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Moe Dec 2021
i think i know
that somewhat ulterior suggestion that you crept into my mind
like a vivid rainbow across your face
light transmissions offering up your words
your image is on repeat
and our sentiments are all quite something else
always on hindsight
on turmoil
easily not speaking
confused about what we want
overexposed to death
we each smell detached
the way we sound in the distance
often too frail to reach inside our beautiful loneliness
Daisy Ashcroft Apr 2021
Scorched skin and broken nails
This love makes me so **** frail.
Inked-on stars and shaking fingers
My heart thrives on these lurches and twinges.
Sergio Gonzalez Feb 2021
I wish for the future to come
Just like anyone else
I take to the skies
As if I could fly

Oh world oh world
Hello world!
Please be gentle with me
I’m the precious little flower
So delicate, so frail
I need all the attention of the world
In order to not disassociate

I keep grasping to my innocence
As if my life depends on it
So what is it?
to live in complete ignorance
Or to realize we’ll never be perfect

But it’s all okay
Just be you
Because at the end of the day
Nobody really has this figured out
Somewhatdamaged Nov 2020
Staring at the sky
Pale blue
Is there any hope left
Wish non of it were true
How did I get here?
Is there any place left
I can call my home
The clouds are pouring in
Burning me within

Missing in a maze
Disarrayed and alone
Thought I could see
After all I was blind

All that I've cared
Is nothing but frail
How fragile was I
With nothing left to grasp
Just turn it into ash

I'm locked in my head
With what I've done
Maybe there was somebody
Who could've rescued me
But I didn't let anyone in
Now all that's left of me
Thoughts consuming me
With all that could've been

Please someone grab my hand
And run far away
Just save me from myself
To trust someone
is something frail
you give others.

They break it with ease,
You're left alone to fix.
Tanay May 2020
It is so hard to watch you leave.
when you turn away
without saying a word.
It feels as if someone has stabbed
through my heart with a sword.
I can’t breathe, it is as if someone
is breathing the life out of me.
I want to break free
but I am too weak.
I am too frail to even try and fight.
This feeling is sickening
and it is filling my heart with grief.
A grief that I didn’t know existed
till I saw you leave.
I see your hands touch the door ****
and I want to scream your name,
but all I can do is sit and watch.
No, I can’t watch!
I can’t watch you leave
because it fills my heart with grief.
Instead I will turn my back on you
and let you go.
Just scribbled something and thought of sharing it. Happy reading!

Tanay Sengupta, Copyright © 2020.
All Rights Reserved.
Michael R Burch Mar 2020
Frail Envelope of Flesh
by Michael R. Burch

for the mothers and children of Gaza

Frail envelope of flesh,
lying cold on the surgeon’s table
with anguished eyes
like your mother’s eyes
and a heartbeat weak, unstable ...

Frail crucible of dust,
brief flower come to this—
your tiny hand
in your mother’s hand
for a last bewildered kiss ...

Brief mayfly of a child,
to live two artless years!
Now your mother’s lips
seal up your lips
from the Deluge of her Tears ...

Note: The phrase "frail envelope of flesh" was one of my first encounters with the power of poetry, although I read it in a superhero comic book as a young boy (I forget which one). More than thirty years later, the line kept popping into my head, so I wrote this poem. I have dedicated it to the mothers and children of Gaza and the Palestinian Nakba. The word Nakba is Arabic for "Catastrophe."

Epitaph for a Palestinian Child
by Michael R. Burch

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

Autumn Conundrum
by Michael R. Burch

for the mothers and children of Palestine

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

For a Palestinian Child, with Butterflies
by Michael R. Burch

Where does the butterfly go
when lightning rails,
when thunder howls,
when hailstones scream,
when winter scowls,
when nights 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?

Such Tenderness
by Michael R. Burch

for the mothers of Gaza

There was, in your touch, such tenderness—as
only the dove on her mildest day has,
when she shelters downed fledglings beneath a warm wing
and coos to them softly, unable to sing.

What songs long forgotten occur to you now—
a babe at each breast? What terrible vow
ripped from your throat like the thunder that day
can never hold severing lightnings at bay?

Time taught you tenderness—time, oh, and love.
But love in the end is seldom enough ...
and time?—insufficient to life’s brief task.
I can only admire, unable to ask—

what is the source, whence comes the desire
of a woman to love as no God may require?

"War" is a poem I wrote in my teens that mentions the Jordan River and wars waged with axes in ancient Palestine.

by Michael R. Burch

lysander lies in lauded greece
and sleeps and dreams, a stone for a pillow,
unseeing as sunset devours limp willows,
but War glares on.

and joab's sightless gaze is turned
beyond the jordan's ravaged shore;
his war-ax lies to be taxed no more,
but War hacks on.

and roland sleeps in poppied fields
with flowers flowing at his feet;
their fragrance lulls his soul to sleep,
but War raves on.

and patton sighs an unheard sigh
for sorties past and those to come;
he does not heed the battle drum,
but War rolls on.

for now new heroes grab up guns
and rush to fight their fathers' wars,
as warriors' children must, of course,
while War laughs on.

