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author’s note:

So easy for me to forget to give thanks—even on Thanksgiving.


Because the first human was as he was
he demanded the fish
and the deer and the bird
lay down their lives
so he could live

and they said:

“We are the animals of the Earth
  so we must lay down our lives!”

and because he was as he was
the human told the tree to do the same—
he told the soil
he told the stream

and because they are as they are
all three laid down their lives
to give him a roof
a crop
and a dam.

Unfortunately, being as he was
the man did not see
he needed to heal the Earth
he had wounded
or else he would
collapse from the wound.

the wounded Earth was still
strong enough to heal itself
and also the human being
who’d wounded it

and so
after an agony
lasting forty nights
the man rose again.

Fortunately, being down
had changed his point-of-view—
now he sang a different tune:

“I am small, I am weak
  so the great Earth
  lays down its life
  for my sake.

“But after it has sacrificed
  I must revive that life
  or else, I am a dead man.”

Since then we humans
are not as we once were—now
we thank the Earth for gifts given
and heal that which we wound.

This myth…a story from our future.

© 2018, Michael R. Patton
dream steps blog


author’s note:

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


When the eagle plummeted from the sky

straight down into the lake

I felt so confused:
how could anything so powerful
how could something so grand
simply vanish—?

I awoke in such an astonished state—
I could not think

and so, began to feel
the desperate message
in my depths–

a message maybe a few
(or maybe many)
could also use
so I will translate
what the eagle silently told me:

now you’ve seen the wound—

so maybe now
you will go against
lower instinct
and push yourself down
and down
and down
into this shocking cold water—

will you finally save me?

Since that dream message
I’ve gone on countless dives
and though I can’t yet claim
to have resurrected the eagle…

considering what I have raised
I can say:

I’m glad I disobeyed
the fear that warned me
to stay on dry land.

© 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:

A wounded paradise is still a paradise.


Maybe I’ll make for myself
a black booth—
a sanctuary where
I could confess crimes
I would never ever commit:

wild capers
malicious mischief
rabid fancies—

a devilish release
but with a heavenly purpose:
to bark this growling dog
out of me.

Thus relieved
maybe I could relax
for just a bit…

or maybe not—
I’ve flared many times before
and afterwards
while sitting in the silent ashes
I have heard the sad pain
hidden behind my cry

and again realized
the truth behind
the fiery cry rising
from our wounded paradise.

We bark…we howl
but no amount
can ever heal the wound—
an eruption too extreme
only seems to tear me more.

Nevertheless, I wonder if
a little private yelp could help
me cool occasionally
when I feel the hackles rising

and afterwards, in the silence
maybe I’d hear again the great pain
that drives the violence of our world

and so, remember
what I must never forget:
I am truly doing some good
for us all
as I work to doctor
this human being
born into
a wounded paradise.

© 2017, Michael R. Patton
My War for Peace: a poetry book

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