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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.
 

THE LEGEND OF THE BUTTERFLY SOUL

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

go dream - January 15, 2014s

author’s note:

My favorite line in this poem is: “because they think they know me/better than I know my own self.”

I’m guessing you can relate.
 

THE PROCESS BEFORE A STEP

Here’s my process:

again, a door opens without warning…

again, a dark space dares me to enter…

but because the depth
is unknown
I vacillate
even though I know
I’ll eventually take that step
because the depth
is unknown.

I wouldn’t be so hesitant
if I’d more than myself for a guide
but I’ve cast off all others
because they think they know me
better than I know my own self.

Though I realize it’s a dream
I’m nervous because I can’t imagine
what I’ll find
but still, I try to guess
because I’m so damn nervous
even though I know
I can’t possibly imagine…

Then

shamed at such weak foolishness
I finally take that first bold step…
 

© 2011, Michael R. Patton
COMMON COURAGE book

moon pearl - January 8, 2014s

author’s note:

If irritants create pearls, then I must have a lot pearls within me.
 
 

LEGEND OF THE PEARL DRAGON

As a child I was told
of a perfect pearl
festering in the belly
of a gold-plated dragon
at the bottom of the ocean.

Because I wanted to be a hero
I waited until I came of age
then waded out from the shallows
and dove down into the deep blue…

but to my disappointment
when I landed in the floor muck
I found only a giant bullfrog—
cold as a corpse
and to all appearances,
comatose—

I could hardly believe
such a loggy lump of inertia
might actually hold a pearl

yet when I examined its dull gray eyes
I thought I detected a deep glow
brightening for a moment then gone.

So I committed to the dirty job
of climbing down
into that murky buggy belly
to dig, to dredge
through the massive rotted morass

where my gung-ho bravado soon died
of boredom and disgust.

But what this task really required
was the patient tedious work ethic
of an ant.

Yes, I realize my determination
might better be described as stubbornness

and my endurance as extra energy to burn

and my ambition as a mere foolish dream…

but through these three qualities
I’ve discovered my strength—

maybe that’s the real pearl
        of the ocean dragon story.

Even so, I am not ready to stop searching…

but though I’m still driven,
occasionally, I need to encourage myself
so I’ll imagine my triumphant return:

when I proudly display the pearl’s light
and tell all children gathered ’round:
kids, I won this prize
by wrestling with a dragon.
 

© 2014, Michael R. Patton
COMMON COURAGE

one big step - December 11, 2013s

author’s note:

The above illustration is based on a dream—a sleeping dream.

Since dreams don’t lie, what I believe must be true: we are indeed climbing.
 

MY BEST BELIEF

I don’t want to stop

for air

because then I’ll begin
to feel my fear:

naturally, I’m afraid—
climbing as I’m climbing—!—

I seem to shrink as I ascend:

as the ground below retreats
the landscape broadens out
and I compact
                 to a mere speck

then as my heart
                 starts to drop
I look back up
but my tiny eyes
                 see only cloud.

So why do I work so hard
to reach an unknown destination—?—

I can only tell you:
I woke up and found myself
grappling with a hill
that then became a mountain
when I woke up.

Not knowing what else to do
I decided:
“might as well finish
 whatever it is I’ve started.”

That might not seem to be much reason
but as I creep from rock to rock
there’s always the matter at hand
to help distract me, to keep me
from tripping on such questions.

Unfortunately, occasionally
I must stop for air—
only then do I become
overwhelmed by fear.

At such times, I attempt
to reassure myself by saying:
“Maybe when I’m high enough
 this fear will finally give up
 trying to scare me
 and fall away!”

That hope gives enough lift
to stand me back on my feet—
that goal redirects my focus
to the next ledge above me.

Yet as I continue to claw
and wrestle my way up
the long shadow of doubt
still hangs from my heel…

so to bolster myself, I hold fast
to what I believe to be my best belief:

as I see it, everything here—
this mountain, those clouds, these rocks,
my fear, my hope, that goal, this choice—
everything here
must be my fine destiny….
 

© 2013, Michael R. Patton
dreaming steps

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