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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.


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


moon pearl - January 8, 2014s

author’s note:

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


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,

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

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.


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

winter snow seed - December 4, 2013s

author’s note:

This poem seems an appropriate song, as we approach the Winter Solstice.


For so long, I’ve gestated
in this Winter seed
under a marvelous mess
of decayed leaves.

I must have grown
because I’ve begun to feel
way too constricted…

so though I still fear
the destruction
I’ve decided I should bloom
—and soon.

Yet, after all this time
I find I need more time
according to the laws of nature:

yes, the shell did crack a bit

then a little bit more, then a little bit more…

it still seems a far measure
from being broken open.

But though I remain muffled
I can sing—

I can sing about my desire to sprout.

I can sing of the waiting.
I can sing of the weight.

I can sing as many have sung before me

…as many will sing after I’m done.

We sing to soothe our own sad selves

…we sing for your pleasure.

What a strange joy in our bursting song.

© 2013, Michael R. Patton
Glorious Tedious Transformation

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