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CarolineSD Sep 2
Detachment
Is the ultimate form of ecstasy,
Or so it is said.
To cut loose the veins that thread
From eye to heart and hand
From child to father
Through plots of earth
Across memories
And gardens
And cities
And lands

To exist alone
An island
Strong
And eternal.

Tied only to the winds of
God.

But my love,

I cannot

I cannot

I cannot

Here in the gently,
Drifting dark
I cannot feel where my breath ends,
And yours,

It starts.

You have fed my soul like music

And I will starve without you.
If only we were vampires, I would still love you every single day with the desperation of mortality.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fyiEJaf-IzE
Carlo C Gomez Aug 21
~
precious metal detector
of tourism,
as in a dream,
such device has the power
to make one nostalgic for places
either never visited
or nonexistent.

this strange museum exhibits
sometimes airplanes,
always mortality salience,
and the impossibly probable idea

that travel can change
your sense of time,
so you don't really mind
if things slip away,
or alter in some disenchanted way.

~
Jamesb Jul 16
We are all falling,
Life is a drop towards ending,
You dear reader,
And I,
And we can no more delay or adjust the
Speed of our descent
Than flap our arms right now
And take flight towards the clouds,

And though we may aspire to the heavens
The only route out of life
Is down,
Drawn by that terrifying gravity
That draws us ever faster
As the years pass,
Accelerating steadily through childhood
Adolescence and young adulthood,

Streaking past the unknown
Mid point of our lives
But suddenly aware we have less to go
Than we can know and less to get
Than we already had,
And that as we hurtle out of middle age
Puts a scale to our brief existence,
And a reasonable sight of our end,

But these calculations are of no use,
As our muscles sag and our hair thins,
Skin wrinkled and transluscent,
Eyesight dimmed,
Because we are tripped
By illness or literally in a fall
And thus we reach beginning of the final bend,
Our flailing stops

As we reach our journey's end
seethroughme Jun 6
as the world empties
of your icons and dreams
old, now, and dying
the actors you know on screen
the musicians and poets
that stitch up the scenes
of your life
flowing
ahead of you
in the stream
spirits blown forward
in the wind
Arozo May 25
I fear for the day I die young
Imagine this brilliant youth, crushed
By the fragility of mortality
Imagine my drowning fear, rooted
In visions of a cruel death
(Premonitions or sacred wishes)
Rushing to the front of my mind
Hanging above my head

Imagine how they’d mourn
The gentle poet
Dead by 22
With nothing to show for it

I fear for the day my words reign true
For an artist who shows their scars
Is one who is not afraid to see them so
And suddenly I feel myself
          growing,
              growing,
            ­      growing
                       All too quickly.

And the rush of this fleeting youth,
Makes me ache with the chase of death
The birthmarks speckled on my stomach make me think of fated endings and hastened deaths
tryhard Apr 17
here i am again
reaching for hands
i am commanded not to hold
dreaming of just
a whisper of your touch
and again i ache
a hollow space in your shape

haunting everywhere i go
i try not to search for you
dreading my impending doom
the moment i catch
even a glimpse of your ghost
mocking my mortality
and yet possessing all of me

and god help me
because i cannot help it
a willing captive
fully at your mercy
and i am afraid for my being
because even ensnared
i wish not to escape you

blinded by your light
i mistake you for heaven
i am waiting at your gates
saying all the prayers
begging you will bless me
with an eternity of your love
if only i were worthy

and here i weep
because what use is all this
i see you and i sigh
keep myself at arm's length
because it is not enough
and it will always be like this
i'm too much of a romantic
to see things clearly
Lawrence Hall
Mhall46184@aol.com  
https://hellopoetry.com/lawrence-hall/
poeticdrivel.blogspot.com

                       Jacques Says Little About Lingering

                      Reflections after a Nuclear Stress Test

A youth almost rushes to throw his life away
In questing Shakespeare’s bubble reputation
An old man wants to cling to life a little more
Another year, please, or another day

But mortality lies within the man
A metaphorical battery that doesn’t last
In shipping and handling contents may have settled
There may be a penalty for early withdrawal

