Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A Degree of Peace

author’s note:

During the Vietnam "conflict", Johnny Cash referred to himself as "a dove with claws".

I like that idea.


After seeing so much conflict
I turned my eyes within

and again found conflict.

I then realized
the origins of war.

I then realized
a blessed possibility:

if I could end my own war
maybe I could then help others
end theirs.

But now
after years of fighting
I know I'll never win
the final battle...

there will always be
one more...

one more...

but I can honestly say
I've earned a degree of peace--

not enough for me to advise anyone else
but enough for me to empathize with all.

Not enough for me to stand up yet

but it's good to sit
with my brothers and sisters
to listen and learn
what they've learned
from the struggles
of our education:

through these stories
I find catharsis

as I recognize
and grieve for
the many deaths
of my own long war.

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

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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Message to a Rocket Launcher

author's note:

Praises to poet Robert Bly...

...for telling us men how we shut ourselves down, beginning at a very early age.


After you launch those rockets
you claim you sleep quite well

but maybe that's a loss
because we can learn so much
from our violent dreams

like the one in which
I tossed a rocket into the air
and felt quite pleased

until I found a string
running all the way from my finger
to the point of impact--

no matter how far I ran
that string trailed after me--

delivering shock waves of pain
long after my missive had landed


but when I awoke I only felt
a fuzzy numb sensation
in the center of my chest:

according to the doctor
crucial nerve endings
had shut down long ago
due to repeated pummeling--

from rockets fired at me
but also

from rockets I'd shot back:

a lifetime of war


In the many years
since that diagnosis
I've worked hard to resurrect
my sense of touch--

a painful process
yet also pleasurable
as I feel more and more
each passing day.

To be honest
often in the insanity of a moment
I'll still let loose a rocket

but because I'm now aware
of what results from such defenses
I've much more careful...

as I'm sure you would be too,
rocket launcher--
if you ever let yourself feel
the pain of what we do...

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

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Ticket Taker

angel break - April 22, 2015s

author’s note:

I think of the job of "angel" as being minimum-wage work...

That is: they toil so hard and receive so little appreciation.


Sometimes while working
at the entrance gate
I pretend:

I'm a wise archangel
admitting all in line into
a heaven they deserve--

even those in soiled shirts
even those with foul tongues
have paid the price...

some more, some less

but through their lives, they've paid.

As an angel
I've known both heaven
and human life...

so how can I refuse
anyone admission?

Yes, I know what they've done--
as humanity's angel, I've done the same:

having soiled my shirt
having fouled the air
I know their pain.

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

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Sunday, April 19, 2015

Poem to a Mirror

author's note:

The letter "U" is a recurring symbol in my dreams...

But maybe it's a universal symbol--I know I'm not the only one who's traveled the "U" path.


From the day of my birth onward
I’ve duplicated so many of humanity's
various stupidities

and I've seen you
repeat that history too--
seen you

struggle with your history
just as I've struggled with mine:

as I witness
the ferocity of your fight
I realize your strong will...

if I can then remember
you are my mirror
I may also realize mine--

my will to do more
than merely survive.

If I can then remember
how we both mirror
the whole human race...

I won't lose hope
for the life
of our flawed species.

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

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Sometimes I Wish I Could Just Give Up

author's note:

One of the great benefits of getting to know myself better is that I get to know everyone else better as well.


I can't let myself accept
what I sometimes think
about them:

they're beyond redemption--

a waste of human energy!--

their eyes so dark with smoke
they don't see their own fear.

No, I can't
because I know
my eyes are still too smoky
to truly understand
what I see

and besides,
the ones I speak of
are not a separate species:

if I gave up on them
wouldn't I also be giving up
on the entire human race?--

this smoky-eyed human race


On the other hand...
if I did give up hope
my life might actually be easier:

I wouldn't lie in bed at night
asking myself, "What is the answer?"

Yes, I could sleep...

that is,
if I could ignore my dreams...

if could ignore
the desire reflected
in my dreams:

the desire to become strong--
the desire to find peace.

How could I grow in strength
in an easier life?

Do I really want to forget
what I've sometimes seen
in my mirror?--

someone much more
than what I've yet shown...

No, I won't give up

I can't give up

in this fight for peace.

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Sunday, April 12, 2015

Surrender to the Ice Cube

surrender to ice cube border - April 12, 2015s

author's note:

“Trouble?  You think I look like trouble?  I’m a poet!”
                -- from the movie Young Guns


I've found this treatment effective
when I'm burning in the heat
of inner conflict:

I move an ice cube
   in small delicate circles
from the left side
   of my forehead
to the right

then repeat this procedure
going in the opposite direction.

But though the medicinal cube soothes
both my physical and emotional self
I often forget to apply this tonic
when it's most needed.

Maybe I actually like conflict.
No...but yes.

Even as I sit here calmly
I can feel how the fire
wants to swell--waits to flare:

a vague sense of injustice
seeks a chance for expression

an excuse to explode.

I see explosions everywhere I go
so I know I'm not alone

and certainly not alone
in feeling remorse, afterwards.

But I dare not try
to squelch the fire--
when the forge dies
so do I...

on the other hand
those flare-ups also exhaust me!

To steady my flame
I must surrender
my fevered ego
to the cool of the cube...

I must surrender

or else
live in shame.

© 2015, Michael R. Patton
Butterfly Soul: the book

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Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Home...for the Moment

author’s note:

The image above was influenced by the well-known peace symbol created by Gerald Holtom.

I doubled the original design, then left one half pointing downward and put the other half in an upward position.

Maybe my design isn't as striking...

...but I thought any symbol of peace should be balanced.


Sometimes when I see
those mountains of peace...

I begin to sail

but soon lose
what I haven't yet earned

and fall from the clouds

to land flat--smack on the ground


the giving earth seems to know my heart

and the calm stone
under my hand
radiates strength.

So though the mountains
still appear to be a thousand miles away...

for the moment
I am home.

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

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Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Shining in the Dark

author’s note:

I remember a young woman who was frustrated because she could not serve in the armed forces...

I wish I would've told her: there are many ways for you to serve your country.


I wrote a poem to our rulers
telling them:

you brag about what
you've done for us
but forget

what we've done for you--

that position isn't your birthright
that power is only on loan--!

I didn't expect
a sincere response
I merely wanted to voice
my pain--

to proclaim:

though you throw me
and my many unknown
sisters and brothers
into the valley of all
you wish to ignore...

in the darkness we will grow.

We're willing to wait, in the dark

because we know the tide
will eventually rise

and that tide will be a flood.

In the aftermath, who will clean up?

We will!

We'll know how
because down in the valley
we're teaching ourselves
the ways and means of cleaning--

in the dark, we're learning how to shine.

In the dark, one can hear the heart

so, despite your neglect
we will stand up, ready to serve...

© 2015, Michael R. Patton
Soultime: the novel

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