War is Obsolete
by Michael R. Burch

War is obsolete;
even the strange machinery of dread
weeps for the child in the street
who cannot lift her head
to reprimand the Man
who failed to countermand
her soft defeat.

But war is obsolete;
even the cold robotic drone
that flies far overhead
has sense enough to moan
and shudder at her plight
(only men bereft of Light
with hearts indurate stone
embrace war’s Siberian night).

For war is obsolete;
man’s tribal “gods,” long dead,
have fled his awakening sight
while the true Sun, overhead,
has pity on her plight.
O sweet, precipitate Light! —
embrace her, reject the night
that leaves gentle fledglings dead.

For each brute ancestor lies
with his totems and his “gods”
in the slavehold of premature night
that awaited him in his tomb;
while Love, the ancestral womb,
still longs to give birth to the Light.
So which child shall we ****** tonight,
or which Ares condemn to the gloom?

by Michael R. Burch

for the children of the Holocaust and the Palestinian Nakba

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.

Keywords/Tags: Frail, envelope, flesh, Nakba, Gaza, Jordan, Palestine, Palestinian, children, mothers, tiny, hand, kiss, mayfly, deluge, tears, epitaph, grave, butterflies

The childless woman,
how tenderly she caresses
homeless dolls ...
—Hattori Ransetsu, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

to the plum tree:
one blossom's worth of warmth
—Hattori Ransetsu, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

One leaf falls, enlightenment!
Another leaf falls,
swept away by the wind ...
—Hattori Ransetsu, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Advice to Young Poets
by Nicanor Parra Sandoval
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

write however you will
in your preferred style.
Too much blood flowed under the bridge
for me to believe
there’s just one acceptable path.
In poetry everything’s permitted.

by Michael R. Burch

... Among the shadows of the groaning elms,
amid the darkening oaks, we fled ourselves ...
... Once there were paths that led to coracles
that clung to piers like loosening barnacles ...
... where we cannot return, because we lost
the pebbles and the playthings, and the moss ...
... hangs weeping gently downward, maidens’ hair
who never were enchanted, and the stairs ...
... that led up to the Fortress in the trees
will not support our weight, but on our knees ...
... we still might fit inside those splendid hours
of damsels in distress, of rustic towers ...
... of voices heard in wolves’ tormented howls
that died, and live in dreams’ soft, windy vowels ...

First Steps
by Michael R. Burch

for Caitlin Shea Murphy

To her a year is like infinity,
each day—an adventure never-ending.
She has no concept of time,
but already has begun the climb—
from childhood to womanhood recklessly ascending.

I would caution her, "No! Wait!
There will be time enough another day ...
time to learn the Truth
and to slowly shed your youth,
but for now, sweet child, go carefully on your way! ..."

But her time is not a time for cautious words,
nor a time for measured, careful understanding.
She is just certain
that, by grabbing the curtain,
in a moment she will finally be standing!

Little does she know that her first few steps
will hurtle her on her way
through childhood to adolescence,
and then, finally, pubescence . . .
while, just as swiftly, I’ll be going gray!

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

I have the most childlike heart ...
—Sappho, fragment 120, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Awed by the moon’s splendor,
stars covered their undistinguished faces.
Even so, we.
—Sappho, fragment 34, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Those I most charm
do me the most harm.
—Sappho, fragment 12, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Even as their hearts froze,
their feathers molted.
—Sappho, fragment 42, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Your voice beguiles me.
Your laughter lifts my heart’s wings.
If I listen to you, even for a moment, I am left speechless.
—Sappho, fragment 31, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Sappho, fragment 138, loose translations/interpretations by Michael R. Burch

Darling, let me see your face;
unleash your eyes' grace.

Turn to me, favor me
with your eyes' indulgence.

Look me in the face,
reveal your eyes' grace ...

Turn to me, favor me with your eyes’ acceptance.

Sappho, fragment 52 (Voigt 168B / Diehl 94 / *** 48)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The hours drone on
as I moan here, alone.

The hours drone.
I moan,

The moon has long since set;
the Pleiades are gone;
now half the night is spent
and yet
here I lie—alone.

Sappho, fragment 24, loose translations/interpretations by Michael R. Burch

Dear, don't you remember how, in days long gone,
we did such things, being young?

Dear, don't you remember, in days long gone,
how we did such things, being young?

Don't you remember, in days bygone,
how we did such things, being young?

Remember? In our youth
we too did such reckless things.

Sappho, fragment 154, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The moon rose and we women
thronged it like an altar.

Maidens throng
at the altar of Love
all night long.

