Sunday, March 19, 2017

From the Wreckage

author's note:

Actually, I think this is a good poem for the beginning of Spring.


As I watch the shattered jet
smolder in a field...

I notice the wreckage resembles a cross

and begin to wonder if
I'm only using this crash
to mourn my own private losses--

I had to kill
so many childish kings
with their commands and castle dreams
so that my kingly child might live:

this slow painful sacrifice
is still in progress--

no, I haven't quite arrived
at that new life.

But though I've reason to mourn
I'm ashamed to have descended
into self-pity
while witnessing a tragedy


this release of grief
opens a well of feeling

and so, I suddenly swell
with true empathy for the many
who'll be deep-struck
by the shock of this loss

then realize:
we're together in grief

and also
together in hope:

as a woman wearing a hood
lifts a baby from the ashes
an artesian tear rises in my eye:

though I know a shadow
will haunt that child
from this time forward...

when I see
that small tear-streaked face
I again believe
in the new life
that follows in the wake
of all our sacrifice.

© 2017, Michael R. Patton
Butterfly Soul: poems of death and grief and joy

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Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Cathy Caffeine

author’s note:

It's become my tradition to post this poem, every year, in honor of International Women's Day.


This poem commemorates
the obscure child book character
Cathy Caffeine:

the tug boat that volunteered
to tow a skyscraper over the oceans
from Shanghai to Manhattan--

a proud prow willing to drink
galleons and galleons of coffee
in a valiant effort to keep
her steam pressure up.

No one ever noticed her
despite the sun flag on her mast
despite a heart
she had enlarged
so as to pump squall waters
from the furnace room.

No one ever heard her engine groan--
they only saw the skyscraper
sliding smoothly through seas
that bucked and brayed:

the edifice gliding
as if guided by a god

but since no god
ever appeared before them,
people came to believe
the skyscraper might be
a god itself.

From such mass opinion
Cathy Caffeine concluded
she'd done nothing of consequence--
     despite the pain
     in her main beam,
     a pain that ran
     from stern to bow--

she still believes she followed
a monumental monument
even though
that momentary monument
always shadowed her.

The Cathy of this child book story...

can be found all over the world--
can’t we see them?--look:
how the churn
of their propellers
gives the planet
its spin.

© 2017, Michael R. Patton
Survival: the book

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Sunday, March 05, 2017

When I Return

author's note:

I think most people have some type of hillside.


Though this hillside
has often helped me heal
now, I dare not lie down
for fear I'd never rise again.

Grief taints all my usual comforts:

the small blue wildflowers...
the gray stones...
the grasses
I've loved so often
with the spirit
that uses these neurons.

But despite the taint
I remain
because these things
--these beings--
know me:
they feel my grief
and empathize.

To ease their worry
I'll hold steady
as a feeling that seems relentlessly endless
slowly drains down

into a hidden reservoir--

a reservoir
I will ignore
to keep from being overwhelmed
as I do my daily chores...

a reservoir
that will eventually
overwhelm me
unless I return
to this green hill--

return when
I feel the pull
to deepen down
to deepen
as I deepen now.

When I return
I will see and feel
the taint left on the flowers
the stones and flowing

and in knowing
my grief again
I'll realize
how strong I was
in my weakness--

strong enough
to fight the urge
to lie down forever.

When I return
I will lie down
in these grasses

like a lover
I'll fall open
once more--

of my courage.

© 2017, Michael R. Patton
Butterfly Soul: poems of death & grief & joy

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