But life is not for our casual disposal
For it is an eternal summer dawn
Nuclear Stress Test
I was looking into his
eyes and he into mine
yet I couldn't tell if he
was seeing me
He drew in his last
stunted breaths
as his eyes watched
the Universe opening
to receive him
I was with him
yet so far away
I wanted to cry out
I wanted to feel him
feeling me
Then he was gone.
Michael R Burch Jun 2021
Poems about Poets



Caveat Spender
by Michael R. Burch

for Stephen Spender

It’s better not to speculate
"continually" on who is great.
Though relentless awe’s
a Célèbre Cause,
please reserve some time for the contemplation
of the perils of EXAGGERATION.



The Beat Goes On (and On and On and On ...)
by Michael R. Burch

Bored stiff by his board-stiff attempts
at “meter,” I crossly concluded
I’d use each iamb
in lieu of a lamb,
bedtimes when I’m under-quaaluded.

Originally published by Grand Little Things



The Better Man
by Michael R. Burch
 
Dear Ed: I don’t understand why
you will publish this other guy—
when I’m brilliant, devoted,
one hell of a poet!
Yet you publish Anonymous. Fie!

Fie! A pox on your head if you favor
this poet who’s dubious, unsavor
y, inconsistent in texts,
no address (I checked!):
since he’s plagiarized Unknown, I’ll wager!



Kin
by Michael R. Burch

O pale, austere moon,
haughty beauty ...

what do we know of love,
or duty?

Published by Swathe of Light and The HyperTexts



Fahr an' Ice
by Michael R. Burch

Apologies to Robert Frost and Ogden Nash!

From what I know of death, I'll side with those
who'd like to have a say in how it goes:
just make mine cool, cool rocks (twice drowned in likker),
and real fahr off, instead of quicker.



Mnemosyne was stunned into astonishment when she heard honey-tongued Sappho, wondering how mortal men merited a tenth Muse.
—Antipater of Sidon, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



Come, investigate loneliness!
a solitary leaf
clings to the Kiri tree
― Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



Abide
by Michael R. Burch

after Philip Larkin’s “Aubade”

It is hard to understand or accept mortality—
such an alien concept: not to be.
Perhaps unsettling enough to spawn religion,
or to scare mutant fish out of a primordial sea
boiling like goopy green soup in a kettle.

Perhaps a man should exhibit more mettle
than to admit such fear, denying Nirvana exists
simply because we are stuck here in such a fine fettle.

And so we abide . . . even in life, staring out across that dark brink.
And if the thought of death makes your questioning heart sink,
it is best not to drink (or, drinking, certainly not to think).

Originally published by Light



Confetti for Ferlinghetti
by Michael R. Burch

Lawrence Ferlinghetti
is the only poet whose name rhymes with “spaghetti”
and, while not being quite as rich as J. Paul Getty,
he still deserves some confetti
for selling a million books while being a modern Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

Like Dante Gabriel Rossetti, his rhyming namesake, Lawrence Ferlinghetti was both poet and painter.



A Passing Observation about Thinking Outside the Box
by Michael R. Burch

William Blake had no public, and yet he’s still read.
His critics are dead.



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.



Dylan Thomas was one of my favorite poets from my early teens and has remained so over the years. I have written three poems ‘for’ him and one poem ‘after’ him …

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.

“Myth” won a Dylan Thomas poetry contest. The judge was very complimentary of the poem. 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).



Elemental
by Michael R. Burch

for and after Dylan Thomas

The poet delves earth’s detritus—hard toil—
for raw-edged nouns, barbed verbs, vowels’ lush bouquet;
each syllable his pen excretes—dense soil,
dark images impacted, rooted clay.

The poet sees the sea but feels its meaning—
the teeming brine, the mirrored oval flame
that leashes and excites its turgid surface ...
then squanders years imagining love’s the same.

Belatedly, he turns to what lies broken—
the scarred and furrowed plot he fiercely sifts,
among death’s sicksweet dungs and composts seeking
one element whose scorching flame uplifts.

