Your Proper Place

Do not pull
on the planties.
Allow tender shoots
to emerge from the earth’s shell
in time.
Trying to hasten growth
destroys the roots,
kills what might be.

Sprouting life
has its own pace
you cannot dictate.
This is as real
as it gets.
This is the stuff
of soul
not nonsense.
Not
mechanical cogs
and turning wheels
ticker tape
mahogany panels
pointing arrows
and blue screens
in the dark.

Do not pull
on the planties.
You cannot hurry
what is out of your hands.
You may coax
coerce
or rage
it matters not.
You may stare
fret
or plead
the soil is deaf
to your preferences
the budding kernel numb
to your rhythm
the delicate roots blind
to your furrowed brow
your urgency
irrelevant.

Do not confuse yourself
with the sun.
Do not overestimate
your power.
Know your proper place
in the Mysterious weaving
of Life.

Water, space and time
Water, space and time
and protection from pestilence
is all anything ever needs
to thrive.

© S. Rinderle, 4/14/20

Dolphin Rider

Dolphin Rider
I stand
left foot in the canoe
right one
on the backs
of living torpedoes.

I can fall at any time.
I have no control
yet a pulsing
in your salty blood
and stable skin
brings me calm
for you know me
and sense me.
I’m not alone.

We are not equals.
This is your dominion
since before
my time
you have ruled the waves
before I knew you were there
or that I needed you
since before I learned
these waters
were home.

My canoe is falling apart
not for failure
it’s simply time
like the cocoon
ends its watch
over the brewing butterfly
or the bud resigns
to allow the petals’
expanding.

My right foot grows
melting
like shimmering wax
spreading
like turquoise roots
my toes sprout webs
that bond to the back
of my aquamarine steed.

I straddle two worlds
oblivious to the destination
conscious of the danger
but unafraid
Soon I will shift

I slowly straighten my spine
as my footing steadies
This is all I must do
at 50 miles per hour
I raise my arms
like feathered sails
lift my courageous chin
into the wind
fix my softened gaze
on the blue horizon
close my eyes
and breathe
through my smile.

© S. Rinderle, 4/4/20

Tethered

You make cigarette smoke
tasty
drunken nights sacred
and faith justified.

You give me space for anger
my insistence on lies
wrapped around
your awkward truth.

Your long, sinewy arms
have been there all along
snug
around my torso
as my entire ribcage
breathes.

Your long, sturdy legs
hold you up
as you navigate a treacherous world
uncertain
yet they always
bring you back.

You are a love in slow motion
a benign hurricane
that took months to build.
I didn’t know you were coming
but I see there’s no need
to board up my windows.

I want to bury myself in your hair
not like a schoolgirl
nor a mother —
like a she-wolf in a meadow
splayed out in the sun.
Somehow you always
smell like home.

I never thought
you’d say yes
never thought you’d say
you missed me
ten minutes after you left
Never thought
you missed me at all.

I could bask
in your amber eyes
for days
not getting lost
but being found.
This is not worship –
it’s grace
we meet halfway
in the space
between.
There’s always something
to say.

You make the distasteful
tolerable
traits I loathe elsewhere
I adore in you
not because I’ve abandoned myself
but because you make it worth it.
I will spend
one of my remaining heartaches
on you.

You require no collar
or leash.
No matter where you go
or how far you wander
we’re already tethered
at the heart.

© S. Rinderle, 4/4/20

The Matrix

It’s all wrong
From this box I dwell in alone
to the manicured trees outside
this square in the wall filled with glass
it’s all wrong
from this metal vessel in my hand
filled with water I purchased
with a plastic rectangle,
to the existence of elevators
it’s all wrong

From the orchids blooming indoors
in winter
to this war paint on my face
to this garment restricting my torso
spun from ancient carcasses
it’s all wrong
from conversations over wires
with humans
in distant time zones
I will never meet
to this bread I eat
cultivated afar by strangers
processed in a pristine factory
by exhausted hands
it’s all wrong

From the endless stories
told in smarmy shouts on flat screens
everywhere
to the flat screens themselves
it’s all wrong
from the arrogant machines
that count the movement of the sun
to the impossible demands
that govern time
to the very existence of minutes
it’s all wrong.

