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

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

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

Terminal

This is the end.
No more arriving
No more striving
It’s irrelevant and futile.
This life now
was the destination.
It’s not a layover.
I will never be a rock star
Never birth a child
The man I truly crave
is not produced
by this culture.
I cannot make a living
doing what I truly love.
How sweet
these lowered expectations.
How precious
this humbled bar.
What welcome relief.
Once I accept
we all have a terminal illness
and today
is tomorrow’s memory
of better times
so much is forgiven
so little wasted
and good enough
becomes perfection.

© S. Rinderle, December 2020

Transient Amnesia

I have been away from God
for far too long.
I’ve been preoccupied
with the adamant hammering next door
and arrogant spreadsheets.
With putting every name
with its dates
and getting the colors right.

I’ve been worried
about the stickiness of my cells
the texture of my arteries
the numbers on my report
and the velocity of the grains
slipping downward
in the sand timer of my life.

These are the whiny problems
of the privileged elite
yet still they vex and torment.
Such is the amusing, noble struggle
of the human animal.
We suffer and thrive.

I’ve failed to notice
the droplets of sweat on my furrowed brow
that seeped out when I went down
for the mail,
failed to heed
the scent of rosemary
left behind on my aching hand
when I parted its piney leaves
to liberate a sneaky weed.

I’ve forgotten
the natural wave of my hair
still flows and rolls like the ocean
the sparkle of my olive-bronze eyes
still ignites faded heartfires
the curve of my soft waist
still delights my lover.

I almost forgot
that almost everything
is more infinitely vast
than almost everything
that plagues my puny mind.

I almost believed
that I was in charge
that I alone grasp the helm’s wheel
that the world
depends on me
that my life
is exclusively my own.

I almost forgot
because I was away from God
for far too long
but She
was always there
inviting me to cross
the threshold
and rejoin Her at the hearth
of Truth.

Once again
I remember reality.
Once again
I am home.

© S. Rinderle, 9/5/20

Priorities

I reached into the closet of my heart
pulled loneliness off the rack
deep in back
and tried it on for size.

Months had lapsed
since I’d last worn loneliness.
I’d forgotten how heavy it sags,
how it weighs me down
like a woolen sweater underwater.
How it erodes my nerves
like an unrelenting
inaudible hum.
How it colors all my doings with apathy
and stupor.

Loneliness makes me doubt.
It whispers:
What’s the point of anything
if you have no one
you can tell your story?

I’d forgotten
the most important condition
for survival
is some measure
of knowing.
I cannot wander aimlessly
like a wolf in barren winter
with no sign
of my next morsel.

The sky is too cloudy.
The darkness too quiet.
Hundreds of needly teeth
gnaw my insides.
Time suspends in silence
like the interior of a
white, unfurnished cube
where the walls, floor and ceiling
melt together.
Its sinister void
unnerves me.

Yet bravely I whisper:
Of what use is this pristine, empty space
if not to welcome the
unpredictable chaos
of another’s personhood?

I was willing to give up certainty
and perfection
for a kiss.

I guess
I still am.

© S. Rinderle, June 2020