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Poems

Michael R Burch Dec 2020
These are my best poems, or at least my most popular poems, according to the Internet. A number of my poems and translations have gone viral, according to Google, and some have been copied onto hundreds to thousands of web pages. That’s a lot of cutting and pasting! The results below are the results returned by Google at the time I did the searches.



This poem has over 691,000 results for the eleventh line, its most unique. The poem also has over 623,000 results for the entire first stanza plus the eleventh line, so the vast majority of the results seem to be for my poem. I attribute the ultra-high number of results to the poem being published by Amnesty International, then being quoted in The Hindu, with its huge circulation, and subsequently being quoted in a number of other Indian newspapers and news services.

First They Came for the Muslims
by Michael R. Burch

after Martin Niemoller

First they came for the Muslims
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Muslim.

Then they came for the homosexuals
and I did not speak out
because I was not a homosexual.

Then they came for the feminists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a feminist.

Now when will they come for me
because I was too busy and too apathetic
to defend my sisters and brothers?

Published in Amnesty International’s Words That Burn anthology, and by Borderless Journal (India), The Hindu (India), Matters India, New Age Bangladesh, Convivium Journal, PressReader (India) and Kracktivist (India)

It is indeed an honor to have one of my poems published by an outstanding organization like Amnesty International. A stated goal for the anthology is to teach students about human rights through poetry. Here is a bit of background information: Words That Burn is an online poetry anthology and human rights educational resource for students and teachers created by Amnesty International in partnership with The Poetry Hour. Amnesty International is the world’s largest human rights organization, with seven million supporters. This new webpage has been designed to "enable young people to explore human rights through poetry whilst developing their voice and skills as poets." This exemplary resource was inspired by the poetry anthology Words that Burn, curated by Josephine Hart of The Poetry Hour, which in turn was inspired by Thomas Gray's observation that "Poetry is thoughts that breathe and words that burn."



This original epigram at one time returned more than 37,000 results and currently returns over 2,000 results:

Epitaph for a Palestinian Child
by Michael R. Burch

I lived as best I could, and then I died.
Be careful where you step: the grave is wide.



This Sappho translation has more than 3,500 results:

Sappho, fragment 42
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Eros harrows my heart:
wild winds whipping desolate mountains
uprooting oaks.



This original poem, which has become popular at Halloween, has nearly 3,000 results for the fifth line:

White in the Shadows
by Michael R. Burch

White in the shadows
I see your face,
unbidden. Go, tell
Love it is commonplace;
tell Regret it is not so rare.

Our love is not here
though you smile,
full of sedulous grace.
Lost in darkness, I fear
the past is our resting place.

Published by Carnelian, The Chained Muse, Poetry Life & Times, A-Poem-A-Day and in a YouTube video by Aurora G. with the titles “Ghost,” “White Goddess” and “White in the Shadows”



This Sappho translation has more than 1,700 results:

Sappho, fragment 155
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

A short revealing frock?
It's just my luck
your lips were made to mock!



This Bertolt Brecht translation has more than 1,500 results:

The Burning of the Books
by Bertolt Brecht
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

When the Regime
commanded the unlawful books to be burned,
teams of dull oxen hauled huge cartloads to the bonfires.

Then a banished writer, one of the best,
scanning the list of excommunicated texts,
became enraged: he’d been excluded!

He rushed to his desk, full of contemptuous wrath,
to write fiery letters to the incompetents in power―
Burn me! he wrote with his blazing pen―
Haven’t I always reported the truth?
Now here you are, treating me like a liar!
Burn me!



This original poem returns nearly 1,500 results for the first line:

Something
―for the children of the Holocaust and the Nakba
by Michael R. Burch

Something inescapable is lost―
lost like a pale vapor curling up into shafts of moonlight,
vanishing in a gust of wind toward an expanse of stars
immeasurable and void.

Something uncapturable is gone―
gone with the spent leaves and illuminations of autumn,
scattered into a haze with the faint rustle of parched grass
and remembrance.

Something unforgettable is past―
blown from a glimmer into nothingness, or less,
which finality swept into a corner, where it lies
in dust and cobwebs and silence.

NOTE: This is, I think, the first poem I wrote which didn’t rhyme, and the only one for quite some time. I consider one of the best of my early poems; it was written in my late teens.



This original poem returns nearly 1,500 results:

Safe Harbor
by Michael R. Burch

for Kevin N. Roberts
The sea at night seems
an alembic of dreams—
the moans of the gulls,
the foghorns’ bawlings.

A century late
to be melancholy,
I watch the last shrimp boat as it steams
to safe harbor again.

In the twilight she gleams
with a festive light,
done with her trawlings,
ready to sleep...

Deep, deep, in delight
glide the creatures of night,
elusive and bright
as the poet’s dreams.

Published by The Lyric, Grassroots Poetry, Romantics Quarterly, Angle, Poetry Life & Times



This original poem has over 1,300 results:

Bible Libel
by Michael R. Burch

If God
is good,
half the Bible
is libel.

This may be the first poem I wrote. I read the Bible from cover to cover at age 11, and it was a traumatic experience. But I can’t remember if I wrote the epigram then, or came up with it later. In any case, it was probably written between age 11 and 13, or thereabouts.



My translation of Robert Burns’ “To a Mouse” returns over 1,300 results. It’s a bit long for this page but can be found online with a Google search like: Michael R. Burch Robert Burns translations.



This translation of the oldest extant English poem has over 1,250 results:

Cædmon's Hymn (circa 658-680 AD)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Humbly now we honour heaven-kingdom's Guardian,
the Measurer's might and his mind-plans,
the goals of the Glory-Father. First he, the Everlasting Lord,
established earth's fearful foundations.
Then he, the First Scop, hoisted heaven as a roof
for the sons of men: Holy Creator,
mankind's great Maker! Then he, the Ever-Living Lord,
afterwards made men middle-earth: Master Almighty!



This Faiz Ahmed Faiz translation has over 1,000 results:

Last Night
by Faiz Ahmed Faiz
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Last night, your memory stole into my heart—
as spring sweeps uninvited into barren gardens,
as morning breezes reinvigorate dormant deserts,
as a patient suddenly feels better, for no apparent reason...



This Glaucus translation returns more than 1,000 results:

Does my soul abide in heaven, or hell?
Only the sea gulls in their high, lonely circuits may tell.
―Michael R. Burch, after Glaucus



This Yamaguchi Seishi translation returns over 1,000 results:

Grasses wilt:
the braking locomotive
grinds to a halt
―Yamaguchi Seishi, loose translation by Michael R. Burch



This original poem has more than 1,000 results:

Frail Envelope of Flesh
by Michael R. Burch

for the mothers and children of Gaza

Frail envelope of flesh,
lying cold on the surgeon’s table
with anguished eyes
like your mother’s eyes
and a heartbeat weak, unstable...

Frail crucible of dust,
brief flower come to this―
your tiny hand
in your mother’s hand
for a last bewildered kiss...

Brief mayfly of a child,
to live two artless years!
Now your mother’s lips
seal up your lips
from the Deluge of her Tears...

Note: The phrase "frail envelope of flesh" was one of my first encounters with the power of poetry, although I read it in a superhero comic book as a young boy (I forget which one). More than thirty years later, the line kept popping into my head, so I wrote this poem. I have dedicated it to the mothers and children of Gaza and the Nakba. The word Nakba is Arabic for "Catastrophe."



This original epigram appears on a number of quote sites and returns nearly 1,000 results:

"Here and Hereafter" aka "Saving Graces"
by Michael R. Burch

Life’s saving graces are love, pleasure, laughter ...
wisdom, it seems, is for the Hereafter.

I have dedicated the epigram above to the so-called Religious Right and Moral Majority.

Published by Shot Glass Journal, Brief Poems, Poem Today, Tennessee Poetry Society, Canucks Corner (Canada), AZquotes, IdleHearts, Inspiring Quotes, QuoteMaster, QuoteStats, MoreFamousQuotes


This William Dunbar translation has nearly 1,000 results for the second line; it appears in the top ten romantic poems of all time at PoemAnalysis, and in the top 20 sonnets of all time at StoryMirror.

Sweet Rose of Virtue
by William Dunbar (1460-1525)
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Sweet rose of virtue and of gentleness,
delightful lily of youthful wantonness,
richest in bounty and in beauty clear
and in every virtue that is held most dear―
except only that you are merciless.

Into your garden, today, I followed you;
there I saw flowers of freshest hue,
both white and red, delightful to see,
and wholesome herbs, waving resplendently―
yet everywhere, no odor but rue.

I fear that March with his last arctic blast
has slain my fair rose of pallid and gentle cast,
whose piteous death does my heart such pain
that, if I could, I would compose her roots again―
so comforting her bowering leaves have been.

Published by Poet’s Corner, A Long Story Short, Poetry Magnum Opus, PoemAnalysis, Poemist, StoryMirror, Vajhu, PoetBay, Timeless Poetry, Orange Turtle, and turned into a YouTube video by Sarah Ahmed of the Livingstone Sonnet Project, into a rap/singing YouTube video by Jenna Thiel and Jake Owens, and into a YouTube poetry reading by Jordan Harling



This light verse response to Philip Larkin’s “Aubade” has nearly 1,000 results:

Abide
by Michael R. Burch

after Philip Larkin's "Aubade"

It is hard to understand or accept mortality—
such an alien concept: not to be.
Perhaps unsettling enough to spawn religion,
or to scare mutant fish out of a primordial sea
boiling like goopy green tea in a kettle.
Perhaps a man should exhibit more mettle
than to admit such fear, denying Nirvana exists
simply because we are stuck here in such a fine fettle.
And so we abide...
even in life, staring out across that dark brink.
And if the thought of death makes your questioning heart sink,
it is best not to drink
(or, drinking, certainly not to think).

Originally published by Light Quarterly



This love poem has nearly 1,000 results:

don’t forget...
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth

don’t forget to remember
that Space is curved
(like your Heart)
and that even Light is bent
by your Gravity.



These two epigrams had a nicely symmetrical 888 results at the time I posted this:

Feathered Fiends I
by Michael R. Burch

Conformists of a feather
flock together.

Winner of the National Poetry Month Couplet Competition

Feathered Fiends II
by Michael R. Burch

Fascists of a feather
flock together.



This poem won a big Penguin Books (UK) Valentine poetry contest and returns over 800 results for the first line:

Mother’s Smile
by Michael R. Burch

for my mother, Christine Ena Burch

There never was a fonder smile
than mother’s smile, no softer touch
than mother’s touch. So sleep awhile
and know she loves you more than “much.”

So more than “much,” much more than “all.”
Though tender words, these do not speak
of love at all, nor how we fall
and mother’s there, nor how we reach
from nightmares in the ticking night
and she is there to hold us tight.

There never was a stronger back
than father’s back, that held our weight
and lifted us, when we were small,
and bore us till we reached the gate,
then held our hands that first bright mile
till we could run, and did, and flew.
But, oh, a mother’s tender smile
will leap and follow after you!


This translation of an ancient English poem has over 800 results:

This World's Joy
(anonymous Middle English lyric, circa the early 14th century AD)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Winter awakens all my care
as leafless trees grow bare.
For now my sighs are fraught
whenever it enters my thought:
regarding this world's joy,
how everything comes to naught.



