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erica lynn Mar 22
clandestine
call out to me
oh
clandestine
she calls out to me

clandestine
you hang your clothes out to dry
i guess it’s something to do if you’re bored
even though no one does that anymore

clandestine
peeling oranges on the front porch
orange slice smiles and sugar on your skin
even though you’d rather stay in

clandestine
call out to me
oh
clandestine
she calls out to me

clandestine
hanging me out to dry
on the laundry line
even though i thought you’d never want to

lemon curd melting on the front porch
you could never handle citrus
too sweet for you
even though you always wanted to

clandestine
i’m calling out to you
oh
clandestine

clandestine
can you hear me
oh
over the washing machine

i will never dry
you will never satisfy
i will never dry
you will never satisfy
happy world poetry day <3

here's a song i wrote the other day!!
Michael R Burch Oct 2020
Villanelle: The Divide
by Michael R. Burch

The sea was not salt the first tide...
was man born to sorrow that first day,
with the moon―a pale beacon across the Divide,
the brighter for longing, an object denied―
the tug at his heart's pink, bourgeoning clay?

The sea was not salt the first tide...
but grew bitter, bitter―man's torrents supplied.
The bride of their longing―forever astray,
her shield a cold beacon across the Divide,
flashing pale signals: Decide. Decide.
Choose me, or His Brightness, I will not stay.

The sea was not salt the first tide...
imploring her, ebbing: Abide, abide.
The silver fish flash there, the manatees gray.

The moon, a pale beacon across the Divide,
has taught us to seek Love's concealed side:
the dark face of longing, the poets say.
The sea was not salt the first tide...
the moon a pale beacon across the Divide.

"The Divide" is essentially a formal villanelle despite the non-formal line breaks.



Villanelle: Ordinary Love
by Michael R. Burch

Indescribable―our love―and still we say
with eyes averted, turning out the light,
"I love you," in the ordinary way

and tug the coverlet where once we lay,
all suntanned limbs entangled, shivering, white...
indescribably in love. Or so we say.

Your hair's blonde thicket now is tangle-gray;
you turn your back; you murmur to the night,
"I love you," in the ordinary way.

Beneath the sheets our hands and feet would stray
to warm ourselves. We do not touch despite
a love so indescribable. We say

we're older now, that "love" has had its day.
But that which Love once countenanced, delight,
still makes you indescribable. I say,
"I love you," in the ordinary way.

"Ordinary Love" was the winner of the 2001 Algernon Charles Swinburne poetry contest. It was originally published by Romantics Quarterly and nominated by the journal for the Pushcart Prize. It is missing a tercet but seemed complete enough without it.―MRB



Villanelle: Because Her Heart Is Tender
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth

She scrawled soft words in soap: "Never Forget,"
Dove-white on her car's window, and the wren,
because her heart is tender, might regret
it called the sun to wake her. As I slept,
she heard lost names recounted, one by one.

She wrote in sidewalk chalk: "Never Forget,"
and kept her heart's own counsel. No rain swept
away those words, no tear leaves them undone.

Because her heart is tender with regret,
bruised by razed towers' glass and steel and stone
that shatter on and on and on and on,
she stitches in wet linen: "NEVER FORGET,"
and listens to her heart's emphatic song.

The wren might tilt its head and sing along
because its heart once understood regret
when fledglings fell beyond, beyond, beyond...
its reach, and still the boot-heeled world strode on.

She writes in adamant: "NEVER FORGET"
because her heart is tender with regret.



Villanelle: Hangovers
by Michael R. Burch

We forget that, before we were born,
our parents had “lives” of their own,
ran drunk in the streets, or half-******.

Yes, our parents had lives of their own
until we were born; then, undone,
they were buying their parents gravestones

and finding gray hairs of their own
(because we were born lacking some
of their curious habits, but soon

would certainly get them). Half-******,
we watched them dig graves of their own.
Their lives would be over too soon

for their curious habits to bloom
in us (though our children were born
nine months from that night on the town

when, punch-drunk in the streets or half-******,
we first proved we had lives of our own).



Villanelle Sequence: Clandestine But Gentle
by Michael R. Burch

Variations on the villanelle. A play in four acts. The heroine wears a trench coat and her every action drips nonchalance. The “hero” is pallid, nerdish and nervous. But more than anything, he is palpably desperate with longing. Props are optional, but a streetlamp, a glowing cigarette and lots of eerie shadows should suffice.

I.

Clandestine but gentle, wrapped in night,
she eavesdropped on morose codes of my heart.
She was the secret agent of delight.

The blue spurt of her match, our signal light,
announced her presence in the shadowed court:
clandestine but gentle, cloaked in night.

Her cigarette was waved, a casual sleight,
to bid me “Come!” or tell me to depart.
She was the secret agent of delight,

like Ingrid Bergman in a trench coat, white
as death, and yet more fair and pale (but short
with me, whenever I grew wan with fright!).

II.

Clandestine but gentle, veiled in night,
she was the secret agent of delight;
she coaxed the tumblers in some cryptic rite

to make me spill my spirit.
Lovely ****!
Clandestine but gentle, veiled in night

―she waited till my tongue, untied, sang bright
but damning strange confessions in the dark...

III.

She was the secret agent of delight;
so I became her paramour. Tonight
I await her in my exile, worlds apart...

IV.

For clandestine but gentle, wrapped in night,
she is the secret agent of delight.



Villanelle: Hang Together, or Separately
by Michael R. Burch

“The first shall be last, and the last first.”

Be careful whom you don’t befriend
When hyenas mark their prey:
The odds will get even in the end.

Some “deplorables” may yet ascend
And since all dogs must have their day,
Be careful whom you don’t befriend.

When pallid elitists condescend
What does the Good Book say?
The odds will get even in the end.

Since the LORD advised us to attend
To each other along the way,
Be careful whom you don’t befriend.

But He was deserted. Friends, comprehend!
Though revilers mock and flay,
The odds will get even in the end.

Now infidels have loot to spend:
As ****** as Judas’s that day.
Be careful whom you don’t befriend:
The odds will get even in the end.

NOTE: This poem portrays a certain worldview. The poet does not share it and suspects from reading the gospels that the “real” Jesus would have sided with the infidel refugees, not Trump and his ilk.



Villanelle: The Sad Refrain
by Michael R. Burch

O, let us not repeat the sad refrain
that Christ is cruel because some innocent dies.
No, pain is good, for character comes from pain!

There’d be no growth without the hammering rain
that tests each petal’s worth. Omnipotent skies
peal, “Let us not repeat the sad refrain,

but separate burnt chaff from bountiful grain.
According to God’s plan, the weakling dies
and pain is good, for character comes from pain!

A God who’s perfect cannot bear the blame
of flawed creations, just because one dies!
So let us not repeat the sad refrain

or think to shame or stain His awesome name!
Let lightning strike the devious source of lies
that pain is bad, for character comes from pain!
Oh, let us not repeat the sad refrain!



Rondels, Roundels and Rondeaux are poetic forms with refrains that are related to the Villanelle.



Rondel: Merciles Beaute ("Merciless Beauty")
by Geoffrey Chaucer
loose translation/interpretation Michael R. Burch

Your eyes slay me suddenly;
their beauty I cannot sustain,
they wound me so, through my heart keen.

Unless your words heal me hastily,
my heart's wound will remain green;
for your eyes slay me suddenly;
their beauty I cannot sustain.

By all truth, I tell you faithfully
that you are of life and death my queen;
for at my death this truth shall be seen:
your eyes slay me suddenly;
their beauty I cannot sustain,
they wound me so, through my heart keen.



Rondel: Rejection
by Geoffrey Chaucer
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Your beauty from your heart has so erased
Pity, that it’s useless to complain;
For Pride now holds your mercy by a chain.

I'm guiltless, yet my sentence has been cast.
I tell you truly, needless now to feign,―
Your beauty from your heart has so erased
Pity, that it’s useless to complain.

