Easier

It is easier to believe
you’re not worthy of being defended
than to believe you were worthy
but no one did.
The rage would be uncontrollable.

It is easier to believe
you’re not deserving of love
than to believe you were lovable
but no one could.
The grief would be unbearable.

It is easier to believe
you’re crazy
than to believe you’re one of the few sane
but no one realizes.
The horror would be unthinkable.

It is easier to believe
you’re wrong, a misfit
than to believe the world is wrong
but no one notices.
The fear would be insufferable.

It is easier to believe
you’re too flawed to belong
than to believe you’re valuable when included
but no one remembers to.
The loneliness would be intolerable.

It is easier to believe
you’re too difficult
than to believe you’re easy to understand
but no one is willing to.
The alienation would be unendurable.

Today I prefer to believe
it’s not them
it’s me
Today I prefer to believe
what’s easier
Otherwise how else
could I possibly
endure?

© S. Rinderle, March 2020

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

A Reminder to the Tender Ones

O tender one
remember who you are
The world nearly succeeded
making you forget
Yes, you are Warrior
But even the bloodied battle shero
drops her shield
at war’s end

Re-member your bones
You do not wear them
on the outside
like a shell
this hardness is only a shield
this armor is not your flesh
You are neither turtle
nor tender mollusk
you will not die
if you step outside
step out from behind

Yes, there is need for protection
and yes, for fighting
but remember the enemy’s tactics
They drop their guard
turn away their hateful eye
while you devour yourself
from the inside
their poison
is the parasite
within

O tender one
remember your original gifts
your brilliant birth
before the world taught you fear
Soften your gaze before the throngs
let go of your jaw in their midst
melt your bracing shoulders
relax your coiling center
soften
soften
Calm, vigilant
shield at hand
but softened

For what use is all the fighting if
when your eyelids drop
one last time
when the Earth turns to ash
at the end
there was nothing left
but angry shells
and fire?

© S. Rinderle, July 2017
Published in Fixed and Free Poetry Anthology 2021.

Depression in 5 Acts

I float above the earth
untethered in the rain
like a hesitant balloon from yesterday’s party
low in helium
and alone.

I lay on the earth
like an uncooperative corpse
trying to wriggle free of the undergrowth
that sprouts over my rotting limbs
gravity pulling my dissolving flesh
into the ground.

I walk along the River Styx
beside the Angel of Death
with a spinning compass
in my hand.

I am the doppelganger
the real me is away
with no planned return
in her stead
I wear this mask
move my jaws
utter sound
but my eyes do not smile.

I’ve gone to mush
like the caterpillar in her cocoon
flesh in transformation
I carry my Body around like an accessory
this century
is so
rough on me
I think I took a wrong turn somewhere
I stand facing mirrors
infinite reflections in fractals
I lie down in their midst
allowing the ivy and crab grass
to cover and consume me
I will be a Tree instead
and break the glass
so I can see
the sun.

© S. Rinderle, January 2017

Instructions

The world requires not
your clamor and clang
your doing more of the same
striving and fighting
trying to move boulders
that will not move.
Pointed fingers and pointed words
anguish and anxiety
belie your belief
that they are more powerful
that they are winning.

Wining does not matter
Winning is doing
It’s another worn out space
inside a crumbling frame
hung on a rotting wall.
You may lose
You will die
Humans go the way
of the trilobites

There is nothing more radical
than sanity amidst madness
nothing more subversive
than joy amongst misery
love inside violence

Find yours

Do not despair
nor languish in resentful apathy
Let your anger and integrity
stoke the engine fires of your belly
lighting the jewel of your heart
igniting the force field
that is You

Open your bright eyes
Let those ancient frames
sigh into dust
and fall from the walls
Lock the door behind you
Tomorrow
will be too late.

© S. Rinderle, February 2017

Grief (the third movement)

To grieve is to
acknowledge the finality of loss
to face the possibility
it may not get better
you may never feel as content
as at home, as loved
as you did, there.

To grieve is to
be nostalgic for what was good;
for what never was
and never will be, again
for those missed opportunities
to speak or do that cannot
be recreated, for those
gone moments embossed on your mind
that you didn’t know
were so significant
at the time.

To grieve is to
peel back the scab of anger
reveal the weeping wound

To grieve is to
stop grasping
at hope
at salvage
at reconstitution
at straws
to give up and let go
let your lead heart pull you down
down like gravity
free falling into the abyss
into the bottomless deep

To grieve is to yield to helplessness
and that
is what we fear
most of all.

