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author’s note:

Love yourself.  Then forget it.  Then, love the world.
            — Mary Oliver


I’ve seen some who always seem so buoyant.

I ask myself:
even if they’re not weighted
with personal conflict
how can they witness
the struggle and conflict
of our world
and not feel a burden
of incessant frustration?

I assume many are simply oblivious.

I believe a few
are born blessed with wisdom—
what they see up-close
they also view
from the mountain

and then maybe others
once felt as heavy as I do today
but gradually found courage enough
to open—to surrender

to the flood waters we hold
but try to hold back—
for fear of being overwhelmed
by our empathy for all humankind.

So now, instead of sinking
at the sight of so much pain
those brave people ascend—
lifted by the rising waters.

A possibility—or so I hope
as I struggle to cope
with all I witness
in this wounded world

which of course, includes
the wounded man
I often criticize—
the one who writes these lines.

© 2019, Michael R. Patton
my war for peace: poetry ebook


author’s note:

“I’m a lost man gettin’ found.”
           — Woody Guthrie


Falling down
I found my humility.

Standing up
I found my strength.

Telling you
I found my honesty.

Listening to you
I found my mirror.

Looking down
into my mirror
I found my grief

then looking up
to clear my tears
I found and found and found
my empathy.

© 2019, Michael R. Patton
myth steps blog

author’s note:

Today, in the U.S., we honor our military veterans.

I say: we’re all veterans, of one type or another.


One night while standing in line
I heard a man behind me say
with a sneer:

he’s fallen again

and felt a surge of empathy
for someone I did not know

but I knew his pain—
you see, I’ve fallen too

a few times
or maybe more
than a few

and like that guy
been criticized
while still down

if not by someone else
then by myself—
yeah, I can be quite critical of me.

So I think I know something
about that critical man in line—
I believe his sneer belies
anger at some part of himself
he deems weak.

The pain behind his anger
is pain I know, so now
I also feel empathy for him.

Maybe my empathy
is merely self-pity
projected outwards.

But if so, that’s okay

when I see myself
in those two mirrors
I want to help them both

and when I want to help them both
I want to help all three of us

and when I want help the three of us
I want to help the whole damn world.

© 2018, Michael R. Patton
40 New Fables: ebook

author’s note:

I want to die with my boots on.


Unable to believe a prayer could help
I suffered quietly with the man instead:

I matched my breath
with his ragged breath
and winced
whenever his eyelids crinkled in pain

yet I still felt so distant.

To entertain my impatience
I counted time as his blind hand
ticked against the sheet

and in that way
I fell into a timeless trance

until with a startle
our heart clunked clumsily

then my breath and chest slumped
as his whole apparatus collapsed
with one relinquishing heave.

Suddenly a subtle brightness
intensified the room:
a nebulous glittery mist
hovered midair

only to dissolve in a blink—
too soon gone.

I nearly laughed:

what had seemed
so crushingly hard
had become in an instant
ridiculously easy.

In that moment, I realized
the old book spoke the truth—
we are indeed resurrected.

I suffered with him
until we suffered no more.

© 2018, Michael R. Patton
myth steps: a blog


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