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author’s note:

As I’ve said before: if I thought my poems were only about me…

…I wouldn’t even bother.



Believing I’d received
a whispered summons
from an angel unseen
I began to walk…

guided all along the long way
by the haloed notes of that piper—

certain I would find
a land of sweet diamonds
at the end of my sojourn

but instead I arrived
in a dark land of cut-glass ice—
the tippy-top of the world
the North Pole:
nowhere else left to go

so I sat myself down
on a big cold cube

and cursed that angel

until finally
I wearied of my anger
and in the frozen quiet
of that emptiness
I began to hear
a rising soprano choir:

the wordless chant
of a thousand maidens
holding holy candles
in a prison deep beneath
our luminous-white icecap.

Before I could protect myself
the flame of their sound
had found, had penetrated my hidden hurt
—a yearning long ignored—

and I began to burn and writhe
and beg for release
from a feeling unbearable

until a monolithic bell
answered the plea of my pain—
its layers of soothing baritone
radiating down
from the apogee
of that black sky dome—

wise reverberations deeply-felt:
cool but not cold.

A greater moment
in which two worlds joined within me…

that sensation gone now
yet never quite lost—
the prison door unlocked
and though muted
the bell still sounding:

a union I’d fooled myself into finding
by lusting after mere confections:
costume jewelry.


In that greater moment
I thanked the angel
with a thousand apologies
it would not extend my reprieve
and soon insisted I return
to that dry but fertile earth

with its green succulents
blighted with brown splotches.

My first impulse was to resist
however, I’d come to realize
that devious spirit
really does know best

and haven’t we given ourselves
the same message
in countless stories and dreams?:

when you’ve gone as far
as you can go
by sitting still
at the top of the world
you must follow
your steps back down

in those new two-tone shoes:
tough enough to protect your feet
yet light enough
for your soles to feel
that sweet diamond trail.


© 2016, Michael R. Patton
myth steps blog


smoke gets in your eyes - July 15, 2015s

author’s note:

I feel we’ve been going a little too fast for a little too long.


Such a sudden blaze
often gets lost
in its own smoke:

I’m talking about my nation

and also about the two of us.

But if we can find
enough presence of mind
to stop ourselves
amid the clouds of our confusion
we may then begin to sense
a better union waits within

waits for expression
waits for our courage.

Not a return to what
we think we’ve lost—
not a return to what
we think we’ve been

but instead,
a going forward
as a new strength
rises into being—

a power now rarely realized
except when we stop
then we may feel it summoning us—
a feeling bright yet deep:

assuring us

a better nation…a better union
waits for us to go within.

© 2015, Michael R. Patton
myth steps: the blog

sun fire moon - February 4, 2014s

author’s note:

I wrote this poem after reading John Bierhorst’s Mythology of Mexico and Central America.  But this story can not be found in that excellent book.


The sun didn’t happen by accident…

Obviously, our great hero


broke his head open
high on the granite mountain
at the edge of our world:

he sacrificed
for all the hungry children
by beating his skull on a stone
until finally the cranium burst
and corn kernels poured forth
in a grand eruption
of golden flame.

Since that time,
has run through the sky
chased by his own brain fire.

His sister tracks him,
day after day—
cooling him down
night after night—
she is the moon,
she is Totamapua.

She knows he wishes to remain
alone with his wound
so she keeps her distance

but as he sinks down in exhaustion
each night, she begins to cry
and so, cools his inferno:

as her tears flow
we see the moon go
from full to empty

but because her love overwhelms her
the moon fills back up again…

while down below,
the people watch and wonder
if Moon Sister will ever
join with Sun Brother

—her husband, her father, her son, her lover—

he whose ferocity powers our lives,
he whose burning light feeds our crops,
whose madness often scorches our soil
and burns our crops—

whose brain fire too often drives us mad.

At night, in the darkness
he fights to find his reason—
with only Totamapua’s light
to guide him.

One day, he’ll heal his wound.
One day, we’ll heal Sun Brother.

Moon Sister knows
that in truth, it is not
she who follows him
but he who follows her

so she waits for the day
when he’ll realize his need,
she waits for the day
when he’ll see what he seeks.

One day she’ll heal his wound.
One day she’ll heal us.

© 2014, Michael R. Patton
searching for the new mythology

rainbow storm - February 5, 2014s

author’s note:

I’m not chasing rainbows.


I believe I finally understand
the reason rainbows must fade:

the arc appears for a few moments
to remind us of the tantalizing possibility—
to echo our deep desire

which is:

to create an arch
composed of colors bonded together
—a bridge

connecting one side to the other,
connecting opposites:

letting us know, once again
how much we want union.

But then,
tiring of our worshiping smile
the ethereal bands evaporate—

prompting us to stop
gazing heavenward
and get back to the work
of ending our long storm.

© 2014, Michael R. Patton
searching for the new mythology


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