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Michael R Burch Sep 2020
Poems about Children


The Desk
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy

There is a child I used to know
who sat, perhaps, at this same desk
where you sit now, and made a mess
of things sometimes.I wonder how
he learned at all...

He saw T-Rexes down the hall
and dreamed of trains and cars and wrecks.
He dribbled phantom basketballs,
shot spitwads at his schoolmates' necks.

He played with pasty Elmer's glue
(and sometimes got the glue on you!).
He earned the nickname "teacher's PEST."

His mother had to come to school
because he broke the golden rule.
He dreaded each and every test.

But something happened in the fall—
he grew up big and straight and tall,
and now his desk is far too small;
so you can have it.

One thing, though—

one swirling autumn, one bright snow,
one gooey tube of Elmer's glue...
and you'll outgrow this old desk, too.

Originally published by TALESetc



A True Story
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy

Jeremy hit the ball today,
over the fence and far away.
So very, very far away
a neighbor had to toss it back.
(She thought it was an air attack!)

Jeremy hit the ball so hard
it flew across our neighbor's yard.
So very hard across her yard
the bat that boomed a mighty "THWACK! "
now shows an eensy-teensy crack.

Originally published by TALESetc



Success
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy

We need our children to keep us humble
between toast and marmalade;

there is no time for a ticker-tape parade
before bed, no award, no bright statuette

to be delivered for mending skinned knees,
no wild bursts of approval for shoveling snow.

A kiss is the only approval they show;
to leave us—the first great success they achieve.



Picturebook Princess
by Michael R. Burch

for Keira

We had a special visitor.
Our world became suddenly brighter.
She was such a charmer!
Such a delighter!

With her sparkly diamond slippers
and the way her whole being glows,
Keira's a picturebook princess
from the points of her crown to the tips of her toes!



The Aery Faery Princess
by Michael R. Burch

for Keira

There once was a princess lighter than fluff
made of such gossamer stuff—
the down of a thistle, butterflies' wings,
the faintest high note the hummingbird sings,
moonbeams on garlands, strands of bright hair...
I think she's just you when you're floating on air!



Tallen the Mighty Thrower
by Michael R. Burch

Tallen the Mighty Thrower
is a hero to turtles, geese, ducks...
they splash and they cheer
when he tosses bread near
because, you know, eating grass *****!



Lullaby
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy

Cherubic laugh; sly, impish grin;
Angelic face; wild chimp within.

It does not matter; sleep awhile
As soft mirth tickles forth a smile.

Gray moths will hum a lullaby
Of feathery wings, then you and I

Will wake together, by and by.

Life's not long; those days are best
Spent snuggled to a loving breast.

The earth will wait; a sun-filled sky
Will bronze lean muscle, by and by.

Soon you will sing, and I will sigh,
But sleep here, now, for you and I

Know nothing but this lullaby.



Sappho's Lullaby
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy

Hushed yet melodic, the hills and the valleys
sleep unaware of the nightingale's call,
while the pale calla lilies lie
listening,
glistening . . .
this is their night, the first night of fall.

Son, tonight, a woman awaits you;
she is more vibrant, more lovely than spring.
She'll meet you in moonlight,
soft and warm,
all alone . . .
then you'll know why the nightingale sings.

Just yesterday the stars were afire;
then how desire flashed through my veins!
But now I am older;
night has come,
I’m alone . . .
for you I will sing as the nightingale sings.

NOTE: The calla lily symbolizes beauty, purity, innocence, faithfulness and true devotion. According to Greek mythology, when the Milky Way was formed by the goddess Hera’s breast milk, the drops that fell to earth became calla lilies.



Oh, let me sing you a lullaby
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy (written from his mother’s perspective)

Oh, let me sing you a lullaby
of a love that shall come to you by and by.

Oh, let me sing you a lullaby
of a love that shall come to you by and by.

Oh, my dear son, how you’re growing up!
You’re taller than me, now I’m looking up!
You’re a long tall drink and I’m half a cup!
And so let me sing you this lullaby.

Oh, my sweet son, as I watch you grow,
there are so many things that I want you to know.
Most importantly this: that I love you so.
And so let me sing you this lullaby.

