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author’s note:

I may be a fraidy cat.  But I’m a fraidy cat with curiosity.
 

BEFORE A STEP

In the dream, a door swings open

as if daring me to step inside.

I want to accept
but because I see
only darkness beyond
I hesitate

even though I know
I’ll eventually step—
just because I’m so
damn curious.

If I’d employed that guide
I wouldn’t feel this fear

but without fear
how I can realize my strength?

Yes, when I finally step
at first, I’ll feel lost

but whatever path I then find
will be my own.
 

© 2018, Michael R. Patton
what I learned while alone: poetry ebook

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author’s note:

January 25 is Robert Burns night in Scotland.

To be honest, I don’t know his work that well…

But I like the idea of honoring a poet with a special night.
 

HOW HER MUNDANE LIFE BECAME VISIONARY

In her dream, a door
swung open to reveal
a wild grass field—

all those stalks
with their luminous tips
darkening down to secret roots

while in the near distance
blue wildflowers circled
the stonewall of a well

then, on the horizon
a purple mountain rose above white mist—
a mysterious pyramid beckoning.

She woke believing this dream proved
a new door would soon open for her—
she’d step from the humdrum
into the visionary life she’d envisioned
for herself

but her patient waiting
didn’t persuade the door
nor did a fierce push

and so
hoping to avoid the pain of frustration
she accepted that job painting stock scenes
on handmade tea cups:

with a few deft strokes of her brushes
she’d create a warmhearted scenario
on the side of each cup—
for instance
a doe and her fawn watching
a rising sun wake
a mellow blue meadow.

As expected
this repetitive work
dulled mind and body
and so, her thoughts shifted from doors
to rummage instead
through the cluttered minutiae
of her mundane life

until…

near the end of one workday
her blank mind lost track
of the routine
and when she snapped her focus back
our painter suddenly saw the usual
with new eyes—

saw anew
the little ceramic cup
she held in her hand—
saw anew
the quiet scene
of a sleeping cottage
watched over by
a full vanilla moon:

the rendering, mediocre
but in its lack of affectation
so innocent…so pure…

what’d seemed so trite
then became the ideal.

Though the five o’clock bell
soon broke her spell
she remained receptive

and so
as our artist opened
the warehouse exit door
she saw anew

the big trash barrel

the gray parking lot
with its faded yellow stripes

and at its border
the beige stucco wall
of the building next door—

saw anew
and finally realized

those things were
her green field
her well
her blue flowers
her purple mountain

her dream.

From that time on
she found her dream
in so many places
in so many things:

as a result
her ordinary world
became an extraordinary world
and her mundane life
became visionary.
 

myth steps blog
© 2018, Michael R. Patton

gates - August 25, 2016sc

author’s note:

Dedicated to the memory of Gisela Kirberg.  Someone who understood the value of a good fairy tale.
 

FOR THE BENEFIT OF BLESSED FOOLS

As a boy, I believed
a pot of gold greeted Noah
at the end of the rainbow
after his 40 days and 40 nights
of storm

so now, whenever I behold a rainbow
the child in me rises to sing
of how the door of that arch
will someday—finally—open for me
and I’ll step over its threshold
into a golden new life.

A foolish hope, perhaps
but as an adult, I’ve learned
to listen to the child

while also
checking its wishes against
the demands of the soul-self.

and regarding this wish,
I’m pleased to report
the soul-self says “yes”

while also telling me
what I must risk and sacrifice
in order to achieve it.

Though I’ve learned to obey…

the reasonable adult in me
often feels doubt.

So, for reassurance
I tell myself the story
of the blessed fool who became a frog
as a way to survive all the rain and mud

then hardened
into gray lead
as a way to withstand
all the lightning.

But blinded by
the confusion of his storm
the fool was unaware
he’d transformed
until the day he finally
asked himself why
he felt so odd…

that question cleared the clouds
long enough
for him to see
he’d become a lead frog

he then realized
that the danger of remaining
as he was
was greater than the danger
of becoming something other

and so
from that point forward
he gladly embraced
the slow
tedious
painful process
of alchemy

and as a result
after 40 days and 40 nights
(in storybook time)
the husk of the dead lead frog
opened up
and a golden prince
leapt out.

I know some will say
a fairy tale is merely
comfortable refuge
for fools who still believe

but I say…
this story has remained
in constant circulation
because we’ve witnessed its truth
in the bios of so many
who’ve lived some version
of that journey—

many of whom likely told
some version of the tale
to themselves for reassurance
occasionally, along the way

until they’d finally
finally—opened the door
and stepped over the threshold.

Afterwards
they kept on repeating it
but now for the benefit
of us other blessed frogs.
 


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

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