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author’s note:

“We are all astronauts on a little spaceship called Earth.”
                 — R. Buckminster Fuller
 

CONFESSIONS OF A SPACE MAN

I sat down on a flat stone—
hoping to find some sense
of stability

but as I gazed across the desert
I slowly began to feel
what I’d been told:
though the earth beneath our feet
seems solid enough
we’re actually walking on a thin crust—

a skin constantly shifting
as if something mysterious
seethes underneath—
something that might
at any moment
erupt!

How could I ever feel secure
on a planet continually in flux?

I then decided to look skyward
into the timeless void—
hoping if I lost myself
I might also lose my anxiety…

but when I saw
the myriad stars
cartwheeling
through darkness without end
I felt what I’d been told:
how this planet, this spaceship
holds us captive on a wild spin
through a Universe unknown—

we’re not held fast
by Atlas
or any other god.

Finally, in desperation
I went within—
hoping to find an anchor stone
of deep wisdom

but no—
without outside distraction
I discovered how nervous
I actually was:
rocked and racked by an inner ocean—
my rickety boat swooning—swelling
with tension—ready to explode

but then
through the fierce storm
I heard the voice
of that buried stone:

let go it said—let go

and though I could not believe
I saw no other choice, no other hope.

So I opened my toes
my fingers
my arms
my stomach
my groin…

and to my surprise
when I opened my eyes
I found myself
surfing over earthen clouds—
I now rode the stone
through the storm
balanced I was (or nearly so).

These days, I still feel
a little queasy—but
if I can remember to remind myself
to just let go
(without surrendering completely)
I usually manage to hold steady.

Maybe someday
—when I locate that lost grain
   of confidence—
I will truly soar…

If I’ve bored you
with this story before
realize this:
you’ve again helped
a fellow human being
because

by allowing me
to confess my uncertainty
I am released—
maybe only a little, but still:
thus comforted, I balance better.

But perhaps I’ve helped you too—

if you often feel weak
in the solar plexus
at least now you know:
you are not alone.
 


© 2017, Michael R. Patton
Searching for My Best Beliefs: a poetry book

author’s note:

It’s not my trail—it’s our trail.
 

A GLEAM OF PURPLE & GOLD

When I first glimpsed
that mountain peak
I believed

I’d seen my destiny:

I believed
I finally understood
the purpose
of this rising trail.

Thus
as I continued to step
I did so with intent.

Nonetheless
I’ve doubted the reality
behind my stated aim
because clouds and other
atmospheric conditions
usually keep the peak
hidden from me.

Fortunately, the work
of putting one foot
in front of the other
distracts my mind
from excessive worry

that is
until fatigue finally catches me

then I’ll begin to wonder if
I’m actually making progress
or if what I seek even exists.

And so, I’ll stop
and gaze upward
once again—
desperate for
another glimpse…

and indeed
with patience
I’ll eventually see a gleam
of purple and gold:

an image experienced
as a vision—
proclaimed by the spirit
to be truth.

Then
with doubt diminished
and hope renewed
I’ll continue to continue.

Though my heart will want to wait
for another bright beam
I know, from experience:
to linger longer
will only slow my progress

and to walk while looking up
is a sure way to trip and fall.
 


© 2017, Michael R. Patton
myth steps: a blog

hand-touch-january-12-2017s

author’s note:

Once again, I try to get this poem right.
 

ENDURING THE BEST

After you, I realized:

we must endure
not only the worst
among us, but also
the best.

Both overwhelm us—
both challenge us
to rise above.

Yes, one tries to darken our eyes
while the other tries to enlighten

but brilliant light can stun

and with sight
comes responsibility:

when I try to ignore
what I now know
I feel guilty

especially when I sense
your old owl eyes watching me
from a place unseen
(located somewhere
 over my left shoulder).

Yes I’m pleased
you take an interest
I just wish you’d encourage me
occasionally

when doubt
agitates my thought
almost to blindness—

reassure me
with a spirit whisper:

tell me again
why I must not slack
in this work—
tell me again
how it helps us all.

Tell me
to keep on lifting
my leaden feet—
tell me I can find
the strength hidden within
—but only if I try to lift.