Alas, that Nature in your face compassed
Such beauty, that no man may hope attain
To mercy, though he perish from the pain;
Your beauty from your heart has so erased
Pity, that it’s useless to complain;
For Pride now holds your mercy by a chain.



Rondel: Escape
by Geoffrey Chaucer
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Since I’m escaped from Love and yet still fat,
I never plan to be in his prison lean;
Since I am free, I count it not a bean.

He may question me and counter this and that;
I care not: I will answer just as I mean.
Since I’m escaped from Love and yet still fat,
I never plan to be in his prison lean.

Love strikes me from his roster, short and flat,
And he is struck from my books, just as clean,
Forevermore; there is no other mean.
Since I’m escaped from Love and yet still fat,
I never plan to be in his prison lean;
Since I am free, I count it not a bean.



Rondel: Your Smiling Mouth
by Charles d'Orleans (c. 1394-1465)
loose translation/interpretation/moderniz  ation Michael R. Burch

Your smiling mouth and laughing eyes, bright gray,
Your ample ******* and slender arms’ twin chains,
Your hands so smooth, each finger straight and plain,
Your little feet―please, what more can I say?

It is my fetish when you’re far away
To muse on these and thus to soothe my pain―
Your smiling mouth and laughing eyes, bright gray,
Your ample ******* and slender arms’ twin chains.

So would I beg you, if I only may,
To see such sights as I before have seen,
Because my fetish pleases me. Obscene?
I’ll be obsessed until my dying day
By your sweet smiling mouth and eyes, bright gray,
Your ample ******* and slender arms’ twin chains!



Oft in My Thought
by Charles d'Orleans (c. 1394-1465)
loose translation/interpretation/moderniz  ation Michael R. Burch

So often in my busy mind I sought,
Around the advent of the fledgling year,
For something pretty that I really ought
To give my lady dear;
But that sweet thought's been wrested from me, clear,
Since death, alas, has sealed her under clay
And robbed the world of all that's precious here―
God keep her soul, I can no better say.

For me to keep my manner and my thought
Acceptable, as suits my age's hour?
While proving that I never once forgot
Her worth? It tests my power!
I serve her now with masses and with prayer;
For it would be a shame for me to stray
Far from my faith, when my time's drawing near―
God keep her soul, I can no better say.

Now earthly profits fail, since all is lost
And the cost of everything became so dear;
Therefore, O Lord, who rules the higher host,
Take my good deeds, as many as there are,
And crown her, Lord, above in your bright sphere,
As heaven's truest maid! And may I say:
Most good, most fair, most likely to bring cheer―
God keep her soul, I can no better say.

When I praise her, or hear her praises raised,
I recall how recently she brought me pleasure;
Then my heart floods like an overflowing bay
And makes me wish to dress for my own bier―
God keep her soul, I can no better say.



If
by Michael R. Burch

If I regret
fire in the sunset
exploding on the horizon,
then let me regret loving you.

If I forget
even for a moment
that you are the only one,
then let me forget that the sky is blue.

If I should yearn
in a season of discontentment
for the vagabond light of a companionless moon,
let dawn remind me that you are my sun.

If I should burn―one moment less brightly,
one instant less true―
then with wild scorching kisses,
inflame me, inflame me, inflame me anew.



Recursion
by Michael R. Burch

In a dream I saw boys lying
under banners gaily flying
and I heard their mothers sighing
from some dark distant shore.

For I saw their sons essaying
into fields―gleeful, braying―
their bright armaments displaying;
such manly oaths they swore!

From their playfields, boys returning
full of honor’s white-hot burning
and desire’s restless yearning
sired new kids for the corps.

In a dream I saw boys dying
under banners gaily lying
and I heard their mothers crying
from some dark distant shore.



I AM!
by Michael R. Burch

I am not one of ten billion―I―
sunblackened Icarus, chary fly,
staring at God with a quizzical eye.

I am not one of ten billion, I.

I am not one life has left unsquashed―
scarred as Ulysses, goddess-debauched,
pale glowworm agleam with a tale of panache.

I am not one life has left unsquashed.

I am not one without spots of disease,
laugh lines and tan lines and thick-callused knees
from begging and praying and girls sighing "Please!"

I am not one without spots of disease.

I am not one of ten billion―I―
scion of Daedalus, blackwinged fly
staring at God with a sedulous eye.

I am not one of ten billion, I
AM!



This World's Joy
(anonymous Middle English lyric)
loose translation 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.



Elegy for a little girl, lost
by Michael R. Burch

... qui laetificat juventutem meam...
She was the joy of my youth,
and now she is gone.
... requiescat in pace...
May she rest in peace.
... amen...
Amen.



How Long the Night
anonymous Middle English lyric, 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.



Fowles in the Frith
anonymous Middle English lyric, circa 13th-14th century AD
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The fowls in the forest,
the fishes in the flood
and I must go mad:
such sorrow I've had
for beasts of bone and blood!



I am of Ireland
anonymous Medieval Irish lyric, circa 13th-14th century AD
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I am of Ireland,
and of the holy realm of Ireland.
Gentlefolk, I pray thee:
for the sake of saintly charity,
come dance with me
in Ireland!



Whan the turuf is thy tour
(anonymous Middle English lyric, circa the 13th century AD)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

1.
When the turf is your tower
and the pit is your bower,
your pale white skin and throat
shall be sullen worms’ to note.
What help to you, then,
was all your worldly hope?

2.
When the turf is your tower
and the grave is your bower,
your pale white throat and skin
worm-eaten from within...
what hope of my help then?


Ech day me comëth tydinges thre
anonymous Middle English lyric, circa the 13th to 14th century AD
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Each day I’m plagued by three doles,
These gargantuan weights on my soul:
First, that I must somehow exit this fen.
Second, that I cannot know when.
And yet it’s the third that torments me so,
Because I don't know where the hell I will go!



Ich have y-don al myn youth
anonymous Middle English lyric, circa the 13th to 14th century AD
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I have done it all my youth:
Often, often, and often!
I have loved long and yearned zealously...
And oh what grief it has brought me!



I Sing of a Maiden
anonymous Medieval English Lyric, circa early 15th century AD
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I sing of a maiden
That is matchless.
The King of all Kings
For her son she chose.
He came also as still
To his mother's breast
As April dew
Falling on the grass.
He came also as still
To his mother's bower
As April dew
Falling on the flower.
He came also as still
To where his mother lay
As April dew
Falling on the spray.
Mother and maiden?
Never one, but she!
Well may such a lady
God's mother be!



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.



Enigma
by Michael R. Burch

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.



The Effects of Memory
by Michael R. Burch

A black ringlet
curls to lie
at the nape of her neck,
glistening with sweat
in the evaporate moonlight...
This is what I remember

now that I cannot forget.

And tonight,
if I have forgotten her name,
I remember:
rigid wire and white lace
half-impressed in her flesh...

our soft cries, like regret,

... the enameled white clips
of her bra strap
still inscribe dimpled marks
that my kisses erase...

now that I have forgotten her face.



The Quickening
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth

I never meant to love you
when I held you in my arms
promising you sagely
wise, noncommittal charms.

And I never meant to need you
when I touched your tender lips
with kisses that intrigued my own:
such kisses I had never known,
nor a heartbeat in my fingertips!



Ah! Sunflower
by Michael R. Burch
after William Blake

O little yellow flower
like a star...
how beautiful,
how wonderful
we are!



Published as the collection "Villanelles"

Keywords/Tags: villanelle, refrain, repetition, chorus, rhyme, sea, tide, moon, heart, love, rondel, roundel, rondeau, poetic form, poetics, poetic expression, Chaucer, Orleans, love, art, beauty, mercy, merciless, words, heart, hearts, pity, pride, prison, mrbvill, mrbrondel
A spirited moon
   'neath furtive glances,
      anguished of despair
looked upon hushed
  entangled constellations
      and heeded a warning,
for he knew well of lavishing
    recherché intricacies,
mattered naught how exquisite
  nothing lasting could come
    of liaisons's effusive grandeur,
       'tween clandestine stargazers
Michael R Burch Oct 2020
Rondels, Roundels and Rondeaux

These are poetic forms similar to villanelles, with refrains (repeated lines) and sometimes double refrains.



