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Amanda Kay Burke Sep 2023
Stay anonymous
I won't ever be famous
Because all of this
I don't do it for the glory but sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be famous for my words...
Man Jul 2023
Memoirs of dead men;
I wonder of future generations,
Like those I have met.
As to my own destiny,
Why let the question phase me?
This labor of love, that
Life, I wish to live selfless-
And be great, anonymous.
Shadow the dark, and shine light
Radiate through the night
That, of your conscience.
Wakeup, & look around;
This is war, not merely fight-
For all that is just and right,
Stand-up, don't just die.
The fuse is sparked, the fire ignite:
Spread your wing and take flight.
Nigdaw Feb 2022
I like that you don’t know my name
this dangerous liaison
smacks of a suicide mission
in this day and age
flying solo in the erotisphere
carries all kinds of penalties
especially with broken wings
that have left me unable to soar
crawling like a serpent
banished from Eden’s beauty
for all the sins I have performed
no resistance to temptation
always accepting any fruit proffered
by shadows that pass through the night
the rings getting darker under eyes
that have seen too much bed
and not enough honest rest
too much passion with no feeling
blank faces and sweated screaming
I like that you don’t know my name
so you won’t judge me far less trace me
for my part I promise to never call again
Michael R Burch Jun 2021
Poems about Poets

Caveat Spender
by Michael R. Burch

for Stephen Spender

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.



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



The Better Man
by Michael R. Burch
 
Dear Ed: I don’t understand why
you will publish this other guy—
when I’m brilliant, devoted,
one hell of a poet!
Yet you publish Anonymous. Fie!

Fie! A pox on your head if you favor
this poet who’s dubious, unsavor
y, inconsistent in texts,
no address (I checked!):
since he’s plagiarized Unknown, I’ll wager!



Kin
by Michael R. Burch

O pale, austere moon,
haughty beauty ...

what do we know of love,
or duty?

Published by Swathe of Light and The HyperTexts



Fahr an' Ice
by Michael R. Burch

Apologies to Robert Frost and Ogden Nash!

From what I know of death, I'll side with those
who'd like to have a say in how it goes:
just make mine cool, cool rocks (twice drowned in likker),
and real fahr off, instead of quicker.



Mnemosyne was stunned into astonishment when she heard honey-tongued Sappho, wondering how mortal men merited a tenth Muse.
—Antipater of Sidon, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



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



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 soup 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



Confetti for Ferlinghetti
by Michael R. Burch

Lawrence Ferlinghetti
is the only poet whose name rhymes with “spaghetti”
and, while not being quite as rich as J. Paul Getty,
he still deserves some confetti
for selling a million books while being a modern Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

Like Dante Gabriel Rossetti, his rhyming namesake, Lawrence Ferlinghetti was both poet and painter.



A Passing Observation about Thinking Outside the Box
by Michael R. Burch

William Blake had no public, and yet he’s still read.
His critics are dead.



Housman was right ...
by Michael R. Burch

It's true that life’s not much to lose,
so why not hang out on a cloud?
It’s just the "bon voyage" is hard
and the objections loud.



Dylan Thomas was one of my favorite poets from my early teens and has remained so over the years. I have written three poems ‘for’ him and one poem ‘after’ him …

Myth
by Michael R. Burch

after the sprung rhythm of Dylan Thomas

Here the recalcitrant wind
sighs with grievance and remorse
over fields of wayward gorse
and thistle-throttled lanes.

And she is the myth of the scythed wheat
hewn and sighing, complete,
waiting, lain in a low sheaf—
full of faith, full of grief.

Here the immaculate dawn
requires belief of the leafed earth
and she is the myth of the mown grain—
golden and humble in all its weary worth.

“Myth” won a Dylan Thomas poetry contest. The judge was very complimentary of the poem. I believe I wrote the first version of this poem toward the end of my senior year of high school, around age 18. To my recollection this is my only poem influenced by the “sprung rhythm” of Dylan Thomas (moreso than that of Gerard Manley Hopkins).



Elemental
by Michael R. Burch

for and after Dylan Thomas

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

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

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

I have published this poem with the title "Elemental" at times, "Radiance" at others, and I have even thought about "Elemental Radiance" but that seems a bit unwieldy.



Sunset, at Laugharne
by Michael R. Burch

for Dylan Thomas

At Laugharne, in his thirty-fifth year,
he watched the starkeyed hawk career;
he felt the vested heron bless,

and larks and finches everywhere
sank with the sun, their missives west—
where faith is light; his nightjarred breast

watched passion dovetail to its rest.