Soon a tender bud will ****** forth and grow
after the winter’s long ****** snow;
and because there are things that you have to know ...
Oh, let me sing you this lullaby.

Soon, in a green garden a new rose will bloom
and fill all the world with its wild perfume.
And though it’s hard for me, I must give it room.
And so let me sing you this lullaby.



Springtime Prayer
by Michael R. Burch

They’ll have to grow like crazy,
the springtime baby geese,
if they’re to fly to balmier climes
when autumn dismembers the leaves ...

And so I toss them loaves of bread,
then whisper an urgent prayer:
“Watch over these, my Angels,
if there’s anyone kind, up there.”

Keywords/Tags: Nature, spring, birth, baby animals, babies, fawns, fledglings, angels, prayer, heaven, mercy, compassion, chesed



On Looking into Curious George’s Mirrors
by Michael R. Burch

for Maya McManmon, granddaughter of the poet Jim McManmon

Maya was made in the image of God;
may the reflections she sees in those curious mirrors
always echo back Love.

Amen



Maya's Beddy-Bye Poem
by Michael R. Burch

for Maya McManmon, granddaughter of the poet Jim McManmon

With a hatful of stars
and a stylish umbrella
and her hand in her Papa’s
(that remarkable fella!)
and with Winnie the Pooh
and Eeyore in tow,
may she dance in the rain
cheek-to-cheek, toe-to-toe
till each number’s rehearsed ...
My, that last step’s a leap! ―
the high flight into bed
when it’s past time to sleep!

Note: “Hatful of Stars” is a lovely song and image by Cyndi Lauper.



Limericks

There once was a leopardess, Dot,
who indignantly answered: "I'll not!
The gents are impressed
with the way that I'm dressed.
I wouldn't change even one spot."
—Michael R. Burch

There once was a dromedary
who befriended a crafty canary.
Budgie said, "You can't sing,
but now, here's the thing—
just think of the tunes you can carry! "
—Michael R. Burch



Generation Gap
by Michael R. Burch

A quahog clam,
age 405,
said, "Hey, it's great
to be alive! "

I disagreed,
not feeling nifty,
babe though I am,
just pushing fifty.

Note: A quahog clam found off the coast of Ireland is the longest-lived animal on record, at an estimated age of 405 years.



Lance-Lot
by Michael R. Burch

Preposterous bird!
Inelegant! Absurd!

Until the great & mighty heron
brandishes his fearsome sword.



Mother's Smile
by Michael R. Burch

There never was a fonder smile
than mother's smile, no softer touch
than mother's touch. So sleep awhile
and know she loves you more than "much."

So more than "much, " much more than "all."
Though tender words, these do not speak
of love at all, nor how we fall
and mother's there, nor how we reach
from nightmares in the ticking night
and she is there to hold us tight.

There never was a stronger back
than father's back, that held our weight
and lifted us, when we were small,
and bore us till we reached the gate,
then held our hands that first bright mile
till we could run, and did, and flew.
But, oh, a mother's tender smile
will leap and follow after you!

Originally published by TALESetc



Keep Up
by Michael R. Burch

Keep Up!
Daddy, I'm walking as fast as I can;
I'll move much faster when I'm a man...

Time unwinds
as the heart reels,
as cares and loss and grief plummet,
as faith unfailing ascends the summit
and heartache wheels
like a leaf in the wind.

Like a rickety cart wheel
time revolves through the yellow dust,
its creakiness revoking trust,
its years emblazoned in cold hard steel.

Keep Up!
Son, I'm walking as fast as I can;
take it easy on an old man.



Poems for Older Children

Reflex
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy

Some intuition of her despair
for her lost brood,
as though a lost fragment of song
torn from her flat breast,
touched me there...

I felt, unable to hear
through the bright glass,
the being within her melt
as her unseemly tirade
left a feather or two
adrift on the wind-ruffled air.

Where she will go,
how we all err,
why we all fear
for the lives of our children,
I cannot pretend to know.

But, O!,
how the unappeased glare
of omnivorous sun
over crimson-flecked snow
makes me wish you were here.



