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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



The following poems are other early poems and juvenilia by Michael R. Burch ...



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.



Regret
by Michael R. Burch

Regret,
a bitter
ache to bear . . .

once starlight
languished
in your hair . . .

a shining there
as brief
as rare.

Regret,
a pain
I chose to bear . . .

unleash
the torrent
of your hair . . .

and show me
once again—
how rare.

I wrote "Regret" around age 19; it has been published by The HyperTexts and The Chained Muse.



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.



Burn, Ovid
by Michael R. Burch

“Burn Ovid”—Austin Clarke

Sunday School,
Faith Free Will Baptist, 1973:
I sat imagining watery folds
of pale silk encircling her waist.
Explicit *** was the day’s “hot” topic
(how breathlessly I imagined hers)
as she taught us the perils of lust
fraught with inhibition.

I found her unaccountably beautiful,
rolling implausible nouns off the edge of her tongue:
adultery, fornication, *******, ******.
Acts made suddenly plausible by the faint blush
of her unrouged cheeks,
by her pale lips
accented only by a slight quiver,
a trepidation.

What did those lustrous folds foretell
of our uncommon desire?
Why did she cross and uncross her legs
lovely and long in their taupe sheaths?
Why did her ******* rise pointedly,
as if indicating a direction?

“Come unto me,
     (unto me),”
          together, we sang,

cheek to breast,
     lips on lips,
          devout, afire,

my hands
     up her skirt,
          her pants at her knees:

all night long,
     all night long,
           in the heavenly choir.

“*** 101” and “Burn, Ovid” were written about my experiences during ninth grade at Faith Christian Academy, circa age 14-15. However, these poems were not completed until much later and are in a more mature voice and style than most of my other early poems.



*** 101
by Michael R. Burch

That day the late spring heat
steamed through the windows of a Crayola-yellow schoolbus
crawling its way up the backwards slopes
of Nowheresville, North Carolina ...

Where we sat exhausted
from the day’s skulldrudgery
and the unexpected waves of muggy,
summer-like humidity ...

Giggly first graders sat two abreast
behind senior high students
sprouting their first sparse beards,
their implausible bosoms, their stranger affections ...

The most unlikely coupling—

Lambert, 18, the only college prospect
on the varsity basketball team,
the proverbial talldarkhandsome
swashbuckling cocksman, grinning ...

Beside him, Wanda, 13,
bespectacled, in her primproper attire
and pigtails, staring up at him,
fawneyed, disbelieving ...

And as the bus filled with the improbable musk of her,
as she twitched impaled on his finger
like a dead frog jarred to life by electrodes,
I knew ...

that love is a forlorn enterprise,
that I would never understand it.



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.



Ince St. Child
by Michael R. Burch

When she was a child
in a dark forest of fear,
imagination cast its strange light
into secret places,
scattering traces
of illumination so bright,
years later, she could still find them there,
their light undefiled.

When she was young,
the shafted light of her dreams
shone on her uplifted face
as she prayed ...
though she strayed
into a night fallen like woven lace
shrouding the forest of screams,
her faith led her home.

Now she is old
and the light that was flame
is a slow-dying ember ...
what she felt then
she would explain;
she would if she could only remember
that forest of shame,
faith beaten like gold.

This was an unusual poem I wrote in my late teens, and it took me some time to figure out who the old woman was. She was a victim of childhood ****** abuse, hence the title I eventually came up with.



Desdemona
by Michael R. Burch

Though you possessed the moon and stars,
you are bound to fate and wed to chance.
Your lips deny they crave a kiss;
your feet deny they ache to dance.
Your heart imagines wild romance.

Though you cupped fire in your hands
and molded incandescent forms,
you are barren now, and—spent of flame—
the ashes that remain are borne
toward the sun upon a storm.

You, who demanded more, have less,
your heart within its cells of sighs
held fast by chains of misery,
confined till death for peddling lies—
imprisonment your sense denies.

You, who collected hearts like leaves
and pressed each once within your book,
forgot. None—winsome, bright or rare—
not one was worth a second look.
My heart, as others, you forsook.