This original Hiroshima poem has nearly 800 results:

Lucifer, to the Enola Gay
by Michael R. Burch

Go then,
and give them my meaning
so that their teeming
streets
become my city.
Bring back a pretty
flower—
a chrysanthemum,
perhaps, to bloom
if but an hour,
within a certain room
of mine
where
the sun does not rise or fall,
and the moon,
although it is content to shine,
helps nothing at all.
There,
if I hear the wistful call
of their voices
regretting choices
made
or perhaps not made
in time,
I can look back upon it and recall,
in all
its pale forms sublime,
still
Death will never be holy again.

Published by Romantics Quarterly, Penny Dreadful and Poetry Life & Times



This original epigram returns over 750 results:

Autumn Conundrum
by Michael R. Burch

It’s not that every leaf must finally fall,
it’s just that we can never catch them all.



This translation of a Middle English poem has more than 700 results:

How Long the Night
(anonymous Middle English poem, circa early 13th century AD)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

It is pleasant, indeed, while the summer lasts
with the mild pheasants' song...
but now I feel the northern wind's blast―
its severe weather strong.
Alas! Alas! This night seems so long!
And I, because of my momentous wrong
now grieve, mourn and fast.



This Sappho translation has over 700 results:

Sappho, fragment 22
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

That enticing girl's clinging dresses
leave me trembling, overcome by happiness,
as once, when I saw the Goddess in my prayers
eclipsing Cyprus.



This original poem has over 700 results for the first line:

Child of 9-11
by Michael R. Burch

a poem for Christina-Taylor Green, who
was born on September 11, 2001 and who
died at age nine, shot to death...

Child of 9-11, beloved,
I bring this lily, lay it down
here at your feet, and eiderdown,
and all soft things, for your gentle spirit.
I bring this psalm―I hope you hear it.

Much love I bring―I lay it down
here by your form, which is not you,
but what you left this shell-shocked world
to help us learn what we must do
to save another child like you.

Child of 9-11, I know
you are not here, but watch, afar
from distant stars, where angels rue
the evil things some mortals do.
I also watch; I also rue.

And so I make this pledge and vow:
though I may weep, I will not rest
nor will my pen fail heaven's test
till guns and wars and hate are banned
from every shore, from every land.

Child of 9-11, I grieve
your tender life, cut short... bereaved,
what can I do, but pledge my life
to saving lives like yours? Belief
in your sweet worth has led me here...

I give my all: my pen, this tear,
this lily and this eiderdown,
and all soft things my heart can bear;
I bring them to your final bier,
and leave them with my promise, here.



My Plato translation (or “take” on Plato) has over 650 results:

Mariner, do not ask whose tomb this may be,
but go with good fortune: I wish you a kinder sea.
―Michael R. Burch, after Plato



This translation returns over 650 results:

Distant Light
by Walid Khazindar
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Bitterly cold,
winter clings to the naked trees.
If only you would free
the bright sparrows
from your fingertips
and unleash a smile—that shy, tentative smile—
from the imprisoned anguish I see.
Sing! Can we not sing
as if we were warm, hand-in-hand,
sheltered by shade from a sweltering sun?
Can you not always remain this way,
stoking the fire, more beautiful than expected, in reverie?
Darkness increases and we must remain vigilant
now that this distant light is our sole consolation—
this imperiled flame, which from the beginning
has been flickering,
in danger of going out.
Come to me, closer and closer.
I don't want to be able to tell my hand from yours.
And let's stay awake, lest the snow smother us.



This epigram has over 600 results for the first line:

Piercing the Shell
by Michael R. Burch

If we strip away all the accouterments of war,
perhaps we’ll discover what the heart is for.



This prayer poem has over 600 results and has been set to music and performed at a charity benefit for hurricane victims:

I Pray Tonight
by Michael R. Burch

I pray tonight
the starry Light
might
surround you.

I pray
by day
that, come what may,
no dark thing confound you.

I pray ere the morrow
an end to your sorrow.
May angels' white chorales
sing, and astound you.





This original poem has over 600 results:

I, Too, Have a Dream
by Michael R. Burch writing as “The Child Poets of Gaza”

I, too, have a dream...
that one day Jews and Christians
will see me as I am:
a small child, lonely and afraid,
staring down the barrels of their big bazookas,
knowing I did nothing
to deserve their enmity.


This original poem has nearly 600 results:

Like Angels, Winged
by Michael R. Burch

Like angels—winged,
shimmering, misunderstood—
they flit beyond our understanding
being neither evil, nor good.

They are as they are...
and we are their lovers, their prey;
they seek us out when the moon is full;
they dream of us by day.

Their eyes—hypnotic, alluring—
trap ours with their strange appeal
till like flame-drawn moths, we gather...
to see, to touch, to feel.

And in their arms, enchanted,
we feel their lips, grown old,
till with their gorging kisses
we warm them, growing cold.



These Einstein limericks have over 500 results:

The Cosmological Constant
by Michael R. Burch

Einstein, the frizzy-haired,
said E equals MC squared.
Thus all mass decreases
as activity ceases?
Not my mass, my *** declared!

Asstronomical
by Michael R. Burch

Relativity, the theorists’ creed,
says mass increases with speed.
My (m)*** grows when I sit it.
Mr. Einstein, get with it;
equate its deflation, I plead!

Relative to Whom?
by Michael R. Burch

Einstein’s theory, incredibly silly,
says a relative grows *****-nilly
at speeds close to light.
Well, his relatives might,
but mine grow their (m)***** more stilly!



This poem has over 500 results:

Neglect
by Michael R. Burch

What good are tears?
Will they spare the dying their anguish?

What use, our concern
to a child sick of living, waiting to perish?

What good, the warm benevolence of tears
without action?

What help, the eloquence of prayers,
or a pleasant benediction?

Before this day is over,
how many more will die
with bellies swollen, emaciate limbs,
and eyes too parched to cry?

I fear for our souls
as I hear the faint lament
of theirs departing...
mournful, and distant.

How pitiful our "effort,"
yet how fatal its effect.
If they died, then surely we killed them,
if only with neglect.



This Matsuo Basho haiku translation has nearly 500 results:

The first soft snow:
leaves of the awed jonquil
bow low
―Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



This original poem has over 500 results:

Distances
by Michael R. Burch

Moonbeams on water —
the reflected light
of a halcyon star
now drowning in night...
So your memories are.

Footprints on beaches
now flooding with water;
the small, broken ribcage
of some primitive slaughter...
So near, yet so far.



This original poem has over 500 results:

***** Nilly
by Michael R. Burch

for the Demiurge, aka Yahweh/Jehovah

Isn’t it silly, ***** Nilly?
You made the stallion,
you made the filly,
and now they sleep
in the dark earth, stilly.
Isn’t it silly, ***** Nilly?

Isn’t it silly, ***** Nilly?
You forced them to run
all their days uphilly.
They ran till they dropped—
life’s a pickle, dilly.
Isn’t it silly, ***** Nilly?

Isn’t it silly, ***** Nilly?
They say I should worship you!
Oh, really!
They say I should pray
so you’ll not act illy.
Isn’t it silly, ***** Nilly?



This Allama Iqbal translation has nearly 500 results for the second line:

Withered Roses
by Allama Iqbal
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

What words of mine can describe you,
desire of the nightingale's heart?
The morning breeze was your nativity,
the afternoon garden, a tray of perfumes.
My tears welled up like dew,
till in my abandoned heart your rune grew,
this dream-emblem of love:
this spray of withered roses.



This epigram/joke has over 400 results:

Teddy Roosevelt spoke softly and carried a big stick; Donald Trump speaks loudly and carries a big shtick.―Michael R. Burch



This **** Baudelaire translation has become popular with **** stars, escort sites and dating services, and has more than 400 results:

Le Balcon (The Balcony)
by Charles Baudelaire
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Paramour of memory, ultimate mistress,
source of all pleasure, my only desire;
how can I forget your ecstatic caresses,
the warmth of your ******* by the roaring fire,
paramour of memory, ultimate mistress?

Each night illumined by the burning coals
we lay together where the rose-fragrance clings—
how soft your *******, how tender your soul!
Ah, and we said imperishable things,
each night illumined by the burning coals.

How beautiful the sunsets these sultry days,
deep space so profound, beyond life’s brief floods...
then, when I kissed you, my queen, in a daze,
I thought I breathed the bouquet of your blood
as beautiful as sunsets these sultry days.

Night thickens around us like a wall;
in the deepening darkness our irises meet.
I drink your breath, ah! poisonous yet sweet!,
as with fraternal hands I massage your feet
while night thickens around us like a wall.

I have mastered the sweet but difficult art
of happiness here, with my head in your lap,
finding pure joy in your body, your heart;
because you’re the queen of my present and past
I have mastered love’s sweet but difficult art.

O vows! O perfumes! O infinite kisses!
Can these be reborn from a gulf we can’t sound
as suns reappear, as if heaven misses
their light when they sink into seas dark, profound?
O vows! O perfumes! O infinite kisses!



This original poem has over 400 results:

