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author’s note:

“In the Spring, a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.”
              — Tennyson

And maybe an older man’s fancy too.


The moment
I glimpsed your green slip
I felt myself lift

out of that dark underground artery—

hooked by a hunger
I wanted to ignore
but also wanted to obey

and obeyed, because
I knew I would return

to explore
as monks long have—
as fools long have:

if we plot enough coordinates
in this confusion of tunnels
we’ll eventually realize
the magnificence of a labyrinth

and know just where we are.

But today, I’ll obey the hunger
and maybe tomorrow too

because to live with confusion
we must occasionally forget
our confusion
by giving and receiving
in the manner
of kittens and puppies.

© 2018, Michael R. Patton
myth steps blog


author’s note:

“Buzz!  Buzz!”
     — Shakespeare, The Taming of the Shrew


Years ago
when I felt so dead
I sat myself down
and listened
deep within—

hoping to find
some sign of life…

I then discovered
what seemed to be
the steady hum of a bee—
the distant murmur rising.

I love mysteries
(even those within me)
and so
ever since that night
I’ve worked to attune myself
to the bee hum
and in that way
I’ve slowly learned to comprehend
a language still foreign.

A tedious task
yet an ideal way
to gift the mind and heart:

that bee is so wise—
consider this:

in my moments of doubt
the bee often tells me:
don’t worry—
these motions are not for nothing
you’re always making honey.

Listen intently
and you may hear
your own bee hum

not just inside yourself
but also hidden within
the buzz of your words:

while you and I distract ourselves
with lazy chitchat
our two bees communicate
at a frequency higher
than what the untrained ear
can usually detect.

Bees always speak honestly
so my bee might likely tell your bee
how I ran—how I leapt
in a vain attempt
to defy gravity

and your bee might tell mine
how a oak tree can spin
while sitting still.

Our bees reveal to the world
  our secret fears
  our secret shame
  our secret strength
  our secret grief…

but of course
my bee talks mostly to me
just as your bee talks mostly to you.

I often miss the message of mine
as I rush and holler and curse—

most days
I rush and holler and curse
until I finally collapse—
feeling defeated—
downright dead…

but at such times
I may again be
open to my bee—
at such times
the bee may repeat
what I know but keep forgetting:

these motions are not for nothing
we’re always making honey.


© 2017, Michael R. Patton
myth steps blog

gate characters - November 5, 2014s

author’s note:

The above graphic shows the Japanese characters for “gate”.


In the foreground
of the Japanese landscape print…

a dragon in lead armor plates
waits coiled beside the hilltop gate

as trees sacrifice their leaves
to the river water below the hill

and in the background…

a small peasant carrying
a bundle of rice on his back
trudges through the slanting rain
on the road that follows the river—

the river disappearing
into distant mountains tufted with pine—
their peaks shrouded in cloud.

I am living in a world of grain:

a world to be ingested, digested, read
—an outside world experienced within.

A world to which I’m held
by the rice bundle I hold.

A world of lead

yet also a world of artifice:

after the long blurred season
of rain has ended
this world loses form

as its melted colors mingle
in flooded lanes and fields
as its structures and landmarks squiggle
in water reflections…

I lose shape too–I lose boundary
as I open myself to all this fluid beauty–
to a world quickly evaporating:

lifted to the white heavens—

soon invisible…yet just as real.

What am I then?—

have I finally braved the dragon?

Have I passed through the gate?

© 2014, Michael R. Patton
listening to silence: the book


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