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You kick
A hundred times
Ten times
It's a goal
The probability
Ten in one hundred
If the time isn't right
No goal would occur
Say 1st to 90th trial
If the time is right
All the ten goals would occur
Say 1st to 10th trial
Probability smiles
You smile!
Life is a long lesson
Made up of small lessons
Some small lessons are big lessons
Big lessons are lifelong lessons
Learning you hold your heart
Time is quite hard
The earlier you learnt
Lifelong lessons
The better it's
It's my confession
It's easier to learn
Long lesson of life
Life often teaches lessons of shorter durations. But we either don't learn them or forget them easily until something serious happens. Serious happenings give us lifelong lessons which make us understand and appreciate life better. We become careful, attentive and knowledgeable to perceive warning signs with ease in future preventing disastrous consequences. Small lesson here means a lesson over short period. Big lesson means lesson of high degree of importance.
Àŧùl Mar 7
Jihadis have no souls.
They are not humans.
I categorize them under ghouls.
They are enemies of all life.
No soldier should regret killing a Jihadi of any age.
My HP Poem #1913
©Atul Kaushal
Dee Mar 6
Those early mornings,
When thoughts are hushed,
Sunrise chasing away the darkness,
Scattering the stars.

Those early mornings,
When time seems to slow,
Warm embraces soothe an icy soul,
Defrosting with each kiss.

Those early mornings,
When light becomes a soft glow,
Deep breaths are a soundtrack,
To that lazy weekend morning.
Her health is a matter of concern
Allopathic, Ayurvedic, homoeopathic treatments are not for her
Physiotherapy, psychotherapy too of no use
May be she is a case of malnutrition
Much depends on her economic condition
For her WHO too has no solution
Maybe I have a wrong notion
She may be on a recovery path
Aggravation of symptoms just an induced state of treatment
Early recovery, I shall be happy
When no symptoms are visible
Appropriate to ask HelloPoetry
How do you do?
Michael R Burch Dec 2020
Juvenilia by Michael R. Burch

I call these poems my Juvenilia, or early poems, because they were written between the ages of around age eleven to my late teens. I have tried to keep the poems in roughly chronological order, creating a timeline or chronology of sorts.



Bible Libel
by Michael R. Burch

If God
is good
half the Bible
is libel.

I read the Bible from cover to cover at age 11, ten chapters per day, at the suggestion of my parents. The so-called "word of God" left me aghast. How could anyone possibly claim the biblical god Yahweh/Jehovah was good, wise, loving, just, etc.? I came up with this epigram to express my conclusions. But I'm not sure when I came up with it: I will guess sometime between ages 11 to 13.



Ironic Vacation
by Michael R. Burch

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

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



Playmates
by Michael R. Burch

WHEN you were my playmate and I was yours,
we spent endless hours with simple toys,
and the sorrows and cares of our indentured days
were uncomprehended ... far, far away ...
for the temptations and trials we had yet to face
were lost in the shadows of an unventured maze.

Then simple pleasures were easy to find
and if they cost us a little, we didn't mind;
for even a penny in a pocket back then
was one penny too many, a penny to spend.

Then feelings were feelings and love was just love,
not a strange, complex mystery to be understood;
while "sin" and "damnation" meant little to us,
since forbidden cookies were our only lusts!

Then we never worried about what we had,
and we were both sure—what was good, what was bad.
And we sometimes quarreled, but we didn't hate;
we seldom gave thought to the uncertainties of fate.

Hell, we seldom thought about the next day,
when tomorrow seemed hidden—adventures away.
Though sometimes we dreamed of adventures past,
and wondered, at times, why things couldn't last.

Still, we never worried about getting by,
and we didn't know that we were to die ...
when we spent endless hours with simple toys,
and I was your playmate, and we were boys.

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



Smoke
by Michael R. Burch

The hazy, smoke-filled skies of summer I remember well;
farewell was on my mind, and the thoughts that I can't tell
rang bells within (the din was in) my mind, and I can't say
if what we had was good or bad, or where it is today.
The endless days of summer's haze I still recall today;
she spoke and smoky skies stood still as summer slipped away ...

I wrote this early poem around age 14 and it appeared in my high school journal, the Lantern, and my college literary journal, Homespun. It has since been published by The Eclectic Muse (Canada), Fullosia Press and Better Than Starbucks, and translated into Romanian and published by Petru Dimofte. I find it interesting that I was able to write a "rhyme rich" poem at such a young age. In six lines the poem has 26 rhymes and near rhymes.