Rondel: Merciles Beaute ("Merciless Beauty")
by Geoffrey Chaucer
loose translation/interpretation Michael R. Burch

Your eyes slay me suddenly;
their beauty I cannot sustain,
they wound me so, through my heart keen.

Unless your words heal me hastily,
my heart's wound will remain green;
for your eyes slay me suddenly;
their beauty I cannot sustain.

By all truth, I tell you faithfully
that you are of life and death my queen;
for at my death this truth shall be seen:
your eyes slay me suddenly;
their beauty I cannot sustain,
they wound me so, through my heart keen.



Rondel: Rejection
by Geoffrey Chaucer
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Your beauty from your heart has so erased
Pity, that it’s useless to complain;
For Pride now holds your mercy by a chain.

I'm guiltless, yet my sentence has been cast.
I tell you truly, needless now to feign,―
Your beauty from your heart has so erased
Pity, that it’s useless to complain.

Alas, that Nature in your face compassed
Such beauty, that no man may hope attain
To mercy, though he perish from the pain;
Your beauty from your heart has so erased
Pity, that it’s useless to complain;
For Pride now holds your mercy by a chain.



Rondel: Escape
by Geoffrey Chaucer
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Since I’m escaped from Love and yet still fat,
I never plan to be in his prison lean;
Since I am free, I count it not a bean.

He may question me and counter this and that;
I care not: I will answer just as I mean.
Since I’m escaped from Love and yet still fat,
I never plan to be in his prison lean.

Love strikes me from his roster, short and flat,
And he is struck from my books, just as clean,
Forevermore; there is no other mean.
Since I’m escaped from Love and yet still fat,
I never plan to be in his prison lean;
Since I am free, I count it not a bean.



Rondel: Your Smiling Mouth
by Charles d'Orleans (c. 1394-1465)
loose translation/interpretation/modernization Michael R. Burch

Your smiling mouth and laughing eyes, bright gray,
Your ample ******* and slender arms’ twin chains,
Your hands so smooth, each finger straight and plain,
Your little feet―please, what more can I say?

It is my fetish when you’re far away
To muse on these and thus to soothe my pain―
Your smiling mouth and laughing eyes, bright gray,
Your ample ******* and slender arms’ twin chains.

So would I beg you, if I only may,
To see such sights as I before have seen,
Because my fetish pleases me. Obscene?
I’ll be obsessed until my dying day
By your sweet smiling mouth and eyes, bright gray,
Your ample ******* and slender arms’ twin chains!



Oft in My Thought
by Charles d'Orleans (c. 1394-1465)
loose translation/interpretation/modernization Michael R. Burch

So often in my busy mind I sought,
Around the advent of the fledgling year,
For something pretty that I really ought
To give my lady dear;
But that sweet thought's been wrested from me, clear,
Since death, alas, has sealed her under clay
And robbed the world of all that's precious here―
God keep her soul, I can no better say.

For me to keep my manner and my thought
Acceptable, as suits my age's hour?
While proving that I never once forgot
Her worth? It tests my power!
I serve her now with masses and with prayer;
For it would be a shame for me to stray
Far from my faith, when my time's drawing near―
God keep her soul, I can no better say.

Now earthly profits fail, since all is lost
And the cost of everything became so dear;
Therefore, O Lord, who rules the higher host,
Take my good deeds, as many as there are,
And crown her, Lord, above in your bright sphere,
As heaven's truest maid! And may I say:
Most good, most fair, most likely to bring cheer―
God keep her soul, I can no better say.

When I praise her, or hear her praises raised,
I recall how recently she brought me pleasure;
Then my heart floods like an overflowing bay
And makes me wish to dress for my own bier―
God keep her soul, I can no better say.



Villanelle: The Divide
by Michael R. Burch

The sea was not salt the first tide ...
was man born to sorrow that first day,
with the moon―a pale beacon across the Divide,
the brighter for longing, an object denied―
the tug at his heart's pink, bourgeoning clay?

The sea was not salt the first tide ...
but grew bitter, bitter―man's torrents supplied.
The bride of their longing―forever astray,
her shield a cold beacon across the Divide,
flashing pale signals: Decide. Decide.
Choose me, or His Brightness, I will not stay.

The sea was not salt the first tide ...
imploring her, ebbing: Abide, abide.
The silver fish flash there, the manatees gray.

The moon, a pale beacon across the Divide,
has taught us to seek Love's concealed side:
the dark face of longing, the poets say.
The sea was not salt the first tide ...
the moon a pale beacon across the Divide.

"The Divide" is essentially a formal villanelle despite the non-formal line breaks.



Villanelle: Ordinary Love
by Michael R. Burch

Indescribable―our love―and still we say
with eyes averted, turning out the light,
"I love you," in the ordinary way

and tug the coverlet where once we lay,
all suntanned limbs entangled, shivering, white ...
indescribably in love. Or so we say.

Your hair's blonde thicket now is tangle-gray;
you turn your back; you murmur to the night,
"I love you," in the ordinary way.

Beneath the sheets our hands and feet would stray
to warm ourselves. We do not touch despite
a love so indescribable. We say

we're older now, that "love" has had its day.
But that which Love once countenanced, delight,
still makes you indescribable. I say,
"I love you," in the ordinary way.

"Ordinary Love" was the winner of the 2001 Algernon Charles Swinburne poetry contest. It was originally published by Romantics Quarterly and nominated by the journal for the Pushcart Prize. It is missing a tercet but seemed complete enough without it.―MRB



Villanelle: Because Her Heart Is Tender
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth

She scrawled soft words in soap: "Never Forget,"
Dove-white on her car's window, and the wren,
because her heart is tender, might regret
it called the sun to wake her. As I slept,
she heard lost names recounted, one by one.

She wrote in sidewalk chalk: "Never Forget,"
and kept her heart's own counsel. No rain swept
away those words, no tear leaves them undone.

Because her heart is tender with regret,
bruised by razed towers' glass and steel and stone
that shatter on and on and on and on,
she stitches in wet linen: "NEVER FORGET,"
and listens to her heart's emphatic song.

The wren might tilt its head and sing along
because its heart once understood regret
when fledglings fell beyond, beyond, beyond ...
its reach, and still the boot-heeled world strode on.

She writes in adamant: "NEVER FORGET"
because her heart is tender with regret.



Villanelle: Hangovers
by Michael R. Burch

We forget that, before we were born,
our parents had “lives” of their own,
ran drunk in the streets, or half-******.

Yes, our parents had lives of their own
until we were born; then, undone,
they were buying their parents gravestones

and finding gray hairs of their own
(because we were born lacking some
of their curious habits, but soon

would certainly get them). Half-******,
we watched them dig graves of their own.
Their lives would be over too soon

for their curious habits to bloom
in us (though our children were born
nine months from that night on the town

when, punch-drunk in the streets or half-******,
we first proved we had lives of our own).



Villanelle Sequence: Clandestine But Gentle
by Michael R. Burch

Variations on the villanelle. A play in four acts. The heroine wears a trench coat and her every action drips nonchalance. The “hero” is pallid, nerdish and nervous. But more than anything, he is palpably desperate with longing. Props are optional, but a streetlamp, a glowing cigarette and lots of eerie shadows should suffice.

I.

Clandestine but gentle, wrapped in night,
she eavesdropped on morose codes of my heart.
She was the secret agent of delight.

The blue spurt of her match, our signal light,
announced her presence in the shadowed court:
clandestine but gentle, cloaked in night.

