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author’s note:

Around every Fourth of July, I revisit this poem.

Full disclosure: I’m not always able to live up to these words.
 

DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE

I’ll be damn if I’ll be terrorized
by anyone

including me—

I have looked into the mirror
and seen how mean I’ve been
to myself.

If I can face that monster
why should I cower
before those who lack
the courage to look
into their own reflections?

When they bombard me
my legs may tremble
but I won’t jump—
no, I’ll pirouette in triumph:
my dance will be my revenge!

Though they curse me to hell
I won’t curse them—
after all
I know the wounds
of their hellacious suffering.

On the other hand
I can’t sincerely bless them to heaven:

I haven’t yet healed myself
to that degree of empathy.

However
I have stopped
and stopped
and stopped
my monster from mirroring
their vitriolic violence

and maybe that’s blessing enough.
 

© 2017, Michael R. Patton
my war for peace: a poetry book

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author’s note:

This poem, written on Christmas Eve 2007, has become my Christmas tradition…

But traditions change over time.  This year, I’ve added a subtitle.

 

CHRISTMAS BAT
(or: The Birth Pains of Winter)

In this season, when we recognize
the birth of bright new life
in the darkest dark…

I wanted to give you all
an appropriate poem
of sweet Christmas light

but my heart stubbornly refused
to sing of our ideal Yuletide—

instead, this bat poem
demanded to be born:

   Cold cave and dung—
   there I hung
   wet with stalactite drops

   until a vampire bat perceived
   how tedious torturous time
   had finally ripened me—

   its bite woke me up—
   those painful fangs burst me free!—

   so that I might soar
   and sow my seed.

Some poems won’t let you go
until you open their cage
so after I wrote that batty rhyme
I felt quite relieved

until the child within me said,
“Okay—
 now you can warm me
 with a real Christmas story!”

I tried (but in vain)
to placate
that hungry innocent
with this insight:

  doesn’t that flighty verse
  actually speak of Christmas?—

  of new life born
  from the darkest night?

 

© 2016, Michael R. Patton
Searching for My Best Beliefs: a poetry book

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