An Illusion
by Michael R. Burch

The sky was as hushed as the breath of a bee
and the world was bathed in shades of palest gold
when I awoke.

She came to me with the sound of falling leaves
and the scent of new-mown grass;
I held out my arms to her and she passed

into oblivion ...

This is one of my early poems, written around age 16 and published in my high school literary journal, The Lantern. Keywords/Tags: early poems, Juvenilia, illusion, illusory, dream, mirage, morning, fantasy, awakening, waking up, oblivion



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 wrote this poem around age 17.



Observance
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

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



hymn to Apollo
by Michael R. Burch

something of sunshine attracted my i
as it lazed on the afternoon sky,
   golden,
splashed on the easel of god ...

what,
i thought,
could this elfin stuff be,
to, phantomlike,
   flit
through tall trees
on fall days, such as these?

and the breeze
whispered a dirge
to the vanishing light;
enchoired with the evening, it sang;
its voice
enchantedly
rang
chanting “Night!” ...

till all the bright light
retired,
expired.

This poem appeared in my high school literary journal, the Lantern. I believe I wrote it around age 16-17.



Something
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

This was the first poem that I wrote that didn't rhyme. I believe I wrote it around age 18-19.



Infinity
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

This is one of the first poems that made me feel like a "real" poet.  I wrote it around age 18.



The Communion of Sighs
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

Then the only light was the moon on the rise,
and the only sound, the communion of sighs.

Written around age 18.



These Hallowed Halls
by Michael R. Burch
a young Romantic Poet mourns the passing of an age ...

I.

A final stereo fades into silence
and now there is seldom a murmur
to trouble the slumber
of these ancient halls.

I stand by a window where others have watched
the passage of time alone,
not untouched,
and I am as they were—
                                       unsure,
and the days
stretch out ahead,
a bewildering maze.

II.

Ah, faithless lover—
that I had never touched your breast,
nor felt the stirrings of my heart,
which until that moment had peacefully slept.

For now I have known the exhilaration
of a heart that has leapt from the pinnacle of love,
and the result of every infatuation—
the long freefall to earth, as the moon glides above.

III.

A solitary clock chimes the hour
from far above the campus,
but my peers,
returning from their dances,
heed it not.

And so it is
that we seldom gauge Time’s speed
because He moves so unobtrusively
about His task.

Still, when at last
we reckon His mark upon our lives,
we may well be surprised
at His thoroughness.

IV.

Ungentle maiden—
when Time has etched His little lines
so carelessly across your brow,
perhaps I will love you less than now.

And when cruel Time has stolen
your youth, as He certainly shall in course,
perhaps you will wish you had taken me
along with my broken heart,
even as He will take you with yours.

V.

A measureless rhythm rules the night—
few have heard it,
but I have shared it,
and its secret is mine.

To put it into words
is as to extract the sweetness from honey
and must be done as gently
as a butterfly cleans its wings.

But when it is captured, it is gone again;
its usefulness is only
that it lulls to sleep.

VI.

So sleep, my love, to the cadence of night,
to the moans of the moonlit hills
that groan as I do, yet somehow sleep
through the nightjar’s cryptic trills.

But I will not sleep this night, nor any ...
how can I, when my dreams
are always of your perfect face
ringed in whorls of fretted lace,
and a tear upon your pillowcase?

VII.

If I had been born when knights roamed the earth
and mad kings ruled strange lands,
I might have turned to the ministry,
to the solitude of a monastery.

But there are no monks or hermits today—
theirs is a lost occupation
carried on, if at all,
merely for sake of tradition.

For today man abhors solitude—
he craves companions, song and drink,
seldom seeking a quiet moment,
to sit alone by himself, to think.

VIII.

And so I cannot shut myself
off from the rest of the world,
to spend my days in philosophy
and my nights in tears of self-sympathy.

No, I must continue as best I can,
and learn to keep my thoughts away
from those glorious, uproarious moments of youth,
centuries past though lost but a day.

IX.

Yes, I must discipline myself
and adjust to these lackluster days
when men display no chivalry
and romance is the "old-fashioned" way.

X.

A single stereo flares into song
and the first faint light of morning
has pierced the sky's black awning
once again.

XI.