Her cigarette was waved, a casual sleight,
to bid me “Come!” or tell me to depart.
She was the secret agent of delight,

like Ingrid Bergman in a trench coat, white
as death, and yet more fair and pale (but short
with me, whenever I grew wan with fright!).

II.

Clandestine but gentle, veiled in night,
she was the secret agent of delight;
she coaxed the tumblers in some cryptic rite

to make me spill my spirit.
Lovely ****!
Clandestine but gentle, veiled in night

―she waited till my tongue, untied, sang bright
but damning strange confessions in the dark . . .

III.

She was the secret agent of delight;
so I became her paramour. Tonight
I await her in my exile, worlds apart . . .

IV.

For clandestine but gentle, wrapped in night,
she is the secret agent of delight.



Villanelle: Hang Together, or Separately
by Michael R. Burch

“The first shall be last, and the last first.”

Be careful whom you don’t befriend
When hyenas mark their prey:
The odds will get even in the end.

Some “deplorables” may yet ascend
And since all dogs must have their day,
Be careful whom you don’t befriend.

When pallid elitists condescend
What does the Good Book say?
The odds will get even in the end.

Since the LORD advised us to attend
To each other along the way,
Be careful whom you don’t befriend.

But He was deserted. Friends, comprehend!
Though revilers mock and flay,
The odds will get even in the end.

Now infidels have loot to spend:
As ****** as Judas’s that day.
Be careful whom you don’t befriend:
The odds will get even in the end.

NOTE: This poem portrays a certain worldview. The poet does not share it and suspects from reading the gospels that the “real” Jesus would have sided with the infidel refugees, not Trump and his ilk.



Villanelle: The Sad Refrain
by Michael R. Burch

O, let us not repeat the sad refrain
that Christ is cruel because some innocent dies.
No, pain is good, for character comes from pain!

There’d be no growth without the hammering rain
that tests each petal’s worth. Omnipotent skies
peal, “Let us not repeat the sad refrain,

but separate burnt chaff from bountiful grain.
According to God’s plan, the weakling dies
and pain is good, for character comes from pain!

A God who’s perfect cannot bear the blame
of flawed creations, just because one dies!
So let us not repeat the sad refrain

or think to shame or stain His awesome name!
Let lightning strike the devious source of lies
that pain is bad, for character comes from pain!
Oh, let us not repeat the sad refrain!

NOTE: An eternal hell cannot be justified. Nothing can be learned from eternal suffering except that the creation of life was the ultimate act of evil. The creator of an eternal hell would be infinitely cruel and should never have created any creature that might possibly end up there. That so many Christians do not understand this suggests they lack the knowledge of good and evil and were rooked by their "god" in the Garden of Eden or have been bamboozled by heartless and mindless theologians.



If
by Michael R. Burch

If I regret
fire in the sunset
exploding on the horizon,
then let me regret loving you.

If I forget
even for a moment
that you are the only one,
then let me forget that the sky is blue.

If I should yearn
in a season of discontentment
for the vagabond light of a companionless moon,
let dawn remind me that you are my sun.

If I should burn―one moment less brightly,
one instant less true―
then with wild scorching kisses,
inflame me, inflame me, inflame me anew.

Originally published by The HyperTexts



Recursion
by Michael R. Burch

In a dream I saw boys lying
under banners gaily flying
and I heard their mothers sighing
from some dark distant shore.

For I saw their sons essaying
into fields―gleeful, braying―
their bright armaments displaying;
such manly oaths they swore!

From their playfields, boys returning
full of honor’s white-hot burning
and desire’s restless yearning
sired new kids for the corps.

In a dream I saw boys dying
under banners gaily lying
and I heard their mothers crying
from some dark distant shore.



I AM!
by Michael R. Burch

I am not one of ten billion―I―
sunblackened Icarus, chary fly,
staring at God with a quizzical eye.

I am not one of ten billion, I.

I am not one life has left unsquashed―
scarred as Ulysses, goddess-debauched,
pale glowworm agleam with a tale of panache.

I am not one life has left unsquashed.

I am not one without spots of disease,
laugh lines and tan lines and thick-callused knees
from begging and praying and girls sighing "Please!"

I am not one without spots of disease.

I am not one of ten billion―I―
scion of Daedalus, blackwinged fly
staring at God with a sedulous eye.

I am not one of ten billion, I
AM!



This World's Joy
(anonymous Middle English lyric)
loose translation 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.



Elegy for a little girl, lost
by Michael R. Burch

. . . qui laetificat juventutem meam . . .
She was the joy of my youth,
and now she is gone.
. . . requiescat in pace . . .
May she rest in peace.
. . . amen . . .
Amen.

I was touched by this Latin prayer, which I discovered in a novel I read as a teenager. I later decided to incorporate it into a poem. From what I now understand, “ad deum qui laetificat juventutem meam” means “to the God who gives joy to my youth,” but I am sticking with my original interpretation: a lament for a little girl at her funeral. The phrase can be traced back to Saint Jerome's translation of Psalm 42 in the Vulgate Latin Bible (circa 385 AD).



How Long the Night
anonymous Middle English lyric, 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.



Fowles in the Frith
anonymous Middle English lyric, circa 13th-14th century AD
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The fowls in the forest,
the fishes in the flood
and I must go mad:
such sorrow I've had
for beasts of bone and blood!

Sounds like an early animal rights activist! The use of "and" is intriguing ... is the poet saying that his walks in the wood drive him mad because he is also a "beast of bone and blood," facing a similar fate?



I am of Ireland
anonymous Medieval Irish lyric, circa 13th-14th century AD
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I am of Ireland,
and of the holy realm of Ireland.
Gentlefolk, I pray thee:
for the sake of saintly charity,
come dance with me
in Ireland!



Whan the turuf is thy tour
(anonymous Middle English lyric, circa the 13th century AD)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

1.
When the turf is your tower
and the pit is your bower,
your pale white skin and throat
shall be sullen worms’ to note.
What help to you, then,
was all your worldly hope?

2.
When the turf is your tower
and the grave is your bower,
your pale white throat and skin
worm-eaten from within ...
what hope of my help then?

NOTE: The second translation leans more to the "lover's complaint" and carpe diem genres, with the poet pointing out to his prospective lover that by denying him her favors she make take her virtue to the grave where worms will end her virginity in macabre fashion. This poem may be an ancient precursor of poems like Andrew Marvell's "To His Coy Mistress."



Ech day me comëth tydinges thre
anonymous Middle English lyric, circa the 13th to 14th century AD
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Each day I’m plagued by three doles,
These gargantuan weights on my soul:
First, that I must somehow exit this fen.
Second, that I cannot know when.
And yet it’s the third that torments me so,
Because I don't know where the hell I will go!



Ich have y-don al myn youth
anonymous Middle English lyric, circa the 13th to 14th century AD
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I have done it all my youth:
Often, often, and often!
I have loved long and yearned zealously ...
And oh what grief it has brought me!



I Sing of a Maiden
anonymous Medieval English Lyric, circa early 15th century AD
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I sing of a maiden
That is matchless.
The King of all Kings
For her son she chose.
He came also as still
To his mother's breast
As April dew
Falling on the grass.
He came also as still
To his mother's bower
As April dew
Falling on the flower.
He came also as still
To where his mother lay
As April dew
Falling on the spray.
Mother and maiden?
Never one, but she!
Well may such a lady
God's mother be!



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.

Published by The HyperTexts and The Chained Muse



Enigma
by Michael R. Burch

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.



Floating
by Michael R. Burch

Memories flood the sand’s unfolding scroll;
they pour in with the long, cursive tides of night.

Memories of revenant blue eyes and wild lips
moist and frantic against my own.

Memories of ghostly white limbs ...
of soft sighs
heard once again in the surf’s strangled moans.

We meet in the scarred, fissured caves of old dreams,
green waves of algae billowing about you,
becoming your hair.

Suspended there,
where pale sunset discolors the sea,
I see all that you are
and all that you have become to me.

Your love is a sea,
and I am its trawler ...
harbored in dreams,
I ride out night’s storms.

