Wednesday, November 27, 2013

When I Tried to Dull the Toothache

author's note:

The poem below was written while I actually had a toothache.

I’m reminded of the Cole Porter song, “At Long Last Love”--a song that supposedly carries a curse.

Porter took a spill while riding one day and his steed landed on him. While he lay there in pain, waiting for help to arrive, he wrote, "At Long Last Love".

Some have speculated that his pain was transferred into the song.

But to me, that's no curse at all.


Something needed my attention
but I couldn't bear to listen

so I put a cushion
between me and the shouting

then when the broadcast
broke through that layer
I added another

and then another, and another, and another

--always one more pillow.

Now I'm dulled in a soft place
and very nearly deaf--

yesterday, I sensed
how tired I had grown
of the nothingness of numbness
and proclaimed:

“From this point on
  I will confront my tormentor!
  I will beat it, I will best it!"

this big talk ended
and I retreated
as soon as the pain
raised its voice again.

For a long time, I've thought
of that hot horn as a devil
cursing at me.
But after I uncovered a little
I could hear the tears:
the ache is a child,

Such pain will always find a way to find me...

so I've finally chosen
my only real choice:
I will deal with the source...

but delicately now,
with humility...

© 2013, Michael R. Patton
Glorious Tedious Transformation

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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Memo to Our Tent City Kids

author's note:

So much damage has and will come from allowing families to lose their houses.

Child abuse can take many forms.


Kids, if you're living
in a tent city
I can empathize

and perhaps, advise...

you see, my life's plan
has kept me free
from secure roofs
for much of my adulthood--

like you, I've endured
the instability
of flapping wind-blown shelters

but living with such uncertainty
has taught me
                   to listen to the wind.

I discovered I'd be safe
as long as I obeyed
the guidance of its current.

I also know now
I should never stop listening

because in truth, all roofs
are flapping tents
no matter how solid
they may seem.

Just ask the astrophysicists:

change is the nature of the Universe--

everything moves--!--

but they also say:
there's a pattern to all that movement--

there's a design, if we can just see it.

Maybe someday you and I
will finally arrive at that vision,
but until then, we must trust the wind.

If all these ideas
cause you even more discomfort
maybe you can find some solace
in this observation:

after carefully considering all I've seen
I've concluded
this life was never intended
to be too comfortable
for any human being.

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

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Two Types of Light

author's note:

I needed to return to this poem for some additional rewrites...

Maybe three words now remain from the original version: "a", "and", and "the".


Years ago,
when the thunder god
offered me a higher charge
I'd already learned to say
--"no thanks"--
to something so bold.

Though I usually can ignore
the power shortage,
such lack is still mourned
in the depth of the heart.

But lightning denied
     will find ways to strike back--!

In the burnt aftermath
of the unexpected jagged flash
sometimes I can admit my loss
--admit my grief--

following some natural law
a different type of light offers itself:
a saturated light, steady and strong--

still too foreign to me
for me to hold it
for more than an evening;

however, now sometimes
that light can flow down
without needing a lightning bolt
to knock a hole in my ceiling...

© 2013, Michael R. Patton

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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Message to Future Archeologists

author's note:

I want to be remembered--even if I'm remembered as "anonymous author".


10,000 years from now...

if the archeologists discover my poetry
will they laugh when they see this line
repeated so many times:
“Oh what a strain--!--
 every single step of the way!”

but I wouldn’t blame them if they did:

even to me,
my pain sometimes seems
pitifully insignificant:

a pebble

when viewed from a distance

becomes a boulder
when confronted up close

and then a mountain
when I actually try to climb
over to the other side...

I keep fighting
because I feel so weak in this fight--
I want to defeat that weakness.

Because I'm so easily defeated
I often feel discouraged
but then, realizing my strong desire
to get over that pebble
I rediscover my strength...

10,000 years from now,
if archeologists uncover my poetry
I hope this fragment won’t be lost:

I wasn't alone--
all the rest also strained
with every step

and maybe to you
our boulders seem as small as pebbles
but to us...

our fear was as big as a mountain

and despite appearances
to the contrary,
I believe we all tried
to a find a way
to climb over our pain--
to arrive on the other side.

© 2013, Michael R. Patton
Glorious Tedious Transformation

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Falling, But With Wings

author's note:

I thought this would be a good follow-up to the last post.


In the dream, I wonder
if I can truly be flying--

though I seem to sail along
I could be losing altitude
so slowly I don't notice--

all around me, I see nothing but cloud

while my survival instinct screams: this is death--!--

yet I know from watching
eagles and jets
that the invisible is indeed strong enough
to hold us aloft--

that realization spurred me
to leap from the cliff
to initiate this journey

but now, away from my port
reason is a poor weapon against doubt...

fortunately, the drive to survive can also assist:

because I want so much to live
--to live so much--
I continue to painfully stretch
my tiny wings out--

a crucifixion:
that's what it feels like--
it feels like...

the hard shell of my ribcage
is finally beginning to crack.

© 2013, Michael R. Patton
Glorious Tedious Transformation

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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Combusting the Bird Cage

author's note:

I believe birds have their own souls.  So they don't need ours.


Ancient wisefolk claimed
the souls of our departed ones
inhabit the bodies of birds

but must I wait until I die
for my spirit to fly--?--

after all, I've heard
of mortals able to endure
the overwhelming freedom
of our vast sky with its many mansions
--both light and dark

but though I urge my lark
to break those bars
I also cling with claws
to the security
of frustrating limitation.

Nonetheless, I remain
nervously hopeful
because I feel this fight
building a heat
that someday will surely
combust this bird cage:

a death that will not kill me--
a death that will set me free.

© 2013, Michael R. Patton

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Thursday, November 07, 2013

Spinning Vision

author’s note:

The judges of the Miss Universe pageant would seem to be very presumptuous.


When I stop shielding myself
from the vastness of this Universe...

I again experience
the unsettling sensation
of being cut-loose--

as if my arms and legs
hang, dangling in space.

But even if I don't yet
feel something solid
under my feet
I still find much meaning
in this life

because I keep being pulled
in directions I did not know
I wanted to go

and so,
I can no longer pretend
I'm not suspended
from a string--

a string as solid
and as stubborn
as a rope.

Yes, my revolutions
cause all to blur
but in my spinning dizziness, I see
more clearly
each day

as I work so hard to focus.

© 2013, Michael R. Patton
dreaming steps

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Sunday, November 03, 2013

Extreme Enjoyment

author's note:

Once again, while working on a poem, I asked myself, "Is this really how it is?"

My conclusion?  To borrow from poet Mary Oliver: "these aren't just words talking".


I've tried and tried
yet still can't quite describe

but with each attempt
I consider my experience
and in that way, reconnect
with what I feel:

how the flood of this world, this life
rushes at me from all four sides

rushes within me, as well--

rushes from me--I spill

out into the world
even as the world roars into me...

no wonder I work so hard to distract myself:

we sit at the table, sipping our sodas
and speak of that broken kitchen pipe

all the while ignoring
how consciousness overwhelms us.

Though I often wish I could turn down the tap...

I also know a stronger desire:
to open myself to ever-increasing
amounts of water

and I will open, I will
as I learn, ever-so-slowly
to enjoy the threat--

to surrender myself
to the steady magnificence
of the amount I can, at present
just barely accept.

© 2013, Michael R. Patton

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