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author’s note:

In my experience, dreams don’t lie.


Last night I wished
to escape on the beach

but a dream came to pain me
with golden possibility.

In the scene I was both slave and king

but the king slumped—
useless in his sleep

and so
the slave had to carry his master
through dark forests
through swamps

but found enough strength
in this belief:

as long as he ventured forth
with sincere intent
whatever direction he chose
would return them
to the kingdom

then the king would awaken
and he, his servant
would no longer live as slave.

This dream might seem to be
little more
than a fanciful child’s tale

when I woke from it
I knew again
how lost I usually feel

but also
the strength of my hope.

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



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 grief & death & joy


author’s note:

Once again, I try to get this poem right.


After you, I realized:

we must endure
not only the worst
among us, but also
the best.

Both overwhelm us—
both challenge us
to rise above.

Yes, one tries to darken our eyes
while the other tries to enlighten

but brilliant light can stun

and with sight
comes responsibility:

when I try to ignore
what I now know
I feel guilty

especially when I sense
your old owl eyes watching me
from a place unseen
(located somewhere
 over my left shoulder).

Yes I’m pleased
you take an interest
I just wish you’d encourage me

when doubt
agitates my thought
almost to blindness—

reassure me
with a spirit whisper:

tell me again
why I must not slack
in this work—
tell me again
how it helps us all.

Tell me
to keep on lifting
my leaden feet—
tell me I can find
the strength hidden within
—but only if I try to lift.

Please, tell me
I will eventually
hold the peace
that always seems to slip
from my grip.

Tell me
all you once told me—
tell me again…

I wait…
but again: only silence

yet I don’t feel rejected—
after all
why should you remind me
when I haven’t forgotten?—

besides that
a repeat would merely be
temporary comfort—
not a cure:

no one but me can give me courage.

As my moment of weakness passes
I feel ashamed once again
but also think:

maybe later
I can use this moment
as a story lesson

when I become someone
others will gladly endure.


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


author’s note:

As I’ve said before: if I thought my poems were only about me…

…I wouldn’t even bother.



Believing I’d received
a whispered summons
from an angel unseen
I began to walk…

guided all along the long way
by the haloed notes of that piper—

certain I would find
a land of sweet diamonds
at the end of my sojourn

but instead I arrived
in a dark land of cut-glass ice—
the tippy-top of the world
the North Pole:
nowhere else left to go

so I sat myself down
on a big cold cube

and cursed that angel

until finally
I wearied of my anger
and in the frozen quiet
of that emptiness
I began to hear
a rising soprano choir:

the wordless chant
of a thousand maidens
holding holy candles
in a prison deep beneath
our luminous-white icecap.

Before I could protect myself
the flame of their sound
had found, had penetrated my hidden hurt
—a yearning long ignored—

and I began to burn and writhe
and beg for release
from a feeling unbearable

until a monolithic bell
answered the plea of my pain—
its layers of soothing baritone
radiating down
from the apogee
of that black sky dome—

wise reverberations deeply-felt:
cool but not cold.

A greater moment
in which two worlds joined within me…

that sensation gone now
yet never quite lost—
the prison door unlocked
and though muted
the bell still sounding:

a union I’d fooled myself into finding
by lusting after mere confections:
costume jewelry.


In that greater moment
I thanked the angel
with a thousand apologies
it would not extend my reprieve
and soon insisted I return
to that dry but fertile earth

with its green succulents
blighted with brown splotches.

My first impulse was to resist
however, I’d come to realize
that devious spirit
really does know best

and haven’t we given ourselves
the same message
in countless stories and dreams?:

when you’ve gone as far
as you can go
by sitting still
at the top of the world
you must follow
your steps back down

in those new two-tone shoes:
tough enough to protect your feet
yet light enough
for your soles to feel
that sweet diamond trail.


© 2016, Michael R. Patton
myth steps blog

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