Friday, January 29, 2016

Searching for a Shadow

author's note:

The path is under your feet at
All times.
        -- Lao Tzu


I told the wise one
how a wild light had infused my blood

and forced me up from my bed
on the longest night
to walk in a naked fever
over fields of fiery ice

until a shadow fell across my path:

a monolithic silhouette stood before me
framed by massive full moon--

a giant unknown
raised an arm, aimed a spear
straight at my heart

but as the moonlight glinted
off the arrow tip, I blinked
and woke to break the spell

though relieved
I felt weak
with disappointment--

I knew, intuitively
I'd allowed my lower instinct
to block fulfillment
of a grand encounter.

But the wise one refused
to sympathize, saying:
what you now search for
may appear again today
as you walk down the street

but most likely you will wander
for an era that will seem like an eon

until you've built the strength
to match the challenge

until you have risen above
a natural fear you can never release...

and then what? I asked
(though the question seemed childish).

Afterwards, you'll return
to find me gone

and your story
will join a Sun chorus of voices--
   each one singing
   its own version
   of the same song.

© 2016, Michael R. Patton
myth steps: the blog

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Friday, January 22, 2016

Healing Cough

author's note:

While working on the poem below, I questioned this stanza: "but who doesn't take in / so much toxic stuff / beginning with / the first breath?"

After considerable consideration, I agreed with myself: it ain't easy being a human being, no matter who you are.


It's good to cough
I tell myself

as another fit of hacking
works to toss out
the noxious particles of my past:

back then, I had no choice--
no better air to breathe

but who doesn't take in
so much toxic stuff
beginning with
the first breath?

No, I refuse to lament
(even as hellfire burns in my chest)
instead I take joy in the present
because some inner force keeps rising--
determined to heal me.

My good news is our good news
and so, I feel the urge to bellow!...

but alas
for the moment
I can only cough.

© 2016, Michael R. Patton
myth steps: the blog

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Friday, January 15, 2016

The Future of Dogs

author's note:

When one dog barks, one hundred dogs bark.
           -- old Chinese proverb


What if we humans
(overwhelmed by our life)
began to regress:

what if we lowered to crawl
then slide even further--
down to a slither

until finally
for the sake of simplicity
we shrank to the basic life
of the one-cell organism?

To fill the void we'd leave behind
maybe dogs would drive our cars:
just like humans
they'd work, play, marry, spend--
experiment, build, scheme...

and perhaps in the exhaustion
of all the stress and rush
they'd eventually stop
and begin wonder if
there might be something more
beyond that mash of noise.

Maybe they'd then invent
a story of mystery
to add another dimension
to their lives
and thus fulfill
an obscure desire

or maybe in those moments of silence
they'd actually begin to sense
a reality unseen:

maybe some
would flex their nostrils
and try to sniff out
that other world

and maybe they'd eventually find a trail
that could lead us there

but if nothing else
they'd experience the ache
of searching
and thus discover
new depths to the heart:

in either case
they'd be driven to express
something beyond the limits
of their usual yapping
and so begin to howl
from deep, deep down

and as those dogs howled
other dogs would naturally stop to listen:

those busy dogs
would brake their cars
and open their ears
to hear the feeling within the sound--
they'd feel the feeling
and in feeling, also begin to howl

and by howling, discover
their better deeper nature--
discover their higher truth:

they'd find the ring
that links them all together.

In this way
canines could continue to evolve--
they'd go beyond raw survival
they'd go beyond dog-eat-dog:

they'd reject the temptation
to lazily regress
to the dark numb world
of the one-cell organism...

© 2016, Michael R. Patton
myth steps: the blog

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Thursday, January 07, 2016

The Extraordinary Burden of Being Human

author's note:

Up from the bottom
    of an old pond,
    that duckling
has seen something strange.
        -- Joso (trans. Beilenson/Behn)


In my fearful dreams I nearly drown
then wake to find
my sleep repeated
on the morning news:

the extraordinary burden
of being human
might sink us all.

I tried to avoid that weight
by becoming a skylark

but while rushing to
the high altitudes
   I lost my head
   I lost my feet--
I couldn’t control
my giddy uncertainty
and went into
a downward spin.

in order to stabilize
this fledgling flight
I dive and dive into
a deep cave pool
and meet the secrets
of my fear:

down there in the darkness
I find a magnificent light--
a merciless light

that shows me the best and worst
of this human I am:

as I work to accept both
I also learn to accept
the flaws of our best

and better understand
the pain of our worst--yes
I'm learning to accept
the worst in us

and when my little man
rejects this wisdom
I remind myself:

the extraordinary burden
of being human
weighs down upon us all.

© 2015, Michael R. Patton
myth steps: the blog

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