This is a sacred place,
for those who leave,
leave better than they came.

But those who stay, while they are here,
add, with their sleepless nights and tears,
quaint sprigs of ivy to the walls
of these hallowed halls.

I wrote this poem as a college freshman, age 18, watching my peers return to their dorms from a hard night of partying ...




Regret
by Michael R. Burch

1.
Regret,
a bitter
ache to bear ...

once starlight
languished
in your hair ...

a shining there
as brief
as rare.

2.
Regret ...
a pain
I chose to bear ...

unleash
the torrent
of your hair ...

and show me
once again—
how rare.

I believe I wrote this poem around age 19. I may have been thinking about Rapunzel.



Poetry
by Michael R. Burch

Poetry, I found you
where at last they chained and bound you;
with devices all around you
to torture and confound you,
I found you—shivering, bare.

They had shorn your raven hair
and taken both your eyes
which, once cerulean as Gogh's skies,
had leapt at dawn to wild surmise
of what was waiting there.

Your back was bent with untold care;
there savage brands had left cruel scars
as though the wounds of countless wars;
your bones were broken with the force
with which they'd lashed your flesh so fair.

You once were loveliest of all.
So many nights you held in thrall
a scrawny lad who heard your call
from where dawn’s milling showers fall—
pale meteors through sapphire air.

I learned the eagerness of youth
to temper for a lover’s touch;
I felt you, tremulant, reprove
each time I fumbled over-much.
Your merest word became my prayer.

You took me gently by the hand
and led my steps from child to man;
now I look back, remember when
you shone, and cannot understand
why now, tonight, you bear their brand.

                     *

I will take and cradle you in my arms,
remindful of the gentle charms
you showed me once, of yore;
and I will lead you from your cell tonight
back into that incandescent light
which flows out of the core
of a sun whose robes you wore.
And I will wash your feet with tears
for all those blissful years ...
my love, whom I adore.

I consider "Poetry" to be my Ars Poetica. I believe I wrote the first version in my late teens, probably around age 19.



El Dorado
by Michael R. Burch

It's a fine town, a fine town,
though its alleys recede into shadow;
it's a very fine town for those who are searching
for an El Dorado.

Because the lighting is poor and the streets are bare
and the welfare line is long,
there must be something of value somewhere
to keep us hanging on
to our El Dorado.

Though the children are skinny, their parents are fat
from years of gorging on bleached white bread,
yet neither will leave
because all believe
in the vague things that are said
of El Dorado.

The young men with the outlandish hairstyles
who saunter in and out of the turnstiles
with a song on their lips and an aimless shuffle,
scuffing their shoes, avoiding the bustle,
certainly feel no need to join the crowd
of those who work to earn their bread;
they must know that the rainbow's end
conceals a *** of gold
near El Dorado.

And the painted “actress” who roams the streets,
smiling at every man she meets,
must smile because, after years of running,
no man can match her in cruelty or cunning.
She must see the satire of “defeats”
and “triumphs” on the ambivalent streets
of El Dorado.

Yes, it's a fine town, a very fine town
for those who can leave when they tire
of chasing after rainbows and dreams
and living on nothing but fire.
But for those of us who cling to our dreams
and cannot let them go,
like the sad-eyed ladies who wander the streets
and the junkies high on snow,
the dream has become a reality
—the reality of hope
that grew too strong
not to linger on—
and so this is our home.

We chew the apple, spit it out,
then eat it "just once more."
For this is the big, big apple,
though it is rotten to the core,
and we are its worm
in the night when we squirm
in our El Dorado.

I believe I wrote the first version during my “Romantic phase” around age 16-19. This poem was definitely written in my teens because it appears in a poetry contest folder that I put together and submitted during my sophomore year in college.



Each Color a Scar
by Michael R. Burch

What she left here,
upon my cheek,
is a tear.

She did not speak,
but her intention
was clear,

and I was meek,
far too meek, and, I fear,
too sincere.

What she can never take
from my heart
is its ache;

for now we, apart,
are like leaves
without weight,

scattered afar
by love, or by hate,
each color a scar.

I believe I wrote this poem around age 20-21.



All My Children
by Michael R. Burch

It is May now, gentle May,
and the sun shines pleasantly
upon the blousy flowers
of this backyard cemet'ry,
upon my children as they sleep.

Oh, there is Hank in the daisies now,
with a mound of earth for a pillow;
his face as hard as his monument,
but his voice as soft as the wind through the willows.