What the Poet Sees
by Michael R. Burch

What the poet sees,
he sees as a swimmer
~~~underwater~~~
watching the shoreline blur
sees through his breath’s weightless bubbles...
Both worlds grow obscure.



This original poem I wrote as a teenager has almost 400 results:

The Communion of Sighs
by Michael R. Burch

There was a moment
without the sound of trumpets or a shining light,
but with only silence and darkness and a cool mist
felt more than seen.
I was eighteen,
my heart pounding wildly within me like a fist.
Expectation hung like a cry in the night,
and your eyes shone like the corona of a comet.

There was an instant...
without words, but with a deeper communion,
as clothing first, then inhibitions fell;
liquidly our lips met
—feverish, wet—
forgotten, the tales of heaven and hell,
in the immediacy of our fumbling union...
when the rest of the world became distant.
Then the only light was the moon on the rise,
and the only sound, the communion of sighs.

This is one of my early poems ; I believe it was probably written during my first two years in college, making me 18 or 19 at the time.



This poem I wrote as a teenager has almost 400 results:

Leave Taking
by Michael R. Burch

Brilliant leaves abandon battered limbs
to waltz upon ecstatic winds
until they die.

But the barren and embittered trees,
lament the frolic of the leaves
and curse the bleak November sky ...

Now, as I watch the leaves' high flight
before the fading autumn light,
I think that, perhaps, at last I may

have learned what it means to say—
goodbye.

Several of my early poems were about aging, loss and death. Young poets can be so morbid! Like "Death/Styx" this poem is the parings of a longer poem. I think the sounds here are pretty good for a young poet "testing his wings." This poem started out as a stanza in a much longer poem, "Jessamyn's Song," that dates to around age 14 or 15.



This Matsuo Basho haiku translation has more than 400 results:

Come, investigate loneliness!
a solitary leaf
clings to the Kiri tree
―Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



This original Holocaust poem returns over 400 results:

Auschwitz Rose
by Michael R. Burch

There is a Rose at Auschwitz, in the briar,
a rose like Sharon's, lovely as her name.
The world forgot her, and is not the same.
I still love her and extend this sacred fire
to keep her memory exalted flame
unmolested by the thistles and the nettles.

On Auschwitz now the reddening sunset settles!
They sleep alike―diminutive and tall,
the innocent, the "surgeons." Sleeping, all.

Red oxides of her blood, bright crimson petals,
if accidents of coloration, gall
my heart no less. Amid thick weeds and muck
there lies a rose man's crackling lightning struck:
the only Rose I ever longed to pluck.
Soon I'll bed there and bid the world "Good Luck."


This original poem has over 400 results:

Burn
by Michael R. Burch

for Trump

Sunbathe,
ozone baby,
till your parched skin cracks
in the white-hot flash
of radiation.

Incantation
from your pale parched lips
shall not avail;
you made this hell.
Now burn.

This was one of my early poems, written around age 19. I dedicated the poem to Trump after he pulled the United States out of the Paris climate change accords.



This translation has over 400 results:

Adam Lay Ybounden
(anonymous Medieval English Lyric, circa early 15th century AD)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Adam lay bound, bound in a bond;
Four thousand winters, he thought, were not too long.
And all was for an apple, an apple that he took,
As clerics now find written in their book.
But had the apple not been taken, or had it never been,
We'd never have had our Lady, heaven's queen.
So blesséd be the time the apple was taken thus;
Therefore we sing, "God is gracious!"



This original epigram has over 350 results:

The Whole of Wit
by Michael R. Burch

for and after Richard Moore

If brevity is the soul of wit
then brevity and levity
are the whole of it.

Published by Shot Glass Journal, Brief Poems, AZquotes, IdleHearts, JarOfQuotes, QuoteFancy, QuoteMaster



This translation of a Holocaust poem has nearly 300 results:

Speechless
by Ko Un
translation by Michael R. Burch

At Auschwitz
piles of glasses,
mountains of shoes...
returning, we stared out different windows.



This original poem has more than 300 results:

Kin
by Michael R. Burch

O pale, austere moon,
haughty beauty...
what do we know of love,
or duty?



This original poem has more than 300 results:

escape!
by michael r. burch

for anaïs vionet

to live among the daffodil folk...
slip down the rainslickened drainpipe...
suddenly pop out
the GARGANTUAN SPOUT...
minuscule as alice, shout
yippee-yi-yee!
in wee exultant glee
to be leaving behind the
LARGE
THREE-DENALI GARAGE.



This Matsuo Basho haiku translation has more than 300 results:

An ancient pond,
the frog leaps:
the silver plop and gurgle of water
― Matsuo Basho, loose translation by Michael R. Burch



This haiku translation has more than 300 results:

Oh, fallen camellias,
if I were you,
I'd leap into the torrent!
― Takaha Shugyo, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



This translation of an Anacreon epigram has over 300 results:

Here he lies in state tonight: great is his Monument!
Yet Ares cares not, neither does War relent.
—Anacreon, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



This 9–11 poem has over 300 results:

Charon 2001
by Michael R. Burch

I, too, have stood—paralyzed at the helm
watching onrushing, inevitable disaster.
I too have felt sweat (or ecstatic tears) plaster
damp hair to my eyes, as a slug’s dense film
becomes mucous-insulate. Always, thereafter
living in darkness, bright things overwhelm.

Originally published by The Neovictorian/Cochlea



This “almost” limerick has over 300 results:

Caveat Spender
by Michael R. Burch

It’s better not to speculate
"continually" on who is great.
Though relentless awe’s
a Célèbre Cause,
please reserve some time for the contemplation
of the perils of EXAGGERATION.



This little poetic snapshot has over 300 results:

Warming Her Pearls
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth

Warming her pearls, her *******
gleam like constellations.
Her belly is a bit rotund...
she might have stepped out of a Rubens.



This vampire poem, popular at Halloween, has nearly 300 results:

Pale Though Her Eyes
by Michael R. Burch

Pale though her eyes,
her lips are scarlet
from drinking of blood,
this child, this harlot

born of the night
and her heart, of darkness,
evil incarnate
to dance so reckless,

dreaming of blood,
her fangs―white―baring,
revealing her lust,
and her eyes, pale, staring...



This Fukuda Chiyo-ni haiku translation has nearly 300 results:

Ah butterfly!
what dreams do you ply
with your beautiful wings?
― Fukuda Chiyo-ni, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



This translation of the Palestinian poet Fadwa Tuqan has over 300 results:

Enough for Me
by Fadwa Tuqan
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Enough for me to lie in the earth,
to be buried in her,
to sink meltingly into her fecund soil, to vanish...
only to spring forth like a flower
brightening the play of my countrymen's children.
Enough for me to remain
in my native soil's embrace,
to be as close as a handful of dirt,
a sprig of grass,
a wildflower.



This translation of a poem by the Kurdish poet Kajal Ahmad has over 300 results:

Mirror
by Kajal Ahmad, a Kurdish poet
loose translation 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.



This original poem has over 300 results:

Regret
by Michael R. Burch

Regret,
a bitter
ache to bear...
once starlight
languished
in your hair...
a shining there
as brief
as rare.

Regret...
a pain
I chose to bear...
unleash
the torrent
of your hair...
and show me
once again—
how rare.



This original poem, popular at Valentine’s Day, has nearly 300 results:

Let Me Give Her Diamonds
by Michael R. Burch

Let me give her diamonds
for my heart's
sharp edges.

Let me give her roses
for my soul's
thorn.

Let me give her solace
for my words
of treason.

Let the flowering of love
outlast a winter
season.

Let me give her books
for all my lack
of reason.

Let me give her candles
for my lack
of fire.

Let me kindle incense,
for our hearts
require

the breath-fanned
flaming perfume
of desire.



This original poem has nearly 300 results:

Fascination with Light
by Michael R. Burch

for Anaïs Vionet

Desire glides in on calico wings,
a breath of a moth
seeking a companionable light,
where it hovers, unsure,
sullen, shy or demure,
in the margins of night,
a soft blur.

With a frantic dry rattle
of alien wings,
it rises and thrums one long breathless staccato
and flutters and drifts on in dark aimless flight.

And yet it returns
to the flame, its delight,
as long as it burns.



This original poem has nearly 300 results:

Multiplication, Tabled
by Michael R. Burch

(for the Religious Right)

“Be fruitful and multiply”—
great advice, for a fruitfly!
But for women and men,
simple Simons, say, “WHEN!”



This Vera Pavlova translation has over 250 results:

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

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



These Holocaust poem translations of Miklos Radnoti have over 200 results each:

Postcard 1
by Miklós Radnóti
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Out of Bulgaria, the great wild roar of the artillery thunders,
resounds on the mountain ridges, rebounds, then ebbs into silence
while here men, beasts, wagons and imagination all steadily increase;
the road whinnies and bucks, neighing; the maned sky gallops;
and you are eternally with me, love, constant amid all the chaos,
glowing within my conscience―incandescent, intense.
Somewhere within me, dear, you abide forever―
still, motionless, mute, like an angel stunned to silence by death
or a beetle hiding in the heart of a rotting tree.



Postcard 2
by Miklós Radnóti
written October 6, 1944 near Crvenka, Serbia
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

A few miles away they're incinerating
the haystacks and the houses,
while squatting here on the fringe of this pleasant meadow,
the shell-shocked peasants sit quietly smoking their pipes.
Now, here, stepping into this still pond, the little shepherd girl
sets the silver water a-ripple
while, leaning over to drink, her flocculent sheep
seem to swim like drifting clouds.



Postcard 3
by Miklós Radnóti
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

The oxen dribble ****** spittle;
the men pass blood in their ****.
Our stinking regiment halts, a horde of perspiring savages,
adding our aroma to death's repulsive stench.



Postcard 4
by Miklós Radnóti
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

I toppled beside him―his body already taut,
tight as a string just before it snaps,
shot in the back of the head.
"This is how you’ll end too; just lie quietly here,"
I whispered to myself, patience blossoming from dread.
"Der springt noch auf," the voice above me jeered;
I could only dimly hear
through the congealing blood slowly sealing my ear.

This was his final poem, written October 31, 1944 near Szentkirályszabadja, Hungary. "Der springt noch auf" means something like "That one is still twitching."



This poetic tribute to Muhammad Ali has over 250 results:

Ali’s Song
by Michael R. Burch

They say that gold don’t tarnish. It ain’t so.
They say it has a wild, unearthly glow.
A man can be more beautiful, more wild.
I flung their medal to the river, child.
I flung their medal to the river, child.

They hung their coin around my neck; they made
my name a bridle, “called a ***** a *****.”
They say their gold is pure. I say defiled.
I flung their slave’s name to the river, child.
I flung their slave’s name to the river, child.

Ain’t got no quarrel with no Viet Cong
that never called me ******, did me wrong.
A man can’t be lukewarm, ’cause God hates mild.
I flung their notice to the river, child.
I flung their notice to the river, child.

They said, “Now here’s your bullet and your gun,
and there’s your cell: we’re waiting, you choose one.”
At first I groaned aloud, but then I smiled.
I gave their “future” to the river, child.
I gave their “future” to the river, child.

My face reflected up, dark bronze like gold,
a coin God stamped in His own image—BOLD.
My blood boiled like that river—strange and wild.
I died to hate in that dark river, child,
Come, be reborn in this bright river, child.

Originally published by Black Medina



This translation of a Native American poem has nearly 250 results:

Cherokee Travelers' Blessing
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I will extract the thorns from your feet.
For yet a little while, we will walk life's sunlit paths together.
I will love you like my own brother, my own blood.
When you are disconsolate, I will wipe the tears from your eyes.
And when you are too sad to live, I will put your aching heart to rest.

Published by Better Than Starbucks, Setu (India), A Hundred Voices and The Cherokee Native Americans and Their Descendants



This poem about US involvement in an ongoing Holocaust has over 200 results:

who, US?
by Michael R. Burch

jesus was born
a palestinian child
where there’s no Room
for the meek and the mild

... and in bethlehem still
to this day, lambs are born
to cries of “no Room!”
and Puritanical scorn...

under Herod, Trump, Bibi
their fates are the same —
the slouching Beast mauls them
and WE have no shame:
“who’s to blame?”



This Ō no Yasumaro translation has over 200 results:

While you decline to cry,
high on the mountainside
a single stalk of plumegrass wilts.
―Ō no Yasumaro (circa 711), loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



These Sappho translations have over 200 results:

Sappho, fragment 156
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

She keeps her scents
in a dressing-case.
And her sense?
In some undiscoverable place.



Sappho, fragment 58
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Pain
drains
me
to
the
last
drop
.



This Parmenio translation has over 200 results:

Be ashamed, O mountains and seas,
that these valorous men lack breath.
Assume, like pale chattels,
an ashen silence at death.
—Michael R. Burch, after Parmenio



This original epigram has over 200 results:

Love is either wholly folly,
or fully holy.
—Michael R. Burch



This original epigram has over 200 results:

