the fable of the truly powerful penguin

One morning, a little penguin, hoping to escape his feelings of littleness, swam out to an iceberg.

As he hopped onto the berg to bask in the sun, he imagined life as a powerful giant…

…but soon fell asleep and dreamt about being small.

Around midday, he woke to find he’d floated far out to sea.

Strangely enough, the iceberg seemed much smaller now.  Must be that warm sun, he thought…

Or maybe—just maybe—I wished so hard that my wish actually came true!

An incredible notion, but he wanted to believe.  So as the ice continued to shrink…

…in his mind, he kept on growing…

…and for the first time in his life, he experienced a sense of power in both body and spirit.

However, by late afternoon, the ice had dwindled to a mere cake hardly big enough for his feet.

Finally, our penguin accepted the painful truth.

He felt quite stupid then…and angry at himself.

But he didn’t have time to indulge such feelings.  He had to swim back to land before nightfall.

And so he did—fighting that old familiar sense of weakness all the way.

Afterwards, he said to himself, “I didn’t know I had such strength…

“Maybe there’s more about myself that I don’t know.”

Thus began his self-exploration.

If knowledge is indeed power…

…then the joyous truth is: he eventually grew to become a truly powerful penguin.

© 2018, Michael R. Patton
what I learned while alone: poetry ebook

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fable of the man who tripped himself

When I tripped and hit the ground…

…I suddenly felt too weak to raise myself.

Well, why not stay down in the weeds? I thought.  I’m not making much progress up there anyway.

Yes!—I would free my tired mind from care and drift in daydream.

But after a few minutes—or maybe an hour—my mental cloud broke when a little gray caterpillar caught my attention.

I watched it plod over dead brown leaves and navigate through scatters of pebbles.

It seemed to move in a random way—maybe it was just as confused as I was…

Even so, that solitary traveler soldiered on.  Perhaps it understood: as long as you keep going, you’ll eventually find what you need.

Struck by that idea, I suddenly lifted myself back up and began to walk again.

Yes—even in the moment, I could see the moral of this personal fable…

However, as I continued to muse on my experience, I saw more…

Yes, I needed to get moving again.  But before, when I’d tripped, I really needed to stop—to stop fighting, to stop searching, and take a break.  Ironic, yes: in order to keep going, I had to stop.

Maybe it was an unconscious act of self-preservation.  Maybe some deep inner instinct made me trip—that deep inner instinct brought me to the ground…

…so I’d admit my fatigue and rest.  Rest and renew myself.

But wait—there’s more…

I also think it put me in that caterpillar’s path…

…so that I might discover a useful metaphor.

Of course, I can’t say for certain I have a deep secret self that operates in this way…

But sometimes now, when doubt and confusion fatigue me, I will stop myself and try to listen to that deeper heart…

Then, if I stay quiet enough long enough, I will realize what I must do.  Somehow I’ll just know.

So I think I can say: this belief in a deep secret self is indeed a good belief.

© 2018, Michael R. Patton
searching for my best beliefs: poetry ebook

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the fable of a dove reborn

While walking along a country road one summer morning long ago…

…I did as boys often do:

I stepped on something dead.  Yes, deliberately.  A dove with a twisted neck lying in the dust and gravel.

I’m embarrassed in my confession, despite the passage of time: didn’t I know even a wild animal deserves respect in death?

However, that senseless act may have actually done some good…

In an instant, the dove shot up with a frantic fluttering of wings.  Reborn!  I watched with confused amazement as the bird flew away.

Decades later, I still ponder that event.  Maybe my foot had pumped life into the broken body.  Did I perform CPR by accident?

Ironic, yes…but is there a moral here?  “Step on carcasses—just in case”?  No, no moral.

However, I do see a metaphor:

Sometimes when our life feels lifeless…

…we can be reawakened—reborn!—

—if stepped upon by what seems to be a cruel, senseless Universe.

© 2018, Michael R. Patton
my war for peace: poetry ebook

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fable of the two neighbors & the white-haired stranger

What’d begun as a friendly chat across the fence between two neighbors…

…suddenly became an argument that summer afternoon.

One believed in the Book of Genesis…in the story of Adam and Eve…

…whereas the other accepted the theory of evolution.

