Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Evolution of the Species



author's note:

He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man.
         -- Dr. Johnson


EVOLUTION OF THE SPECIES

When I lived
as a wild hirsute beast
I grunted
at the beautiful pleasures
of this Earth--
I grunted
at the pain

and felt no need for language

until one night...

when I suddenly saw
a living mystery
of moonlight and shadow
bound within the tangles and barbs
of this mundane jungle.

Since that eternal moment
I've struggled to express
the beauty and pain
of our human life--

I've struggled to maintain
that awareness.

Yes, I often seem to regress--
I slip--
and sometimes when I slip
I snarl and spit

but then the shock
of striking down
awakens me
and I realize again
the cowardice
of trying to kill the pain--
of trying to reject
awareness

and in so seeing, I deepen--
   in deepening to the pain
   I deepen to the beauty.



© 2017, Michael R. Patton
Butterfly Soul: a poetry book

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Sunday, January 22, 2017

In the Garden of Dead Leaves



author's note:

A poem for our Winter season.


IN THE GARDEN OF DEAD LEAVES

The garden of dead leaves taught me:

beneath the surface
of the stagnant black pond
rich life multiplies.

The garden taught me:

moist decay in the shadow
will magically blossom into
circles of pink mushroom.

The garden told me:

don't worry--
you're exactly where you need to be...



© 2017, Michael R. Patton
Searching for My Best Beliefs: a poetry book

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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Enduring the Best



author's note:

Once again, I try to get this poem right.


ENDURING THE BEST

After you, I realized:

we must endure
not only the worst
among us, but also
the best.

Both overwhelm us--
both challenge us
to rise above.

Yes, one tries to darken our eyes
while the other tries to enlighten

but brilliant light can stun

and with sight
comes responsibility:

when I try to ignore
what I now know
I feel guilty

especially when I sense
your old owl eyes watching me
from a place unseen
(located somewhere
 over my left shoulder).

Yes I'm pleased
you take an interest
I just wish you’d encourage me
occasionally

when doubt
agitates my thought
almost to blindness--

reassure me
with a spirit whisper:

tell me again
why I must not slack
in this work--
tell me again
how it helps us all.

Tell me
to keep on lifting
my leaden feet--
tell me I can find
the strength hidden within
--but only if I try to lift.

Please, tell me
I will eventually
hold the peace
that always seems to slip
from my grip.

Tell me
all you once told me--
tell me again...

I wait...
but again: only silence

yet I don't feel rejected--
after all
why should you remind me
when I haven't forgotten?--

besides that
a repeat would merely be
temporary comfort--
not a cure:

no one but me can give me courage.

As my moment of weakness passes
I feel ashamed once again
but also think:

maybe later
I can use this moment
as a story lesson

later...
when I become someone
others will gladly endure.



© 2017, Michael R. Patton
Butterfly Soul: poems of death & grief & joy

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Tuesday, January 03, 2017

The Edge is a Good Place to Go Beyond



author's note:

I thought the beginning of the new year was a good time to post this poem...

...an optimistic poem about plunging into the great unknown.


THE EDGE IS A GOOD PLACE TO GO BEYOND

In the beginning
the world was indeed flat...

the roundness was created later
by a crusty dark-eyed captain:

having gained riches and fame
through a lifetime of struggle
he festered, dissatisfied...
until his imagination hit upon
the type of fanciful goal
that brings destruction:

he would escape his malaise
by venturing forth alone
in search of
the edge of the Earth

and when he found the end
he'd plunge over
to discover
what lay beyond

even though that leap
might mean his death.

Having chosen this quest
our captain did not hesitate
but soon put out
in a little wooden boat...

rowing past all continents, atolls, and islands

until he arrived at
a vast expanse of ocean
unmarked and lying ominous in its quiet
all the way to an indefinite horizon

but
our mariner did not hesitate--
no, he continued on...

and when all land had disappeared
he forgot both distance and time--
his mind became numb
as his body became numb:
he ceased to think
he ceased to care
he moved by rote
he even forgot who he was

and did not break
from this stupor
until he finally came to a place
where the waves pulled back
upon themselves
as if afraid of falling off.

The air sizzled with static energy
as our captain stood and gazed
into the darkness beyond the water
where a swirling mass of dense gray cloud
obscured the great monolithic
Unknown...

Yes, he hesitated

before he said
what he usually said
when afraid but resolved:
"damn it all to hell!"

then with his next breath
he plunged into the wild threshold

where his tiny boat stuck--
caught in a force field:
the bow swallowed by fog
the stern hanging on the tip
of the last ocean crest.

The worn boards shook
as though ready to explode
while our mariner worked the oars
into two frenzied blurs--
driven by the type of pent-up frustration
that comes from living small

or
stated another way:
he was taken up
by the secret desire
of the deep heart.

Our navigator
believed he held
enough inner power
to burst through any barrier
however

he also had the good common sense
to doubt

and the honesty
to admit his greatest fear:

no, not death, but the thought
that his grand adventure might become
just another pathetically funny story
in the book of human folly
and waste.

Shadowed by that specter
he became ever more desperate
and rowed and strove and cursed
until his cage burned
with golden intensity.

We often celebrate
such determination
but stubbornness
doesn't necessarily guarantee success
unless...

you're butting against an artificial barrier
which, by definition, must eventually fall
to human will.

But though the captain
had long declared
I can, I must, I will
he was still shocked
when his tiny boat finally shot
over the edge--!

and in a flash
the end vanished
as the world with a roar
became round all at once

and the barrier, now broken
became nothing at all
since by definition
blocks can not have openings.

As for our somewhat-satisfied captain...

following the curvature
of the Earth
he simply sailed on
and in short time, arrived home
since circles will naturally return us.

I've dusted-off this story
hoping it might inspire
because I believe at present
we sense the presence
of another barrier--
invisible to us because
we are blocked.

Instinctively, we roam
we poke about--we search
for an opening
without knowing we search--

instinctively, afraid
but driven by the secret desire
of the deep heart
or
stated another way:
pushed and prodded
by the pent-up frustration
of living small.

Sometimes we butt against
the unknown contours
of that unknown wall
but then hesitate--

perhaps we fear the power
we'll need to summon in order
to burst through that barrier

but I believe we'll eventually succeed
because our natural inclination
is to reject and break
barriers, borders, walls--

we want to be more
because our higher intuition tells us
being less can destroy

and not in the good way
shown by that captain.



© 2016, Michael R. Patton
Searching for My Best Beliefs: a poetry book

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