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author’s note:

I think most people have some type of hillside.


Though this hillside
has often helped me heal
now, I dare not lie down
for fear I’d never rise again.

Grief taints all my usual comforts:

the small blue wildflowers…
the gray stones…
the grasses
I’ve loved so often
with the spirit
that uses these neurons.

But despite the taint
I remain
because these things
–these beings
know me:
they feel my grief
and empathize.

To ease their worry
I’ll hold steady
as a feeling that seems relentlessly endless
slowly drains down

into a hidden reservoir–

a reservoir
I will ignore
to keep from being overwhelmed
as I do my daily chores…

a reservoir
that will eventually
overwhelm me
unless I return
to this green hill—

return when
I feel the pull
to deepen down
to deepen
as I deepen now.

When I return
I will see and feel
the taint left on the flowers
the stones and flowing

and in knowing
my grief again
I’ll realize
how strong I was
in my weakness—

strong enough
to fight the urge
to lie down forever.

When I return
I will lie down
in these grasses

like a lover
I’ll fall open
once more—

of my courage.

© 2017, Michael R. Patton
Butterfly Soul” poems of grief & death & joy


Howl Dragon Night

author’s note:

“It’s important that the words in your poems be those you could speak to your friends.”
                       —  Robert Bly

If that is so, I either need to change my poems or start talking differently to my friends.


The dog barked outside
my window last night


my heart erupted
in a long railroad howl

–a howl I’d not heard in years–

that travelled clean down the valleys

then–inspired by the moon sky–

across oceanic mountains
across mountainous seas
through millions
of nautical stars–

to visit the open dreams
of children sleeping under
cracked lanterns.  Lanterns
leaking luminous whale oil
into the hungry black soil.

I could see again–for one night, anyway.

I could see how old tears join
with old rivers–rivers filled
with lost blood.  Our stone wheel
waits, weeps in the dark barn–

continues to wait

for our broken bodies–half-repaired–
to rise, to return to the mill, to return
to the old rivers.

© 2008, Michael R. Patton
more poems with artwork

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