Happily Never After (the Second Curse of the ***** Toad)
by Michael R. Burch

He did not think of love of Her at all
frog-plangent nights, as moons engoldened roads
through crumbling stonewalled provinces, where toads
(nee princes)ruled in chinks and grew so small
at last to be invisible. He smiled
(the fables erred so curiously), and thought
bemusedly of being reconciled
to human flesh, because his heart was not
incapable of love, but, being cursed
a second time, could only love a toad's...
and listened as inflated frogs rehearsed
cheekbulging tales of anguish from green moats...
and thought of her soft croak, her skin fine-warted,
his anemic flesh, and how true love was thwarted.



Limericks

There once was a mockingbird, Clyde,
who bragged of his prowess, but lied.
To his new wife he sighed,
"When again, gentle bride? "
"Nevermore! " bright-eyed Raven replied.
—Michael R. Burch



Autumn Conundrum
by Michael R. Burch

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



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.



Salat Days
by Michael R. Burch

Dedicated to the memory of my grandfather, Paul Ray Burch, Sr.

I remember how my grandfather used to pick poke salat...
though first, usually, he'd stretch back in the front porch swing,
dangling his long thin legs, watching the sweat bees drone,
talking about poke salat—
how easy it was to find if you knew where to look for it...
standing in dew-damp clumps by the side of a road, shockingly green,
straddling fence posts, overflowing small ditches,
crowding out the less-hardy nettles.

"Nobody knows that it's there, lad, or that it's fit tuh eat
with some bacon drippin's or lard."

"Don't eat the berries. You see—the berry's no good.
And you'd hav'ta wash the leaves a good long time."

"I'd boil it twice, less'n I wus in a hurry.
Lawd, it's tough to eat, chile, if you boil it jest wonst."

He seldom was hurried; I can see him still...
silently mowing his yard at eighty-eight,
stooped, but with a tall man's angular gray grace.

Sometimes he'd pause to watch me running across the yard,
trampling his beans,
dislodging the shoots of his tomato plants.

He never grew flowers; I never laughed at his jokes about The Depression.

Years later I found the proper name—"pokeweed"—while perusing a dictionary.
Surprised, I asked why anyone would eat a ****.
I still can hear his laconic reply...

"Well, chile, s'm'times them times wus hard."



Of Civilization and Disenchantment
by Michael R. Burch

for Anais Vionet

Suddenly uncomfortable
to stay at my grandfather's house—
actually his third new wife's,
in her daughter's bedroom
—one interminable summer
with nothing to do,
all the meals served cold,
even beans and peas...

Lacking the words to describe
ah!, those pearl-luminous estuaries—
strange omens, incoherent nights.

Seeing the flares of the river barges
illuminating Memphis,
city of bluffs and dying splendors.

Drifting toward Alexandria,
Pharos, Rhakotis, Djoser's fertile delta,
lands at the beginning of a new time and "civilization."

Leaving behind sixty miles of unbroken cemetery,
Alexander's corpse floating seaward,
bobbing, milkwhite, in a jar of honey.

Memphis shall be waste and desolate,
without an inhabitant.
Or so the people dreamed, in chains.



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.



Shock
by Michael R. Burch

It was early in the morning of the forming of my soul,
in the dawning of desire, with passion at first bloom,
with lightning splitting heaven to thunder's blasting roll
and a sense of welling fire and, perhaps, impending doom—

that I cried out through the tumult of the raging storm on high
for shelter from the chaos of the restless, driving rain ...
and the voice I heard replying from a rift of bleeding sky
was mine, I'm sure, and, furthermore, was certainly insane.



Passages on Fatherhood
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy

He is my treasure,
and by his happiness I measure
my own worth.

Four years old,
with diamonds and gold
bejeweled in his soul.

His cherubic beauty
is felicity
to simplicity and passion—

for a baseball thrown
or an ice-cream cone
or eggshell-blue skies.

It's hard to be "wise"
when the years
career through our lives

and bees in their hives
test faith
and belief

while Time, the great thief,
with each falling leaf
foreshadows grief.

The wisdom of the ages
and prophets and mages
and doddering sages

is useless
unless
it encompasses this:

his kiss.



