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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

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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

dear reader:

Allow me to repeat myself:

At my death, I hope someone says: “He fought the good fight.”
 

THE GOOD FIGHT

In the dream, I knelt down

into a circle of light
found on the floor
of a dusty dark tunnel

and in an instant
an upswell of energy
saturated me—a sensation
both buoyant and dense—

my whole being hummed
with the grand expansion

yet at the same time
I felt diminished
by a power so great:
consumed—overwhelmed

I soon woke in fear

and immediately lost the feeling

then cursed my weakness

as I often do
when I give in
to lower instinct
and reject what
my higher instinct desires.

However
I didn’t lose completely:

whenever I remember
that underground light
I can sense (just vaguely)
that force of peace
within me—

within me
yet frightfully foreign:

I doubt I could ever
live with that mysterious intensity
for more than
the occasional moment.

But no matter—
a recent dream shows me
determined to return—
fighting

through a dusty storm wind
toward a dim distant light

and though I feel so weak

the exhilaration spurs me on.
 

© 2018, Michael R. Patton
my war for peace: poetry ebook


 

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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