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author’s note:

In my experience, dreams don’t lie.
 

THE WAY TO THE KINGDOM

Last night I wished
to escape on the beach

but a dream came to pain me
with golden possibility.

In the scene I was both slave and king

but the king slumped—
useless in his sleep

and so
the slave had to carry his master
through dark forests
through swamps

but found enough strength
in this belief:

as long as he ventured forth
with sincere intent
whatever direction he chose
would return them
to the kingdom

then the king would awaken
and he, his servant
would no longer live as slave.

This dream might seem to be
little more
than a fanciful child’s tale

nonetheless
when I woke from it
I knew again
how lost I usually feel

but also
the strength of my hope.
 


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

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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

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

woods stone b 523 - June 26, 2016s

author’s note:

Though I cut these three lines from the poem below, I think they bear repeating:

the water told her:
that palace belongs to you
so you don’t need a prince
 

THE WHITE PALACE

She ceased to be a handmaiden
when she stumbled and fell
while gathering wood
and awoke

to see the black forest blazing
with the white light of a palace

for an infinite moment

then woke again
into a darkness deepened
by the absence of that light—
awoke knowing
her long sojourn had begun:

the nebulous desire
that had frustrated her former life
now focused toward the golden goal
of finding the gate
to that magical palace of light

and with focus, that desire grew

but as a result
her frustration did too.

However
she survived her many fearful inner storms
because she knew enough stories to know
this path wouldn’t lead to splendor
without hardships such as
briars, boils, boredom,
lightning bolts, boars, mosquitoes,
cold ghosts and unknown shadows.

Alas
she finally tripped
on the worst malady of all:

confusion!—

shouldn’t I be there by now?
she wondered
haven’t I already earned the key?

but this time when she fell
she landed at the stream
and on its singing mirror
found, to her surprise
the white blaze
in her dark eyes.

The water told her:
that castle doesn’t reside
in any candy kingdom
but stands firm
on your own solid earth—

it’s not made of fairy dust
but of your stone and oak and darkness

with a white light
glowing from the open door and windows—
indestructible…as all light is.

At the stream, she realized
what she’d long known deep down:

how she creates
that functional structure
with every searching step she makes
in this black forest.
 


© 2016, Michael R. Patton
myth steps: the book

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