I have published this poem with the title "Elemental" at times, "Radiance" at others, and I have even thought about "Elemental Radiance" but that seems a bit unwieldy.



Sunset, at Laugharne
by Michael R. Burch

for Dylan Thomas

At Laugharne, in his thirty-fifth year,
he watched the starkeyed hawk career;
he felt the vested heron bless,

and larks and finches everywhere
sank with the sun, their missives west—
where faith is light; his nightjarred breast

watched passion dovetail to its rest.



He watched the gulls above green shires
flock shrieking, fleeing priested shores
with silver fishes stilled on spears.

He felt the pressing weight of years
in ways he never had before—
that gravity no brightness spares

from sunken hills to unseen stars.
He saw his father’s face in waves
which gently lapped Wales’ gulled green bays.

He wrote as passion swelled to rage—
the dying light, the unturned page,
the unburned soul’s devoured sage.



The words he gathered clung together
till night—the jetted raven’s feather—
fell, fell . . . and all was as before . . .

till silence lapped Laugharne’s dark shore
diminished, where his footsteps shone
in pools of fading light—no more.

Keywords/Tags: Dylan Thomas, Laugharne, Wales, ocean, sea, seaside, beach, bays, waves, ocean waves, birds, hawk, herons, gulls, father, poet, poetry, poem, poems, famous poets, elegy



Downdraft
by Michael R. Burch

for Dylan Thomas

We feel rather than understand what he meant
as he reveals a shattered firmament
which before him never existed.

Here, there are no images gnarled and twisted
out of too many words,
but only flocks of white birds

wheeling and flying.

Here, as Time spins, reeling and dying,
the voice of a last gull
or perhaps some spirit no longer whole,

echoes its lonely madrigal
and we feel its strange pull
on the astonished soul.

O My Prodigal!

The vents of the sky, ripped asunder,
echo this wild, primal thunder—
now dying into undulations of vanishing wings . . .

and this voice which in haggard bleak rapture still somehow downward sings.



When I wrote this poem listing poets I like to read, the first poet I named was Dylan Thomas ...

beMused
by Michael R. Burch

Perhaps at three
you'll come to tea,
to have a cuppa here?

You'll just stop in
to sip dry gin?
I only have a beer.

To name the “greats”:
Pope, Dryden, mates?
The whole world knows their names.

Discuss the “songs”
of Emerson?
But these are children's games.

Give me rhythms
wild as Dylan’s!
Give me Bobbie Burns!

Give me Psalms,
or Hopkins’ poems,
Hart Crane’s, if he returns!

Or Langston railing!
Blake assailing!
Few others I desire.

Or go away,
yes, leave today:
your tepid poets tire.



The American poet Thomas Rain Crowe lived in the Dylan Thomas boat house at Laugharne and wrote poems there. These are poems I wrote for Thomas that were influenced by Dylan Thomas and his experience.

Mongrel Dreams (I)
by Michael R. Burch

These nights bring dreams of Cherokee shamans
whose names are bright verbs and impacted dark nouns,
whose memories are indictments of my pallid flesh . . .
and I hear, as from a great distance,
the cries tortured from their guileless lips, proclaiming
the nature of my mutation.

Mongrel Dreams (II)
by Michael R. Burch

for Thomas Rain Crowe

I squat in my Cherokee lodge, this crude wooden hutch of dry branches and leaf-thatch
as the embers smolder and burn,
hearing always the distant tom-toms of your rain dance.

I relax in my rustic shack on the heroned shores of Gwynedd,
slandering the English in the amulet gleam of the North Atlantic,
hearing your troubadour’s songs, remembering Dylan.

I stand in my rough woolen kilt in the tall highland heather
feeling the freezing winds through the trees leaning sideways,
hearing your bagpipes’ lament, dreaming of Burns.

I slave in my drab English hovel, tabulating rents
while dreaming of Blake and burning your poems like incense.

I abide in my pale mongrel flesh, writing in Nashville
as the thunderbolts flash and the spring rains spill,
till the quill gently bleeds and the white page fills,
dreaming of Whitman, calling you brother.



