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 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

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

The greatest courage

There exists no greater courage than this:
To love
with no guarantee of requitement
To trust
with no guarantee of safety
To strive
with no guarantee of success
To believe
with no guarantee of satisfaction.

There exists no greater valor than this:
To create
with no hope of immortality
To speak
with no hope of listeners
To stand
with no hope of change
To live
with no hope of survival.

We can scale murderous peaks
vanquish impossible Goliaths
in a hostile arena
run fast as a gazelle
with steel blades for feet
migrate whole civilizations
and rebuild entire cities from the scourge
of plague or maelstrom.

Yet there exists no greater courage than this:
to allow the heart
to be our ever-changing compass
faith our engine
and divine Wisdom
its fuel.

© S. Rinderle, 4/20/20

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

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

I Know What Water Dreams

I know what water dreams.

She dreams of expanse both vast and microscopic.

Of extending her reach from shore to shore
filling chasms and holding unknown secrets of the deep.
Supporting frolicking human children on her beach
and pensive teens doing the backstroke.
Teeming schools of fish and calving whales
crustaceans and sea horses.
Leaving her nourishing minerals on shores and skins.
Supporting life, cycling life, being life.

She also dreams of the tiny places
rushing through my veins
surrounding my cells, bringing support, sustenance, and relief
to tissue.
She flows through my aorta and into my capillaries.
She lubricates my joints;
allows me to see.

Always she dreams of freedom
the ability to flow,
to move,
to be unrestricted.
Of purity and breath.
Oxygen and clarity.

Thus, her dreams are sometimes nightmares.
Horrifying quantities of sewage and inorganic waste.
Mutilated cadavers.
Sludge and toxic chemicals bubbling from open pipes.
Drunken revelers urinating at her side.
Tremendous trawlers razing the sea floor.
Fishers leaving death and destruction
like White buffalo hunters once did on the Plains.
Webs of fiber optic cables.
Dams.
Lakes of oil suffocating her delicate surface.

Also
disrupted flow in restricted arteries and tightened muscle fibers.
Obstacles of excess fat, yeast, chemicals invented by man.
Acidic thoughts, elevated hormones.
The products of agitation with nowhere to go,
choking her.

So she shudders, weeps, and wakens.

I know what water dreams,
because I, too,
have these dreams.

(c) S. Rinderle, 2009