Unanchored, I drift through the hours before morning,
dreaming the solace of your warm *******,
pondering your riddles, savoring the feel
of the explosions of your hot, saline breath.

And I rise sometimes
from the tropical darkness
to gaze once again out over the sea ...
You watch in the moonlight
that brushes the water;

bright waves throw back your reflection at me.

This is one of my more surreal poems, as the sea and lover become one. I believe I wrote this one at age 19. It has been published by Penny Dreadful, Romantics Quarterly, Boston Poetry Magazine and Poetry Life & Times. The poem may have had a different title when it was originally published, but it escapes me ... ah, yes, "Entanglements."



Sonnet: Water and Gold
by Michael R. Burch

You came to me as rain breaks on the desert
when every flower springs to life at once,
but joy's a wan illusion to the expert:
the Bedouin has learned how not to want.

You came to me as riches to a miser
when all is gold, or so his heart believes,
until he dies much thinner and much wiser,
his gleaming bones hauled off by chortling thieves.

You gave your heart too soon, too dear, too vastly;
I could not take it in; it was too much.
I pledged to meet your price, but promised rashly.
I died of thirst, of your bright Midas touch.

I dreamed you gave me water of your lips,
then sealed my tomb with golden hieroglyphs.

Published by The Lyric, Black Medina, The Eclectic Muse, Kritya(India), Shabestaneh (Iran), Anthology of Contemporary American Poetry, Captivating Poetry (Anthology), Strange Road, Freshet, Shot Glass Journal, Better Than Starbucks, Famous Poets and Poems, Sonnetto Poesia, Poetry Life & Times



Righteous
by Michael R. Burch

Come to me tonight
in the twilight, O, and the full moon rising,
spectral and ancient, will mutter a prayer.

Gather your hair
and pin it up, knowing
that I will release it a moment anon.

We are not one,
nor is there a scripture
to sanctify nights you might spend in my arms,

but the swarms
of bright stars revolving above us
revel tonight, the most ardent of lovers.

Published in Writer’s Gazette and Tucumcari Literary Review



R.I.P.
by Michael R. Burch

When I am lain to rest
and my soul is no longer intact,
but dissolving, like a sunset
diminishing to the west ...

and when at last
before His throne my past
is put to test
and the demons and the Beast

await to feast
on any morsel downward cast,
while the vapors of impermanence
cling, smelling of damask ...

then let me go, and do not weep
if I am left to sleep,
to sleep and never dream, or dream, perhaps,
only a little longer and more deep.

Originally published by Romantics Quarterly



Burn, Ovid
by Michael R. Burch

“Burn Ovid” - Austin Clarke

Sunday School,
Faith Free Will Baptist, 1973:
I sat imaging watery folds
of pale silk encircling her waist.

Explicit *** was the day’s “hot” topic
(how breathlessly I imagined hers)
as she taught us the perils of lust
fraught with inhibition.

I found her unaccountably beautiful,
rolling implausible nouns off the edge of her tongue:
adultery, fornication, *******, ******.
Acts made suddenly plausible by the faint blush
of her unrouged cheeks,
by her pale lips
accented only by a slight quiver,
a trepidation.

What did those lustrous folds foretell
of our uncommon desire?
Why did she cross and uncross her legs
lovely and long in their taupe sheaths?
Why did her ******* rise pointedly,
as if indicating a direction?

“Come unto me,
(unto me),”
together, we sang,

cheek to breast,
lips on lips,
devout, afire,

my hands
up her skirt,
her pants at her knees:

all night long,
all night long,
in the heavenly choir.

This poem is set at Faith Christian Academy, which I attended for a year during the ninth grade, in 1972-1973. While the poem definitely had its genesis there, I believe I revised it more than once and didn't finish it till 2001, nearly 28 years later, according to my notes on the poem. Another poem, "*** 101," was also written about my experiences at FCA that year.



*** 101
by Michael R. Burch

That day the late spring heat
steamed through the windows of a Crayola-yellow schoolbus
crawling its way up the backwards slopes
of Nowheresville, North Carolina ...

Where we sat exhausted
from the day’s skulldrudgery
and the unexpected waves of muggy,
summer-like humidity ...

Giggly first graders sat two abreast
behind senior high students
sprouting their first sparse beards,
their implausible bosoms, their stranger affections ...

The most unlikely coupling:

Lambert, 18, the only college prospect
on the varsity basketball team,
the proverbial talldarkhandsome
swashbuckling cocksman, grinning ...

Beside him, Wanda, 13,
bespectacled, in her primproper attire
and pigtails, staring up at him,
fawneyed, disbelieving ...

And as the bus filled with the improbable musk of her,
as she twitched impaled on his finger
like a dead frog jarred to life by electrodes,
I knew ...

that love is a forlorn enterprise,
that I would never understand it.

This companion poem to "Burn, Ovid" is also set at Faith Christian Academy, in 1972-1973.



The Shape of Mourning
by Michael R. Burch

The shape of mourning
is an oiled creel
shining with unuse,

the bolt of cold steel
on a locker
shielding memory,

the monthly penance
of flowers,
the annual wake,

the face in the photograph
no longer dissolving under scrutiny,
becoming a keepsake,

the useless mower
lying forgotten
in weeds,

rings and crosses and
all the paraphernalia
the soul no longer needs.



The Stake
by Michael R. Burch

Love, the heart bets,
if not without regrets,
will still prove, in the end,
worth the light we expend
mining the dark
for an exquisite heart.

Originally published by The Lyric



The Effects of Memory
by Michael R. Burch

A black ringlet
curls to lie
at the nape of her neck,
glistening with sweat
in the evaporate moonlight ...
This is what I remember

now that I cannot forget.

And tonight,
if I have forgotten her name,
I remember:
rigid wire and white lace
half-impressed in her flesh ...

our soft cries, like regret,

... the enameled white clips
of her bra strap
still inscribe dimpled marks
that my kisses erase ...

now that I have forgotten her face.



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 subsequently nominated for the Pushcart Prize



Absence
by Michael R. Burch

Christ, how I miss you!,
though your parting kiss is still warm on my lips.

Now the floor is not strewn with your stockings and slips
and the dishes are all stacked away.

You left me today ...
and each word left unspoken now whispers regrets.



The Quickening
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth

I never meant to love you
when I held you in my arms
promising you sagely
wise, noncommittal charms.

And I never meant to need you
when I touched your tender lips
with kisses that intrigued my own:
such kisses I had never known,
nor a heartbeat in my fingertips!



Ah! Sunflower
by Michael R. Burch
after William Blake

O little yellow flower
like a star ...
how beautiful,
how wonderful
we are!



Published as the collection "Rondels"

Keywords/Tags: rondel, roundel, rondeau, villanelle, refrain, repetition, poetic form, poetics, poetic expression, Chaucer, Orleans, love, art, beauty, mercy, merciless, words, heart, hearts, pity, pride, prison
Connor Veach Feb 2017
Remark, pageant, how well this worn Cartesian speaks silence instead of wit.
Crucify maybe and often; singsong prattle succumbs him you.
Torturified lamb’s breath, teensy sighs and sweep of tentacled agog garners attention and wildfire – hop and home to not attend, to see.
Brandish magma wake and crystal cleanse re-barb, vicious cycle in heat patterned pro-guiro neural network, neat, loud for senses laden.
Up them and through them.
Scent the seeks you stones in barb, a fence in white a guttered prose, slitherentine.
Stately made his gatekeep - defend you. Harbor outwards with willpower nonchalant.
Pardon his with provocations, decadent don’t they know. (You know you, don’t they?)
And then.
CHAPTER ONE

My geographic movements during the past year could be called “A Tale of Two Couches.” So as June draws to a close, I assume the position here again on Couch California. I am back in Hemet, the place the smug among us call Hemetucky--as if there was nothing a couple of Mint Juleps and a **** of Blue Grass wouldn’t cure. It is the year of our Lord, 2014: so far an interesting year for women. There was a woman who wore socks to bed. There was always my long-time, here today-gone tomorrow, long time companion, currently teaching somewhere remote on the Big Rez, a southwestern Navajo concentration camp near the 4 Corners.  Next, there’s my current object of affection, that fine and frisky lady from The Bronx by way of Bernalillo--currently at home in Laguna Beach, Orange County. Trixie: my main squeeze at the moment.