Boundless
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy

Every day we whittle away at the essential solidity of him,
and every day a new sharp feature emerges:
a feature we'll spend creative years: planing, smoothing, refining,

trying to find some new Archaic Torso of Apollo, or Thinker...

And if each new day a little of the boisterous air of youth is deflated
in him, if the hours of small pleasures spent chasing daffodils
in the outfield as the singles become doubles, become triples,
become unconscionable errors, become victories lost,

become lives wasted beyond all possible hope of repair...

if what he was becomes increasingly vague—like a white balloon careening
into clouds; like a child striding away aggressively toward manhood,
hitching an impressive rucksack over sagging, sloping shoulders,
shifting its vaudevillian burden back and forth,

then pausing to look back at us with an almost comical longing...

if what he wants is only to be held a little longer against a forgiving *****;
to chase after daffodils in the outfield regardless of scores;
to sail away like a balloon
on a firm string, always sure to return when the line tautens,

till he looks down upon us from some removed height we cannot quite see,

bursting into tears over us:
what, then, of our aspirations for him, if he cannot breathe,
cannot rise enough to contemplate the earth with his own vision,
unencumbered, but never untethered, forsaken...

cannot grow brightly, steadily, into himself—flying beyond us?



Chip Off the Block
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy

In the fusion of poetry and drama,
Shakespeare rules! Jeremy’s a ham: a
chip off the block, like his father and mother.
Part poet? Part ham? Better run for cover!
Now he’s Benedick ― most comical of lovers!

NOTE: Jeremy’s father is a poet and his mother is an actress; hence the fusion, or confusion, as the case may be.



Tall Tails
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy

Irony
is the base perception
alchemized by deeper reflection,
the paradox
of the wagging tails of dog-ma
torched by sly Reynard the Fox.

These are lines written as my son Jeremy was about to star as Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing at his ultra-conservative high school, Nashville Christian. Benedick is rather obvious wordplay but it apparently flew over the heads of the Puritan headmasters. Samson lit the tails of foxes and set them loose amid the Philistines. Reynard the Fox was a medieval trickster who bedeviled the less wily. “Irony lies / in a realm beyond the unseeing, / the unwise.”



Pan
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 of the wolves' tormented howls
that died, and live in dreams' soft, windy vowels...

Originally published by Sonnet Scroll



Leaf Fall
by Michael R. Burch

Whatever winds encountered soon resolved
to swirling fragments, till chaotic heaps
of leaves lay pulsing by the backyard wall.
In lieu of rakes, our fingers sorted each
dry leaf into its place and built a high,
soft bastion against earth's gravitron—
a patchwork quilt, a trampoline, a bright
impediment to fling ourselves upon.

And nothing in our laughter as we fell
into those leaves was like the autumn's cry
of also falling. Nothing meant to die
could be so bright as we, so colorful—
clad in our plaids, oblivious to pain
we'd feel today, should we leaf-fall again.

Originally published by The Neovictorian/Cochlea



The Folly of Wisdom
by Michael R. Burch

She is wise in the way that children are wise,
looking at me with such knowing, grave eyes
I must bend down to her to understand.
But she only smiles, and takes my hand.

We are walking somewhere that her feet know to go,
so I smile, and I follow...

And the years are dark creatures concealed in bright leaves
that flutter above us, and what she believes—
I can almost remember—goes something like this:
the prince is a horned toad, awaiting her kiss.

She wiggles and giggles, and all will be well
if only we find him! The woodpecker's knell
as he hammers the coffin of some dying tree
that once was a fortress to someone like me

rings wildly above us. Some things that we know
we are meant to forget. Life is a bloodletting, maple-syrup-slow.

Originally published by Romantics Quarterly



Just Smile
by Michael R. Burch

We'd like to think some angel smiling down
will watch him as his arm bleeds in the yard,
ripped off by dogs, will guide his tipsy steps,
his doddering progress through the scarlet house
to tell his mommy "boo-boo!, " only two.

We'd like to think his reconstructed face
will be as good as new, will often smile,
that baseball's just as fun with just one arm,
that God is always Just, that girls will smile,
not frown down at his thousand livid scars,
that Life is always Just, that Love is Just.

