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author’s note:

Actually, I think this is a good poem for the beginning of Spring.
 

FROM THE WRECKAGE

As I watch the shattered jet
smolder in a field…

I notice the wreckage resembles a cross

and begin to wonder if
I’m only using this crash
to mourn my own private losses—

I had to kill
so many childish kings
with their commands and castle dreams
so that my kingly child might live:

this slow painful sacrifice
is still in progress—

no, I haven’t quite arrived
at that new life.

But though I’ve reason to mourn
I’m ashamed to have descended
into self-pity
while witnessing a tragedy

however…

this release of grief
opens a well of feeling

and so, I suddenly swell
with true empathy for the many
who’ll be deep-struck
by the shock of this loss

then realize:
we’re together in grief

and also
together in hope:

as a woman wearing a hood
lifts a baby from the ashes
an artesian tear rises in my eye:

though I know a shadow
will haunt that child
from this time forward…

when I see
that small tear-streaked face
I again believe
in the new life
that follows in the wake
of all our sacrifice.
 


© 2017, Michael R. Patton
Butterfly Soul: poems of death and grief and joy

grass-stone-796-dgr-2-march-1-2017sc

author’s note:

I think most people have some type of hillside.
 

WHEN I RETURN

Though this hillside
has often helped me heal
now, I dare not lie down
for fear I’d never rise again.

Grief taints all my usual comforts:

the small blue wildflowers…
the gray stones…
the grasses
I’ve loved so often
with the spirit
that uses these neurons.

But despite the taint
I remain
because these things
–these beings
know me:
they feel my grief
and empathize.

To ease their worry
I’ll hold steady
as a feeling that seems relentlessly endless
slowly drains down

into a hidden reservoir–

a reservoir
I will ignore
to keep from being overwhelmed
as I do my daily chores…

a reservoir
that will eventually
overwhelm me
unless I return
to this green hill—

return when
I feel the pull
to deepen down
to deepen
as I deepen now.

When I return
I will see and feel
the taint left on the flowers
the stones and flowing
grasses

and in knowing
my grief again
I’ll realize
how strong I was
in my weakness—

strong enough
to fight the urge
to lie down forever.

When I return
I will lie down
in these grasses

like a lover
I’ll fall open
once more—

confident
of my courage.
 


© 2017, Michael R. Patton
Butterfly Soul” poems of grief & death & joy

hand-touch-january-12-2017s

author’s note:

Once again, I try to get this poem right.
 

ENDURING THE BEST

After you, I realized:

we must endure
not only the worst
among us, but also
the best.

Both overwhelm us—
both challenge us
to rise above.

Yes, one tries to darken our eyes
while the other tries to enlighten

but brilliant light can stun

and with sight
comes responsibility:

when I try to ignore
what I now know
I feel guilty

especially when I sense
your old owl eyes watching me
from a place unseen
(located somewhere
 over my left shoulder).

Yes I’m pleased
you take an interest
I just wish you’d encourage me
occasionally

when doubt
agitates my thought
almost to blindness—

reassure me
with a spirit whisper:

tell me again
why I must not slack
in this work—
tell me again
how it helps us all.

Tell me
to keep on lifting
my leaden feet—
tell me I can find
the strength hidden within
—but only if I try to lift.

Please, tell me
I will eventually
hold the peace
that always seems to slip
from my grip.

Tell me
all you once told me—
tell me again…

I wait…
but again: only silence

yet I don’t feel rejected—
after all
why should you remind me
when I haven’t forgotten?—

besides that
a repeat would merely be
temporary comfort—
not a cure:

no one but me can give me courage.

As my moment of weakness passes
I feel ashamed once again
but also think:

maybe later
I can use this moment
as a story lesson

later…
when I become someone
others will gladly endure.

 


© 2017, Michael R. Patton
Butterfly Soul: poems of death & grief & joy

fog of war - August 8, 2016s

author’s note:

“What if this is as good as it gets?”
        — from the movie As Good as It Gets
 

HOW AUNT MAGGIE GOT SO BRIGHT

I have a theory
about why Aunt Maggie
(in life, the grumbling one)
seemed so deeply peaceful
when you saw her late that night:

when we are released
from life’s foggy grip
we can grab hold
of what held us
and finally fully see
that blind life—
examine it at arm’s length
so to speak.

With that perspective
I think our aunt might arrive
at the question
I sometimes ask myself
when I’m able to stop
long enough
to look back
with some degree of clarity:

why why why
did I shrink myself
down so small?—
why did I grumble
whenever the cookie crumbled?—

after all, I knew quite well
that every day in some way
the cookie would crumble.

I believe that question
would lead dear Maggie
to an understanding
she’d avoided while living:

she would see the true pain behind
all her grousing and grumbling
and in seeing
feel a piercing empathy
for the person she once was—

an empathy she’d then naturally extend
to anyone voicing small complaint—
she would now see how
they fear to touch
the real wound…

yes, that would explain
the tenderness she emanated
when you saw her in the dark—

that would explain
why Aunt Maggie shines
so much brighter
than she did during the labor
of her sweet and sour life.
 


© 2016, Michael R. Patton
Butterfly Soul: a poetry book

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