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author’s note:

Just for the record: I love our scientists.
 

UNIVERSAL SIGH

Science still can’t tell us
why we need to sigh

but we already know
when you lack adequate language
you breathe a deep sigh
and in that way
give pure voice
to the soul
and thus
relieve the heart.

My own four chambers
might have burst
long ago
if not for all those
large and small exhalations.

Yes
if I hadn’t sighed at the sight
of that stark violet mountain
my heart might have clunked
and quit—

might have stopped
had I not
sighed while watching
that snail crawl over
the pebble stones…

might have collapsed
awhile back
if not for those quiet occasions
when I find myself sighing
for a reason unknown:

at such times
if I listen down deep
I can feel
that strange sadness
and with it
the obscure wish.

(…)

However
sighs not only service
human hearts
but also those of animals—

I’ve heard a dog sigh
as well as a kitten.

Is it just
a mechanical response?—
or can a cat experience life
to the depths of a soul?

Maybe so
because one night
during a catastrophic dinner
I became a fraidy cat—
and chose flight over fight
but afterwards, in my sigh of relief
I heard the soul of my heart.

But whatever the reality may be
I believe it’s best if we believe
canines and felines
occasionally, soulfully sigh—

along with everything else
in this world:
a pigeon, a sturgeon—
even a tree—even
a stone—
they all hold the deep heavy wisdom
expressed by the sigh:

this whole damn planet sighs
this whole damn Universe—!

Sometimes
when I dive down
into the bottomless well
of my sigh
I can hear
that Universal sigh—
I can hear that sigh in mine

and then
despite the great distances
I feel and know
we are one in the sorrow…

we are one in the secret joy.
 


© 2017, Michael R. Patton
myth steps blog

beast-reading-bb-january-31-2016s

author’s note:

He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man.
            — Dr. Johnson
 

EVOLUTION OF THE SPECIES

When I lived
as a wild hirsute beast
I grunted
at the beautiful pleasures
of this Earth—
I grunted
at the pain

and felt no need for language

until one night…

when I suddenly saw
a living mystery
of moonlight and shadow
bound within the tangles and barbs
of this mundane jungle.

Since that eternal moment
I’ve struggled to express
the beauty and pain
of our human life—

I’ve struggled to maintain
that awareness.

Yes, I often seem to regress—
I slip—
and sometimes when I slip
I snarl and spit

but then the shock
of striking down
awakens me
and I realize again
the cowardice
of trying to kill the pain—
of trying to reject
awareness

and in so seeing, I deepen—
   in deepening to the pain
   I deepen to the beauty.
 


© 2017, Michael R. Patton
dream steps: another blog

gold dust leaf full br b words - August 15, 2016sc

author’s note:

…and the street of the city was pure gold…
                  — Revelation 21:21
 

GOLD DUST

Though I glimpsed
fragile frost sparkling
amid the fur of that green moss
I rejected the urge
to stop and explore
with my hungry fingertips.

Later, while under
the bare branches of the trees
I sensed a mystery in the wind
but at such a fast pace, I mostly missed
the multi-layered voice
of the long brown grass.

Then, at the end of this rush
I poured water down my gullet
until my belly felt pleasantly plump
but because I forgot to focus
I lost the bright flavor of the ice.

So much gold I’ve diminished to dust.

Nonetheless
sometimes I’ll allow something
to break through my somnolence—

for instance:

the time when
the bird perched vertically
on that tall weed stem—

I felt such admiration
for the way it held on
with those small taunt claws

then I was dazzled again
as the wren vanished
in a flash of flutter and feather
drawing my child-mind to the sky
where I beheld
a low cloud sliding swiftly by:

in that blessed instant
my dormant neurons suddenly blazed up
with unspeakable white intensity

but soon
(like the earth-bound soul I am)
I followed the natural inclination
to lower my eyes back down to this world—
a world now beaming
with so many varieties of gold:

the gold I usually ignore

but even then, it’s not lost:
whether I’m aware or not
I’m taking in all this treasure
with every living moment.

I believe after death
we’re finally able to realize
the riches we’ve accumulated
through our human existence.

But until then I can at least
force myself to occasionally brake
to see and feel and hear and taste
and in that way, remind myself:

in this dusty life
I walk on streets of gold.
 


© 2016, Michael R. Patton
myth steps: a blog

twig box November 6, 2015s

author’s note:

Violets have grown here and there
on the ruins of my burned house.
        — Shokyu-ni (trans. A. Miyamori)
 

IN THE PLAYFUL EYE OF WISDOM

I wanted to pity the child
sitting in a cardboard box
stuck in an abandoned lot

but the child wouldn’t stop
laughing

at the way the ragged Wind
made the paper flaps clap

at the way the hard Sun
gleamed across the barb-wire
and on the backs of crows

at the way I tried
to force a sincere tear
from my gray eye—

the child had seen my lie:

how I wanted to mourn him
because I felt so barren
—boxed-in by this life—

I had not accepted that pain:

instead, I’d chosen to believe
my sense of emptiness
came from the world around me—

everywhere I looked, I’d see
abandoned children
and empty lots…

until I heard that child laughing
at the beauty of the world’s abundance

then I too began to laugh…

at the sight of my hangdog self
—reflected so brightly—
in wisdom’s playful eye.
 


© 2015, Michael R. Patton
myth steps: the blog

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