But I, though I loved you from afar
through silent dawns, and gathered rue
from gardens where your footsteps left
cold paths among the asters, knew—
each moonless night the nettles grew

and strangled hope, where love dies too.

I wrote "Desdemona" around age 22; it has been published by Penny Dreadful, Carnelian, Romantics Quarterly, Grassroots Poetry and Poetry Life & Times.



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.

I wrote "Shock" around age 19; it has been published by Penny Dreadful, The Eclectic Muse, Fullosia Press, Raider’s Digest, Voices in a Midnight Mind and Poetry Life & Times.



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 grey,
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.

I wrote "The Toast" around age 19; it was originally published by Contemporary Rhyme.



Earthbound
by Michael R. Burch

Tashunka Witko, better known as Crazy Horse, had a vision of a red-tailed hawk at Sylvan Lake, South Dakota. In his vision he saw himself riding a spirit horse, flying through a storm, as the hawk flew above him, shrieking. When he awoke, a red-tailed hawk was perched near his horse.

Earthbound,
and yet I now fly
through these clouds that are aimlessly drifting ...
so high
that no sound
echoing by
below where the mountains are lifting
the sky
can be heard.

Like a bird,
but not meek,
like a hawk from a distance regarding its prey,
I will shriek,
not a word,
but a screech,
and my terrible clamor will turn them to clay—
the sheep,
the earthbound.

I wrote "Earthbound" around age 20 and it has been published by Boston Poetry Magazine, Native American Indian Pride and Native American Poems, Prayers and Stories.



Mare Clausum
by Michael R. Burch

These are the narrows of my soul—
dark waters pierced by eerie, haunting screams.
And these uncharted islands bleakly home
wild nightmares and deep, strange, forbidding dreams.

Please don’t think to find pearls’ pale, unearthly glow
within its shoals, nor corals in its reefs.
For, though you seek to salvage Love, I know
that vessel lists, and night brings no relief.

Pause here, and look, and know that all is lost;
then turn, and go; let salt consume, and rust.
This sea is not for sailors, but the ******
who lingered long past morning, till they learned

why it is named:
Mare Clausum.

I wrote "Mare Clausum" around age 19; it was originally published by Penny Dreadful.



Myth
by Michael R. Burch

after the sprung rhythm of Dylan Thomas

Here the recalcitrant wind
sighs with grievance and remorse
over fields of wayward gorse
and thistle-throttled lanes.

And she is the myth of the scythed wheat
hewn and sighing, complete,
waiting, lain in a low sheaf—
full of faith, full of grief.

Here the immaculate dawn
requires belief of the leafed earth
and she is the myth of the mown grain—
golden and humble in all its weary worth.

I believe I wrote the first version of this poem toward the end of my senior year of high school, around age 18. To my recollection this is my only poem influenced by the “sprung rhythm” of Dylan Thomas (moreso than that of Gerard Manley Hopkins). But I was not happy with the fourth line and put the poem aside for more than 20 years, until 1998, when I revised it. But I was still not happy with the fourth line, so I put it aside and revised it again in 2020, nearly half a century after originally writing the poem!



R.I.P.
by Michael R. Burch

When I am lain to rest
and my soul is no longer intact,
but dissolving, like a sunset
diminishing to the west, ...

and when at last
before His throne my past
is put to test
and the demons and the Beast

await to feast
on any morsel downward cast,
while the vapors of impermanence
cling, smelling of damask ...

then let me go, and do not weep
if I am left to sleep,
to sleep and never dream, or dream, perhaps,
only a little longer and more deep.

Published by Romantics Quarterly and The Chained Muse. This is an early poem from my “Romantic Period” that was written in my late teens, probably around age 18 or 19.



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 wrote "Each Color a Scar" around age 21.



The Tender Weight of Her Sighs
by Michael R. Burch

The tender weight of her sighs
lies heavily upon my heart;
apart from her, full of doubt,
without her presence to revolve around,
found wanting direction or course,
cursed with the thought of her grief,
believing true love is a myth,
with hope as elusive as tears,
hers and mine, unable to lie,
I sigh ...

