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author’s note:

Heart attacks often occur in the morning hours during the last phase of REM (dream) sleep.


The truth must actually be important:

otherwise why would my dreams
ruin a soft nourishing sleep
by revealing the true chaos
of my waking life?—

ruin, by revealing
my relentless distress

then add to that distress
by revealing
I’m not yet over the sorrow
I thought I’d put to rest
years ago

and then at the end of night
stun me one more time
by revealing the love
behind my dislike
and the anger raging under
what I thought
was calm acceptance.

No wonder our hearts often burst
while we’re asleep…

but maybe my dreams will be
a little easier on me
if I can wake myself
to more of the truth
amid the chaos of these days.

© 2018, Michael R. Patton
dream steps blog


snowman sweat 354h - January 7, 2015s

author’s note:

Up from the bottom
of an old pond,
that duckling
has seen something strange.
    — Joso (trans. Beilenson/Behn)


In my fearful dreams I nearly drown

then wake to find
my sleep repeated
on the morning news:

the extraordinary burden
of being human
might sink us all.

I tried to avoid that weight
by becoming a skylark

but while rushing to
the high altitudes
    I lost my head
    I lost my feet—
I couldn’t control
my giddy uncertainty
and went into
a downward spin.

in order to stabilize
this fledgling flight
I dive and dive into
a deep cave pool
and meet the secrets
of my fear:

down there in the darkness
I find a magnificent light—
a merciless light

that shows me the best and worst
of this human I am:

as I work to accept both
I also learn to accept
the flaws of our best

and better understand
the pain of our worst—yes
I’m learning to accept
the worst in us

and when my little man
rejects this wisdom
I remind myself:

the extraordinary burden
of being human
weighs down upon us all.


© 2015, Michael R. Patton

myth steps: the blog

danger 283w - April 26, 2015s

author’s note:

Praises to poet Robert Bly…

…for telling us men how we shut ourselves down, beginning at a very early age.


After you launch those rockets
you claim you sleep quite well

but maybe that’s a loss
because we can learn so much
from our violent dreams

like the one in which
I tossed a rocket into the air
and felt quite pleased

until I found a string
running all the way from my finger
to the point of impact—

no matter how far I ran
that string trailed after me—

delivering shock waves of pain
long after my missive had landed


but when I awoke I only felt
a fuzzy numb sensation
in the center of my chest:

according to the doctor
crucial nerve endings
had shut down long ago
due to repeated pummeling—

from rockets fired at me
but also

from rockets I’d shot back:

a lifetime of war


In the many years
since that diagnosis
I’ve worked hard to resurrect
my sense of touch—

a painful process
yet also pleasurable
as I feel more and more
each passing day.

To be honest
often in the insanity of a moment
I’ll still let loose a rocket

but because I’m now aware
of what results from such defenses
I’ve much more careful…

as I’m sure you would be too,
rocket launcher—
if you ever let yourself feel
the pain of what we do…

© 2015, Michael R. Patton
dream steps: the blog

U Up - April 19, 2015s

author’s note:

The letter “U” is a recurring symbol in my dreams…

But maybe it’s a universal symbol—I know I’m not the only one who’s traveled the “U” path.


From the day of my birth onward
I’ve duplicated so many of humanity’s
various stupidities

and I’ve seen you
repeat that history too–
seen you

struggle with your history
just as I’ve struggled with mine:

as I witness
the ferocity of your fight
I realize your strong will…

if I can then remember
you are my mirror
I may also realize mine—

my will to do more
than merely survive.

If I can then remember
how we both mirror
the whole human race…

I won’t lose hope
for the life
of our flawed species.

© 2015, Michael R. Patton
myth steps: the blog

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