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

dUNKED

In those ocean dreams…

I want to bob on the top
of the water like a buoy
even though I know
if I don’t dive down
I will be dunked

dunked again:

drawn down
by some force of nature—down

to dark depths
where faces float like jellyfish:

they seem so foreign
and yet I’m told
they’re all a part of me—

even the women
even the animals
even the machines.

Occasionally I’ll witness
a face so luminous—
I burst to the surface with joy

but more often I’m greeted
by something much dimmer:
maybe a blank-eyed robot
or a drooling dog.

So next time I find myself
bobbing at the top
I may again resist
when I feel
that downward pull…

even though I know
I’ll be dunked if I do

yes—dunked again.
 

© 2018, Michael R. Patton
myth steps blog

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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

author’s note:

Remembering poet Donald Hall, 1928-2018
 

REMEMBERING THE REASON

I believe
when we open our eyes
on the day of birth
we forget

our reason for being born

then spend the rest of our lives
trying to remind ourselves
in dreams.

To be honest
I often miss those reminders
because I’m reluctant to look
at what I’ve dreamt:

such disappointment
when I witness my weakness

but also a shock
when a dream reveals
a strength disowned

and after seeing both
one and other
I’m again confronted
with the great challenge:
to rise above one
so I can reach the other.

I believe this work to be
our reason for being born.

So, though I’m reluctant
I still want to look.
 

© 2018, Michael R. Patton
searching for my best beliefs: poetry ebook

author’s note:

I may be a fraidy cat.  But I’m a fraidy cat with curiosity.
 

BEFORE A STEP

In the dream, a door swings open

as if daring me to step inside.

I want to accept
but because I see
only darkness beyond
I hesitate

even though I know
I’ll eventually step—
just because I’m so
damn curious.

If I’d employed that guide
I wouldn’t feel this fear

but without fear
how I can realize my strength?

Yes, when I finally step
at first, I’ll feel lost

but whatever path I then find
will be my own.
 

© 2018, Michael R. Patton
what I learned while alone: poetry ebook

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