Laughter’s Cry
by Michael R. Burch

Because life is a mystery, we laugh
and do not know the half.

Because death is a mystery, we cry
when one is gone, our numbering thrown awry.



This original poem about King Arthur’s mysterious origins has over 200 results:

At Tintagel
by Michael R. Burch

That night,
at Tintagel,
there was darkness such as man had never seen ...
darkness and treachery,
and the unholy thundering of the sea ...

In his arms,
who can say how much she knew?
And if he whispered her name ...
“Ygraine!”
... could she tell above the howling wind and rain?

Could she tell, or did she care,
by the length of his hair
or the heat of his flesh, ...
that her faceless companion
was Uther, the dragon,
and Gorlois lay dead?

Originally published by Songs of Innocence



This original poem I wrote for my wife Beth has over 200 results:

Enigma
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth

O, terrible angel,
bright lover and avenger,
full of whimsical light
and vile anger;
wild stranger,
seeking the solace of night,
or the danger;
pale foreigner,
alien to man, or savior.

Who are you,
seeking consolation and passion
in the same breath,
screaming for pleasure, bereft
of all articles of faith,
finding life
harsher than death?

Grieving angel,
giving more than taking,
how lucky the man
who has found in your love,
this—our reclamation;
fallen wren,
you must strive to fly
though your heart is shaken;
weary pilgrim,
you must not give up
though your feet are aching;
lonely child,
lie here still in my arms;
you must soon be waking.



Other poems, epigrams and translations with more than 100 results:



Hymn for Fallen Soldiers
by Michael R. Burch

Sound the awesome cannons.
Pin medals to each breast.
Attention, honor guard!
Give them a hero’s rest.
Recite their names to the heavens
Till the stars acknowledge their kin.
Then let the land they defended
Gather them in again.

When I learned there’s an American military organization, the DPAA (Defense/POW/MIA Accounting Agency) that is still finding and bringing home the bodies of soldiers who died serving their country in World War II, after blubbering like a baby, I managed to eke out this poem.



Nun Fun Undone
by Michael R. Burch

Abbesses’
recesses
are not for excesses!



pretty pickle
by michael r. burch

u’d blaspheme if u could
because ur God’s no good,
but of course u cant:
ur a lowly ant
(or so u were told by a Hierophant).




My Nightmare...
by Michael R. Burch writing as “The Child Poets of Gaza”

I had a dream of Jesus!
Mama, his eyes were so kind!
But behind him I saw a billion Christians
hissing "You're nothing!," so blind.



Once fanaticism has gangrened brains
the incurable malady invariably remains.
—Voltaire, translation by Michael R. Burch



Nod to the Master
by Michael R. Burch

If every witty thing that’s said were true,
Oscar Wilde, the world would worship You!



Snapshots
by Michael R. Burch

Here I scrawl extravagant rainbows.
And there you go, skipping your way to school.

And here we are, drifting apart
like untethered balloons.

Here I am, creating "art,"
chanting in shadows,
pale as the crinoline moon,
ignoring your face.

There you go,
in diaphanous lace,
making another man’s heart swoon.

Suddenly, unthinkably, here he is,
taking my place.



Indestructible, for Johnny Cash
by Michael R. Burch

What is a mountain, but stone?
Or a spire, but a trinket of steel?
Johnny Cash is gone,
black from his hair to his bootheels.

Can a man out-endure mountains’ stone
if his songs lift us closer to heaven?
Can the steel in his voice vibrate on
till his words are our manna and leaven?

Then sing, all you mountains of stone,
with the rasp of his voice, and the gravel.
Let the twang of thumbed steel lead us home
through these weary dark ways all men travel.

For what is a mountain, but stone?
Or a spire, but a trinket of steel?
Johnny Cash lives on—
black from his hair to his bootheels.



Wulf and Eadwacer
ancient Old English (Anglo-Saxon) poem, circa 990 AD
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

My clan's curs pursue him like crippled game;
they'll rip him apart if he approaches their pack.
It is otherwise with us.

Wulf's on one island; we're on another.
His island's a fortress, fastened by fens. (fastened=secured)
Here, bloodthirsty curs howl for carnage.
They'll rip him apart if he approaches their pack.
It is otherwise with us.

My hopes pursued Wulf like panting hounds,
but whenever it rained—how I wept!
the boldest cur clutched me in his paws:
good feelings for him, but for me loathsome!

Wulf, O, my Wulf, my ache for you
has made me sick; your seldom-comings
have left me famished, deprived of real meat.
Have you heard, Eadwacer? Watchdog!
A wolf has borne our wretched whelp to the woods.
One can easily sever what never was one:
our song together.



Observance
by Michael R. Burch

Here the hills are old and rolling
casually in their old age;
on the horizon youthful mountains
bathe themselves in windblown fountains...

By dying leaves and falling raindrops,
I have traced time's starts and stops,
and I have known the years to pass
almost unnoticed, whispering through treetops...

For here the valleys fill with sunlight
to the brim, then empty again,
and it seems that only I notice
how the years flood out, and in...

This is an early poem that made me feel like a “real poet.” I remember writing it in the break room of the McDonald's where I worked as a high school student. I believe that was at age 17.



Discrimination
by Michael R. Burch

The meter I had sought to find, perplexed,
was ripped from books of "verse" that read like prose.
I found it in sheet music, in long rows
of hologramic CDs, in sad wrecks
of long-forgotten volumes undisturbed
half-centuries by archivists, unscanned.
I read their fading numbers, frowned, perturbed—
why should such tattered artistry be banned?
I heard the sleigh bells’ jingles, vampish ads,
the supermodels’ babble, Seuss’s books
extolled in major movies, blurbs for abs...
A few poor thinnish journals crammed in nooks
are all I’ve found this late to sell to those
who’d classify free verse "expensive prose."

Originally published by The Chariton Review



Will There Be Starlight
by Michael R. Burch

Will there be starlight
tonight
while she gathers
damask
and lilac
and sweet-scented heathers?

And will she find flowers,
or will she find thorns
guarding the petals
of roses unborn?

Will there be starlight
tonight
while she gathers
seashells
and mussels
and albatross feathers?

And will she find treasure
or will she find pain
at the end of this rainbow
of moonlight on rain?



Ebb Tide
by Michael R. Burch

Massive, gray, these leaden waves
bear their unchanging burden—
the sameness of each day to day
while the wind seems to struggle to say
something half-submerged planks at the mouth of the bay
might nuzzle limp seaweed to understand.
Now collapsing dull waves drain away
from the unenticing land;
shrieking gulls shadow fish through salt spray—
whitish streaks on a fogged silver mirror.
Sizzling lightning impresses its brand.
Unseen fingers scribble something in the wet sand.

Originally published by Southwest Review



Ironic Vacation
by Michael R. Burch

Salzburg.
Seeing Mozart’s baby grand piano.
Standing in the presence of sheer incalculable genius.
Grabbing my childish pen to write a poem & challenge the Immortals.
Next stop, the catacombs!

This is a poem I wrote about a vacation my family took to Salzburg when I was a boy, age 11 or perhaps a bit older.



Playmates
by Michael R. Burch

WHEN you were my playmate and I was yours,
we spent endless hours with simple toys,
and the sorrows and cares of our indentured days
were uncomprehended... far, far away...
for the temptations and trials we had yet to face
were lost in the shadows of an unventured maze.
Then simple pleasures were easy to find
and if they cost us a little, we didn't mind;
for even a penny in a pocket back then
was one penny too many, a penny to spend.
Then feelings were feelings and love was just love,
not a strange, complex mystery to be understood;
while "sin" and "damnation" meant little to us,
since forbidden cookies were our only lusts!
Then we never worried about what we had,
and we were both sure—what was good, what was bad.
And we sometimes quarreled, but we didn't hate;
we seldom gave thought to the uncertainties of fate.
Hell, we seldom thought about the next day,
when tomorrow seemed hidden—adventures away.
Though sometimes we dreamed of adventures past,
and wondered, at times, why things couldn't last.
Still, we never worried about getting by,
and we didn't know that we were to die...
when we spent endless hours with simple toys,
and I was your playmate, and we were boys.

This is probably the poem that "made" me, because my high school English teacher called it "beautiful" and I took that to mean I was surely the Second Coming of Percy Bysshe Shelley! "Playmates" is the second poem I remember writing; I believe I was around 13 or 14 at the time. It was originally published by The Lyric.

Keywords/Tags: Michael Burch, popular, most popular, poems, epigrams, translations, quotes, Google, Internet, journals, literary journals, blogs, social media, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Yahoo, mrbpop, mrbbest, mrbest
Michael R Burch Nov 2020
My most popular poems on the Internet

A number of my poems and translations have gone viral, according to Google, and some have been copied onto hundreds to thousands of web pages. That’s a lot of cutting and pasting! The results below are the results returned by Google at the time I did the searches.



This original epigram returns more than 37,000 results:

Epitaph for a Palestinian Child
by Michael R. Burch

I lived as best I could, and then I died.
Be careful where you step: the grave is wide.



This Sappho translation has more than 3,500 results:

Sappho, fragment 42
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Eros harrows my heart:
wild winds whipping desolate mountains
uprooting oaks.



This Sappho translation has more than 1,700 results:

Sappho, fragment 155
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

A short revealing frock?
It's just my luck
your lips were made to mock!



This Bertolt Brecht translation has more than 1,500 results:

The Burning of the Books
by Bertolt Brecht
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

When the Regime
commanded the unlawful books to be burned,
teams of dull oxen hauled huge cartloads to the bonfires.

Then a banished writer, one of the best,
scanning the list of excommunicated texts,
became enraged: he’d been excluded!

He rushed to his desk, full of contemptuous wrath,
to write fiery letters to the incompetents in power―
Burn me! he wrote with his blazing pen―
Haven’t I always reported the truth?
Now here you are, treating me like a liar!
Burn me!



This poem returns nearly 1,500 results for the first line:

Something
―for the children of the Holocaust and the Nakba
by Michael R. Burch

Something inescapable is lost―
lost like a pale vapor curling up into shafts of moonlight,
vanishing in a gust of wind toward an expanse of stars
immeasurable and void.

Something uncapturable is gone―
gone with the spent leaves and illuminations of autumn,
scattered into a haze with the faint rustle of parched grass
and remembrance.

Something unforgettable is past―
blown from a glimmer into nothingness, or less,
which finality swept into a corner, where it lies
in dust and cobwebs and silence.

NOTE: This is, I think, the first poem I wrote which didn’t rhyme, and the only one for quite some time. I consider one of the best of my early poems; it was written in my late teens.



This original poem has over 1,300 results:

Bible Libel
by Michael R. Burch

If God
is good,
half the Bible
is libel.

This may be the first poem I wrote. I read the Bible from cover to cover at age 11, and it was a traumatic experience. But I can’t remember if I wrote the epigram then, or came up with it later. In any case, it was probably written between age 11 and 13, or thereabouts.



My translation of Robert Burns’ “To a Mouse” returns over 1,300 results. It’s a bit long for this page but can be found online with a Google search like: Michael R. Burch Robert Burns translations.



This Glaucus translation returns more than 1,000 results:

Does my soul abide in heaven, or hell?
Only the sea gulls in their high, lonely circuits may tell.
―Michael R. Burch, after Glaucus



This Yamaguchi Seishi translation returns over 1,000 results:

Grasses wilt:
the braking locomotive
grinds to a halt
―Yamaguchi Seishi, loose translation by Michael R. Burch



This original poem has more than 1,000 results:

Frail Envelope of Flesh
by Michael R. Burch

for the mothers and children of Gaza

Frail envelope of flesh,
lying cold on the surgeon’s table
with anguished eyes
like your mother’s eyes
and a heartbeat weak, unstable...

Frail crucible of dust,
brief flower come to this―
your tiny hand
in your mother’s hand
for a last bewildered kiss...

Brief mayfly of a child,
to live two artless years!
Now your mother’s lips
seal up your lips
from the Deluge of her Tears...

Note: The phrase "frail envelope of flesh" was one of my first encounters with the power of poetry, although I read it in a superhero comic book as a young boy (I forget which one). More than thirty years later, the line kept popping into my head, so I wrote this poem. I have dedicated it to the mothers and children of Gaza and the Nakba. The word Nakba is Arabic for "Catastrophe."



This poem won a big Penguin Books (UK) Valentine poetry contest and returns over 800 results for the first line:

Mother’s Smile
by Michael R. Burch

for my mother, Christine Ena Burch

There never was a fonder smile
than mother’s smile, no softer touch
than mother’s touch. So sleep awhile
and know she loves you more than “much.”

So more than “much,” much more than “all.”
Though tender words, these do not speak
of love at all, nor how we fall
and mother’s there, nor how we reach
from nightmares in the ticking night
and she is there to hold us tight.

There never was a stronger back
than father’s back, that held our weight
and lifted us, when we were small,
and bore us till we reached the gate,
then held our hands that first bright mile
till we could run, and did, and flew.
But, oh, a mother’s tender smile
will leap and follow after you!



