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These are poems for the victims and survivors of the Nashville Covenant School shootings.

Nashville Covenant Call to Love
by Michael R. Burch

Our hearts are broken today
for our children's small bodies lie broken;
let us gather them up, as we may,
that the truth of our Love may be spoken;
then, when we have put them away
to nevermore dream, or be woken,
let us think of the living, and pray
for true Love, not some miserable token,
to command us, for strength to obey.

For a Nashville Covenant Child, with Butterflies
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

Frail Envelope of Flesh
by Michael R. Burch

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 nine artless years!
Now your mother’s lips
seal up your lips
from the Deluge of her tears ...

Epitaph for a Nashville Covenant Student
by Michael R. Burch

I lived as best I could, and then I died.
Be careful where you step: the grave is wide.

As springs’ budding blossoms emerge
the raptors glide mercilessly.
—Michael R. Burch

I wrote this haiku-like poem on 3-27-2023 after the Nashville Covenant school shooting massacre.

This poem is for mothers who lost children at Nashville Covenant and in other similar tragedies...

by Michael R. Burch

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

I Pray Tonight
by Michael R. Burch

for the Nashville Covenant survivors

I pray tonight
the starry light
surround you.

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

I pray ere the morrow
an end to your sorrow.
May angels' white chorales
sing, and astound you.

Nashville Covenant Call to Action
by Michael R. Burch

We see their small coffins
and our hearts break,
so we ask the NRA—
"Did you make a mistake?"

And we vow to save the next child
for sweet love's sake,
but also to protect ourselves
from such heartache.

The lives, safety and happiness of our children depend on our ability to persuade the NRA and its political lackeys to stop exalting money and political gain above the life, liberty and happiness of innocents. What is the cost of banning assault weapons, compared to the ultimate price innocents pay when they are used by madmen playing Rambo in classrooms and theaters? Ironically, just hours before the Sandy Hook massacre, in a weekly column that I wrote for the Nashville City Paper, I pointed out that right-wing politicians are not just demanding the "right" of citizens to bear loaded handguns into restaurants that serve alcohol and bars — a combustible mix. No, people who call themselves "conservative Christians" in collusion with the NRA and its gun lobby are demanding the right to carry assault weapons everywhere ... which "logically" means into universities, high schools, grade schools, kindergartens, pre-schools, Sunday schools and maternity wards. When I wrote this, I was speaking ironically — I thought — but then a few hours later the NRA and its political minions made me seem like a prophet.

Sandy Hook Shooting Gallery
by Michael R. Burch

If we live by the rule of the gun
what can a child do,
but run?

Sixteen of the students who died at Sandy Hook were six years old; the other four students were seven. I wrote the poem below for another child gunned down by a madman. While we cannot legislate sanity, we can be sane enough to legislate away the "right" of serial killers to purchase assault weapons so easily. We can defend many small victims from such carnage, if "we the people" have the wisdom and the will to defend them.

Child of 9-11
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings left 27 students and educators dead, and question our nation's sanity and resolve to put children's lives above money and politics.

This haiku makes me think of the students and teachers of Sandy Hook, who were trapped in a war zone:

stood at the end of the hall
in the long shadows
—Watanabe Hakusen, translation by Michael R. Burch

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.

It seems to me that the NRA has declared a war — an open season — on our children, by insisting that assault weapons must be available to every Tom, **** and ***** Harry. But what will we, the people, say and do?

Whence Now?
by Michael R. Burch

Grown darkly accustomed to grief,
will we ever turn over a new leaf?

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,
and finality has swept into a corner where it lies
in dust and cobwebs and silence.

The three students shot and killed in the Nashville Covenant School massacre were all nine-year-olds. They were identified as Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs and William Kinney. Three adults were also killed in the shooting: Cynthia Peak, Mike Hill and Katherine Koonce. It is no longer good enough to talk about loving our children and praying for them to be safe. We have to protect them from mass murderers armed with assault weapons. The alleged serial killer, Audrey Hale, was reportedly armed with an AR-style rifle and an AR-style pistol. In more civilized nations citizens cannot legally purchase such military-grade weapons. The Nashville Covenant massacre marked the 19th shooting at an American school or university, so far in the first three months of 2023, according to CNN.