And there is Meg beside the spring
that sings her endless sleep.
Though it’s often said of stiller waters,
sometimes quicksilver streams run deep.

And there is Frankie, little Frankie,
tucked in safe at last,
a child who weakened and died too soon,
but whose heart was always steadfast.

And there is Mary by the bushes
where she hid so well,
her face as dark as their berries,
yet her eyes far darker still.

And Andy ... there is Andy,
sleeping in the clover,
a child who never saw the sun
so soon his life was over.

And Em'ly, oh my Em'ly ...
the prettiest of all ...
now she's put aside her dreams
of lovers dark and tall
for dreams dreamed not at all.

It is May now, merry May
and the sun shines pleasantly
upon these ardent gardens,
on the graves of all my children ...

But they never did depart;
they still live within my heart.

I believe I wrote this poem around age 15-16.



Keywords/Tags: Juvenilia, early poems, early writing, early work, young, youthful, teenage, high school, college
Michael R Burch Apr 2020
An Illusion
by Michael R. Burch

The sky was as hushed as the breath of a bee
and the world was bathed in shades of palest gold
when I awoke.

She came to me with the sound of falling leaves
and the scent of new-mown grass;
I held out my arms to her and she passed

into oblivion ...

This is one of my early poems, written around age 16 and published in my high school literary journal, The Lantern. Keywords/Tags: early poems, Juvenilia, illusion, illusory, dream, mirage, morning, fantasy, awakening, waking up, oblivion



Smoke
by Michael R. Burch

The hazy, smoke-filled skies of summer I remember well;
farewell was on my mind, and the thoughts that I can't tell
rang bells within (the din was in) my mind, and I can't say
if what we had was good or bad, or where it is today.
The endless days of summer's haze I still recall today;
she spoke and smoky skies stood still as summer slipped away ...

I wrote this early poem around age 14 and it appeared in my high school journal, the Lantern. It also appeared in my college literary journal, Homespun. It has since been published by The Eclectic Muse (Canada), Fullosia Press and Better Than Starbucks, and translated into Romanian and published by Petru Dimofte. I find it interesting that I was able to write a "rhyme rich" poem at such a young age. In six lines the poem has 26 rhymes and near rhymes.



Bible Libel
by Michael R. Burch

If God
is good
half the Bible
is libel.

I read the Bible from cover to cover at age 11, ten chapters per day, at the suggestion of my parents. The so-called "word of God" left me aghast. How could anyone possibly claim the biblical god Yahweh/Jehovah was good, wise, loving, just, etc.? I came up with this epigram to express my conclusions around age 11-13.



Ironic Vacation
by Michael R. Burch

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

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



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 wrote this around age 16-17.



Observance
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

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



Something
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

This was the first poem that I wrote that didn't rhyme. I believe I wrote it around age 18.



Infinity
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

This is one of the first poems that made me feel like a "real" poet.  I wrote it around age 18.



The Communion of Sighs
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

Then the only light was the moon on the rise,
and the only sound, the communion of sighs.

Written around age 18.



hymn to Apollo
by Michael R. Burch

something of sunshine attracted my i
as it lazed on the afternoon sky,
   golden,
splashed on the easel of god ...

what,
i thought,
could this elfin stuff be,
to, phantomlike,
   flit
through tall trees
on fall days, such as these?

and the breeze
whispered a dirge
to the vanishing light;
enchoired with the evening, it sang;
its voice
enchantedly
rang
chanting “Night!” ...

till all the bright light
retired,
expired.

This poem appeared in my high school literary journal, the Lantern. I believe I wrote it around age 16 or 17.



These Hallowed Halls
by Michael R. Burch
a young Romantic Poet mourns the passing of an age ...

I.

A final stereo fades into silence
and now there is seldom a murmur
to trouble the slumber
of these ancient halls.

I stand by a window where others have watched
the passage of time alone,
not untouched,
and I am as they were—
                                       unsure,
and the days
stretch out ahead,
a bewildering maze.

II.

Ah, faithless lover—
that I had never touched your breast,
nor felt the stirrings of my heart,
which until that moment had peacefully slept.

For now I have known the exhilaration
of a heart that has leapt from the pinnacle of love,
and the result of every infatuation—
the long freefall to earth, as the moon glides above.

III.

