Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Meditating Upon a Centipede



author's note:

I dedicate this poem to all those of my generation who hoped the Carlos Castaneda books were true accounts.

So, in part, I dedicate this poem to myself.


MEDITATING UPON A CENTIPEDE

Once in a forest, alone
I tried to force my eyes open

driven by the desire to see
the mysteries
of a spirit world I sense
all around me.

For many minutes I peered
into the darkness of the trees--
I stared--I squinted--
trying to pierce the curtain

until nearly blind with frustration...

finally I sank down to rest
on a stump by a dry brook

but in the quiet defeat
of this convalescence
I slowly forgot myself

as my empty eyes began to fill
with the grand beauty
of a centipede
humbly soldiering
through a rich wasteland
of gray-brown leaves:

such intelligence in those little legs!

I watched until
the tails disappeared
into a miniature door
at the base of the stump

but a few more moments passed
before I came back to myself--
suddenly I realized
I'd entered an elevated state--

maybe now
the mysteries of the world
would open to me--!

But that desire, returning so abruptly
broke the peace
and I returned to being the lesser being.

Thus
the secrets I wished to see
remained secrets.

I then cursed my impulse

until I realized:
without this drive
I could not endure
the tedious process of opening
to the truth of a hidden world
we all secretly know.



© 2017, Michael R. Patton
listening to silence: a poetry book

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Tuesday, October 03, 2017

While Waiting in an Outlying Province



author's note:

Written while reading the anthology The Clouds Should Know Me By Now: Buddhist Poet Monks of China, edited by Red Cloud and Mike O'Connor.  Excellent.


WHILE WAITING IN AN OUTLYING PROVINCE

Despite the exquisite craft
of my song and dance
I've yet to receive
a summons from
the distant imperial palace.

As what began as a short wait
became a long wait
I tried to appease my desire
by enjoying the sun
on the stones in the stream

and by telling myself
the rusty nails of my humble hermitage
shine more brightly
than those golden hinges
of the locked palace gates.

In such ways
I managed to muffle
my whimpering disappointment...

until the night
someone cried out to the sky--

in his pain I heard my pain
and as I felt my pain again
I felt his pain more deeply:

I felt life more deeply

so I continued to listen--
I opened myself to the many cries.

In that way
his pain and her pain
and my pain and their pain
soon became our pain.

Yes
I've become one of the valley villagers.

Now, I no longer pray for approval
from the imperial palace
because I know
whatever boons or gratuities
I might receive
would not be enough to comfort me--

I would still feel our pain.

So now, I'm working to learn
the song of healing...
the dance.



© 2017, Michael R. Patton
butterfly soul: a poetry book

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Sunday, September 24, 2017

Weave in Peace



author's note:

And now for something a bit shorter...


WEAVE IN PEACE

Moonlight whitens a spider dangling
down on an unseen string--
down from a limb of shadow leaves.

This suspension holds me in suspense

yet the spider seems quite at ease:

the spider knows its strength

thus, it weaves in peace...

on the other hand, humans
are still learning

so we doubt as we dangle...

maybe someday
we'll realize the truth
of our strength

and thereafter
weave in peace.


© 2017, Michael R. Patton
Common Courage: a poetry book

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Monday, September 18, 2017

The Bee Within



author's note:

"Buzz!  Buzz!"
     -- Shakespeare, The Taming of the Shrew


THE BEE WITHIN

Years ago
when I felt so dead
I sat myself down
and listened
down
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.

Unfortunately
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
listening to silence: a poetry book

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