This endless panic
and crippling loneliness
are the only things that are right.
They are the sane responses
when everything is wrong
though they claim
our very lives.

Sapiens took a wrong turn
eons ago
but I am trapped here
in a fragile time capsule
silently screaming
into the inky void.
I’ve woken in a pod of liquid
disconnected from the lie
surrounded by sleeping forms
as far as my eye can reach.
I cannot regurgitate
the red pill.

This is not progress
It’s all wrong
This time
there is no happy ending.
Yet I would gladly give my life
to save this shimmering planet
from me.

© S. Rinderle, February 2020

Pinocchio

I hate a liar
because he insults my intelligence
His lie says
I am smarter than you
You’re too stupid
to question a story with major plot holes
too stupid
to seek out easily available facts
and vet a story that makes no sense.
He says
you’re too stupid
to believe your own eyes.

I hate a liar
because he’s controlling
His lie says
my fantasy is more important
than your reality.
He says
I don’t trust you with truth
because that makes us equal
so I will limit your access to all the data.
He says
I will make your choices for you
I will create a reality for us
that is most convenient
for me.

I hate a liar
because he’s disrespectful
His lie says
my needs are more important than yours
my power more precious
than your sovereignty.
He says
I will write and direct our story
your version is irrelevant.

I hate a liar
because he’s a coward

His lie says
I am ruled by fear
I’m afraid of what you’d do
if you knew the truth
I’m afraid of you
I am more marionette than man
I am a lonely, self-hating
king of a castle built on stilts
in quicksand.

A liar says
he’s not a liar
He says
he was scared
says you made him lie
He says
it was just this one time.
He lies.

The liar always has reasons
but none of them
matter more than his abuse
of your confidence.
“Liar” is a label
that doesn’t require 100% compliance
Rapists don’t rape
every person they meet
Murderers don’t murder
every day
most only kill
just that one time.

Fragile wooden boy
that was one time too many
and now I see you.
I may linger
but I’m no longer deceived
I’m awake
and now I know
I’m real.

© S. Rinderle, February 2020

Echo

You remind me of someone
I’ve never met
like a memory
I can’t fully recall
that makes me question
whether it was lived
at all.

He is elusive like mist
that fogs my vision
but avoids my grasp
dissolving with every advancing step.
He is evasive like an echo
that beckons
but fades
as soon as I reach the place
where I heard his voice
calling me.

My phantom groom,
you are compelling and necessary
like gravity
so I wander in search of your soul
pulling the masks off promising strangers
looking for your eyes
shouting:
Yes! This is Him!
I recognize this feeling!
I think:
Finally!
At last
I can put down my walking stick
remove my own mask
and rest
entwined with my beloved
at our wedding hearth.

Yet after a few drinks and dreams
I realize
he is not you
and I cannot make him be.

But that one fleeting taste
so exquisite
the waiting so eternal
I simply cannot return
to death
and hollowness
so I cling
to hopelessness
pretending I can live
without you
pretending I can live
on these sorry scraps.

I seek their embrace
out of loneliness
but I know it’s just an oasis
in the desert of your absence.

My Love,
I have been away from home
far too long.
Please recall me
from exile
for I cannot find you here
and my arms weary
of trying to hold space
around your constant
and inexplicable
void.

© S. Rinderle, Feb 2019 – Jan 2020

Impact*

She holds the weary head
of her spent Little One
saying – Welcome Home
This bosom is for your nourishment and relief
I am Mother Bobcat
the Watcher in the Tower
my golden eye fixing
to protect, not prey.
You can enter
You can rest
I’ve left the front door open
for you.

Come, I will drape a gossamer veil of calm
like a floral shroud
over your pyramid body
covering your living, yet still-vigilant brow.
Let us cocoon in safety
Let us camp here for the night
Let us build a blanket fort
buttressed by bricks
that have stood for a thousand years.