A solitary clock chimes the hour
from far above the campus,
but my peers,
returning from their dances,
heed it not.

And so it is
that we seldom gauge Time’s speed
because He moves so unobtrusively
about His task.

Still, when at last
we reckon His mark upon our lives,
we may well be surprised
at His thoroughness.

IV.

Ungentle maiden—
when Time has etched His little lines
so carelessly across your brow,
perhaps I will love you less than now.

And when cruel Time has stolen
your youth, as He certainly shall in course,
perhaps you will wish you had taken me
along with my broken heart,
even as He will take you with yours.

V.

A measureless rhythm rules the night—
few have heard it,
but I have shared it,
and its secret is mine.

To put it into words
is as to extract the sweetness from honey
and must be done as gently
as a butterfly cleans its wings.

But when it is captured, it is gone again;
its usefulness is only
that it lulls to sleep.

VI.

So sleep, my love, to the cadence of night,
to the moans of the moonlit hills
that groan as I do, yet somehow sleep
through the nightjar’s cryptic trills.

But I will not sleep this night, nor any ...
how can I, when my dreams
are always of your perfect face
ringed in whorls of fretted lace,
and a tear upon your pillowcase?

VII.

If I had been born when knights roamed the earth
and mad kings ruled strange lands,
I might have turned to the ministry,
to the solitude of a monastery.

But there are no monks or hermits today—
theirs is a lost occupation
carried on, if at all,
merely for sake of tradition.

For today man abhors solitude—
he craves companions, song and drink,
seldom seeking a quiet moment,
to sit alone by himself, to think.

VIII.

And so I cannot shut myself
off from the rest of the world,
to spend my days in philosophy
and my nights in tears of self-sympathy.

No, I must continue as best I can,
and learn to keep my thoughts away
from those glorious, uproarious moments of youth,
centuries past though lost but a day.

IX.

Yes, I must discipline myself
and adjust to these lackluster days
when men display no chivalry
and romance is the "old-fashioned" way.

X.

A single stereo flares into song
and the first faint light of morning
has pierced the sky's black awning
once again.

XI.

This is a sacred place,
for those who leave,
leave better than they came.

But those who stay, while they are here,
add, with their sleepless nights and tears,
quaint sprigs of ivy to the walls
of these hallowed halls.

I wrote this poem as a college freshman, age 18, watching my peers return to their dorms from a hard night of partying ...



Poetry
by Michael R. Burch

Poetry, I found you
where at last they chained and bound you;
with devices all around you
to torture and confound you,
I found you—shivering, bare.

They had shorn your raven hair
and taken both your eyes
which, once cerulean as Gogh's skies,
had leapt at dawn to wild surmise
of what was waiting there.

Your back was bent with untold care;
there savage brands had left cruel scars
as though the wounds of countless wars;
your bones were broken with the force
with which they'd lashed your flesh so fair.

You once were loveliest of all.
So many nights you held in thrall
a scrawny lad who heard your call
from where dawn’s milling showers fall—
pale meteors through sapphire air.

I learned the eagerness of youth
to temper for a lover’s touch;
I felt you, tremulant, reprove
each time I fumbled over-much.
Your merest word became my prayer.

You took me gently by the hand
and led my steps from child to man;
now I look back, remember when
you shone, and cannot understand
why now, tonight, you bear their brand.

                     *

I will take and cradle you in my arms,
remindful of the gentle charms
you showed me once, of yore;
and I will lead you from your cell tonight
back into that incandescent light
which flows out of the core
of a sun whose robes you wore.
And I will wash your feet with tears
for all those blissful years ...
my love, whom I adore.

I consider "Poetry" to be my Ars Poetica. I believe I wrote the first version in my late teens, probably around age 19.



Regret
by Michael R. Burch

1.
Regret,
a bitter
ache to bear ...

once starlight
languished
in your hair ...

a shining there
as brief
as rare.

2.
Regret ...
a pain
I chose to bear ...

unleash
the torrent
of your hair ...

and show me
once again—
how rare.

I believe I wrote this poem around age 19. I may have been thinking about Rapunzel.



Playmates
by Michael R. Burch

WHEN you were my playmate and I was yours,
we spent endless hours with simple toys,
and the sorrows and cares of our indentured days
were uncomprehended ... far, far away ...
for the temptations and trials we had yet to face
were lost in the shadows of an unventured maze.

