Sunday, May 24, 2009

Lush Life

author’s note:

The wind sculpted the stone,
the stone is a cup of water,
the water runs off and is wind.
Stone and wind and water.
          —  Octavio Paz (trans. Robert Hass)


This desert is lush--

it never lacks for sand.

I cradle an armful
of these fine,
these plain brown

droplets of water
condense around
each grain held close
to the breast:
            my addition,
            my offering.

Under the spell
of such a process,
I fight to hang on
as the gift
that is not mine
to keep
to leak.

I remain in joy
as long as I can see
this situation
as comedic:
                look at me--
scrambling to stop
what can not
be stopped
from slipping away

--until finally
I accept the inevitable
and give it all back

to the wind and the ocean
in which I bathe

--returning, I hope
a better grain.

© 2009, Michael R. Patton
earnest audio
new steps

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

My Best Peristalsis

author’s note:

It’s ironic...

As I care less about what people may think...

I become a better person.


Do you have some special type
of knife

that can help me
cut this thing--?--

so I can digest it:
this big awkward block
of granite?

Or perhaps you can suggest
a style?
--some style I may adopt
so I can bite into it
and make of my eating
an art?

Is there some kind of camera
you can train on me
that will give my pain poignancy?
--instead of its usual harshness
and instability--

which I try to cover
with my nonchalance
as if eating granite rock
is no more significant
than spreading cheese on a cracker.

I’m just trying to find some way
to feel less embarrassed
by this necessity, less naked
--though I don’t actually know
if anyone’s looking, if anyone

On second thought:
don’t bother about the knife:
I was only talking
because in actuality
I’ve already begun
to digest that block
----in secret----
by wrapping the delicate feelers
in my stomach
around the granite
then hammering it
all the time
patiently accepting
the pain.

In all honesty/humility
I must say:
it’s the best peristalsis
I’ve ever performed.

And despite my embarrassment
I just wish someone
would recognize
that I’ve done the hard thing well.
But perhaps they’re too discreet,
too respectful--?--
or maybe they’re all
just too busy
with their own blocks.

© 2009, Michael R. Patton
earnest audio
new steps

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Fool Errant

author’s note:

Many years ago, I got hold of something too hot to handle.

I’ve spend the intervening time trying to get it back.


Looking over at a roof top
I spied
a string of electric lights--
dead at the noon hour.

So I snuck back at midnight,
just to see how the bulbs
might perform
in the dark.

One--only one--burned
but even that one
on and off--

as if uncertain
of its decision.

All the other lights
were dead planets.

I believed that a simple twist
of the one good bulb
could make those other glass orbs
in an instantaneous blaze.

So I climbed over a wall and up
a tree, then shimmied along
a limb until

I reached that rooftop
and the spiraling string of lights
strung over its spine.

A deep breath
as I pulled
a burglar’s glove
over my hand

and then--with heroic anticipation--
I eased the one blinking bulb
deeper into its socket.

For a nanosecond I felt the satisfaction
of securing that bulb--felt the pleasure--
for one nanocsecond--

before a full dragon charge ripped
up my arm,
jagged my brain,
jangled my legs,
roared my intestines--yes


--like a god in its
fervor and severity--
gripped my entire frame,
shook my rationality
into watery jelly.

A moment later--after an eternity that
I will reference in the afterlife--
I blew from the roof like a crisp burnt leaf--
         though I’m actually a golden loaf
         with its gold still hidden
         under an opaque flaking crust--

I flipped and flopped as I dropped
without enough energy left
to even try to steady myself
--though I did have one worry:
my heart

--which I then found reflected
in that one blinking light--
all the other bulbs had blown out
but I could still see that one
flexing like starlight
high above me.

I realized then
that no amount of voltage
or neglect
could ever brown out
that bulb.  Imagine.

So I left that incident
with a pervasive joyfulness--
not something I shout about:
a quiet, determined joy
that reconciles me
to the relentless erosion
of heavy water--
that even reconciles me
to the dark fire--

a quiet, determined joy
that has returned to me
the mystery
of the night-starred hills, the mystery
of the deer
in fields of snow.

I do not offer my escapade
as a form to follow--

though obviously
some special force
guided my mind
to that fool’s errand,
guided me
to that string of light
with its electrical short.

I’m still looking
for that gold--
still eroding
that burnt crust.

© 2009, Michael R. Patton

earnest audio
new steps

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Wednesday, May 06, 2009


author’s note:

“The lamb will lie down with the lion...but the lamb won’t get very much sleep.”
                  –  Woody Allen


The lion presses its paw
down onto my back
as I sleep, my face into the pillow.

If I look up
I fear
the claws may fall
into my eyes.

No matter--I can’t turn around
with that paw pushing down.
I have a mouthful of goosedown:
I’m nearly suffocating.

Now the lion begins to stroke
through my flesh
--as casually as raking leaves.
Showing some slight curiosity.

But of course--a cat.

Has the beast
come to free me?
To dig down
all the way
to my heart?

The lion lifts its paw
to claw again.
I seize the moment--turn over--

to face its wet black nose,
the splendid teeth,
splintery whiskers.
Those golden
dispassionate eyes.

If I am to be freed
through such rude treatment
I want first to address my unmasker.

But the lion clamps its free paw
over my mouth
while the other paw
now digs into
that most tender place.

The indignity!

I grab the leg
at the foot joint
and try to pry the paw loose.

I don’t want to scream,
merely to speak,
to tell the lion
just what I think--
       make the big cat
       feel shame,
       if at all possible.

But then I realize
I’m only trying
to defend myself.

So I let go of the leg.

I have nothing to say
to the beast now
          “Hurry up.”

© 2009, Michael R. Patton
earnest audio
new steps

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