author’s note:

Today, in the U.S., we honor our military veterans.

I say: we’re all veterans, of one type or another.


One night while standing in line
I heard a man behind me say
with a sneer:

he’s fallen again

and felt a surge of empathy
for someone I did not know

but I knew his pain—
you see, I’ve fallen too

a few times
or maybe more
than a few

and like that guy
been criticized
while still down

if not by someone else
then by myself—
yeah, I can be quite critical of me.

So I think I know something
about that critical man in line—
I believe his sneer belies
anger at some part of himself
he deems weak.

The pain behind his anger
is pain I know, so now
I also feel empathy for him.

Maybe my empathy
is merely self-pity
projected outwards.

But if so, that’s okay

when I see myself
in those two mirrors
I want to help them both

and when I want to help them both
I want to help all three of us

and when I want help the three of us
I want to help the whole damn world.

© 2018, Michael R. Patton
40 New Fables: ebook


author’s note:

“Tonight‘s forecast…dark.”
         — George Carlin


I say we stop
blaming our gods or God
for “Acts of God”.

As the flood waters rise
and the winds try to rip us apart
better to admit:
it’s our own damn fault.

With the sword stroke of those words
we can reclaim our power.

When our patient angels
see us using our strength
they’ll cease their weeping

and lift us as we work
to save this world
from the flaws of our species.

© 2018, Michael R. Patton
I’m Responsible: a pessimistic optimist responds to the trouble of his times

author’s note:

Some may ask: does this the poem describe an actual event?

Metaphorically, yes.


I knelt down in an empty field
I raised my arms to the storm

and begged
the god of lightning
to blast me open—

so desperate
to break my stubborn bars
I’d risk total destruction.

But once again that god
refused to respond
and once again I realized:

you don’t tell the gods
what to do—
they tell you.

And so, once again
I laid myself down
in defeat and wept
and let

the blank rain soak
into my blood
into my bones—

cleansed, I was
though in the mud:

I love
to rediscover
that cold blue naked purity

my shivering
goes from mild to violent—

the body’s way of saying
be sensible now—go inside

and so I did
and so I sit
working on this poem—
working to open:

obeying the orders
of the god of myself—
though I’m so annoyed
to hear, once again:

be patient.  Go slow.

© 2018, Michael R. Patton
what I learned while alone: poetry ebook

author’s note:

“We have met the enemy and he is us.”
        — Walt Kelly, Pogo


Yesterday, as I skipped
down the sidewalk
I thought I glimpsed
a vulture circling!

and like a fool, I ran—
ran again
without thinking

and as fools often do
I tripped—
tripped again
and hit

the hard ground hard

then found only empty sky above.

I tried to laugh
but as I lay on my back
I began to feel
my real adversary again—
the parasite of needless fear:

its chattering teeth
trying to devour
the will of my better desire—

I wanted to jump up and run!

But as I fought to find
the strength to stand
I woke again
to that other feeling—
a feeling buried deep:

so subtle, so quiet, yet so solid—

a knowingness that says: all is well
(despite what you think)

a knowingness beyond reason.

The parasite then lost its teeth
(for the moment at least)
and I stood up
and walked on…

another battle won.

© 2018, Michael R. Patton
dream steps blog

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