Then simple pleasures were easy to find
and if they cost us a little, we didn't mind;
for even a penny in a pocket back then
was one penny too many, a penny to spend.

Then feelings were feelings and love was just love,
not a strange, complex mystery to be understood;
while "sin" and "damnation" meant little to us,
since forbidden cookies were our only lusts!

Then we never worried about what we had,
and we were both sure—what was good, what was bad.
And we sometimes quarreled, but we didn't hate;
we seldom gave thought to the uncertainties of fate.

Hell, we seldom thought about the next day,
when tomorrow seemed hidden—adventures away.
Though sometimes we dreamed of adventures past,
and wondered, at times, why things couldn't last.

Still, we never worried about getting by,
and we didn't know that we were to die ...
when we spent endless hours with simple toys,
and I was your playmate, and we were boys.

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



El Dorado
by Michael R. Burch

It's a fine town, a fine town,
though its alleys recede into shadow;
it's a very fine town for those who are searching
for an El Dorado.

Because the lighting is poor and the streets are bare
and the welfare line is long,
there must be something of value somewhere
to keep us hanging on
to our El Dorado.

Though the children are skinny, their parents are fat
from years of gorging on bleached white bread,
yet neither will leave
because all believe
in the vague things that are said
of El Dorado.

The young men with the outlandish hairstyles
who saunter in and out of the turnstiles
with a song on their lips and an aimless shuffle,
scuffing their shoes, avoiding the bustle,
certainly feel no need to join the crowd
of those who work to earn their bread;
they must know that the rainbow's end
conceals a *** of gold
near El Dorado.

And the painted “actress” who roams the streets,
smiling at every man she meets,
must smile because, after years of running,
no man can match her in cruelty or cunning.
She must see the satire of “defeats”
and “triumphs” on the ambivalent streets
of El Dorado.

Yes, it's a fine town, a very fine town
for those who can leave when they tire
of chasing after rainbows and dreams
and living on nothing but fire.
But for those of us who cling to our dreams
and cannot let them go,
like the sad-eyed ladies who wander the streets
and the junkies high on snow,
the dream has become a reality
—the reality of hope
that grew too strong
not to linger on—
and so this is our home.

We chew the apple, spit it out,
then eat it "just once more."
For this is the big, big apple,
though it is rotten to the core,
and we are its worm
in the night when we squirm
in our El Dorado.

I believe I wrote the first version during my “Romantic phase” around age 16-19. This poem was definitely written in my teens because it appears in a poetry contest folder that I put together and submitted during my sophomore year in college.



Each Color a Scar
by Michael R. Burch

What she left here,
upon my cheek,
is a tear.

She did not speak,
but her intention
was clear,

and I was meek,
far too meek, and, I fear,
too sincere.

What she can never take
from my heart
is its ache;

for now we, apart,
are like leaves
without weight,

scattered afar
by love, or by hate,
each color a scar.

I believe I wrote this poem around age 20-21.



All My Children
by Michael R. Burch

It is May now, gentle May,
and the sun shines pleasantly
upon the blousy flowers
of this backyard cemet'ry,
upon my children as they sleep.

Oh, there is Hank in the daisies now,
with a mound of earth for a pillow;
his face as hard as his monument,
but his voice as soft as the wind through the willows.

And there is Meg beside the spring
that sings her endless sleep.
Though it’s often said of stiller waters,
sometimes quicksilver streams run deep.

And there is Frankie, little Frankie,
tucked in safe at last,
a child who weakened and died too soon,
but whose heart was always steadfast.

And there is Mary by the bushes
where she hid so well,
her face as dark as their berries,
yet her eyes far darker still.

And Andy ... there is Andy,
sleeping in the clover,
a child who never saw the sun
so soon his life was over.

And Em'ly, oh my Em'ly ...
the prettiest of all ...
now she's put aside her dreams
of lovers dark and tall
for dreams dreamed not at all.

It is May now, merry May
and the sun shines pleasantly
upon these ardent gardens,
on the graves of all my children ...

But they never did depart;
they still live within my heart.

I believe I wrote this poem around age 15-16.


This is a poem I wrote after reading W. S. Merwin’s translations of Pablo Neruda’s love sonnets.

