Submit your work, meet writers and drop the ads. Become a member
Feb 2021
SELF REFLECTIONS

These are poems about mirrors, images, self-image, reflections and self-reflection. How do we see ourselves differently than other people see us? Why do our impressions of ourselves sometimes end up like so much shattered glass?



Self Reflection
by Michael R. Burch

for anyone struggling with self-image

She has a comely form
and a smile that brightens her dorm ...
but she's grossly unthin
when seen from within;
soon a griefstricken campus will mourn.

Yet she'd never once criticize
a friend for the size of her thighs.
Do unto others—
sisters and brothers?
Yes, but also ourselves, likewise.



Reflections
by Michael R. Burch

I am her mirror.
I say she is kind,
lovely, breathtaking.
She screams that I’m blind.

I show her her beauty,
her brilliance and compassion.
She refuses to believe me,
for that’s the latest fashion.

She storms and she rages;
she dissolves into tears
while envious Angels
are, by God, her only Peers.



Is the mirror unkind
by Michael R. Burch

To your lovely brown eyes is the mirror unkind,
revealing far more than reflections defined
in superficial glass, so lacking in depth?
Is the mirror unkind, at times, darling Beth?

What you see my dear, I see different by far,
as our sun from Centauri is just a “small” star,
but here it brings life and warms each day’s start.
Oh, and a mirror can never reveal a true heart.



On Looking into Curious George’s Mirrors
by Michael R. Burch

for Maya McManmon, granddaughter of the poet Jim McManmon aka Seamus Cassidy

Maya was made in the image of God;
may the reflections she sees in those curious mirrors
always echo back Love.

Amen



The Mistake
by Mirza Ghalib
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

All your life, O Ghalib,
You kept repeating the same mistake:
Your face was *****
But you were obsessed with cleaning the mirror!



Shattered
by Vera Pavlova
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I shattered your heart;
now I limp through the shards
barefoot.



Radiance
by Michael R. Burch

for Dylan Thomas

The poet delves earth’s detritus—hard toil—
for raw-edged nouns, barbed verbs, vowels’ lush bouquet;
each syllable his pen excretes—dense soil,
dark images impacted, rooted clay.

The poet sees the sea but feels its meaning—
the teeming brine, the mirrored oval flame
that leashes and excites its turgid surface ...
then squanders years imagining love’s the same.

Belatedly he turns to what lies broken—
the scarred and furrowed plot he fiercely sifts,
among death’s sicksweet dungs and composts seeking
one element that scorches and uplifts.



Downdraft
by Michael R. Burch

for Dylan Thomas

We feel rather than understand what he meant
as he reveals a shattered firmament
which before him never existed.

Here, there are no images gnarled and twisted
out of too many words,
but only flocks of white birds

wheeling and flying.

Here, as the sun spins, reeling and dying,
the voice of a last gull
or perhaps a lost soul,

echoes its lonely madrigal
and we feel its strange pull
on the astonished soul.

O My Prodigal!

The vents of the sky, ripped asunder,
echo this wild, primal thunder—
now dying into undulations of vanishing wings . . .

and this voice which in haggard bleak rapture still somehow downward sings.




Resemblance
by Michael R. Burch

Take this geode with its rough exterior—
crude-skinned, brilliant-hearted ...
a diode of amethyst—wild, electric;
its sequined cavity—parted, revealing.
Find in its fire all brittle passion,
each jagged shard relentlessly aching.
Each spire inward—a fission startled;
in its shattered entrails—fractured light,
the heart ice breaking.



Wonderland
by Michael R. Burch

We stood, kids of the Lamb, to put to test
the beatific anthems of the blessed,
the sentence of the martyr, and the pen’s
sincere religion. Magnified, the lens
shot back absurd reflections of each face—
a carnival-like mirror. In the space
between the silver backing and the glass,
we caught a glimpse of Joan, a frumpy lass
who never brushed her hair or teeth, and failed
to pass on GO, and frequently was jailed
for awe’s beliefs. Like Alice, she grew wee
to fit the door, then couldn’t lift the key.
We failed the test, and so the jury’s hung.
In Oz, “The Witch is Dead” ranks number one.



Mirror
by Kajal Ahmad, a Kurdish poet
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

My era's obscuring mirror
shattered
because it magnified the small
and made the great seem insignificant.
Dictators and monsters filled its contours.
Now when I breathe
its jagged shards pierce my heart
and instead of sweat
I exude glass.



Polish
by Michael R. Burch

Your fingers end in talons—
the ones you trim to hide
the predator inside.
Ten thousand creatures sacrificed;
but really, what’s the loss?
Apply a splash of gloss.
You picked the perfect color
to mirror nature’s law:
red, like tooth and claw.



Mending Glass
by Michael R. Burch

In the cobwebbed house—
lost in shadows
by the jagged mirror,
in the intricate silver face
cracked ten thousand times,
silently he watches,
and in the twisted light
sometimes he catches there
a familiar glimpse of revealing lace,
white stockings and garters,
a pale face pressed indiscreetly near
with a predatory leer,
the sheer flash of nylon,
an embrace, or a sharp slap,
. . . a sudden lurch of terror.

He finds bright slivers
—the hard sharp brittle shards,
the silver jags of memory
starkly impressed there—
and mends his error.



The Poet
by Michael R. Burch

He walks to the sink,
takes out his teeth,
rubs his gums.
He tries not to think.

In the mirror, on the mantle,
Time—the silver measure—
does not stare or blink,
but in a wrinkle flutters,
in a hand upon the brink
of a second, hovers.

Through a mousehole,
something scuttles
on restless incessant feet.

