Sunday morning stroll

Grief is a Sunday morning alley
eerily quiet
in the early light
unclaimed baggies of dog shit
tossed about
overfilled dumpsters
of rejects
empty boxes
piled carelessly
cars parked partially
rocks strewn
from abandoned construction

in the soothing cool.

On Sunday morning
things look so different
from the dark drunken jubilation
of Saturday night.
More can be noticed –
visible dangers
that were missed
sweetness
that was hidden
surprising finds
among the refuse.
The still, quiet aftermath
allows a more balanced assessment
of the chaos.

The mess left by guests
after the party
makes the party no less festive
the guests no less welcome.
Yet we’re better equipped
to notice the toll
on Sunday morning.

Grieving
is like a Sunday morning stroll.
It awakens us
from our previous stupor
sheds a new angle of unfiltered light
on the familiar
introduces us
to new faces
reveals
what is emergent
or was always there
ignored
or once insignificant.

Grief is not a loss of love
but an exchange
of one love for another
the change
still disorienting,
vulnerable and tender.

Like a Sunday morning stroll
for night birds,
grieving shows us
that despite our fatigue
we can rise anyway
we might even find
our favorite fresh delights
more easily.

In fact, we may wonder
despite the difficulty of waking
why
don’t I do this
more often?

© S. Rinderle, September 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

Most Best Lessons

Tonight
amidst the smoke and flowers
the primal beat and
boozy showers
I ached to tell you
to never doubt
I loved you, and
I love you still
just the way you are:
perfect.

I yearn to connect across the miles
and distance of our goodbye –
I think
maybe
my words might matter,
might make you reconsider.
But if my daily devotion
over hundreds of days
weren’t enough
to make you stay
forsake
those unfinished tatters
that get in our way
surely one call
won’t change
your stubborn mind
or wobbling heart.
I just hate
this you-shaped hollow
between my ribs
that makes all other men
thin paper –
a pale mockery
of our many best moments.

Oh
how do I survive
these whispers and shadows
of what could have been?
This time
I did not imagine
your possibilities –
they teetered on the cusp
of incarnation
but you could find
neither breath nor courage
to lean into the wind
instead
you fell backwards.

I am powerless
against your story.
I cannot
make you see,
cannot make you see
me
and so I cannot see
you.
I see myself
instead.

I cannot face time.
Most best lessons must be learned
the hard way.

© S. Rinderle, October 2021

False idols

Disbelieve your gurus.
They are no more enlightened
than you.
The monsters haunting their closets
are the same
that torture your nights.
They are just as addicted to fear,
just as prone
to peddling tired platitudes
for weary coin,
just as recklessly controlling
and un(w)holy.

They will gesture towards justice with one hand
and grab your ass with the other.
Their lips will adorn peace and equity one minute
and spew fetid hatred the next.
They will perform calm and virtue
while secretly gnawing off their own hands
with vice.
They are just as afflicted as we
by the virus of decline
and narrow self-preservation—
their ability to name it
doesn’t make them
immune.

Disbelieve your gurus.
Placing faith and power
in an external god
—whether human or deity—
is an old-world custom
gasping its last.
Divinity and Wisdom
have always resided in you.
Stop questing for that
which was always waiting patiently
at home.
Stop searching and listen
within.

© S. Rinderle, June 2021

Image: https://www.hinduwebsite.com

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

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