Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Speck of Light

author’s note:

At this point, I don’t feel like giving my whole life story when I meet someone for the first time.

Instead, I’m tempted to just say, “I’ve been up, I’ve been down, I’ve been around the block.”


Short men with tall hats--
but I shouldn’t complain:
I gave them
the chains
then swallowed
the key.

And of course,
being who they are,
afterwards they acted as if
they’d done it all

You only own me
because I let you,
I told them.

But they just stuck
their noses up,
acting tall in their tall hats--
they refuse to
acknowledge me
as long
as I’m chained down.

But indignation only shrank me
smaller--the rage
that I thought
would give me the strength
to bust those chains
actually made me weaker--
you never hear
that part of the story.

The trick is
to look up--
to locate
a little speck of light--
because every ceiling
has at least
a tiny hole
for breathing room.

Finding that speck
builds a desire, a stronger desire–

now you can recall
how the light offered you
the day you were born,
though you conveniently
forget how painful
the birth process was.

But oddly enough, the effort
of shouldering up from the soil
creates an even greater impetus
to stand
and walk
so that the pain almost becomes
a good feeling; anyway a feeling
and it’s better to feel something
than nothing at all.

Stretching is
breaking through
and out:

hot and fresh and significant
all hitting you at the same time:
--stung but cleaned
    by the new air and sun--

this is the better way
I’ve imagined:
how I want my life: Heroic.

To have enough height
to look down
and see how stunted
those fellows
really are.

Oh yes, they’re still around:
they never leave, just change hat size.

When I rise
they’re actually
I pick them up
by the short hairs
and swallow
as if eating
short cakes.

© 2008, Michael R. Patton
new steps
dreaming up

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