Friday, September 30, 2016

Miniature Golf Perspective

author's note:

Maybe what I was told as a boy is true: sports build character.


Sometimes I play miniature golf
just to shift my perspective:

when I see
that model course
I see
a little litany of lessons

and in so seeing, I then see
the course we call "real"
as a round of lessons as well

and if I can later recall
the silliness I felt
as I struggled to deal
with things so fancifully small
I'll deflate a bit
and as a result
love more:

maybe I'll again feel
the love I feel
for the real course--
even as I struggle, I love
that daunting windmill.

I also try not to forget
the many lessons--
for instance:
how I got past that alligator
by rolling right into its jaws.

That may not be big
but it's still important.

© 2016, Michael R. Patton
glorious tedious transformation: a poetry book

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Thursday, September 22, 2016

A Better Measure

author's note:

I'll put a lot of mental energy into developing a good belief...

...only to forget it when I most need it.


The headline read:
"No Win for Corwin"

and the photo below showed him
sitting at the end of a hardwood bench
his head lowered
his shoulders slumped
his fist hidden in the darkness
of a baseball glove.

The article said
young Corwin had struck out
thirteen batters

only to wreck
all his good work
with one bad pitch
in the final at bat...

rough, yes
but maybe that loss
will help prepare Corwin
for adult life
we live by a crazy math
in which a positive "13"
is often seen
as less than negative "1".

In response to such
unjust arithmetic
I long ago adopted
this simple homespun belief
(suitable for needlepoint):

when I look at what I've done
I see I must be trying
to teach myself, because
I’m always learning:

learning seems to be
our reason for being--
so I say
we should not measure success
by wins and losses
but instead
by understanding gained.

A belief supported
by my experience:

having known
a lot of blindness
but also a little bit of sight
I can say for certain:
ignorance is not bliss
understanding is.

even good beliefs breed doubt

and so I'll sometimes wonder
if I'm only using this belief
to soften the pain of loss...

well, maybe I am, but maybe
that’s okay:

because in my darkest days
(when I'm slumped like Corwin)
if I can remember that belief

I'll see a little light

on especially blessed occasions...
a lot.

© 2016, Michael R. Patton
Common Courage: a poetry book

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Monday, September 12, 2016

The Watchers

author's note:

As a child, I learned that the forest has eyes.

Fortunately, I've never forgotten.


While walking in solitude
I’ve sometimes sensed
elements of the landscape
marking my steps:
a wild boulder, perhaps

or a sweet oblong cloud
slowing its pace
to look.

I believe such things
understand us well
because they once
lived as humans
in order to grow the soul

so when I’m among them
they see and know me
in my low weak glory:

that's the only healing I ask.
I'll provide the rest.

Maybe I should
what remains of my pride
and seek human help

but no one but me
can find my strength--
  yes, I want to confess
  but only after
  I've lifted myself
  up a bit.

So I will go to
the rivers and mountains--

as long as I respect
their silent mystery
they'll watch over me
as I find and mend
what I've
so wantonly wounded.

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

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Monday, September 05, 2016

The Miracle Birth Makes Sense

author’s note:

This poem seems appropriate, on the day following the canonization of Mother Teresa.


I believe I was guided
to this dead black tree
by a god I hardly know
though it lives within me

but even if you don't believe
in either a god within
or without
I think we can still agree
on this part of the story:

for a good while
I'd walked and fought this desert
and felt proud
of the will to survive
I'd found inside

until the mocking sun
and the dull malicious dust
and the spiteful rock
finally broke me down
finally won
the obedience of my knees

and I lowered down
--back down--
to the truth of humility:

tired, I grieved
for my poor self
until I finally tired
of my grief...

only then
in desolate silence
did I discover how fertile
a barren land could be.

My fingertips told me:

if you'll let yourself
really feel the prickly pear
you will know
how each bite of each spike
gives life to our life--
all these sensations
inform the spirit:
in secret, we learn, we grow.

Even if you believe
we only live a life of biology
you can still experience
this experience:

after regaining my feeling
I sensed the stir of new life
down in my rich black earth--

a pod rattling
with myriad seeds--

a jovial thunder telling me:
though you're about to burst
you must move
in order for the birth
to finally be.

I must obey--uplifted
I stand again.

The saints told us:
miracles can occur in the desert...

but you need not believe
in miracles
to accept this birth:

think about it--
doesn't the process
make perfect sense?

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

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