At Wilfred Owen’s Grave
by Michael R. Burch

A week before the Armistice, you died.
They did not keep your heart like Livingstone’s,
then plant your bones near Shakespeare’s. So you lie
between two privates, sacrificed like Christ
to politics, your poetry unknown
except for that brief flurry’s: thirteen months
with Gaukroger beside you in the trench,
dismembered, as you babbled, as the stench
of gangrene filled your nostrils, till you clenched
your broken heart together and the fist
began to pulse with life, so close to death.

Or was it at Craiglockhart, in the care
of “ergotherapists” that you sensed life
is only in the work, and made despair
a thing that Yeats despised, but also breath,
a mouthful’s merest air, inspired less
than wrested from you, and which we confess
we only vaguely breathe: the troubled air
that even Sassoon failed to share, because
a man in pieces is not healed by gauze,
and breath’s transparent, unless we believe
the words are true despite their lack of weight
and float to us like chlorine—scalding eyes,
and lungs, and hearts. Your words revealed the fate
of boys who retched up life here, gagged on lies.

Published by The Chariton Review, The Neovictorian/Cochlea, Rogue Scholars, Romantics Quarterly, Mindful of Poetry, Famous Poets and Poems, Poetry Life & Times, and Other Voices International



US Verse, after Auden
by Michael R. Burch

“Let the living creature lie,
Mortal, guilty, but to me
The entirely beautiful.”

Verse has small value in our Unisphere,
nor is it fit for windy revelation.
It cannot legislate less taxing fears;
it cannot make us, several, a nation.
Enumerator of our sins and dreams,
it pens its cryptic numbers, and it sings,
a little quaintly, of the ways of love.
(It seems of little use for lesser things.)

NOTE: The Unisphere mentioned is a large stainless steel representation of the earth; it was commissioned to celebrate the beginning of the space age for the 1964 New York World's Fair.



Long Division
by Michael R. Burch

for and after Laura Riding Jackson

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



Nod to the Master
by Michael R. Burch

If every witty thing that’s said were true,
Oscar Wilde, the world would worship You!



Goddess
by Michael R. Burch

for Kevin N. Roberts

“What will you conceive in me?”—
I asked her. But she
only smiled.

“Naked, I bore your child
when the wolf wind howled,
when the cold moon scowled . . .
naked, and gladly.”

“What will become of me?”—
I asked her, as she
absently stroked my hand.

Centuries later, I understand:
she whispered—“I Am.”

Published by Romantics Quarterly (the first poem in the first issue), Penny Dreadful, Unlikely Stories, Underground Poets, Poetically Speaking, Poetry Life & Times and Little Brown Poetry



Safe Harbor
by Michael R. Burch

for Kevin Nicholas Roberts

The sea at night seems
an alembic of dreams—
the moans of the gulls,
the foghorns’ bawlings.

A century late
to be melancholy,
I watch the last shrimp boat as it steams
to safe harbor again.

In the twilight she gleams
with a festive light,
done with her trawlings,
ready to sleep . . .

Deep, deep, in delight
glide the creatures of night,
elusive and bright
as the poet’s dreams.

Published by The Lyric, Grassroots Poetry, Romantics Quarterly, Angle, Poetry Porch, Poetry Life & Times



The Harvest of Roses
by Michael R. Burch

for Harvey Stanbrough

I have not come for the harvest of roses—
the poets' mad visions,
their railing at rhyme ...
for I have discerned what their writing discloses:
weak words wanting meaning,
beat torsioning time.

Nor have I come for the reaping of gossamer—
images weak,
too forced not to fail;
gathered by poets who worship their luster,
they shimmer, impendent,
resplendently pale.

Originally published by The Raintown Review



In the Whispering Night
by Michael R. Burch

for George King

In the whispering night, when the stars bend low
till the hills ignite to a shining flame,
when a shower of meteors streaks the sky
as the lilies sigh in their beds, for shame,
we must steal our souls, as they once were stolen,
and gather our vigor, and all our intent.
We must heave our husks into some raging ocean
and laugh as they shatter, and never repent.
We must dance in the darkness as stars dance before us,
soar, Soar! through the night on a butterfly's breeze:
blown high, upward-yearning, twin spirits returning
to the heights of awareness from which we were seized.

