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That Girl Sep 5
She got dealt a bad hand in life.
But she didn’t fold.
She kept playing.
She didn’t walk away from the table,
And leave the casino like she should have.
She keeps playing the hand life dealt her.
And she’s slowly going into debt.
Deeper in the game until one day she won’t be able to play anymore.
She’ll be out of money.
Out of cards.
I just pray it doesn’t come to that.
I want her to fold.
Leave the table.
Leave that lifestyle behind her.
Count her losses and move on with her life.
There’s more to life than that hand that life dealt her.
I just wish she could sober up long enough to see it.
I just wish she could see that there’s so much more to life than the hand that she was dealt.
Jordan Gee Aug 2
A swollen sun descends upon us.
small children at play with painted faces.
time is not an endless tick, one and then another
(the plague nearest our dwelling)
but a single broad and present moment stretching
out and on forever.
sometimes i feel my heart will burst
scattered about, then gathered up in a world of rag and bone.
seeds for the great harvest are but a payment for a
karmic debt -
a purple heart sacrifice of my broken hand -
a slice from stem to stern.
my eyes they sink into my head.
the world is a deep grey beneath the deep stars.
the constant chatter in the skull -
a fallen angel named Moroni.
my sunken eyes watch me lift the bad hand
the heathen of my good intentions -
the purple heart of a bad apostle
the shackles of my station
the facing of certain destruction within the grim Hallway of Anubis.
a single moment stretching on forever and a balancing of the heart.
a swollen sun descends upon the third circle of Hell -  a place where I no longer live.
written 27aug2018
Mark Toney Aug 2
You say you love me but you’re not
You say you’re going to fight and give it all you got
You say you find it hard to breathe
You say you’re mad at me but I’m the one who seethes
You say you love me but you’re not (in love with me)

                    ~ Tears falling, relationship flailing, love failing… ~


You say you need a place to stay
You say you’re asking me to find another way
You say you thought about the debt
You say you’re leaving but it hasn’t happened yet
You say you need a place to stay

                    ~ The time, the hurt, the pain, the drain… ~


You say you overcame the jones
You say you’ve analyzed it to the bare bones
You say you finally found the cure
You say you’re righteous, clean, happy and secure
You say you overcame the jones

                    ~ Familiar lies, thin disguise, love’s demise … ~


You say you love me but you’re not
You say you’re going to fight and give it all you got
You say you find it hard to breathe
You say you’re mad at me but I’m the one who seethes
You say you love me but you’re not (in love with me)

                    ~ Tears fall, relationship flails, love fails…
                       Familiar lies, thin disguise, love’s demise …
                       This time, this hurt, this pain, this drain…
                       Time runs out… no more to gain. ~



© 2020 by Mark Toney. All rights reserved.
10/29/2019 - Poetry form: Lyric - © 2020 by Mark Toney. All rights reserved.
I feel like I owe you something
I feel like I owe you
some magnificent truth
not yet known

this weight crushes me
but I owe it to myself
to live, despite
Duchess Lady
Pay your penance
Break your crown
Pawn your necklace
Jewels a-jingle as you shiver
Chains of Incan gold & silver

Please, Your Lordship
Don't forget it
Your riches have
Availed you nothing
Go downtown & look around
At the joy that should abound
iou
iou
by michael r. burch

i might have said it
but i didn’t

u might have noticed
but u wouldn’t

we might have been us
but we couldn’t

u might respond
but probably shouldn’t

Keywords/Tags: iou, chit, debenture, bill, debt, relationship, lovers, impasse, silence, golden, I, owe, you, borrower, lender, Polonius, collectible, mrbiou



Passionate One
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth

Love of my life,
light of my morning―
arise, brightly dawning,
for you are my sun.

Give me of heaven
both manna and leaven―
desirous Presence,
Passionate One.



Talent
by Michael R. Burch

for Kevin Nicholas Roberts

I liked the first passage
of her poem―where it led

(though not nearly enough
to retract what I said.)
Now the book propped up here
flutters, scarcely half read.
It will keep.
Before sleep,
let me read yours instead.

There's something like love
in the rhythms of night
―in the throb of streets
where the late workers drone,
in the sounds that attend
each day’s sad, squalid end―
that reminds us: till death
we are never alone.