He watched the gulls above green shires
flock shrieking, fleeing priested shores
with silver fishes stilled on spears.

He felt the pressing weight of years
in ways he never had before—
that gravity no brightness spares

from sunken hills to unseen stars.
He saw his father’s face in waves
which gently lapped Wales’ gulled green bays.

He wrote as passion swelled to rage—
the dying light, the unturned page,
the unburned soul’s devoured sage.



The words he gathered clung together
till night—the jetted raven’s feather—
fell, fell . . . and all was as before . . .

till silence lapped Laugharne’s dark shore
diminished, where his footsteps shone
in pools of fading light—no more.

Keywords/Tags: Dylan Thomas, Laugharne, Wales, ocean, sea, seaside, beach, bays, waves, ocean waves, birds, hawk, herons, gulls, father, poet, poetry, poem, poems, famous poets, elegy



Downdraft
by Michael R. Burch

for Dylan Thomas

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

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

wheeling and flying.

Here, as Time spins, reeling and dying,
the voice of a last gull
or perhaps some spirit no longer whole,

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

O My Prodigal!

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

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



When I wrote this poem listing poets I like to read, the first poet I named was Dylan Thomas ...

beMused
by Michael R. Burch

Perhaps at three
you'll come to tea,
to have a cuppa here?

You'll just stop in
to sip dry gin?
I only have a beer.

To name the “greats”:
Pope, Dryden, mates?
The whole world knows their names.

Discuss the “songs”
of Emerson?
But these are children's games.

Give me rhythms
wild as Dylan’s!
Give me Bobbie Burns!

Give me Psalms,
or Hopkins’ poems,
Hart Crane’s, if he returns!

Or Langston railing!
Blake assailing!
Few others I desire.

Or go away,
yes, leave today:
your tepid poets tire.



The American poet Thomas Rain Crowe lived in the Dylan Thomas boat house at Laugharne and wrote poems there. These are poems I wrote for Thomas that were influenced by Dylan Thomas and his experience.

Mongrel Dreams (I)
by Michael R. Burch

These nights bring dreams of Cherokee shamans
whose names are bright verbs and impacted dark nouns,
whose memories are indictments of my pallid flesh . . .
and I hear, as from a great distance,
the cries tortured from their guileless lips, proclaiming
the nature of my mutation.

Mongrel Dreams (II)
by Michael R. Burch

for Thomas Rain Crowe

I squat in my Cherokee lodge, this crude wooden hutch of dry branches and leaf-thatch
as the embers smolder and burn,
hearing always the distant tom-toms of your rain dance.

I relax in my rustic shack on the heroned shores of Gwynedd,
slandering the English in the amulet gleam of the North Atlantic,
hearing your troubadour’s songs, remembering Dylan.

I stand in my rough woolen kilt in the tall highland heather
feeling the freezing winds through the trees leaning sideways,
hearing your bagpipes’ lament, dreaming of Burns.

I slave in my drab English hovel, tabulating rents
while dreaming of Blake and burning your poems like incense.

I abide in my pale mongrel flesh, writing in Nashville
as the thunderbolts flash and the spring rains spill,
till the quill gently bleeds and the white page fills,
dreaming of Whitman, calling you brother.



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.

Published by The Chariton Review, The Neovictorian/Cochlea, Rogue Scholars, Romantics Quarterly, Mindful of Poetry, Famous Poets and Poems, Poetry Life & Times, and Other Voices International



US Verse, after Auden
by Michael R. Burch

“Let the living creature lie,
Mortal, guilty, but to me
The entirely beautiful.”

Verse has small value in our Unisphere,
nor is it fit for windy revelation.
It cannot legislate less taxing fears;
it cannot make us, several, a nation.
Enumerator of our sins and dreams,
it pens its cryptic numbers, and it sings,
a little quaintly, of the ways of love.
(It seems of little use for lesser things.)

NOTE: The Unisphere mentioned is a large stainless steel representation of the earth; it was commissioned to celebrate the beginning of the space age for the 1964 New York World's Fair.



Long Division
by Michael R. Burch

for and after Laura Riding Jackson

All things become one
Through death’s long division
And perfect precision.



Nod to the Master
by Michael R. Burch

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



Goddess
by Michael R. Burch

for Kevin N. Roberts

“What will you conceive in me?”—
I asked her. But she
only smiled.

“Naked, I bore your child
when the wolf wind howled,
when the cold moon scowled . . .
naked, and gladly.”

“What will become of me?”—
I asked her, as she
absently stroked my hand.

Centuries later, I understand:
she whispered—“I Am.”