This original epigram returns over 750 results:

Autumn Conundrum
by Michael R. Burch

It’s not that every leaf must finally fall,
it’s just that we can never catch them all.



This William Dunbar translation has more than 700 results:

Sweet Rose of Virtue
by William Dunbar (1460-1525)
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Sweet rose of virtue and of gentleness,
delightful lily of youthful wantonness,
richest in bounty and in beauty clear
and in every virtue that is held most dear―
except only that you are merciless.

Into your garden, today, I followed you;
there I saw flowers of freshest hue,
both white and red, delightful to see,
and wholesome herbs, waving resplendently―
yet everywhere, no odor but rue.

I fear that March with his last arctic blast
has slain my fair rose of pallid and gentle cast,
whose piteous death does my heart such pain
that, if I could, I would compose her roots again―
so comforting her bowering leaves have been.



This Sappho translation has over 700 results:

Sappho, fragment 22
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

That enticing girl's clinging dresses
leave me trembling, overcome by happiness,
as once, when I saw the Goddess in my prayers
eclipsing Cyprus.



This original poem has over 700 results for the first line:

Child of 9-11
by Michael R. Burch

a poem for Christina-Taylor Green, who
was born on September 11, 2001 and who
died at age nine, shot to death...

Child of 9-11, beloved,
I bring this lily, lay it down
here at your feet, and eiderdown,
and all soft things, for your gentle spirit.
I bring this psalm―I hope you hear it.

Much love I bring―I lay it down
here by your form, which is not you,
but what you left this shell-shocked world
to help us learn what we must do
to save another child like you.

Child of 9-11, I know
you are not here, but watch, afar
from distant stars, where angels rue
the evil things some mortals do.
I also watch; I also rue.

And so I make this pledge and vow:
though I may weep, I will not rest
nor will my pen fail heaven's test
till guns and wars and hate are banned
from every shore, from every land.

Child of 9-11, I grieve
your tender life, cut short... bereaved,
what can I do, but pledge my life
to saving lives like yours? Belief
in your sweet worth has led me here...

I give my all: my pen, this tear,
this lily and this eiderdown,
and all soft things my heart can bear;
I bring them to your final bier,
and leave them with my promise, here.



My Plato translation (or “take” on Plato) has over 650 results:

Mariner, do not ask whose tomb this may be,
but go with good fortune: I wish you a kinder sea.
―Michael R. Burch, after Plato



This translation of a Middle English poem has more than 500 results:

How Long the Night
(anonymous Middle English poem, circa early 13th century AD)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

It is pleasant, indeed, while the summer lasts
with the mild pheasants' song...
but now I feel the northern wind's blast―
its severe weather strong.
Alas! Alas! This night seems so long!
And I, because of my momentous wrong
now grieve, mourn and fast.



This original epigram returns over 500 results for the first line:

Here and Hereafter aka Saving Graces
by Michael R. Burch

Life’s saving graces are love, pleasure, laughter...
wisdom, it seems, is for the Hereafter.

I have dedicated the epigram above to the so-called Religious Right and Moral Majority.



These Einstein limericks have over 500 results:

The Cosmological Constant
by Michael R. Burch

Einstein, the frizzy-haired,
said E equals MC squared.
Thus all mass decreases
as activity ceases?
Not my mass, my *** declared!

Asstronomical
by Michael R. Burch

Relativity, the theorists’ creed,
says mass increases with speed.
My (m)*** grows when I sit it.
Mr. Einstein, get with it;
equate its deflation, I plead!

Relative to Whom?
by Michael R. Burch

Einstein’s theory, incredibly silly,
says a relative grows *****-nilly
at speeds close to light.
Well, his relatives might,
but mine grow their (m)***** more stilly!



This poem has over 500 results:

Neglect
by Michael R. Burch

What good are tears?
Will they spare the dying their anguish?

What use, our concern
to a child sick of living, waiting to perish?

What good, the warm benevolence of tears
without action?

What help, the eloquence of prayers,
or a pleasant benediction?

Before this day is over,
how many more will die
with bellies swollen, emaciate limbs,
and eyes too parched to cry?

I fear for our souls
as I hear the faint lament
of theirs departing...
mournful, and distant.

How pitiful our "effort,"
yet how fatal its effect.
If they died, then surely we killed them,
if only with neglect.



This Matsuo Basho haiku translation has nearly 500 results:

The first soft snow:
leaves of the awed jonquil
bow low
―Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



This Matsuo Basho haiku translation has more than 400 results:

Come, investigate loneliness!
a solitary leaf
clings to the Kiri tree
―Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



This original Holocaust poem returns over 400 results:

Auschwitz Rose
by Michael R. Burch

There is a Rose at Auschwitz, in the briar,
a rose like Sharon's, lovely as her name.
The world forgot her, and is not the same.
I still love her and extend this sacred fire
to keep her memory exalted flame
unmolested by the thistles and the nettles.

On Auschwitz now the reddening sunset settles!
They sleep alike―diminutive and tall,
the innocent, the "surgeons." Sleeping, all.

Red oxides of her blood, bright crimson petals,
if accidents of coloration, gall
my heart no less. Amid thick weeds and muck
there lies a rose man's crackling lightning struck:
the only Rose I ever longed to pluck.
Soon I'll bed there and bid the world "Good Luck."



This translation of a Holocaust poem has nearly 300 results:

Speechless
by Ko Un
translation by Michael R. Burch

At Auschwitz
piles of glasses,
mountains of shoes...
returning, we stared out different windows.






Keywords/Tags: Michael Burch, popular, most popular, poems, epigrams, translations, quotes, Google, Internet, journals, literary journals, blogs, social media, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Yahoo


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This original poem, which has become popular at Halloween, has nearly 3,000 results for the fifth line:

White in the Shadows
by Michael R. Burch

White in the shadows
I see your face,
unbidden. Go, tell
Love it is commonplace;
tell Regret it is not so rare.

Our love is not here
though you smile,
full of sedulous grace.
Lost in darkness, I fear
the past is our resting place.

Published by Carnelian, The Chained Muse, Poetry Life & Times, A-Poem-A-Day and in a YouTube video by Aurora G. with the titles “Ghost,” “White Goddess” and “White in the Shadows”



This original poem returns nearly 1,500 results:

Safe Harbor
by Michael R. Burch

for Kevin N. Roberts
The sea at night seems
an alembic of dreams—
the moans of the gulls,
the foghorns’ bawlings.

A century late
to be melancholy,
I watch the last shrimp boat as it steams
to safe harbor again.

In the twilight she gleams
with a festive light,
done with her trawlings,
ready to sleep . . .

Deep, deep, in delight
glide the creatures of night,
elusive and bright
as the poet’s dreams.

Published by The Lyric, Grassroots Poetry, Romantics Quarterly, Angle, Poetry Life & Times




This translation of the oldest extant English poem has over 1,250 results:

Cædmon's Hymn (circa 658-680 AD)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Humbly now we honour heaven-kingdom's Guardian,
the Measurer's might and his mind-plans,
the goals of the Glory-Father. First he, the Everlasting Lord,
established earth's fearful foundations.
Then he, the First Scop, hoisted heaven as a roof
for the sons of men: Holy Creator,
mankind's great Maker! Then he, the Ever-Living Lord,
afterwards made men middle-earth: Master Almighty!



This Faiz Ahmed Faiz translation has over 1,000 results:

Last Night
by Faiz Ahmed Faiz
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Last night, your memory stole into my heart—
as spring sweeps uninvited into barren gardens,
as morning breezes reinvigorate dormant deserts,
as a patient suddenly feels better, for no apparent reason ...


This light verse response to Philip Larkin’s “Aubade” has nearly 1,000 results:

Abide
by Michael R. Burch

after Philip Larkin's "Aubade"

It is hard to understand or accept mortality—
such an alien concept: not to be.
Perhaps unsettling enough to spawn religion,
or to scare mutant fish out of a primordial sea
boiling like goopy green tea in a kettle.
Perhaps a man should exhibit more mettle
than to admit such fear, denying Nirvana exists
simply because we are stuck here in such a fine fettle.
And so we abide . . .
even in life, staring out across that dark brink.
And if the thought of death makes your questioning heart sink,
it is best not to drink
(or, drinking, certainly not to think).

Originally published by Light Quarterly



This love poem has nearly 1,000 results:

don’t forget ...
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth

don’t forget to remember
that Space is curved
(like your Heart)
and that even Light is bent
by your Gravity.



This original Hiroshima poem has nearly 800 results:

Lucifer, to the Enola Gay
by Michael R. Burch

Go then,
and give them my meaning
so that their teeming
streets
become my city.
Bring back a pretty
flower—
a chrysanthemum,
perhaps, to bloom
if but an hour,
within a certain room
of mine
where
the sun does not rise or fall,
and the moon,
although it is content to shine,
helps nothing at all.
There,
if I hear the wistful call
of their voices
regretting choices
made
or perhaps not made
in time,
I can look back upon it and recall,
in all
its pale forms sublime,
still
Death will never be holy again.

Published by Romantics Quarterly, Penny Dreadful and Poetry Life & Times



This epigram has over 600 results for the first line:
Piercing the Shell
by Michael R. Burch

If we strip away all the accouterments of war,
perhaps we’ll discover what the heart is for.



This prayer poem has over 600 results and has been set to music and performed at a charity benefit for hurricane victims:

I Pray Tonight
by Michael R. Burch

I pray tonight
the starry Light
might
surround you.

I pray
by day
that, come what may,
no dark thing confound you.

I pray ere the morrow
an end to your sorrow.
May angels' white chorales
sing, and astound you.



This original poem has nearly 600 results:

Like Angels, Winged
by Michael R. Burch

Like angels—winged,
shimmering, misunderstood—
they flit beyond our understanding
being neither evil, nor good.

They are as they are ...
and we are their lovers, their prey;
they seek us out when the moon is full;
they dream of us by day.

Their eyes—hypnotic, alluring—
trap ours with their strange appeal
till like flame-drawn moths, we gather ...
to see, to touch, to feel.

And in their arms, enchanted,
we feel their lips, grown old,
till with their gorging kisses
we warm them, growing cold.



This original poem has over 500 results:

Distances
by Michael R. Burch

Moonbeams on water —
the reflected light
of a halcyon star
now drowning in night ...
So your memories are.

Footprints on beaches
now flooding with water;
the small, broken ribcage
of some primitive slaughter ...
So near, yet so far.



This original poem has over 500 results:

***** Nilly
by Michael R. Burch

for the Demiurge, aka Yahweh/Jehovah

Isn’t it silly, ***** Nilly?
You made the stallion,
you made the filly,
and now they sleep
in the dark earth, stilly.
Isn’t it silly, ***** Nilly?

Isn’t it silly, ***** Nilly?
You forced them to run
all their days uphilly.
They ran till they dropped—
life’s a pickle, dilly.
Isn’t it silly, ***** Nilly?

Isn’t it silly, ***** Nilly?
They say I should worship you!
Oh, really!
They say I should pray
so you’ll not act illy.
Isn’t it silly, ***** Nilly?



This Allama Iqbal translation has nearly 500 results for the second line:

Withered Roses
by Allama Iqbal
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

What words of mine can describe you,
desire of the nightingale's heart?
The morning breeze was your nativity,
the afternoon garden, a tray of perfumes.
My tears welled up like dew,
till in my abandoned heart your rune grew,
this dream-emblem of love:
this spray of withered roses.



This epigram/joke has over 400 results:

Teddy Roosevelt spoke softly and carried a big stick; Donald Trump speaks loudly and carries a big shtick.―Michael R. Burch



This **** Baudelaire translation has become popular with **** stars, escort sites and dating services, and has more than 400 results:

Le Balcon (The Balcony)
by Charles Baudelaire
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Paramour of memory, ultimate mistress,
source of all pleasure, my only desire;
how can I forget your ecstatic caresses,
the warmth of your ******* by the roaring fire,
paramour of memory, ultimate mistress?

Each night illumined by the burning coals
we lay together where the rose-fragrance clings—
how soft your *******, how tender your soul!
Ah, and we said imperishable things,
each night illumined by the burning coals.

How beautiful the sunsets these sultry days,
deep space so profound, beyond life’s brief floods ...
then, when I kissed you, my queen, in a daze,
I thought I breathed the bouquet of your blood
as beautiful as sunsets these sultry days.

Night thickens around us like a wall;
in the deepening darkness our irises meet.
I drink your breath, ah! poisonous yet sweet!,
as with fraternal hands I massage your feet
while night thickens around us like a wall.

I have mastered the sweet but difficult art
of happiness here, with my head in your lap,
finding pure joy in your body, your heart;
because you’re the queen of my present and past
I have mastered love’s sweet but difficult art.

O vows! O perfumes! O infinite kisses!
Can these be reborn from a gulf we can’t sound
as suns reappear, as if heaven misses
their light when they sink into seas dark, profound?
O vows! O perfumes! O infinite kisses!



This original poem has over 400 results:

What the Poet Sees
by Michael R. Burch

What the poet sees,
he sees as a swimmer
~~~underwater~~~
watching the shoreline blur
sees through his breath’s weightless bubbles ...
Both worlds grow obscure.



