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Examine the word "embrace"
How syllables escape into sound
Waves
Mouth shapes
Release

E - M - BR - A - CE
How tender
A gentle approach

E... arms open wide
the invitation
an elongated welcome
"Come close"
Lips parted into a smile

M... a joining together
Communion

BR... limbs entangling
Millimeters pulse

A... the one enclosed

CE... teeth in contact, lips dangle
Hold that position
The lock

No letting go. No gaps. No holes

In bracchium -- this is your home.

Hug -- to console
a rush, a thud, an immediate response

H - U - G. Hug.
Hush.
Here. Now. Tighter.

Speech Pathology & Linguistics.
How the mouth works, how we make sense of words -- Why does your face look like that when you say those words?

Anthropology. Semiotics. Etymology.

Notice how we gather and release,
what we do to make an embrace, a hug.
Mouths feel before nerves could touch.

Have we yearned so much that utterances have become placeholders?

Settling for words, we fixate on how we say them
Read my lips gained a new meaning

Embrace, hug
Opening and closing,
holding and releasing,
touching

Wishing an action upon someone is not tantamount to sensations of nerve-endings

But bodies never really touch

Atoms push and pull
It's the physics around them that we feel
When palms caress
When fingers trace
When skin brushes upon skin
Physics

Let the physics of my words be enough until our electrons can interact again

In a dance

The expanse between your atoms and mine is dismissible as long as you hold on to the words "embrace" and "hug" and "kiss" and "love"  and the anatomy of how these words come to be

Until then, I wrap my whispers around yours

Their warmth is the 3rd law of motion in action
Written: May 4, 2020 amidst the implementation of lockdowns in various regions of the Philippines as part of the effort against COVID-19 spread.

This has been published in Beyond PGH: The Human Spirit Project Anthology, a collection of literary pieces written by healthcare workers and other contributors.
Nigdaw Dec 2020
****** dropped bombs on him
It was nothing personal
There was just a war on
He came under the heading of enemy
Blew the ****** front door in
His mum got shot at by a Messerschmitt
In the middle of the street
So he had to do the shopping after
Its dangerous out there send the kid

Served his country in the Royal Fusiliers
Made it to sergeant teaching squaddies
How to read and do their sums
Posted to Germany as army of occupation
Did his bit as the saying goes
Then back on civvy street worked in the city
Steam train took him every day
From the market town where I was born
To smoke and smog and daily grind

Now I am teaching him the iPhone 6
At eighty seven he’s doing great
From a socially acceptable distance
Of course so we can keep in touch
Face to face and he won’t miss us
Now by himself rattling around
The big old house where I grew up
How times have changed
Still he should be used to queuing up
A poem about my dad during these strange times.
Naveen Malhotra Nov 2020
Type 1 civilization
Humanity approaches
Distancing from Nature
Energy from all sources
On Earth it would harness
Type 0 to Type 1
Enormous energy consumption
The only parameter
Determining type of civilization
Natural disasters
Earthquakes, tsunamies  
To be sources of energy
Technological advances
Life artificially distancing
Flora and fauna
Only on smartphones and computers
Living in virtual reality
A reality
Living in Nature's lap
A dream
Current civilization
Somewhere Type 0 and Type 1 in between
Type 0 civilization
Minimal energy consumption
Pollution free environment
Imagine roaming about
In a jungle
Riding a horse
Bow and arrows on shoulder
Sword in one hand
The other holding bridle reins
Horse galloping the trail
Then meeting princess
Of your dream
In type 1 civilization
Man would be an intelligent mass
Overwhelmed by technology
To and fro
Moon and Mars
Enter next type civilization
Dyson sphere
Around the Sun
To materialise
Channelize and harness
Solar energy Earth towards
Farther from Nature
Artificiality upwards!
Michael R Burch Sep 2020
Poems about the Coronavirus


yet another iffy coronavirus haiku #1
by michael r. burch

plagued by the Plague
i plague the goldfish
with my verse



yet another iffy coronavirus haiku #2
by michael r. burch

sunflowers
hang their heads
embarrassed by their coronas

I wrote this poem after having a sunflower arrangement delivered to my mother, who is in an assisted living center and can’t have visitors due to the pandemic. This a poem about living with the fear, uncertainty, isolation, loneliness, alienation and depression created by the pandemic.