Published by Romantics Quarterly (the first poem in the first issue), Penny Dreadful, Unlikely Stories, Underground Poets, Poetically Speaking, Poetry Life & Times and Little Brown Poetry



Safe Harbor
by Michael R. Burch

for Kevin Nicholas 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 Porch, Poetry Life & Times



The Harvest of Roses
by Michael R. Burch

for Harvey Stanbrough

I have not come for the harvest of roses—
the poets' mad visions,
their railing at rhyme ...
for I have discerned what their writing discloses:
weak words wanting meaning,
beat torsioning time.

Nor have I come for the reaping of gossamer—
images weak,
too forced not to fail;
gathered by poets who worship their luster,
they shimmer, impendent,
resplendently pale.

Originally published by The Raintown Review



In the Whispering Night
by Michael R. Burch

for George King

In the whispering night, when the stars bend low
till the hills ignite to a shining flame,
when a shower of meteors streaks the sky
as the lilies sigh in their beds, for shame,
we must steal our souls, as they once were stolen,
and gather our vigor, and all our intent.
We must heave our husks into some raging ocean
and laugh as they shatter, and never repent.
We must dance in the darkness as stars dance before us,
soar, Soar! through the night on a butterfly's breeze:
blown high, upward-yearning, twin spirits returning
to the heights of awareness from which we were seized.

Published by Songs of Innocence, Romantics Quarterly, Poetry Life & Times and The Chained Muse



Kin
by Michael R. Burch

for Richard Moore

1.
Shrill gull,
how like my thoughts
you, struggling, rise
to distant bliss—
the weightless blue of skies
that are not blue
in any atmosphere,
but closest here ...

2.
You seek an air
so clear,
so rarified
the effort leaves you famished;
earthly tides
soon call you back—
one long, descending glide ...

3.
Disgruntledly you ***** dirt shores for orts
you pull like mucous ropes
from shells’ bright forts ...

You eye the teeming world
with nervous darts—
this way and that ...

Contentious, shrewd, you scan—
the sky, in hope,
the earth, distrusting man.

Published by Triplopia. Able Muse and The HyperTexts



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.

Published by Andwerve, Bewildering Stories and The HyperTexts



The Heimlich Limerick
by Michael R. Burch

for Tom Merrill

The sanest of poets once wrote:
"Friend, why be a sheep or a goat?
Why follow the leader
or be a blind *******?"
But almost no one took note.


The Pain of Love
by Michael R. Burch

for Tom Merrill

The pain of love is this:
the parting after the kiss;

the train steaming from the station
whistling abnegation;

each interstate’s bleak white bar / every highways’ broken white bar
that vanishes under your car;

every hour and flower and friend / each (with the second option above)
that cannot be saved in the end;

dear things of immeasurable cost ...
now all irretrievably lost.

Note: The title “The Pain of Love” was suggested by an interview with Little Richard, then eighty years old, in Rolling Stone. He said that someone should create a song called “The Pain of Love.”



Lean Harvests (II)
by Michael R. Burch

for Tom Merrill

the trees are shedding their leaves again:
another summer is over.
the Christians are praising their Maker again,
but not the disconsolate plover:
     i hear him berate
     the fate
     of his mate;
he claims God is no body’s lover.

Published by The Rotary Dial and Angle



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 into 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 Princess and the Pauper
by Michael R. Burch

for Norman Kraeft in memory of his beloved wife June

Here was a woman bright, intent on life,
who did not flinch from Death, but caught his eye
and drew him, powerless, into her spell
of wanting her himself, so much the lie
that she was meant for him—obscene illusion!—
made him seem a monarch throned like God on high,
when he was less than nothing; when to die
meant many stultifying, pained embraces.

She shed her gown, undid the tangled laces
that tied her to the earth: then she was his.
Now all her erstwhile beauty he defaces
and yet she grows in hallowed loveliness—
her ghost beyond perfection—for to die
was to ascend. Now he begs, penniless.

Published by Katrina Anthology, The Lyric and Trinacria



Come Down
by Michael R. Burch

for Harold Bloom and the Ivory Towerists

Come down, O, come down
from your high mountain tower.
How coldly the wind blows,
how late this chill hour ...

and I cannot wait
for a meteor shower
to show you the time
must be now, or not ever.

Come down, O, come down
from the high mountain heather
now brittle and brown
as fierce northern gales sever.          

Come down, or your hearts will grow cold as the weather
when winter devours and spring returns never.



At Cædmon’s Grave

“Cædmon’s Hymn,” composed at the Monastery of Whitby (a North Yorkshire fishing village), is one of the oldest known poems written in the English language, dating back to around 680 A.D. I wrote this poem after visiting Caedmon's grave at Whitby.

