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author’s note:

I keep learning from old dreams.


Years ago in a dream
I saw the truth of my room:

the walls and floor, all dull gray—
even the light motes drifting
down from the ceiling:
dense gray.

Since that vision, I’ve worked
to escape my gray place
and maybe I have—because
though I still see
scary things in my dreams
I witness nothing so monotone.

But ever so often
in my waking hours
I revisit the room
because as a human being
I want to understand

and if I can raise myself
when I return
I’ll again realize
the beauty and benefit
of that hermitage:

though gray, the sun rays
pour down from a skylight

and those high walls
create a great space—
an austere cathedral.

Oppressive, yes, but
power held in check
can build in strength
as our desire to break out
—to bloom—
grows in intensity.

I’ve still much to learn
but at least now I know why
I needed that gray room.

© 2018, Michael R. Patton
myth steps blog


Dear Reader:

We’re often told: support those who serve.

I say: we all serve.


On my long trek home from war
I stopped to watch a farmer turn
an old meadow into a fresh field

but when I saw how
the plow blade broke the earth open
I felt my raging shame once more—

once more felt
the sharp wound of defeat—
a cut I’d tried so hard to ignore

but as the child
followed with handfuls of seed
I realized
such destruction creates furrows—

as the wise one said
old life must be torn
so new life can be born

but oh
I did not want to labor!
I wanted to laze:

war had tested my strength
thus, in the aftermath
I felt quite weak


I’d already learned
from such conflict
that if I didn’t fight my inertia
I’d suffer an even worse defeat.

© 2017, Michael R. Patton
myth steps blog

author’s note:

“The worms crawl in…the worms crawl out.”
               — from The Hearse Song


I’ve seen so much shape-shifting:

I’ve seen lions
accept the lie told to them
and crawl under stones
to survive as worms.

But fortunately
a big cat can benefit
from living subterranean

if as a worm
it feeds upon
the rich life to be found
within the black loam.

But as that worm-cat expands
its safe space will become suffocating…

for our lion to rise
we must die the good death—
we must shift once again.

when I look back
on my life as a worm
a sigh of melancholy
may slip from my lips…

but no—
I’ll reject all regrets

because by then
I’ll finally fully accept
I had to lose
in order to grow.

© 2017, Michael R. Patton
myth steps: a blog

author’s note:

This poem seems appropriate for our times.


As stallions of bruised-black clouds
rushed toward my shore from the ocean horizon…

I thanked my stars I’d found
that boulder on the beach—
a cleft on its leeward side
opened to a secret chamber:
a womb for me—a sacred space
where I could sit in safety…
in peaceful solitude

and indeed
as I hunkered down inside
I felt secure
even as the tide rose
even as the wind rose
even as pellets of rain
shot down on the rock roof
I felt secure.

But that ocean seemed determined
to wreck my calm:
though I tried to reassure myself
I could not ignore the force
of its repetitive threats—
on the count of three
a wave would explode
against the rock-side:
those booming blasts
soon broke into
my body, my mind, my heart.

So, in desperation
I dove down into my dark depths

praying I might find
a solid stone foundation

but no—
I could only locate a little pebble.

But since I had nothing else
to hold, I held it
with the all fierceness
of my spirit.

I’d stopped struggling
to kill my fear—
now, I just hoped to endure:

sometimes, we must go so low
for our higher education—
consider the end:

when I’d become nothing more
than that tiny stone
a big blow shattered the boulder
into shards

and I found myself standing
on sunny beach
as modest waves retreated.

Stunned I was, but closer to peace—
having gained this foundational wisdom:

rock walls can not protect us
from the destruction of storms…

only our own little stones.

© 2017, Michael R. Patton
dream steps blog

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