We do not want to hear that he will shave
at six, to raze the leg hairs from his cheeks,
that lips aren't easily fashioned, that his smile's
lopsided, oafish, snaggle-toothed, that each
new operation costs a billion tears,
when tears are out of fashion. O, beseech
some poet with more skill with words than tears
to find some happy ending, to believe
that God is Just, that Love is Just, that these
are Parables we live, Life's Mysteries...

Or look inside his courage, as he ties
his shoelaces one-handed, as he throws
no-hitters on the first-place team, and goes
on dates, looks in the mirror undeceived
and smiling says, "It's me I see. Just me."

He smiles, if life is Just, or lacking cures.
Your pity is the worst cut he endures.

Originally published by Lucid Rhythms



Child of 9-11
by Michael R. Burch

a poem for Christina-Taylor Green, who was born
on September 11, 2001 and died at the age of nine,
shot to death...

Child of 9-11, beloved,
I bring this lily, lay it down
here at your feet, and eiderdown,
and all soft things, for your gentle spirit.
I bring this psalm — I hope you hear it.

Much love I bring — I lay it down
here by your form, which is not you,
but what you left this shell-shocked world
to help us learn what we must do
to save another child like you.

Child of 9-11, I know
you are not here, but watch, afar
from distant stars, where angels rue
the vicious things some mortals do.
I also watch; I also rue.

And so I make this pledge and vow:
though I may weep, I will not rest
nor will my pen fail heaven's test
till guns and wars and hate are banned
from every shore, from every land.

Child of 9-11, I grieve
your tender life, cut short... bereaved,
what can I do, but pledge my life
to saving lives like yours? Belief
in your sweet worth has led me here...

I give my all: my pen, this tear,
this lily and this eiderdown,
and all soft things my heart can bear;
I bear them to your final bier,
and leave them with my promise, here.

Originally published by The Flea



For a Sandy Hook 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?



Frail Envelope of Flesh
by Michael R. Burch

―for the mothers and children of the Holocaust and 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...



This is, I believe, the second poem I wrote. Or at least it's the second one that I can remember. I believe I was around 13 or 14 when I wrote it.

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 batter was our only lust!

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 injustice, or fate.

Then we never thought about the next day,
for tomorrow seemed hidden—adventures away.
Though sometimes we dreamed of adventures past,
and wondered, at times, why things didn'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.



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.



Kindergarten
by Michael R. Burch

Will we be children as puzzled tomorrow—
our lessons still not learned?
Will we surrender over to sorrow?
How many times must our fingers be burned?

Will we be children sat in the corner
over and over again?
How long will we linger, playing Jack Horner?
Or will we learn, and when?

Will we be children wearing the dunce cap,
giggling and playing the fool,
re-learning our lessons forever and ever,
never learning the golden rule?



With a child's wonder
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy

With a child's wonder,
pausing to ponder
a puddle of water,

for only a moment,
needing no comment

but bright eyes
and a wordless cry,
he launches himself to fly ...

then my two-year-old lands
on his feet and his hands
and water explodes all around.

(From the impact and sound
you'd have thought that he'd drowned,
but the puddle was two inches deep.)

Later that evening, as he lay fast asleep
in that dreamland where two-year-olds wander,
I watched him awhile and smilingly pondered
with a father's wonder.



The Watch
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy

I have come to watch my young son,
his blonde ringlets damp with sleep . . .
and what I know is that he loves me
beyond all earthly understanding,
that his life is like clay in my unskilled hands.

And I marvel this bright ore does not keep—
unrestricted in form, more content than shape,
but seeking a form to become, to express
something of itself to this wilderness
of eyes watching and waiting.

What do I know of his wonder, his awe?
To his future I will matter less and less,
but in this moment, as he is my world, I am his,
and I stand, not understanding, but knowing—
in this vast pageant of stars, he is more than unique.

There will never be another moment like this.
Studiously quiet, I stroke his fine hair
which will darken and coarsen and straighten with time.
He is all I bequeath of myself to this earth.
His fingers curl around mine in his sleep . . .

I leave him to dreams—calm, untroubled and deep.



The Tapestry of Leaves
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy

Leaves unfold
as life is sold,
or bartered, for a moment in the sun.

The interchange
of lives is strange:
what reason—life—when death leaves all undone?

