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Dear Reader:

We’re often told: support those who serve.

I say: we all serve.


On my long trek home from war
I stopped to watch a farmer turn
an old meadow into a fresh field

but when I saw how
the plow blade broke the earth open
I felt my raging shame once more—

once more felt
the sharp wound of defeat—
a cut I’d tried so hard to ignore

but as the child
followed with handfuls of seed
I realized
such destruction creates furrows—

as the wise one said
old life must be torn
so new life can be born

but oh
I did not want to labor!
I wanted to laze:

war had tested my strength
thus, in the aftermath
I felt quite weak


I’d already learned
from such conflict
that if I didn’t fight my inertia
I’d suffer an even worse defeat.

© 2017, Michael R. Patton
myth steps blog


author’s note:

Years ago, I was told: we must lead our leaders.

I’m trying, I’m trying.


The radio tells me:
at the peace summit meeting
old men can’t mend old grievances—

but who am I to criticize them?—
I still can’t heal old wounds.

Our leaders lead us into fear

but who am I to criticize them
when fear still rules my head?

Angry disappointment
at the news and at myself
nearly has me driving blind

until I’m struck by the sight
of a deer lying beside the highway—
a casualty of crossing—
the rapid huffing of its chest
tells me death is near.

I’m flooded with empathy
but perhaps I put my foot to the brake
because I see a way to redeem myself
—if only slightly:

I will whisper some comfort
into the ear of that terrorized creature:
I’ll ease its sad passage—

I’ll gaze into its dark round eye
and beg forgiveness

for what?—
for the failures of all humankind.

But as I slam the car door shut
the deer abruptly stands up
on spindly yet stable legs

then in an instant
it bounds off across a brilliant meadow
to disappear into a copse of trees in shadow.

I hesitate for a moment, then follow…

I don’t know what I’m doing
and yet I do.

What I Learned while Alone: poetry ebook
© 2017, Michael R. Patton

vulture bed bbb - July 24, 2016sc

author’s note:

“It’s alive!  It’s alive!  It’s alive!  It’s alive!  It’s alive!”
           — from the 1931 Frankenstein


I tried (for safety’s sake)
to subdue myself

but as I fought to die
something within fought to live.

Finally I surrendered
to the strength of the spirit.

But I’d already lost so much by then:

to revive myself
I had to kill again—
kill the one I’d become
kill again and again—

a rising sequence of deaths—

such sacrifice adds as it subtracts:

we must sacrifice the life
that keeps us buried

we must sacrifice the old beliefs
that keep our eyes from opening

we must sacrifice those old dreams
that keep our minds from dreaming.

Every day I sacrifice:

every day I die a little more
every day I live a little more.

I once believed this war
would eventually end

but now I know
I must never give up the fight—

must never stop trying to live
the truth of who I am.

© 2016, Michael R. Patton
Common Courage: a bookuch

fist - February 6, 2016s

author’s note:

“I don’t want the dreams.  I want to be a soldier.”
        –– U.S. Iraq-war veteran


My wounds are the wounds
of every warrior who’s ever
fallen down in pain—

in pain
from the cuts he’s received
but also
from the cuts he’s inflicted.

All bandages soon unravel
so instead I apply blessings
to my wounds—

not a formal prayer
but a form of prayer:

I believe we all pray
for ourselves to ourselves
in this way all the time—

secretly (deep in our being)
we pray for the wounding to end
we pray for the healing of all.

I believe
even those who glory in the wounding
pray in their dreams for this pain to end.
Even those who jest—
their laughter only makes sense
when you realize
the weight of grief held within.

Though I no longer laugh at our pain
my sincerity has not yet healed me

so I continue to go deep—
down to the blessed water
that cleanses and mends
old wounds.

I’m just so tired of the past—
every new battle
only repeats an earlier chapter
in the history of a fight
that has lasted my entire life.

So I’ll keep on, keep on coaxing
these beaten fists open
with blessings, with blessings:

I’m determined to drop
my heavy lead arrows
even though I know others
will still shoot arrows at me.

I’m so curious about us humans…

maybe in the process of opening
I’ll release enough light to see
the grand design we began when
we first started marching
in line behind that wounded-blind
Sumerian king, so long ago…

© 2016, Michael R. Patton
my war for peace: the book

find COMMON COURAGE on amazon

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