Fortunately, before the smoke of their conflict burst into flame, a wise woman stopped on the sidewalk to listen…

Hard to ignore her long braids of white hair.  And that flashing silver disk on the chain around her neck.

The two women turned to her.  “You want something?” they said in unison.

“Interesting…interesting indeed,” croaked the old woman.  “You disagree about your origins.  Yet at the same time, you both say: we’re all descended from the same ancestor.  So that would make the two of you kin, right?  At least, you can agree on that.”

“This is a private conversation,” said the woman who found beauty in the story of evolution.

“Yeah, you should really mind your own business,” said the woman who found beauty in the Genesis story.

As the wise one disappeared down the street, the neighbors seemed to forget their quarrel.  “The nerve of that old bat!” they both agreed.

For the remainder of that afternoon, the two woman sat together, sipping ice tea while talking about their families…

…about their parents…their grandparents…their great-grandparents…their uncles and aunts…and a few of their cousins.

But in all their talk, both then and later, they never mentioned the white-haired stranger.

Nonetheless, neither woman ever forgot the crone who‘d saved their friendship.  And though both came to regret their rudeness, they figured she understood.

© 2018, Michael R. Patton
dream steps blog

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fable of the moth & the firefly

One sweet summer evening…

…a firefly spotted a moth banging his head against the bulb of a street lamp.

“My friend, seek the light within!” the luminous insect yelled to the stranger.

Distracted from his pursuit for the moment, the moth watched as the firefly’s light flared, then died back down inside.

What a paltry little light!  the moth thought.  And it’s gone in a flash.

So he went back to knocking his head against the bulb.

As for the firefly, he frolicked here and there, exploring the darkness, as his tail light blinked on and off—

—a delight to the eyes of those strolling in the cool night air.

Maybe you think the moth a fool…

Well, I do too.  However…

…I know a poet who swore she heard him singing a hymn.

© 2018, Michael R. Patton
what I learned while alone: poetry ebook

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fable of the museum penny

A museum guide, tired of being ignored by the visitors she watched…

…placed a penny in a plain wood frame, then hung the frame on a gallery wall, nestled among significant works of art.

Ironically, she received more questions about that tarnished penny than about those great paintings.

“Is it old?  Is it rare?” visitors asked.  “Does it have some type of historical significance?  Maybe it’s a statement about society by a contemporary artist…?”

“No…no…no…no,” the woman answered.

“Then what’s it doing on the wall?”

“I may be damn common,” she’d tell them.  “And perhaps my shine has faded from use.  But I still want to be seen.”

I recently heard she also has a penny in a frame on the nightstand beside her bed.

© 2018, Michael R. Patton
I’m Responsible: ebook

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fable of the woman with seven special daughters

A woman, hoping for one special daughter…

…instead received three simultaneously.  Yes, triplets.

She named them “Faith”, “Charity”, and “Modesty”—hoping those virtuous names would cast a positive spell.

Well, maybe they did—but not a positive one.  That trio became miniature versions of hell before they could even walk.

So when her second pregnancy produced a second set of girl triplets…

…she called them “Theft”, “Mistrust”, and “Vanity”—hoping those negative names might produce the positive results she sought.

Well, maybe it was coincidence, but maybe it wasn’t…In any case, those three daughters shone like angelic sunlight.

But really, they were just too bright.  Too pure.  Too saintly.

“Well, I wanted one special daughter and now I have six,” the woman told herself.  “Maybe they’re not special in the way I’d hoped.  But they’re special, nonetheless.”

The mother of six knew she should stop at this point and tend to her sizeable brood…

…but believed she now saw a way to create a more balanced child.  She just had to try.

With her third and final pregnancy, the woman brought a single daughter into the world…

…who she then named “War & Peace”.

Her hope was:

This one would live a life between those two extremes.  Her light would be neither too bright…nor too dim.  Instead, she would be anchored at a pleasant midpoint.

Well, maybe in a way, she was balanced.  But that’s not to say she remained anchored…

No, she swung back and forth, back and forth…

…from war to peace…then back to war…then back to peace.  A pendulum, that girl.

The mother merely laughed at herself.  “Yes, sometimes she’s at peace and sometimes, she’s at war.  But isn’t that true of most children?”

So maybe we can say: this last daughter is not so special.

However…

…her mother still sees her as special.  And I know better than to argue.

© 2018, Michael R. Patton
sky rope poetry blog

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