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author’s note:

I know something about choking on silence.


Today “happy / unhappy”
are merely words of make-believe

because today, I feel joy

because today, I feel grief—

joy and grief in death and life:

those forces of emotion swirl
together in a wind dance
—defying my control—

I can’t possibly express
a spiral so volatile
so grandly powerful

but if I don’t try
I’ll choke on this silence

and anyway
no matter what I rave
I think you’ll understand—

after all, as a human
you’re probably well-acquainted
with whirlwinds

so you’ll tolerate
this spinning man
as he shouts:

these forces of feeling
steal our breath

these forces of feeling
give us new breath.


dream steps blog
© 2017, Michael R. Patton



author’s note:

I think most people have some type of hillside.


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

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—

of my courage.

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

iris capacity 240w - June 14, 2015s

author’s note:

“Water is poetry.”
       — Jerry Brown, Governor, California

“Poetry is water.”
       — anonymous


When I asked myself
why this life gives me water
beyond my capacity to hold

I found my answer in the Iris flower

that catches the lashings of the storm
in the cup of its petals

until the thin stem finally buckles
and the rainwater spills out
to nourish the earth below:

a gift now flavored
with the complex scent of the Iris…

Relieved but empty
the flower cup then lifts again
to receive more rain.

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

butterfly soul - April 9, 2014s

author’s note:

One last “grief poem”…

I’m putting together a collection.  In the process, I’ve discovered this consistent irony: each grief poem contains joy.


According to legend…

when lost in battle
our warriors can return
in the form
of blue butterflies

to help guide us through
our many trepidatious endeavors.

So when I sensed
those fluttering wings around me
I welcomed you
and waited

to hear your golden song

but you whispered
just these few words
then flew away:

before you can look skyward
you must first lower your eyes.

And what did I find
after following that epistle—?—

a mud mound of grief
heaped up on my plate.

But according to legend:
the black plate becomes golden
at the end of our hard banquet.

According to legend:
the butterfly will return
a second time

but only after
the one left behind
builds enough strength to swallow
the enormous lump
stifling his summoning song.

According to the minstrels,
this legend has passed
from one mourner to another
down through our dark ages

and when I am through
I’ll beam its message too…

© 2014, Michael R. Patton
myth steps

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