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author’s note:

Someone once asked if I ever wrote love poems.

They’re all love poems.
 

SHE SAID

When I offered
to cross a hundred rivers
just to win a pink ribbon for her

she said

you want to break your heart out
by worshipping a dream cloud.

Well, you can also free
your heart
by trying to lift up
the children in the mud
(which is: everyone—
  including you).

She said

both ways of love allow one
to bow in humility

both ways of love allow one
to expand with the upsurge
of too much feeling

but the dream love
pulls you up
only for the moment
of its gust

whereas the other love
can lead to many great steps
on your long steady climb.

She said

you believe
swimming a hundred rivers
will raise you to the mythic.

Well, you can still live a myth
by pretending
your penknife is a sword
and your flashlight: a guiding torch
struck by a lightning bolt.

And so I did, and so
I now blaze
with sword and torch
on this climb

except when I forget
what she said
as the door closed:

stop, ever so often
and pretend
your sword is a penknife
and your torch, a flashlight—
otherwise

you will trip
over your own myth.
 

© 2019, Michael R. Patton
myth steps: poetry ebook

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author’s note:

So easy for me to forget to give thanks—even on Thanksgiving.
 

HOW HUMANS LEARNED TO GIVE THANKS

Because the first human was as he was
he demanded the fish
and the deer and the bird
lay down their lives
so he could live

and they said:

“We are the animals of the Earth
  so we must lay down our lives!”

and because he was as he was
the human told the tree to do the same—
he told the soil
he told the stream

and because they are as they are
all three laid down their lives
to give him a roof
a crop
and a dam.

Unfortunately, being as he was
the man did not see
he needed to heal the Earth
he had wounded
or else he would
collapse from the wound.

Fortunately
the wounded Earth was still
strong enough to heal itself
and also the human being
who’d wounded it

and so
after an agony
lasting forty nights
the man rose again.

Fortunately, being down
had changed his point-of-view—
now he sang a different tune:

“I am small, I am weak
  so the great Earth
  lays down its life
  for my sake.

“But after it has sacrificed
  I must revive that life
  or else, I am a dead man.”

Since then we humans
are not as we once were—now
we thank the Earth for gifts given
and heal that which we wound.

This myth…a story from our future.
 

© 2018, Michael R. Patton
dream steps blog

author’s note:

To be clear: the returning hero could just as well have been a heroine.
 

SHARING THE PRICE OF FIRE

I laid myself down
on the mountain top
until
the thunder god finally blasted me
with a lightning bolt:

by this heroic action
I captured some flames–
yes, I sacrificed my well-being
so the people would have fire.

But when I returned home
—brandishing the torch—
that woman saw how charred and scarred I was
and said:

You’ve frazzled your nerves,
stammered your brain
so now
I’m bound to a tremoring shadow.

“The world and you
  will soon bless my offering,”
  I countered.

The truth is:
you did it for yourself—
now sit down
and let me apply the salve.

Okay, so I didn’t receive
the praise I’d hoped for…

yet I still felt blessed
because I realized she understood me

and not only accepted my foibles
but loved me enough to help me deal
with whatever demons might plague me
after my disastrous triumph.
 

© 2018, Michael R. Patton
Survival: poetry ebook

coffin-shopped-bwb-october-8-2016sc

author’s note:

I would like to add: if I’m shopping in a labyrinth, then we’re shopping in a labyrinth.
 

SHOPPING IN THE LABYRINTH

My dreams confirm the message
of many myths and legends:

I’m traveling through a labyrinth.

However, in these dreams
the inner passageway
often resembles the halls
of your average shopping mall

with countless bright stores
vying for my attention:

offering me
every sort of thing
except it seems
that which I seek

and what might that be?—
well, I can’t exactly say—
I only know I haven’t yet found it
in any of those displays.

But I don’t feel defeated—
no, not in the least:
I’m still eager to explore—to see
what waits next door down:

I like to imagine
I’m gathering valuable information
with the hungry claws
of my six senses—

taking in as many manifestations
as I can possibly tolerate:

puzzle pieces to be put together
though maybe not
until much later—
maybe if I keep shuffling the mad lot
the bits will finally fall
into a discernable pattern
and I’ll find the design
that’s been waiting for me
to perceive its glorious reality—

perhaps that’s what
I seek in this labyrinth:
a vision of its totality!

A beautiful hope
but my solid reality is also lovely
as I’m driven by an innate desire
to see and feel and hear and know
what waits next door down.
 


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

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