Sunday, April 27, 2014

Grief Water

author’s note:

As they say in the movies: based on a true story.


In the time of intense grief
I went to the water:

I felt I needed a good washing

and only an ocean would suffice
for such monumental emotions

so I waded out into a shallow bay
toward a red sun dying on the horizon--

though we can not ford the sea
we still desire to lessen distances
between ourselves
and what lies beyond touch.

So I did not stop
until the cool waters
made my chest--my heart--

I'd immersed myself in
a dismal brown brew
rank with oil splotches
riding agitated waves
bloodied by the sunset.

Yet somehow, in a few moments
I cleared--I calmed--

I became a man finding himself
by losing himself
as he reawakened to a life, to a world
so pleasantly strange

until I suddenly realized
I had reached the border
inhabited by that hypnotic
unseen siren
who silently coaxes you
to take that extra step

long before you’re ready.

So I dredged my feet up
from the water muck--
I walked myself back out:

with the sense
that my little trip
had turned a switch--
I still don’t understand the mechanism--
I just know: after what was less than ritual
I felt solidly strong: I could work again.

To be honest,
I still carried the grief--
but not as a shadow on my back;
now, as one might cradle a baby.

© 2014, Michael R. Patton
MYTH STEPS: the book

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

With Me

author's note:

Now slides the silent meteor on, and leaves
A shining furrow, as thy thoughts in me.
                  -- Tennyson


I walked with her
though she ascended
a hill many miles
away from mine

so she remained
a silhouette in profile...

until in the flare
of a golden red sunset
her image abruptly flashed up
and I witnessed her true glory...

that stunning vision
always present in my memory
keeps her with me--

now in the night, that light
walks with me still.

© 2014, Michael R. Patton
searching for the new mythology

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Real Reason You Visited the Great Pyramid

author's note:

While watching an excellent lecture series on Ancient Egypt by Professor Bob Brier, I was inspired to write a number of poems.

Dr. Brier is indeed a joyful Egyptologist.


In the photograph
you grin under that
big floppy hat

but though your image
crowds the foreground
it can't diminish
that distant monolith
behind your back--

the great pyramid--

a resounding visual echo
demanding that we ponder
not just a king's divinity
but also our own death.

Though our tombstones
provoke solemnity and grief
those flowery graves
can't quite convey
the true force
of the shadow we sense

whereas that mysterious crypt
puts a capital "D" on Death.

With its spire aspiring to the heavens
and its elevated cave leading to the core
the pyramid serves to remind us
of how formidably strange
this human life is.

So when I saw the photograph
I started to laugh:

there you were
smiling like a silly tourist
seemingly oblivious
of that massive tomb looming
over your left shoulder.

But despite appearances
you must have felt
its indomitable weight--

such monumental symbols
are designed to evoke
an automatic response--

perhaps you tricked yourself
into taking the desert vacation
just to have that confrontation--

you woke yourself up--!--

and now you're showing me this photo
of a shadowed woman
squinting into the sun
because you hope I'll find
what you've already discovered.

© 2014, Michael R. Patton
searching for the new mythology

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Wednesday, April 09, 2014

The Legend of the Butterfly Soul

author’s note:

One last "grief poem"...

I'm putting together a collection.  In the process, I've discovered this consistent irony: each grief poem contains joy.


According to legend...

when lost in battle
our warriors can return
in the form
of blue butterflies

to help guide us through
our many trepidatious endeavors.

So when I sensed
those fluttering wings around me
I welcomed you
and waited

to hear your golden song

but you whispered
just these few words
then flew away:

before you can look skyward
you must first lower your eyes.

And what did I find
after following that epistle--?--

a mud mound of grief
heaped up on my plate.

But according to legend:
the black plate becomes golden
at the end of our hard banquet.

According to legend:
the butterfly will return
a second time

but only after
the one left behind
builds enough strength to swallow
the enormous lump
stifling his summoning song.

According to the minstrels,
this legend has passed
from one mourner to another
down through our dark ages

and when I am through
I'll beam its message too...

© 2014, Michael R. Patton

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Sunday, April 06, 2014

Winter Sun

author’s note:

An appropriate poem, I believe, as we cross the bridge into Spring.


I'm thankful for that Winter season
--a time to live my grief--

I'm thankful for
the frozen brightness
that stung me alive...

for the burrow in the snow
with its deep warm shadow.

I thought this weight
held me down...

but now I realize
the feeling actually lifted me--
in the way that water
can resurrect
            a broken body.

A force created
from the sunlight
and the darkness
tore a jagged hole
in the lake ice

a frosty steam rose from the wound--

the exposed blue waters simmered,
heated by a colossus--a foreign heart,
lurking somewhere underneath.

When I listen closely now...

I can still feel that strong beat
sounding throughout my body.

A blessing from the season
of the clear Winter sun...

© 2014, Michael R. Patton

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Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Glass House

listen to this poem

author’s note:

A companion poem to the last one posted.


I can still see the light
beaming out
from all the windows
of your glass house--

the shelter resting now
faraway on gentle waters
after many tumultuous seas
with their groans and heaves,
their trajectories
and plunging troughs
failed to crush
your glass house.

As before,
the panes reveal only your sun.

But I remember when
you allowed me to see
the multitude, the magnitude
of what went on behind
those bright walls--

so much tough cleaning,
but also knitting and skilled carpentry:
you showed me how we build--
you always had some concoction
baking in a kiln.

Maybe you’re still shoveling ash:
  we all collect ash--we can’t help but.

I just hope you don’t
have to work as hard
as you did back then--

though many believed
your equanimity
was a natural gift
you let me know
how you struggled:

balance is never a given
even for stable houseboats.

Here's one last credit:
you presented
your great accomplishment
in order to help me
with my own process
and not to brag.

I must confess,
sometimes I like to pretend
I'm witnessing my own reflection
when I behold
your blazing windows

but No!--
I’m far from being
so clean, so clear:
I have much work left--
too much, or nearly so.

And so,
I'd can only ponder
your silent edifice
for a few moments:
my imperative compels me
to row away to further duty

but I leave satisfied, knowing
how the peace you found
continues to smooth the waters--
to spread, to expand
in all directions--out
from your glass house...

© 2014, Michael R. Patton
Glorious Tedious

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