Friday, February 26, 2016

A Heaven Beyond Description

author's note:

Butterfly!  These words
from my brush
are not flowers...
only their shadows.
       -- Soseki (trans. Beilenson/Behn)


I'm told
any heaven worthy of the name
would be beyond description

maybe so, but I doubt
I could remain quiet

because in those rare moments
when light floods my being
I'm overwhelmed by the desire
to express a feeling so heavenly

and though I know I can never find
the perfect words
I'm driven to keep searching--
even long afterwards.

Yes, my efforts
always end in frustration

sometimes, amid the silence
that follows in the wake of my words...

I arrive back
at the place I seek

for a moment at least:

that heaven.

© 2016, Michael R. Patton
listening to silence: poems of meditation

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Friday, February 19, 2016


author's note:

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


One bright day
in the early years of my search...

I wandered a verdant rolling campus--
  hoping to find the party
  promised to me
  upon entering adulthood...

at the top of a hill
I came upon a clearing
where young folk sprawled
all around an electric stage:

a band strutted and pranced
just as fools and musicians did
during the reign of the Sun King--

I could think of only one word
to describe such a Summer life:


and maybe because I drank
from the communal cask
or maybe because moods
are indeed contagious
I soon became thick dizzy sluggish

and then
   with what remained
   of my feeble mind
I wondered if
we'd all become numb
by a life of too much

just too much:

the big beat did not move us
nor did the clouds or the Sun--
we had even lost our infatuation
with the winking wings of butterflies.

In the time since that time
the wine has continued
to overflow our cup

and faster, ever faster

though we can't keep up
we dare not ask the flow to stop!

When too much
is not enough
I'm afraid to stop
lest I die from thirst.

I think we fear
that our drunken palace
must eventually, inevitably

we imagine an aftermath
of life reduced to screwworm survival.

But since the future seems unstoppable
we've decided we might as well drink up--
drink up!

Maybe our future history can't be stopped
nonetheless, I still have hope:
because I imagine
a different aftermath
after that collapse:

one in which we fill another cup--
a different cup: a grail cup--a cup I hope
I can find deep within my crowded chest:

that's the future I've chosen
to believe in:

a grand experiment, this life--
no failures here...only learning...

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

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Friday, February 12, 2016


author's note:

I think it's okay to joke about your own pain--as long as you don't joke about anyone else's.


Some of us
when in deep agony
will only say:

yes, we squeak a little joke

hoping to ease the burden
of those who fear for our soul.

Well, maybe I should open more
but in my defense, let me confess:

when you worry over me
I think you think I can't manage
such deep agony

but obviously I can--
if I couldn't I wouldn't
be able to restrain my cry
to a silly-sad

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

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Saturday, February 06, 2016

Blessing the Wounds

author's note:

“I don’t want the dreams.  I want to be a soldier.”
          -- U.S. Iraq-war veteran


My wounds are the wounds
of every warrior who's ever
fallen down in pain--

in pain
from the cuts he's received
but also
from the cuts he's inflicted.

All bandages soon unravel
so instead I apply blessings
to my wounds--

not a formal prayer
but a form of prayer:

I believe we all pray
for ourselves to ourselves
in this way all the time--

secretly (deep in our being)
we pray for the wounding to end
we pray for the healing of all.

I believe
even those who glory in the wounding
pray in their dreams for this pain to end.
Even those who jest--
their laughter only makes sense
when you realize
the weight of grief held within.

Though I no longer laugh at our pain
my sincerity has not yet healed me

so I continue to go deep--
down to the blessed water
that cleanses and mends
old wounds.

I'm just so tired of the past--
every new battle
only repeats an earlier chapter
in the history of a fight
that has lasted my entire life.

So I'll keep on, keep on coaxing
these beaten fists open
with blessings, with blessings:

I'm determined to drop
my heavy lead arrows
even though I know others
will still shoot arrows at me.

I'm so curious about us humans...

maybe in the process of opening
I'll release enough light to see
the grand design we began when
we first started marching
in line behind that wounded-blind
Sumerian king, so long ago...

© 2016, Michael R. Patton
my war for peace: the book

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