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author’s note:

Heart attacks often occur in the morning hours during the last phase of REM (dream) sleep.


The truth must actually be important:

otherwise why would my dreams
ruin a soft nourishing sleep
by revealing the true chaos
of my waking life?—

ruin, by revealing
my relentless distress

then add to that distress
by revealing
I’m not yet over the sorrow
I thought I’d put to rest
years ago

and then at the end of night
stun me one more time
by revealing the love
behind my dislike
and the anger raging under
what I thought
was calm acceptance.

No wonder our hearts often burst
while we’re asleep…

but maybe my dreams will be
a little easier on me
if I can wake myself
to more of the truth
amid the chaos of these days.

© 2018, Michael R. Patton
dream steps blog


author’s note:

At the age of nine, Black Elk experienced a vision in which he stood at the center of the world—Harney Peak, South Dakota.

But in the same moment, he understood that every place on Earth is also the center.


When I was small
I often felt quite small
so I’d climb a nearby hill

and at the top
I’d survey all before me
and imagine myself to be
The Center of the World—

one day I’d live a life
so high in the sky—
yes, I’d be a giant!

As an adult
I’ve tried to realize that wish
but instead of rising up
I just seem to keep on
shrinking down.

Sometimes when I feel
especially small
I return
to that hill

but now I try
to leave my childish anger below
and allow myself to feel the sorrow
of someone who’s grown.

If I can take that big step
I’ll be high enough above myself
to know a true moment of peace
as I survey our grand expanse.

At such times
I experience this human I am
as both large and small:

I am indeed
The Center of the World…

but so what?—

aren’t we all?

© 2017, Michael R. Patton
painful puns blog

author’s note:

An apt poem, I believe, for these overheated times.


When I was child
the Bible told me:
with enduring patience
you can escape Egypt

and indeed I was eventually
able to leave

but not completely…
even after all these years
the pain of bondage
still rages within me.

I can laugh an honest laugh
and find heaven in my heart…

yet I know
at any moment
the fire may blaze
back up
to consume the king
of my judgment.

But these fights with myself
prompt me to seek the solace
of the cool still pool.

Down in its darkness
I soothe the latest burn
and in so doing, heal
the old wounds
just a little bit more—
a little bit more.

Maybe someday
I’ll be well enough to help
some of the many
who struggle with
a rage born in Egypt:

maybe they (like me)
have tried and failed
to destroy the fire—

can we ever master those flames?

I will–
when I raise
that righteous sword
from the ashes of my sorrow.

I say:
we’re actually lucky
to have experienced
such indignity
in early Egypt—

we might lack
the fervor to battle
the injustices of our world.

© 2017, Michael R. Patton
My War for Peace: a poetry book

author’s note:

I say, we all grow.

However, I will admit: in certain cases, it’s really really hard to see.


When I was a plant
in a land of drought
I asked the sky for rain

though I doubted
the atmosphere listened
to such requests
what’d be the harm
in trying?

But when the rain
still didn’t fall
I could not maintain
my nonchalance:

in anger, I cursed
that stupid blue blank

and soon discovered
cursing only worsened
the burning

whereas to surrender
in abject defeat
brought me
the cool relief of humility…

but then
as strictures of death
crept into my limbs
the drought began to seem
so unjust.

my ire, and with it, my fire
rose from the cold ashes.

That flame was my life
yet it would devour me
unless I could make peace
with my predicament

and if I was to die
before rain came
I did not want
any extra suffering.


my best logic failed
to calm me

so finally
in desperation
I tried to channel my fire
into a joyous act

of Celebration!

Lacking any formal ritual
I clapped and flapped
in a silly dance–

I celebrated this plant life—
celebrated its crazy ambiguities

celebrated the roots
that sustained me
while holding me captive.

celebrated the leaves
that fed me
yet also gave me this pain.

I celebrated, I celebrated—
not just going through the motions
but truly rejoicing
because now I knew
how much I loved this life—
enough to endure its worst.

And from my celebration
came an ecstasy
of laughter and tears—
I felt myself ascend—

rising, rising
until I finally reached
a lofty rain cloud:

quite proud
I beamed at my accomplishment

but then
from this new perspective
I beheld the obvious:
how a multitude of plants
rose up
from that moon-bone desert—

many of them much higher than I

but whatever their size
they all danced in celebration
of our painful
plant life.

© 2017, Michael R. Patton
Survival: a poetry book

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