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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


fist - February 6, 2016s

author’s note:

“I don’t want the dreams.  I want to be a soldier.”
        –– U.S. Iraq-war veteran


My wounds are the wounds
of every warrior who’s ever
fallen down in pain—

in pain
from the cuts he’s received
but also
from the cuts he’s inflicted.

All bandages soon unravel
so instead I apply blessings
to my wounds—

not a formal prayer
but a form of prayer:

I believe we all pray
for ourselves to ourselves
in this way all the time—

secretly (deep in our being)
we pray for the wounding to end
we pray for the healing of all.

I believe
even those who glory in the wounding
pray in their dreams for this pain to end.
Even those who jest—
their laughter only makes sense
when you realize
the weight of grief held within.

Though I no longer laugh at our pain
my sincerity has not yet healed me

so I continue to go deep—
down to the blessed water
that cleanses and mends
old wounds.

I’m just so tired of the past—
every new battle
only repeats an earlier chapter
in the history of a fight
that has lasted my entire life.

So I’ll keep on, keep on coaxing
these beaten fists open
with blessings, with blessings:

I’m determined to drop
my heavy lead arrows
even though I know others
will still shoot arrows at me.

I’m so curious about us humans…

maybe in the process of opening
I’ll release enough light to see
the grand design we began when
we first started marching
in line behind that wounded-blind
Sumerian king, so long ago…

© 2016, Michael R. Patton
my war for peace: the book

my needs 360 w - October 22, 2015s

author’s note:

A companion to the last poem posted.


Maybe our world was born
with a hole in its cup

because we never seem
to have enough of what we need

despite all the oceans
all the grand fields
and rich forests—

despite all the billions
of hearts and souls
filled with love.

We try to answer
this feeling of lack
but our winning tactics
are consistently disastrous

we’re not yet naive enough
to believe the obvious:
there is enough for all of us.

I still can’t quite believe
I have enough
and so
my survival strategies
are harmful to me
—harmful to us—

I’m working to become
naive again…unafraid

and as I struggle
to open these eyes
sometimes, I see
the obvious so clearly:
the world doesn’t really
have a hole in its heart.

Perhaps when I can finally
keep my eyes open full time
I’ll be able to help convince
some among those billions
how the hole in the human soul
is actually an illusion.

© 2015, Michael R. Patton
Common Courage: the book

blonde bombshell 344w - October 16, 2015s

author’s note:

“We must not be frightened or cajoled into accepting evil as deliverance from evil.  We must go on struggling to be human, though monsters of abstraction police and threaten us.”
                      –– Robert Hayden


I say it’s healthy
that we believe we are crazy
that we believe we are sick

but only if we also believe
we can heal ourselves.

It’s healthy
that we fear for
the survival of our species:
apparently, we still love ourselves
despite all our flaws—

despite our inability
to find enough love within
to stop the destruction.

When I’m finally able
to love enough
I will be willing to defy
my fear of death
my fear of enemies

my fear of you.

When I can finally defy my fear
I’ll be able to help with the healing.

When we can finally defy our fear
we will be able to save ourselves.

When we finally rise above our fear
we will no longer see enemies…

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

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