I believe “The Tender Weight of Her Sighs” and “Each Color a Scar” are companion poems, probably written around the same time at age 21. This poem has an unusual rhyme scheme, with the last word of each line rhyming with the first word of the next line. The final line is a “closing couplet” in which both words rhyme with the last word of the preceding line. I believe I invented the ***** form, which I will dub the “End-First Curtal Sonnet.”



Davenport Tomorrow
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

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

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

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




Fairest Diana
by Michael R. Burch

Fairest Diana, princess of dreams,
born to be loved and yet distant and lone,
why did you linger—so solemn, so lovely—
an orchid ablaze in a crevice of stone?

Was not your heart meant for tenderest passions?
Surely your lips—for wild kisses, not vows!
Why then did you languish, though lustrous, becoming
a pearl of enchantment cast before sows?

Fairest Diana, fragile as lilac,
as willful as rainfall, as true as the rose;
how did a stanza of silver-bright verse
come to be bound in a book of dull prose?

Published by Tucumcari Literary Journal and Night Roses

I believe this poem was written in the late 1970s or very early 1980s, around the time it became apparent that the lovely Diana Spencer was going to marry into the British royal family.



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.



Unfoldings
by Michael R. Burch

for Vicki

Time unfolds ...
Your lips were roses.
... petals open, shyly clustering ...
I had dreams
of other seasons.
... ten thousand colors quiver, blossoming.

Night and day ...
Dreams burned within me.
... flowers part themselves, and then they close ...
You were lovely;
I was lonely.
... a ****** yields herself, but no one knows.

Now time goes on ...
I have not seen you.
... within ringed whorls, secrets are exchanged ...
A fire rages;
no one sees it.
... a blossom spreads its flutes to catch the rain.

Seasons flow ...
A dream is dying.
... within parched clusters, life is taking form ...
You were honest;
I was angry.
... petals fling themselves before the storm.

Time is slowing ...
I am older.
... blossoms wither, closing one last time ...
I'd love to see you
and to touch you.
... a flower crumbles, crinkling, worn and dry.

Time contracts ...
I cannot touch you.
... a solitary flower cries for warmth ...
Life goes on as
dreams lose meaning.
... the seeds are scattered, lost within a storm.

I wrote this poem for a college girlfriend, circa age 18-19.



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.



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.



Having Touched You
by Michael R. Burch

What I have lost
is not less
than what I have gained.

And for each moment passed
like the sun to the west,
another remained

suspended in memory
like a flower
in crystal

so that eternity
is but an hour
and fall

is no longer a season
but a state
of mind.

I have no reason
to wait;
the wind

does not pause
for remembrance
or regret

because
there is only fate and chance.
And so then, forget . . .

Forget that we were very happy
for a day.
That day was my lifetime.

Before that day I was empty
and the sky was grey.
You were the sunshine,

the sunshine that gave me life.
I took root
and I grew.

Now the touch of death is like a terrible knife,
and yet I can bear it,
having touched you.

Odd, the things that inspire us! I wrote this early poem after watching The Boy in the Bubble: a made-for-TV movie, circa 1976, starring John Travolta. So I would have been around 18 at the time.



Tomb Lake
by Michael R. Burch

Go down to the valley
where mockingbirds cry,
alone, ever lonely . . .
yes, go down to die.

And dream in your dying
you never shall wake.
Go down to the valley;
go down to Tomb Lake.

Tomb Lake is a cauldron
of souls such as yours —
mad souls without meaning,
frail souls without force.

Tomb Lake is a graveyard
reserved for the dead.
They lie in her shallows
and sleep in her bed.

"Tomb Lake" is a companion poem to "Moon Lake" written around age 18.


INCOMPLETE POEMS

These are poems of mine that are incomplete. Some are incomplete because in my youth, around age 15, I became frustrated with my poems, thinking I should already be writing like Keats and Shelley, and destroyed everything I had written. I was able to recreate some of the poems from memory, but other poems remain lost or fragments. Some poems are incomplete because I lost track of the handwritten manuscripts. Some were “completed” by shortening or “pruning” them.

Son
by Michael R. Burch

An island is bathed in blues and greens
as a weary sun settles to rest,
and the memories singing
through the back of my mind
lull me to sleep as the tide flows in.

