Sunday, February 22, 2009

Shadow Acceptance



author’s note:

Based on a true story, I’m sad to report.


STAINED GIFT

Why do you parade
that stain on your heart?

You seem to see it
as an achievement.

Though that stain is black
you reject all else
that reminds you of the dark.
You reject the night.
You reject the ghosts
of shadow corners.
You even reject something
as benign
as pigmentation.

Secretly, unknowingly
you reject your own heart.
Your own stained heart.

Did someone lay that stain on you
long ago--before you knew
you could object?
--Someone you loved?
Maybe you believe
that eradicating the stain
would be the same
as disobeying
the one who stained you.

No, matter--you still have to answer.

In any case,
I will not undertake
to change you--I’d rather
gnaw a rock.

Instead I will try to see
what remains pure
--though the stain often
dismals your waters
like the spreading ink cloud
of a frightened octopus.

I will even accept your stain

as my own.  I must have something
down there too--so hidden, so buried
that all my scrubbing
has yet to erase it.

--I must--

Why else should I receive
such a gift--?--why else
would you come into my life--?--
why else would you feel
compelled
to open the cage
of your chest to me?

© 2009, Michael R. Patton
earnest audio
new steps

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Spirit in the Night



author’s note:

“All night I could not sleep
 because of the moonlight on my bed.
 I kept on hearing a voice calling:
 Out of nowhere, Nothing answered ‘yes’.”
            -- Zi Ye  (trans. Arthur Waley)


SHADOW FLIGHT

I’m so happy to see you
passing through
in these late hours
--though you’re only a shadow
pressed against the wall,
bent by the corner
where ceiling meets wall.

Sometimes at night, spirits go out.
Just as people do during the day,
they search.  And as a result, can seem lost,
confused.
But birds always know where to roost
though their patterns of flight
appear
disjointed.

Whatever guides a shadow
remains unseen, unknown--

whatever guides a shadow understands
that trip and loss are necessary.
Understands that some must crumble,
some must be razed
in order to find
the stone foundation.

© 2009, Michael R. Patton
earnest audio
new steps

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Unlidness



author’s note:

I’m learning--albeit, slowly--to listen.  But I still have a hard time believing what I hear.


UNLIDNESS

What if you had
another head
inside your head--
     a better head
     but hidden.

A head that would call
to you...though hard to hear
with your big head talking
all the time, unaware
of that muted voice
trying to get you
to listen.

Unless--as can sometimes happen--
one day you tilt, tumble, hang upside
down

then the lid on your big head
flops open

and what comes out
in that shocking moment
is an opera

sung by ravens and lions.

But

by startled reflex
you shove that lid back down
with a firm hand:
ravens and lions are scary, but
even scarier when
they sing

Opera.

Thereafter,
you’ll keep the lid securely in place...

unless,
as can sometimes happen...

one day, while I’m distracted
by the mountain clouds,
waiting for the sun to touch
the highest peak...

that lid on my big head
--quietly, secretly--
floats up

floats away.

And this time
as the ravens and lions
raise their choir,
I accept the music

because the singing feels
just like something
that’s supposed to happen
whenever I witness abundance.

During such moments
of unlidness
I feel as if
I am beginning to be
the way I was always
meant to be.


© 2009, Michael R. Patton
new steps

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