Published by Songs of Innocence, Romantics Quarterly, Poetry Life & Times and The Chained Muse



Kin
by Michael R. Burch

for Richard Moore

1.
Shrill gull,
how like my thoughts
you, struggling, rise
to distant bliss—
the weightless blue of skies
that are not blue
in any atmosphere,
but closest here ...

2.
You seek an air
so clear,
so rarified
the effort leaves you famished;
earthly tides
soon call you back—
one long, descending glide ...

3.
Disgruntledly you ***** dirt shores for orts
you pull like mucous ropes
from shells’ bright forts ...

You eye the teeming world
with nervous darts—
this way and that ...

Contentious, shrewd, you scan—
the sky, in hope,
the earth, distrusting man.

Published by Triplopia. Able Muse and The HyperTexts



escape!
by michael r. burch

for anaïs vionet

to live among the daffodil folk . . .
slip down the rainslickened drainpipe . . .
suddenly pop out
                             the GARGANTUAN SPOUT . . .
minuscule as alice, shout
yippee-yi-yee!
                       in wee exultant glee
to be leaving behind the
                                       LARGE
THREE-DENALI GARAGE.

Published by Andwerve, Bewildering Stories and The HyperTexts



The Heimlich Limerick
by Michael R. Burch

for Tom Merrill

The sanest of poets once wrote:
"Friend, why be a sheep or a goat?
Why follow the leader
or be a blind *******?"
But almost no one took note.


The Pain of Love
by Michael R. Burch

for Tom Merrill

The pain of love is this:
the parting after the kiss;

the train steaming from the station
whistling abnegation;

each interstate’s bleak white bar / every highways’ broken white bar
that vanishes under your car;

every hour and flower and friend / each (with the second option above)
that cannot be saved in the end;

dear things of immeasurable cost ...
now all irretrievably lost.

Note: The title “The Pain of Love” was suggested by an interview with Little Richard, then eighty years old, in Rolling Stone. He said that someone should create a song called “The Pain of Love.”



Lean Harvests (II)
by Michael R. Burch

for Tom Merrill

the trees are shedding their leaves again:
another summer is over.
the Christians are praising their Maker again,
but not the disconsolate plover:
     i hear him berate
     the fate
     of his mate;
he claims God is no body’s lover.

Published by The Rotary Dial and Angle



The Wonder Boys
by Michael R. Burch

for Leslie Mellichamp, the late editor of The Lyric,
who was a friend and mentor to many poets, and
a fine poet in his own right

The stars were always there, too-bright cliches:
scintillant truths the jaded world outgrew
as baffled poets winged keyed kites—amazed,
in dream of shocks that suddenly came true ...

but came almost as static—background noise,
a song out of the cosmos no one hears,
or cares to hear. The poets, starstruck boys,
lay tuned into their kite strings, saucer-eared.

They thought to feel the lightning’s brilliant sparks
electrify their nerves, their brains; the smoke
of words poured from their overheated hearts.
The kite string, knotted, made a nifty rope ...

You will not find them here; they blew away—
in tumbling flight beyond nights’ stars. They clung
by fingertips to satellites. They strayed
too far to remain mortal. Elfin, young,

their words are with us still. Devout and fey,
they wink at us whenever skies are gray.

Originally published by The Lyric



The Princess and the Pauper
by Michael R. Burch

for Norman Kraeft in memory of his beloved wife June

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.

Published by Katrina Anthology, The Lyric and Trinacria



Come Down
by Michael R. Burch

for Harold Bloom and the Ivory Towerists

Come down, O, come down
from your high mountain tower.
How coldly the wind blows,
how late this chill hour ...

and I cannot wait
for a meteor shower
to show you the time
must be now, or not ever.

Come down, O, come down
from the high mountain heather
now brittle and brown
as fierce northern gales sever.          

