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author’s note:

Just once, I would’ve liked to have seen Wile E. Coyote ring Road Runner’s neck.
 

A BETTER FOOL

As a child, I admired
the heroic defeat—

for instance:

the weary warrior rising to defend
poor children cowering in shadow corners—
she struggles—relentless—
though she knows her sacrifice
will not end the grief

or
the fallen explorer—
as he slowly fades, he raises his arms
toward the white sparkling peak—
just out of reach.

Such stories told me:
you need not win
in order to ascend to glory—
by remaining strong in abject loss
you can earn a place
in the hall of the brave.

Obsession
could actually lift me to grace.

But wait—
what about those cartoons
of the desert coyote obsessively pursuing
that empty-headed ground-dwelling bird?—

no grandeur when
the bomb explodes in his hand–
toasting his foolish head
to a burnt-black crisp

or when
the chase leads him off a cliff—
his bewildered eyes looking at us
for a mid-air moment of stillness—
saying:
“oh no!—but oh well—
 another hard landing.”

The folly of the coyote
woke me to this risk:

by fighting ever onward
despite repeated failure
I could become rabidly absurd

but no—not if I went for bigger game:

if I elevated my goals
I might still be a fool
but I wouldn’t be a silly fool—

by always reaching higher
I’d feel fulfilled even if I failed—

even if I suffered a million losses
I would not lose.
 

© 2019, Michael R. Patton
40 New Fables: ebook

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author’s note:

Happy Groundhog Day to all the groundhogs out there.
 

AFTER I SAW MY GROUNDHOG SHADOW

If gray clouds cover the sky
on Groundhog Day
the groundhog won’t see his shadow
and so, feel safe
to remain above ground—
to feed, to frolic

just as I did
in my dim Spring.

On the other hand
if the sun cuts through the clouds
then his shadow will be revealed
and our furry friend
will retreat to his dark den—

afraid, as I once was
of that creature unknown.

But in time, he’ll return
just as I did:

I guess we can’t forget
the glory to be found in sunlight—
we want to see—
even if
what we witness frightens us
or pains our eyes.

Maybe…or maybe
we begin to worry—
wondering if

that shadowy something
has followed us back inside
and still lurks—
hidden in the dark.

So we then decide:
hard open light is actually safer
than the shelter of soft darkness.
 

© 2019, Michael R. Patton
myth steps blog

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:

“We have met the enemy and he is us.”
        — Walt Kelly, Pogo
 

ANOTHER BATTLE WON

Yesterday, as I skipped
down the sidewalk
I thought I glimpsed
a vulture circling!

and like a fool, I ran—
ran again
without thinking

and as fools often do
I tripped—
tripped again
and hit

the hard ground hard

then found only empty sky above.

I tried to laugh
but as I lay on my back
I began to feel
my real adversary again—
the parasite of needless fear:

its chattering teeth
trying to devour
the will of my better desire—

I wanted to jump up and run!

But as I fought to find
the strength to stand
I woke again
to that other feeling—
a feeling buried deep:

so subtle, so quiet, yet so solid—

a knowingness that says: all is well
(despite what you think)

a knowingness beyond reason.

The parasite then lost its teeth
(for the moment at least)
and I stood up
and walked on…

another battle won.
 

© 2018, Michael R. Patton
dream steps blog

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