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

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

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

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

Pavlov’s Dog

Our love was the tipping point
Damaged things were repaired
new pathways laid

Your exit was the tipping point
Something more than We
broke inside me
in slow motion
over months

I survey the familiar landscape
once reviving
now it tires me
I feel heavy
The red rocks
stubby junipers
breathless curves
nuanced, shifting light
All of them took your name
You’ve disrupted
my personal relationship
with this land

I loved you in a way that was new
You agonized
you tried
you moved on so quickly
don’t think about me
while I think of you
ashamed of my tenacity
Her name occupies your horizon
what was mine and precious
is now hers
you don’t miss me

I never understood why women give up
lose stamina
become bitter
until now
Defeat looms
resignation draws near
apathy knocks

These walls have seen much
hosted many men
they are mirrors now
where your ghost lives
I will fade into the west
to regain color

I will diminish into the west
where memories are less pungent
where I’m free
Under these skies
I may never be
Pavlov’s bell rings
at everything I see
I salivate
obedient

but no one
feeds me

© S. Rinderle, May 2016

Photo: http://www.dirtproof.co.uk/2015/04/behind-the-rocks-50m.html