Once again I dive into this fathomless ocean,
intoxicated by lust.
—Sappho, after Anacreon, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Did the epigram above perhaps inspire the legend that Sappho leapt into the sea to her doom, over her despair for her love for the ferryman Phaon? See the following poem ...

The Legend of Sappho and Phaon, after Menander
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Some say Sappho was an ardent maiden
goaded by wild emotion
to fling herself from the white-frothed rocks of Leukas
into this raging ocean
for love of Phaon ...
but others reject that premise
and say it was Aphrodite, for love of Adonis.

In Menander's play The Leukadia he refers to a legend that Sappho flung herself from the White Rock of Leukas in pursuit of Phaon. We owe the preservation of those verses to Strabo, who cited them. Phaon appears in works by Ovid, Lucian and Aelian. He is also mentioned by Plautus in Miles Gloriosus as being one of only two men in the whole world, who "ever had the luck to be so passionately loved by a woman."

You ask me why I've sent you no new verses?
There might be reverses.
—Martial, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

You ask me to recite my poems to you?
I know how you'll "recite" them, if I do.
—Martial, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

You ask me why I choose to live elsewhere?
You're not there.
—Martial, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

You ask me why I love fresh country air?
You're not befouling it, mon frère.
—Martial, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

You never wrote a poem,
yet criticize mine?
Stop abusing me or write something fine
of your own!
—Martial, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

He starts everything but finishes nothing;
thus I suspect there's no end to his f---ing.
—Martial, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

You alone own prime land, dandy!
Gold, money, the finest porcelain—you alone!
The best wines of the most famous vintages—you alone!
Discrimination and wit—you alone!
You have it all—who can deny that you alone are set for life?
But everyone has had your wife—she is never alone!
—Martial, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

You dine in great magnificence
while offering guests a pittance.
Sextus, did you invite
friends to dinner tonight
to impress us with your enormous appetite?
—Martial, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

To you, my departed parents, dear mother and father,
I commend my little lost angel, Erotion, love’s daughter.
who died six days short of completing her sixth frigid winter.
Protect her now, I pray, should the chilling dark shades appear;
muzzle hell’s three-headed hound, less her heart be dismayed!
Lead her to romp in some sunny Elysian glade,
her devoted patrons. Watch her play childish games
as she excitedly babbles and lisps my name.
Let no hard turf smother her softening bones; and do
rest lightly upon her, earth, she was surely no burden to you!
—Martial, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

To you, my departed parents, with much emotion,
I commend my little lost darling, my much-kissed Erotion,
who died six days short of completing her sixth bitter winter.
Protect her, I pray, from hell’s hound and its dark shades a-flitter;
and please don’t let fiends leave her maiden heart dismayed!
But lead her to romp in some happy Elysian glade
with her cherished friends, excitedly lispingly my name.
Let no hard turf smother her softening bones; and do
rest lightly upon her, earth, she was such a slight burden to you!
—Martial, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Martial wrote this touching elegy for a little slave girl, Erotion, who died six days before her sixth birthday. The poem has been nominated as Martial’s masterpiece by L. J. Lloyd and others. Erotion means “little love” and may correspond to our term “love child.” It has been suggested that Erotion may have been Martial’s child by a female slave. That could explain why Martial is asking  his parents’ spirits to welcome, guide and watch over her  spirit. Martial uses the terms patronos (patrons) and commendo (commend); in Rome a freed slave would be commended to a patron. A girl freed from slavery by death might need patrons as protectors on the “other side,” according to Roman views of the afterlife, since the afterworld houses evil shades and is guarded by a monstrous three-headed dog, Cerberus. Martial is apparently asking his parents to guide the girl’s spirit away from Cerberus and the dark spirits to the heavenly Elysian fields where she can play and laugh without fear. If I am correct, Martial’s poem is not just an elegy, but a prayer-poem for protection, perhaps of his own daughter. Albert A. Bell supports this hypothesis with the following arguments: (1) Martial had Erotion cremated, a practice preferred by the upper classes, (2) “he buried her with the full rites befitting the child of a Roman citizen,” (3) he entrusted her [poetically] to his parents, and (4) he maintained her grave for years.

Catullus I (“cui dono lepidum novum libellum”)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

To whom do I dedicate this novel book
polished drily with a pumice stone?
To you, Cornelius, for you would look
content, as if my scribblings took
the cake, when in truth you alone
unfolded Italian history in three scrolls,
as learned as Jupiter and acing the course.
Therefore, this little book is yours,
whatever it is, which, O patron Maiden,
I pray will last more than my lifetime!

Catullus LXXXV: “Odi et Amo”
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I hate. I love.
How can that be, turtledove?
I wish I could explain.
I can’t, but feel the pain.

Catullus CVI: “That Boy”
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

See that young boy, by the auctioneer?
He’s so pretty he sells himself, I fear!

