Sunday, January 30, 2011

So Secretly Deep

author's note:

What's the use of the poem below?  That's a fair question for me to ask myself of this or any other poem I post.

Well, when I read the sparse lines of this poem, I have a sense of the act.  Of kneeling, of lowering, of approaching the rich dark green water.

So, at least one of us has responded.


When the wise frog
sees a prince
glowing silver-white
in the darkness...

it comprehends many
rich possibilities--

the frog knows
what the prince
could become
if he would just
lower his lips
to the water
of the pond--

beneath the trees:
its opaque oval
so secretly deep.

© 2011, Michael R. Patton
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Friday, January 28, 2011


author’s note:

As stated in the poem below, my hands do indeed seem small.

But maybe they’re just a little bit bigger than when I first wrote this poem.


Yes, Pedro and I
can still beam joy
in these spinning days
of confusion and blood.

While I sing
that child grins his cracked teeth, rings
his tambourine.
I pan for gold
with my banjo.

Yesterday, I took him to Congress
believing we’d at least
have the satisfaction
of feeling superior, upstairs
in the balcony.

But I just kept on seeing us
down below.  So

I brought Pedro back out
to bask in the sun’s rays
and witness the smiles
of the wounded.
No one ever loses his soul-- 
it’s only misplaced.

Many claim
that many children now
grow up
with their souls
outside their bodies.
But Pedro and I, we both agree:
it’s always been that way.

Still, we’re hopeful fools.
Pedro says
that if enough get mended
the rest just might
click into place.  A chain reaction.
The teeter totter effect.

To that end,
we spindle invisible projects,
turning the cranks inside our mines,
hoisting up buckets of ash,
all the while searching for
the occasional
jitterbug diamond.

Minuscule, but what can one do?
Our hands seem so small.

The question is:
are we winning fast enough?
A monster
--on the opposite side of the wall--
jacks the odds against us.

But maybe the wall is illusion.
So maybe we can bargain.

In any case, Pedro and I remain
solidly determined
to task happy:
my banjo is banjoy
and Pedro’s diamonds dance
like jumping beans
on his tambourine

to keep our eyes from bruising
when the tears begin to sting.

© 2011, Michael R. Patton

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Sunday, January 09, 2011

Lady Kasa and Me

author's note:

Lady Kasa lived in mid-8th century Japan.  Little else is known of her life.

She is remembered for the poems of love and sorrow she wrote to the poet and government official, Otomo no Yakamochi.


I made a poem
this morning

unlike those
Lady Kasa wrote
centuries ago--

because hers usually told
of love and tears--

often bemoaning both

whereas I bemoan
this mountain
that I just can't
stop climbing.

This mountain I love.

Tears spotted her precious parchment

and yes, I must admit
tears have, at times, wrinkled
my cheap notebook pages.

Her long sleeves dragged
over a quiet royal courtyard
during those solitary strolls
filled with love's longing

and yes, I admit, my own
long sleeves often sag as
I walk this lonely dirt path.

Wherever I go, whatever I do
I'm always led back to myself

as was Lady Kasa.

I made a poem
this morning

not unlike those
Lady Kasa wrote
centuries ago.

© 2011, Michael R. Patton

(Lady Kasa's tanka poems can be found in the excellent anthology, From the Country of Eight Islands, edited by Hiroaki Sato and Burton Watson).

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