At the monastery of Whitby,
on a day when the sun sank through the sea,
and the gulls shrieked wildly, jubilant, free,

while the wind and time blew all around,
I paced those dusk-enamored grounds
and thought I heard the steps resound

of Carroll, Stoker and good Bede
who walked there, too, their spirits freed
—perhaps by God, perhaps by need—

to write, and with each line, remember
the glorious light of Cædmon’s ember,
scorched tongues of flame words still engender.

Here, as darkness falls, at last we meet.
I lay this pale garland of words at his feet.

Published by The Lyric, Volume 80, Number 4



Orpheus
by Michael R. Burch

after William Blake

I.
Many a sun
and many a moon
I walked the earth
and whistled a tune.

I did not whistle
as I worked:
the whistle was my work.
I shirked

nothing I saw
and made a rhyme
to children at play
and hard time.

II.
Among the prisoners
I saw
the leaden manacles
of Law,

the heavy ball and chain,
the quirt.
And yet I whistled
at my work.

III.
Among the children’s
daisy faces
and in the women’s
frowsy laces,

I saw redemption,
and I smiled.
Satanic millers,
unbeguiled,

were swayed by neither girl,
nor child,
nor any God of Love.
Yet mild

I whistled at my work,
and Song
broke out,
ere long.



Millay Has Her Way with a Vassar Professor
by Michael R. Burch

After a night of hard drinking and spreading her legs,
Millay hits the dorm, where the Vassar don begs:
“Please act more chastely, more discretely, more seemly!”
(His name, let’s assume, was, er ... Percival Queemly.)

“Expel me! Expel me!”—She flashes her eyes.
“Oh! Please! No! I couldn’t! That wouldn’t be wise,
for a great banished Shelley would tarnish my name ...
Eek! My game will be lame if I can’t milque your fame!”

“Continue to live here—carouse as you please!”
the beleaguered don sighs as he sags to his knees.
Millay grinds her crotch half an inch from his nose:
“I can live in your hellhole, strange man, I suppose ...
but the price is your firstborn, whom I’ll sacrifice to Moloch.”
(Which explains what became of pale Percy’s son, Enoch.)

Originally published by Lucid Rhythms



Why the Kid Gloves Came Off
by Michael R. Burch

for Lemuel Ibbotson

It's hard to be a man of taste
in such a waste:
hence the lambaste.



Nightfall
by Michael R. Burch

for Kevin Nicholas Roberts

Only the long dolor of dusk delights me now,
     as I await death.
The rain has ruined the unborn corn,
         and the wasting breath
of autumn has cruelly, savagely shorn
               each ear of its radiant health.
As the golden sun dims, so the dying land seems to relinquish its vanishing wealth.

Only a few erratic, trembling stalks still continue to stand,
     half upright,
and even these the winds have continually robbed of their once-plentiful,
          golden birthright.
I think of you and I sigh, forlorn, on edge
               with the rapidly encroaching night.
Ten thousand stillborn lilies lie limp, mixed with roses, unable to ignite.

Whatever became of the magical kernel, golden within
     at the winter solstice?
What of its promised kingdom, Amen!, meant to rise again
          from this balmless poultice,
this strange bottomland where one Scarecrow commands
               dark legions of ravens and mice?
And what of the Giant whose bellows demand our negligible lives, his black vice?

I find one bright grain here aglitter with rain, full of promise and purpose
     and drive.
Through lightning and hail and nightfalls and pale, cold sunless moons
         it will strive
to rise up from its “place” on a network of lace, to the glory
             of being alive.
Why does it bother, I wonder, my brother? O, am I unwise to believe?
                                    But Jack had his beanstalk
                              and you had your poems
                         and the sun seems intent to ascend
               and so I also must climb
          to the end of my time,
     however the story
may unwind
and
end.

This poem was written around a month after Kevin’s death.



I Learned Too Late
by Michael R. Burch

“Show, don’t tell!”

I learned too late that poetry has rules,
although they may be rules for greater fools.

In any case, by dodging rules and schools,
I avoided useless duels.

I learned too late that sentiment is bad—
that Blake and Keats and Plath had all been had.

In any case, by following my heart,
I learned to walk apart.

I learned too late that “telling” is a crime.
Did Shakespeare know? Is Milton doing time?

In any case, by telling, I admit:
I think such rules are s*t.



The Difference
by Michael R. Burch

The chimneysweeps
will weep
for Blake,
who wrote his poems
for their dear sake.

The critics clap,
polite, for you.
Another poem
for poets,
Whooo!



