
This maelstrom of justice
violent pendulum swinging
threatens to torch more than the perpetrators.

As the rapists and torturers, liars and thieves, slavers and schemers
are pulled from their castles and beds
burned at the stake in the square
or banished to the punishing wilderness,
so are the suckling infants and young mothers,
orphaned youth and awkward fieldhands
turned to charcoal
in the blaze.

I wish
that we could save the goodness
and preserve hard-won wisdom
amidst the tempest.
I wish
that we might protect
the old growth trees
wild game
abundant meadows
and industrious mammals
from the inferno,
for blackened hillsides recover more quickly
when roots and seeds
are left to the soil.

But alas, I fear
too much time has passed
and the torches will not become embers
until all is ash
and ruin.

© S. Rinderle, June 2021