Small Hands Effort


On this election day…

…let it be known that I’m tired of being told to “make yourself heard at the ballot box”…

…that I’m tired of being told to “write your Congressman” (or woman).

I want to take a more direct route—not ask a proxy, with dubious alliances, to do the job for me.  Though—as stated in the poem below—my hands seem so small…

…I still want to take matters into my own hands.

Isn’t that desire in keeping with what our religions have told us?  Though people had fewer choices centuries ago, though they may have believed in direct divine intervention, though they petitioned their gods with prayers and sacrifices…

…didn’t their religious texts tell them that their fate was in their own hands?—that their own decisions and actions determined the course of their lives?

The difference now is that an individual can see how his/her fate is linked, not just to fate of his group, his tribe, his society, but to the fate of the entire planet.  And yet, my actions—what I hope to be righteous actions—may seem of little circumstance when it comes to changing that fate.  How can you measure the collective effect of acting in a spirit of peace and love?  After years of following this path, our efforts may seem negligible as the world situation appears to deteriorate.  Being told that we’re laying up stores in heaven or creating good karma can not provide enough satisfaction.

Religion is supposed to elevate us above the fray.  Yet religion also asks us to consider social questions.  The inevitable result of dealing with those questions is frustration.  What stories, what ideas can our new mythology give us to keep us from feeling defeated, to keep us from giving up?  What new perspective will help us see the big picture?

I don’t know.  As I say in the poem, I still think it’s possible for us to turn this world around…

…but the task is so enormous that individual efforts may seem insubstantial to the point of being useless.


…as I also state in the poem, I do know one thing that can help us to continue to continue: if we can find some small joy even in the worst of times—create a bit of fun and celebration for ourselves, for our loved ones—I believe we can live with the inevitable frustration, the disappointment, the sadness.


Yes, Pedro and I still
find ways to show joy
in these spinning days
of confusion and blood.

While I sing
that child smiles his cracked teeth,
claps his hands, stomps his feet.
I pan for gold
with my banjo.

Yesterday, I took him to Congress
believing we’d at least
have the satisfaction
of feeling superior, upstairs
in the balcony.

But I just kept on seeing us
down below.  So

I brought Pedro back out
to bask in the sun’s rays
and witness the smiles
of the wounded.
No one ever loses his soul
it’s only misplaced.

Many claim that
many children now
grow up
with their souls
outside their bodies.
But Pedro and I, we both agree:
it’s always been that way.

Still, we’re hopeful fools.
Pedro says
that if enough get mended
the rest might just
click into place.  A chain reaction.
The teeter totter effect.

To that end,
we spindle invisible projects,
turning the cranks inside our mines,
hoisting up buckets of ash,
all the while
searching for the occasional
jitterbug diamond.

Minuscule, but what can one do?
Our hands seem so small.

The question is:
are we winning fast enough?
A monster
—on the opposite side of the wall—
jacks the odds against us.

But maybe the wall is illusion.
So maybe we can bargain.

In any case, Pedro and I remain
solidly determined
to task happy:
my banjo is banjoy
and Pedro’s diamonds dance
like jumping beans
on his tambourine

to keep our eyes from bruising
when the tears begin to sting.

© 2010, Michael R. Patton
dream up


About Michael Patton

I am a poet, novelist, and fabulist...A new mythologist, a peace miller, a dream worker...I don't qualify as an illustrator or photographer--I just "make pictures"...I have thirteen books available at amazon... I currently reside in northwest Arkansas, but have lived and worked all over the United States... I'm self-taught, for the most part--which is like searching for the right door in the dark. It's an on-going process.... I don't want to write MY story, I want OUR story, so that's what I'm studying: the human story: past, present, future, in its many aspects--including the spiritual. I'm proceeding at a slow crawl.... I don't see the inner world and outer world as separate. By learning about myself, I learn about others, I learn about my world.... Conversely, as I struggle to understand what I see OUT THERE, I learn about myself.... But to be clear: I don't claim any special understanding. I'm still purblind, still only half-awake.... After frustrating experience with the publisher of my first novel, I've published on my own, beginning with e-books, with plans to move into print and audio. Even video.... Along with a second novel, I've now published eight books of poetry. Each poetry book focuses on a theme. For instance, the collection GLORIOUS TEDIOUS TRANSFORMATION is about the slow difficult wonderful process of change.... In that book, as with all my work, I try to be accessible to a general audience, while also striving to achieve a certain literary quality.
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