Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Gift

author’s note:

Whoever believes dreams don't have meaning...

...just hasn't been paying attention.


Again I saw you in a dream--

again I saw a mirror...

Though the many cuts
down your trunk
appeared superficial,
perhaps all wounds
connect to the heart--
otherwise, why would you
have bled so much--?--

your rust of blood washed clear
by tears
easing quietly from eyes
turned inward--

the mix a mess
but a cleansing,

a weave of streams
coursing down strong legs
to rooted feet
then soaking into
the mossy soil
beneath the tree
that held you.

I could feel the taproot feeding
on your rich substance
and so, understood
how you have given
to the tree...just as the tree
has given to you.

A shaft of sunlight
soon lifted my eyes
and I saw you
in the shades of the leaves--
saw how you have added
so many lively varieties
--verities!--of green.

Though I wanted to wonder longer
I guess I’d seen enough
because a moment later
I awoke from the dream.

while lying there immobile--
   dazed in the dark, straining to think--
I began to sense
my exhaustion of sadness expand
into a feeling of greater meaning.

So I thank you
for allowing me to witness--
for allowing me to come to you
in our dream:

another healing dream
to expose, to help close
those many wounds
that are so much more
than they may seem.

© 2013, Michael R. Patton
dream steps

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Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Healing of an Amateur Sleuth

author’s note:

This poem was influenced, in part, by the tale of the handless maiden.

For more, check out Robert A. Johnson's wonderful book, The Fisher King and the Handless Maiden.


I worried about the woman in my dream...

though her cut had stopped bleeding
a hand amputated at the wrist
would seem to be beyond
even our best healing powers.

We may track backward
to the scene of the crime
but aren't we already aware
of how angry buzz-saws
rip off limbs?

But I guess some are born
to investigate dark corners--
to look, to listen, to sense--

to go below, to go beyond

and then to fit together
what they have gathered--

to ponder, to wonder
and through this deep thought
to feel.

Maybe we're just amateur sleuths...

but my latest dream
would seem to indicate
this attempt to feel
what we'd often rather reject
can return to us
those essential appendages
with sensitive nerve endings

because when I saw her again last night
after an absence of years...

she was
a little green lizard
laughing in the forest--
its tail having grown back
from just a stump.

© 2013, Michael R. Patton

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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Eyes of the Dream

author's note:

“We experience a dream as real because it is real.”
                                 --  William Dement


Though the bridge broke into eye dust
with the first blink of morning...

I could still feel that dream:
the suspense in crossing,
alone, in the darkness.

I strained to maintain the memory
of how the fog obscured the rock walls
of how the cobblestones felt beneath my feet
because I hoped that enhanced reality
might heighten my waking life

--yes, my waking life
  could use some heightening--

but as I moved through my routine
I could not sustain the rich intensity--
I could not bring the adrenaline
of that uncertainty
into my mundane steps

for one divine moment:

while crossing a street this afternoon
on a whim, I deepened my listening
down just a bit more
and in that way, rediscovered
the silent eyes of the dream
within me:

I then felt that stoplight
swinging softly
in hard sunlight...
that bleached grey fence...
the weedy lot...

they became just as real---just as challenging
as that bridge--those wet stones--the fog
of my dream.

In that breath of awareness
another--purer--spirit seemed to take me:

a shadow spirit inside--
buried, forgotten

until it rises
once again
in a rare saturated moment
of wonder...of vision...

© 2013, Michael R. Patton
dreaming steps

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Sunday, August 18, 2013

Actual Size

actual size ant - August 18, 2013s

author’s note:

“And I, tiny being,
 drunk with the great starry void,
 likeness, image of
 felt myself a pure part
 of the abyss,
 I wheeled with the stars.”
      -- Pablo Neruda (trans. Mark Eisner)


I've been told
a black hole is not really a hole--

what happens is:
a star collapses
until it becomes so dense
everything in a wide range
is drawn to it.

When I try to grasp such concepts
I again experience the enormity,
the power of this Universe--

at such times, my personal sphere
seems so tiny--shrinks and shrinks
until I collapse into myself
and feel reduced
to the smallest possible me--

small, yes, but maybe now
of great density:

perhaps I'm a powerful stone
capable of pulling this whole world
to its dark mysterious core.