The chaos is now a dream
of broken spoons and vessels
a ruin of daily domesticity
order and routine
shattered and still
yet haunted by a crouching oil spill
an iridescent echo of what was
a hovering reminder
of what might have been
the Angel at the Moment of Impact.

Push off from the sides now
with your muscular thighs
Float up, up towards the north
Float back to the horizon
where the meerkat watches with patient calm
He will hold vigil
He will sit shivah
under the amber eye of the predator
that looks to tomorrow
for today is a truce
Today there will be no more violence.

Rise up when you are ready
Rise up from the frozen ground
Witness the torchbearer
relight the flame
in your outstretched mandala’ed hand
Carry it forth once again from your tomb
to light the way
towards a firey dawn
leaving a trail
we can follow
and build upon.

© S. Rinderle, 2020

** NOTE: This poem was inspired by the incredible art at the top of this page, which was created by my artist sister Nancy Alder in response to a serious car accident she experienced in December. You can see more of her work at Innerwoven, or purchase her creations on Etsy.

Resolution

I am resolved to sweetness
to waiting for what’s next
to being pliable like bamboo
to dropping the oars

I am resolved to look Beloved in the eyes
to soften my gaze
to allow the rattling sabers
and mushroom clouds
to pass through me
like the rainbow prism
passes through glass

I am resolved to wait like stone
cool at night then warming with the sun
discerning between those who can
and those who can’t,
letting them go

I am resolved to soften my shoulders
as well as my resolve
letting everything in
but keeping only jewels
relishing the long loneliness
in between.

© S. Rinderle, 12-17-19

Structured Perspective

I want to look at old people
the way I look at old buildings
I want to remember
they weren’t made this way
Windows weren’t always dull and broken
Eyes not always vacant and cloudy
Walls weren’t always chipped and faded
Skin not always flaking and bent
Grounds weren’t always
littered, cracked and overgrown
Life not always wild and untidy

Maintenance takes time and effort
A newly painted surface requires little care
like the fresh, plump cheeks of childhood
With the passage of time
routine becomes major renovation
and likewise
Yet it doesn’t have to be

Old buildings and old people
aren’t what they once were
But why must they be viewed as ruin?
Broken windows frame playtime for birds
Peeling paint invites light
and awe of texture
Hooded, flecked eyes
twinkle in remembrance
and flash with insight
Wrinkled faces
declare the accumulation
of deep thoughts
and thousands of repeated smiles.

Time is an unmatched artist
Sculpting all structures
shifting perspective
For all life is meant to be
wild and untidy.

© S. Rinderle, May 2015, Cinque Terre, Italy

Shards

I don’t know how to be
among so much brokenness.
I have the hands of a healer,
the eyes of a fixer.
There are too many that need healing
too many that worship
the brokenness
obediently inhaling toxic fumes
they mistake for air.

I’m not accustomed
to lying down on broken glass.
I set about with my broom
and my glue
because I was born this way.
I still believe in wholeness,
still covet purpose
but the mob rolls their eyes
at what mine can see
waving away my glue and salve
calling them futility
even as they ask me
to heal and fix
their brokenness

while
they
keep
breaking things.

I know I should adapt.
It would be easier
if I could learn
to whirl and thrash
amidst the chaos
as they do.
It’s not my principles
it’s my programming
I simply cannot get comfortable
among these shards
and twisted metal.

I love softness and green.
I crave slow quiet
in my cells.
I’m convinced they are possible
and I am worthy.

I’ve given up
on finding the edge
of this rusting decay.
I suspect this crumbling
is the world now.
Dread and déjà vu
slow my steps,
for I know how
this movie ends.

But I still don’t know how to be
among so much brokenness.

Perhaps
if I can just
sweep a clear, smooth patch
to claim as my own
away from the mob
I’ll be able to lie down
rest
and survey the terrain.
Perhaps I’ll find others
truly weary of the brokenness
or a path leading out
of this shatter zone
where
my hands
and my eyes
can find a new home.

© S. Rinderle, October 2018