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Red Dec 2020
One day I hope to put these feelings down in writing
To find a way to simplify the way these carry me
The smell of worn leather and pine trees in December
A cold wind and a creek half frozen
The line of trees that separate my house from the wilderness
And how some days I wish I could disappear in there with you

We would hunt and forage
forge a path of our own
Play an out of tune guitar around a smoldering fire
We would live in the trees and hide in the grass
You would braid my hair and we would dance barefoot in a clearing
To the sound of cicadas and leaves underfoot

I love, I miss, I want you.
I hope for you.
More than I will ever be able to tell you.
The smell of my leather hunting jacket made me emotional for a future I will never have. Those beat up leather riding boots in my closet make me want to walk until I disappear.
Ashley Moor Jun 2020
The town I’m from
has a history
an excommunication
of diversity
at the helm
of self-serving
Caucasian propriety.
My sister is 50 percent
black -
her ancestors once
ran towards the freedom
promised
in the small towns
like this one.
This small town -
97.4 percent white -
instead hung her ancestors
in the town square,
jeered at their attempts
to live among the same people
who were proud
to live in a land of freedom.
Only certain freedoms
are allowed, however,
in towns like this one -
only a freedom
of a certain color.
Michael R Burch Mar 2020
Ali's Song
by Michael R. Burch

for Muhammad Ali

They say that gold don't tarnish. It ain't so.
They say it has a wild, unearthly glow.
A man can be more beautiful, more wild.
I flung their medal to the river, child.
I flung their medal to the river, child.

They hung their coin around my neck; they made
my name a bridle, "called a ***** a *****."
They say their gold is pure. I say defiled.
I flung their slave's name to the river, child.
I flung their slave's name to the river, child.

Ain't got no quarrel with no Viet Cong
that never called me ******, did me wrong.
A man can't be lukewarm, 'cause God hates mild.
I flung their notice to the river, child.
I flung their notice to the river, child.

They said, "Now here's your bullet and your gun,
and there's your cell: we're waiting, you choose one."
At first I groaned aloud, but then I smiled.
I gave their "future" to the river, child.
I gave their "future" to the river, child.

My face reflected up, dark bronze like gold,
a coin God stamped in His own image—BOLD.
My blood boiled like that river—strange and wild.
I died to hate in that dark river, child,
Come, be reborn in this bright river, child.

The poem above has been set to music in a YouTube video by Lillian Y. Wong.

You are free to copy the poem for noncommercial use, such as a school project, essay or report, or just because you like it and want to share, but please credit Michael R. Burch as the author.

NOTES: (1) Muhammad Ali said that he threw his Olympic gold medal into the Ohio River after experiencing racism in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. Confirming his account, the medal was recovered by Robert Bradbury and his wife Pattie in 2014 during the Annual Ohio River Sweep. The Ali family paid $200,000 to regain possession of the medal. Ali later made a joke about the incident that caused him to toss his medal into the river. He said that he took his medal into a white downtown restaurant and ordered a cheeseburger. The waitress told him, "We don't serve negroes." Ali replied, "I don't eat them either. Just bring me a cheeseburger!" (2) When drafted during the Vietnam War, Ali refused induction, reputedly saying: "I ain't got no quarrel with those Viet Cong; no Vietnamese ever called me a ******." (3) The notice mentioned in my poem is Ali's draft notice, which metaphorically gets tossed into the river along with his slave name. (4) The poem was originally published by the literary journal Black Medina. It has since been published by Other Voices International, Thanal Online, Freshet, Poems About and Poem List.



For Ali, Fighting Time
by Michael R. Burch

So now your speech is not as clear . . .
time took its toll each telling year . . .
and O how tragic that your art,
so brutal, broke your savage heart.

But we who cheered each blow that fell
within that ring of torrent hell
never dreamed to see you maimed,
bowed and bloodied, listless, tamed.

For you were not as other men
as we cheered and cursed you then;
no, you commanded dreams and time—
blackgold Adonis, bold, sublime.

And once your glory leapt like fire—
pure and potent. No desire
ever burned as fierce or bright.
Oh Ali, Ali . . . win this fight!



Me?
Whee!
(I stole this poem
From Muhammad Ali.)
—Michael R. Burch

The poem above was written in response to the Quora question: “Can you write a poem titled “Me”?



