Thursday, May 31, 2012

Fig Tree Communion


author's note:

I've never received communion...

...at least, not in church.


FIG TREE COMMUNION

I take this fig
onto my tongue
into my mouth
into my blood:

as I taste its richness
I meditate on
the spirit of the fig tree
from which it comes--

the tree
gaining strength
through its patience
as it slowly builds
ring upon ring--

the tree
even at full growth
still able to bend
sideways with the wind
then snap back
to vertical--

the tree
when shaken by the storm
finds unshakable security
in its deep roots.

The fig
as it feeds my blood
asks me to feel
my own tree spirit--
asks me to think

of how strong
I must become
if I'm to produce
such nourishing figs
as this one.


© 2012, Michael R. Patton
searching for the new mythology

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Monday, May 28, 2012

Maternal Tenacles


author's note:

A savanna is a wasted only within the context of this poem.


MATERNAL TENTACLES

Our forerunner
--Lucy--
was discovered in
a wasted savanna

yet recently when
I looked down and within
I found the tiny skeleton
in my lonely wicker basket--!--

yes, this white man
carries a small black woman-child
in his belly--!--who knows
what we hold!

Now, having seen
I can not reject
something so delicate:
the paternal and maternal
have become as one:
I’m determined to return
that desiccated fetus to life--

as I soothe her in my sling
I begin to lactate in the soul,
yes---

I can feel my milk
slowly expanding--
I can not stop this spill--
I can not stop without drying--
I can not stop this spill
from spreading its tentacles
--albeit, tentatively--
beyond the borders of my domain--
desirous of touch, yet
still afraid:
      my feelers have encountered
      blunt objects before
      and been blunted.

But as I continue
this fledgling spreading
I can see the snail gray
beneath Lucy's fingertips
begin to bleed back to pink.

Soon I can open this box
without fearing the hard light
will crush her to powder--

we will prove
even a desert can be fertile:
we will defy this dryness--
we will bloom.


© 2012, Michael R. Patton
earnest audio

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Monday, May 21, 2012

Vessel



author’s note:

A few years ago, during a power outage that lasted through five long, dark winter evenings, I read the book Healing Night...

...in which author Rubin R. Naiman tells us how we've lost our night, our sleep, our dreams.


VESSEL


Lowing of a cloudy moon
over a wet grass silver field

as the tap...tap
of a dripping tree
hangs pearl flames
on a web above me:

the spider's spindle legs
play the strings
with the patience
of aged wisdom

while I wait...I wait
--mouth hollow
   as a dark church

until finally
a globe
of distilled water
shakes loose, drops down
onto my tongue.

I savor the sacrament.
An infinite moment.
Then swallow down,
eyes closed--
feeling the blessing
descend...

in this way, I regain
what I have sacrificed
in the day's dry light.

© 2012, Michael R. Patton
new steps

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Monday, May 14, 2012

Missive from a Distant Province


author's note:

As I recall, I wrote the first draft of this poem a few years ago, while reading the excellent anthology The Clouds Should Know Me By Now: Buddhist Poet Monks of China, edited by Red Cloud and Mike O'Connor.


MISSIVE FROM A DISTANT PROVINCE

Despite the fine qualities
of my song and dance
I remain in this
outlying province

waiting, waiting so long
for some word from
that far-off imperial capitol.

I tried to appease my hunger
by enjoying the sun
on the stones in the stream

telling myself how
the open light of my humble home
shines more brightly
than those golden hinges
on the latched imperial gates

but beneath my cool logic
the pain in me screamed

so, whenever I heard
someone else cry out
I heard myself...

thus, my pain
and his pain and her pain
in time, became...our pain.

So now I no longer pray for approval
from the palace--
whatever gratuities I'd receive
would not be enough to comfort me--

if I do not reject the crested pillow
that's only because I know
it can not soften what I feel.


© 2012, Michael R. Patton
searching for the new mythology

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Monday, May 07, 2012

The Archaeologist


author's note:

It is a glass of water
ever just poured for me, a memory
kept silent come to speak.
             -- Robert Duncan
 

THE ARCHAEOLOGIST

When he said her ancient name
he felt as if he spoke
of every woman ever born--

thus, he could endure the work--the dust,
the tedious years of shifting, the fights,
the sweating madness
of that desert country...

however, her elusiveness, so deeply felt
could, at times, overwhelm him, leave him
weeping...

then, in desperation, he'd catch himself up
by saying the other name--the ordinary one
of a woman lifting her cupped hands
to the sun

that incantation would return him
to the beauty of a world
in which chipped cups
take the place of silver goblets--

that name, so strong
served enough blue water
for him to endure
the dust of his blindness--
enough for him to bear
his maddening doubt.


© 2012, Michael R. Patton dreaming steps

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Thursday, May 03, 2012

Slowly Opening


author's note:

I recently watched Eat the Sun, a documentary on sun-gazers--people who stare directly into the Sun each day for nourishment.

But there's plenty of light, plenty of sun, plenty of nourishment, without burning our retinas in that way.

 
SLOWLY OPENING

When I honestly try
to see you now
the act of feeling
helps heal my sight

even if I witness bleeding...

The problem with my eyes
began long ago:
suddenly I'd see someone
in a sharp instinctive moment
and feel compelled
to turn away...

Not until I learned
to accept pain
as necessary
could I do more than glance
at your mirror--

but my eyes are still opening...
opening slowly--they must
to adjust to the shock
of sunlight.


© 2012, Michael R. Patton

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