Catullus LI: “That Man”
This is Catullus’s translation of a poem by Sappho of ******
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I’d call that man the equal of the gods,
could it be forgiven
in heaven,
their superior,
because to him space is given
to bask in your divine presence,
to gaze upon you, smile, and listen
to your ambrosial laughter
which leaves men senseless
here and hereafter.

Meanwhile, in my misery,
I’m left speechless.

Lesbia, there is nothing left of me
but a voiceless tongue grown thick in my mouth
and a thin flame running south...

My limbs tingle, my ears ring, my eyes water
till they swim in darkness.

Call it leisure, Catullus, or call it idleness,
whatever it is that incapacitates you.
By any other name it’s the nemesis
fallen kings, empires and cities rue.

Catullus XLIX: “A Toast to Cicero”
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Cicero, please confess:
You’re drunk on your success!
All men of good taste attest
That you’re the very best—
At making speeches, first class!
While I’m the dregs of the glass.

The famous Roman orator Cicero employed “tail rhyme” in this pun:

O Fortunatam natam me consule Romam.
O fortunate natal Rome, to be hatched by me!
—Cicero, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The Latin hymn "Dies Irae" employs end rhyme:

Dies irae, dies illa
Solvet saeclum in favilla
***** David *** Sybilla

The day of wrath, that day
which will leave the world ash-gray,
was foretold by David and the Sybil fey.
—attributed to Thomas of Celano, St. Gregory the Great, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, and St. Bonaventure; loose translation by Michael R. Burch

I must admit I’m partial
to Martial.
— Michael R. Burch

Did Sappho write the world's first "make love, not war" poem, more than 2,500 years ago? This poem has been variously titled “The Anactoria Poem,” “Helen’s Eidolon” and “Some People Say.”

Some Say
Sappho, fragment 16 (Lobel-Page 16)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Warriors on rearing chargers,
columns of infantry,
fleets of warships:
some call these the dark earth's redeeming visions.
But I say—
the one I desire.

And this makes sense
because she who so vastly surpassed all other mortals in beauty
seduced by Aphrodite, led astray by desire,
lightly set sail for distant Troy,
abandoning her celebrated husband,
leaving behind her parents and child!

Her story reminds me of Anactoria,
who has also departed,
and whose lively dancing and lovely face
I would rather see than all the horsemen and war-chariots of the Lydians,
or all their infantry parading in flashing armor.
Grey Mar 2020
I raise my gaze toward the pale blue sky,
staring out my window as I watch the world go by.
Pale cheek pressed against a ****** hand,
I daydream of travelling across unknown lands.
Fantasy worlds and magic forests tug at the back of my mind,
things that only characters in books could ever really find.
But always stuck in my room, nothing around,
how can I truly know what wonders abound?
To a prisoner, fiction is being free --
something that I know I never will be.
My frail fingers trace the words engraved on the window's wood --
"Your mind will let you be what no one else ever could."
Except how can it really let me live
if life is a present that no one will give?
Trying something new :) This one kind of reminds me of Rapunzel, though it was partially inspired by the lockdown.
Michael R Burch Mar 2020
by Michael R. Burch

See how her hair has thinned: it doesn’t seem
like hair at all, but like the airy moult
of emus who outraced the wind and left
soft plumage in their wake. See how her eyes
are gentler now; see how each wrinkle laughs,
and deepens on itself, as though mirth took
some comfort there, then burrowed deeply in,
outlasting winter. See how very thin
her features are—that time has made more spare,
so that each bone shows, elegant and rare.
For life remains undimmed in her grave eyes,
and courage in her still-delighted looks:
each face presented like a picture book’s.
Bemused, she blows us undismayed goodbyes.

Keywords/Tags: Elderly, woman, grandmother, thin, thinning, hair, airy, emu, moult, soft, plumage, wrinkles, laugh lines, frail, gaunt, bones, winter, grave, eyes, courage, laughter, family, gathered, bedside, kisses, hugs, goodbyes, farewells, life, death, photo album, pictures, photos, photographs

Published by The Eclectic Muse, Love Me Knots (an anthology of the top 100 contemporary love poems), Nutty Stories (South Africa), Black Medina, The New Formalist, Better Than Starbucks, Potcake Chapbooks, Strange Roads, Sonnetto Poesia, Litera (UK), Poems About, Poetry Life & Times, MahMag (in a Farsi translation by Dr. Mahnaz Badihian), Somewhere Along The Beaten Path (Anthology), Freshet, Life & Legends, Famous Poets & Poems, Short Quotes & Poems (listed in the top 10 short poems) and Victorian Violet Press. “See” won 3rd place in the 2003 Writer’s Digest Rhyming Poetry contest, out of over 18,000 overall entries, and was published in Writer’s Digest’s The Year’s Best Writing.
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