And now, completely out of the ******* blue this afternoon, my cell phone rings and it’s ******* Juanita--my all-time favorite woman, Juanita Mi Favorita de La Quinta--a Coachella Valley town and desert wadi, extending its lucrative winter tourist season to become a significant, year-round retirement venue and a robust service economy feeding off it.  Juanita arrived there in the late 80s, in middle of her early forties.  She was unemployed, homeless, just a suitcase to her name and a two-year old toddler in tow. Her parents were there, as was her Aunt Peggy.  Juanita was always Peggy’s favorite niece, her favorite child, actually, Peggy herself being childless, never married.  Aunt Peggy put her maternal instincts to work on Juanita Rodriguez, her Sister Rosalia’s second favorite twin daughter.

Maria, Rosalia’s first favorite daughter, Juanita’s twin sister—MARIA: lives in Newport Beach and acts as an extra in many commercial ads shot in southern California and elsewhere, an irony never without sting for Juanita. “Que lastima!” Poor Juanita: as her would-be Hollywood Movie star aspirations disintegrated over the years, along with her unrealized lower expectations to be TV star, and even those semi-glamorous modeling gigs at trade shows and fairs—the elephant’s graveyard of the acting profession—failed to materialize, and now her celebrity habitat shrunken even further, to that sporadic but consistent mockery of stardom, I refer to any would-be thespian’s ignominious one-celled visual protozoan: The Extra Call List.  And—*******-- what happens next? Juanita’s sister Maria starts getting these parts, starts getting hired by filling out a ******* postcard, starts getting paid to look good in the background. *******: no professional education or instruction, no agent, and no need to **** off both the producer, the producer’s cousin Morey, the director and the director’s wife’s huge Golden retriever, Genghis--actually a mighty handsome animal--or needing to spill $4K on that Derma-brasion, Juanita inflicted on herself last year.

Juanita, as you already know, was the second favorite daughter and the second favorite twin of the family. She became the third favorite child in her three-child family upon the arrival of her slick baby brother Nico-- the Golden Child, who grew up to be a glib Merrill-Lynch stockbroker, office and residence, Beverly Hills 90112.  (Enter forcefully into the narrative, His Nibs himself, Sir Nicodemus of Hollywood, Juanita and Maria’s baby brother Nico. He speaks: “Excuse me, stockbroker my ***, as it says in a 11 point Rockwell Boldfont, right here on my gold-leaf embossed business card: Senior Large Capital Investment Counselor.”)

No, Juanita had a hard time just treading water in that Cleveland shark tank. And though she lacked nothing in the cuteness department, she had this one fatal flaw, namely, the gift of ***** and sass and a reflex to speak truth to power. Juanita: rejected by Rosalia as a threat to her hegemony as Boss of the Girl’s Club, was cast adrift on a tempestuous childhood cruel Montserrat sea, out there on the briny deep . . .  
                

                                      



High Seas: where many a tuna has a Sorry Charlie moment: “Star-Kist don’t want no tuna with good taste; Star-Kist wants a tuna that tastes good.”

Finally, Juanita is rescued, taken aboard the Good/Soul Aunt Peggy—that wayward bark Elisabeta Rodriguez, home-ported in Southside, Chicago, Illinois—the rescue at sea performed in classy, rather low-key manner; no Andrea Doria drama, but understated:

{Camera One, Helicopter above, zooms over turbulent ocean surface. Peggy, an oasis of calm, aboard the raft Kon Tiki with Thor Heyerdahl and his crew, floats by, whispering, “Going my way, Honey? Climb aboard. Have a homemade oatmeal cookie and a small glass tumbler of Jack Daniels.” Okay, no, that’s not fair. Sure Aunt Peggy drank, but never got round to offering you a drink until you were well into your 30s. Let’s just say she offered you a warm glass of milk, the mother’s milk deprived you by your mother, her sister Rosalia. Dear Aunt Peggy: a seasoned survivor herself, flawed by early childhood deafness and grotesque speech.  Yet, she had refused to settle for life in an asylum. She made a go at life.  She learned; she prospered; she flourished. And when the time came, she was there for you in the Coachella Desert, there for her feisty niece Juanita Ann.  Aunt Peggy: a loving spirit personified, became Juanita’s special confidant and counselor, her personal cheer squad of one. Juanita, of course, a former cheerleader herself--an early hint of greatness to be sure, a highlight, perhaps the highlight of her life, shown off every Halloween, still celebrated at American high schools each Fall. She is the Principal’s secretary at a huge suburban high school in Indio. Each Halloween, if the date falls on a school day, Juanita arrives for work wearing that scrupulously preserved, vintage 1966 cheerleader uniform, looking real foxy still, snug now in all the right places. Eternal Truth: Juanita has always and will always be good looking. Life with Juanita is perpetual “ooh la-la.”

So, I am on the couch that afternoon, reading more of Gramsci’s prison notebooks, specifically the philosophy he calls “Praxis.”  Completely out of the ******* blue, Juanita calls me on a RESTRICTED phone, as I said, Juanita, a torch I’ve kept burning for years, flaring up like a refinery flame--oil still very much in the present energy mix--hope springing eternal as they say, and instantly my mission in life is rekindling our lost love. Juanita’s conceived her mission prior to her phone call:  using me to keep her son from being whacked by the local Eme--the Mexican Mafia—that ethnic-pride social club that the RICO-squad-- using family tree socio-grams and other expensively-printed graphics, the one RICO keeps trying to convince us is some sort of organized crime conspiracy. The Mexican Mafia: like everything else practical and utilitarian in this world: THAT’S ITALIAN! And, if you are starting to sense a bit of ethnic chauvinism on, between & below the lines, you are barking up the right tree.
                                                           ­     
      
                                                            
(AUTHOR’S POST-SCRIPT EDIT: And, an ad for dog food right here? Not the best choice of sponsors, perhaps, at the moment. Juanita was far off from the ****** ***** that start looking not half-bad at 2:30 in the glazy morning, not anywhere near those beasts you find lingering in the airport bars you usually frequent near closing time on Saturday nights. No, I remind you that Juanita was all “ooh la-la.” In my next printing—and my Lord, there have been so many, haven’t there, Paulie “Eat-a-Bag-of-****” Muldoon? I will change out the Alpo ad, plugging in a spot for Aunt Jemima pancake syrup or Betty Crocker whipped cream, you know, something more apropos.)

Juanita, I really must hand it to you. You showed the greatest staying power, year after year as I moved further and further away from La Quinta, California. Juanita: you embraced what was good in me, ignored my flaws and strengthened me with your love for so many years. As far as you and Peggy, I guess it was a case of the “apple not falling far from the tree” one of many endearing Midwestern metaphors you taught me.  Peggy taught you, taught you to be kind and then you taught me. No matter what bizarre venue I pulled out of my ***, you showed above-average staying power, continued to visit me wherever I went, Casa Grande & Buckeye, Arizona, Appalachia, West Virginia, and even Italy, when I thought I’d try Europe again after so many years.  With each move, each time, Juanita renewed her commitment to the relationship. Meanwhile, I continued to test her, quantifying her dedication, undermining her sense of mission to disprove my worldview on the expendability of women. Surely, you know that one: the unreliability of women, women who disappear without saying goodbye. That old deeply etched conviction to never get attached to a woman, any woman, based on the empirical fact that women have been known to suddenly die, a fact seared into my still tender metal by the surprise death of my mother on 11 January 1962.