homework: yet another iffy coronavirus haiku #3
by Michael R. Burch

dim bulb overhead,
my silent companion:
still imitating the noonday sun?



yet another iffy coronavirus haiku #4
by Michael R. Burch

Spring fling―
children string flowers
into their face masks



New World Order (last in a series and perhaps of a species)
by Michael R. Burch

The days of the dandelions dawn ...
soon man will be gone:
fertilizer.



Spring has come:
the nameless hill
lies shrouded in mist
― Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



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



Grasses wilt:
the braking locomotive
grinds to a halt
― Yamaguchi Seishi, 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



Whistle on, twilight whippoorwill,
solemn evangelist
of loneliness
― Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch


An empty road
lonelier than abandonment:
this autumn evening
― Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



Winter drawing near:
my neighbor,
how does he fare?
― Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch


Let us arrange
these lovely flowers in the bowl
since there's no rice
― Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch


Death
stood at the end of the hall
in the long shadows
― Watanabe Hakusen, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



Tonight I saw
how the peony crumples
in the fire's embers
― Katoh Shuhson, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



The new calendar!:
as if tomorrow
is assured ...
― Inahata Teiko, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



A kite floats
at the same place in the sky
where yesterday it floated ...
― Buson Yosa, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



Our life here on earth:
to what shall we compare it?
It is not like a rowboat
departing at daybreak,
leaving no trace of us in its wake?
― Takaha Shugyo, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



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

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



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!



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, because 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!



You Were My Death
by Paul Celan
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

You were my death;
I could hold you
when everything abandoned me―
even breath.



Epitaph for a Little Child Lost
by Michael R. Burch

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



Not Saying the World Revolves Around You, But ...
by Michael R. Burch

The day’s eyes were blue
until you appeared
and they wept at your beauty.




Imperfect Perfection
by Michael R. Burch

You’re too perfect for words―
a problem for a poet.



Stormfront
by Michael R. Burch

Our distance is frightening:
a distance like the abyss between heaven and earth
interrupted by bizarre and terrible lightning.



Splintering

An unbending tree
breaks easily.
―Lao Tzu, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



Autumn Conundrum
by by Michael R. Burch

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



Laughter’s Cry
by Michael R. Burch

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

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



Childless
by Michael R. Burch

How can she bear her grief?
Mightier than Atlas, she shoulders the weight
of one fallen star.



I Pray Tonight
by Michael R. Burch

I pray tonight
the starry light
might
surround you.

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

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



For a Little Child Lost, with Butterflies
by Michael R. Burch

Where does the butterfly go
when lightning rails, when thunder howls,
when hailstones scream, when winter scowls,
when storms compound dark frosts with snow?
Where does the butterfly go?

Where does the rose hide its bloom
when night descends oblique and chill
beyond the capacity of moonlight to fill?
When the only relief's a banked fire's glow,
where does the butterfly go?

And where shall the spirit flee
when life is harsh, too harsh to face,
and hope is lost without a trace?
Oh, when the light of life runs low,
where does the butterfly go?

Please tell me, dear child;
lead, oh, and I'll follow,
for surely, my Angel, you know ...



Neglect
by Michael R. Burch

What good are your tears?
They will not spare the dying their anguish.
What good is your concern
to a child sick of living, waiting to perish?

What good, the warm benevolence of tears
without action?
What help, the eloquence of prayers,
or a pleasant benediction?

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

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

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



The Octopi Jars
by Michael R. Burch

Long-vacant eyes
now lodged in clear glass,
a-swim with pale arms
as delicate as angels'...

you are beyond all hope
of salvage now...
and yet I would pause,
no fear!,
to once touch
your arcane beaks...

