Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Irritation of Wisdom

author's note:

It may not show...

...but I've worked so hard on this poem--a poem that tells of how I've worked so hard to see.


I first heard her voice
after I woke to discover
my eyes sealed shut.

I listened
but only after
my rising fear had fired
wild bursts of frustration;

only after I surrendered,
tired and weak
did I finally give myself
to her stern command:

"Having now come to know
  that you do not know
  you will feel
  your path blindly
  and in feeling, find
  the slow way of opening."

In the following years
--years of following--
her admonitions have often
grated my ears...

I am still on the slow way--
still so slowly:

I can see, but only a little
but a little is enough
to make me want to see
so much more--
to make me want to heed
her irritating wisdom.

I've seen enough to see:
I'll never see enough
to satisfy me--
I'll always be working,
I'll never be done...

I've seen enough to see:
we're all working--
all in the same slow way:

struggling to follow
the irritating wisdom
we struggle to ignore.

© 2013, Michael R. Patton
searching for the new mythology

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Purpose of Hair Loss

author's note:

Years ago, a mentally-unstable young man told me, "Michael, I want to run through the garden with the woman of golden hair."

He was so thoughtful, so sincere, so perceptive...I truly hope he has found his golden hair.


Hair falls out
one thin thread
at a time

so we don't realize
what we've lost
until we chance upon
our reflection
(maybe in a bucket of water)

then we can see:

how we've grown
a little bare on top
or a lot

and because hair disappears
so slowly, it must be
gathered back slowly as well...

but from where--?--

I can only tell you:
I've looked everywhere

and found my hair
bit by bit
here and there...

in festering swamp
and stifling desert

in frightening caves
and back out

into frightening sunlight.

Since hair obeys gravity
often I've had to creep my way
like a crawling baby

and since hair can also ascend
on the sweep of a breeze
I've had to claw my way up
a tall wobbly tree trunk

hard work
but the occasional meager win
keeps this gambler going:

I find a gossamer lock
lacing the green grass...
a slender string
drifting down a stream:

it all adds up...though so tediously
I can't help but feel tired and dull
on this journey

until a woman with a bucket
shows me my reflection
in her clear water
and I see again
that my searching
creates an alchemy:

once returned
to its proper place
that mousey hair of ours
shines golden...

lights the way.

© 2013, Michael R. Patton
searching for the new mythology

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Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Great Hermitage of Ashes

author's note:

In my experience, dreams don't lie.

I may lie about what they're saying to me, but the dreams themselves don't lie.


Because I saw the room in a dream
I knew it must be true:

the walls and floor, all dull gray--
even the light motes drifting
down from the ceiling:
heavy gray

but apparently
I knew how to break--to bloom:
years later, though I still see
scary things in my dreams
I encounter nothing so monotone--

no such hermitage of ashes.

And yet, I won't leave it behind:
I revisit that gray, occasionally
drawn by a desire to understand

and to my surprise
I’ve come to realize
a monolithic power
in that drab
sepulchral presence:

a magnificence:

though sealed
though restrictive
it's a great space--!--:
the walls so high
the ceiling could be the floor
of the sky.

When I first woke from the room
years ago, I felt oppression

now, as I wake to the dream again
I still feel its burden
but with this understanding:
how such enormous weight
pressures us into so much life...

© 2013, Michael R. Patton
dreaming steps

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