Keywords/Tags: Nashville, Nashville Covenant, Nashville Covenant Presbyterian School, school shooting, shootings, massacre, children, kids, students, child abuse, gun control, America, United States, USA, death, deaths, ******, serial ******, massacre, bereavement, class, classes
the night after the covenant school shooting, i was at work.

a man comes in and is very kind to me,
seems kind to his wife as well. but he turns and i see something on his hip, a holster. and the gun.

now, i live in tennessee. the sight was not too strange, but so unsettling after what had just happened. how could he walk around openly carrying the same weapon that had killed people just hours before?

how could he bring a firearm into our store, after hearing about those deaths?

these prayers to gods who don’t hear us are not working, and our government does not know how to protect us in ways that matter. we can scream at the top of our lungs that it isn’t fair, but it will fall on deaf ears.

as a child in america, i am terrified every day. terrified that my brothers will not make it home after i drop them off. terrified that my mom will pick up the wrong substitute teaching job. terrified that my best friends will not graduate with me because this country is more focused on how people represent themselves rather than what is killing us.

i am seventeen and i am so tired of being scared for my ******* life. there is blood on the floor and on our hands and in our memories and we practice hiding in our classrooms and workplaces because it is real. these kids were real and now they are dead.
Ken Pepiton Aug 2020
singer sang, from some open mic on Broadway,
in Nashville, or any remnant city,
you may remember witnessing at night,

looking out on rain slicked pavement,
reflecting stoplights and neon,

before the advent of mega-light emitting diodic
urging any eye to pay a glance,
take chance
adventure into ignorance of the street

glistening in August rain, unaware the
singer singing

I imagine I imagined singin' in this bar.
Across the street from Pinkies,
which was just behind the
Ryman, temple of
my working class
spirit that won
the west, when we paved paradise,
and left yesterday in the dust,
or so we was told,

So some unknown singer sang
to an empty room,
but for the barkeep, there,
and me, listening from floor four of the empty
old furniture store at the corner of fourth
in Nashville, or any remnant city,
with an empty building available to bums, in 1973.
Where singers at open mics sang on Tuesday nights.

Singer sang,

I imagined I was all I imagine that I am,
and it seems I can be
if I make up my mind.
or so it seems so
It seems
I can be a singer in the spotlight,
on any given night,
when nothin' matters any where
when nothin' matters any where
when nothin' matters any where, and I don't care.

-- a remnant of a moment in any remnant city
still haunting my / thy
coulda beens, had we agreed it worth the effort
to realize
in time.
What if why not has nothing to say in the matter. We make do,
duty bound to imagine being a link to no problem at all, in terms of reality after ever begins where you are.
Michael R Burch Apr 2020
Nashville and Andromeda
by Michael R. Burch

I have come to sit and think in the darkness once again.
It is three a.m.; outside, the world sleeps . . .

How nakedly now and unadorned
the surrounding hills
expose themselves
to the lithographies of the detached moonlight—
******* daubed by the lanterns
of the ornamental barns,
firs ruffled like silks
casually discarded . . .

They lounge now—
indolent, languid, spread-eagled—
their wantonness a thing to admire,
like a lover’s ease idly tracing flesh . . .

They do not know haste,
lust, virtue, or any of the sanctimonious ecstasies of men,
yet they please
if only in the solemn meditations of their loveliness
by the ***** pen . . .

Perhaps there upon the surrounding hills,
another forsakes sleep
for the hour of introspection,
gabled in loneliness,
swathed in the pale light of Andromeda . . .

Yes, seeing,
but always ultimately unknowing
anything of the affairs of men.

