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by Michael R. Burch

Our distance is frightening:
a distance like the abyss between heaven and earth
interrupted by bizarre and terrible lightning.


by Michael R. Burch

How can she bear her grief?
Mightier than Atlas, she shoulders the weight
of one fallen star.


Laughter’s Cry
by Michael R. Burch

Because life is a mystery, we laugh
and do not know the half.
Because death is a mystery, we cry
when one is gone, our numbering thrown awry.


Long Division
by Michael R. Burch

All things become one
Through death’s long division
And perfect precision.


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.


Piercing the Shell
by Michael R. Burch

If we strip away all the accouterments of war,
perhaps we’ll discover what the heart is for.


Here and Hereafter
by Michael R. Burch

Life’s saving graces are love, pleasure, laughter ...
wisdom, it seems, is for the Hereafter.


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.


by Michael R. Burch

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


by Michael R. Burch

love is a little treble thing—
prone to sing
and (sometimes) to sting


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.


by Michael R. Burch

what would u give
to simply not exist—
for a painless exit?
he asked himself, uncertain.
then from behind
the hospital room curtain
a patient screamed—
"my life!"


by Michael R. Burch



Stage Fright
by Michael R. Burch

To be or not to be?
In the end Hamlet
opted for naught.


Housman was right ...
by Michael R. Burch

It's true that life’s not much to lose,
so why not hang out on a cloud?
It’s just the "bon voyage" is hard
and the objections loud.


Athenian Epitaphs
by Michael R. Burch

Here he lies in state tonight: great is his Monument!
Yet Ares cares not, neither does War relent.
—Michael R. Burch, after Anacreon

Blame not the gale, or the inhospitable sea-gulf, or friends’ tardiness,
mariner! Just man’s foolhardiness.
—Michael R. Burch, after Leonidas of Tarentum

Mariner, do not ask whose tomb this may be,
but go with good fortune: I wish you a kinder sea.
—Michael R. Burch, after Plato

Does my soul abide in heaven, or hell?
Only the sea gulls in their high, lonely circuits may tell.
—Michael R. Burch, after Glaucus

tell the Spartans we lie
here, dead at their word,
obedient to their command.
Have they heard?
Do they understand?
—Michael R. Burch, after Simonides

Now that I am dead sea-enclosed Cyzicus shrouds my bones.
Faretheewell, O my adoptive land that nurtured me, that held me;
I take rest at your breast.
—Michael R. Burch, after Erycius

Keywords/Tags: epigram, epigrams, epitaph, epitaphs, Greek, translation, Greece, life, life and death, grief, mother, mother and child, eulogy, dirge
Eloisa May 1
Her heart sang a different song
A melody of her untold story
that only you can hear
Its rhythm reaches out for love
as she softly hummed her lullaby
The saddest prayer of love
you have ignored
The chords of pain
you’ve thought as noise
Her silent cry
A note unheard
The lulls between the sobs
The loudest shadow of memory
beats deep within your heart
As with the wind’s cold reminder,
as with the new leaf’s shock,
we remember when we are

This grey overcoat holds sway
but in its way, familiar
and fitting

The technicolour
glitz of balmy days
failed to keep us captive

Rattle on your prison bars today
and swing low
for unsure tomorrows
Singing the song of still never being
Deep deep in the ceremony of wind
Swirling and swirling more than a typhoon without any wing
Deep and deep under the dust green emerald hot
Roots in and petals swift frozen cuts
What drinks necessarily from the bottle of a lovers’ heart
Dirge dire nasty ecstasy belonging to no creature
Except whom filled with wine
White, white or crimson like a passionate loves  
Talking to you my frozen blossom
Wide soft  
Without hearing you without knowing me
Without any incident happening to shape our way
Composed on 1 January of 2020, before midnight. under inspiration of listening to the song " Lament for a Frozen Flower".
Within the promise land of calm and sound
Pearls found harbor on coarse, finite-like sand
Now whitened by the faces of the drowned
****** by the berserk billows as they stand

Willows frown upon the unjust waters
Whose surface's frozen in a dreamlike blur
Cradling ghostly hollows like coy daughters
In tender whispers as always, they were

And the world bowed down its head in silence
As Lilith raised the rose of thorns in hand
"My children hearsed in tombs of violence;
my children to be salvaged!" she demand

But nevermind the promised neverland
—No one ripens from their so-called homeland
Day 8 of #NaPoWriMo 2020. Followed the site's prompt this time—borrowing a line from the Twitter bots. "Whitened by the faces of the drowned" is from @sylviaplathbot on Twitter, a line from her poem "Finisterre".
Najla Mar 18
If the sun rises and I don’t
see your face tomorrow

Know that you were the
only tender guest that
visited my fragile heart
without tearing it apart

And if the sun sets and dies,
and you’re not by my side

My eyes will forget how to sleep,
and I will remember you and weep

And if a year passes by
and I don’t hear your voice

My heart will no longer beat,
and I will surrender in defeat
Ich have y-don al myn youth
anonymous Middle English lyric, circa the 13th to 14th century AD
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I have done it all my youth:
Often, often, and often!
I have loved long and yearned zealously ...
And oh what grief it has brought me!


Original Middle English text:

Ich have y-don al myn youth,
Oftë, ofte, and ofte;
Longe y-loved and yerne y-beden –
Ful dere it is y-bought!

Keywords/Tags: Middle English, translation, medieval, rhyme, lament, complaint, youth, love, loved, longing, longed, grief, oft, often, zeal, zealous, zealously, desire, lust, passion, yearn, yearned, yearning, dear, dearly bought, purchased, cost, price, expense, expensive
Ech day me comëth tydinges thre
(anonymous Middle English lyric, circa the 13th to 14th century AD)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Each day I’m plagued by three doles,
These gargantuan weights on my soul:
First, that I must somehow exit this fen.
Second, that I cannot know when.
And yet it’s the third that torments me so,
Because there’s no way to know where the hell I will go!

Ech day me comëth tydinges thre,
For wel swithë sore ben he:
The on is that Ich shal hennë,
That other that Ich not whennë,
The thriddë is my mestë carë,
That Ich not whider Ich shal farë.

Keywords/Tags: Middle English, rhyme, medieval, epigram, lament, complaint, weight, soul, burden, burdened, heaviness, plague, plagued, exit, death, manner, fen, torment, hell, when, where, how, why
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