1962. It was already an insecure world, to wit:  The Cuban Missile Crisis. Nikita Khrushchev, in his time both Dr. No and Dr. Evil, namely the Premier whom we Baby Boomers saw as Boogey Man of All Time (Although Putin is showing potential, lately)—the Kennedy ****** (what else could you call it?). All these events scary, whether or not I got the chronology right . . . I remained on high alert for any threat to my delicate adolescent psyche.  My mother-Rosa Teresa Sekaquaptewa-died at 2 o’clock in the morning, screaming in agony while apologizing to my father for not having his dinner on the table when he walked in from work that prior afternoon. She’d already been in bed since noon, attended by two of my aunts--both my father’s sisters--who loved their Hopi sister-in-law, Rosa.  Also present was Lafcadio Smirnoff, M.D.--last of the house call medicine men--a dapper, mustachioed, swarthy gentleman, misdiagnosing her abdominal pain as a 24-hour virus, while she bled out internally for at least eight more hours, her whimpers alternated with screams, well into the wee hours of the morning.

I was upstairs in that dormer bedroom listening to her die. An hour later, Father Numb-nuts of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish teleported in, beaming directly into my bedroom from the parish rectory.  Father Seamus Numb-nuts, an illuminated Burning Bush . . . not quite the bush I ‘d conjured at other times, so many times alone with Gwen Wong, ******* Playmate of the Year, 1961, one of Hefner’s hot centerfolds. No, give me a ******* break, you momo! Whacking off is the last thing on a libidinous, adolescent guinea’s brain when his mama is being tortured and killed by God. Even Alexander Portnoy, Philip Roth’s early avatar would have drawn the wanking line at that unforgettable moment.

No, perhaps what I’d had in mind was The Burning Bush Golf Course where so much of Fletcher Kneble’s political mischief and government shenanigans got cooked up. You remember his books, some of the Cold War’s finest: Seven Days in May, Vanished, etc.

Or better yet, perhaps the greatest political slogan of the 20th century: “STAY OUT THE BUSHES!” Thank you, Jesse. “Thank you, Reverend Jackson,” I slip into my Excellence in Broadcasting mode, my very own private Limbaugh. Announcing my on- air arrival is El Rushbo’s unmistakable, totally recognizable bass line bumper, courtesy of Chrissie Hynde’s Pretenders band mate, guitarist Tony Butler: Dum, dum, dum-dum, Da-dum, dum-dum-dum-dum-da-dum-dum. Single, “My City Was Gone” by The Pretenders
Rush Limbaugh Song– YouTube www.youtube.com/watch?v=SScW9r0y3c4

I become Reverend Jackson. I emerge from the vapors, an obscure abyss of deep family pangs and disappointments, ever-diminishing public relevance and fade to black (no pun intended) and media oblivion. The only thing left is that line:  “STAY OUT THE BUSHES!” You will always own that line, Jesse--true political genius (to wit: Rainbow Coalition) Jackson that you are, despite El Rush-Bo’s virulent anti-Black animus, his predilection to mock you, Al Sharpton, Corey Booker, Barack “Hussein” Obama, and any other professional ***** in America. Isn’t it time someone came right out and tagged Mr. Limbaugh as the Father Coughlin of our time.

Meanwhile back in The Bronx, enter another man of the cloth:  It’s Seamus Numb-nuts, making one of his many well-documented spectral visitations, his splendiferous miracles and wonders. How much longer will the Vatican ignore this humble Bronx priest, this epitome of Sainthood; this reverent man, lacking only the stigmata for a unanimous consent vote? Quote the Numb-nuts: “God Works in Mysterious Ways.” An old standard to be sure, but a lovely, all-purpose bromide for explaining why evil exists in our world. Needless to say, I was underwhelmed; I lost God at that moment, consequently shooting myself in the foot--metaphorically-speaking-condemning myself to an unshielded life, life OUT THE BUSHES!  I went forth into the world without God, without that handy divine crutch, that Andy Devine metaphor for when one’s legs grow weary: a puff of smoke, a reverb twang and a nasty frog croaking “Hi-ya, Kids. Hi-ya, Hi-ya. Hi-ya.”

   Andy's Gang - Pasta Fazooli vs. Froggy the Gremlin - YouTube
► 3:55► 3:55
www.youtube.com/watch?v=H35odPm7b3w Aug 8, 2012 - Uploaded by jmgilsinger
Froggy the Gremlin -Tuba ... Andy Devine (Aug 24, 1952)

Life for me became lonely and purposeless. And probably explains my susceptibility to military discipline and a subsequent career in clandestine government service. In 1968--the very day I turned nineteen, September 25th of that year—that fateful day when I should have shot myself in the foot—literally not metaphorically--earning that coveted 4-F physical rejection, a draft deferment to be desired, that 4-F classification of unfitness for duty, a necessary loophole in U.S. conscript service law.  The Draft: last used during that great commonwealth Cold War purge, that culling out of the unwashed, uneducated children of immigrants, that cut-rate, discount, lower socio-economic ***** bank—the only bank where after you make a deposit, you lose interest, to wit: most Black, Hispanic and Poor White Trash parents.  We were cannon fodder, many of us got to be planted at Arlington and other holy American shrines, still wrapped in black or olive drab leak-proof body bags, doing our generational bit to strengthen the gene pool left behind. A debt, some would say, we owed the country and, given the sorry state of the global wicket, increasingly an obligation to the species. And if I had to predict an outcome, Fascism in America will arrive riding the white horse of the environmental, anti-nuclear Bolsheviks. One could argue that Communism has moved so far left on the political spectrum that it’s now the far right.  Concoct a legislative policy goal, accomplish it legally as the bill becomes Law, signed by the President, endorsed and blessed by The U.S. Supreme Court, the highest court in the land.

To wit: “Three generations of imbeciles is enough?” declared Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., an Associate Supreme Court Justice at the time, buttressing a majority argument harnessing the power of U.S. law as a legal means of purifying the race.  When euthanasia failed to win over American hearts and mind, the Federal Government played the war card again and again. Vietnam: undeclared and therefore unconstitutional--except for that Gulf of Tonkin ******* resolution. Vietnam: a cost-plus eugenics project, if ever there was one, although responsive, of course, to the needs of the Military-Industrial Complex.  ******* Ike: he warned us against Fascism in America. As usual, we ignored the man in charge.

Eugenics? Why didn’t the government just put all the retards on the stand, as John Frankenheimer did in Judgment at Nuremberg, a crafty Maximilian Schell humiliating a feeble-minded Montgomery Clift?  Why not, make everyone face a public tribunal, forcing all of us to testify in court, exposing our many substandard and borderline substandard cerebral deficits?  Why not force everyone to demonstrate just how ******* dumb we are, using some clever intelligence test, something l
Nickols  Sep 2012
Clandestine
Nickols Sep 2012
A circle spinning;
Forever round.
Down a hole-
to underground.

Spinning faster-
blurring faces.
till they're all twisted--
twisted up backwards.

Facing downwards--
through the roof,
that is underground.

Up is down,
and down is up.
loosing grip,
on plastic society.

Acid burning,
till it tickles.
a rotting apple--
tasted sweet.

but wait,
where am I going again?

Oh yes,
Spinning circles,
there below.
through the roof,
hidden underground.
Someone, I think *she* lost *her* mind.