So we write from the hearts
that will fail us anon,
words in red
truly bled
though they cannot reveal
whence they came,
who they're for.
And the tap at the door
goes unanswered. We write,
for there is nothing more
than a verse,
than a song,
than this chant of the blessed:
"If these words
be my sins,
let me die unconfessed!
Unconfessed, unrepentant;
I rescind all my vows!"
Write till sleep:
it’s the leap
only Talent allows.



Burn
by Michael R. Burch

for Trump

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

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



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. 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.



Styx
by Michael R. Burch

Black waters, deep and dark and still . . .
all men have passed this way, or will.

I wrote the poem above as a teenager in high school. The lines started out as part of a longer poem, but I thought these were the two best lines and decided to let them stand alone on the principle that "discretion is the better part of valor."



Medusa
by Michael R. Burch

Friends, beware
of her iniquitous hair:
long, ravenblack & melancholy.

Many suitors drowned there:
lost, unaware
of the length & extent of their folly.

Originally published by Grand Little Things



At Cædmon’s Grave
by Michael R. Burch

“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. According to legend, Cædmon, an illiterate Anglo-Saxon cowherd, received the gift of poetic composition from an angel; he subsequently founded a school of Christian poets. Unfortunately, only nine lines of Cædmon’s verse survive, in the writings of the Venerable Bede. Whitby, tiny as it is, reappears later in the history of English literature, having been visited, in diametric contrast, by Lewis Carroll and Bram Stoker’s ghoulish yet evocative Dracula.

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 of 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.

Originally published by The Lyric



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

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



Cædmon’s Face
by Michael R. Burch

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 that dusk-enamored ground
and thought I heard the steps resound

of Carroll, Stoker and good Bede
who walked here 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.



He wrote here in an English tongue,
a language so unlike our own,
unlike—as father unto son.

But when at last a child is grown.
his heritage is made well-known:
his father’s face becomes his own.



He wrote here of the Middle-Earth,
the Maker’s might, man’s lowly birth,
of every thing that God gave worth

suspended under heaven’s roof.
He forged with simple words His truth
and nine lines left remain the proof:

his face was Poetry’s, from youth.



Song from Ælla: Under the Willow Tree, or, Minstrel's Song
by Thomas Chatterton, age 17 or younger
modernization/translation by Michael R. Burch

O! sing unto my roundelay,
O! drop the briny tear with me,
Dance no more at holy-day,
Like a running river be:
My love is dead,
Gone to his death-bed
All under the willow tree.

Black his crown as the winter night,
White his skin as the summer snow,
Red his face as the morning light,
Cold he lies in the grave below:
My love is dead,
Gone to his death-bed
All under the willow tree.

Sweet his tongue as the throstle's note,
Quick in dance as thought can be,
Deft his tabor, cudgel stout;
O! he lies by the willow tree!
My love is dead,
Gone to his death-bed
All under the willow tree.

Hark! the raven ***** his wing
In the briar'd dell below;
Hark! the death-owl loudly sings
To the nightmares, as they go:
My love is dead,
Gone to his death-bed
All under the willow-tree.

See! the white moon shines on high;
Whiter is my true love's shroud:
Whiter than the morning sky,
Whiter than the evening cloud:
My love is dead,
Gone to his death-bed
All under the willow tree.

Here upon my true love's grave
Shall the barren flowers be laid;
Not one holy saint to save
All the coolness of a maid:
My love is dead,
Gone to his death-bed
All under the willow tree.

With my hands I'll frame the briars
Round his holy corpse to grow:
Elf and fairy, light your fires,
Here my body, stilled, shall go:
My love is dead,
Gone to his death-bed
All under the willow tree.

Come, with acorn-cup and thorn,
Drain my heart’s red blood away;
Life and all its good I scorn,
Dance by night, or feast by day:
My love is dead,
Gone to his death-bed
All under the willow-tree.

Water witches, crowned with plaits,
Bear me to your lethal tide.
I die; I come; my true love waits.
Thus the damsel spoke, and died.