First and Last
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth, after Pablo Neruda

You are the last arcane rose
of my aching,
my longing,
or the first yellowed leaves—
vagrant spirals of gold
forming huddled bright sheaves;
you are passion forsaking
dark skies, as though sunsets no winds might enclose.
And still in my arms
you are gentle and fragrant—
demesne of my vigor,
spent rigor,
lost power,
fallen musculature of youth,
leaves clinging and hanging,
nameless joys of my youth to this last lingering hour.

Published by Tucumcari Literary Review and Poetry Life & Times



Thirty
by Michael R. Burch

Thirty crept upon me slowly
with feline caution and a slowly-twitching tail;
patiently she waited for the winds to shift;
now, claws unsheathed, she lies seething to assail
her helpless prey.



The Toast
by Michael R. Burch

For longings warmed by tepid suns
(brief lusts that animated clay),
for passions wilted at the bud
and skies grown desolate and gray,
for stars that fell from tinseled heights
and mountains bleak and scarred and lone,
for seas reflecting distant suns
and weeds that thrive where seeds were sown,
for waltzes ending in a hush,
for rhymes that fade as pages close,
for flames' exhausted, drifting ash,
and petals falling from the rose, ...
I raise my cup before I drink,
saluting ghosts of loves long dead,
and silently propose a toast—
to joys set free, and those I fled.



To Know You as Mary
by Michael R. Burch

To know you as Mary,
when you spoke her name
and her world was never the same ...
beside the still tomb
where the spring roses bloom.

O, then I would laugh
and be glad that I came,
never minding the chill, the disconsolate rain ...
beside the still tomb
where the spring roses bloom.

I might not think this earth
the sharp focus of pain
if I heard you exclaim—
beside the still tomb
where the spring roses bloom

my most unexpected, unwarranted name!
But you never spoke. Explain?



Transplant
by Michael R. Burch

You float, unearthly angel, clad in flesh
as strange to us who briefly knew your flame
as laughter to disease. And yet you laugh.
Behind your smile, the sun forfeits its claim
to earth, and floats forever now the same―
light captured at its moment of least height.

You laugh here always, welcoming the night,
and, just a photograph, still you can claim
bright rapture: like an angel, not of flesh―
but something more, made less. Your humanness
this moment of release becomes a name
and something else―a radiance, a strange
brief presence near our hearts. How can we stand
and chain you here to this nocturnal land
of burgeoning gray shadows? Fly, begone.
I give you back your soul, forfeit all claim
to radiance, and welcome grief’s dark night
that crushes all the laughter from us. Light
in someone Else’s hand, and sing at ease
some song of brightsome mirth through dawn-lit trees
to welcome morning’s sun. O daughter! these
are eyes too weak for laughter; for love’s sight,
I welcome darkness, overcome with light.



Poems for Akhmatova
by Marina Tsvetaeva
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

4
You outshine everything, even the sun
at its zenith. The stars are yours!
If only I could sweep like the wind
through some unbarred door,
gratefully, to where you are ...

to hesitantly stammer, suddenly shy,
lowering my eyes before you, my lovely mistress,
petulant, chastened, overcome by tears,
as a child sobs to receive forgiveness ...


He Lived: Excerpts from “Gilgamesh”
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I.
He who visited hell, his country’s foundation,
Was well-versed in mysteries’ unseemly dark places.
He deeply explored many underworld realms
Where he learned of the Deluge and why Death erases.

II.
He built the great ramparts of Uruk-the-Sheepfold
And of holy Eanna. Then weary, alone,
He recorded his thoughts in frail scratchings called “words”:
But words made immortal, once chiseled in stone.

III.
These walls he erected are ever-enduring:
Vast walls where the widows of dead warriors weep.
Stand by them. O, feel their immovable presence!
For no other walls are as strong as this keep’s.

IV.
Come, climb Uruk’s tower on a starless night—
Ascend its steep stairway to escape modern error.
Cross its ancient threshold. You are close to Ishtar,
The Goddess of Ecstasy and of Terror!

V.
Find the cedar box with its hinges of bronze;
Lift the lid of its secrets; remove its dark slate;
Read of the travails of our friend Gilgamesh—
Of his descent into hell and man’s terrible fate!

VI.
Surpassing all kings, heroic in stature,
Wild bull of the mountains, the Goddess his dam
—Bedding no other man; he was her sole rapture—
Who else can claim fame, as he thundered, “I am!”



Enkidu Enters the House of Dust
an original poem by Michael R. Burch

I entered the house of dust and grief.
Where the pale dead weep there is no relief,
for there night descends like a final leaf
to shiver forever, unstirred.