Please, tell me
I will eventually
hold the peace
that always seems to slip
from my grip.

Tell me
all you once told me—
tell me again…

I wait…
but again: only silence

yet I don’t feel rejected—
after all
why should you remind me
when I haven’t forgotten?—

besides that
a repeat would merely be
temporary comfort—
not a cure:

no one but me can give me courage.

As my moment of weakness passes
I feel ashamed once again
but also think:

maybe later
I can use this moment
as a story lesson

later…
when I become someone
others will gladly endure.

 


© 2017, Michael R. Patton
Butterfly Soul: poems of death & grief & joy

edge-swirl-b-g-b-january-3-2017sc

author’s note:

I thought the beginning of the new year was a good time to post this poem…

…an optimistic poem about plunging into the great unknown.
 

THE EDGE IS A GOOD PLACE TO GO BEYOND

In the beginning
the world was indeed flat…

the roundness was created later
by a crusty dark-eyed captain:

having gained riches and fame
through a lifetime of struggle
he festered, dissatisfied…
until his imagination hit upon
the type of fanciful goal
that brings destruction:

he would escape his malaise
by venturing forth alone
in search of
the edge of the Earth

and when he found the end
he’d plunge over
to discover
what lay beyond

even though that leap
might mean his death.

Having chosen this quest
our captain did not hesitate
but soon put out
in a little wooden boat…

rowing past all continents, atolls, and islands

until he arrived at
a vast expanse of ocean
unmarked and lying ominous in its quiet
all the way to an indefinite horizon

but
our mariner did not hesitate—
no, he continued on…

and when all land had disappeared
he forgot both distance and time—
his mind became numb
as his body became numb:
he ceased to think
he ceased to care
he moved by rote
he even forgot who he was

and did not break
from this stupor
until he finally came to a place
where the waves pulled back
upon themselves
as if afraid of falling off.

The air sizzled with static energy
as our captain stood and gazed
into the darkness beyond the water
where a swirling mass of dense gray cloud
obscured the great monolithic
Unknown…

Yes, he hesitated

before he said
what he usually said
when afraid but resolved:
“damn it all to hell!”

then with his next breath
he plunged into the wild threshold

where his tiny boat stuck—
caught in a force field:
the bow swallowed by fog
the stern hanging on the tip
of the last ocean crest.

The worn boards shook
as though ready to explode
while our mariner worked the oars
into two frenzied blurs—
driven by the type of pent-up frustration
that comes from living small

or
stated another way:
he was taken up
by the secret desire
of the deep heart.

Our navigator
believed he held
enough inner power
to burst through any barrier
however

he also had the good common sense
to doubt

and the honesty
to admit his greatest fear:

no, not death, but the thought
that his grand adventure might become
just another pathetically funny story
in the book of human folly
and waste.

Shadowed by that specter
he became ever more desperate
and rowed and strove and cursed
until his cage burned
with golden intensity.

We often celebrate
such determination
but stubbornness
doesn’t necessarily guarantee success
unless…

you’re butting against an artificial barrier
which, by definition, must eventually fall
to human will.

But though the captain
had long declared
I can, I must, I will
he was still shocked
when his tiny boat finally shot
over the edge—!

and in a flash
the end vanished
as the world with a roar
became round all at once

and the barrier, now broken
became nothing at all
since by definition
blocks can not have openings.

As for our somewhat-satisfied captain…

following the curvature
of the Earth
he simply sailed on
and in short time, arrived home
since circles will naturally return us.

I’ve dusted-off this story
hoping it might inspire
because I believe at present
we sense the presence
of another barrier—
invisible to us because
we are blocked.

Instinctively, we roam
we poke about—we search
for an opening
without knowing we search—

instinctively, afraid
but driven by the secret desire
of the deep heart
or
stated another way:
pushed and prodded
by the pent-up frustration
of living small.

Sometimes we butt against
the unknown contours
of that unknown wall
but then hesitate—

perhaps we fear the power
we’ll need to summon in order
to burst through that barrier

but I believe we’ll eventually succeed
because our natural inclination
is to reject and break
barriers, borders, walls—

we want to be more
because our higher intuition tells us
being less can destroy

and not in the good way
shown by that captain.
 


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

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