O, earthly son,
when rest is won
and wrested from this ground, then through my clay’s

soft mortal soot
****** forth your root
until your leaves embrace the sun's bright rays.



The Long Days Lengthening Into Darkness
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy

Today, I can be his happiness,
and if he delights
in hugs and smiles,
in baseball and long walks
talking about Rug Rats, Dinosaurs and Pokemon

(noticing how his face lights up
at my least word,
how tender his expression,
gazing up at me in wondering adoration)

. . . O, son,
these are the long days
lengthening into darkness.

Now over the earth
(how solemn and still their processions)
the clouds
gather to extinguish the sun.

And what I can give you is perhaps no more nor less
than this brief ray dazzling our faces,
seeing how soon the night becomes my consideration.



Renown
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy

Words fail us when, at last,
we lie unread amid night’s parchment leaves,
life’s chapter past.

Whatever I have gained of life, I lost,
except for this bright emblem
of your smile . . .

and I would grasp
its meaning closer for a longer while . . .
but I am glad

with all my heart to be unheard,
and smile,
bound here, still strangely mortal,

instructed by wise Love not to be sad,
when to be the lesser poet
meant to be “the world’s best dad.”

Every night, my son Jeremy tells me that I’m “the world’s best dad.” Now, that’s all poetry, all music and the meaning of life wrapped up in four neat monosyllables! The time I took away from work and poetry to spend with my son was time well spent.



Miracle
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy

The contrails of galaxies mingle, and the dust of that first day still shines.
Before I conceived you, before your heart beat, you were mine,

and I see

infinity leap in your bright, fluent eyes.
And you are the best of all that I am. You became
and what will be left of me is the flesh you comprise,

and I see

whatever must be—leaves its mark, yet depends
on these indigo skies, on these bright trails of dust,
on a veiled, curtained past, on some dream beyond knowing,
on the mists of a future too uncertain to heed.

And I see

your eyes—dauntless, glowing—
glowing with the mystery of all they perceive,
with the glories of galaxies passed, yet bestowing,
though millennia dead, all this pale feathery light.

And I see

all your wonder—a wonder to me, for, unknowing,
of all this portends, still your gaze never wavers.
And love is unchallenged in all these vast skies,
or by distance, or time. The ghostly moon hovers;

I see; and I see

all that I am reflected in all that you have become to me.



Always
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy

Know in your heart that I love you as no other,
and that my love is eternal.
I keep the record of your hopes and dreams
in my heart like a journal,
and there are pages for you there that no one else can fill:
none one else, ever.
And there is a tie between us, more than blood,
that no one else can sever.

And if we’re ever parted,
please don’t be broken-hearted;
until we meet again on the far side of forever
and walk among those storied shining ways,
should we, for any reason, be apart,
still, I am with you ... always.



The Gift
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth and Jeremy

For you and our child, unborn, though named
(for we live in a strange, fantastic age,
and tomorrow, when he is a man,
perhaps this earth will be a cage

from which men fly like flocks of birds,
the distant stars their helpless prey),
for you, my love, and you, my child,
what can I give you, each, this day?

First, take my heart, it’s mine alone;
no ties upon it, mine to give,
more precious than a lifetime’s objects,
once possessed, more free to live.

Then take these poems, of little worth,
but to show you that which you receive
holds precious its two dear possessors,
and makes each lien a sweet reprieve.



This poem was written after a surprising comment from my son, Jeremy.

The Onslaught
by Michael R. Burch

“Daddy, I can’t give you a hug today
because my hair is wet.”

No wet-haired hugs for me today;
no lollipopped lips to kiss and say,
Daddy, I love you! with such regard
after baseball hijinks all over the yard.

The sun hails and climbs
over the heartbreak of puppies and daffodils
and days lost forever to windowsills,
over fortune and horror and starry climes;

and it seems to me that a child’s brief years
are springtimes and summers beyond regard
mingled with laughter and passionate tears
and autumns and winters now veiled and barred,
as elusive as snowflakes here white, bejeweled,
gaily whirling and sweeping across the yard.



To My Child, Unborn
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy

How many were the nights, enchanted
with despair and longing, when dreams recanted
returned with a restless yearning,
and the pale stars, burning,
cried out at me to remember
one night ... long ere the September
night when you were conceived.

