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Naveen Malhotra Dec 2020
He looked at the Moon
It was night's afternoon
It was a blue moon
No reason for gloom
Warp and weft in a loom
Love affair zoomed and zoomed
For his talent he was hired
For everything he was admired
Suddenly a change in the air
They had seen their love affair
Things didn't look fair
He was pulled by the hair
He was tired and wired
He was surrounded by the goons
He begged for his life
As he looked at the Moon
It was night's afternoon
His cries died in the air
He lay dead on the floor
Shilpa Harilal Aug 2020
I crumble in fear,
a cold shiver shrivels up my spine,
as your names are yelled across the town.
Though I call you not the same;
Still I see no difference,
And yearn to respect every one of your child

The blood that rushes through my veins,
holds nothing sweet to the name I call;
The very skin and torso you made for me,
does not bear any sign that signals me apart
We brothers are all the same; But its war out there;
cutting the throat; that calls you unalike

I am dragged down to the dust,
beaten to the chill of my spine;
As the bloodshot eyes, holds no mercy,
I give up my physical being, hold no pain;
I understand; the heavy cuts on my flesh aren’t as deep
As the vengeance in those eyes.

The heart that pumps thousand drops of blood,
lies unaware of the name of the God I call;
As I lie strewn on the streets, on your name
I cry, ‘Why so many names you have, God’?
Why couldn’t you be the same, like the heart
that thumps in every man’s chest.
'To be Lynched is a crime,To be poor is a crime, To defend the poor is to plot to overthrow the government ' - Arundhati Roy
Michael R Burch Apr 2020
gimME that ol’ time religion!
by michael r. burch

fiddle-dee-dum, fiddle-dee-dee,
jesus loves and understands ME!
safe in his grace, I’LL **** them to hell—
the strumpet, the harlot, the wild jezebel,
the alky, the druggie, all queers short and tall!
let them drink ashes and wormwood and gall,
’cause fiddle-dee-DUMB, fiddle-dee-WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEee . . .
jesus loves and understands
ME!

Keywords/Tags: Christianity, intolerance, hell, chosen few, love, grace, salvation, favoritism, Jesus, wormwood, gall, fire, brimstone, eternal torture
Michael R Burch Apr 2020
gimME that ol’ time religion!
by michael r. burch

fiddle-dee-dum, fiddle-dee-dee,
jesus loves and understands ME!
safe in his grace, I’LL **** them to hell—
the strumpet, the harlot, the wild jezebel,
the alky, the druggie, all queers short and tall!
let them drink ashes and wormwood and gall,
’cause fiddle-dee-DUMB, fiddle-dee-WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEee . . .
jesus loves and understands
ME!

Keywords/Tags: Christianity, intolerance, hell, chosen few, love, grace, salvation, favoritism, Jesus, wormwood, gall, fire, brimstone, eternal torture
Michael R Burch Feb 2020
First they came for the Muslims
by Michael R. Burch

after Martin Niemoller

First they came for the Muslims
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Muslim.

Then they came for the homosexuals
and I did not speak out
because I was not a homosexual.

Then they came for the feminists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a feminist.

Now when will they come for me
because I was too busy and too apathetic
to defend my sisters and brothers?

"First they came for the Muslims" was published in Amnesty International’s "Words That Burn" anthology and is now being used as training material for budding human rights activists. My poem was inspired by and patterned after Martin Niemoller’s famous Holocaust poem. Niemoller, a German pastor, supported Adolph ****** in the early going, but ended up in a **** concentration camp and nearly lost his life. So his was a true poem based on his actual life experience. Keywords/Tags: Holocaust, genocide, apartheid, racism, intolerance, Jew, Jews, Muslim, Muslims, homosexuals, feminists, apathy, sisters, brothers, Islam, Islamic, God, religion, intolerance, race, racism, racist, discrimination, feminist, feminists, feminism, sexuality, gay, homosexual, homosexuals, LGBT, mrbmuslim, mrbpal, mrbnakba



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.



I Pray Tonight
by Michael R. Burch

for the mothers and children of Gaza

I pray tonight
the starry light
might
surround you.

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

I pray ere tomorrow
an end to your sorrow.
May angels’ white chorales
sing, and astound you.



