I’ve Been Published (Again)!

Greetings Poetry Fans and Poetry Fam! Guess what?

It’s been five years sinwe don't break we burnce my work was last published in non-electronic form, so I’m pleased to announce that the much-anticipated anthology We Don’t Break, We Burn: Poems of Resilience is now out!

Edited by my uber-talented poetry brother Zachary Kluckman of Albuquerque, it features some of the best poets in the region, writing about a very timely topic — resilience. My piece, “Impact” was inspired by one of my sister Nancy Alder’s stunning art pieces, created after a serious car accident almost one year ago.

Please support Zack, MindWell Poetry and the artists by purchasing a copy for yourself or a loved one on Amazon. With only $13 you can vote “yes” to the necessary beauty and insight that only art can provide.

Thank you for reading!

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

Speak

Speak
though your throat quivers
your mouth dries up
and its moisture reappears
in your tears.
Speak.

Ask the questions
that invade your mind.
Voice the doubts
that berate you.
Offer them to your love
with open fingers
though your hands
tremble.

If he is good
he will not punish.
If he is true
he will answer.

The success of your union
doesn’t depend on your virtue.
You alone
cannot destroy it.
But
if you’re the only one
chopping wood
and carrying water,
leave.
You are a Woman,
neither servile beast
nor maid.

Speak.
Let him meet you halfway
in the space between.
Allow him to step
into his manhood.
For don’t you want to be met?
Don’t you want a man?

Or do you need control
or victimhood
more than
love?

© S. Rinderle, June 2020

Tides

Expand and contract
Come together
Move apart
These are
natural phases like breathing.
Neither air
nor tides
not orbits
nor human hearts
follow any other law.

Question:
Can my ecosystem
likewise endure
the ebb and flow?
Can my heart tolerate
the changing weather?

The city burned that weekend
as did the juvenile hope
of our illusion.
We fall in love with the fantasy
then one day the full person
shows up.

I cannot force change
even with my passion
and formidable will.
To try
is to inhibit
another’s sacred rhythm.
To try
is to inhabit
another’s sacred sovereignty.

There is a softer truth
underneath the hard one
I’m afraid to feel.
True, I allowed my fear
to overpower my wisdom.
True, I have good reasons.
True, perhaps I’m
the damaged one.

I gingerly embrace
my vulnerability
and gift myself perfection.
I can access divine connection
any time.
I sense it even now
as order comes to roost
inside my flesh
in the shape of calm.
It was not my doing –
it was grace
invited in by my humility.

Loving truly
is truly terrifying
for in the wake of rupture,
follow repair
or removal.

Question:
What can I do today
to invite safety
to come live
between my ribs?

No matter what happens next?

© S. Rinderle, June 2020

The Artist

I emerged from the tunnel
blinked into the sun
and saw you gathered ‘round
blinking back
uncomprehending.
I’d arrived
on an alien world.

I’ve never found a way into your eyes.
I showed you my heart
you scorned it.
I sang you a song
you shrugged.

I thought you were rejecting me
but it was my self-conscious ownership
you refused.
I couldn’t yet relax
into the curves
I wanted to be in charge
so I was always angry
I couldn’t trust the chaos
so I was always tense.

I tried to repair the world
for surely once all was fixed
I could flourish
all of us aliens and oddities
would be welcome
and nourished.

I was wrong.
The world cannot be repaired
and I am flawed perfection.
I need only step aside
let go
let flow
the truth and sublime
waiting to rush inside
with ease.

I don’t matter at all

Like electricity is everywhere
and only requires wires
spark and conduit.
Like the charge
that sets my nerves afire
as the curtains rise.
Like the surge that shoves my heart
straight out my ribs
when the beat and melody
are paired perfection.
Like the vibration that melts
my skin and time
when vocal chords
sync angelic.

Art
is a force
ever present
always abundant.

I am An Artist.
I don’t belong here
but that doesn’t matter
because I don’t matter.

I am just a channel
for the Divine.