Oh, then, if only I might have believed
that the future held such mystery
as you, my child, come unbidden to me
and to your mother,
come to us out of a realm of wonder,
come to us out of a faery clime ...

If only then, in that distant time,
I had somehow known that this day were coming,
I might not have despaired at the raindrops drumming
sad anthems of loneliness against shuttered panes;
I might not have considered my doubts and my pains
so carefully, so cheerlessly, as though they were never-ending.
If only then, with the starlight mending
the shadows that formed
in the bowels of those nights, in the gussets of storms
that threatened till dawn as though never leaving,
I might not have spent those long nights grieving,
lamenting my loneliness, cursing the sun
for its late arrival. Now, a coming dawn
brings you unto us, and you shall be ours,
as welcome as ever the moon or the stars
or the glorious sun when the nighttime is through
and the earth is enchanted with skies turning blue.



Transition
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy

With his cocklebur hugs
and his wet, clinging kisses
like a damp, trembling thistle
catching, thwarting my legs—

he reminds me that life begins with the possibility of rapture.

Was time this deceptive
when my own childhood begged
one last moment of frolic
before bedtime’s firm kisses—

when sleep was enforced, and the dark window ledge

waited, impatient, to lure
or to capture
the bright edge of morning
within a clear pane?

Was the sun then my ally—bright dawn’s greedy fledgling?

With his joy he reminds me
of joys long forgotten,
of play’s endless hours
till the haggard sun sagged

and everything changed. I gather him up and we trudge off to bed.



What does it mean?
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy

His little hand, held fast in mine.
What does it mean? What does it mean?

If he were not here, the sun would not shine,
nor the grass grow half as green.

What does it mean?

His arms around my neck, his cheek
snuggling so warm against my own ...

What does it mean?

If life's a garden, he's the fairest
flower ever sown,
the sweetest ever seen.

What does it mean?

And when he whispers sweet and low,
"What does it mean?"
It means, my son, I love you so.
Sometimes that's all we need to know.



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!



The Sky Was Turning Blue
by Michael R. Burch

Yesterday I saw you
as the snow flurries died,
spent winds becalmed.
When I saw your solemn face
alone in the crowd,
I felt my heart, so long embalmed,
begin to beat aloud.

Was it another winter,
another day like this?
Was it so long ago?
Where you the rose-cheeked girl
who slapped my face, then stole a kiss?
Was the sky this gray with snow,
my heart so all a-whirl?

How is it in one moment
it was twenty years ago,
lost worlds remade anew?
When your eyes met mine, I knew
you felt it too, as though
we heard the robin's song
and the sky was turning blue.



Life Sentence or Fall Well
by Michael R. Burch

... I swim, my Daddy's princess, newly crowned,
toward a gurgly Maelstrom... if I drown
will Mommy stick the Toilet Plunger down

to **** me up?... She sits upon Her Throne,
Imperious (denying we were one),
and gazes down and whispers "precious son"...

... the Plunger worked; i'm two, and, if not blessed,
still Mommy got the Worst Stuff off Her Chest;
a Vacuum Pump, They say, will do the rest...

... i'm three; yay! whee! oh good! it's time to play!
(oh no, I think there's Others on the way;
i'd better pray)...

... i'm four; at night I hear the Banging Door;
She screams; sometimes there's Puddles on the Floor;
She wants to **** us, or, She wants some More...

... it's great to be alive if you are five (unless you're me) :
my Mommy says: "you're WRONG! don't disagree!
don't make this HURT ME! "...

... i'm six; They say i'm tall, yet Time grows Short;
we have a thriving Family; Abort! ;
a tadpole's ripping Mommy's Room apart...

... i'm seven; i'm in heaven; it feels strange;
I saw my life go gurgling down the Drain;
another Noah built a Mighty Ark;
God smiled, appeased, a Rainbow split the Dark;

... I saw Bright Colors also, when She slammed
my head against the Tub, and then I swam
toward the magic tunnel... last, I heard...

is that She feels Weird.


