Thursday, August 25, 2016

For the Benefit of Blessed Fools



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
glorious tedious transformation: a poetry book

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Gold Dust



author’s note:

...and the street of the city was pure gold...
             -- Revelation 21:21


GOLD DUST

Though I glimpsed
fragile frost sparkling
amid the fur of that green moss
I rejected the urge
to stop and explore
with my hungry fingertips.

Later, while under
the bare branches of the trees
I sensed a mystery in the wind
but at such a fast pace, I mostly missed
the multi-layered voice
of the long brown grass.

Then, at the end of this rush
I poured water down my gullet
until my belly felt pleasantly plump
but because I forgot to focus
I lost the bright flavor of the ice.

So much gold I've diminished to dust.

Nonetheless
sometimes I'll allow something
to break through my somnolence--

for instance:

the time when
the bird perched vertically
on that tall weed stem--

I felt such admiration
for the way it held on
with those small taunt claws

then I was dazzled again
as the wren vanished
in a flash of flutter and feather
drawing my child-mind to the sky
where I beheld
a low cloud sliding swiftly by:

in that blessed instant
my dormant neurons suddenly blazed up
with unspeakable white intensity

but soon
(like the earth-bound soul I am)
I followed the natural inclination
to lower my eyes back down to this world--
a world now beaming
with so many varieties of gold:

the gold I usually ignore

but even then, it's not lost:
whether I'm aware or not
I'm taking in all this treasure
with every living moment.

I believe after death
we're finally able to realize
the riches we've accumulated
through our human existence.

But until then I can at least
force myself to occasionally brake
to see and feel and hear and taste
and in that way, remind myself:

in this dusty life
I walk on streets of gold.



© 2016, Michael R. Patton
myth stemps: the blog

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Monday, August 08, 2016

How Aunt Maggie Got So Bright



author's note:

"What if this is as good as it gets?"
        -- from the movie As Good as It Gets


HOW AUNT MAGGIE GOT SO BRIGHT

I have a theory
about why Aunt Maggie
(in life, the grumbling one)
seemed so deeply peaceful
when you saw her late that night:

when we are released
from life's foggy grip
we can grab hold
of what held us
and finally fully see
that blind life--
examine it at arm's length
so to speak.

With that perspective
I think our aunt might arrive
at the question
I sometimes ask myself
when I’m able to stop
long enough
to look back
with some degree of clarity:

why why why
did I shrink myself
down so small?--
why did I grumble
whenever the cookie crumbled?--

after all, I knew quite well
that every day in some way
the cookie would crumble.


I believe that question
would lead dear Maggie
to an understanding
she'd avoided while living:

she would see the true pain behind
all her grousing and grumbling
and in seeing
feel a piercing empathy
for the person she once was--

an empathy she'd then naturally extend
to anyone voicing small complaint--
she would now see how
they fear to touch
the real wound...

yes, that would explain
the tenderness she emanated
when you saw her in the dark--

that would explain
why Aunt Maggie shines
so much brighter
than she did during the labor
of her sweet and sour life.



© 2016, Michael R. Patton
Butterfly Soul: a poetry book

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Monday, August 01, 2016

Our Blessed Monster



author's note:

If I thought these poems only related to my own experience, I wouldn't bother to publish.


OUR BLESSED MONSTER

A miracle birth occurred
the moment your storm
collided with mine:

though born with
a bumpy riot of a heartbeat
that monster baby refused to die--

even when stuffed in a box
and buried far underground
the life of our union bled upward
through black volcanic rock

to burst forth and blast us again:

a difficult child and yet
its twisted limbs forced us
to find our strength

and in the process of finding
we climbed

up this divine rosy mountain
of dark thorny crosses

up--
until we'd gone as far as we could go
together

then the blessed beast slipped
our tightest grip.

Now, as the clouds slowly slowly clear
I'm beginning to see our accomplishment.

And yet...
on one of my stormy nights
I may fall back to being small
and again try to imagine
the freedom I could've enjoyed
had I done as I'd once planned
and traveled alone...

but when I wake to find myself
in the mud of such regret
I just push myself back up

and keep on climbing...



© 2016, Michael R. Patton
My War for Peace: a book

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