This original poem I wrote as a teenager has almost 400 results:

The Communion of Sighs
by Michael R. Burch

There was a moment
without the sound of trumpets or a shining light,
but with only silence and darkness and a cool mist
felt more than seen.
I was eighteen,
my heart pounding wildly within me like a fist.
Expectation hung like a cry in the night,
and your eyes shone like the corona of a comet.

There was an instant . . .
without words, but with a deeper communion,
as clothing first, then inhibitions fell;
liquidly our lips met
—feverish, wet—
forgotten, the tales of heaven and hell,
in the immediacy of our fumbling union . . .
when the rest of the world became distant.
Then the only light was the moon on the rise,
and the only sound, the communion of sighs.

This is one of my early poems ; I believe it was probably written during my first two years in college, making me 18 or 19 at the time.



This original poem has more than 300 results:

Kin
by Michael R. Burch

O pale, austere moon,
haughty beauty ...
what do we know of love,
or duty?



This original poem has more than 300 results:

escape!
by michael r. burch

for anaïs vionet

to live among the daffodil folk . . .
slip down the rainslickened drainpipe . . .
suddenly pop out
the GARGANTUAN SPOUT . . .
minuscule as alice, shout
yippee-yi-yee!
in wee exultant glee
to be leaving behind the
LARGE
THREE-DENALI GARAGE.



This Matsuo Basho haiku translation has more than 300 results:

An ancient pond,
the frog leaps:
the silver plop and gurgle of water
― Matsuo Basho, loose translation by Michael R. Burch



This haiku translation has more than 300 results:

Oh, fallen camellias,
if I were you,
I'd leap into the torrent!
― Takaha Shugyo, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



This translation of an Anacreon epigram has over 300 results:

Here he lies in state tonight: great is his Monument!
Yet Ares cares not, neither does War relent.
—Anacreon, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



This 9–11 poem has over 300 results:

Charon 2001
by Michael R. Burch

I, too, have stood—paralyzed at the helm
watching onrushing, inevitable disaster.
I too have felt sweat (or ecstatic tears) plaster
damp hair to my eyes, as a slug’s dense film
becomes mucous-insulate. Always, thereafter
living in darkness, bright things overwhelm.

Originally published by The Neovictorian/Cochlea



This “almost” limerick has over 300 results:

Caveat Spender
by Michael R. Burch

It’s better not to speculate
"continually" on who is great.
Though relentless awe’s
a Célèbre Cause,
please reserve some time for the contemplation
of the perils of EXAGGERATION.



This little poetic snapshot has over 300 results:
Warming Her Pearls
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth

Warming her pearls, her *******
gleam like constellations.
Her belly is a bit rotund...
she might have stepped out of a Rubens.



This vampire poem, popular at Halloween, has nearly 300 results:

Pale Though Her Eyes
by Michael R. Burch

Pale though her eyes,
her lips are scarlet
from drinking of blood,
this child, this harlot

born of the night
and her heart, of darkness,
evil incarnate
to dance so reckless,

dreaming of blood,
her fangs―white―baring,
revealing her lust,
and her eyes, pale, staring...



This Fukuda Chiyo-ni haiku translation has nearly 300 results:

Ah butterfly!
what dreams do you ply
with your beautiful wings?
― Fukuda Chiyo-ni, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



This translation of the Palestinian poet Fadwa Tuqan has over 300 results:

Enough for Me
by Fadwa Tuqan
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Enough for me to lie in the earth,
to be buried in her,
to sink meltingly into her fecund soil, to vanish ...
only to spring forth like a flower
brightening the play of my countrymen's children.
Enough for me to remain
in my native soil's embrace,
to be as close as a handful of dirt,
a sprig of grass,
a wildflower.



This translation of a poem by the Kurdish poet Kajal Ahmad has over 300 results:

Mirror
by Kajal Ahmad, a Kurdish poet
loose translation 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.



This original poem has over 300 results:

Regret
by Michael R. Burch

Regret,
a bitter
ache to bear . . .
once starlight
languished
in your hair . . .
a shining there
as brief
as rare.

Regret . . .
a pain
I chose to bear . . .
unleash
the torrent
of your hair . . .
and show me
once again—
how rare.



This original poem, popular at Valentine’s Day, has nearly 300 results:

Let Me Give Her Diamonds
by Michael R. Burch

Let me give her diamonds
for my heart's
sharp edges.

Let me give her roses
for my soul's
thorn.

Let me give her solace
for my words
of treason.

Let the flowering of love
outlast a winter
season.

Let me give her books
for all my lack
of reason.

Let me give her candles
for my lack
of fire.

Let me kindle incense,
for our hearts
require

the breath-fanned
flaming perfume
of desire.



This original poem has nearly 300 results:

Fascination with Light
by Michael R. Burch

for Anaïs Vionet

Desire glides in on calico wings,
a breath of a moth
seeking a companionable light,
where it hovers, unsure,
sullen, shy or demure,
in the margins of night,
a soft blur.

With a frantic dry rattle
of alien wings,
it rises and thrums one long breathless staccato
and flutters and drifts on in dark aimless flight.

And yet it returns
to the flame, its delight,
as long as it burns.

This Vera Pavlova translation has over 250 results:

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

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



These Holocaust poem translations of Miklos Radnoti have over 200 results each:

Postcard 1
by Miklós Radnóti
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Out of Bulgaria, the great wild roar of the artillery thunders,
resounds on the mountain ridges, rebounds, then ebbs into silence
while here men, beasts, wagons and imagination all steadily increase;
the road whinnies and bucks, neighing; the maned sky gallops;
and you are eternally with me, love, constant amid all the chaos,
glowing within my conscience―incandescent, intense.
Somewhere within me, dear, you abide forever―
still, motionless, mute, like an angel stunned to silence by death
or a beetle hiding in the heart of a rotting tree.



Postcard 2
by Miklós Radnóti
written October 6, 1944 near Crvenka, Serbia
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

A few miles away they're incinerating
the haystacks and the houses,
while squatting here on the fringe of this pleasant meadow,
the shell-shocked peasants sit quietly smoking their pipes.
Now, here, stepping into this still pond, the little shepherd girl
sets the silver water a-ripple
while, leaning over to drink, her flocculent sheep
seem to swim like drifting clouds.



Postcard 3
by Miklós Radnóti
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

The oxen dribble ****** spittle;
the men pass blood in their ****.
Our stinking regiment halts, a horde of perspiring savages,
adding our aroma to death's repulsive stench.



Postcard 4
by Miklós Radnóti
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

I toppled beside him―his body already taut,
tight as a string just before it snaps,
shot in the back of the head.
"This is how you’ll end too; just lie quietly here,"
I whispered to myself, patience blossoming from dread.
"Der springt noch auf," the voice above me jeered;
I could only dimly hear
through the congealing blood slowly sealing my ear.

This was his final poem, written October 31, 1944 near Szentkirályszabadja, Hungary. "Der springt noch auf" means something like "That one is still twitching."



This poetic tribute to Muhammad Ali has over 250 results:

Ali’s Song
by Michael R. Burch

They say that gold don’t tarnish. It ain’t so.
They say it has a wild, unearthly glow.
A man can be more beautiful, more wild.
I flung their medal to the river, child.
I flung their medal to the river, child.

They hung their coin around my neck; they made
my name a bridle, “called a ***** a *****.”
They say their gold is pure. I say defiled.
I flung their slave’s name to the river, child.
I flung their slave’s name to the river, child.

Ain’t got no quarrel with no Viet Cong
that never called me ******, did me wrong.
A man can’t be lukewarm, ’cause God hates mild.
I flung their notice to the river, child.
I flung their notice to the river, child.

They said, “Now here’s your bullet and your gun,
and there’s your cell: we’re waiting, you choose one.”
At first I groaned aloud, but then I smiled.
I gave their “future” to the river, child.
I gave their “future” to the river, child.

My face reflected up, dark bronze like gold,
a coin God stamped in His own image—BOLD.
My blood boiled like that river—strange and wild.
I died to hate in that dark river, child,
Come, be reborn in this bright river, child.

Originally published by Black Medina



This poem about US involvement in an ongoing Holocaust has over 200 results:

who, US?
by Michael R. Burch

jesus was born
a palestinian child
where there’s no Room
for the meek and the mild

... and in bethlehem still
to this day, lambs are born
to cries of “no Room!”
and Puritanical scorn ...

under Herod, Trump, Bibi
their fates are the same —
the slouching Beast mauls them
and WE have no shame:
“who’s to blame?”



