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

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

Impact*

She holds the weary head
of her spent Little One
saying – Welcome Home
This bosom is for your nourishment and relief
I am Mother Bobcat
the Watcher in the Tower
my golden eye fixing
to protect, not prey.
You can enter
You can rest
I’ve left the front door open
for you.

Come, I will drape a gossamer veil of calm
like a floral shroud
over your pyramid body
covering your living, yet still-vigilant brow.
Let us cocoon in safety
Let us camp here for the night
Let us build a blanket fort
buttressed by bricks
that have stood for a thousand years.

The chaos is now a dream
of broken spoons and vessels
a ruin of daily domesticity
order and routine
shattered and still
yet haunted by a crouching oil spill
an iridescent echo of what was
a hovering reminder
of what might have been
the Angel at the Moment of Impact.

Push off from the sides now
with your muscular thighs
Float up, up towards the north
Float back to the horizon
where the meerkat watches with patient calm
He will hold vigil
He will sit shivah
under the amber eye of the predator
that looks to tomorrow
for today is a truce
Today there will be no more violence.

Rise up when you are ready
Rise up from the frozen ground
Witness the torchbearer
relight the flame
in your outstretched mandala’ed hand
Carry it forth once again from your tomb
to light the way
towards a firey dawn
leaving a trail
we can follow
and build upon.

© S. Rinderle, 2020

** NOTE: This poem was inspired by the incredible art at the top of this page, which was created by my artist sister Nancy Alder in response to a serious car accident she experienced in December. You can see more of her work at Innerwoven, or purchase her creations on Etsy.

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

Green Burial

When my final day is done
I would be returned to the earth –
nothing between me and the soil
of my birth
but rotting skin.

Let my body decay like a ruin
laying in state
like the great houses of old –
monuments to pride and achievement
laid waste by the triumph of time
and the superior will
of rain and roots.

Let my interior walls be exposed
to the warmth of the sun.
Let ferns sprout from my eye sockets.
Let dragonflies and mockingjays
frolic inside my skull.
May young lovers sneak out under moonlight
to hump wildly among my bones.

Let streams gush
from my open, toothless mouth.
Let cougars and mule deer drink
from my pelvic bowl.
May fuchsia and daisies
burst forth from my ribcage.
May sycamore and oak
be nourished by my flesh.

And I will no longer be lonely.
I will finally be at peace
and contented
knowing that my feeble life made a difference
to those who truly matter
after all.

© S. Rinderle, 9/16/18

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

Freedom and Regret

The price I pay
for clarity and conviction
is waking up alone
to breakfast in an empty kitchen
marveling at the loneliness
of the sunrise.

I paid the toll eagerly
at the turnpike
gaining entrance
to an unknown stretch
of road.
I would not rewrite history
even now
as I stand on the shoulder
wistfully watching my younger self
pull a coin from her purse
enthusiastically toss it
into the toll chute
saying yes to what’s next
blissfully cavalier
with her
power.
My eyes well with pride
and grief
at her tender ignorance.

We can only regret
futures that died on the vine
unviable embryos
never brought to term.
We can only know
what we chose.

I must trust in the kindness
of the Divine,
believe in her wisdom –
all else is futility
and dank regret.

But would that there were
a way to enjoy such
unprecedented choice
without the persistent gnaw
of loneliness.

Alas, I am born
too soon.

© S. Rinderle, 2018

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

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