Ah! Sunflower
by Michael R. Burch

for and after William Blake

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



blake take
by michael r. burch

we became ashamed of our bodies;
we became ashamed of sweet ***;
we became ashamed of the LORD
with each terrible CURSE and HEX;
we became ashamed of the planet
(it’s such a slovenly hovel);
and we came to see, in the end,
that we really agreed with the devil.



dark matter(s)
by Michael R. Burch

for and after William Blake

the matter is dark, despairful, alarming:
ur Creator is hardly prince charming!

yes, ur “Great I Am”
created blake’s lamb

but He also created the tyger ...
and what about trump and rod steiger?

Rod Steiger is best known for his portrayals of weirdos, oddballs, mobsters, bandits, serial killers, and fascists like Mussolini and Napoleon.



The Echoless Green
by Michael R. Burch

for and after William Blake

At dawn, laughter rang
on the echoing green
as children at play
greeted the day.

At noon, smiles were seen
on the echoing green
as, children no more,
many fine oaths they swore.

By twilight, their cries
had subsided to sighs.

Now night reigns supreme
on the echoless green.



evol-u-shun
by michael r. burch

for and after william blake

does GOD adore the Tyger
while it’s ripping ur lamb apart?

does GOD applaud the Plague
while it’s eating u à la carte?

does GOD admire ur brains
while ur claimng IT has a heart?

does GOD endorse the Bible
you blue-lighted at k-mart?



I Learned Too Late
by Michael R. Burch

“Show, don’t tell!”

I learned too late that poetry has rules,
although they may be rules for greater fools.

In any case, by dodging rules and schools,
I avoided useless duels.

I learned too late that sentiment is bad—
that Blake and Keats and Plath had all been had.

In any case, by following my heart,
I learned to walk apart.

I learned too late that “telling” is a crime.
Did Shakespeare know? Is Milton doing time?

In any case, by telling, I admit:
I think such rules are ****.



tyger, lamb, free love, etc.
by michael r. burch

for and after william blake

the tiger’s a ferocious slayer.
     he has no say in it.
hence, ur Creator’s a ****.

the lamb led to the slaughter
     extends her neck to the block and bit.
she has no say in it.

so don’t be a nitwit:
     drink, carouse and revel!
why obey the Devil?



Discrimination
by Michael R. Burch

for lovers of traditional poetry

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.”

Published by The Chariton Review, The Eclectic Muse (Canada), Famous Poets and Poems, FreeXpression (Australia), Famous Poets and Poems, Inspirational Stories, Poetry Life & Times and Trinacria (where it was nominated for the Pushcart Prize)



The Composition of Shadows
by Michael R. Burch

“I made it out of a mouthful of air.”—W. B. Yeats

We breathe and so we write; the night
hums softly its accompaniment.
Pale phosphors burn; the page we turn
leads onward, and we smile, content.

And what we mean we write to learn:
the vowels of love, the consonants’
strange golden weight, each plosive’s shape—
curved like the heart. Here, resonant, ...

sounds’ shadows mass beneath bright glass
like singing voles curled in a maze
of blank white space. We touch a face—
long-frozen words trapped in a glaze

that insulates our hearts. Nowhere
can love be found. Just shrieking air.

Published by The Lyric, Contemporary Rhyme, Candelabrum, Iambs & Trochees, Triplopia, Romantics Quarterly, Hidden Treasures (Selected Poem), ImageNation (UK), Yellow Bat Review, Poetry Life & Times, Vallance Review, Poetica Victorian



The Composition of Shadows (II)
by Michael R. Burch

We breathe and so we write;
the night
hums softly its accompaniment.

Pale phosphors burn;
the page we turn
leads onward, and we smile, content.

And what we mean
we write to learn:
the vowels of love, the consonants’

strange golden weight,
the blood’s debate
within the heart. Here, resonant,

sounds’ shadows mass
against bright glass,
within the white Labyrinthian maze.

Through simple grace,
I touch your face,
(ah words!) And I would gaze

the night’s dark length
in waning strength
to find the words to feel

such light again.
O, for a pen
to spell love so ethereal.

Keywords/Tags: composition, write, writing, poetry, poem, night, pen, pencil, computer, monitor, love, alienation, lonely, loneliness



Me?
by Michael R. Burch

Me?
Whee!
(I stole this poem
From Muhammad Ali.)



Brother Iran
by Michael R. Burch

for the poets of Iran

Brother Iran, I feel your pain.
I feel it as when the Turk fled Spain.
As the Jew fled, too, that constricting span,
I feel your pain, Brother Iran.