Here where the hours pass almost unnoticed,
my heart and my home will be till I die,
but where you are is where my thoughts go
when the tide is high.

[etc., in the handwritten version, the father laments abandoning his son]

Son, there where the skylarks sing to the sun
as the rain sprinkles lightly around,
understand if you can
the mind of a man
whose conscience so long ago drowned.

I wrote this poem in my teens and it is fictitious, since I wasn’t a father and had never lived on an island smaller than England.



She bathes in silver
~~~~ afloat ~~~~
on her reflections
—Michael R. Burch

I liked the line “She bathes in silver” but didn’t have anything to follow it up with, so I eventually opted for a short haiku-like poem, which I rather fancy now.



Gone
by Michael R. Burch

Tonight, it is dark
and the stars do not shine.

A man who is gone
was a good friend of mine.

We were friends.

And the sky was the strangest shade of orange on gold
when I awoke to find him gone ...

This is one of my very earliest poems, one that was lost when I destroyed all the poems I had written in a fit of frustration and despair. The opening lines and "the strangest shade of orange on gold" are all of the original poem that I have been able to remember. I believe I wrote the original poem around age 14.



Excerpt from "Jessamyn's Song"
by Michael R. Burch

By the window ledge where the candle begs
the night for light to live,
the deepening darkness gives
the heart good cause to shudder.
For there are curly, tousled heads
that know one use for bed
and not any other.
"Goodnight father."
"Goodnight mother."
"Goodnight sister."
"Goodnight brother."
"Tomorrow new adventures
we surely shall discover!"

"Jessamyn's Song" was a long poem I wrote in my early teens about a relationship that began when a boy and girl were very young and lasted into "old age." At the time I wrote the poem, forty seemed to be beyond superannuated, so I believe I killed off the hero at that ripe old age.



Styx
by Michael R. Burch

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

I don't remember exactly when I wrote "Styx," perhaps around age 18, but I do remember it being part of a longer poem originally titled "Death." The first four lines seemed better than the rest of the poem, so I opted for the better part of valor: discretion.



Dust (I)
by Michael R. Burch

God, keep them safe until
I join them, as I will.
God, guard their tender dust
until I meet them, as I must.

This is one of my earliest poems, written around 1973-1974 at age 15-16, around the same time as “Jessamyn’s Song.” In fact, I believe it was part of the longer poem, toward the end. No, I take that back. This was at one time the closing stanza of “All My Children,” written around the same time, but probably closer to 1973.



Dust (II)
by Michael R. Burch

We are dust
and to dust we must
return ...
but why, then,
life’s hopeless sojourn?

I believe this poem was written some time after the first "Dust" poem, but I'm not sure exactly when. Thus, I will keep them together because the titles and themes are the same.



Dust (III)
by Michael R. Burch

Flame within flame,
we burned and burned relentlessly
till there was nothing left to be consumed.
Only ash remained, the smoke plumed
like a spirit leaving its corpse, and we
were left with only a name
ever common between us.
We had thought to love “eternally,”
but the wick sputtered, the candle swooned,
the flame subsided, the smoke ballooned,
and our communal thought was: flee, flee, flee
the choking dust.

The third in the series, I'm not sure when this poem was written, but I will keep it with its companions.



Sarjann
by Michael R. Burch

What did I ever do
to make you hate me so?
I was only nine years old,
lonely and afraid,
a small stranger in a large land.
Why did you abuse me
and taunt me?
Even now, so many years later,
the question still haunts me:
what did I ever do?

Why did you despise me and reject me,
pushing and shoving me around
when there was no one to protect me?
Why did you draw a line
in the bone-dry autumn dust,
daring me to cross it?
Did you want to see me cry?
Well, if you did, you did.

... oh, leave me alone,
for the sky opens wide
in a land of no rain,
and who are you
to bring me such pain? ...

This is a "true poem" in the sense of being about the "real me." I had a bad experience with an older girl named Sarjann (or something like that), who used to taunt me and push me around at a bus stop in Roseville, California (the "large land" of "no rain" where I was a "small stranger" because I only lived there for a few months). I believe this poem was written around age 16, but could have been written earlier. There was more to the poem, but I decided to shorten it.


