Friday, October 30, 2015

Clown Skeleton

author’s note:

Did I actually find a skeleton in an old pickup trunk, as stated in the poem below?

Well, I did happen upon the rusted-out truck pictured above.  And if you focus very intently for a spell, you might indeed see a skeleton.

Happy Halloween!


In the forest beyond
an abandoned burial ground
I found an intact human skeleton
upright in the driver’s seat
of a rusted pickup truck shell

but my shock soon dissipated
as I tiptoed over to investigate:

though delicate hand bones
held the wheel as if to steer
I sensed no spirit
inhabiting that antique frame.

I felt no threat:
the skull had lost its death grin
with the falling of the front teeth.

Instead, the specter
that would mock us
was itself mocked
because an earlier visitor
had stuck a silly baseball cap
atop the cranium.

Even so, I continued to stare
into the empty eye sockets
hoping to prompt in myself
some sense of the unseen mystery
--the invisible reality--
that I believe (I hope!)
is an active part of our world.

But when my neck hairs
finally began to rise
the fright came from this question:

might I likewise end my days
in a dry scrub forest?--
going nowhere, nowhere to go--alone:
a derelict in a derelict truck--
a clown set of bones--

a blank for a mouth--
a blank for a voice...?

Shocked by the thought
I walked away from that encounter
feeling most fortunate--

again the Death card
had appeared in my deck
to stir a sense of urgency
and reawaken my resolve.

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

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Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Need to be Naive

author’s note:

A companion to the last poem posted.


Maybe our world was born
with a hole in its cup

because we never seem
to have enough of what we need

despite all the oceans
all the grand fields
and rich forests--

despite all the billions
of hearts and souls
filled with love.

We try to answer
this feeling of lack
but our winning tactics
are consistently disastrous

we're not yet naive enough
to believe the obvious:
there is enough for all of us.

I still can't quite believe
I have enough
and so
my survival strategies
are harmful to me
--harmful to us--

I'm working to become
naive again...unafraid

and as I struggle
to open these eyes
sometimes, I see
the obvious so clearly:
the world doesn’t really
have a hole in its heart.

Perhaps when I can finally
keep my eyes open full time
I'll be able to help convince
some among those billions
how the hole in the human soul
is actually an illusion.

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

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Friday, October 16, 2015

The New Courage

author’s note:

“We must not be frightened or cajoled into accepting evil as deliverance from evil.  We must go on struggling to be human, though monsters of abstraction police and threaten us.”
                  -– Robert Hayden


I say it’s healthy
that we believe we are crazy
that we believe we are sick

but only if we also believe
we can heal ourselves.

It's healthy
that we fear for
the survival of our species:
apparently, we still love ourselves
despite all our flaws--

despite our inability
to find enough love within
to stop the destruction.

When I'm finally able
to love enough
I will be willing to defy
my fear of death
my fear of enemies

my fear of you.

When I can finally defy my fear
I'll be able to help with the healing.

When we can finally defy our fear
we will be able to save ourselves.

When we finally rise above our fear
we will no longer see enemies...

© 2015, Michael R. Patton
My War for Peace: the book

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Friday, October 09, 2015

The Last Party

author’s note:

The Earth is like a spaceship that didn't come with an operating manual.
                   -- R. Buckminister Fuller


In only a few hundred million years
this tiny Earth will fall into The Sun.

If we've lasted that long
I hope our approach will be joyous
even though we know
that all we've thought and felt and done
will soon be gone.

Yes, humankind should celebrate!--
after all, we will have survived
despite the drive
of our fearful greed--
an honorable victory.

Yes, let's sweeten our tears
with laughter--
we raise ourselves high
when we can find light
amid life's grief:

after witnessing such strength
I reject the belief
that an existence so humble and grand
leads only to nothingness.

Instead, I hope (I pray)
there exists a universal bank
to hold all the wisdom we have gleaned
during our time on this hard planet.

© 2015, Michael R. Patton
My War for Peace: the book

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Thursday, October 01, 2015

The End & The Beginning

author's note:

“So foul a sky clears not without a storm.”
           -- Shakespeare, King John


Though I'm so worried
about my own bit of turbulence
I can't quite ignore
this storm we've spawned--

(and yet too quickly)
building force:

we can sense
the uncertainty of our roots
as our nervous limbs
shake in the rising wind.

I'm not yet wise enough
to give weather advice
but I can offer this hope

based on my own
tempestuous experience:

in the aftermath
we can learn from our destruction
as we work to build a better home.

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

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