Come down, or your hearts will grow cold as the weather
when winter devours and spring returns never.

I dedicated this poem to Harold Bloom after reading his introduction to the Best American Poetry anthology he edited. Bloom seemed intent on claiming poetry as the province of the uber-reader (i.e., himself), but I remember reading poems by Blake, Burns, Byron, cummings, Dickinson, Frost, Housman, Keats, Eliot, Pound, Shakespeare, Shelley, Whitman, Wordsworth, Yeats, et al, and grokking them as a boy, without any “advanced” instruction from anyone.



At Cædmon’s Grave

“Cædmon’s Hymn,” composed at the Monastery of Whitby (a North Yorkshire fishing village), is one of the oldest known poems written in the English language, dating back to around 680 A.D. I wrote this poem after visiting Caedmon's grave at Whitby.

At the monastery of Whitby,
on a day when the sun sank through the sea,
and the gulls shrieked wildly, jubilant, free,

while the wind and time blew all around,
I paced those dusk-enamored grounds
and thought I heard the steps resound

of Carroll, Stoker and good Bede
who walked there, too, their spirits freed
—perhaps by God, perhaps by need—

to write, and with each line, remember
the glorious light of Cædmon’s ember,
scorched tongues of flame words still engender.

Here, as darkness falls, at last we meet.
I lay this pale garland of words at his feet.

Published by The Lyric, Volume 80, Number 4



Orpheus
by Michael R. Burch

after William Blake

I.
Many a sun
and many a moon
I walked the earth
and whistled a tune.

I did not whistle
as I worked:
the whistle was my work.
I shirked

nothing I saw
and made a rhyme
to children at play
and hard time.

II.
Among the prisoners
I saw
the leaden manacles
of Law,

the heavy ball and chain,
the quirt.
And yet I whistled
at my work.

III.
Among the children’s
daisy faces
and in the women’s
frowsy laces,

I saw redemption,
and I smiled.
Satanic millers,
unbeguiled,

were swayed by neither girl,
nor child,
nor any God of Love.
Yet mild

I whistled at my work,
and Song
broke out,
ere long.



Millay Has Her Way with a Vassar Professor
by Michael R. Burch

After a night of hard drinking and spreading her legs,
Millay hits the dorm, where the Vassar don begs:
“Please act more chastely, more discretely, more seemly!”
(His name, let’s assume, was, er ... Percival Queemly.)

“Expel me! Expel me!”—She flashes her eyes.
“Oh! Please! No! I couldn’t! That wouldn’t be wise,
for a great banished Shelley would tarnish my name ...
Eek! My game will be lame if I can’t milque your fame!”

“Continue to live here—carouse as you please!”
the beleaguered don sighs as he sags to his knees.
Millay grinds her crotch half an inch from his nose:
“I can live in your hellhole, strange man, I suppose ...
but the price is your firstborn, whom I’ll sacrifice to Moloch.”
(Which explains what became of pale Percy’s son, Enoch.)

Originally published by Lucid Rhythms



Why the Kid Gloves Came Off
by Michael R. Burch

for Lemuel Ibbotson

It's hard to be a man of taste
in such a waste:
hence the lambaste.



Nightfall
by Michael R. Burch

for Kevin Nicholas Roberts

Only the long dolor of dusk delights me now,
     as I await death.
The rain has ruined the unborn corn,
         and the wasting breath
of autumn has cruelly, savagely shorn
               each ear of its radiant health.
As the golden sun dims, so the dying land seems to relinquish its vanishing wealth.

Only a few erratic, trembling stalks still continue to stand,
     half upright,
and even these the winds have continually robbed of their once-plentiful,
          golden birthright.
I think of you and I sigh, forlorn, on edge
               with the rapidly encroaching night.
Ten thousand stillborn lilies lie limp, mixed with roses, unable to ignite.

Whatever became of the magical kernel, golden within
     at the winter solstice?
What of its promised kingdom, Amen!, meant to rise again
          from this balmless poultice,
this strange bottomland where one Scarecrow commands
               dark legions of ravens and mice?
And what of the Giant whose bellows demand our negligible lives, his black vice?

