Sunday, December 29, 2013

Bright Scars

author's note:

“It is apparently more important to nature that one should have consciousness, understanding, than to avoid suffering.”
                         -- C.G. Jung


I knew we all saw
(but respectfully ignored)
the red scar running down
the back of his scalp

which caused me to wonder
if that party crowd had also
spied the back of me...?

What graceful humanity
when we try so hard
to be polite, to be discreet--

an act of great kindness, yes
to speak whimsical nonsense
as we gaze into a shocking mirror.

But apparently, we feel the need
to release the tension
created by our courtesy:

for that purpose
we choose a few loud personalities
who gladly tell the world how the first blow
knocked them out

and how they then had to hit themselves
so many times for so many years
before they finally woke up

to slowly began their work of mending.

Who but a shameless fool
would proudly display
a glaring wound in public--?--

but through their stories
they encourage us to touch
and then to heal
what still smarts
beneath the surface--

violations that run so deep down.

In their artless way,
these blessed fools show us the beauty
of what before seemed so ugly--

yes, red scars can shine light

but only after
I've stitched myself back up...

© 2013, Michael R. Patton
another book promotion

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Despite Myself

author's note:

I don't think my basic experience of this life can be so very different from anyone else's.


Despite my urgent urge to jump
down from atop this wild hill
my roots keep deepening
their claws:

anchoring these legs as they lengthen--
pulled by the force of my desperate arms
straining to reach ever higher.

Afraid as I am
I wonder at the fool that I am:
defying the storm--the lightning--

why do I so desire to rise above?

I fear I'm losing myself
as the familiar feeling of weakness recedes
and something nearly unknown
begins to take control--

impelling me to lift my head.

Despite louder alarms to run
I find I can't help but be strong.

© 2013, Michael R. Patton
just another book promotion

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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Fighting for My Life

author’s note:

In case you're wondering: the “noted astrophysicist” quoted in the poem below is Dr. Neil deGrausse Tyson...

To his credit, in the same speech, he stated: “We’re not only a part of the Universe, the Universe is also a part of us.”


A noted astrophysicist claims
The Universe tries to kill us

but I say he misinterprets
its cold monolithic hostility:
I say The Universe threatens
our survival so we can live
to the height of our ability--

if you need proof
consider my own trials
to keep this self alive:

when I built these walls
I thought I wanted security
but now I see
how I set up a great victory:
   if I could defeat
   my overpowering fear
   I'd spring myself from this jail.

Then once I'd constructed my fort
I thought I'd stave off starvation
by stocking that larder full of stuff

but after stuffing my stomach
I then discovered
other drives, other hungers.

Early on in my gestation
I embraced security
but as I developed
I came to wish for freedom
and security
in equal measure...

finally, I realized
I could no longer deny
my greater hunger
and so surrendered
my tightly-held security...

The natural facts of my life
would seem to tell the story
of our existence on this planet--

obviously, The Universe wants us
to become so desperate for release
we're willing to earn our freedom...

© 2013, Michael R. Patton

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

My Best Belief

author's note:

The above illustration is based on a dream--a sleeping dream.

Since dreams don't lie, what I believe must be true: we are indeed climbing.


I don't want to stop

for air

because then I'll begin
to feel my fear:

naturally, I'm afraid--
climbing as I'm climbing--!--

I seem to shrink as I ascend:

as the ground below retreats
the landscape broadens out
and I compact
                 to a mere speck

then as my heart
                 starts to drop
I look back up
but my tiny eyes
                 see only cloud.

So why do I work so hard
to reach an unknown destination--?--

I can only tell you:
I woke up and found myself
grappling with a hill
that then became a mountain
when I woke up.

Not knowing what else to do
I decided:
"might as well finish
 whatever it is I've started."

That might not seem to be much reason
but as I creep from rock to rock
there's always the matter at hand
to help distract me, to keep me
from tripping on such questions.

Unfortunately, occasionally
I must stop for air--
only then do I become
overwhelmed by fear.

At such times, I attempt
to reassure myself by saying:
"Maybe when I'm high enough
 this fear will finally give up
 trying to scare me
 and fall away!"

That hope gives enough lift
to stand me back on my feet--
that goal redirects my focus
to the next ledge above me.

Yet as I continue to claw
and wrestle my way up
the long shadow of doubt
still hangs from my heel...

so to bolster myself, I hold fast
to what I believe to be my best belief:

as I see it, everything here--
this mountain, those clouds, these rocks,
my fear, my hope, that goal, this choice--
everything here
must be my fine destiny....

© 2013, Michael R. Patton
dreaming steps

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Sunday, December 08, 2013

The Lift

author's note:

I realize this poem might seem to contradict the last poem posted...

However, I see both poems as valid expressions of our story: we want to break out, and at the same time, we struggle to keep from being broken.


Sometimes when I witness
someone struggling to stand...

I reflect again on what every
human being is asked to carry--

so I stop and when I stop
I can feel that weight again
--the pressure--
I usually manage to ignore
when I'm rolling.

Some have written
that the weight
comes from knowing
of our death

but I say that what this life asks
creates such a pressure--
this life keeps asking me to crack:
open and open and open--

a request that feels like death--!--
the demand seems so unjust--!--

especially since I've fought so hard
to hold myself together--to buttress myself
against the forces of this world:

tried so hard to forget that damn weight--
afraid it'd crush me dead
if I stopped long enough to feel it...

and yet,
when I do I allow myself
to feel what I feel
I am not broken--as long as I don't argue
but instead, negotiate
the demands of that weight:

if I give in, just a little bit
I'll experience a shift...
then a slight lift--

when I feel so very weak
I always find a way to find my strength

because I want so badly to stand again--

I want to keep on rolling...

© 2013, Michael R. Patton
Glorious Tedious Transformation

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Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Bursting with Song

author’s note:

This poem seems an appropriate song, as we approach the Winter Solstice.


For so long, I've gestated
in this Winter seed
under a marvelous mess
of decayed leaves.

I must have grown
because I've begun to feel
way too constricted...

so though I still fear
the destruction
I've decided I should bloom
--and soon.

Yet, after all this time
I find I need more time
according to the laws of nature:

yes, the shell did crack a bit

then a little bit more, then a little bit more...

it still seems a far measure
from being broken open.

But though I remain muffled
I can sing--

I can sing about my desire to sprout.

I can sing of the waiting.
I can sing of the weight.

I can sing as many have sung before me many will sing after I'm done.

We sing to soothe our own sad selves

...we sing for your pleasure.

What a strange joy in our bursting song.

© 2013, Michael R. Patton
Glorious Tedious Transformation

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Sunday, December 01, 2013

Until We Learn to Surrender

author's note:

To be honest, though I've sometimes been called a knit wit, I can't actually knit.


I've found a way to trick myself:

I've knitted a blanket
with such big loops
as to leave myself accessible
to probing fingertips

but because the yarn covers me
I still feel protected.

I believe this stratagem
could actually ease tensions
all over our planet:

we could allow ourselves to be open
while maintaining a sense of security--!--

however, it'd only be a temporary measure:

a way for us to feel safe
until we can finally accept
that any attempt at defense
has too many holes
to truly be effective...

© 2013, Michael R. Patton
Glorious Tedious Transformation

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