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author’s note:

This hour I tell things in confidence,
I might not tell everybody but I will tell you.
               — Walt Whitman
 

THE DIAMOND KITE

Yesterday, when I saw the kite
I saw myself

sleeping in a park clearing
—no tail, no string—
just thin orange paper breathing
in a flimsy wooden frame

until woken abruptly by a gust—
twirled straight up—
up above the maple trees

then held—suspended:
burning golden in the sun
for an operatic moment.

But soon the magic went “poof”
and the kite spiraled down
to land softly on the lawn—

the diamond eagle: a ground bird
once again.

I know how it feels

to be suddenly lifted
by some invisible hand—
held aloft

only to be set down
in the next breath.

A short vacation
yet long enough
for me to know the wonder
of being a diamond kite

and so, ever since
I’ve wanted that height
as a permanent residence

and have worked to build
string and tail.

But after so many years
and so much effort, I fear
my kite dream may only be
a pipe dream.

Nevertheless…

when I saw that kite aloft
I could not deny my desire
to lift myself up
to my diamond height.
 

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

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author’s note:

Those better angels of our nature can be so irritating.
 

ANGELS IN WARTIME

As I sat overhead on a branch
and watched the enemy creep
through the woods in search of me
I noticed

a certain dread in his step

and by feeling his feeling, again felt
that horrified angel
I try so hard to ignore—

bruised but strong
within my thin armor.

Once again
I tried to stifle its tears

and once again grew frustrated
at a tenderness so stubborn

and so, once again
redirected this conflict
by pointing my anger at the enemy below—
I raised my bow…I aimed my arrow

but when I again saw the dread
in that man’s step
I again felt my angel
and realized
though I’ve killed many
that which I wish to destroy still lives

and will continue to weep
until I stop this dreadful killing.

But how can I stop
when my opponent won’t?
How can I change him?—I can’t!

Unable to answer my dilemma
I then began to climb—
hoping a greater height
would lead to greater insight.

But so far, I only know
what I’ve seen before:

the dread in the step
of so many men

which tells me:
they feel as I feel
they really don’t want to kill—
they too have an angel.

Maybe some who fight don’t
but I’ve seen enough dread
for me to have hope.
 

© 2018, Michael R. Patton
myth steps blog

author’s note:

So easy for me to forget to give thanks—even on Thanksgiving.
 

HOW HUMANS LEARNED TO GIVE THANKS

Because the first human was as he was
he demanded the fish
and the deer and the bird
lay down their lives
so he could live

and they said:

“We are the animals of the Earth
  so we must lay down our lives!”

and because he was as he was
the human told the tree to do the same—
he told the soil
he told the stream

and because they are as they are
all three laid down their lives
to give him a roof
a crop
and a dam.

Unfortunately, being as he was
the man did not see
he needed to heal the Earth
he had wounded
or else he would
collapse from the wound.

Fortunately
the wounded Earth was still
strong enough to heal itself
and also the human being
who’d wounded it

and so
after an agony
lasting forty nights
the man rose again.

Fortunately, being down
had changed his point-of-view—
now he sang a different tune:

“I am small, I am weak
  so the great Earth
  lays down its life
  for my sake.

“But after it has sacrificed
  I must revive that life
  or else, I am a dead man.”

Since then we humans
are not as we once were—now
we thank the Earth for gifts given
and heal that which we wound.

This myth…a story from our future.
 

© 2018, Michael R. Patton
dream steps blog

author’s note:

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

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

EMPATHY FOR THREE

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
because

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

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