Unchained

Go Big!
Do More!
Crush Goals!
Be All!

Stop.

Feel the impact
on your hardening flesh.
Notice the effect
on your only body
as embattled cells multiply
or attack each other
and callouses form.

You are trying to win
at a game not made
for you.
It was created
to trick you
into doing the Masters’ bidding,
into trying harder
and blaming
only yourself
or your fellow players
for always falling
short.

You are like a bruised lover
who keeps going back
to her punishing Man.
A man who gives
with one hand
and takes more
with the other,
who feigns victimhood
and lies that he loves you
each time you try
to leave.

You whip your own flesh
like the masters whipped
your ancestors.
You carry the rapist’s child to term
when you know you neither love it
not are suited for motherhood.

You convince yourself
this is the way
that you are righteous, faithful,
“a team player”.

That’s because you were taught
to believe lies.

The truth is you are good.
Not because of how you’ve played The Game
but despite it.
Not because of how you’ve survived
but because Goodness
is your natural state.

You don’t need it.
You don’t need them.

Stop.
Start to Listen.
Start to Notice
Start
to
Feel.

© S. Rinderle, June 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

Most constant friend

Do not abandon your loneliness
It is your most constant
and loyal friend.

It was there
entering your lungs
when first you drew breath
in the blinding, hostile din
of the birthing room.
It is there
lingering in your ribcage
while alone in a crowd
or ruminating in bed
beside your slumbering lover.
It will be there
attending your death rattle
leaving only when you exhale
one last time.

You may ignore your loneliness
starve it
shut it outside during a rainstorm
keeping the warm hearth for yourself.
It will wait on your porch
like a drenched and famished dog
for the inevitable moment
when fate or folly
blows the doors off your
house of pride
once again.
Then an angry, mistrustful dance
will resume
all muddied, matted fur and
snapping, needy jaws.

Befriend your loneliness.
Keep it well-fed and watered.
Provide shelter and room to roam.
Take it for walks
among lilies and tombstones.

Call it by its proper name.
Never abandon your loneliness
for it is unwise to mistreat a friend
who will always return
and whose company
offers reliable, safe haven
from greater harm
and clamor.

© S. Rinderle, 4/20/20