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author’s note:

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

I’m trying, I’m trying.
 

STOPPING MY CAR FOR A DEER AFTER HEARING THE NEWS REPORT

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

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author’s note:

“The worms crawl in…the worms crawl out.”
               — from The Hearse Song
 

BETWEEN A LION & A WORM

I’ve seen so much shape-shifting:

I’ve seen lions
accept the lie told to them
and crawl under stones
to survive as worms.

But fortunately
a big cat can benefit
from living subterranean

if as a worm
it feeds upon
the rich life to be found
within the black loam.

But as that worm-cat expands
its safe space will become suffocating…

for our lion to rise
we must die the good death—
we must shift once again.

Afterwards
when I look back
on my life as a worm
a sigh of melancholy
may slip from my lips…

but no—
I’ll reject all regrets

because by then
I’ll finally fully accept
I had to lose
in order to grow.
 

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

author’s note:

This poem seems appropriate for our times.
 

THE PEBBLE

As stallions of bruised-black clouds
rushed toward my shore from the ocean horizon…

I thanked my stars I’d found
that boulder on the beach—
a cleft on its leeward side
opened to a secret chamber:
a womb for me—a sacred space
where I could sit in safety…
in peaceful solitude

and indeed
as I hunkered down inside
I felt secure
even as the tide rose
even as the wind rose
even as pellets of rain
shot down on the rock roof
I felt secure.

But that ocean seemed determined
to wreck my calm:
though I tried to reassure myself
I could not ignore the force
of its repetitive threats—
on the count of three
a wave would explode
against the rock-side:
those booming blasts
soon broke into
my body, my mind, my heart.

So, in desperation
I dove down into my dark depths

praying I might find
a solid stone foundation

but no—
I could only locate a little pebble.

But since I had nothing else
to hold, I held it
with the all fierceness
of my spirit.

I’d stopped struggling
to kill my fear—
now, I just hoped to endure:

sometimes, we must go so low
for our higher education—
consider the end:

when I’d become nothing more
than that tiny stone
a big blow shattered the boulder
into shards

and I found myself standing
on sunny beach
as modest waves retreated.

Stunned I was, but closer to peace—
having gained this foundational wisdom:

rock walls can not protect us
from the destruction of storms…

only our own little stones.
 

© 2017, Michael R. Patton
dream steps blog

author’s note:

And now for something a bit shorter…
 

WEAVE IN PEACE

Moonlight whitens a spider dangling
down on an unseen string—
down from a limb of shadow leaves.

This suspension holds me in suspense

yet the spider seems quite at ease:

the spider knows its strength

thus, it weaves in peace…

on the other hand, humans
are still learning

so we doubt as we dangle…

maybe someday
we’ll realize the truth
of our strength

and thereafter
weave in peace.
 

© 2017, Michael R. Patton
myth steps blog

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