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author’s note:

Once again, I try to get this poem right.


After you, I realized:

we must endure
not only the worst
among us, but also
the best.

Both overwhelm us—
both challenge us
to rise above.

Yes, one tries to darken our eyes
while the other tries to enlighten

but brilliant light can stun

and with sight
comes responsibility:

when I try to ignore
what I now know
I feel guilty

especially when I sense
your old owl eyes watching me
from a place unseen
(located somewhere
 over my left shoulder).

Yes I’m pleased
you take an interest
I just wish you’d encourage me

when doubt
agitates my thought
almost to blindness—

reassure me
with a spirit whisper:

tell me again
why I must not slack
in this work—
tell me again
how it helps us all.

Tell me
to keep on lifting
my leaden feet—
tell me I can find
the strength hidden within
—but only if I try to lift.

Please, tell me
I will eventually
hold the peace
that always seems to slip
from my grip.

Tell me
all you once told me—
tell me again…

I wait…
but again: only silence

yet I don’t feel rejected—
after all
why should you remind me
when I haven’t forgotten?—

besides that
a repeat would merely be
temporary comfort—
not a cure:

no one but me can give me courage.

As my moment of weakness passes
I feel ashamed once again
but also think:

maybe later
I can use this moment
as a story lesson

when I become someone
others will gladly endure.


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


forest truck 327w - October 30, 2015s

author’s note:

Did I actually find a skeleton in an old pickup trunk, as stated in the poem below?

Well, I did happen upon the rusted-out truck pictured above.  And if you focus very intently for a spell, you might indeed see a skeleton.

Happy Halloween!


In the forest beyond
an abandoned burial ground
I found an intact human skeleton
upright in the driver’s seat
of a rusted pickup truck shell

but my shock soon dissipated
as I tiptoed over to investigate:

though delicate hand bones
held the wheel as if to steer
I sensed no spirit
inhabiting that antique frame.

I felt no threat:
the skull had lost its death grin
with the falling of the front teeth.

Instead, the specter
that would mock us
was itself mocked
because an earlier visitor
had stuck a silly baseball cap
atop the cranium.

Even so, I continued to stare
into the empty eye sockets
hoping to prompt in myself
some sense of the unseen mystery
—the invisible reality—
that I believe (I hope!)
is an active part of our world.

But when my neck hairs
finally began to rise
the fright came from this question:

might I likewise end my days
in a dry scrub forest?—
going nowhere, nowhere to go—alone:
a derelict in a derelict truck—
a clown set of bones—

a blank for a mouth—
a blank for a voice…?

Shocked by the thought
I walked away from that encounter
feeling most fortunate—

again the Death card
had appeared in my deck
to stir a sense of urgency
and reawaken my resolve.

© 2015, Michael R. Patton
picturing metaphor: the blog

woman hair heart black 261 - October 19, 2014s

author’s note:

This poem is not written in any woman in particular.  So I guess it’s written to all women in general.


When I speak of the glow
she insists she only reflects
some distant sun.

But later,
in the deep of night
she places her hand
over her heart

and asks herself if
that radiating warmth
is just excess heat
from her animal blood

or is it more?—

could it also be
the gold radiance of spirit?

© 2014, Michael R. Patton
myth steps: the blog

this confirms it - July 20, 2014s

author’s note:

“Now is that a light in the sky or just a spark in my heart?’
      — from “Waiting for the UFOs”
          by Graham Parker


I know a mirror when I see one

and so when I hear reports
of lights in the night sky
        and zagging
and zinging

I realize that’s just us up there
buzzing around in spirit—

consider this fact:

just like the lights
I ricochet here and there
I shift colors
I blink on and off
without apparent provocation.

The behavior of those lights
only confuses us because
they’re of our higher intelligence
which has designs
our lower intelligence
does not yet comprehend—

thus, the UFOs seem quite alien
—not of this Earth, but of a world
   light years away–

and we believe those beings
wouldn’t have bothered
to travel such vast distances
if they didn’t intend to aid us humans:

in them we see our hope—

“Descend to us, wise ones!” we plead.
“Save us from ourselves!”

But our childish cries fall flat
as the light show abruptly goes out
and the sky resumes its distant silence.

Nonetheless, our disappointment
burns off a little more dross

and from such loss
our earthly light slowly grows
brighter, ever brighter.

© 2014, Michael R. Patton
OPEN ALL NIGHT: the book

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