Such Tenderness
by Michael R. Burch

for the mothers of Gaza

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

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

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

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



I, too, have a Dream ...
written by Michael R. Burch for the children of Gaza

I, too, have a dream ...
that one day Jews and Christians
will see me as I am:
a small child, lonely and afraid,
staring down the barrels of their big bazookas,
knowing I did nothing
to deserve their enmity.



My Nightmare ...
written by Michael R. Burch for the children of Gaza

I had a dream of Jesus!
Mama, his eyes were so kind!
But behind him I saw a billion Christians
hissing "You're nothing!," so blind.



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

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

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

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

Published by Tucumcari Literary Review, Romantics Quarterly, Poetry Life & Times and Victorian Violet Press (where it was nominated for a “Best of the Net”), The Contributor (a Nashville homeless newspaper), Siasat (Pakistan), and set to music as a part of the song cycle “The Children of Gaza” which has been performed in various European venues by the Palestinian soprano Dima Bawab



Frail Envelope of Flesh
by Michael R. Burch

for the mothers and children of Gaza

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

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

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

Published by The Lyric, Promosaik (Germany), Setu (India) and Poetry Life & Times; translated into Arabic by Nizar Sartawi and into Italian by Mario Rigli

Note: The phrase "frail envelope of flesh" was one of my first encounters with the power of poetry, although I read it in a superhero comic book as a young boy (I forget which one). More than thirty years later, the line kept popping into my head, so I wrote this poem. I have dedicated it to the mothers and children of Gaza, who know all too well how fragile life and human happiness can be. What can I say, but that I hope, dream, wish and pray that one day ruthless men will no longer have power over the lives and happiness of innocents? Women, children and babies are not “terrorists” so why are they being punished collectively for the “crime” of having been born “wrong”? How can the government of Israel practice systematic racism and apartheid, and how can the government of the United States fund and support such a barbaric system?



who, US?
by Michael R. Burch

jesus was born
a palestinian child
where there’s no Room
for the meek and the mild

... and in bethlehem still
to this day, lambs are born
to cries of “no Room!”
and Puritanical scorn ...

under Herod, Trump, Bibi
their fates are the same―
the slouching Beast mauls them
and WE have no shame:

“who’s to blame?”

(In the poem "US" means both the United States and "us" the people of the world, wherever we live. The name "jesus" is uncapitalized while "Room" is capitalized because it seems evangelical Christians are more concerned about land and not sharing it with the less fortunate, than the teachings of Jesus Christ. Also, Jesus and his parents were refugees for whom there was "no Room" to be found. What would Jesus think of Christian scorn for the less fortunate, one wonders? What would he think of people adopting his name for their religion, then voting for someone like Trump, as four out of five evangelical Christians did, according to exit polls?)



Excerpts from “Travels with Einstein”
by Michael R. Burch

I went to Berlin to learn wisdom
from Adolph. The wild spittle flew
as he screamed at me, with great conviction:
“Please despise me! I look like a Jew!”

So I flew off to ’Nam to learn wisdom
from tall Yankees who cursed “yellow” foes.
“If we lose this small square,” they informed me,
earth’s nations will fall, dominoes!”

I then sat at Christ’s feet to learn wisdom,
but his Book, from its genesis to close,
said: “Men can enslave their own brothers!”
(I soon noticed he lacked any clothes.)

So I traveled to bright Tel Aviv
where great scholars with lofty IQs
informed me that (since I’m an Arab)
I’m unfit to lick dirt from their shoes.  

At last, done with learning, I stumbled
to a well where the waters seemed sweet:
the mirage of American “justice.”
There I wept a real sea, in defeat.

Originally published by Café Dissensus



Starting from Scratch with Ol’ Scratch
by Michael R. Burch

for the Religious Right

Love, with a small, fatalistic sigh
went to the ovens. Please don’t bother to cry.
You could have saved her, but you were all *******
complaining about the Jews to Reichmeister Grupp.

Scratch that. You were born after World War II.
You had something more important to do:
while the children of the Nakba were perishing in Gaza
with the complicity of your government, you had a noble cause (a
religious tract against homosexual marriage
and various things gods and evangelists disparage.)