Nevermore!
by Michael R. Burch

Nevermore! O, nevermore
shall the haunts of the sea—
the swollen tide pools
and the dark, deserted shore—
mark her passing again.

And the salivating sea
shall never kiss her lips
nor caress her ******* and hips
as she dreamt it did before,
once, lost within the uproar.

The waves will never claim her,
nor take her at their leisure;
the sea gulls shall not have her,
nor could she give them pleasure . . .
She sleeps forevermore.

She sleeps forevermore,
a ****** save to me
and her other lover,
who lurks now, safely smothered
by the restless, surging sea.

And, yes, they sleep together,
but never in that way!
For the sea has stripped and shorn
the one I once adored,
and washed her flesh away.

He does not stroke her honey hair,
for she is bald, bald to the bone!
And how it fills my heart with glee
to hear them sometimes cursing me
out of the depths of the demon sea . . .

their skeletal love—impossibility!

Published by Romantics Quarterly and Penny Dreadful; I wrote this poem around age 19 under the influence of Edgar Allan Poe.



Poet to poet
by Michael R. Burch

I have a dream
pebbles in a sparkling sand
of wondrous things.

I see children
variations of the same man
playing together.

Black and yellow, red and white,
stone and flesh, a host of colors
together at last.

I see a time
each small child another's cousin
when freedom shall ring.

I hear a song
sweeter than the sea sings
of many voices.

I hear a jubilation
respect and love are the gifts we must bring
shaking the land.

I have a message,
sea shells echo, the melody rings
the message of God.

I have a dream
all pebbles are merely smooth fragments of stone
of many things.

I live in hope
all children are merely small fragments of One
that this dream shall come true.

I have a dream . . .
but when you're gone, won't the dream have to end?
Oh, no, not as long as you dream my dream too!

Here, hold out your hand, let's make it come true.
i can feel it begin
Lovers and dreamers are poets too.

poets are lovers and dreamers too

I wrote “Poet to poet” around age 17, under the influence of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I have a dream” speech / sermon / poem.



Reflections on the Loss of Vision
by Michael R. Burch

The sparrow that cries from the shelter of an ancient oak tree and the squirrels
that dash in delight through the treetops as the first snow glistens and swirls,
remind me so much of my childhood and how the world seemed to me then,
    that it seems if I tried
    and just closed my eyes,
I could once again be nine or ten.

The rabbits that hide in the bushes where the snowflakes collect as they fall,
hunch there, I know, in the fast-piling snow, yet now I can't see them at all.
For time slowly weakened my vision; while the patterns seem almost as clear,
    some things that I saw
    when I was a boy,
are lost to me now in my “advancing” years.

The chipmunk who seeks out his burrow and the geese now preparing to leave
are there as they were, and yet they are not; and if it seems childish to grieve,
still, who would condemn a blind man for bemoaning the vision he lost?
    Well, in a small way,
    through the passage of days,
I have learned some of his loss.

As a keen-eyed young lad I endeavored to see things most adults could not—
the camouflaged nests of the hoot owls, the woodpecker’s favorite haunts.
But now I no longer can find them, nor understand how I once could,
    and it seems such a waste
    of those far-sighted days,
to end up near blind in this wood.

I believe I wrote the first version of this poem around age 19 or 20. I put it aside for many years and didn’t finish it until 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic. This is one of my more Robert-Frost-like poems and perhaps not a bad one for the age at which it was written.



Sanctuary at Dawn
by Michael R. Burch

I have walked these thirteen miles
just to stand outside your door.
The rain has dogged my footsteps
for thirteen miles, for thirty years,
through the monsoon seasons ...
and now my tears
have all been washed away.

Through thirteen miles of rain I slogged,
I stumbled and I climbed
rainslickened slopes
that led me home
to the hope that I might find
a life I lived before.

The door is wet; my cheeks are wet,
but not with rain or tears ...
as I knock I sweat
and the raining seems
the rhythm of the years.

Now you stand outlined in the doorway
—a man as large as I left—