© S. Rinderle, May 2020

The Predator

I wandered into a clearing
in the forest of my soul.
All day
I’d been journeying among the trees
and underbrush.
I thought I might camp there
for the night.

I heard a rustling
crackle of broken branches
and a Beast appeared
at the edge
where the light fell.

Its eyes pierced the shadows like torches
Its broad chest rippled
powerful jaws snapped
solid hooves stomped
and nostrils flared
with huffing breaths
that terrified
my heart.

My eyes widened
pulse quickened
body coiled
like a spring.

This time I paused
before I fled.

Is this Beast a true threat —
I questioned —
or an ally I’ve yet to befriend
whose honest fierceness
frightens
my insecurity?

Is it a mere ghost
of mistakes past?
Or a specter
of imaginary
outcomes?

Or is this Beast
me?

© S. Rinderle, May 2020

Image: Allan Martin

The Black Hole

I used to pay compliments
to coerce growth
from chronically shriveled men.

Now I pay compliments
to bless his triumph
to thank his generosity
to document my pride
to celebrate our separateness.

I used to clutch and claw
at my lover’s heart.
I wanted to suckle endlessly
at the teat of his approval
but I could never be satisfied.

Now I ask for permission.
I take just enough
and give when it’s my turn
because I can.

I used to insist on clarity
and guarantees.
I was too small to contain
the anxiety of all what ifs.

Now I surf waves
on the backs of dolphins
my open arms embrace allowing
and hold unanswerable questions.

The greatest love is this:
to heal one’s own heart
through radical acceptance
of our tender longing
and yawning pain.

The greatest love is to gently close
the Black Hole.

© S. Rinderle, May 2020

Stand Still

Just stay still
until your feet know
the next step.
Stand still on the trail
until the fog clears,
until the words that must be spoken
take shape in your throat.
Speak too soon
and they may be true
but neither necessary nor kind.
Until you’re sure
stay silent.

Met needs embolden reckless risks.
Full bank accounts fool us
into spending more
than we can afford
long term.
Remember how it was
before you got here,
how hungry and spent
your days filled with longing
your nights of doubt and despair
you have ground under your feet
just stay still.

The wind is blowing stronger,
but what these gusts reveal about your roots
is that they are strong
you have watered well
you have used the time given.
Be the tree.
Bend, but stand still.

Pause but don’t freeze.
Relax your shoulders.
You are a lake, not a glacier.
You are a comma,
a semi-colon;
not a period.

Righteousness, control and fear
will have plenty to say
as always, in loud voices.
Listen
as a kind, wise mother
hear all the facts and feelings.
Discern the best course
for all your younglings.

Most choices
aren’t a commitment
to eternity.
Today’s yes
may be no, tomorrow
be agile with integrity.
Just stand still
trust your knowing and your limbs.

Just stay still.
Remember your heart thumps
and your lungs fill
on their own
they will sustain you
until you’re certain it’s time
to move.

© S. Rinderle, May 2020

Precious

I held a jewel in my hand
but I let it go
I didn’t know
It was so precious, so rare
I was 19
I thought jewels
were easy to come by
I thought I should be
the sole sovereign
of my destiny.

On a California beach
on a January night
I watched him
as his trousers flapped in the wind
his impossibly gorgeous hair
rippling like the rolling waves
his impossibly blue eyes
welling.

I knew it was the worst pain I’d felt
I knew it was the most logical decision
I didn’t know
It was the first biggest mistake
I’d ever make.

When god hands you a jewel for safekeeping
ask not why
nor for how long.
Guard it in your bosom
Marvel at a new night sky
Revel at the palm trees gently swaying
under the moon.
Revere the smoke issuing
from his impossibly luscious mouth
Cherish the tender delight beaming
from his impossibly gorgeous eyes.

Abdicate your dictatorship
over an unknown future.
Relinquish your tyranny
over what is possible.

Let god figure out
the how
and when.

© S. Rinderle, May 2020