Brother Iran, I know you are noble!
I too fear Hiroshima and Chernobyl.
But though my heart shudders, I have a plan,
and I know you are noble, Brother Iran.

Brother Iran, I salute your Poets!
your Mathematicians!, all your great Wits!
O, come join the earth's great Caravan.
We'll include your Poets, Brother Iran.

Brother Iran, I love your Verse!
Come take my hand now, let's rehearse
the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.
For I love your Verse, Brother Iran.

Bother Iran, civilization's Flower!
How high flew your spires in man's early hours!
Let us build them yet higher, for that's my plan,
civilization's first flower, Brother Iran.

To Please The Poet
by Michael R. Burch

for poets who still write musical verse

To please the poet, words must dance—
staccato, brisk, a two-step:
so!
Or waltz in elegance to time
of music—mild,
adagio.

To please the poet, words must chance
emotion in catharsis—
flame.
Or splash into salt seas, descend
in sheets of silver-shining
rain.

To please the poet, words must prance
and gallop, gambol, revel,
rail.
Or muse upon a moment—mute,
obscure, unsure, imperfect,
pale.

To please the poet, words must sing,
or croak, wart-tongued, imagining.

Originally published by The Lyric



The danger is not aiming too high and missing, but aiming too low and hitting the mark.—Michelangelo, translation by Michael R. Burch

Trifles create perfection, yet perfection is no trifle.—Michelangelo, translation by Michael R. Burch

Genius is infinitely patient, and infinitely painstaking.—Michelangelo, translation by Michael R. Burch

If you knew how hard I worked, you wouldn't call it "genius."—Michelangelo, translation by Michael R. Burch

He who follows will never surpass.—Michelangelo, translation by Michael R. Burch

Beauty is what lies beneath superfluities.—Michelangelo, translation by Michael R. Burch

I criticize via creation, not by fault-finding.—Michelangelo, translation by Michael R. Burch



a peom in supsport of a dsylexci peot
by michael r. burch, allso a peot
for ken d williams

pay no hede to the saynayers,
the asburd wordslayers,
the splayers and sprayers,
the heartless diecriers,
the liers!

what the hell due ur criticks no?
let them bellow below!

ur every peom has a good haert
and culd allso seerv as an ichart!

There are a number of puns, including ur (my term for original/ancient/first), no/know, pay/due, the critic as both absurd and an as(s)-burd who is he(artless), and the poet as the (seer)v of an (i)-chart for all. Here is an encoded version:

(pay) k(no)w hede to the say(nay)ers,
the as(s)bird word(s
)layers,
the s(players) and s(prayers),
the he(artless) (die)(cry)ers,
the (lie)rs!

what the hell (due) ur (cry)(ticks) k(no)w?
let them (be)l(low) below!

(ur) every peom has a good haert
and culd (all)so (seer)ve as an (i)chart!



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!



PROFESSOR POETS

These are poems about professor poets and other “intellectuals” who miss the main point of poetry, which is to connect with readers via pleasing sounds and the communication of emotion as well as meaning.



Professor Poets
by Michael R. Burch

Professor poets remind me of drones
chasing the Classical queen's aging bones.
With bottle-thick glasses they still see to write —
droning on, endlessly buzzing all night.
And still in our classrooms their tomes are decreed ...
Perhaps they're too busy with buzzing to breed?



In my next poem the “businessmen” are the poetry professors and professional poetry publishers who speak dismissively of the things that made poetry popular with the masses: rhythm, rhyme, clarity, accessible storytelling, etc.

The Board
by Michael R. Burch

Accessible rhyme is never good.
The penalty is understood—
soft titters from dark board rooms where
the businessmen paste on their hair
and, Colonel Klinks, defend the Muse
with reprimands of Dr. Seuss.



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.



Alien
by Michael R. Burch

for J. S. S., a poetry professor

On a lonely outpost on Mars
the astronaut practices “speech”
as alien to primates below
as mute stars winking high, out of reach.

And his words fall as bright and as chill
as ice crystals on Kilimanjaro —
far colder than Jesus’s words
over the “fortunate” sparrow.

And I understand how gentle Emily
felt, when all comfort had flown,
gazing into those inhuman eyes,
feeling zero at the bone.

Oh, how can I grok his arctic thought?
For if he is human, I am not.



The opposite approach to the poetry professors, the poetry journalists and the uber-intellectuals is that of musicians to their instruments and the music they produce…

Duet, Minor Key
by Michael R. Burch

Without the drama of cymbals
or the fanfare and snares of drums,
I present my case
stripped of its fine veneer:
Behold, thy instrument.
Play, for the night is long.