But that grandiose idea
comes from an ego
that tries to inflate me
whenever I deflate so.

As I swell back up, I realize
much more loss is required
for me to grow
so densely small
and thus finally find
the power of my stone.

© 2013, Michael R. Patton
dream steps

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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Sacred Loss

author’s note:

I’m NOT going to suggest that you buy this poem (as part of a collection entitled Glorious Tedious Transformation) on amazon...

As a wise man once said: why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?


Another husk falls
from my chest--
one more
reaper harvest.

I don't want to forget
this painful accomplishment
so I'll retrieve this shell--
this dry cracked scab

though its rough edges
prick my fingertips
as I reach down--

yes, still fiery poignant.

To honor the dead
I lay the delicate shield
on the kitchen shelf.

Not for public view,
no, soft in the shadow--

for now, I will keep
this sacred loss--this sacrifice
in quiet privacy
until I arrive
at better understanding.

© 2013, Michael R. Patton

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Sunday, August 11, 2013

Your Spirit Speaks

author’s note:

I believe we all talk in our sleep.


Your spirit speaks to me, sometimes

after I've lowered my night blind.

Your spirit told me
this secret:
how you are pulled
when necessary
by invisible strings--

your spirit told me: you don't know
but you've agreed to every pull--
even when the jerk
feels like a lightening bolt
you said "yes" to the plan
in advance.

But your spirit also told me
sometimes you realize
what must be done
and actually pull
the string yourself--
because you know
the bolt could burst you open.

Yet you never proclaim:
"I am courageous!"

Your spirit told me
that, with a little more perspective
I'd see your electrified flopping
as a dance:

an epic ballet portraying
our battle to answer life's shocking demands--

the erratic fluttering of your arms and hands
in truth, a modern reenactment
of the heroine's triumphant emergence--

doesn’t the butterfly struggle
with its crimped wings, in just the same way
after bursting from the cocoon--?--

your spirit told me
your stumbling footsteps
are part of a balancing act
performed by a puppet clown
navigating its way up and down
the bars of a symphony score:

the bars not a prison--merely restraint:
the restraint of a physical body
moving through time and space:

the restraint of our learning.

Your spirit told me:
how in you, I can see
my own dance class.

Now finally, this morning
I told myself I must tell you
everything I've been told
in hopes you might come to appreciate
your personal style of elegance.

Don't doubt me--I bear witness:
your night messages have indeed given me
a different perspective
on your tremulous pirouettes

and a different view of this mountain too--

though I’m still intimidated
by its dragon grandeur--

though I still tremble, stumble, flutter
with every single step

now I know
my heart would never desire
something softer

not for my sake
nor for yours.

© 2013, Michael R. Patton
new steps

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Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Another Good Death

author's note:

I don't want to write about my experience--I want to write about our experience.


I chose this tomb--

I lay myself down
in the deep earth
because I've learned
not to fight
what I must obey.

I surrendered that life

so my heart could root down strong

to draw rich water up
from the pith of the pit.

I needed this death
so that I might live.

© Michael R. Patton

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Sunday, August 04, 2013

On the Wings of a Clam

author’s note:

“No one sees you working in the basement...

"...and no one should."
                       -- anonymous


Only the dog saw her
strip on the beach and wade out
into the darkening waters

as if she'd been hypnotized
by the sunset on the horizon--

as if she'd surrendered
to a glowing moon
seen in a hypnotic dream.

Family and friends comforted themselves
by imagining she had finally flown
to some oval island where she could be
a bird flower bursting into bloom.

But in truth, she did what clams usually do:

she sank to the bottom

to subject herself
to the ever-increasing pressures
of the lower depths

so that a fist might break open
and become a hand...

so that a flower bud might achingly blossom.

Hands are like wings when they open
because they can lift so many others

and when her hands finally bloomed
we found her standing, dripping wet
shining brilliantly on the sand:

a sun flower

but also a pearl
glowing in the moonlight.

Still shining, these days, still glowing
as she attempts to tell us
about that which can never be
adequately expressed

and because what can never be
adequately expressed
cries out so urgently
for expression
she stutters and fumbles
and humbles herself
as she delivers her story...

yet the feeling behind her words
opens us and lifts us up

to stand on her tall shoulders.

© 2013, Michael R. Patton

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