There is no hope left when the tree’s stripped bare,
for the leaf lies forever dormant there
and each man cloaks himself in strange darkness, where
all company’s unheard.

No light’s ever pierced that oppressive night
so men close their eyes on their neighbors’ plight
or stare into darkness, lacking sight ...
each a crippled, blind bat-bird.

Were these not once eagles, gallant men?
Who sits here—pale, wretched and cowering—then?
O, surely they shall, they must rise again,
gaining new wings? “Absurd!

For this is the House of Dust and Grief
where men made of clay, eat clay. Relief
to them’s to become a mere windless leaf,
lying forever unstirred.”

“Anu and Enlil, hear my plea!
Ereshkigal, they all must go free!
Beletseri, dread scribe of this Hell, hear me!”
But all my shrill cries, obscured

by vast eons of dust, at last fell mute
as I took my place in the ash and soot.



Reclamation
an original poem by Michael R. Burch

after Robert Graves, with a nod to Mary Shelley

I have come to the dark side of things
where the bat sings
its evasive radar
and Want is a crooked forefinger
attached to a gelatinous wing.

I have grown animate here, a stitched corpse
hooked to electrodes.
And night
moves upon me—progenitor of life
with its foul breath.

Blind eyes have their second sight
and still are deceived. Now my nature
is softly to moan
as Desire carries me
swooningly across her threshold.

Stone
is less infinite than her crone’s
gargantuan hooked nose, her driveling lips.
I eye her ecstatically—her dowager figure,
and there is something about her that my words transfigure

to a consuming emptiness.
We are at peace
with each other; this is our venture—
swaying, the strings tautening, as tightropes
tauten, as love tightens, constricts

to the first note.
Lyre of our hearts’ pits,
orchestration of nothing, adits
of emptiness! We have come to the last of our hopes,
sweet as congealed blood sweetens for flies.

Need is reborn; love dies.



Everlasting
by Michael R. Burch

Where the wind goes
when the storm dies,
there my spirit lives
though I close my eyes.

Do not weep for me;
I am never far.
Whisper my name
to the last star ...

then let me sleep,
think of me no more.

Still ...

By denying death
its terminal sting,
in my words I remain
everlasting.

Keywords/Tags: Epic of Gilgamesh, epic, epical, orient occident, oriental, ancient, ancestors, ancestry, primal
morning light
calls out to me
inside the first
breath of the day

there is clarity
the sun greeting
tired eyes from
the distant horizon

awakens reality
as clear as glass
before daydreams
and judgements

have time to pass
you will never be
so sure of what you want
than in that moment

what are you wishing
to gaze upon once
your eyes flutter open?
Amanda Kay Burke Dec 2020
You would have to be blind to miss the signs
And not connect dots with lines
The sand in my hourglass draining at a faster pace
My feet themselves are stuck in place
When all that's visible is a brief highlight
Of the flaws kept out of sight
I want to believe what I pretend
Questions I can't comprehend
Unaware my journey is difficult to understand
Try to hold patience
It slips from my hand
If waves were weapons I'd be washed out to sea
Riddled with bulletholes and every type of injury
We could be battle scars on reality to heal
All blue and black
Zero pulse left to feel
Cloudy white sky
Soil below
Pushed around by conscience energies flow
If you were star I swear you'd be the sun
Waving from perch higher than any other one
Train derailing
Scheduled to arrive on time
I would be riding caboose with residual **** and grime
Trapped in last because I never win
In frozen still shots captured posing in
Looking for a positive review
Can call me names cause they're all probably true
In a world fantasy I do my best to keep it real
Battle coincidences
Being up front with how I feel
The truth is not always the easiest to bear
That is an honor with others you must share
Revealed lies to be nothing more than cages
Shattered soul with edges of false pages
Ultimately putting me into an early grave
My fate is sealed
I am too gone to save
Found out I need to have a bunch of teeth pulled and be fitted for partial dentures...at age 25.. really makes me feel ashamed of my lifestyle and how drastically it has aged me
Jonathan Oct 2020
Is it blood or birth?
Too dark to tell.
Is it heathenism or hope?
Too dark to tell.
Is it faith or freedom?
Too dark to tell.

The night is now
Too dark to tell.
In the trenches, we dig
Our graves of friendship.
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