© Victoria
s y kalindara  Oct 2018
Richard.
s y kalindara Oct 2018
I was 20 years old,
Walking down the road.
You stopped me in my tracks
To say hello.
I said it back because what's the harm?
From that moment on,
I was a victim to your charm.
You called me pretty
And reached out to hold me,
That alone should have sent me running.
You refused to let me leave,
Until you had a way of contacting me.
Gripping on to my sleeve,
I did what you asked of me.
I wasn't scared
When I should've been.
I was taught to think
That was romantic of him.
If I could turn back,
I would untell myself that.
Shed light on my naivety,
perhaps protect my virginity,
From a 35 year old man
With an abominable plan.
Yes I was of legal age
But here's the common sense,
It still gave you no right
To rob me of my innocence.
Convinced we were friends
And I would always be safe
I let my guard down
Oh god, what a mistake.
You kept wanting to meet late at night.
In your car, in a park,
Anywhere out of sight.
I always felt compelled
During those clandestine meetings of ours.
Never like my own self
In those early morning hours.
The first time you laid hands on me
Was when I called and needed company.
Vulnerable and upset,
I needed a friend.
A shoulder to cry on,
A possible distraction,
A devil-sent ravisher
Was not what I asked for.
I was not in control.
I kept coming back for more.
The night you finally ****** me
Is my reoccurring nightmare.
A force and ****** feature,
The end of an affair.
I can't leave it in the past.
You left me aghast.
I want to tear off my skin
And rid myself of your sin.
It's been a couple of months,
Still I can't bear to be clutched,
Until now, I've kept my mouth shut
About the night I was touched.

Copyright © 2018 by S. Y. Kalindara. All rights reserved.
I'm trying to heal.
K Balachandran Apr 2016
"Amour is the most intense kind of sweet fever,I can vouch that
When it's clandestine, the effect on victims is much more acute"

As the trembling example of that condition, she whispers in his ear,
Between adventurous  samba steps, every one watches agape.

"Don't you know merciless girl,that's what makes me go pale quickly
in your presence,this illness is mutually induced, that's for sure"
The prologues are over. It is a question, now,
Of final belief. So, say that final belief
Must be in a fiction. It is time to choose.

I

That obsolete fiction of the wide river in
An empty land; the gods that Boucher killed;
And the metal heroes that time granulates -
The philosophers' man alone still walks in dew,
Still by the sea-side mutters milky lines
Concerning an immaculate imagery.
If you say on the hautboy man is not enough,
Can never stand as a god, is ever wrong
In the end, however naked, tall, there is still
The impossible possible philosophers' man,
The man who has had the time to think enough,
The central man, the human globe, responsive
As a mirror with a voice, the man of glass,
Who in a million diamonds sums us up.

II

He is the transparence of the place in which
He is and in his poems we find peace.
He sets this peddler's pie and cries in summer,
The glass man, cold and numbered, dewily cries,
"Thou art not August unless I make thee so."
Clandestine steps upon imagined stairs
Climb through the night, because his cuckoos call.

III

One year, death and war prevented the jasmine scent
And the jasmine islands were ****** martyrdoms.
How was it then with the central man? Did we
Find peace? We found the sum of men. We found,
If we found the central evil, the central good.
We buried the fallen without jasmine crowns.
There was nothing he did not suffer, no; nor we.

It was not as if the jasmine ever returned.
But we and the diamond globe at last were one.
We had always been partly one. It was as we came
To see him, that we were wholly one, as we heard
Him chanting for those buried in their blood,
In the jasmine haunted forests, that we knew
The glass man, without external reference.
Robby Cale Mar 2010
I smile at you
Watching me
Watch you
Smile right back at me,
Sharing the briefest of secrets.
Well ZOWIE KAPOW!
That's all it took.
Suddenly your mystery compels me
To tell you
Things you wouldn't understand.
Like how your salty wet leather scent
Keeps fragrancing my dreams.
How we may be strangers,
But our making native nasty
Knuckle noose love
Keeps coursing, red-roaring through.
And when I come to,
Forcibly forgoing my fantasy of you,
I exhale my ethereal bliss,
Left savoring only this:
Your wicked wiles, whispering winks,
And God in the curl of your lips.
Rob's poem, please don't rob.
Mateuš Conrad Dec 2015
and not from above, from such meteor or comet descending with precious life droplets, indeed i believe from below, from the depths, from the mariana trench, the kaleidoscopic amoebaes rose with raging spasms for each shape known to man and man himself in vain attempts contorting in the anti-narcissistic mirror of the monkey for care of close semblance gratification, but not in origin off the amoebae; so why then place us in the genesis from the realm of zodiac and pegasus constellations?*

they never bring it to the fore,
not the the river's banks, right on the edge,
they barely allow narcissus a peak
into the swelling mirror -
they obstruct the process of myths
revising with their own immediacy
and logic, never ever 'a long time ago,'
never ever 'a very long time ago,'
never never ever 'beyond the seven
seas and the seven mountains,'
no, they want everything in their garden,
in their attic, right under their fingernails,
as if they could scratch it into themselves:
their poems like amnesia tattoos
scaling scaling up the arms and onto
their foreheads, where the ocotopii
eye looks to sign petitions inc. third
party representatives in small print;
they obstruct vulgarity made eloquent
on the page, but then mouth-off everyone
and everything when the pen has used up
all its ink and the imagination no longer
cares for phonetic symbols: because
it's just a strain, just such a strain to use them,
look at them, read them, these symbols
akin to boron red in liquid, or chlorine green
in swimming pool blue: where blurry
images of cut-in-half bodies froth in movement;
oh but did i tell you about their group therapy
sessions in the medium of poetry?
the young ones stopped playing marbles,
stopped playing caps (bottle caps filled with
play dough, moving along a chalk-drawn
labyrinth on the pavement, dice rolled to
see how many moves were allowed),
stopped climbing trees, stopped playing
hide & seek, stopped playing bulldog,
the politicians are debating whether to
change 16 year olds into political old farts,
to pledge allegience before losing their
virginity, they want to turn them into strict
adherents of a type of animal that man
is allowed to be degraded into, a political
animal of sorts... fresh off the boat...
so they congregate in their group therapies,
miserable un-naturally... back when
age-old ripe melancholia was understood
as 'when everything is completed, and
there is nothing else to do, then the sadness
of all things completed,' this strange
new breed of negated ease, the 19th century
understood something of this sort,
but in the category of dementia, dementia
praecox (schizophrenia), but it seems
the mediator that was the 20th century,
the lax on experiments in poetry
fusion with jazz and hallucinogenic potions
now under government property rights
to synthesise food additives,
exponential sugar rush, once the gold mines
now the new crystal ****: the sycrose of
sycaruse, by the tyrants orders -
'keep 'em buzzing, buzzing buzzing buzzing,
we need an eager workforce.'
thus the anglo-saxon renaissance midway
through the 20th century culminating
in a devouring implosion as the generation
shift approached; but who indeed could
have predicted the emergence of premature
depression, when nothing and i mean nothing
has been accomplished in life?
o the great woes on the wheel of fortunes,
oh the great barrenness of still nothing,
where then the outlet for the young?
the digital version or the scarceness of public
places? everything in mobile form,
attached technological tentacles - perhaps
as the octopus begins painting a spiderweb
underwater with its stress ink - gently
fathoming fish gills and their skin slimy slither.
oh sure the immediacy of shouting from the roof,
from the mountain, the illusion of it all,
you'd think we'd be saving as many trees
as was made possible with the digital white
pixel paper, but alas the secrets of the amazon
have been harvested, all that was deemed
useful, and with all the microscopic versions
of all things natural, the chemical formulae,
forestry can begin... begin to patchwork
the forest for grain and indebtness to the glory
of man's prime clandestine nature: as in myth
the approach to genitalia and goosebumps -
later approached as the need to make ******,
not as ****** as a cow's ****** bulge,
but nonetheless news on page 3 in the olden days.
or as it now apparent in the zeitgeist (spirit of the times)
of the unknowable zeitreich (empire of the times),
from where then this utopian dream -
that students in england provide the witch hunts
as if papa stalin or papa mccarthy?
you see dr. and prof. losing their posts because
a few student activists and union leaders
can't enjoy the spirit of a dualistic argument,
where would star wars be without the sith?
in a jedi's paradise... repress one side, and that
side's far deeper shadow... in the mariana trench...
repress the moderate shallow opinions of
the opposite side, and the mariana trench
will release into the shallows a malignant cancer
that might as well spread as if the nazis
became resurrected.

— The End —