The song above is, in my opinion, competitive with Shakespeare's songs in his plays, and may be the best of Thomas Chatterton's so-called "Rowley" poems. The fact that Chatterton wrote it in his teens is astounding.



An Excelente Balade of Charitie (“An Excellent Ballad of Charity”)
by Thomas Chatterton, age 17
modernization/translation by Michael R. Burch

As wroten bie the goode Prieste
Thomas Rowley 1464

In Virgynë the swelt'ring sun grew keen,
Then hot upon the meadows cast his ray;
The apple ruddied from its pallid green
And the fat pear did extend its leafy spray;
The pied goldfinches sang the livelong day;
'Twas now the pride, the manhood of the year,
And the ground was mantled in fine green cashmere.

The sun was gleaming in the bright mid-day,
Dead-still the air, and likewise the heavens blue,
When from the sea arose, in drear array,
A heap of clouds of sullen sable hue,
Which full and fast unto the woodlands drew,
Hiding at once the sun's fair festive face,
As the black tempest swelled and gathered up apace.

Beneath a holly tree, by a pathway's side,
Which did unto Saint Godwin's convent lead,
A hapless pilgrim moaning did abide.
Poor in his sight, ungentle in his ****,
Long brimful of the miseries of need,
Where from the hailstones could the beggar fly?
He had no shelter there, nor any convent nigh.

Look in his gloomy face; his sprite there scan;
How woebegone, how withered, dried-up, dead!
Haste to thy parsonage, accursèd man!
Haste to thy crypt, thy only restful bed.
Cold, as the clay which will grow on thy head,
Is Charity and Love among high elves;
Knights and Barons live for pleasure and themselves.

The gathered storm is ripe; the huge drops fall;
The sunburnt meadows smoke and drink the rain;
The coming aghastness makes the cattle pale;
And the full flocks are driving o'er the plain;
Dashed from the clouds, the waters float again;
The heavens gape; the yellow lightning flies;
And the hot fiery steam in the wide flamepot dies.

Hark! now the thunder's rattling, clamoring sound
Heaves slowly on, and then enswollen clangs,
Shakes the high spire, and lost, dispended, drown'd,
Still on the coward ear of terror hangs;
The winds are up; the lofty elm-tree swings;
Again the lightning―then the thunder pours,
And the full clouds are burst at once in stormy showers.

Spurring his palfrey o'er the watery plain,
The Abbot of Saint Godwin's convent came;
His chapournette was drenchèd with the rain,
And his pinched girdle met with enormous shame;
He cursing backwards gave his hymns the same;
The storm increasing, and he drew aside
With the poor alms-craver, near the holly tree to bide.

His cape was all of Lincoln-cloth so fine,
With a gold button fasten'd near his chin;
His ermine robe was edged with golden twine,
And his high-heeled shoes a Baron's might have been;
Full well it proved he considered cost no sin;
The trammels of the palfrey pleased his sight
For the horse-milliner loved rosy ribbons bright.

"An alms, Sir Priest!" the drooping pilgrim said,
"Oh, let me wait within your convent door,
Till the sun shineth high above our head,
And the loud tempest of the air is o'er;
Helpless and old am I, alas!, and poor;
No house, no friend, no money in my purse;
All that I call my own is this―my silver cross.

"Varlet," replied the Abbott, "cease your din;
This is no season alms and prayers to give;
My porter never lets a beggar in;
None touch my ring who in dishonor live."
And now the sun with the blackened clouds did strive,
And shed upon the ground his glaring ray;
The Abbot spurred his steed, and swiftly rode away.

Once more the sky grew black; the thunder rolled;
Fast running o'er the plain a priest was seen;
Not full of pride, not buttoned up in gold;
His cape and jape were gray, and also clean;
A Limitour he was, his order serene;
And from the pathway side he turned to see
Where the poor almer lay beneath the holly tree.

"An alms, Sir Priest!" the drooping pilgrim said,
"For sweet Saint Mary and your order's sake."
The Limitour then loosen'd his purse's thread,
And from it did a groat of silver take;
The needy pilgrim did for happiness shake.
"Here, take this silver, it may ease thy care;
"We are God's stewards all, naught of our own we bear."

