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author’s note:

At the age of nine, Black Elk experienced a vision in which he stood at the center of the world—Harney Peak, South Dakota.

But in the same moment, he understood that every place on Earth is also the center.
 

THE CENTER OF THE WORLD

When I was small
I often felt quite small
so I’d climb a nearby hill

and at the top
I’d survey all before me
and imagine myself to be
The Center of the World—

vowing
one day I’d live a life
so high in the sky—
yes, I’d be a giant!

As an adult
I’ve tried to realize that wish
but instead of rising up
I just seem to keep on
shrinking down.

Sometimes when I feel
especially small
I return
to that hill

but now I try
to leave my childish anger below
and allow myself to feel the sorrow
of someone who’s grown.

If I can take that big step
I’ll be high enough above myself
to know a true moment of peace
as I survey our grand expanse.

At such times
I experience this human I am
as both large and small:

I am indeed
The Center of the World…

but so what?—

aren’t we all?
 


© 2017, Michael R. Patton
painful puns blog

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author’s note:

Again, a poem with uncertainty, an ocean, and release (see last post)…

Am I repeating myself?  I prefer to think: I’m exploring motifs.
 

FINDING MY SIZE

I woke to find
the waves of the night sea
had carried me
far away from shore–

my legs dangled
in a depth unknown
while cold waters rocked my body
as if I was a discard—

not so different
from how I usually felt
but I could usually ignore
how I usually felt.

Desperate
I searched for a landmark
I could aim myself towards

but black sky
had merged with black sea—
did I see low-lying stars before me?—
or were those the streetlights
along our shoreline drive?—
perhaps
I only saw the lamps
of my hopeful imagination.

I felt helpless as a dot—
a grain of sand about to sink.

I’d heard we all held
an incredible personal power

but as the current mocked
my assertion of free will
that idea seemed a lie
designed to protect
a fragile sense of self.

I then recalled the other story:
how at our lowest moments—
when we feel damn near empty—
the light will descend
through that opening
to rescue us.

Though I still can’t vouch for its truth
I guess belief saved me
because

when the clouds suddenly broke
and that big round Moon beamed
its spotlight down on me
in an instant, I felt safe—delivered—
I could surrender my doubt—
I could lay myself back and breathe—
free in my security.

The spirit of life filled me—
I felt myself swell

but as has happened in the past
I forgot to stop the inflation:

having shrunk down
to nothing
the pipsqueak in me
wanted to expand
to the size of that moon.

But in trying to be bigger
than I am
I lost the blessed moment
and like a beach ball
I then bounced back
to land upon the sandy shore—

back to my usual reality
and so
able to ignore again
how small I am
as well as how large.

Hopefully
next time I shrink down
I can remember
what I usually forget:

how I can be more
by becoming less
but can only maintain
that gain
by keeping my head
in check.
 


© 2017, Michael R. Patton
Myth Steps: a blog

gator-golf-blgb-september-30-2016s

author’s note:

Maybe what I was told as a boy is true: sports build character.
 

MINIATURE GOLF PERSPECTIVE

Sometimes I play miniature golf
just to shift my perspective:

when I see
that model course
I see
a little litany of lessons

and in so seeing, I then see
the course we call “real”
as a round of lessons as well

and if I can later recall
the silliness I felt
as I struggled to deal
with things so fancifully small
I’ll deflate a bit
and as a result
love more:

maybe I’ll again feel
the love I feel
for the real course–
even as I struggle, I love
that daunting windmill.

I also try not to forget
the many lessons–
for instance:
how I got past that alligator
by rolling right into its jaws.

That may not be big
but it’s still important.
 


© 2016, Michael R. Patton
myth steps: a poetry book

step aside - May 14, 2015s

author’s note:

I considered throwing this poem away.  But then I remembered a quote from John Cleland, author of Fanny Hill:

“Truth!  Stark naked truth!”
 

THE KICK

That librarian
kneeling on the floor
in the bookshelf aisle
with his back to me
appeared to be
just one more of many
frustrating obstacles
in my way—

another block between
where I am
and where I want to be.

Worse yet,
like so many other
silent combatants I have faced
he seemed to be trying
to assert himself
by ignoring my presence.

So at that moment, I felt justified
in giving him a kick—
nothing horribly abusive—
just a tap on his shoe heel:

yes, I’d reverse the game on him
and thus, score a win.

But as soon as
I touched his foot
I felt my mistake
and rushed to say
“I’m terribly sorry”
over his sincere
“oh excuse me”.

Afterwards, to relieve my guilt
I kicked myself…I kicked myself

until I realized the obvious:

such attacks defeat me
without solving the conflict.

As I relate this foolish story
I’m humbled once again

but not discouraged

since we grow through humility
I must be making much progress
toward my dream of peace.
 


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

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