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author’s note:

A poem for our Winter season.


The garden of dead leaves taught me:

beneath the surface
of that stagnant black pond
rich life multiplies.

The garden taught me:

slow decay in the shadow
will suddenly blossom into
circles of pink mushroom.

The garden told me:

don’t worry—
you’re exactly where you need to be…

© 2017, Michael R. Patton
Searching for My Best Beliefs: a poetry book



author’s note:

With regret, I cut these two lines from the poem below:

“When I realize my true size
 I don’t try to act so big”


The larger part
of human life
remains hidden
beneath the waves:

we are blue whales—
our secret language echoes
through vast expanses of ocean

so when I go below
I can hear you again
then feel you again—
you are not lost to me

and if I dare to go
even deeper down
I may hear the whole herd:

at such rare times
I am overwhelmed
by our whale song.

© 2016, Michael R. Patton
Listening to Silence: a book

snowman sweat 354h - January 7, 2015s

author’s note:

Up from the bottom
of an old pond,
that duckling
has seen something strange.
    — Joso (trans. Beilenson/Behn)


In my fearful dreams I nearly drown

then wake to find
my sleep repeated
on the morning news:

the extraordinary burden
of being human
might sink us all.

I tried to avoid that weight
by becoming a skylark

but while rushing to
the high altitudes
    I lost my head
    I lost my feet—
I couldn’t control
my giddy uncertainty
and went into
a downward spin.

in order to stabilize
this fledgling flight
I dive and dive into
a deep cave pool
and meet the secrets
of my fear:

down there in the darkness
I find a magnificent light—
a merciless light

that shows me the best and worst
of this human I am:

as I work to accept both
I also learn to accept
the flaws of our best

and better understand
the pain of our worst—yes
I’m learning to accept
the worst in us

and when my little man
rejects this wisdom
I remind myself:

the extraordinary burden
of being human
weighs down upon us all.


© 2015, Michael R. Patton

myth steps: the blog

stick dam 296w - May 20, 2015s

author’s note:

A companion poem to the last one posted.


When I finally stopped
to listen to myself…

I heard an undercurrent
sliding below my surface—

I heard its demands
and began to understand
why I often find myself
in places I’ve been warned against.

I was warned: avoid the rocks

I was warned: avoid the mud

I was warned: avoid the depths

but the undercurrent says
those reasonable “no’s”
must sometimes be usurped
by a greater “yes”.

common sense remains entrenched:

often when I hear
where the current’s pulling me
I will thrash and flail

hoping to avoid the rapids
hoping to avoid the dead pool
hoping to avoid the deep channel

but I fight that urge to fight
and not just because I know
it’s useless—

no, I want to submit
after having witnessed the benefits
of the many grand travails
of our river journey…

© 2015, Michael R. Patton
myth steps blog

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