Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Haunted Palace

author's note:

I wanted to post something scarey for Halloween.  And what’s more scarey than our own selves?

But it’s meant to be a hopeful poem.


This palace is beautiful
but haunted--
human life has bled
into its brick.

We lounge
in the smoking parlor
breathing our civilized thoughts
out through our mouths--
expelling our ashen shadows
into the draperies, crushing our sadness
into the boards underfoot.

So why are we surprised
when the walls groan
like a pained animal?
The windows cry for opening--
they’d rather have their glass shattered
than live in such a fog.

Millions of tears have been shed
in this downstairs room.  A man hung
himself here
rather than climb
the staircase.

Rather than climb the staircase
we let bats jump out of our heads

to commit glorious wars.

I get the tension nerves when
I step to the attic--but firm up
my resolution
to look into the mirror
until morning, though I know
spirits will seep
into my mind and body--
I’ll be possessed--
but through destruction
made whole once more.

I may thrash
like a skeleton wracked
by Saint Vitus’ dance.
The sight of me
may lift wigs
off respectable lids.

But I must break open
my own heart,
my own hand,
my own head.

I refuse to be haunted.

© 2009, Michael R. Patton
earnest audio
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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Finer-Tuned Pitch

author's note:

Recently, I was perusing the religious section at the library...

...when I found a story told by a man who leads self-help seminars.  At the end of each seminar, he asks participants to express their lives through some type of physical movement.

One woman got down on the floor, on her belly, and begin to creep along like an inchworm.

I thought to myself, "Yes, I know what you're talking about."

Unfortunately, I do not recall the title of the book.

Click on the image below in order to read the poem.

© 2009, Michael R. Patton
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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wrap Music

author’s note:

Though the poem below is not based on an actual situation... is based on an actual condition.


Though she asks only for
the simple sling
I summon a full force
of 10,000 dramatic soldiers
in order to deliver.

Such an opportunity!

Fighting against my embarrassed ego
I have dedicated myself to her service.

I argue, “Why not?”
After all, she has indulged me
by patiently tolerating
my ornamental descriptions
of her delicacy, her strength,
her heart-felt grace.

Who else has allowed me
to express so much?

So again, I argue, “Why not?”--
consider this: though I offered
to move mountains for her...

she’s placed only one request:
the ribbon of pink silk.

But since heroic deeds daunt me
less than something that binds,
the deeds are less, and the ribbon
is more, so how can I resist
such an opportunity--?

Nothing else
can give my service more meaning.
Without service,
where is our meaning?

So...though I still doubt
that I’ve yet bled enough...

I go to the reeds by the river
to find the pink garter snake
that’s waited so long in the mud--
     waiting to wrap its life
     around the two of us.

© 2009, Michael R. Patton

earnest audio
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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The Upside of Down

author’s note:

I tried to find a replacement for the line “all the way to the bottom of hell”, thinking it sounded too common.

It is too common.


I started to write
a poem
about morning coffee
while leaning my elbows
on the table
and gazing over
the orange hills of dawn.

Then I remembered the story
from yesterday:
about the interrogator
who broke men’s spines.
No.  He actually snapped
the spinal column
then set the prisoner down
on his head to hear him scream--

all the way to the bottom of hell.

So I did not write the morning poem.

My plan had been to tinge the lines
with melancholia--
the melancholia that can sometimes
drift down
at the beginning of a sun-filled day.

My idea was to convey the irony
of feeling wistful
in a world of plenty.

But today I will not ignore my shock...

all around me I see people
set down on their heads...

But I can not ignore my hope:
I tell myself
we’re all learning to balance
to gain a greater perspective.

© 2009, Michael R. Patton

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