I find one bright grain here aglitter with rain, full of promise and purpose
     and drive.
Through lightning and hail and nightfalls and pale, cold sunless moons
         it will strive
to rise up from its “place” on a network of lace, to the glory
             of being alive.
Why does it bother, I wonder, my brother? O, am I unwise to believe?
                                    But Jack had his beanstalk
                              and you had your poems
                         and the sun seems intent to ascend
               and so I also must climb
          to the end of my time,
     however the story
may unwind
and
end.

This poem was written around a month after Kevin’s death.



I Learned Too Late
by Michael R. Burch

“Show, don’t tell!”

I learned too late that poetry has rules,
although they may be rules for greater fools.

In any case, by dodging rules and schools,
I avoided useless duels.

I learned too late that sentiment is bad—
that Blake and Keats and Plath had all been had.

In any case, by following my heart,
I learned to walk apart.

I learned too late that “telling” is a crime.
Did Shakespeare know? Is Milton doing time?

In any case, by telling, I admit:
I think such rules are s*t.



Discrimination
by Michael R. Burch

for lovers of traditional poetry

The meter I had sought to find, perplexed,
was ripped from books of “verse” that read like prose.
I found it in sheet music, in long rows
of hologramic CDs, in sad wrecks
of long-forgotten volumes undisturbed
half-centuries by archivists, unscanned.
I read their fading numbers, frowned, perturbed—
why should such tattered artistry be banned?

I heard the sleigh bells’ jingles, vampish ads,
the supermodels’ babble, Seuss’s books
extolled in major movies, blurbs for abs ...
A few poor thinnish journals crammed in nooks
are all I’ve found this late to sell to those
who’d classify free verse “expensive prose.”

Published by The Chariton Review, The Eclectic Muse (Canada), Famous Poets and Poems, FreeXpression (Australia), Famous Poets and Poems, Inspirational Stories, Poetry Life & Times and Trinacria (where it was nominated for the Pushcart Prize)



The Composition of Shadows
by Michael R. Burch

“I made it out of a mouthful of air.”—W. B. Yeats

We breathe and so we write; the night
hums softly its accompaniment.
Pale phosphors burn; the page we turn
leads onward, and we smile, content.

And what we mean we write to learn:
the vowels of love, the consonants’
strange golden weight, each plosive’s shape—
curved like the heart. Here, resonant, ...

sounds’ shadows mass beneath bright glass
like singing voles curled in a maze
of blank white space. We touch a face—
long-frozen words trapped in a glaze

that insulates our hearts. Nowhere
can love be found. Just shrieking air.

Published by The Lyric, Contemporary Rhyme, Candelabrum, Iambs & Trochees, Triplopia, Romantics Quarterly, Hidden Treasures (Selected Poem), ImageNation (UK), Yellow Bat Review, Poetry Life & Times, Vallance Review, Poetica Victorian



Me?
by Michael R. Burch

Me?
Whee!
(I stole this poem
From Muhammad Ali.)



Brother Iran
by Michael R. Burch

for the poets of Iran

Brother Iran, I feel your pain.
I feel it as when the Turk fled Spain.
As the Jew fled, too, that constricting span,
I feel your pain, Brother Iran.

Brother Iran, I know you are noble!
I too fear Hiroshima and Chernobyl.
But though my heart shudders, I have a plan,
and I know you are noble, Brother Iran.

Brother Iran, I salute your Poets!
your Mathematicians!, all your great Wits!
O, come join the earth's great Caravan.
We'll include your Poets, Brother Iran.

Brother Iran, I love your Verse!
Come take my hand now, let's rehearse
the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.
For I love your Verse, Brother Iran.

Bother Iran, civilization's Flower!
How high flew your spires in man's early hours!
Let us build them yet higher, for that's my plan,
civilization's first flower, Brother Iran.

To Please The Poet
by Michael R. Burch

for poets who still write musical verse

To please the poet, words must dance—
staccato, brisk, a two-step:
so!
Or waltz in elegance to time
of music—mild,
adagio.

