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dear reader:

The photo above shows that the yellow orchid does indeed have a lip.
 

GOLDEN GROWTH

When the Inquisitor appeared
in a dream years ago…

I realized I was trying
to speed my growth
by stretching myself
on a torture rack

so I then began to use gentler tactics

and accepted the tedium
of gradual change.

A wise way, yes—but
by the time I’d finally
washed off enough dross
to shine a bit…

my youth was gone—
its golden possibilities lost:

in a dream, I saw
gold dust fall down
to disappear into the cracks
between worn floorboards.

I woke in grief
and remained in grief

until an old crone
(impatient with my self-pity)
turned my mind by asking:
does anything ever really die?

then opened the door
to a subterranean cache—
a garden flourishing
with spires of golden grain
and yellow orchids
dripping honey from the lip.
 

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

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Dear Reader:

We’re often told: support those who serve.

I say: we all serve.
 

WOUND FURROW

On my long trek home from war
I stopped to watch a farmer turn
an old meadow into a fresh field

but when I saw how
the plow blade broke the earth open
I felt my raging shame once more—

once more felt
the sharp wound of defeat—
a cut I’d tried so hard to ignore

but as the child
followed with handfuls of seed
I realized
such destruction creates furrows—

as the wise one said
old life must be torn
so new life can be born

but oh
I did not want to labor!
no—
I wanted to laze:

war had tested my strength
thus, in the aftermath
I felt quite weak

however

I’d already learned
from such conflict
that if I didn’t fight my inertia
I’d suffer an even worse defeat.
 

© 2017, Michael R. Patton
myth steps blog

baseball-eye-b-red-bl2-september-22-2016s

author’s note:

I’ll put a lot of mental energy into developing a good belief…

…only to forget it when I most need it.
 

A BETTER MEASURE

The headline read:
“No Win for Corwin”

and the photo below showed him
sitting at the end of a hardwood bench
his head lowered
his shoulders slumped
his fist hidden in the darkness
of a baseball glove.

The article said
young Corwin had struck out
thirteen batters

only to wreck
all his good work
with one bad pitch
in the final at bat…

rough, yes
but maybe that loss
will help prepare Corwin
for adult life
because
we live by a crazy math
in which a positive “13”
is often seen
as less than negative “1”.

In response to such
unjust arithmetic
I long ago adopted
this simple homespun belief
(suitable for needlepoint):

when I look at what I’ve done
I see I must be trying
to teach myself, because
I’m always learning:

learning seems to be
our reason for being—
so I say
we should not measure success
by wins and losses
but instead
by understanding gained.

A belief supported
by my experience:

having known
a lot of blindness
but also a little bit of sight
I can say for certain:
ignorance is not bliss
understanding is.

However
even good beliefs breed doubt

and so I’ll sometimes wonder
if I’m only using this belief
to soften the pain of loss…

well, maybe I am, but maybe
that’s okay:

because in my darkest days
(when I’m slumped like Corwin)
if I can remember that belief

I’ll see a little light

or
on especially blessed occasions…
a lot.
 

© 2016, Michael R. Patton
myth steps: a poetry book

heart eye gray eyes b - May 25, 2016s

author’s note:

With regret, I cut this stanza from the poem below, for the sake of continuity:

and because someone
wants to punch us
after we’ve written “loss is gain”
we know our words
must be accurate arrows.
 

ON THE CONTINENT OF LOVE LOST

She said
her heart had exiled her writing
to the land of love lost.

But I told her
that land need not be the island—
it can be the continent:

on the island
when we write of love lost
we write of the garden lost
we write of childhood lost

and we also write of that
on the continent
but we add:
we must lose the garden
in order to evolve.

On both the island
and the continent, we write
of the confusion of love lost

but on the continent
we write of the drive
to find our way back home.

On the island, we write
of returning
and not knowing
the one we once loved.

But on the continent
we write of returning
and again knowing the one within.

On the island
we write of open wounds
that refuse to mend

but on the continent
we write of how
those open wounds
can lead us down
to the deep wounds:

we write of mending
of mending all the way down—

we write of gaining from loss.

On the island
we’re afraid of losing—
of losing again

and we’re also afraid
on the continent—
despite all our gains:

we’re afraid of a love
we can not escape
a love we can not release
a love we can not hold—

we’re afraid
yet willfully go ahead
because we know we must.

All this I told her
but then admitted:
I don’t always inhabit
the continent

but when I do, I’m able to honor
the past and the present
with memorials and celebration:

memorials
because on the continent
we refuse to ignore our grief

and celebration
because on the continent
even shadows have light.
 


© 2016, Michael R. Patton
finding Beauty: the book

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