There is no link
between life and death
or from a fading past
to a more tenuous present
that a word uncovers
in the great wink.

The white foam lathers
at his thin pink
stretched neck
like a tightening noose.
He tries not to think.



POEMS ABOUT POOL SHARKS

These are poems about pool sharks, gamblers, con artists and other sharks. I used to hustle pool on bar tables around Nashville, where I ran into many colorful characters, and a few unsavory ones, before I hung up my cue for good.

Shark
by Michael R. Burch

They are all unknowable,
these rough pale men—
haunting dim pool rooms like shadows,
propped up on bar stools like scarecrows,
nodding and sagging in the fraying light . . .

I am not of them,
as I glide among them—
eliding the amorphous camaraderie
they are as unlikely to spell as to feel,
camouflaged in my own pale dichotomy . . .

That there are women who love them defies belief—
with their missing teeth,
their hair in thin shocks
where here and there a gap of scalp gleams like bizarre chrome,
their smell rank as wet sawdust or mildewed laundry . . .

And yet—
and yet there is someone who loves me:
She sits by the telephone
in the lengthening shadows
and pregnant grief . . .

They appreciate skill at pool, not words.
They frown at massés,
at the cue ball’s contortions across green felt.
They hand me their hard-earned money with reluctant smiles.
A heart might melt at the thought of their children lying in squalor . . .
At night I dream of them in bed, toothless, kissing.
With me, it’s harder to say what is missing . . .



Fair Game
by Michael R. Burch

At the Tennessee State Fair,
the largest stuffed animals hang tilt-a-whirl over the pool tables
with mocking button eyes,
knowing the playing field is unlevel,
that the rails slant, ever so slightly, north or south,
so that gravity is always on their side,
conspiring to save their plush, extravagant hides
year after year.

“Come hither, come hither . . .”
they whisper; they leer
in collusion with the carnival barkers,
like a bevy of improbably-clad hookers
setting a “fair” price.
“Only five dollars a game, and it’s so much Fun!
And it’s not really gambling. Skill is involved!
You can make us come: really, you can.
Here are your *****. Just smack them around.”

But there’s a trick, and it usually works.
If you break softly so that no ball reaches a rail,
you can pick them off: One. Two. Three. Four.
Causing a small commotion,
a stir of whispering, like fear,
among the hippos and ostriches.



Con Artistry
by Michael R. Burch

The trick of life is like the sleight of hand
of gamblers holding deuces by the glow
of veiled back rooms, or aces; soon we’ll know
who folds, who stands . . .

The trick of life is like the pool shark’s shot—
the wild massé across green velvet felt
that leaves the winner loser. No, it’s not
the rack, the hand that’s dealt . . .

The trick of life is knowing that the odds
are never in one’s favor, that to win
is only to delay the acts of gods
who’d ante death for sin . . .

and death for goodness, death for in-between.
The rules have never changed; the artist knows
the oldest con is life; the chips he blows
can’t be redeemed.



Pool's Prince Charming
by Michael R. Burch

this is my tribute poem, written on the behalf of his fellow pool sharks, for the legendary Saint Louie Louie Roberts

Louie, Louie, Prince of Pool,
making all the ladies drool ...
Take the “nuts”? I'd be a fool!
Louie, Louie, Prince of Pool.

Louie, Louie, pretty as Elvis,
owner of (ahem) a similar pelvis ...
Compared to you, the books will shelve us.
Louie, Louie, pretty as Elvis.

Louie, Louie, fearless gambler,
ladies' man and constant rambler,
but such a sweet, loquacious ambler!
Louie, Louie, fearless gambler.

Louie, Louie, angelic, chthonic,
pool's charming hero, but tragic, Byronic,
winning the Open drinking gin and tonic?
Louie, Louie, angelic, chthonic.

I used poetic license about what Louie Roberts was or wasn't drinking at the 1981 U. S. Open Nine-Ball Championship. Was Louie drinking hard liquor as he came charging back through the losers' bracket to win the whole shebang? Or was he pretending to drink for gamesmanship or some other reason? I honestly don't know. As for the word “chthonic,” it’s pronounced “thonic” and means “subterranean” or “of the underworld.” And the pool world can be very dark indeed, as Louie’s tragic demise suggests. But everyone who knew Louie seemed to like him, if not love him dearly, and many sharks have spoken of Louie in glowing terms, as a bringer of light to that underworld.



My wife and I were having a drink at a neighborhood bar which has a pool table. A “money” game was about to start; a spectator got up to whisper something to a friend of ours who was about to play someone we hadn’t seen before. We couldn’t hear what was said. Then the newcomer broke—with such force that his stick flew straight up in the air and shattered the light dangling overhead. There was a moment of stunned silence, then our friend turned around and remarked: “He really does shoot the lights out, doesn’t he?” — Michael R. Burch



Rounds
by Michael R. Burch

Solitude surrounds me
though nearby laughter sounds;
around me mingle men who think
to drink their demons down,
in rounds.

Now agony still hounds me
though elsewhere mirth abounds;
hidebound I stand and try to think,
not sink still further down,
spellbound.

Their ecstasy astounds me,
though drunkenness compounds
resounding laughter into joy;
alloy such glee with beer and see
bliss found.

Originally published by Borderless Journal

Keywords/Tags: mirror, image, images, imagery, self, self-image, self discovery, fear of self, self control, self harm, reflection, reflections, reflecting, glass, mrbref
Written by
Michael R Burch  62/M/Nashville, Tennessee
(62/M/Nashville, Tennessee)   
1.3k
 
Please log in to view and add comments on poems