US Verse, after Auden
by Michael R. Burch

“Let the living creature lie,
Mortal, guilty, but to me
The entirely beautiful.”

Verse has small value in our Unisphere,
nor is it fit for windy revelation.
It cannot legislate less taxing fears;
it cannot make us, several, a nation.
Enumerator of our sins and dreams,
it pens its cryptic numbers, and it sings,
a little quaintly, of the ways of love.
(It seems of little use for lesser things.)

The Unisphere mentioned is a spherical stainless steel representation of the earth constructed for the 1964 New York World’s Fair. It was commissioned to celebrate the beginning of the space age and dedicated to "Man's Achievements on a Shrinking Globe in an Expanding Universe." The lines quoted in the epigraph are from W. H. Auden’s love poem “Lullaby.”



The Plums Were Sweet
by Michael R. Burch

after WCW

The plums were sweet,
icy and delicious.
To eat them all
was perhaps malicious.
But I vastly prefer your kisses!



Caveat
by Michael R. Burch

If only we were not so eloquent,
we might sing, and only sing, not to impress,
but only to enjoy, to be enjoyed.

We might inundate the earth with thankfulness
for light, although it dies, and make a song
of night descending on the earth like bliss,

with other lights beyond—not to be known—
but only to be welcomed and enjoyed,
before all worlds and stars are overthrown ...

as a lover’s hands embrace a sleeping face
and find it beautiful for emptiness
of all but joy. There is no thought to love

but love itself. How senseless to redress,
in darkness, such becoming nakedness . . .



Come Down
by Michael R. Burch

for Harold Bloom and the Ivory Towerists

Come down, O, come down
from your high mountain tower.
How coldly the wind blows,
how late this chill hour ...
and I cannot wait
for a meteor shower
to show you the time
must be now, or not ever.

Come down, O, come down
from the high mountain heather
blown, brittle and brown,
as fierce northern gales sever.
Come down, or your heart
will grow cold as the weather
when winter devours
and spring returns never.



Rant: The Elite
by Michael R. Burch

When I heard Harold Bloom unsurprisingly say:
"Poetry is necessarily difficult. It is our elitist art ..."
I felt a small suspicious thrill. After all, sweetheart,
isn’t this who we are? Aren’t we obviously better,
and certainly fairer and taller, than they are?

Though once I found Ezra Pound
perhaps a smidgen too profound,
perhaps a bit over-fond of Benito
and the advantages of fascism
to be taken ad finem, like high tea
with a pure white spot of intellectualism
and an artificial sweetener, calorie-free.

I know! I know! Politics has nothing to do with art
And it tempts us so to be elite, to stand apart ...
but somehow the word just doesn’t ring true,
echoing effetely away—the distance from me to you.

Of course, politics has nothing to do with art,
but sometimes art has everything to do with becoming elite,
with climbing the cultural ladder, with being able to meet
someone more Exalted than you, who can demonstrate how to ****
so that everyone below claims one’s odor is sweet.

"You had to be there! We were falling apart
with gratitude! We saw him! We wept at his feet!"

Though someone will always be far, far above you, clouding your air,
gazing down at you with a look of wondering despair.



Sweenies (or Swine-ies) Among the Nightingales
by Michael R. Burch

for the Corseted Ones and the Erratics

Open yourself to words, and if they come,
be glad the stone-tongued apes are stricken dumb
by anything like music; they believe
in petrified dry meaning. Love conceives
wild harmonies,
while lumberjacks fell trees.

Sweet, unifying music, a cappella ...
but apeneck Sweeny’s not the brightest fella.
He has no interest in celestial brightness;
he’d distill Love to chivalry, politeness,
yet longs to be acclaimed, like those before him
who (should the truth be told) confuse and bore him.

For Sweeney is himself a piggish boor —
the kind pale pearl-less swine claim to adore.



Untitled Haiku

Fireflies
thinking to illuminate the darkness?
Poets!
—Michael R. Burch



BeMused
by Michael R. Burch

You will find in her hair
a fragrance more severe
than camphor.

You will find in her dress
no hint of a sweet
distractedness.

You will find in her eyes
horn-owlish and wise
no metaphors
of love, but only reflections
of books, books, books.

If you like Her looks,
meet me in the long rows,
between Poetry and Prose,

where we’ll win Her favor
with jousts, and savor
the wine of Her hair,

the shimmery wantonness
of Her rich-satined dress;
where we’ll press

our good deeds upon Her, save Her
from every distress,
for the lovingkindness

of Her matchless eyes
and all the suns of Her tongues.
We were young,

once,
unlearned and unwise . . .
but, O, to be young

when love comes disguised
with the whisper of silks
and idolatry,

and even the childish tongue claims
the intimacy of Poetry.



