Monday, November 28, 2016

The Ghost Lady & Me

author’s note:

While rewriting this poem, I realized I'd written yet another Sisyphus tale.


Legend tells us
each night the ghost lady
ascends this hotel stairway

and with every step, she struggles
to understand
the reason for her loss

so when she finally reaches
the top landing
the lady feels such relief--
a moment of peace...

but then she gazes down
and vertigo again overwhelms her--
once again she loses balance
once again she tumbles down--
all the way back down
to the bottom floor

to die, once more.

I mention
the ghost lady's story
because it mirrors my own:

like her, I've worked
to release my pain
and though I've often elevated
my perspective...

I can't maintain--

I've slipped and fallen
again and again and again

that moment of vision
before the fall
--that brief reprieve
motivates me
to pick myself back up

and if I need an extra lift
I tell myself:
yes, you continue to trip
but your legs grow stronger
with every step

and if I need
an even bigger lift...
I imagine the day
when I am able
to look down
from the top of the stairway
and remain stable
in my balance--
solid on my feet
because I've finally accepted
all of what I see.

Yes, today
I feel quite weak
yet I still believe--

consider this:
no one at the hotel
has witnessed
the ghost lady lately--

apparently, she's moved on

and if she can, so can I can we.

© 2016, Michael R. Patton
My War for Peace: a book

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Thursday, November 17, 2016

The North Pole

author’s note:

As I’ve said before: if I thought my poems were only about me...

...I wouldn’t even bother.



Believing I'd received
a whispered summons
from an angel unseen
I began to walk...

guided all along the long way
by the haloed notes of that piper--

certain I would find
a land of sweet diamonds
at the end of my sojourn

but instead I arrived
in a dark land of cut-glass ice--
the tippy-top of the world
the North Pole:
nowhere else left to go

so I sat myself down
on a big cold cube

and cursed that angel

until finally
I wearied of my anger
and in the frozen quiet
of that emptiness
I began to hear
a rising soprano choir:

the wordless chant
of a thousand maidens
holding holy candles
in a prison deep beneath
our luminous-white icecap.

Before I could protect myself
the flame of their sound
had found, had penetrated my hidden hurt
--a yearning long ignored--

and I began to burn and writhe
and beg for release
from a feeling unbearable

until a monolithic bell
answered the plea of my pain--
its layers of soothing baritone
radiating down
from the apogee
of that black sky dome--

wise reverberations deeply-felt:
cool but not cold.

A greater moment
in which two worlds joined within me...

that sensation gone now
yet never quite lost--
the prison door unlocked
and though muted
the bell still sounding:

a union I’d fooled myself into finding
by lusting after mere confections:
costume jewelry.


In that greater moment
I thanked the angel
with a thousand apologies
it would not extend my reprieve
and soon insisted I return
to that dry but fertile earth

with its green succulents
blighted with brown splotches.

My first impulse was to resist
however, I’d come to realize
that devious spirit
really does know best

and haven't we given ourselves
the same message
in countless stories and dreams?:

when you've gone as far
as you can go
by sitting still
at the top of the world
you must follow
your steps back down

in those new two-tone shoes:
tough enough to protect your feet
yet light enough
for your soles to feel
that sweet diamond trail.

© 2016, Michael R. Patton

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