© S. Rinderle, 2016

Grief (the second movement)

Ending things
before hatred sets in
requires releasing hope
those things will improve
which requires relinquishing
another piece of that relentless optimism
that makes you
you

I believe anything is possible
What stands in the way
is their will
Since I can’t control their choice
I control mine
and choose to stay
patient
longer than reasonable

I’m not a gambler
except in this
each losing hand proof
the big win hides in the next
I’ve lost years at this table
feasting on scraps
as years grow scarce
like bargaining chips
I finally fold

Better to end things
before hatred sets in
before too much is lost
like faith and stamina
sometimes optimism thrives better
at a distance
than under constant vigilance

Life is too brief
my wiser heart finally knows
I can bear the grief
as well as I stomach the rage
and grief
is quicker in passing.

© S. Rinderle, 2016

The Insignificant Wall

I know what you’re thinking
that I would slink away from the threat of your boot
like a centipede in hostile territory
or fade like crimson on vivid summer smocks
hung from country clotheslines
left too long
in the rays of your scrutiny

What were you thinking?
That I would melt like tallow
in the heat of your glare?
Shuffle away
defeated eyelids drooping south
shoulders bearing a cloak of shame
woven by your shouts?
That I would gather up my beloved toys
broken by your cruel, jealous hands
stagger home
and cry alone in my room?

I know what you’re thinking
That I am the villain
It’s necessary
You’re not ready to cede
your victimhood
to the understudy
you know this role too well
You dread mirrors
cling to tenuous competence and
empty purpose
I didn’t know your fear looms taller than mine
you walk on flimsy stilts
filling the leeway of my second chances
like sudden floodwaters rush
to mindlessly occupy idle space

I say
I know what you’re thinking
the truth is I have no idea

neither do you.

Still, you fooled me.
My optimism was too green
trust unripened by time
you crushed the papier maché box
under your feet
So much for pedestals.
I understand the attraction of minions
(I am a strong willed first born)
But I wouldn’t comply
with the role assigned
My crime was
I always saw you eye-to-eye
I wouldn’t follow
the script everyone else was reading from
I didn’t know it was a play
and we were onstage
I am neither tyrant nor peon.

It’s my fault
I lingered too long on this play-ground
trusted you with my toys
before knowing you
But I will not cede this corner of the sandbox
This is not your Kingdom
not the barren neighborhood of my childhood
I’ve been spending all my time
trying to make the wrong ki(n)ds like me
I will cradle my precious brokenness
maybe shed a tear
but then I’ll go
where I’m wanted

It was my mistake.
I imagined you The Great Wall
Once I lowered my pushing hands
relaxed my elbows
stepped back
widened my gaze
from the bricks blocking the bridge of my nose
I saw you were no fortress
only a lonely section
broad as my wingspan
high as my crown

The only decision now is
do I bust through
glide around
or fly over
insignificant you?

© S. Rinderle, 2015

The Change

I sleep generous hours
yet I am still exhausted
this is breakdown

I eat nourishingly well
yet I am still hungry
this is breakdown

I snarl and growl fiercely
yet I am still enraged
this is breakdown

I sob deeply
prone upon the earth
yet still I am not comforted
this is breakdown

I am going through The Change
what was no longer is
a shell I didn’t know I wear
is cracking
unknown parts of me are showing
tender, sore and frightened
I’m turning to mush

It’s not just me

The Earth also wearies and sobs
her People rage and hunger

Another afflicted youth
machine guns children at school
we change nothing
this is breakdown

Another politician
lies to our doubting eyes
we shrug
this is breakdown

Another uniform
murders a young Black son in our streets
we change the channel
this is breakdown

Another billionaire
robs us blind and deaf of trust and voice
we sigh in our armchairs
this is breakdown

We are going through The Change
what was no longer is
we are cracking
truthful parts of us are showing
we are not who we say we are
we’re turning to mush

I do not need more fire
I need water and spacious air
The world does not need more air
it needs floods and firestorms

Oh tell me how to have patience and faith,
how to set this immoral apathy
ablaze?

Oh tell me this strange affliction
this stifling restriction
is a chrysalis
and not a shroud

© S. Rinderle, 2/4/15
Published in Malpais Review, Summer 2015