Keywords/Tags: child, children, childhood, son, daughter, grandchild, grandson, granddaughter, family, mother, father
SA Szumloz Apr 2020
Pink lipstick and blonde curls defined your aged beauty
Your soft, white sweaters rubbed against my baby skin
As you hugged and kissed me on the front porch
You smelled like French perfume and mothballs
Which made me smile and gag at the same time
We had a food trade, you and I
You would offer me animal crackers
I would offer you crumb cake and coffee
When my parents were out of town
You would watch over me
We would make forts out of brown blankets
And play chef with my plastic kitchen set
You would pretend to like the food I made
I would be filled with satisfaction
I remember being on vacation with you
We were at Cape May
We would go to the beach and fly elaborate kites
And ride trolley bikes with the whole family
I would be in the baby seat
You would be in the back
It was a good time
A fantastic time
I just wish
It didn't have to end
With you sitting in your rocking chair
Oblivious to the world around you
Not remembering who I am
Your granddaughter

Sam.
Thoughts
Tizzop Dec 2019
emma, 13 years old.
alfredo, 61.

emma: hi grandpa nice to see you what's your wifi-password?

alfredo: i don't have wifi.

emma: written altogether?
Today is a good day.
Francie Lynch Dec 2019
In this box are Aine's rings,
Silver chains and secret things;
When she lifts the lid,
Set in the mirror,
Shines the most precious jewel,
And Granda's treasure.
Carys Angharad Jan 2019
Age
His eyes were as blue as the sea,
they sparkled as he played with his young granddaughter.
He beamed as he watched her grow up,
he would never be able to express his adoration for her,
and she would never be able to do this for him.

Her heart sunk as she watched him grow old.
When she was younger she’d always joke that
he’d live until he was a hundred years old,
that age was creeping ever closer.
They saw each other daily and chatted as if
they had all the time in the world.

She couldn’t imagine a life without him…
She had always thought he was invincible,
but over the years his face had become hollow,
and he began to become short of breath.

She vowed to make the most of the time they had left,
she promised she wouldn’t view him differently,
the only difference now was that it was her job
to look after him, rather than the other way around.
Salmabanu Hatim Oct 2018
"Granny, granny,come look at me."
There was excitement and urgency in my granddaughter 's voice,
I hobbled as fast as I could my cane thumping on the floor.
I stood there inside the door chuckling.
My granddaughter had become me,
She wore a tweed skirt high on the waist,
A white blouse with a high collar and a bow,
On her face she wore one of my specs which she had smeared with a bit of vaseline,
The effect was so that she could not see clearly like me.
She had put some pebbles in her shoes to enable her to hobble ,
Her hair she had combed into a bun.
Lastly she put on white gloves which she explained she had borrowed from my cupboard.
she held a dainty white laced handkerchief.
"How do I look, granny?"
"ME! I laughed.
"You will be the best granny in your school  fancy dress party.
Pray, remove the vaseline from the specs or you will fall down,
You can borrow my cane too,
I love you dear munchkin."
Ms. Naomi you were such a surprise. I did not know what to think where I heard that you were coming. When I looked into those big pretty eyes I fell in love. You were born with sarcasm and a warm heart.
You are like your grandma.
At just a few weeks you and your Mommy were arguing. You wanted to eat and she was learning to feed you. You pushed her and fussed and she fussed back. I knew then that you were a fighter.
One day as I held you your eyes were closed.
I kept trying to get you to open them. You turned your nose up and turned your head. I thought this child is mean. You then turned back around and smiled. I have been in love with you every since. You are such a beautiful baby girl. Your Grandma loves you. Thank you for being mine.
My second grand daughter and third grandchild.
Salmabanu Hatim Jul 2018
My cutie cute granddaughter,
My sunshine, an innocent flower,
My soul in blossom,
My love, awesome,
Joyful, friendly and free,
As the wind, ocean and sheltering tree.
She is my today and tomorrow,
Whose fragrance erases my sorrow.
Never boring, impish,talkative,
Chirpy and inquisitive.
Most of the time glued to the T.V or her iPad,
Cannot do without ******* her thumb,
When scolded becomes glum,
It makes her mum mad,
With studies she is an honoured star,
My child is a blessing,a family avatar.
Happy birthday my love.
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