Sunday, July 26, 2009

Listening to the Grocery List

author’s note:

“These are not just words talking.”
                   --  Mary Oliver


I’m speaking of the spheres
while you’re talking of
today’s grocery list.

But I’ve come to realize
the secret in your list;
the secret knowledge: listen
to your list:
it is not a coded catalog
of essentials for the spirit?

Those ringed onions,
those round apples,
milk, eggs, sage, fish--
yes--especially the fish
that we pull
from the depths.

All of these gifts
will pass through the arch
of the kitchen door
so as to be revealed
and transformed
by our earnest utensils:
          the sharp knife will discern;
          the blender will blend;
          the oven will bake
          our concoction solid.

Then table knives, forks, and spoons
will break it all apart again
so we may take in
and digest
what we created from a list
that cost us so dearly,
that paid us so well.

But even if we ignored
their symbolic meaning
these everyday items
would still be sacred:
containing as they do a light

--a light that requires
such containers
because that light
can never be seen by us
straight on: too strong:
that light shines
from the province of the gods

          that watch over us
          with dispassionate passion.
          And nudge us
          a little here and there
          when we’re about to step
          on the wrong square
          --a nudge that feels
          like a lightening bolt
          all the way to the core.

other lists also contain
these messages--

I suppose all our words, heard
in a certain light,
create a lofty shadow:
a deep shadow that whispers
a secret so secret

that such subterfuge
as a grocery list is used
to tell ourselves
what the heart knows
and obeys--

how we carry
in our myriad activities
the single purpose--

how what we carry
in our hearts will force us
up the most fearsome
--and tiresome--
mountain.  The mountain
that you and I chose
too long ago
to change our minds

How could we refuse?

© 2009, Michael R. Patton
earnest audio
new steps

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Jungian Slip

author’s note:

“The Eternal Feminine draws us upward.”
                  -–   Goethe, Faust, II


Though he tries he can’t
keep her down:
that dark svelte wholesome
blonde bombshell
glass princess
femme fatale
pink sweetheart
earth mother

shadows him everywhere.

Even when he’s in
his department suit--
even after work
with his buddies
drinking up.

Purblind though they be
someone will still see her
and say, “Hey, who’s that
behind you?”

The fear of being caught
flushes hot
right to the core--
“No one.  Nothing,”
he stammers,
jittering a little laugh.

But there’s no quit
to friendly belligerence
especially when
the friend has him
on the run:
“No, I’m sure I saw a frail.
  A matron.  A tramp.  A damsel.
  A Sunday school girl.”

Then they all gang up on him:
“What’re you trying to hide from us,
  eh boy?”

“You’re drunk,” he shouts, feeling hemmed in.
“You’re not seeing straight.
  I’ve told you, there’s no one back there.
  No Venus, no Isis, no Kali,
  no Mary, no Persephone, no Gaia!”

Catching himself, he tries to cool
as they continue
to josh and joust and slosh
until finally one and all
slide off the boat
into the cold oblivion waters
of night/morning.

And though the incident is not mentioned
the next day...

he gnaws his nails,
wondering if
his slip is still showing.

He tells himself
he must endeavor
to keep her hidden better

--especially when
his girlfriend comes over
to petal his rose.

© 2009, Michael R. Patton

earnest audio
new steps

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Simple Child

author’s note:

In Egyptian mythology, the goddess Isis, in disguise, becomes nurse to the child prince of Byblos.  Each night, she thrusts the baby into the fire in order that he may gain immortality.

But then the queen catches Isis, throws a fit and rescues her child.  Thus breaks the magic spell; the child has lost his chance to become a god.

Another over-protective mother.


As a complicated adult,
I’m a very simple child
with hands still burning
to feel
the shape of our world.

I still forage as I did as a child--dimly digging

in the various forest gardens,
believing in my child’s mind
that water flows right beneath
my feet--

hoping that at any moment
the white geyser will break, gush up
and hoist me to the heavens
on its strong spout.

such a geyser
gains power
only by going deep
into the earth.

So in my digging
when I do hit
the right spot
instead of rising up
the earth caves
and I follow
that white geyser

down and around

the downward spiral
of a dragon’s tail
--down and around
the downward spiral
of an upside-down mountain


with an empty surrender
weakening my stomach, but strengthening
my heart--down

--on down--

until I’m swept
into the mouth of a furnace fire
--the kiln, the oven
for urns, bread, and purgatory.

As animals, we still fear fire
though fire will make us heavenly.
Fire torches a complicated adult
but tempers a holy baby

and I will be as a baby born
when I’m in the heat of the hearth
where the devil is no longer Satan,
but known as Lucifer.  A complement
and compliment
to the sky’s white lotus home.

Every white home needs a black home
in order for it to thrive and shine
so I will still need both
when the dross
has all burned off.

My chubby baby arms reach
for the mother--reach deeper into the flames.
My chubby baby laughter says:
you can’t destroy me
--at least, not permanently:

because this eternity will eventually end
when its burning work is done.

Then what’ve I worked out--?--
where is the work
in all my ashes--?--
where is the gold--?--
where is the spout
that’s supposed
to lift me back out--?--

the gold is the leaves of white ash,
the spout is the leaves of white ash
that drift up from the cavern well
to become the wings of a butterfly.

Then--and only then--do I ascend.

© 2009, Michael R. Patton
earnest audio
new steps

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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Wild at Magnetic North

author’s note:

I’ve found friendship to be a house of mirrors.


Your rising wave is a mountain
you keep building.

At birth, you found
your first giggle in the splash fount
buoying you up to the sun

so you didn’t know
that the silent urge
of the undertow
bided its time

--when you crested
you actually felt safe
at such a height

--peaceful in a suspended moment--

until you looked up to find
the compass spinning--
wild at magnetic north

then as you began the inevitable slide
you realized you were riding
something that wouldn’t listen
to plea bargaining.

And that was only the beginning--
it’s been up and down ever since.

Who would ever guess
you have such a wave
inside you?

You still look like a baby
and all your jumbled mumbles
mostly muffle the hiss and crashing,
the thrashing
of the jagged wave tail.

I once knew a cat that
had been teased to distraction
as a kitten.

I could only pet that cat
for a minute or two
before it would snap.

Temperamental, yes,
but tough.

You, on the other hand,
barely cover that hole
with your arm

so someone can distract you
then reach right in
and take something out
without much effort or even thought.

But such lack of defense
can lead to strength.

I feel privileged to know you.

As for that poor thief...

he will never realize
he’s missed your wave rising.

© 2009, Michael R. Patton
earnest audio
new steps

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