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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

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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

woods stone b 523 - June 26, 2016s

author’s note:

Though I cut these three lines from the poem below, I think they bear repeating:

the water told her:
that palace belongs to you
so you don’t need a prince
 

THE WHITE PALACE

She ceased to be a handmaiden
when she stumbled and fell
while gathering wood
and awoke

to see the black forest blazing
with the white light of a palace

for an infinite moment

then woke again
into a darkness deepened
by the absence of that light—
awoke knowing
her long sojourn had begun:

the nebulous desire
that had frustrated her former life
now focused toward the golden goal
of finding the gate
to that magical palace of light

and with focus, that desire grew

but as a result
her frustration did too.

However
she survived her many fearful inner storms
because she knew enough stories to know
this path wouldn’t lead to splendor
without hardships such as
briars, boils, boredom,
lightning bolts, boars, mosquitoes,
cold ghosts and unknown shadows.

Alas
she finally tripped
on the worst malady of all:

confusion!—

shouldn’t I be there by now?
she wondered
haven’t I already earned the key?

but this time when she fell
she landed at the stream
and on its singing mirror
found, to her surprise
the white blaze
in her dark eyes.

The water told her:
that castle doesn’t reside
in any candy kingdom
but stands firm
on your own solid earth—

it’s not made of fairy dust
but of your stone and oak and darkness

with a white light
glowing from the open door and windows—
indestructible…as all light is.

At the stream, she realized
what she’d long known deep down:

how she creates
that functional structure
with every searching step she makes
in this black forest.
 


© 2016, Michael R. Patton
myth steps: the book

dark eyes 310w - March 4, 2015s

author’s note:

In recent dreams, I’m going to a new college.

So, at the very least, I’ve graduated from high school.
 

AN EDUCATION IN THE PIT

When the sky broke open on the first day

in fear of the sudden light
we ran into a cave to hide

and prayed until we’d built
enough courage
to venture back out

but as we felt our way
down the maze of dark tunnels
we became confused

and so, we’ve wandered lost
through the cave to this day…
                             We manage

to comfort ourselves
by forgetting about our blindness

but are reminded
whenever we hit a stalactite
or collide with a bat

or worse yet—
fall into a pit:

an event that can either be
a great motivator or
a hard defeat

depending on whether or not
you can imagine a brighter world:

a world in which
we will find our way
out of the shadows
by the light beams shooting
from our wide-open eyes.

But maybe you think
I speak without knowing
because I’m still down here
in the depths.

To that, I answer:
you can learn a lot in a pit

especially if
you want so badly to be free—

I’ve taught myself,
using all sorts of sources

including the teachings
of those who saw how
to climb their way out…

and what do the wise ones tell me?

You’re the only one
   who can open your eyes.

 

© 2015, Michael R. Patton
finding Beauty: the book

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