and with bated breath
I take a step
into the accusing light.

Your eyes are grayer
than I remembered;
your hair is grayer, too.
As the red rust runs
down the dripping drains,
our voices exclaim—

"My father!"
"My son!"

“Sanctuary at Dawn” appeared in my first poetry chapbook manuscript, so it was written either in high school or during my first two years of college: age 18 is an educated guess.



Winter
by Michael R. Burch

The rose of love’s bright promise
lies torn by her own thorn;
her scent was sweet
but at her feet
the pallid aphids mourn.

The lilac of devotion
has felt the winter ****
and shed her dress;
companionless,
she shivers—****, forlorn.

I wrote "Winter" around age 20; it has been published by Songs of Innocence, The Aurorean and Contemporary Rhyme.



It's Halloween!
by Michael R. Burch

If evening falls
on graveyard walls
far softer than a sigh;

if shadows fly
moon-sickled skies,
while children toss their heads
uneasy in their beds,
beware the witch's eye!

If goblins loom
within the gloom
till playful pups grow terse;

if birds give up their verse
to comfort chicks they nurse,
while children dream weird dreams
of ugly, wiggly things,
beware the serpent's curse!

If spirits scream
in haunted dreams
while ancient sibyls rise
to plague nightmarish skies
one night without disguise,
while children toss about
uneasy, full of doubt,
beware the Devil's lies . . .
it's Halloween!

I wrote “It’s Halloween!” around 1978, circa age 20.



Premonition
by Michael R. Burch

Now the evening has come to a close and the party is over ...
we stand in the doorway and watch as they go—
each stranger, each acquaintance, each casual lover.

They walk to their cars and they laugh as they go,
though we know their forced laughter’s the wine ...
then they pause at the road where the dark asphalt flows
endlessly on toward Zion ...

and they kiss one another as though they were friends,
and they promise to meet again “soon” ...
but the rivers of Jordan roll on without end,
and the mockingbird calls to the moon ...

and the katydids climb up the cropped hanging vines,
and the crickets chirp on out of tune ...
and their shadows, defined by the cryptic starlight,
seem spirits torn loose from their tombs.

And I know their brief lives are just eddies in time,
that their hearts are unreadable runes
to be wiped clean, like slate, by inscrutable Fate
when their corpses lie ravaged and ruined ...

You take my clenched fist and you give it a kiss
as though it were something you loved,
and the tears fill your eyes, brimming with the soft light
of the stars winking sagely above ...

Then you whisper, "It's time that we went back inside;
if you'd like, we can sit and just talk for a while."
And the hope in your eyes burns too deep, so I lie
and I say, "Yes, I would," to your small, troubled smile.

I vividly remember writing this poem after my first office party  around age 20.



Lay Down Your Arms
by Michael R. Burch

Lay down your arms; come, sleep in the sand.
The battle is over and night is at hand.
Our voyage has ended; there's nowhere to go ...
the earth is a cinder still faintly aglow.

Lay down your pamphlets; let's bicker no more.
Instead, let us rest here on this ravaged shore.
The sea is still boiling; the air is wan, thin ...
So lay down your pamphlets; now no one will “win.”

Lay down your hymnals; abandon all song.
If God was to save us, He waited too long.
A new world emerges, but this world is through . . .
so lay down your hymnals, or write something new.

I wrote “Lay Down Your Arms” around age 21 and it became my first published poem, possibly. Can an acceptance be a rejection? I never received a copy of the first journal that accepted one of my poems, The Romantist, so I still don’t know if my first “published poem” was actually published!



Laughter from Another Room
by Michael R. Burch

Laughter from another room
mocks the anguish that I feel;
as I sit alone and brood,
only you and I are real.

Only you and I are real.
Only you and I exist.
Only burns that blister heal.
Only dreams denied persist.

Only dreams denied persist.
Only hope that lingers dies.
Only love that lessens lives.
Only lovers ever cry.

Only lovers ever cry.
Only sinners ever pray.
Only saints are crucified.
The crucified are always saints.

The crucified are always saints.
The maddest men control the world.
The dumb man knows what he would say;
the poet never finds the words.

The poet never finds the words.
The minstrel never hits the notes.
The minister would love to curse.
The warrior longs to spare his foe.

The warrior longs to spare his foe.
