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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