This Ō no Yasumaro translation has over 200 results:

While you decline to cry,
high on the mountainside
a single stalk of plumegrass wilts.
―Ō no Yasumaro (circa 711), loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



These Sappho translations have over 200 results:

Sappho, fragment 156
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

She keeps her scents
in a dressing-case.
And her sense?
In some undiscoverable place.



Sappho, fragment 58
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Pain
drains
me
to
the
last
drop
.



This Parmenio translation has over 200 results:

Be ashamed, O mountains and seas,
that these valorous men lack breath.
Assume, like pale chattels,
an ashen silence at death.
—Michael R. Burch, after Parmenio



This original epigram has over 200 results:

Love is either wholly folly,
or fully holy.
—Michael R. Burch



Other poems, epigrams and translations with more than 100 results:



Hymn for Fallen Soldiers
by Michael R. Burch

Sound the awesome cannons.
Pin medals to each breast.
Attention, honor guard!
Give them a hero’s rest.
Recite their names to the heavens
Till the stars acknowledge their kin.
Then let the land they defended
Gather them in again.

When I learned there’s an American military organization, the DPAA (Defense/POW/MIA Accounting Agency) that is still finding and bringing home the bodies of soldiers who died serving their country in World War II, after blubbering like a baby, I managed to eke out this poem.



Nun Fun Undone
by Michael R. Burch

Abbesses’
recesses
are not for excesses!



pretty pickle
by michael r. burch

u’d blaspheme if u could
because ur God’s no good,
but of course u cant:
ur a lowly ant
(or so u were told by a Hierophant).



I, Too, Have a Dream
by Michael R. Burch writing as “The Child Poets of Gaza”

I, too, have a dream ...
that one day Jews and Christians
will see me as I am:
a small child, lonely and afraid,
staring down the barrels of their big bazookas,
knowing I did nothing
to deserve their enmity.



My Nightmare ...
by Michael R. Burch  writing as “The Child Poets of Gaza”

I had a dream of Jesus!
Mama, his eyes were so kind!
But behind him I saw a billion Christians
hissing "You're nothing!," so blind.



Multiplication, Tabled
by Michael R. Burch

(for the Religious Right)

“Be fruitful and multiply”—
great advice, for a fruitfly!
But for women and men,
simple Simons, say, “WHEN!”



Once fanaticism has gangrened brains
the incurable malady invariably remains.
—Voltaire, translation by Michael R. Burch



Snapshots
by Michael R. Burch

Here I scrawl extravagant rainbows.
And there you go, skipping your way to school.

And here we are, drifting apart
like untethered balloons.

Here I am, creating "art,"
chanting in shadows,
pale as the crinoline moon,
ignoring your face.

There you go,
in diaphanous lace,
making another man’s heart swoon.

Suddenly, unthinkably, here he is,
taking my place.



Indestructible, for Johnny Cash
by Michael R. Burch

What is a mountain, but stone?
Or a spire, but a trinket of steel?
Johnny Cash is gone,
black from his hair to his bootheels.

Can a man out-endure mountains’ stone
if his songs lift us closer to heaven?
Can the steel in his voice vibrate on
till his words are our manna and leaven?

Then sing, all you mountains of stone,
with the rasp of his voice, and the gravel.
Let the twang of thumbed steel lead us home
through these weary dark ways all men travel.

For what is a mountain, but stone?
Or a spire, but a trinket of steel?
Johnny Cash lives on—
black from his hair to his bootheels.



Wulf and Eadwacer
ancient Old English (Anglo-Saxon) poem, circa 990 AD
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

My clan's curs pursue him like crippled game;
they'll rip him apart if he approaches their pack.
It is otherwise with us.

Wulf's on one island; we're on another.
His island's a fortress, fastened by fens. (fastened=secured)
Here, bloodthirsty curs howl for carnage.
They'll rip him apart if he approaches their pack.
It is otherwise with us.

My hopes pursued Wulf like panting hounds,
but whenever it rained—how I wept!
the boldest cur clutched me in his paws:
good feelings for him, but for me loathsome!

Wulf, O, my Wulf, my ache for you
has made me sick; your seldom-comings
have left me famished, deprived of real meat.
Have you heard, Eadwacer? Watchdog!
A wolf has borne our wretched whelp to the woods.
One can easily sever what never was one:
our song together.

Hearthside
by Michael R. Burch

“When you are old and grey and full of sleep...” — W. B. Yeats

For all that we professed of love, we knew
this night would come, that we would bend alone
to tend wan fires’ dimming bars—the moan
of wind cruel as the Trumpet, gelid dew
an eerie presence on encrusted logs
we hoard like jewels, embrittled so ourselves.
The books that line these close, familiar shelves
loom down like dreary chaperones. Wild dogs,
too old for mates, cringe furtive in the park,
as, toothless now, I frame this parchment kiss.
I do not know the words for easy bliss
and so my shriveled fingers clutch this stark,
long-unenamored pen and will it: Move.
I loved you more than words, so let words prove.



Observance
by Michael R. Burch

Here the hills are old and rolling
casually in their old age;
on the horizon youthful mountains
bathe themselves in windblown fountains . . .

By dying leaves and falling raindrops,
I have traced time's starts and stops,
and I have known the years to pass
almost unnoticed, whispering through treetops . . .

For here the valleys fill with sunlight
to the brim, then empty again,
and it seems that only I notice
how the years flood out, and in . . .

This is an early poem that made me feel like a “real poet.” I remember writing it in the break room of the McDonald's where I worked as a high school student. I believe that was at age 17.



Discrimination
by Michael R. Burch

The meter I had sought to find, perplexed,
was ripped from books of "verse" that read like prose.
I found it in sheet music, in long rows
of hologramic CDs, in sad wrecks
of long-forgotten volumes undisturbed
half-centuries by archivists, unscanned.
I read their fading numbers, frowned, perturbed—
why should such tattered artistry be banned?
I heard the sleigh bells’ jingles, vampish ads,
the supermodels’ babble, Seuss’s books
extolled in major movies, blurbs for abs ...
A few poor thinnish journals crammed in nooks
are all I’ve found this late to sell to those
who’d classify free verse "expensive prose."

Originally published by The Chariton Review



Will There Be Starlight
by Michael R. Burch

Will there be starlight
tonight
while she gathers
damask
and lilac
and sweet-scented heathers?

And will she find flowers,
or will she find thorns
guarding the petals
of roses unborn?

Will there be starlight
tonight
while she gathers
seashells
and mussels
and albatross feathers?

And will she find treasure
or will she find pain
at the end of this rainbow
of moonlight on rain?



in-flight convergence
by Michael R. Burch

serene, almost angelic,
the lights of the city extend
over lumbering behemoths
shrilly screeching displeasure;
they say
that nothing is certain,
that nothing man dreams or ordains
long endures his command
here the streetlights that flicker
and those blazing steadfast
seem one: from a distance;
descend,
they abruptly
part ways,
so that nothing is one
which at times does not suddenly blend
into garish insignificance
in the familiar alleyways,
in the white neon flash
and the billboards of Convenience
and man seems the afterthought of his own Brilliance
as we thunder down the enlightened runways.

Originally published by The Aurorean and nominated for the Pushcart Prize


Pan
by Michael R. Burch

... Among the shadows of the groaning elms,
amid the darkening oaks, we fled ourselves ...
... Once there were paths that led to coracles
that clung to piers like loosening barnacles ...
... where we cannot return, because we lost
the pebbles and the playthings, and the moss ...
... hangs weeping gently downward, maidens’ hair
who never were enchanted, and the stairs ...
... that led up to the Fortress in the trees
will not support our weight, but on our knees ...
... we still might fit inside those splendid hours
of damsels in distress, of rustic towers ...
... of voices heard in wolves’ tormented howls
that died, and live in dreams’ soft, windy vowels ...



At Wilfred Owen’s Grave
by Michael R. Burch

A week before the Armistice, you died.
They did not keep your heart like Livingstone’s,
then plant your bones near Shakespeare’s. So you lie
between two privates, sacrificed like Christ
to politics, your poetry unknown
except for that brief flurry’s: thirteen months
with Gaukroger beside you in the trench,
dismembered, as you babbled, as the stench
of gangrene filled your nostrils, till you clenched
your broken heart together and the fist
began to pulse with life, so close to death.
Or was it at Craiglockhart, in the care
of “ergotherapists” that you sensed life
is only in the work, and made despair
a thing that Yeats despised, but also breath,
a mouthful’s merest air, inspired less
than wrested from you, and which we confess
we only vaguely breathe: the troubled air
that even Sassoon failed to share, because
a man in pieces is not healed by gauze,
and breath’s transparent, unless we believe
the words are true despite their lack of weight
and float to us like chlorine—scalding eyes,
and lungs, and hearts. Your words revealed the fate
of boys who retched up life here, gagged on lies.



Ebb Tide
by Michael R. Burch

Massive, gray, these leaden waves
bear their unchanging burden—
the sameness of each day to day
while the wind seems to struggle to say
something half-submerged planks at the mouth of the bay
might nuzzle limp seaweed to understand.
Now collapsing dull waves drain away
from the unenticing land;
shrieking gulls shadow fish through salt spray—
whitish streaks on a fogged silver mirror.
Sizzling lightning impresses its brand.
Unseen fingers scribble something in the wet sand.

Originally published by Southwest Review



At Once
by Michael R. Burch

Though she was fair,
though she sent me the epistle of her love at once
and inscribed therein love’s antique prayer,
I did not love her at once.
Though she would dare
pain’s pale, clinging shadows, to approach me at once,
the dark, haggard keeper of the lair,
I did not love her at once.
Though she would share
the all of her being, to heal me at once,
yet more than her touch I was unable bear.
I did not love her at once.
And yet she would care,
and pour out her essence ...
and yet—there was more!
I awoke from long darkness,
and yet—she was there.
I loved her the longer;
I loved her the more
because I did not love her at once.

Published by The Lyric, Romantics Quarterly and Grassroots Poetry



Chloe
by Michael R. Burch

There were skies onyx at night ... moons by day ...
lakes pale as her eyes ... breathless winds
******* tall elms; ... she would say
that we loved, but I figured we’d sinned.
Soon impatiens too fiery to stay
sagged; the crocus bells drooped, golden-limned;
things of brightness, rinsed out, ran to gray ...
all the light of that world softly dimmed.
Where our feet were inclined, we would stray;
there were paths where dead weeds stood untrimmed,
distant mountains that loomed in our way,
thunder booming down valleys dark-hymned.
What I found, I found lost in her face
while yielding all my virtue to her grace.

Originally published by Romantics Quarterly as “A Dying Fall”



The Wonder Boys
by Michael R. Burch

(for Leslie Mellichamp, the late editor of The Lyric,
who was a friend and mentor to many poets, and
a fine poet in his own right)

The stars were always there, too-bright cliches:
scintillant truths the jaded world outgrew
as baffled poets winged keyed kites—amazed,
in dream of shocks that suddenly came true . . .
but came almost as static—background noise,
a song out of the cosmos no one hears,
or cares to hear. The poets, starstruck boys,
lay tuned in to their kite strings, saucer-eared.
They thought to feel the lightning’s brilliant sparks
electrify their nerves, their brains; the smoke
of words poured from their overheated hearts.
The kite string, knotted, made a nifty rope . . .
You will not find them here; they blew away—
in tumbling flight beyond nights’ stars. They clung
by fingertips to satellites. They strayed
too far to remain mortal. Elfin, young,
their words are with us still. Devout and fey,
they wink at us whenever skies are gray.

