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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

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whale-spout-792-db-b-db-october-21-2016sc

author’s note:

With regret, I cut these two lines from the poem below:

“When I realize my true size
 I don’t try to act so big”
 

WE ARE WHALES

The larger part
of human life
remains hidden
beneath the waves:

we are blue whales—
our secret language echoes
through vast expanses of ocean

so when I go below
I can hear you again
then feel you again—
you are not lost to me

and if I dare to go
even deeper down
I may hear the whole herd:

at such rare times
I am overwhelmed
by our whale song.
 


© 2016, Michael R. Patton
Listening to Silence: a book

ghost house final - March 27, 2016s

author’s note:

What a strange zoo we are.
 

UNKNOWN UNSEEN

Though being invisible is painful
I see no real reason to complain:

who among us has ever been
clearly—completely—seen?

Besides
I would rather be
unnoticed or ignored
than gawked at
by someone in blinders
who states with confidence:
“I know who he is”

and I’d feel even more
trivialized
if a distant hundred million
watched and thought
they understood me
better than I understood myself.

A hundred million might see you
a hundred million different ways
and though many of their ways
would indeed be valid…

the sum of those viewpoints
wouldn’t add up
to the whole of your parts.

I respect the other person
enough to say:
“little by little, I know you better
 but the more I see
 the more I realize
 I’ll never ever know
 half of who you are.”

When someone closes himself
so that he can comfortably think
he knows me
my first impulse
is to open his eyes
by showing him something
from the depths of my dark well

but in the process
I might also scare myself

because from experience
(often, painful)
I’ve learned:

even I don’t know
half of what I am.
 


© 2016, Michael R. Patton
dream steps: the blog

as above..

author’s note:

While watching an excellent lecture series on Ancient Egypt by Professor Bob Brier, I was inspired to write a number of poems.

Dr. Brier is indeed a joyful Egyptologist.
 

THE REAL REASON YOU VISITED THE GREAT PYRAMID

In the photograph
you grin under that
big floppy hat

but though your image
crowds the foreground
it can’t diminish
that distant monolith
behind your back—

the great pyramid—

a resounding visual echo
demanding that we ponder
not just a king’s divinity
but also our own death.

Though our tombstones
provoke solemnity and grief
those flowery graves
can’t quite convey
the true force
of the shadow we sense

whereas that mysterious crypt
puts a capital “D” on Death.

With its spire aspiring to the heavens
and its elevated cave leading to the core
the pyramid serves to remind us
of how formidably strange
this human life is.

So when I saw the photograph
I started to laugh:

there you were
smiling like a silly tourist
seemingly oblivious
of that massive tomb looming
over your left shoulder.

But despite appearances
you must have felt
its indomitable weight—

such monumental symbols
are designed to evoke
an automatic response—

perhaps you tricked yourself
into taking the desert vacation
just to have that confrontation—

you woke yourself up—!—

and now you’re showing me this photo
of a shadowed woman
squinting into the sun
because you hope I’ll find
what you’ve already discovered.
 

© 2014, Michael R. Patton
searching for the new mythology

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