In My House
by Michael R. Burch

I was once the only caucasian in the software company I founded and managed. I had two fine young black programmers working for me, and they both had keys to my house. This poem looks back to the dark days of slavery and the Civil War it produced.

When you were in my house
you were not free—
in chains bound.

Manifest Destiny?

I was wrong;
my plantation burned to the ground.
I was wrong.

This is my song,
this is my plea:
I was wrong.

When you are in my house,
now, I am not free.

I feel the song
hurling itself back at me.

We were wrong.
This is my history.

I feel my tongue
stilting accordingly.

We were wrong;
brother, forgive me.

Published by Black Medina



Poet to poet
by Michael R. Burch

This poem imagines a discussion between Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who spoke so poetically about his dream of equality, and a poet who speaks in parentheses.

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, Too, Have a Dream
by Michael R. Burch writing as “The Child Poets 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.
I, too, have a dream ...



My Nightmare ...
by Michael R. Burch writing as “The Child Poets 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.



Keywords/Tags: Muhammad Ali, boxing, violence, The Greatest, race, racism, racist, discrimination, black, slave name, Vietnam War, Olympics, gold medal, God, Muslim, Islam, Islamic, tribute, mrbali, mrbrace, mrbsport, mrbsports, mrbsong
Lucas Scott Jan 2020
My wife holds my hand tightly as we enter the tiny church
The harsh odor of wet wool, cotton and dust fills the foyer
The pews are full.  The signature book thick with names
Sifting through, we find a seat as the dirge comes to a close

The preacher is loud and sweaty and a distant cousin, I’m told
His mud-brown suit and tie clash against the stage’s ornate bouquets
He assures us there’s a heaven and that my grandfather was a good man
His thick southern draw a slow assault; the eulogy, a battleground

Stories are shared, and they are sweet. He paints a righteous man
Hands are raised, amens shouted. A relative grips me hard and weeps
In Jesus name, hallelujah, the lord giveth; the lord taketh away
Bow your head in prayer, he says. Let us remember our brother

And I remember. Images enter my head, and I clench my teeth
The drunken fights with grandma, the hammer used to defend herself
The scar on his palm, the knife mom drove through his calloused hand
The dark coat closet, the sound of the lock his children heard, the cries

