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flower ashes 402w - February 19, 2016s

author’s note:

As they say in the movies: “based on a true story”.


One bright day
in the early years of my search…

I wandered a verdant rolling campus—
  hoping to find the party
  promised to me
  upon entering adulthood…

at the top of a hill
I came upon a clearing
where young folk sprawled
all around an electric stage:

a band strutted and pranced
just as fools and musicians did
during the reign of the Sun King—

I could think of only one word
to describe such a Summer life:


and maybe because I drank
from the communal cask
or maybe because moods
are indeed contagious
I soon became thick dizzy sluggish

and then
   with what remained
   of my feeble mind
I wondered if
we’d all become numb
by a life of too much

just too much:

the big beat did not move us
nor did the clouds or the Sun—
we had even lost our infatuation
with the winking wings of butterflies.

In the time since that time
the wine has continued
to overflow our cup

and faster, ever faster

though we can’t keep up
we dare not ask the flow to stop!

When too much
is not enough
I’m afraid to stop
lest I die from thirst.

I think we fear
that our drunken palace
must eventually, inevitably

we imagine an aftermath
of life reduced to screwworm survival.

But since the future seems unstoppable
we’ve decided we might as well drink up–
drink up!

Maybe our future history can’t be stopped
nonetheless, I still have hope:
because I imagine
a different aftermath
after that collapse:

one in which we fill another cup—
a different cup: a grail cup—a cup I hope
I can find deep within my crowded chest:

that’s the future I’ve chosen
to believe in:

a grand experiment, this life—
no failures here…only learning…

© 2016, 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

author’s note:

“There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love.”
              —  Martin Luther King, Jr.


of this humble poem
was written, originally,
in the language of the cat
and half,
in the language of the dog.

So we assigned the translation
to a scholarly feline and canine.

But we asked the cat
to work at night
and the dog
during daylight—

to avoid conflict.

Even they feared
that sooner or later
their better natures
would be subverted
by animal instinct.

And then civilization
would suffer
yet another
in our battle for peace.

However, the dog and cat
did agree to be
photographed together
to celebrate completion
of the project.

And to their credit…
you could see restrained sadness
in their smiling eyes—
a bemused disquiet,
an awareness of shared grief
from all those centuries—centuries
of dog and cat fights.

I can not help but feel hope
when I see such tortured hearts
struggle with all their history.

© 2011, Michael R. Patton
searching for the new mythology

author’s note:

I wanted to post something scarey for Halloween. And what’s more scarey than our own selves?

But it’s meant to be a hopeful poem.


This palace is beautiful
but haunted—
human life has bled
into its brick.

We lounge
in the smoking parlor
breathing our civilized thoughts
out through our mouths—
expelling our ashen shadows
into the draperies, crushing our sadness
into the boards underfoot.

So why are we surprised
when the walls groan
like a pained animal?
The windows cry for opening—
they’d rather have their glass shattered
than live in such a fog.

Millions of tears have been shed
in this downstairs room.  A man hung
himself here
rather than climb
the staircase.

Rather than climb the staircase
we let bats jump out of our heads

to commit glorious wars.

I get the tension nerves when
I step to the attic—but firm up
my resolution
to look into the mirror
until morning, though I know
spirits will seep
into my mind and body—
I’ll be possessed—
but through destruction
made whole once more.

I may thrash
like a skeleton wracked
by Saint Vitus’ dance.
The sight of me
may lift wigs
off respectable lids.

But I must break open
my own heart,
my own hand,
my own head.

I refuse to be haunted.

© 2009, Michael R. Patton
earnest audio
new steps

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