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author’s note:

This poem, written on Christmas Eve 2007, has become my Christmas tradition…

But traditions change over time.  This year, I’ve added a subtitle.

 

CHRISTMAS BAT
(or: The Birth Pains of Winter)

In this season, when we recognize
the birth of bright new life
in the darkest dark…

I wanted to give you all
an appropriate poem
of sweet Christmas light

but my heart stubbornly refused
to sing of our ideal Yuletide—

instead, this bat poem
demanded to be born:

   Cold cave and dung—
   there I hung
   wet with stalactite drops

   until a vampire bat perceived
   how tedious torturous time
   had finally ripened me—

   its bite woke me up—
   those painful fangs burst me free!—

   so that I might soar
   and sow my seed.

Some poems won’t let you go
until you open their cage
so after I wrote that batty rhyme
I felt quite relieved

until the child within me said,
“Okay—
 now you can warm me
 with a real Christmas story!”

I tried (but in vain)
to placate
that hungry innocent
with this insight:

  doesn’t that flighty verse
  actually speak of Christmas?—

  of new life born
  from the darkest night?

 

© 2016, Michael R. Patton
Searching for My Best Beliefs: a poetry book

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woods stone b 523 - June 26, 2016s

author’s note:

Though I cut these three lines from the poem below, I think they bear repeating:

the water told her:
that palace belongs to you
so you don’t need a prince
 

THE WHITE PALACE

She ceased to be a handmaiden
when she stumbled and fell
while gathering wood
and awoke

to see the black forest blazing
with the white light of a palace

for an infinite moment

then woke again
into a darkness deepened
by the absence of that light—
awoke knowing
her long sojourn had begun:

the nebulous desire
that had frustrated her former life
now focused toward the golden goal
of finding the gate
to that magical palace of light

and with focus, that desire grew

but as a result
her frustration did too.

However
she survived her many fearful inner storms
because she knew enough stories to know
this path wouldn’t lead to splendor
without hardships such as
briars, boils, boredom,
lightning bolts, boars, mosquitoes,
cold ghosts and unknown shadows.

Alas
she finally tripped
on the worst malady of all:

confusion!—

shouldn’t I be there by now?
she wondered
haven’t I already earned the key?

but this time when she fell
she landed at the stream
and on its singing mirror
found, to her surprise
the white blaze
in her dark eyes.

The water told her:
that castle doesn’t reside
in any candy kingdom
but stands firm
on your own solid earth—

it’s not made of fairy dust
but of your stone and oak and darkness

with a white light
glowing from the open door and windows—
indestructible…as all light is.

At the stream, she realized
what she’d long known deep down:

how she creates
that functional structure
with every searching step she makes
in this black forest.
 


© 2016, Michael R. Patton
myth steps: the book

eye look into bbl 283w - May 1, 2016s

author’s note:

I can’t find the word “re-awareness” in my dictionary…

But it should be included.  Because, in my experience, that’s the nature of awareness: gained, then lost.  But never completely lost.
 

WHEN I LOOK INTO MY EYES

Sometimes when I start to feel
uncertain about this creation
called human life
I’ll look into my eyes

hoping to return to a bright center
of spirit and purpose
and thus, reassure an animal
that frets over its fragility.

But initially
the clouds of my anxiety
will block this anxious attempt
to peer into the depths

and so I’ll only see a reflection
of the same unsettling thoughts
that brought me to the mirror.

I’ll see
how my warm twinkle blinks
on and off, on and off:
a distress signal of fear—
fear I usually try to ignore,
afraid I could not function
if constantly aware

and with this re-awareness
—this self-confession—
I’ll become even more
desperate:
willing to persist—
to be courageously patient
until I pierce through
to some deeper truths

though I can’t help but dread the descent

not just because
I know I’ll see my worst
but also because
I know I’ll see my best:

that which is buried yet never at rest.

Maybe we created gods
of light and darkness
because we could not tolerate
the incredible in ourselves

but none of our conceptions
ever illuminated me as much
as the ageless one I can find
deep deep down in my eyes

below the darkness and light
below the worst and the best.

Maybe you’ll call me Narcissus
and maybe you’re right

but from such mirror gazing
I become aware again of a knowing
we too often ignore:

a human being is always much more
than the complexity we can clearly see
with but a single glance
at his cloudy anxious eyes.
 


© 2016, Michael R. Patton
dream steps: the blog

blessed descent - September 11, 2015s

author’s note:

Because we live with the knowledge that we will die, perhaps all humans are, to some degree, courageous.
 

BLESSED DESCENT

When the overseers scanned our group
they could see I was the one
trying hardest not to be seen–
the one most afraid
that the earth beneath his feet
was only cloud.

They realized I needed
this trip–this ordeal
more than anyone else.

Now as they turn the crank
my little basket slowly lowers
into the deep ravine
and its echoing bass murmur:

down there
I will explore for all of us
and with luck, return to report
on what delights and terrors exist
in such a precarious place.

Though I feel anxious and small
my chest thrills with silent celebration
as the darkness deepens:

at present
I despise my weakness
but at the bottom
I’ll have the chance
to find my strength…
 

© 2015, Michael R. Patton
My War for Peace: the book

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