Sunday, March 29, 2015

Where is the Art in War?

author's note:

What good does the anti-war novel do?  The anti-war movie?  The anti-war poem?

Well, the pro-war novels, movies, and ballads seem to have been quite effective.  So why stop trying with the other?


I dismiss that sage
who coined the phrase:
"The Art of War"

because to me, Art seems
the very opposite of War:

yes, War can be designed
from a drawing board

but once the fighting begins
the design quickly deteriorates
into staged chaos.

On the other hand...

Art tries to find the design
in what appears to be chaos.

War does produce
stirring slogans and battle chants

but those clever advertisements
and nervous threats
are not Art

nor are blazing war hymns
because their glory is false--
the melody soon muddles down
into a monotonous funereal dirge

that denies the light of Art.

Even the deep eulogies of War
do not qualify as Art
if bitterness and contempt
for the slain enemy
still burn coldly within
long after the armistice:

Art joins; War divides.

Yes, a history scholar
can elaborate on
the finer points of a battle
in the same manner
as the art critic
who rhapsodizes a painting

but don't be fooled--
War and Art have opposite intents:

whether necessary or not
War creates death...

whereas Art, of necessity
creates life.

© 2015, Michael R. Patton
butterfly soul: the book

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Seeing My Blindness

author's note:

Is hindsight really 20-20?

Not for me, not always.

But I'm working on it.


I am not a seer

but I can see well enough
to see how we destroy
innocent things and beings
in our blindness.

But we are innocent
in our blindness.

Even someone so blind
as to willfully destroy
an innocent one
is innocent.

I can even see
how I've destroyed
innocent things and beings.

But though I can see
why I was innocent
I am still ashamed

and yet encouraged
that my vision
continues to improve

though improvement means
I can no longer claim
such innocence.

© 2015, Michael R. Patton
dream steps: the blog

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Sunday, March 22, 2015


somehow holds 291h - March 22, 2015s

author’s note:

A companion poem to the last one posted...


Though we tried tried tried
we failed to destroy our life

but only after reaching
the depths of weakness
did we realize our strength:

shattered, stunned, stumbling
we realized we had endured
the worst in ourselves--

we realized
that if we had the power
to devastate cities, forests, and fields
and exhaust the abundant oceans
then we also held the power
to heal the wounded circle.

Having lived through hell
we now had the courage
to look into the mirror

and the humility
to accept what we found...

© 2015, Michael R. Patton
Soultime: novel of a hard start

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Even Heroes Feel Weak

author’s note:

We don't have enough nervous heroes in movies and TV.


We enjoy the fantasy of cataclysm:

we thrill to imagine
some unimaginable event
that would have the world's populace
running willy-nilly, with arms flailing
through streets that roll and sway
under the rush weight of panic.

But in this scene, we can live
a grander reality--

hero and heroine can stand strong
amid the burl of fire and storm...

in the ashes of the aftermath
we can gaze upward toward
the hope of a new sun.

Compared to that big dream
this mundane life seems so paltry...

but it shouldn't

because, in our world
the hell of disaster
found its match
long ago

and has raged ever since:

in this constant inferno
we run willy-nilly--
trying to outdistance
obsessive human fear

and in the process
we destroy our streets--
our countries.

An apocalypse!--

every minute of every day.

Burnt and shaken
we feel so weak

yet amid the fire and ash
we slowly find our strength

as we look upward toward a sun
that continues to shine through
even when the smoke
grows so dark.

© 2015, Michael R. Patton
Common Courage: the book

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Storm Ritual

rainbow ripples - March 11, 2015s

author’s note:

"Maybe, baby"
       -- Buddy Holly


Why didn't I run away
when I saw the tower
of purple-black storm clouds
rushing toward me?

Maybe I was so desperate
to wake myself alive
I'd risk the blast of those lightning bolts
breaking the anxious air
into shards of shadow and light--

maybe I wanted to again be the child
who can find glee
in stumbling blindly
through hard gray draperies
of merciless rain

but maybe I was also responding
to a deep desire to wash myself clean--

to crack some hard dark block
resistant to the daily process of attrition--

maybe ever so often
this grown-up likes to imagine
how that freedom would feel

and maybe the child knew
sunlight would follow the darkness
and at the end, he'd have the joy
of standing in a bright puddle
with his shiny body shimmering
like a sounded gong

and maybe the man wished
to undergo a ritual:

a symbolic act
made real by the risk.

Maybe such acts are for fools

but maybe this fool felt the need
to remind himself of this stubborn hope:

the dream of returning to you
with a soft rainbow in my left hand

and a fierce sun in my right...

© 2015, Michael R. Patton
myth steps: the blog

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Sunday, March 08, 2015

Waking Up & Up

author’s note:

Yeah, waking up...

...but realizing that it's an on-going process...that no one is ever quite done.


I'm starting to see

how I've neglected so much
while under the shroud blanket of
my comfortable somnolence

I'm starting to see

as I'm slowly roused
by all the noise outside.

When I rise to investigate
the source of the disturbance
I find thoughtful human beings
--men, women, children--
running from the shadows
attached to their heels.

I am pained when I see our pain

and pained again
when I realize I can't help them

I am stirred

and find myself loving us all

even in our crazed belligerence

even in our somnolence

which, in truth
is never really comfortable

because of course
warm blankets can't kill the fear

and sleep becomes rather dull
even in these polka-dot pajamas.

So, despite the pain
I struggle to awaken

and in my efforts to rouse myself
I turn to face the shadows
attached to my heel...

© 2015, Michael R. Patton
finding Beauty: the book

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Wednesday, March 04, 2015

An Education in the Pit

author’s note:

In recent dreams, I'm going to a new college.

So, at the very least, I've graduated from high school.


When the sky broke open on the first day

in fear of the sudden light
we ran into a cave to hide

and prayed until we'd built
enough courage
to venture back out

but as we felt our way
down the maze of dark tunnels
we became confused

and so, we’ve wandered lost
through the cave to this day...
                                   We manage

to comfort ourselves
by forgetting about our blindness

but are reminded
whenever we hit a stalactite
or collide with a bat

or worse yet--
fall into a pit:

an event that can either be
a great motivator or
a hard defeat

depending on whether or not
you can imagine a brighter world:

a world in which
we will find our way
out of the shadows
by the light beams shooting
from our wide-open eyes.

But maybe you think
I speak without knowing
because I'm still down here
in the depths.

To that, I answer:
you can learn a lot in a pit

especially if
you want so badly to be free--

I’ve taught myself,
using all sorts of sources

including the teachings
of those who saw how
to climb their way out...

and what do the wise ones tell me?

You're the only one
   who can open your eyes.

© 2015, Michael R. Patton
finding Beauty: the book

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Sunday, March 01, 2015


cloud puppet 315h - March 1, 2015s

author’s note:

Feeling Spring an icy Winter's day.


Went out in the sun today--
the strings...drew me up

all the way to the luminous clouds

then gently lowered me
back down into the wild field

where I condensed
for a moment of wonder
in the bowl of a flower:

I became a drop--
a drop deep as a well:

the light struck me hard
and a prism shot forth

then I disappeared
once more...
not lost, just evaporated.

© 2015, Michael R. Patton
dream steps: the blog

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