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hand-touch-january-12-2017s

author’s note:

Once again, I try to get this poem right.
 

ENDURING THE BEST

After you, I realized:

we must endure
not only the worst
among us, but also
the best.

Both overwhelm us—
both challenge us
to rise above.

Yes, one tries to darken our eyes
while the other tries to enlighten

but brilliant light can stun

and with sight
comes responsibility:

when I try to ignore
what I now know
I feel guilty

especially when I sense
your old owl eyes watching me
from a place unseen
(located somewhere
 over my left shoulder).

Yes I’m pleased
you take an interest
I just wish you’d encourage me
occasionally

when doubt
agitates my thought
almost to blindness—

reassure me
with a spirit whisper:

tell me again
why I must not slack
in this work—
tell me again
how it helps us all.

Tell me
to keep on lifting
my leaden feet—
tell me I can find
the strength hidden within
—but only if I try to lift.

Please, tell me
I will eventually
hold the peace
that always seems to slip
from my grip.

Tell me
all you once told me—
tell me again…

I wait…
but again: only silence

yet I don’t feel rejected—
after all
why should you remind me
when I haven’t forgotten?—

besides that
a repeat would merely be
temporary comfort—
not a cure:

no one but me can give me courage.

As my moment of weakness passes
I feel ashamed once again
but also think:

maybe later
I can use this moment
as a story lesson

later…
when I become someone
others will gladly endure.

 


© 2017, Michael R. Patton
Butterfly Soul: poems of death & grief & joy

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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

future of dogs 332h - January 15, 2014s

author’s note:

When one dog barks, one hundred dogs.
            — old Chinese proverb
 

THE FUTURE OF DOGS

What if we humans
(overwhelmed by our life)
began to regress:

what if we lowered to crawl
then slide even further—
down to a slither

until finally
for the sake of simplicity
we shrank to the basic life
of the one-cell organism?

To fill the void we’d leave behind
maybe dogs would drive our cars:
just like humans
they’d work, play, marry, spend—
experiment, build, scheme…

and perhaps in the exhaustion
of all the stress and rush
they’d eventually stop
and begin wonder if
there might be something more
beyond that mash of noise.

Maybe they’d then invent
a story of mystery
to add another dimension
to their lives
and thus fulfill
an obscure desire

or maybe in those moments of silence
they’d actually begin to sense
a reality unseen:

maybe some
would flex their nostrils
and try to sniff out
that other world

and maybe they’d eventually find a trail
that could lead us there

but if nothing else
they’d experience the ache
of searching
and thus discover
new depths to the heart:

in either case
they’d be driven to express
something beyond the limits
of their usual yapping
and so begin to howl
from deep, deep down

and as those dogs howled
other dogs would naturally stop to listen:

those busy dogs
would brake their cars
and open their ears
to hear the feeling within the sound—
they’d feel the feeling
and in feeling, also begin to howl

and by howling, discover
their better deeper nature—
discover their higher truth:

they’d find the ring
that links them all together.

In this way
canines could continue to evolve—
they’d go beyond raw survival
they’d go beyond dog-eat-dog:

they’d reject the temptation
to lazily regress
to the dark numb world
of the one-cell organism…

 

© 2015, Michael R. Patton

myth steps: the blog

owl eyes - September 8, 2013s

author’s note:

It doesn’t have to be an owl.
 

GUARDIANS

One fortunate midnight…

I woke to find in my bedroom window
two golden fire eyes with pits of black.

I froze dumb, struck to core
as the owl peered straight into me—
examining, taking the sum
of all my troubles, conflicts
beyond number

not to judge me nor feel pity—
just to calculate my progress
in this refining process.

Overwhelmed, in but a few moments
I could bear no more and so shut down.

Nonetheless, the next morning I felt satisfied—

what I’d only vaguely sensed before
had just been confirmed as fact:

this world does indeed have eyes—we are being monitored

and though our guardians
can seem so distant
so dispassionate

their presence indicates
this life is
of enough importance
for the unseen to take note of us.

I realize you may say
the owl was but a dream…

well, perhaps that’s so

but I’ve never known
a dream to speak false

so if the owl’s not out there
the owl must be within me…

either way,
what I’m doing counts.

© 2013, Michael R. Patton
you can now buy these poems, instead of getting them for free!

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