The scholar never learns the truth.
The actors never see the show.
The hangman longs to feel the noose.

The hangman longs to feel the noose.
The artist longs to feel the flame.
The proudest men are not aloof;
the guiltiest are not to blame.

The guiltiest are not to blame.
The merriest are prone to brood.
If we go outside, it rains.
If we stay inside, it floods.

If we stay inside, it floods.
If we dare to love, we fear.
Blind men never see the sun;
other men observe through tears.

Other men observe through tears
the passage of these days of doom;
now I listen and I hear
laughter from another room.

Laughter from another room
mocks the anguish that I feel.
As I sit alone and brood,
only you and I are real.

I believe I wrote this poem around age 18-19.



Ode to the Sun
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

I seem to remember writing this poem toward the end of my senior year in high school, around age 18. It was originally published by Tucumcari Literary Review.



Beckoning
by Michael R. Burch

Yesterday
the wind whispered my name
while the blazing locks
of her rampant mane
lay heavy on mine.

And yesterday
I saw the way
the wind caressed tall pines
in forests laced by glinting streams
and thick with tangled vines.

And though she reached
for me in her sleep,
the touch I felt was Time's.

I wrote "Beckoning" around age 18.



The Last Enchantment
by Michael R. Burch

Oh, Lancelot, my truest friend,
how time has thinned your ragged mane
and pinched your features; still you seem
though, much, much changed—somehow unchanged.

Your sword hand is, as ever, ready,
although the time for swords has passed.
Your eyes are fierce, and yet so steady
meeting mine ... you must not ask.

The time is not, nor ever shall be,
for Merlyn’s words were only words;
and now his last enchantment wanes,
and we must put aside our swords ...

Originally published by Trinacria

I believe I wrote this poem in my early twenties, around 1980. I distinctly remember working on the poem on a flight to England in 1982 because an attractive girl was sitting beside me on the plane and I remember wishing she would ask me what I was doing. No such luck! According to my notes the poem was revised and filed in 1984, but it remains largely as it was originally written.



Be that Rock
by Michael R. Burch

for my grandfather George Edwin Hurt Sr.

When I was a child
    I never considered man’s impermanence,
for you were a mountain of adamant stone:
    a man steadfast, immense,
and your words rang.

And when you were gone,
    I still heard your voice, which never betrayed,
"Be strong and of a good courage,
    neither be afraid ..."
as the angels sang.

And, O!, I believed
    for your words were my truth, and I tried to be brave
though the years slipped away
    with so little to save
of that talk.

Now I'm a man—
    a man ... and yet Grandpa ... I'm still the same child
who sat at your feet
    and learned as you smiled.
Be that rock.

I don't remember when I wrote this poem, but I will guess around age 18 in 1976. The verse quoted is from an old, well-worn King James Bible my grandfather gave me after his only visit to the United States, as he prepared to return to England with my grandmother. I was around eight at the time and didn't know if I would ever see my grandparents again, so I was heartbroken – destitute, really.



Describing You
by Michael R. Burch

How can I describe you?

The fragrance of morning rain
mingled with dew
reminds me of you;

the warmth of sunlight
stealing through a windowpane
brings you back to me again.

This is an early poem of mine, written as a teenager, possibly age 16 due to the romantic style and sentiments.



Say You Love Me
by Michael R. Burch

Joy and anguish surge within my soul;
contesting there, they cannot be controlled,
for grinding yearnings grip me like a vise.
Stars are burning;
it's almost morning.

Dreams of dreams of dreams that I have dreamed
dance before me, forming formless scenes;
and now, at last, the feeling grows
as stars, declining,
bow to morning.

And you are music echoing through dreams,
rising from some far-off lyric spring;
oh, somewhere in the night I hear you sing.
Stars on fire
form a choir.

Now dawn's fierce brightness burns within your eyes;
you laugh at me as dancing embers die.
You touch me so and still I don't know why . . .
But say you love me.
Say you love me.

I wrote this poem around age 25.



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 the green gardens,
on the graves of all my children ...

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