The line to his casket is long. The sobs overpowering the morose hymn
His children are lined next to him. My grandmother is holding his hand
I lean in to see him one last time.  His red nose has vanished
He smells of embalming fluid, and his shirt is wet with tears
he tackle
the law
that wrestle
the modernity
with pain
like Lysander
when politics
wrangle the
Star-Spangled Banner
when it
drew the
hep of
carols there's
an honest
girl to
sing granola
there a man of Ohio,retired
Mary E Zollars Aug 2019
An hour away, a petal falls
A petal, a petal, a petal
They fly to Utah, they fly to Maine
They fly to Brazil, they fly to Spain
A petal falls, a petal falls.
Watch them drift, watch them land
They are passed from hand to hand
Across our minds, across our home
We watched it grow, we let them go
A petal, a petal, a petal
I live very close to Dayton, it’s always just been the place where the air force museum is and where my friend does synchronized swimming, and it means so much more than that now. The moment I heard the news I looked for a victims list, and asked my parents if we could donate to the families. Every hour I see it, constantly reminded of how close it was. Mass shootings can happen anywhere, and the school year is about to start. Pray for Dayton, and don’t stop fighting.
Lilli Sutton Apr 2019
Fluorescent light flickering in the library
gives me a headache. I should read
but I’d rather let my head be empty.
We had a long conversation this morning,
and cried – she said, “yeah, you’re young”
and “yeah, your parents are getting older.”
Do all you can and hope for the best –
I keep feeling like I’ve walked off the bridge
inadequately prepared. Like I did that summer
in Ohio – we counted down, to keep each other honest.
Hit the cold brown water and came up gasping –
at least then I had a friend. Or the in between –
we could have been in love, two Octobers ago.
If I had opened my mouth sooner.
This morning I said “what should I do
when the one truth about myself
that I’ve always believed falls through?”
No easy answer – I’m just changing again,
shedding skin. Diana says “look at you –
doing everything I’ve always dreamed of.”
Only I don’t feel so lucky. I want to go back underground,
filter soil to the bottom of my tongue.
Stutter of a heart that’s half homesick, half escapist.
I haven’t even left yet, but an hour
isn’t enough time to spill out the last three weeks.
Like rallying the home team, everyone is wearing
my colors, except if I look too fast
it’s all just black and white.
03.20.19.
Luna Jay Jan 2019
He did not deserve me-
Though he ended up with me, out of pure loneliness
On one end,
And horiness on the other-
He didn’t deserve me.
I am a strong and free woman,
Head held high,
Walking proudly through the crowd
Of judgement.
He wanted to cage me,
To tame me.
Maim me when I misspoke
With the ****** misconduct
Of his ****.
Left his mess for me to mop
And drug his palm against my face
When I didn’t do it quick enough.
I’m into some sick and twisted stuff,
But that doesn’t mean I have to dedicate my life
To a sick and twisted person.
He saw an opportunity and abused it,
Completely.
Ruined a Led Zeppelin album
Because he needed quick pleasure.
A sin.
To me, it was torture
Beyond any measure.
There is no safeword to stop him
From using me that the repeated
Shouting of the word “no”
Shouldn’t override.
Sobs and dry heaving
And unlimited tears that darted down my cheeks
Every time he forced himself
Deeper inside of me
Couldn’t trump a measly “safeword”.
Sneering down at me,
Forcing my legs open
As he stole the one thing
I’d always asked him not to take away-
My trust in men as an entire gender.
And of course,
Something as simple as getting off quick
Could never seem that complicated,
That complex,
In his miniscule male mind.
He came and went-
Dipped to college,
Got with new girls after
Shaving his beard off once he left,
Revealing that he was still a boy
All along.
Under the dad *** of the year
And sneer that was covered
In ****** hair,
Starred a scared boy
Right back at me.
He drinks to numb his pain
While I’m back at home with
A broken liver.
And it’s more of a slap in the face
Than finding out earlier
That he was cheating on me
The entire time
Anyway.
Stings.
More than the quick slaps
Across the face
I’d receive for
Disrespecting him.
He texts me-
On the day my crush,
My other half that I’ve yet to meet
Sends me an update on his life.
Cuffed in Mississippi
For a plant.
Mississippi-
The same place my sister went
After getting strung out.
The place I was at
When my little survivor pup
Was hit by a pickup.
There’s nothing good
In the big Miss.
Only terrible roads and greasy food.
On the other end, the runaway ******
Was telling me he was trying to
“Better himself”.
Asked if we were okay,
And then proceeded to make the conversation
About himself,
As he’d proudly done so many times before.
How stealth-
Can’t find a better man, she lies.
Hands tied,
Just like i’d asked you to,
But more than that.
In my mind, as well.
You’ll rot in hell
For what you did to me.
No, I didn’t go after him.
No, I didn’t tell anyone at first.
No, I never told his college.
What the **** would you even go to college
In Ohio for?
Cornologist?
No, I didn’t pursue him further after…
It.
Karma is my friend.
And I have all the time in the world,
Curing myself,
Not drinking myself to death
And sleeping with every man
Big enough to swing his **** around.
I’m bettering myself, too.
Even if I’m not allowing him to see.
Tyler Matthew Oct 2018
There's a girl from Ohio.
She's only searchin' for true love,
but her hands are tied
to the whipping post
in the town square
where she grew up.

And there's a boy
who lives next to her.
He walks past her nearly every day.
But he thinks that she's
lost her little mind,
so he just turns from her
and walks away.

Her father is a minister,
and her mother is a ghost now.
She never learned to say hello,
but she prob'ly wouldn't anyhow.

Well, there's a girl from Ohio.
She's only searchin' for true love,
but her hands are tied
to the whipping post
in the town square
where she grew up.

Now her tears mix
with the raindrops
fallin' on top of her.
Her heart's caving
like a cabin roof,
and you know
there's no saving her.

And you can hear her
moaning in the night
if you bend your ear
to her, hear her yell.
And even though you
don't know her name,
you know her story
all too well.

And there's a girl from Ohio.
She's only searchin' for true love,
but her hands are tied
to the whipping post
in the town square
where she grew up.
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