I, more alien than you
to this imprismed world,
notice, most of all,
the scratches on the inside surfaces
of your hermetic cells ...

and I remember documentaries
of albino Houdinis
slipping like wraiths
over the walls of shipboard aquariums,
slipping down decks'
brine-lubricated planks,
spilling jubilantly into the dark sea,
parachuting through clouds of pallid ammonia...

and I know now in life you were unlike me:
your imprisonment was never voluntary.



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!



Update of "A Litany in Time of Plague"
by Michael R. Burch

THE PLAGUE has come again
To darken lives of men
and women, girls and boys;
Death proves their bodies toys
Too frail to even cry.
I am sick, I must die.
Lord, have mercy on us!

Tycoons, what use is wealth?
You cannot buy good health!
Physicians cannot heal
Themselves, to Death must kneel.
Nuns’ prayers mount to the sky.
I am sick, I must die.
Lord, have mercy on us!

Beauty’s brightest flower?
Devoured in an hour.
Kings, Queens and Presidents
Are fearful residents
Of manors boarded high.
I am sick, I must die.
Lord, have mercy on us!

We have no means to save
Our children from the grave.
Though cure-alls line our shelves,
We cannot save ourselves.
"Come, come!" the sad bells cry.
I am sick, I must die.
Lord, have mercy on us!

NOTE: This poem is meant to capture the understandable fear and dismay the Plague caused in the Middle Ages, and which the coronavirus has caused in the 21st century. We are better equipped to deal with this modern plague, thanks to advances in science, medicine and sanitation. We do not have to succumb to fear, but it would be wise to have a healthy respect for the nasty bug and heed the advice of medical experts.―MRB

Keywords/Tags: coronavirus, pandemic, COVID-19, plague, illness, death, fear, pain, rhyme, uncertainty, isolation, loneliness, alienation, depression, masks, social, distance, distancing, mrbcorona, mrbplague
life on our globe has turned
truly ‘complificated’
and many struggle to maintain
a semblance of the ordinary
in our daily goings about town

face masks, regulations and prescriptions
have changed how we can interact
if we may at all
with each other, friends, family, or strangers

physical distancing may rise desire
for at least digital social closeness
yet in its wake
emotional remoteness seems to grow

hanging like a shadow over
occasional live meetings with old friends
children, aunts, uncles, grandparents etc.

we watch them with veiled suspicion
they somehow look a little less familiar
since we met them last time
who knows what they might carry

strangers watching strangers we have become
growing more alienated from each other
E Jul 2020
New
New pair of shoes
New way of thinking
New type of coffee
New summer camp

So why can’t we adjust
To this new way of life
Physical distancing
And wearing masks

Sure, Plexiglass might be a pain
Back in the office, but
It’s better than working from home
With your kids hyped up on sugar

If you’re stuck in a rut
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Sure, it might be embarrassing
But rent won’t pay itself

I hope you have learned
Check the CDC website
If you have any questions
During this time
Michael R Burch Jun 2020
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.

Keywords/Tags: Coronavirus, Pandemic, Teen, Society, Humor, Hope, Social Distancing, Isolation, Family, Home, House, Escape, Escapism, Freedom, Plague, Boredom
annh May 2020
[Social
.
.
distancing]
.
.
makes
.
.
the
.
.
heart
.
.
grow

.
fonder.

In this brave new world of no handshakes and multiple rounds of hand sanitiser there exists a blessed irony: social distancing is bringing my neighbourhood closer together. The solidarity of a shared smile - albeit bestowed from an apologetic distance of two metres - lifts the spirits, straightens the shoulders, and tickles the heartstrings more than any viral meme (no pun intended) could ever do.
kevin hamilton May 2020
thrice do the floorboards creak
beneath your feet, eldest first
and every step is a wound
vitriolic and repeating
i hear the tenebrous stair
spiral forth with the sound
of you leaving

and by the intervals of sleep
i will fall forever, hymnal-red
through the ceiling
as all our dreams fade faster
in the folds of my memory

thinking of those eyes
one last time
wrapped around me
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