Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Cold Wisdom of Winter

author's note:

A good poem, I think, to welcome our Spring.


I miss winter--
how breaking through the hard ice
strengthened the beat of my heart;
how braving the sharpening wind
gave me a sense of accomplishment.

How the waves of drifts made me lift
my feet high. How I kept myself warm
with the heat of desire.

To help myself fight through to Spring
I thought of the sunlight glowing soft
    on the top of every sprout--

I thought of how
the earth welcomes the plow,
of how the soil gladdens to open
to breathe again--
wishing to show how rich brown it has grown
during the dark days--
to reveal its goodness and its godness,
to give an intimation
of what lies deeper down.

But now, my memories have changed
as the season has

I miss winter, the cold wisdom of winter.

© 2010, Michael R. Patton
shameless self-promotion

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Eagles and Buzzards

author’s note:

A poem recently tweaked and now reposted.

Perhaps this poem is just wishful thinking.

But perhaps it’s also way of expressing anger.

And a means of expressing sadness.


Old men keep asking
young men to die, to die
three times:

to die when they kill,
to die when they are wounded,
and then to make the fated mistake:
of allowing themselves to be killed.

In the first two, the soul waits
close by--
hanging from a thread
yet still connected
to the spirit, to the heart--
the soul waits
for the spirit, for the heart
to mourn the pain.

But in the third instance,
the spirit stands outside
with the soul
the spirit may linger
though the spirit knows
the home is now a house
open to the winds
of the plains.

The earth grows poor
with the loss
of such pounding life
and so may press down
to hold the wandering spirit

but in a year or in a hundred
the lost one rises to freedom

and thus abandons
museum ceremonies
that deaden us
with formality.
With flags.

I say,
let old men fight old men,
let them destroy their anger
by eating gray shadows
filled with thorns.

At the first pinprick
I bet the old men
would come down
to their wits
and then sit
for a convivial
game of cards.

Yes, they might still
spudder spittle
but never so much
as to wreck
the ship of friendship.

Until then, I say
to the old eagle women:
allow your eaglets to escape unscathed:
drop them from the nest,
then keep your honed eye
on the machinations of
the old buzzards--
hold your straw brooms
at the ready

--ready to sweep those vultures clean.

Old buzzards, can’t you forgive
your spirit sons
for being so honestly youthful?

Old buzzards, you’ll become old eagles
if you can remember your love--

if you can remember your love
you’ll allow the young
to grow to their age of power.

I believe we’d all actually enjoy
the relaxation of peace--
I’ll write you when I get there.

© 2010, Michael R. Patton
dream steps
earnest audio

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Sunday, March 07, 2010

High Crossing

author’s note:

In my early youth, I had a wild fear of walking over bridges.

But in Arkansas, we had what we called “swing bridges”.  Those bridges hung high above our rivers and creeks, and some of those rickety things were to be feared.


Crossing high over a river
on a swing bridge
that appears
none too trustworthy.

A swing bridge
with several broken footboards
and two long frayed ropes
for my hands to hold--

the fragile span creaks
as the wind rolls in

and the water flashes
far below me–its red rocks
look like mouths of sharks.

Nonetheless, none of this
can deter me from gazing
at the distant mountains
revealed in that open space
where the river parts the trees.

Fed by the sun, those mountains
rise like towers
overgrown with moss.
Or like a garden of green pillars.
Or like ancient tombstones.
--I’m reminded of many things
   that those mountains
   both are and are not.

Do they watch over us--?--
and if they do watch,
do they feel alarm--?--or
at least, some concern?

They worry not
for themselves--they know
we can not destroy them--
no matter how hard we work.
--I feel

the softness
of the wooden step
beneath my boot.

So I slide my foot
onto the next footboard

only find that its wood
has gone weak as well.

I imagine all these boards
suddenly collapsing
like piano keys falling
into a river of applause.

But I can also imagine
walking on air
all the way
to the other side--

though I know
such wishes
are never honored--
such wishes
are just not honorable.

So for moment, I will watch
my toes and not the mountains...

but I can still feel the mountains

and in feeling, I listen
to their message:
if they can not die
neither can I...

So if I fall, I will try to fall
gratefully, gracefully
'til I'm borne on a bird
that lives in a cloud
toward those welcoming peaks.

© 2010, Michael R. Patton

webbed site

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