Jesus will grok you? Ah, yes, I’m quite sure
that your intentions were good and ineluctably pure.
After all, what the hell does he care about Palestinians?
Certainly, Christians were right about serfs, slaves and Indians.
Scratch that. You’re one of the Devil’s minions.



Second Sight
by Michael R. Burch

I never touched you—
that was my mistake.

Deep within,
I still feel the ache.

Can an unformed thing
eternally break?

Now, from a great distance,
I see you again

not as you are now,
but as you were then—

eternally present
and Sovereign.



The Shrinking Season
by Michael R. Burch

With every wearying year
the weight of the winter grows
and while the schoolgirl outgrows
her clothes,
the widow disappears
in hers.

Published by Angle and Poem Today



Annual
by Michael R. Burch

Silence
steals upon a house
where one sits alone
in the shadow of the itinerant letterbox,
watching the disconnected telephone
collecting dust ...

hearing the desiccate whispers of voices’
dry flutters,—
moths’ wings
brittle as cellophane ...

Curled here,
reading the yellowing volumes of loss
by the front porch light
in the groaning swing . . .
through thin adhesive gloss
I caress your face.

Published by The HyperTexts


Sea Dreams
by Michael R. Burch

I.
In timeless days
I've crossed the waves
of seaways seldom seen.
By the last low light of evening
the breakers that careen
then dive back to the deep
have rocked my ship to sleep,
and so I've known the peace
of a soul at last at ease
there where Time's waters run
in concert with the sun.

With restless waves
I've watched the days’
slow movements, as they hum
their antediluvian songs.
Sometimes I've sung along,
my voice as soft and low
as the sea's, while evening slowed
to waver at the dim
mysterious moonlit rim
of dreams no man has known.

In thoughtless flight,
I've scaled the heights
and soared a scudding breeze
over endless arcing seas
of waves ten miles high.
I've sheared the sable skies
on wings as soft as sighs
and stormed the sun-pricked pitch
of sunset’s scarlet-stitched,
ebullient dark demise.

I've climbed the sun-cleft clouds
ten thousand leagues or more
above the windswept shores
of seas no man has sailed
— great seas as grand as hell's,
shores littered with the shells
of men's "immortal" souls —
and I've warred with dark sea-holes
whose open mouths implored
their depths to be explored.

And I've grown and grown and grown
till I thought myself the king
of every silver thing . . .

But sometimes late at night
when the sorrowing wavelets sing
sad songs of other times,
I taste the windborne rime
of a well-remembered day
on the whipping ocean spray,
and I bow my head to pray . . .

II.
It's been a long, hard day;
sometimes I think I work too hard.
Tonight I'd like to take a walk
down by the sea —
down by those salty waves
brined with the scent of Infinity,
down by that rocky shore,
down by those cliffs that I used to climb
when the wind was **** with a taste of lime
and every dream was a sailor's dream.

Then small waves broke light,
all frothy and white,
over the reefs in the ramblings of night,
and the pounding sea
—a mariner’s dream—
was bound to stir a boy's delight
to such a pitch
that he couldn't desist,
but was bound to splash through the surf in the light
of ten thousand stars, all shining so bright.

Christ, those nights were fine,
like a well-aged wine,
yet more scalding than fire
with the marrow’s desire.

Then desire was a fire
burning wildly within my bones,
fiercer by far than the frantic foam . . .
and every wish was a moan.
Oh, for those days to come again!
Oh, for a sea and sailing men!
Oh, for a little time!

It's almost nine
and I must be back home by ten,
and then . . . what then?

I have less than an hour to stroll this beach,
less than an hour old dreams to reach . . .
And then, what then?

Tonight I'd like to play old games—
games that I used to play
with the somber, sinking waves.
When their wraithlike fists would reach for me,
I'd dance between them gleefully,
mocking their witless craze
—their eager, unchecked craze—
to batter me to death
with spray as light as breath.

Oh, tonight I'd like to sing old songs—
songs of the haunting moon
drawing the tides away,
songs of those sultry days
when the sun beat down
till it cracked the ground
and the sea gulls screamed
in their agony
to touch the cooling clouds.
The distant cooling clouds.

Then the sun shone bright
with a different light
over different lands,
and I was always a pirate in flight.

