author’s note:

Happy Valentine’s Day.
 

THE QUEST

The young man told the wise man:
when I saw that silver palace
I felt overwhelmed
by an ecstasy of love.

So I now feel compelled
to search faraway lands
until reality matches my dream.

To that, the old man said:
no need to hunt—
you can find your love ecstasy
merely by appreciating
the simple beauty
of this earth.

Though disappointed by his master’s reply
our hero did indeed try:
he set himself down
in a field of wildflowers
and observed the world
as twilight darkened into night
and fireflies began to blink.

Soon entranced
by the quiet beauty
of those gold flashes
he felt a stir of warmth
within his chest.

Nice, yes, but not enough for him:
he yearned for a greater ecstasy.

But even more than that:
he wanted to heighten his life
by enduring the hardship and pain
of traversing that grand mountain chain
in pursuit of a divine ideal.

So the lad stood up,
aimed himself toward the rising sun
and began his quest—

a journey
which led him into
many deep valleys
where he shook with the fear
of being lost in dark shadow.

But he also knew the glory
of standing on a mountaintop
and watching golden-red dawn
flare up on the far horizon.

He walked miles and miles
of dry flat land
and found achievement
in the monotonous grind.

He fought the undertow
during many river crossings—
emerging shivering wet, yet
victorious.

But despite the sincerity of his work
the dream palace remained elusive.

Eventually, his divine desire
could not surmount
the reasonable demands
of body and mind.

His disappointment
made the hard ground
feel even harder when he hit:
he wept like a child
who’s lost his wish—

wept until his tears
emptied him—
leaving our man openly innocent:
open enough to find his love again
by finding beauty
in firefly flashes of gold
at twilight.

But the warm stir in his chest
stirred him up—
soon, he wanted more.

So he rose once again
to continue his quest.

How does this story end? you ask.

I hoped you might tell me.

But no matter—
I’d rather discover
for myself.
 

© 2020, Michael R. Patton
40 New Fables: ebook

author’s note:

Every day should be Groundhog Day.
 

MYSTERIOUS GROUNDHOG LIFE

When I saw
the groundhog
waddling along—
grubbing just to survive—
suddenly, my dream
of being the eagle in high flight
felt like a lie:

a fantasy I use
to distract myself
from the plain truth
of my groundhog life

with its daily mundane routine of chores
made worse by incessant small frustrations.

But then
as I continued to watch
that humble creature work
I began to marvel
at the force in its frame—
I believe:
it comes from some higher source.
In any case, I witnessed
the mystery of life
in a life quite ordinary

and so, felt again
the mystery of my own life—
the mystery of our groundhog life.

Lifted by wonder then
I soared for a moment or more.

So maybe the sages were right
when they told us:
you must first
embrace this lowly earth
before you can realize
your dream of flight.
 

© 2020, Michael R. Patton
dream steps blog

author’s note:

In memory of Robert Patton, 1931-2019.
 

WHEN I RETURN

Seeking solace
I return to this hillside—

return to
those small blue wildflowers…
the gray stones…
the flowing grasses
that know me so well—

as friends, they feel my grief
and empathize.

Secure in their care
I lay myself down in the sun
and allow my tears to rise.

Release : relief
as those waters spend their surplus
then sink back down
into a hidden reservoir—

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

But eventually
those neglected waters
will again rise up in rebellion

and so, seeking solace, I’ll return
to this green hill

to these flowers
and stones
and flowing grasses.

Again, I’ll lay myself down—

a lover of the sun
I’ll fall open

and again allow
those rising waters to lift me.

Each time I return
those deep waters lift me
higher.
 

© 2020, Michael R. Patton
Butterfly Soul” poems of grief & death & joy

author’s note:

For me, a time of death, of loss, of grief.  Maybe I returned to this poem to tell myself: don’t try to escape.
 

A RESURRECTION

Long ago, a young girl
looked down to find
a bird chick
opening its beak
to the sky in a silent plea

so she held the creature
in the cup of her loving hands
and tried—tried
to radiate healing

but though she used
the full force of her will
she could not save the bird.

In the sadness of that frustration
the child felt a tear in her chest—
a frightening feeling

followed by a frightening sight:

she now saw
that same silent plea
in the faces of so many
who passed on the street

and every time she saw, she felt
a sear of pain
as the opening tore
just a bit more, a bit more.

So she began to ignore
what she saw, what she felt.
A decision made reflexively—
that is: without awareness.

She only knew:
life had smoothed.
A new sense of security
improved her posture.
I’m now more mature
she told herself.

And so, in blindness
our hero held tightly to that shield
for years

until
the bright morning when
that woman suddenly saw
her reflection in a store window
and found
the silent plea of a dying bird
in a face so desperate.

Shocked awake
she again felt
the sear of pain
but deeper now:

during her absence
the tear had torn
all the way down
to her core—
yes, the opening burned
all the way to her core.

Though afraid and confused at first
she soon began to enjoy the intensity—
the rushing energy of resurrection—
a wild expansion, outside and in—
she loved feeling alive in life.

So despite the hot pain
she wanted to keep seeing
she wanted to keep feeling
she wanted to keep deepening down.

In the years since
she’s arrived at this understanding:
experience denied
is still experienced
somewhere inside.

But if I don’t realize
what I experience
I am dead.

So she tells those
who come to her
with that desperate plea—

a desperate plea
gone from her own face—
replaced
by the smile of a woman
living grand.
 

© 2020, Michael R. Patton
butterfly soul: poetry ebook

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