Wednesday, September 30, 2009


author’s note:

“Thou wert my guide, philosopher, and friend.”
                --  Alexander Pope


Today I watched a carcass
dragging itself along
as if an invisible lion
had hold of its throat.

I said to myself,
“Poor guy--
 that’s what happens
 when you take yourself
 for granted.”

Yet I knew that I too
had a lion last night--

its fangs in my neck:

I had stuck myself


over the rough times
of our long history.

But I told myself
that lion was you--

because you are
so much like me
often I see you
instead of myself
looking back.

But when I finally stop
the mastication of thought
and allow myself to feel...

the lion releases its grip
as my eyes open
to discover
we were merely cubs
trying to feed
with our hungry lips
off each other’s milk.

© 2009, Michael R. Patton
earnest audio
new steps

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

2 A.M. Prayer

author’s note:

I don’t pray...

Unless prayer can be a recognition of the spiritual in any moment of life.


When I’m in the labyrinth of dream...

and the thread breaks
or the lamp gutters
or gray fog sticks to me
    like spider web--

when my heart fills with sawdust
'til I can’t speak

even then I know
I’m leading myself home...

© 2011, Michael R. Patton
dream steps

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Regal Ego

author’s note:

Though this poem is not based on an actual event, I will still vouch for its veracity.


I thank you
for every drop
you’ve squeezed
onto my palm.

When that last tree
began to shed leaves
I thought it was crying--

I believed
I had to gather up
all the tears
to keep the branches
from dying.

And eventually when
they leafed out again
I felt I’d done my duty.

Yet the tree turned away from me
and towards the Spring sun...

But though disappointed
I remained the good soldier
on the humble sojourn
--I continued on...

on through the forest,
looking for a tree
that might need
my knightly service.

But let me tell you,
trees know more than they show
--they knew
    my desire
    to help--

because as I walked by
they all stood
perfectly silent,
not stirring
a limb

and when I was gone
I could tell they breathed
a sigh of relief.

I don’t blame them really.
To accept someone’s
reaching hand
is an awful burden.
To admit you need
healing can feel

When I touched their bark
the rising sap beneath
actually seemed
to hiss.

But I remained the dog soldier
on the bumble sojourn,
--I continued on


until I found
one tree that
could not even bear
my look, much less
my touch--

I’d known the same sensitivity
in myself--those times when
you realize
you must give up,
must sit down,
must eat
the leaven bread.

Though you assure yourself
by saying,
          “I’m only staying
            for a little while”...
in time, you learn
no one really gets to choose.

Yes, I knew that tree
would have to
relinquish itself--
would have to
obey an in-born will.

So at first, I thought
each drop in my palm
was a tear.
But after tasting their sweetness,
I realized that
following that in-born will
you meant to nourish me
just as I had hoped
--following my regal ego--
to nourish you.

I realized then
that you had secretly
gathered up
all my fallen leaves.

© 2009, Michael R. Patton

earnest audio
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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Snow Gypsies

author’s note:

The next time someone gives you an earful from his cell phone conversation...

...just tell him, “Thanks–-I really needed to know that.”


That man faraway
at the table next door
doesn’t realize
he actually speaks to me.

I’m listening to
the secret message
in his message

as he apologizes to her
over the phone
for nothing really:
            I just thought you might
enjoy seeing them
this evening,
                  that’s all.

He means to tell me...

...that tonight...
when I’m all tucked in
with my paws perched
on the white border
of the coverlet...

the gypsies of snow will fall
down from the moon
to drift over the hills
until they reach my roof

and then
pour through the window panes
like ghostly jangles
from a tambourine

to lay their crystal spell
over my eyelids--
to convince my eyes
that they have grown too deep
to think.

Then down within
I will see how
the cascading spirals
of all that snow
spin from the loom
of happy gypsy shoes

--their dance inspired
by the whirlwind
of the night’s violin.

My sleep shows the truth
of what I vaguely sense
while awake
        --in my depth, I witness
the stars of all those joyful
gypsy eyes
winking down on us
from tantalizing distances
as the clouds begin to clear.

Such secret nocturnal confabulation
deepens the morning--

as I shoot through
the sparkling waves of powder
on a power ship
I’ll feel greatly appreciative

knowing that the gypsies
worked through the wee hours
to lay this white carpet.

Though still dark
from the night, I will feel fresh--
as light as that net of snow.
As crystalline as those snowflakes
with their pure geometry burning.

So I bless that whiny man with the phone
--I thank him for bristling my neck hair
   with the foreknowledge
   of gypsy gifts that arrive tonight.

Though the gypsies mock
his polite society
they’re still willing to use him
to deliver their messages

--so as to ready me for adventure
   all through the long, lonely
   gray afternoon.

© 2009, Michael R. Patton
earnest audio
new steps

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Sunday, September 13, 2009


author’s note:

Many years ago, I received a dream in which a wall of antarctic ice cleaved into the sea.

I thought to myself, “Can that possibly be accurate? Have I made such gains?”

However, I didn’t consider all the ice that remained.


So solid seemed the land
until an abrupt
monumental groan
cascaded my island of ice
into the chop.  But I will gain
as I lose--through a long trek
of weary wonderful sacrifice.
Toward a warmer climate.

In these far northern waters,
the strong current limits
my efforts to steer--
but I’m hoping
if I can just remain buoyant
the flow may lead me
away from this arctic home.

But even buoyancy is a willful job.

At this point,
I wish to be clear:
the chop is not like a chop--
it is a chop.  This ice is not like ice--
what remains frozen is ice.
The current is not
an imagined sensation--
I know what I feel.

Long ago,
I thought I was my own boat;
gradually I realized
we’re all at the mercy
of something that even knocks
whales about.

My main task--my heroic journey--
has become to maintain an even keel

to achieve that end
I find I must feel as much
of the current as I can.

But ever so often--
    just as a reminder
    of what I’m fighting for--
I allow myself the freedom
of letting my mind dissolve upward
as the warm moon rises
from the icy violet water
for another night’s serenade.

© 2009, Michael R. Patton
earnest audio
new steps

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