Originally published by The Lyric



The Beat Goes On (and On and On and On ...)
by Michael R. Burch

Bored stiff by his board-stiff attempts
at “meter,” I crossly concluded
I’d use each iamb
in lieu of a lamb,
bedtimes when I’m under-quaaluded.

Originally published by Grand Little Things



Playmates
by Michael R. Burch

WHEN you were my playmate and I was yours,
we spent endless hours with simple toys,
and the sorrows and cares of our indentured days
were uncomprehended . . . far, far away . . .
for the temptations and trials we had yet to face
were lost in the shadows of an unventured maze.
Then simple pleasures were easy to find
and if they cost us a little, we didn't mind;
for even a penny in a pocket back then
was one penny too many, a penny to spend.
Then feelings were feelings and love was just love,
not a strange, complex mystery to be understood;
while "sin" and "damnation" meant little to us,
since forbidden cookies were our only lusts!
Then we never worried about what we had,
and we were both sure—what was good, what was bad.
And we sometimes quarreled, but we didn't hate;
we seldom gave thought to the uncertainties of fate.
Hell, we seldom thought about the next day,
when tomorrow seemed hidden—adventures away.
Though sometimes we dreamed of adventures past,
and wondered, at times, why things couldn't last.
Still, we never worried about getting by,
and we didn't know that we were to die . . .
when we spent endless hours with simple toys,
and I was your playmate, and we were boys.

This is probably the poem that "made" me, because my high school English teacher called it "beautiful" and I took that to mean I was surely the Second Coming of Percy Bysshe Shelley! "Playmates" is the second poem I remember writing; I believe I was around 13 or 14 at the time. It was originally published by The Lyric.



Lines for My Ascension
by Michael R. Burch

I.
If I should die,
there will come a Doom,
and the sky will darken
to the deepest Gloom.

But if my body
should not be found,
never think of me
in the cold ground.


II.
If I should die,
let no mortal say,
“Here was a man,
with feet of clay,
or a timid sparrow
God’s hand let fall.”
But watch the sky darken
to an eerie pall
and know that my Spirit,
unvanquished, broods,
and scoffs at quaint churchyards
littered with roods.

And if my body
should not be found,
never think of me
in the cold ground.


III.
If I should die,
let no man adore
his incompetent Maker:
Zeus, Yahweh, or Thor.
Think of Me as One
who never died—
the unvanquished Immortal
with the unriven side.

And if my body
should not be found,
never think of me
in the cold ground.


IV.
And if I should “die,”
though the clouds grow dark
as fierce lightnings rend
this bleak asteroid, stark ...
If you look above,
you will see a bright Sign—
the sun with the moon
in its arms, Divine.
So divine, if you can,
my bright meaning, and know—
my Spirit is mine.
I will go where I go.

And if my body
should not be found,
never think of me
in the cold ground.


Translations with more than 100 results and/or a high number of page views:

“Wulf and Eadwacer” translation
“Deor’s Lament” translation
“The Wife’s Lament” translation
“Whoso List to Hunt” by Sir Thomas Wyatt, translation
“The Eager Traveler” by Ahmad Faraz, translation
“Herbsttag” (“Autumn Day”) by Rainer Maria Rilke, translation
“Archaischer Torso Apollos” (“Archaic Torso of Apollo”) by Rainer Maria Rilke, translation
“Komm, Du” (“Come, You”) by Rainer Maria Rilke, translation
“Der Panther” (“The Panther”) by Rainer Maria Rilke, translation
“Liebes-Lied” (“Love Song”) by Rainer Maria Rilke, translation
“Das Lied des Bettlers” (“The Beggar’s Song”) by Rainer Maria Rilke, translation
Original poems with more than 100 results:
“Water and Gold”
“See”
“The Folly of Wisdom”
“The Effects of Memory”
“Finally to Burn: the Fall and Resurrection of Icarus”




Dream of Infinity
by Michael R. Burch

Have you tasted the bitterness of tears of despair?
Have you watched the sun sink through such pale, balmless air
that your soul sought its shell like a crab on a beach,
then scuttled inside to be safe, out of reach?

Might I lift you tonight from earth’s wreckage and damage
on these waves gently rising to pay the moon homage?
Or better, perhaps, let me say that I, too,
have dreamed of infinity... windswept and blue.

This poem was originally published by TC Broadsheet Verses. I was paid a whopping $10, my first cash payment. It was subsequently published by Piedmont Literary Review, Penny Dreadful, the Net Poetry and Art Competition, Songs of Innocence, Poetry Life & Times, Better Than Starbucks and The Chained Muse.



we did not Dye in vain!
by Michael R. Burch

from “songs of the sea snails”

though i’m just a slimy crawler,
my lineage is proud:
my forebears gave their lives
(oh, let the trumps blare loud!)
so purple-mantled Royals
might stand out in a crowd.

i salute you, fellow loyals,
who labor without scruple
as your incomes fall
while deficits quadruple
to swaddle unjust Lords
in bright imperial purple!

Notes: In ancient times the purple dye produced from the secretions of purpura mollusks (sea snails) was known as “Tyrian purple,” “royal purple” and “imperial purple.” It was greatly prized in antiquity, and was very expensive according to the historian Theopompus: “Purple for dyes fetched its weight in silver at Colophon.” Thus, purple-dyed fabrics became status symbols, and laws often prevented commoners from possessing them. The production of Tyrian purple was tightly controlled in Byzantium, where the imperial court restricted its use to the coloring of imperial silks. A child born to the reigning emperor was literally porphyrogenitos ("born to the purple") because the imperial birthing apartment was walled in porphyry, a purple-hued rock, and draped with purple silks. Royal babies were swaddled in purple; we know this because the iconodules, who disagreed with the emperor Constantine about the veneration of images, accused him of defecating on his imperial purple swaddling clothes!



Circe
by Michael R. Burch

She spoke
and her words
were like a ringing echo dying
or like smoke
rising and drifting
while the earth below is spinning.

She awoke
with a cry
from a dream that had no ending,
without hope
or strength to rise,
into hopelessness descending.

And an ache
in her heart
toward that dream, retreating,
left a wake
of small waves
in circles never completing.

Originally published by Romantics Quarterly



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Mateuš Conrad Dec 2019
the far right, the far left,
the alt. right, the progressive left,
the regressive right...

basically an ****** of nouns:
a geyser of prefixes and
whatever suffixes...

trans-exclusionary-radical-feminist...
cis-man...
me­taphysics, alfred jarry
and pata-physics...

hopefully some mention
of ORTHO-graphy...
hard rock... boomer rocker...
a rocking chair...

sides of the waves...
the non-existent natural sculptor...
graveyards as
museums al fresco...
post- "the original sculptor"...

indie right...
googlewhacks?
bothersome hillbilly scam: 16,100 results
locus operandi...
modus operandi...
locus standi...
squat biggerbrain: 3,740 results...
onomatopoeia lombard: 45,600 results...
merovingian golem: 25,700 results...
oh look...
getting close:
⠉⠽⠎⠞ gush: 38 results...
⠉⠽⠎⠞ pataphysics: 5 results...
fingshuan: 9 results...
llyopod ligament tree: 4 results...
lobotomy molotov: 79,000 results...
tref zappa tick tock: 5 results...
trad trap zappa loco: 8 results...
myxedema orpheus: 9,030 results...
myopiacharon: 7 results...
janejeanjacketpuke: 10 results...
(stones in his pockets)
mariejones does *******: 4 results...

epitaphs are maxims: cueue debate...
perhaps more...
chiselching in beijing: 6 results...

⠝          
ⰏmⰑoⰓrⰗFⰅeⰖuⰔs
ל ******* gnat!
sticks to you like a...
nomad sort of letter it's supposed
to be...
******* hitch-hiker...
hitchens et al... atheists etc....
sure... when all the "gentile" gods are
dead... the hebrew degradation of
a demigod will be...
the pulpit and the prayer
and i'm somehow supposed
to "mind"...
etymology bonanza loop: 62,000 results...
dymitra z goraja chleb: 1,680 results...
libero felicjan zach: 902 results...
belz bełz: 17,100 results...
kogelmogel harasho: 124 results...
kogelmogel haraшo: 5 results
чekam na "чat"... чatem - 6 results...
"burden boris with a password"...
chequers cheese and cyrillic: 5 results...
what?!
chequers cheese and cyrillic цc: 4 results...
chequers cheese and cyrillic цc gag... 4 results...
after tabernackle... turbanknuckle...
chequers cheese and cyrillic цc esq. = 3 results...
chequers cheese and cyrillic цc loan Ф⠋ = 2 results...
nearing a googlewhack...
chequers cheese and cyrillic цc loan Ф⠋...
chequers cheese and cyrillic цc loan Ф⠋φ blue =
2 results...
chequers cheese and cyrillic цc loan Ф⠋φ ж =
2 results...
chequers cheese and cyrillic цc loan Ф⠋φ ж 6 carboxylic:
3 results...
ah... loan words...
equers cheese and cyrillic цc loan Ф⠋φ ж 6 carboxylic cymes...
2 results... weekend after carboxylic? 3 results...
chequers cheese and cyrillic цc loan Ф⠋φ ж 6 carboxylic хoць:
5 results...

щur gnat: 2 results...
AAAAAH! FOUND ONE!
googlewhack:

щur gnat seq...
https://tinyurl.com/qo3z5km
i knew i'd get one...
i was just hoping it would come...
more or less circa 1am than...
2am... but as Leibniz pointer out:
even if this be the best of all possible worlds...
it's hardly accustomed to
OCD fanatics and those...
quasi-... what do you call them?
i forgot...
if i really minded wanting a ****...
i'd have treated not minding it
in my 20s like some sort of disability...
thank **** that i had
two outlets... a kantian sense of "hobby"...
and access to a brothel...
if you tied me up with but one
drunk irish girl in the vicinity of
goodmayes...
i would still want my dreams
of my great-grandfather back...
in "reality" he remained a ghost figure...
and i have his remains in my mind...
his apparently pristine set of teeth...
how many times did i dream of teeth?
i can't remember...

but i frequent the slow parts of the night...
with dreams of teeth...

my my... just lookat m'ah pearlies!

well... щur: it's szczur... ivoke
a caron above the S and C to hide the ZZ:snooze...
and you... evidently... have yourself...
a rat... gnat? gnat or vermin?
seq. that really does depend...
on what you're "looking" for"
ex genesis...
well... ex nunc / ex iam... etc.

boris brejcha: art of minimal techno tripping
the mad doctor by RTTWLR was my date...
for this... evening...
*** and pistons...
but i wouldn't mind that...
"sad loner" would still rather
listen to those macaques monkeys
in kenya...
up on a tree...
up north...
i pray you stay up into the night...
to hear a crow croak in the night...
it's such a rare event...
i'll beg you...
to hear but one insomnia riddled bird
in the night...
in the night: you will not hear a sparrow...
you ill not hear a pigeon...
birds... birds are very hygienic
in terms of encrusting sleeping patterns
at part of a translation of cognitive health...

stay up all night with me...
replace the wolves with foxes...
and wait with me... for the crows' croaking...
that complete absence of human activity...
and chain yourself with me...
who seem to dream while awake...
who can only dream when everyone else
around them has to be sleeping.