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author’s note:

To be clear: the returning hero could just as well have been a heroine.
 

SHARING THE PRICE OF FIRE

I laid myself down
on the mountain top
until
the thunder god finally blasted me
with a lightning bolt:

by this heroic action
I captured some flames–
yes, I sacrificed my well-being
so the people would have fire.

But when I returned home
—brandishing the torch—
that woman saw how charred and scarred I was
and said:

You’ve frazzled your nerves,
stammered your brain
so now
I’m bound to a tremoring shadow.

“The world and you
  will soon bless my offering,”
  I countered.

The truth is:
you did it for yourself—
now sit down
and let me apply the salve.

Okay, so I didn’t receive
the praise I’d hoped for…

yet I still felt blessed
because I realized she understood me

and not only accepted my foibles
but loved me enough to help me deal
with whatever demons might plague me
after my disastrous triumph.
 

© 2018, Michael R. Patton
Survival: poetry ebook

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author’s note:

I keep learning from old dreams.
 

GREAT HERMITAGE OF GRAY

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

ghostwriter-wb-november-27-2016s

author’s note:

While rewriting this poem, I realized I’d written yet another Sisyphus tale.
 

THE GHOST LADY & ME

Legend tells us
each night the ghost lady
ascends this hotel stairway

and with every step, she struggles
to understand
the reason for her loss

so when she finally reaches
the top landing
the lady feels such relief—
a moment of peace…

but then she gazes down
and vertigo again overwhelms her—
once again she loses balance
once again she tumbles down—
all the way back down
to the bottom floor

to die, once more.

I mention
the ghost lady’s story
because it mirrors my own:

like her, I’ve worked
to release my pain
and though I’ve often elevated
my perspective…

I can’t maintain—

I’ve slipped and fallen
again and again and again

however
that moment of vision
before the fall
—that brief reprieve
motivates me
to pick myself back up

and if I need an extra lift
I tell myself:
yes, you continue to trip
but your legs grow stronger
with every step

and if I need
an even bigger lift…
I imagine the day
when I am able
to look down
from the top of the stairway
and remain stable
in my balance—
solid on my feet
because I’ve finally accepted
all of what I see.

Yes, today
I feel quite weak
yet I still believe—

consider this:
no one at the hotel
has witnessed
the ghost lady lately—

apparently, she’s moved on

and if she can, so can I
…so can we.
 


© 2016, Michael R. Patton
My War for Peace: a book

wonderful-test-2b-november-8-2016s

author’s note:

During this year’s World Series, catcher David Ross offered this excellent advice to a nervous teammate:

“Just continue to breathe.”
 

ANOTHER WONDERFUL TEST

After years
of being pushed and pulled
into various precarious situations
by some unknown unseen force
I’d nearly lost hope…

then
in an effort to save myself
I began to reconsider
the results:

maybe I kept
falling into the mud
because
in the process of cleaning off
all that slop
I remove so much other
accumulated dirt and dust
—every bath: an education.

And
maybe I kept letting
that gale wind catch me
because I need to learn
how to bend—

yes
I now see
that unseen force
as an unknown aspect within
that only wants the best for me.

I’m not saying I’m free
of confusion
however, this truth seems obvious:
we’re trying—trying
to educate ourselves…

but to be honest
after so many
harrowing lessons
I’ve become a bit skittish—

though I try to reason with it
my fear keeps screaming at me—
and like the shadow of child
it won’t be left behind

so now I’m teaching myself
how to walk with this dread…
this doubt…
this nervousness…

every step
another wonderful test.
 

© 2016, Michael R. Patton
picturing metaphor blog

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