author’s note:

An apt poem, I believe, for these overheated times.
 

BORN IN EGYPT

When I was child
the Bible told me:
with enduring patience
you can escape Egypt

and indeed I was eventually
able to leave

but not completely…
even after all these years
the pain of bondage
still rages within me.

Nonetheless
I can laugh an honest laugh
and find heaven in my heart…

yet I know
at any moment
the fire may blaze
back up
to consume the king
of my judgment.

But these fights with myself
prompt me to seek the solace
of the cool still pool.

Down in its darkness
I soothe the latest burn
and in so doing, heal
the old wounds
just a little bit more—
a little bit more.

Maybe someday
I’ll be well enough to help
some of the many
who struggle with
a rage born in Egypt:

maybe they (like me)
have tried and failed
to destroy the fire—

can we ever master those flames?

I will–
when I raise
that righteous sword
from the ashes of my sorrow.

I say:
we’re actually lucky
to have experienced
such indignity
in early Egypt—

otherwise
we might lack
the fervor to battle
the injustices of our world.
 


© 2017, Michael R. Patton
My War for Peace: a poetry book

author’s note:

It’s not my trail—it’s our trail.
 

A GLEAM OF PURPLE & GOLD

When I first glimpsed
that mountain peak
I believed

I’d seen my destiny:

I believed
I finally understood
the purpose
of this rising trail.

Thus
as I continued to step
I did so with intent.

Nonetheless
I’ve doubted the reality
behind my stated aim
because clouds and other
atmospheric conditions
usually keep the peak
hidden from me.

Fortunately, the work
of putting one foot
in front of the other
distracts my mind
from excessive worry

that is
until fatigue finally catches me

then I’ll begin to wonder if
I’m actually making progress
or if what I seek even exists.

And so, I’ll stop
and gaze upward
once again—
desperate for
another glimpse…

and indeed
with patience
I’ll eventually see a gleam
of purple and gold:

an image experienced
as a vision—
proclaimed by the spirit
to be truth.

Then
with doubt diminished
and hope renewed
I’ll continue to continue.

Though my heart will want to wait
for another bright beam
I know, from experience:
to linger longer
will only slow my progress

and to walk while looking up
is a sure way to trip and fall.
 


© 2017, Michael R. Patton
myth steps: a blog

author’s note:

“I’m listening.”
       — from the TV series Frasier
 

NOISE & SYMPHONY

When I heard
my steps ringing
ringing—
ringing out

I realized
we are all walking bells—

clanging together
to create
a gigantic cacophony.

I believe
we have a higher choir
hidden within that rush mash of noise

but though I strain my ears
I’m not yet clear enough
to clearly hear.

However…
I have discerned
a soprano song
buried in our burl—

sometimes
it weeps like a bird
but other times
it laughs like a bird.

Occasionally
when I bless myself
with a still moment
our hubbub begins to settle—
begins

to take the shape of a symphony

and then the lament
and the laugh
become one in harmony.
 


© 2017, Michael R. Patton
Searching for My Best Beliefs: a poetry book

author’s note:

Just for the record: I love our scientists.
 

UNIVERSAL SIGH

Science still can’t tell us
why we need to sigh

but we already know
when you lack adequate language
you breathe a deep sigh
and in that way
give pure voice
to the soul
and thus
relieve the heart.

My own four chambers
might have burst
long ago
if not for all those
large and small exhalations.

Yes
if I hadn’t sighed at the sight
of that stark violet mountain
my heart might have clunked
and quit—

might have stopped
had I not
sighed while watching
that snail crawl over
the pebble stones…

might have collapsed
awhile back
if not for those quiet occasions
when I find myself sighing
for a reason unknown:

at such times
if I listen down deep
I can feel
that strange sadness
and with it
the obscure wish.

(…)

However
sighs not only service
human hearts
but also those of animals—

I’ve heard a dog sigh
as well as a kitten.

Is it just
a mechanical response?—
or can a cat experience life
to the depths of a soul?

Maybe so
because one night
during a catastrophic dinner
I became a fraidy cat—
and chose flight over fight
but afterwards, in my sigh of relief
I heard the soul of my heart.

But whatever the reality may be
I believe it’s best if we believe
canines and felines
occasionally, soulfully sigh—

along with everything else
in this world:
a pigeon, a sturgeon—
even a tree—even
a stone—
they all hold the deep heavy wisdom
expressed by the sigh:

this whole damn planet sighs
this whole damn Universe—!

Sometimes
when I dive down
into the bottomless well
of my sigh
I can hear
that Universal sigh—
I can hear that sigh in mine

and then
despite the great distances
I feel and know
we are one in the sorrow…

we are one in the secret joy.
 


© 2017, Michael R. Patton
myth steps blog

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