God, keep them safe until
I join them, as I will.
God, guard their tender dust
until I meet them, as I must.

This is one of my earliest poems, written circa age 15.
Michael R Burch Mar 2020
The Princess and the Pauper
by Michael R. Burch

for Norman Kraeft in memory of his beloved wife June Kysilko Kraeft

Here was a woman bright, intent on life,
who did not flinch from Death, but caught his eye
and drew him, powerless, into her spell
of wanting her himself, so much the lie
that she was meant for him—obscene illusion!—
made him seem a monarch throned like God on high,
when he was less than nothing; when to die
meant many stultifying, pained embraces.

She shed her gown, undid the tangled laces
that tied her to the earth: then she was his.
Now all her erstwhile beauty he defaces
and yet she grows in hallowed loveliness—
her ghost beyond perfection—for to die
was to ascend. Now he begs, penniless.

Keywords/Tags: Princess, pauper, death, powerless, penniless, illusory, illusion, ghost, spirit, perfection, perfected, heaven, ascended
Dylan McFadden Oct 2019
Listen, my son…

From the womb every man
Builds his cities and towers
From the strength of his hand
And a will that devours

But his kingdom’s a breath,
And his rule, an illusion,
Disappearing in death –
The revealing conclusion...

Man is "king" of a land
Between his right and left ears!
He thinks: "my throne is grand!"
But his decrees, no one hears!

He will gather great treasures,
But will never have any;
Will pursue many pleasures,
But will always feel empty…

Always longing for more,
Never having enough;
He’s a slave and a *****
To his master: his stuff

---

Oh, may The King set him free!
He alone holds the power!
And may all bend the knee,
For, we need Him each hour!

.
Leal Knowone Mar 2019
The things she says in her sorrow stretch on till morrow.
Emotions bend, bow, and break, shaking her to the core.
She says love is lost, but she loves everyday.
She says love is an elusory thing, but she long to grasp it, and hold it close, close to her heart she feels is blackened with decay, yet it pump blood through her beautiful veins.
Yes in the poem I wanted to use elusory not illusory in this poem
Mara W Kayh Sep 2017
As late summer
is pregnant with promise of change,
so I shed illusions
to meet your gaze
once again,
in the purer light of fall.
A new piece of writing, after a long hiatus due to busy-ness on the farm.... harvesting garlic.  Appropriate for the fall equinox yesterday as I left canada for LA to see my family..
Lust For Life Vampire Love - Poem
(Part 1)

At dusk I heard a meadowlark
then saw you lurking in the dark.
I turned to dash and tried to flee
and failed to utter one last plea.

With piercing eyes you mesmerized
transfixed I lay there hypnotized
enraptured by the spell you cast
flashed images of life that passed.

You tasted blood and I outgrew
my need to live the life I knew.
As I lay limp my life force waned
while faint my heart the blood soon drained.

Confined to darkness of the night
I wander without feeling light.
You claim your thirst did justify
your lust for life was reason why

You took my life to be as one
then vanished like the setting sun.
I have no life and feel no pain
without a heart to love again.

What You Did Cannot Be Undone - Poem
(Part 2)

Alone I am now cursed to roam
What you did cannot be undone
I can not hope to have a home
or gaze upon the rising sun

You rashly chose to trade your life
for death not immortality
Still now I see your blood lust rife
as when you took the life from me

You say you cannot ever die
but fail to see you do not live
Your life through death is but a lie
That blinds you to the truth I give

Life is too short to care so much
for one that only hunts to ****
And though my heart you cannot touch
The memories may linger still

You thought that I should be as you
but I will not your folly make
to live your lie and think it true
so through my heart I drive a stake.
Knights Aug 2015
Like vanilla spice
And as sweet as chocolate
Her lips were nice
But the rest was poison
She'll be plotting your demise
As you're hypnotized
Jaime Nautte Jun 2015
We're all dead here, so go ahead
and smoke. Have a drink. Play a game.
Sleep, or don't.
****.

Go! Tear yourself apart living,
if only just to spite the bored
and the apathetic.

Outside is warm and trees
or cold and grey.
It's nice, enjoy.

I'll sit here and wait quietly.
Not just bored. Not only
apathetic, but made up.
Illusory.

A reflection in tinted glass,
waiting for something interesting
to happen.
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