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author’s note:

Around every Fourth of July, I revisit this poem.

Full disclosure: I’m not always able to live up to these words.
 

DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE

I’ll be damn if I’ll be terrorized
by anyone

including me—

I have looked into the mirror
and seen how mean I’ve been
to myself.

If I can face that monster
why should I cower
before those who lack
the courage to look
into their own reflections?

When they bombard me
my legs may tremble
but I won’t jump—
no, I’ll pirouette in triumph:
my dance will be my revenge!

Though they curse me to hell
I won’t curse them—
after all
I know the wounds
of their hellacious suffering.

On the other hand
I can’t sincerely bless them to heaven:

I haven’t yet healed myself
to that degree of empathy.

However
I have stopped
and stopped
and stopped
my monster from mirroring
their vitriolic violence

and maybe that’s blessing enough.
 

© 2017, Michael R. Patton
my war for peace: a poetry book

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eye look into bbl 283w - May 1, 2016s

author’s note:

I can’t find the word “re-awareness” in my dictionary…

But it should be included.  Because, in my experience, that’s the nature of awareness: gained, then lost.  But never completely lost.
 

WHEN I LOOK INTO MY EYES

Sometimes when I start to feel
uncertain about this creation
called human life
I’ll look into my eyes

hoping to return to a bright center
of spirit and purpose
and thus, reassure an animal
that frets over its fragility.

But initially
the clouds of my anxiety
will block this anxious attempt
to peer into the depths

and so I’ll only see a reflection
of the same unsettling thoughts
that brought me to the mirror.

I’ll see
how my warm twinkle blinks
on and off, on and off:
a distress signal of fear—
fear I usually try to ignore,
afraid I could not function
if constantly aware

and with this re-awareness
—this self-confession—
I’ll become even more
desperate:
willing to persist—
to be courageously patient
until I pierce through
to some deeper truths

though I can’t help but dread the descent

not just because
I know I’ll see my worst
but also because
I know I’ll see my best:

that which is buried yet never at rest.

Maybe we created gods
of light and darkness
because we could not tolerate
the incredible in ourselves

but none of our conceptions
ever illuminated me as much
as the ageless one I can find
deep deep down in my eyes

below the darkness and light
below the worst and the best.

Maybe you’ll call me Narcissus
and maybe you’re right

but from such mirror gazing
I become aware again of a knowing
we too often ignore:

a human being is always much more
than the complexity we can clearly see
with but a single glance
at his cloudy anxious eyes.
 


© 2016, Michael R. Patton
dream steps: the blog

ghost house final - March 27, 2016s

author’s note:

What a strange zoo we are.
 

UNKNOWN UNSEEN

Though being invisible is painful
I see no real reason to complain:

who among us has ever been
clearly—completely—seen?

Besides
I would rather be
unnoticed or ignored
than gawked at
by someone in blinders
who states with confidence:
“I know who he is”

and I’d feel even more
trivialized
if a distant hundred million
watched and thought
they understood me
better than I understood myself.

A hundred million might see you
a hundred million different ways
and though many of their ways
would indeed be valid…

the sum of those viewpoints
wouldn’t add up
to the whole of your parts.

I respect the other person
enough to say:
“little by little, I know you better
 but the more I see
 the more I realize
 I’ll never ever know
 half of who you are.”

When someone closes himself
so that he can comfortably think
he knows me
my first impulse
is to open his eyes
by showing him something
from the depths of my dark well

but in the process
I might also scare myself

because from experience
(often, painful)
I’ve learned:

even I don’t know
half of what I am.
 


© 2016, Michael R. Patton
dream steps: the blog

note circles - January 29, 2016s

author’s note:

The path is under your feet at
All times.
      — Lao Tzu
 

SEARCHING FOR A SHADOW

I told the wise one
how a wild light had infused my blood

and forced me up from my bed
on the longest night
to walk in a naked fever
over fields of fiery ice

until a shadow fell across my path:

a monolithic silhouette stood before me
framed by massive full moon—

a giant unknown
raised an arm, aimed a spear
straight at my heart

but as the moonlight glinted
off the arrow tip, I blinked
and woke to break the spell

though relieved
I felt weak
with disappointment—

I knew, intuitively
I’d allowed my lower instinct
to block fulfillment
of a grand encounter.

But the wise one refused
to sympathize, saying:
what you now search for
may appear again today
as you walk down the street

but most likely you will wander
for an era that will seem like an eon

until you’ve built the strength
to match the challenge

until you have risen above
a natural fear you can never release…

and then what? I asked
(though the question seemed childish).

Afterwards, you’ll return
to find me gone

and your story
will join a Sun chorus of voices—
   each one singing
   its own version
   of the same song.
 


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

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