To please the poet, words must chance
emotion in catharsis—
flame.
Or splash into salt seas, descend
in sheets of silver-shining
rain.

To please the poet, words must prance
and gallop, gambol, revel,
rail.
Or muse upon a moment—mute,
obscure, unsure, imperfect,
pale.

To please the poet, words must sing,
or croak, wart-tongued, imagining.

Originally published by The Lyric



The danger is not aiming too high and missing, but aiming too low and hitting the mark.—Michelangelo, translation by Michael R. Burch

Trifles create perfection, yet perfection is no trifle.—Michelangelo, translation by Michael R. Burch

Genius is infinitely patient, and infinitely painstaking.—Michelangelo, translation by Michael R. Burch

If you knew how hard I worked, you wouldn't call it "genius."—Michelangelo, translation by Michael R. Burch

He who follows will never surpass.—Michelangelo, translation by Michael R. Burch

Beauty is what lies beneath superfluities.—Michelangelo, translation by Michael R. Burch

I criticize via creation, not by fault-finding.—Michelangelo, translation by Michael R. Burch



a peom in supsport of a dsylexci peot
by michael r. burch, allso a peot
for ken d williams

pay no hede to the saynayers,
the asburd wordslayers,
the splayers and sprayers,
the heartless diecriers,
the liers!

what the hell due ur criticks no?
let them bellow below!

ur every peom has a good haert
and culd allso seerv as an ichart!

There are a number of puns, including ur (my term for original/ancient/first), no/know, pay/due, the critic as both absurd and an as(s)-burd who is he(artless), and the poet as the (seer)v of an (i)-chart for all. Here is an encoded version:

(pay) k(no)w hede to the say(nay)ers,
the as(s)bird word(s
)layers,
the s(players) and s(prayers),
the he(artless) (die)(cry)ers,
the (lie)rs!

what the hell (due) ur (cry)(ticks) k(no)w?
let them (be)l(low) below!

(ur) every peom has a good haert
and culd (all)so (seer)ve as an (i)chart!



we did not Dye in vain!
by Michael R. Burch

from “songs of the sea snails”

though i’m just a slimy crawler,
my lineage is proud:
my forebears gave their lives
(oh, let the trumps blare loud!)
so purple-mantled Royals
might stand out in a crowd.

i salute you, fellow loyals,
who labor without scruple
as your incomes fall
while deficits quadruple
to swaddle unjust Lords
in bright imperial purple!

Notes: In ancient times the purple dye produced from the secretions of purpura mollusks (sea snails) was known as “Tyrian purple,” “royal purple” and “imperial purple.” It was greatly prized in antiquity, and was very expensive according to the historian Theopompus: “Purple for dyes fetched its weight in silver at Colophon.” Thus, purple-dyed fabrics became status symbols, and laws often prevented commoners from possessing them. The production of Tyrian purple was tightly controlled in Byzantium, where the imperial court restricted its use to the coloring of imperial silks. A child born to the reigning emperor was literally porphyrogenitos ("born to the purple") because the imperial birthing apartment was walled in porphyry, a purple-hued rock, and draped with purple silks. Royal babies were swaddled in purple; we know this because the iconodules, who disagreed with the emperor Constantine about the veneration of images, accused him of defecating on his imperial purple swaddling clothes!



Alien Nation
by Michael R. Burch

for J. S. S., a "Christian" poet

On a lonely outpost on Mars
the astronaut practices “speech”
as alien to primates below
as mute stars winking high, out of reach.

And his words fall as bright and as chill
as ice crystals on Kilimanjaro —
far colder than Jesus’s words
over the “fortunate” sparrow.

And I understand how gentle Emily
felt, when all comfort had flown,
gazing into those inhuman eyes,
feeling zero at the bone.

Oh, how can I grok his arctic thought?
For if he is human, I am not.
A M Ryder Nov 2021
Somewhere
Out there
A stillness
A darkness
Yet known
A nothingness
Awaits us
And it's better
That way

The purpose of life
Is that it ends
And people
Don't think
About death
Until they're
Forced to
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