"But ah! unhappy pilgrim, learn of me,
Scarce any give a rentroll to their Lord.
Here, take my cloak, as thou are bare, I see;
'Tis thine; the Saints will give me my reward."
He left the pilgrim, went his way abroad.
****** and happy Saints, in glory showered,
Let the mighty bend, or the good man be empowered!

TRANSLATOR'S NOTES: It is possible that some words used by Chatterton were his own coinages; some of them apparently cannot be found in medieval literature. In a few places I have used similar-sounding words that seem to not overly disturb the meaning of the poem. ― Michael R. Burch



Children
by Michael R. Burch

There was a moment
suspended in time like a swelling drop of dew about to fall,
impendent, pregnant with possibility ...

when we might have made ...
anything,
anything we dreamed,
almost anything at all,
coalescing dreams into reality.

Oh, the love we might have fashioned
out of a fine mist and the nightly sparkle of the cosmos
and the rhythms of evening!

But we were young,
and what might have been is now a dark abyss of loss
and what is left is not worth saving.

But, oh, you were lovely,
child of the wild moonlight, attendant tides and doting stars,
and for a day,

what little we partook
of all that lay before us seemed so much,
and passion but a force
with which to play.



Davenport Tomorrow
by Michael R. Burch

Davenport tomorrow ...
all the trees stand stark-naked in the sun.

Now it is always summer
and the bees buzz in cesspools,
adapted to a new life.

There are no flowers,
but the weeds, being hardier,
have survived.

The small town has become
a city of millions;
there is no longer a sea,
only a huge sewer,
but the children don't mind.

They still study
rocks and stars,
but biology is a forgotten science ...
after all, what is life?

Davenport tomorrow ...
all the children murmur through vein-streaked gills
whispered wonders of long-ago.



Dawn
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth, Laura, and all good mothers

Bring your peculiar strength
to the strange nightmarish fray:
wrap up your cherished ones
in the golden light of day.

Amen

Originally published by The Lyric



Twice
by Michael R. Burch

Now twice she has left me
and twice I have listened
and taken her back, remembering days

when love lay upon us
and sparkled and glistened
with the brightness of dew through a gathering haze.

But twice she has left me
to start my life over,
and twice I have gathered up embers, to learn:

rekindle a fire
from ash, soot and cinder
and softly it sputters, refusing to burn.

Originally published by The Lyric



Pale Though Her Eyes
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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



Vampires
by Michael R. Burch

Vampires are such fragile creatures;
we dread the dark, but the light destroys them ...
sunlight, or a stake, or a cross―such common things.
Still, late at night, when the bat-like vampire sings,
we shrink from his voice.

Centuries have taught us:
in shadows danger lurks for those who stray,
and there the vampire bares his yellow fangs
and feels the ancient soul-tormenting pangs.
He has no choice.

We are his prey, plump and fragrant,
and if we pray to avoid him, the more he prays to find us ...
prays to some despotic hooded God
whose benediction is the humid blood
he lusts to taste.

Published by Monumental Moments (Eye Scry Publications), Weirdbook, Gothic Fairy, Dracula and His Kin, NawaZone and Raiders’ Digest



The Vampire's Spa Day Dream
by Michael R. Burch

O, to swim in vats of blood!
I wish I could, I wish I could!
O, 'twould be
so heavenly
to swim in lovely vats of blood!

This poem was inspired by a Josh Parkinson depiction of Elizabeth Bathory up to her nostrils in the blood of her victims, with their skulls floating in the background.



For All That I Remembered
by Michael R. Burch

For all that I remembered, I forgot
her name, her face, the reason that we loved ...
and yet I hold her close within my thought.
I feel the burnished weight of auburn hair
that fell across her face, the apricot
clean scent of her shampoo, the way she glowed
so palely in the moonlight, angel-wan.

The memory of her gathers like a flood
and bears me to that night, that only night,
when she and I were one, and if I could ...
I'd reach to her this time and, smiling, brush
the hair out of her eyes, and hold intact
each feature, each impression. Love is such
a threadbare sort of magic, it is gone
before we recognize it. I would crush
my lips to hers to hold their memory,
if not more tightly, less elusively.

Originally published by The Raintown Review



Ode to the Sun
by Michael R. Burch

Day is done...
on, swift sun.
Follow still your silent course.
Follow your unyielding course.
On, swift sun.

