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mountain drive - March 5, 2014s
 
author’s note:

I’ve decided to alter the Sisyphus myth of the ancient Greeks…

I think we need something more encouraging—to my mind, it’s a better truth.
 

THE NEW SISYPHUS

I present myself as an exhibit
of a necessary human hunger—

necessary, even though
this drive nearly kills us—kills me:

I move my feet
so as not to be devoured
by my hunger—
I climb mountains
desperately trying to satisfy
its goading goatlike appetite:

it demands more
no matter how high I go.

In my blind innocence
I feel my way along
and every strong round stone I touch
becomes part of my sustenance—

every watery cave becomes a cookstove.

Now I love
even the tedious steps
having come to realize
each one nourishes me.

So, I’m not disappointed
when I reach the mountain top
and still feel the yearning—

no, I can hardly wait for Morning
when I again begin at the bottom
of yet another mountain—

another, but with its base
rising from the peak of the last.

I can’t rest in this struggle
to feed my driving hunger
but without this desire
I wouldn’t be alive…
 

© 2014, Michael R. Patton
Glorious Tedious

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author’s note:

“Here is what has come to the surface after so many throes and convulsions.”
                     —  Walt Whitman
 

THE POWER OF HUNGER

He decided to starve himself—

he needed to know
just how long he could go
without ingesting
even the merest morsel—

he hoped to show himself
he could be stronger than
he believed himself to be—

perhaps he could
redeem all past losses—
what appeared
to be repeated failure.

So he locked himself up
and anxiously waited
through the various stages—
   through the clawing hunger
   through the crying desperation—

he rounded the room
like a tortured animal—
he pounded his head
against the stone walls—
he tried to knock out
those voices screaming
   “You’re dying, you’re killing us!”

But finally his stomach lost
even the energy to beg—
it shriveled into a knot…

Unable to move, he just lay there
on the cold wet concrete floor—
with empty eyes, he stared up
into a darkness as black
as the well in the center of his being—

no desire remained in him
except the desire to maintain
his resolution—

he didn’t care if frostbite ate his extremities—
he didn’t care about the fever shaking him senseless—
he didn’t care if he lived or if he died
as long as he didn’t break his resolution,
as long as he didn’t lose, once again.

So finally a team of experts
told him he’d must surrender
because they couldn’t just stand there
and watch him kill himself
one breath at a time.

Since the decision
was theirs, not his
he allowed them to force him
to rise, to walk, to sit down to
a slow humble meal…

They kept him at a restrained pace
until he again became accustomed
to being a regular human being
with ordinary interests in this world…

But no one ever returns—not completely—

and though people feared
for the sanity of a man
whose eyes glowed so strangely…

when he quietly stepped
into a room, they also recognized
the power of all the ages,
the power of our time here—
the power of the life
of the human race—

they understood again
the strength created from
all our tribulations, all our storms,
all our trembling, weeping—the times
when good warm thought crumbles
under the weight of deprivation.

© 2011, Michael R. Patton
100 Best Poetry Blogs

author’s note:

“I learn by going where I have to go.”
                  —  Theodore Roethke
 

GROWING MOTIONS

Though my hunger may lead me
through a gypsy dance…

whirls of cloud
swirling in the rush
of a screaming violin wind
describe a reality
that only appears
impermanent.

These locomotions
remain with me
though the energy may seem to be
flung away
by the centrifugal force.

When I stop
long enough to listen…
what exists at the core
tells me nothing is lost—

what exists at the core
sits still
still smiles
even when I seem to be
spiraling down
through an abyss–

still smiles, knowing
how my ambulations
always grow me—
no matter where I go.

© 2011, Michael R. Patton
audacious audio

author’s note:

“We sit together, the mountain and me,
 until only the mountain remains.”
         — Li Po (trans. Sam Hamill)

Yes, I’ve had moments such as the one described by Li Po.  I cherish such moments.

But my more typical mode is the one described below.
 

A MOVING DESIRE

Stubbornly determined
to become a better being—

to be an open doorway—
to break my door open—

to be stub grass
willing to surrender
everything but my roots
in order to feed the needs
of blessed sheep…

so I sit down by the waterfall
—up near the clouds—
to try to meditate my way
to such a perfected state

when a different impulse
propels me to jump

then to swim like a snake
after I come up—

an impulse that plunges me
into deep mine pits

so I can crawl out
by my bruised finger-
tips.

That pulls me to climb
a rope that I doubt.

That pummels me to sing
through a throat
stuffed with ice—

so as to canonize my impediments.

Though I’m still impelled toward quiet
this more forceful impulse tells me
I’m not fit for the contemplative life—

this louder hunger apparently
is my better way
to become a better being

and honestly,
I wouldn’t trade this joy
of learning the hard rules
of wheels and pulleys,
of sweating long hours
fitting together pipe
to bring water
to fields where I fight
boll weevils and blight.

In the process
the door slowly opens,
in the process
I sacrifice for what few sheep
I can now afford to feed.

© 2010, Michael R. Patton
audacious audio

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