Sunday, July 24, 2016

Every Day I Die to Live

author's note:

"It's alive!  It's alive!  It's alive!  It's alive!  It's alive!"
             -- from the 1931 Frankenstein


I tried (for safety’s sake)
to subdue myself

but as I fought to die
something within fought to live.

Finally I surrendered
to the strength of the spirit.

But I'd already lost so much by then:

to revive myself
I had to kill again--
kill the one I'd become
kill again and again--

a rising sequence of deaths--

such sacrifice adds as it subtracts:

we must sacrifice the life
that keeps us buried

we must sacrifice the old beliefs
that keep our eyes from opening

we must sacrifice those old dreams
that keep our minds from dreaming.

Every day I sacrifice:

every day I die a little more
every day I live a little more.

I once believed this war
would eventually end

but now I know
I must never give up the fight--

must never stop trying to live
the truth of who I am.

© 2016, Michael R. Patton
Common Courage: a book

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Sunday, July 17, 2016

The Wounded Beast

author's note:

“Tonight’s forecast...dark.”
           -- George Carlin


in the cloud of my storm--cracked
    by my own lightning
I fumbled blindly--
desperately trying
to find my way free

until my hand landed
on the trembling hide
of that fearful growling animal.

In the past, I'd fled
and been attacked
so now I tried to ease
the headless beast
with fingertips and words

but hurt is never so simple:
when the rumble within
had finally settled to a murmur
I detected beneath the layers
an incessant funeral sob of loss

then listening more intently
I felt the groans of a battlefield aftermath:
a slow steady pain
from wounds beyond number

but the many were really just one.

I knew then my work
as doctor and nurse
would never be complete.

Faced with such a task
how can I fault myself
for sometimes abandoning
the grind of healing?--

and if I absolve myself
how can I blame anyone else
for failing to engage
with the wounded beast?--

and yet, I do
occasionally rage
at our willful blindness--

yes, I rumble and crack

until blinded once more
by the cloud of my storm

then I must listen again
with feeling
to regain my sight.

I've much more to learn
but I do know for certain:
feeling is essential to healing...

feeling is listening is seeing.

© 2016, Michael R. Patton
My War for Peace: a book

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Sunday, July 10, 2016

Armadillo Mirrror

author's note:

Another poem with a mirror in it.


Though I constantly struggle to see...

I often miss the obvious
until a lightning bolt
from some personal god
shocks me awake--

as when
on a half-moon night
(while once again lamenting
  my meager accomplishment)
I happened upon
an armadillo on the lawn

and suddenly--without thought
saw myself in a mirror:
that little armored grubber
--an irrepressible spirit--
trundling along on its bitty legs:
a dwarf clawing for its survival
through many dark ages.

Such resolve, such strength!

But before my pride
could rise too high
I was struck again
by an inner knowing
I'd tried so hard to ignore:

the shell that protects
also limits...

I must evolve
out of the dark.

As I am, so we are.

© 2016, Michael R. Patton
SURVIVAL: a book

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Sunday, July 03, 2016

Declaration of Independence

author's note:

This poem has become my Fourth of July tradition.

Rewriting it each year has also become a tradition.


I'll be damn if I'll be terrorized
by anyone

including that monster in my mirror--

I’ve risen just enough above my fear
to see him as he truly is

and so
I refuse to shrink before those
who lack the courage to look
into their own reflections.

If they bombard me
I won't jump--
though my legs may tremble
I'll leap in triumph--
dance will be my revenge!

And I’ll fight the impulse
to tell them to go to hell
because my greater desire
is to raise myself, my world--

yes, I’ve grown...but
I'm still not tall enough
to honestly pity such folk
though I know their wounds

I do have enough
independent perspective
to stop my monster from mirroring
their vitriolic violence.

© 2016, Michael R. Patton
my war for peace: a book

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