Leave no trace of where you've been;
give no hint of what you've seen.
But, ever as you onward flee,
touch me, O sun,
touch me.

Now day is done...
on, swift sun.
Go touch my love about her face
and warm her now for my embrace,
for though she sleeps so far away,
where she is not, I shall not stay.
Go tell her now I, too, shall come.
Go on, swift sun,
go on.

Published by The Tucumcari Literary Review. I believe I wrote this poem toward the end of my senior year in high school, around age 18, during my early Romantic Period. Keywords/Tags: Ode, Romantic, Love, Lover, Sun, Time, Night, Sleep, Dreams



To the boy Elis
by Georg Trakl
translation by Michael R. Burch

Elis, when the blackbird cries from the black forest,
it announces your downfall.
Your lips sip the rock-spring's blue coolness.

Your brow sweats blood
recalling ancient myths
and dark interpretations of birds' flight.

Yet you enter the night with soft footfalls;
the ripe purple grapes hang suspended
as you wave your arms more beautifully in the blueness.

A thornbush crackles;
where now are your moonlike eyes?
How long, oh Elis, have you been dead?

A monk dips waxed fingers
into your body's hyacinth;
Our silence is a black abyss

from which sometimes a docile animal emerges
slowly lowering its heavy lids.
A black dew drips from your temples:

the lost gold of vanished stars.

TRANSLATOR'S NOTE: I believe that in the second stanza the blood on Elis's forehead may be a reference to the apprehensive ****** sweat of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. If my interpretation is correct, Elis hears the blackbird's cries, anticipates the danger represented by a harbinger of death, but elects to continue rather than turn back. From what I have been able to gather, the color blue had a special significance for Georg Trakl: it symbolized longing and perhaps a longing for death. The colors blue, purple and black may represent a progression toward death in the poem.



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 "IOU"
Carlo C Gomez Feb 28
Never forget that TV commercials
are the offspring of Dracula.

Connect the dots...

They have a lot at stake,
shrouding their true intentions in
darkness.

The primary reason they exist
is to get you to buy into them,
to stick your neck out,
to believe they have your
best interest at heart.

They don't.
They could care less
who you are or
what you and yours really need.
So long as you allow them to
hammer more nails into your coffin.

They want your blood.
They want your money.

Plain and
Simple...

And they will stop at nothing
to **** it out of you.
I think of the nights in your car.
Watching the stars.
I pointed out the ones that fell,
While you watched me from the driver's seat.
One night I saw three,
Set ablaze by gravity.
I silently wished upon them
For it to always be that way.
You telling me such sweet things.
Making me feel wanted and understood.
Sliding your hands through my hair.
Fingertips dancing across my skin.
You didn't pay attention to
The falling rocks,
You watched as my heart fell
From the sky and right onto your lap.
You were the one person
That made the world disappear.
Now we're strangers.
You've hurt me like I've done to others.
Past pain floods in my ribs.
I suppose the tears
Are just the ones I owe.
Get back home and I get that check
Take that home and I pay my debt
Next day cash it save the rest
I was payed now I spend less
Income low my standards high
Work more make less die
Look back think I could made more
Counting change in every store
Go to my stash to file my forms
Filing taxes since I was born
All cash now no credit score
Rise that up and I go buy more
I am rich now or am I broke
I got cash but I lost my hope
I balling in debt no more so
Yeah, yeah
Get back home and I get that check
Take that home and I pay my debt
Next day cash it save the rest
I was payed now I spend less
Coins in the jar, cash in the bank
Bottom of the rank I poor low rank
Made much less so I could not save
Work more days let me get payed
Doc come trade let me work late
I want more and I cannot wait
Aye, aye
Skip to later dates
Now I got it made
When I'm in a grave
Yeah, aye
Get back home and I get that check
Take that home and I pay my debt
Next day cash it save the rest
I was payed now I spend less
Get back home and I get that check
Take that home and I pay my debt
Next day cash it save the rest
I was payed now I spend less
Hey there,
my darling Debt,
how is it
what's yours
is not necessarily mine,
yet what's mine
is already yours?
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