Published by The Aurorean and The Centrifugal Eye

Keywords/Tags: Nashville, Andromeda, universe, cosmos, meditation, introspection, loneliness, alienation, pen, writing, night, darkness, sleep, moonlight, love, lover, affair, affairs, haste, lust, virtue, ecstasy, knowing, unknowing, aware, unaware, oblivious
JS CARIE Oct 2019
As the crow flies south from capital city
With soaring moonshine he coasts into synchronicity
Highways below dissolve into forgotten whispers
Like a rear view mirror sees only memories in its disappearing

Visual ****** initiates and fills this polychromatic cruise
Starting with a quiet historic ruse
Contesting over which of the two
echo shadows for optical repeal

the many leaves of kaleidoscope hues
That keep a running legacy since time before our time
and / or
Buried horizon from endless layers of skyward hills
Hills that have been storing a primitive foundation for the growing of substructure foliage in order to be able to drop its petals and leaves

Resolve is left with the one true and unbiased impartial decider...
the wind
to form a fair measure of mediation

From the human view
All are merely a preview for the impromptu quest
In an attempt to catalyze foreshadow and paint memory for the drive out west

To approach from afar
The destination appears to be a resting
shape of an antiquated location

splashed with opaque aromas,

sensory weaving visuals,


Melodic tones of nostalgic definition

Emitting vibrations of soothing tremolo that quiver throughout the body

this multi-strip string of singular select shops
Is the alignment initiative in the countryside
forecasting a manifest
for the hazy occasion
Anointing inspiration over the heartland’s artland
That nearly only hope,
could create

Invisible snows sprinkle over roads like a magic red carpet of threaded tranquility in its coat
Enticing, Welcoming, and Lighting up this neck of the west
And opening into the
Woodland Hills of Little Nashville

Country Attitude

Here I come
Check me out
You can see it in my walk
Listen, to my  velvet voice
It's even in my talk

I  have a certain swagger
That's so ****, and not lewd
This girl knows where she's going
I've got that country attitude

I've  got the look
Of country cool
I've got country attitude
This girl's in charge
I  break the rules
I've got that country attitude

Like a good smooth bourbon
From Kentuck
To be with me
Takes more than luck
I  want a man
not just a dude
To share my country attitude

I'll chew you up
and spit you out
So, treat me good
With out a doubt
The way I  look
Is misconstrued
I'm full of
Country Attitude

I've got the look
Of country cool
I've got country attitude
This girl's in charge
I  breaks the rules
I've  got that country attitude
We laugh and stumble
Through crowded streets,
Your eyes on the lights
And mine on you.

A soft, sweet kiss
From ***-stained lips;
The pulse of the city
Flowing through neon veins.

Intoxicated by the music,
                   My love,
                     Maybe even
                       The double *** and coke.

Cracking jokes in an
Eggshell shower; spilling
Our future on to the floor
For the universe to take note.
Caroline Lee Dec 2015
There is an immensity of life between us
in the cracks of the tar lining the streets of the new and the up and coming
in the cement foundations of  pieces of history torn down to make way for condos
in the luxury of the innocent
in the opulence of the well versed

(I was never brilliant or oblivious but I understood the weight of it still)
and still
there is life here
in the filthy river water we use to cleanse ourselves of modern day idealism
in the pedicured grass of the only wild space left in the city
in the eyes of the people who go unnoticed for years
in the hands of the business men devastating and deciding the price of our humanity
we swarm
we collect
we nest in this hive
we levitate and gravitate towards new heights and new highs
vowing to go up and over up and over until we revert back to the way we once were
a pretty word for dissatisfaction
tearing down walls only to romanticize their restriction ten years later
we build up to break down to reenforce what we already know
but yet there is a beyond
and yet still there is more
still there is life in the existential
still there in the thoughts between sleep and waking
still between the jump and the fall
and even still you take your forearm and run it along the curve of the earth surrounding this city
this coal eating monster washed with the dreams of a thousand drunkards looking for some other body to call home
and we call it home
with the austere buildings and mirror images reflecting bricks and soot
reflecting breath and sighs
reflecting life and death
and between it all
there is so much life
yes between us
there is an immensity of life.
Poem for my city and for you. Procrastinating a paper and listening to King Krule. The way he writes kind of destroys me. He creates fullness in minimalism and captures his surroundings perfectly.
There is no courage in questions
We know someone will answer
Answers that take us nowhere
Informational fodder, answers that do not heal

There is no courage in questions
We know will leave our world intact
Answers that take us nowhere
Details that make a case, but do not heal

But what is the question we fear?

Do you love her?
Do you still love me?

— The End —