Impotent
by Michael R. Burch

Tonight my pen
is barren
of passion, spent of poetry.

I hear your name
upon the rain
and yet it cannot comfort me.

I feel the pain
of dreams that wane,
of poems that falter, losing force.

I write again
words without end,
but I cannot control their course . . .

Tonight my pen
is sullen
and wants no more of poetry.

I hear your voice
as if a choice,
but how can I respond, or flee?

I feel a flame
I cannot name
that sends me searching for a word,

but there is none
not over-done,
unless it's one I never heard.

I believe this poem was written in my late teens or early twenties.



The Monarch’s Rose or The Hedgerow Rose
by Michael R. Burch

I lead you here to pluck this florid rose
still tethered to its post, a dreary mass
propped up to stiff attention, winsome-thorned
(what hand was ever daunted less to touch
such flame, in blatant disregard of all
but atavistic beauty)? Does this rose
not symbolize our love? But as I place
its emblem to your breast, how can this poem,
long centuries deflowered, not debase
all art, if merely genuine, but not
“original”? Love, how can reused words
though frailer than all petals, bent by air
to lovelier contortions, still persist,
defying even gravity? For here
beat Monarch’s wings: they rise on emptiness!



Over(t) Simplification
by Michael R. Burch

“Keep it simple, stupid.”

A sonnet is not simple, but the rule
is simply this: let poems be beautiful,
or comforting, or horrifying. Move
the reader, and the world will not reprove
the idiosyncrasies of too few lines,
too many syllables, or offbeat beats.

It only matters that she taps her feet
or that he frowns, or smiles, or grimaces,
or sits bemused—a child—as images
of worlds he’d lost come flooding back, and then...
they’ll cheer the poet’s insubordinate pen.

A sonnet is not simple, but the rule
is simply this: let poems be beautiful.



Writing Verse for Free, Versus Programs for a Fee
by Michael R. Burch

How is writing a program like writing a poem? You start with an idea, something fresh. Almost a wish. Something effervescent, like foam flailing itself against the rocks of a lost tropical coast . .

After the idea, of course, there are complications and trepidations, as with the poem or even the foam. Who will see it, appreciate it, understand it? What will it do? Is it worth the effort, all the mad dashing and crashing about, the vortex—all that? And to what effect?

Next comes the real labor, the travail, the scouring hail of things that simply don’t fit or make sense. Of course, with programming you have the density of users to fix, which is never a problem with poetry, since the users have already had their fix (this we know because they are still reading and think everything makes sense); but this is the only difference.

Anyway, what’s left is the debugging, or, if you’re a poet, the hugging yourself and crying, hoping someone will hear you, so that you can shame them into reading your poem, which they will refuse, but which your mother will do if you phone, perhaps with only the tiniest little mother-of-the-poet, harried, self-righteous moan.

The biggest difference between writing a program and writing a poem is simply this: if your program works, or seems to work, or almost works, or doesn’t work at all, you’re set and hugely overpaid. Made-in-the-shade-have-a-pink-lemonade-and-ticker-tape-parade OVERPAID.

If your poem is about your lover and ***** up quite nicely, perhaps you’ll get laid. Perhaps. Regardless, you’ll probably see someone repossessing your furniture and TV to bring them posthaste to someone like me. The moral is this: write programs first, then whatever passes for poetry. DO YOUR SHARE; HELP END POVERTY TODAY!
Nak Aug 2021
I was the best in the world.
And knowing that made me arrogant.
Made me think I was untouchable.
But in reality,
I'm just like everyone else.
Just did a little bit more, a little bit differently is all...
Mystic Ink Plus Jan 2021
I can't unlove you

You are
A beautiful soul
I want to think you like this
So I need to be far

Anonymous
Genre: Dark
Theme: In the blink of an eye
Mystic Ink Plus Aug 2020
Let me repeat
Something
You already know
In case
No one has told you
Today
Here it is

Good morning
You are beautiful
Have a better tomorrow
Stay blessed
Genre: Inspirational
Theme: In Silence
Nigdaw Jul 2020
we are all anonymous now
not even a face in the crowd
defined by the mask we wear
rather than the one we hide behind
eyes open to the world
staying alert to danger
our breath filtered just in case
we’re the enemy everyone’s looking for
our smiles are silenced
our glares turned to frowns
friends become strangers
we are all clowns
family and allies
our new kind of tribe
supporting our bubble
that’s both strong and fragile
this is the aftermath fallout
where beauty and ugliness
stand side by side
walking in unison
stride for stride
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