Oh, tonight I'd like to dream old dreams,
if only for a while,
and walk perhaps a mile
along this windswept shore,
a mile, perhaps, or more,
remembering those days,
safe in the soothing spray
of the thousand sparkling streams
that rush into this sea.
I like to slumber in the caves
of a sailor's dark sea-dreams . . .
oh yes, I'd love to dream,
to dream
and dream
and dream.

“Sea Dreams” is one of my longer and more ambitious early poems, along with the full version of “Jessamyn’s Song.” To the best of my recollection, I wrote “Sea Dreams” around age 18, circa 1976-1977. For years I thought I had written “Sea Dreams” around age 19 or 20, circa 1978. But then I remembered a conversation I had with a friend about the poem in my freshman dorm, so the poem must have been started around age 18 or earlier. Dating my early poems has been a bit tricky, because I keep having little flashbacks that help me date them more accurately, but often I can only say, “I know this poem was written by about such-and-such a date, because ...”

The next poem, "Son," is a companion piece to “Sea Dreams” that was written around the same time and discussed in the same freshman dorm conversation. I remember showing this poem to a fellow student and he asked how on earth I came up with a poem about being a father who abandoned his son to live on an island! I think the meter is pretty good for the age at which it was written.

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., see handwritten version, the father laments abandoning his son]

So 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.



Published as the collection "First they came for the Muslims"
neha Dec 2016
seconds, minutes, hours, days

spent hoping it was just a phase

as his parents sent him to a church where they'd say

"son, you better pray the gay away"

surely this "God" had far more important issues

than a boy in a closet with a handful of tissues

surely this "hell" was a place for far worse people

than a boy forced to confess his sins under a church steeple
Elijah Bowen Apr 2019
hate sings a love song,
blithe, pretty, little tune
in honor of its heritage.
hate sings sweetly, a song
of marches and hangings,
of ghettos and slavery
it hums admiration for its people.
it sings of this land.
the majestic peaks and playful meadows.
it sings, with love, of blood-drenched cotton and  
trenches adorned with crooked bodies.
it sings of its forefathers-  
the conquistadors and pioneers.
saintly butchers and child rapists.
hate paints it’s history holier than the Sistine Chapel,  
singing blindly like a hymn.

hate sings a love song,  
possessive and vicious.  
it scrawls the lyrics on
subway walls and sycamore trees.
it sings in symbols and metaphors,
accompanied by the beat of temple gunshots and kicks to the ribcage.
hate sings through the pulpit and the pew,
clipping it’s verses from a holy book,
it sways to the rhythm of “Amens” and “Hallelujahs”

hate breathes down my neck and yours,
knocking door to door,  
bearing music with a message,  
it weeds out the undesirables one by one.
for the greater good,
hate tortures children therapeutically,
and executes those presumed guilty.
it erases generations
in concrete rooms  
and in the bellies of ships.  
it explodes homes,
smashes panes of glass,
and burns every convenient symbolism.
hate roves and rages and spits and howls,
singing the song of a beautiful future.
Merri Kathryn Mar 2019
(...or, “to Mother”)

When I removed my mask of being straight,

She removed her mask of motherly love.

How could she, seeing 17 year old me, claim to have had no clue?

How could I, seeing 50 year old her, been so intentionally ignorant?
Adya Jha Oct 2018
My body is a temple
My bleeding is divine
My womanhood is spiritual
In ways that an intolerant devotee like you cannot understand
So when you barr me from entering Sabarimala
Remember that you can't stop a goddess
Saraswati is wise but her rage is wild and merciless
Lakshmi will create earthquakes that will devastate
Durga will pierce your heart with her spear
Parvathi will leave her abode and run into the streets
Kali will destroy you in unimaginable ways
They reside within us
We will cut our feet on your shattered glass
We will shout till our voices become hoarse
An army of neglected women will create a tsunami
Till you're on your back, crying
Till you give up your apparent 'religion-saving'
Helpless, wailing
And bleeding
The Supreme Court of India ruled that not allowing women in their “menstruating years” into the Sabarimala temple is against the constitution, and all women should be allowed to enter the temple. This was met with a lot of opposition from the conservatives and the entry of women into the temple was blocked by protestors.
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