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Nat Jul 25
Waxing philosophical on the porch
Beneath a string of neon lights
The lighter blinks on as the stars keep blinking out
Let's celebrate our waning nights
Michael R Burch Mar 2020
Salat Days
by Michael R. Burch

(dedicated to the memory of my grandfather, Paul Ray Burch, Sr.)

I remember how my grandfather used to pick poke salat ...
though first, usually, he’d stretch back in the front porch swing,
dangling his long thin legs, watching the sweat bees drone,
talking about poke salat—
how easy it was to find if you knew where to seek it ...
standing in dew-damp clumps by the side of a road, shockingly green,
straddling fence posts, overflowing small ditches,
crowding out the less-hardy nettles.

“Nobody knows that it’s there, lad, or that it’s fit tuh eat
with some bacon drippin’s or lard.”

“Don’t eat the berries. You see—the berry’s no good.
And you’d hav’ta wash the leaves a good long time.”

“I’d boil it twice, less’n I wus in a hurry.
Lawd, it’s tough to eat, chile, if you boil it jest wonst.”

He seldom was hurried; I can see him still ...
silently mowing his yard at eighty-eight,
stooped, but with a tall man’s angular gray grace.

Sometimes he’d pause to watch me running across the yard,
trampling his beans,
dislodging the shoots of his tomato plants.

He never grew flowers; I never laughed at his jokes about The Depression.

Years later I found the proper name—“pokeweed”—while perusing a dictionary.
Surprised, I asked why anyone would eat a ****.
I still can hear his laconic reply ...

“Well, chile, s’m’times them times wus hard.”

Published by Lonzie’s Fried Chicken, Grassroots Poetry, Poet’s Forum Magazine, Harp-Strings Poetry Journal, A Flasher’s Dozen (prose version), Poetry Life & Times, Centrifugal Eye, Better Than Starbucks. Keywords/Tags: Great Depression, South, father, grandfather, son, grandson, memory, memories, flowers, nettles, ****, weeds, pokeweed, poke salad, poke salat, bacon, lard, front porch swing, sweat bees, green,  greens, beans, forage, foraging



Playthings
by Michael R. Burch

a sequel to “Playmates”

There was a time, as though a long-forgotten dream remembered,
when you and I were playmates and the days were long;
then we were pirates stealing plaits of daisies
from trembling maidens fearing men so strong . . .

Our world was like an unplucked Rose unfolding,
and you and I were busy, then, as bees;
the nectar that we drank, it made us giddy;
each petal within reach seemed ours to seize . . .

But you were more the doer, I the dreamer,
so I wrote poems and dreamed a noble cause;
while you were linking logs, I met old Merlin
and took a dizzy ride to faery Oz . . .

Then it came to pass you had no time for playthings,
for with strong hands you built, with bricks and stone,
tall buildings, then a life, and then you married.
Now my fantasies, again, are all my own.

This is a companion poem to “Playmates,” the second poem I remember writing, around age 13 or 14. However, I believe “Playthings” was written several years later, in my late teens, around 1977. According to my notes, I revised the poem in 1991, then again in 2020.



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 tea 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 Quarterly



Observance
by Michael R. Burch

Here the hills are old and rolling
casually in their old age;
on the horizon youthful mountains
bathe themselves in windblown fountains . . .

By dying leaves and falling raindrops,
I have traced time's starts and stops,
and I have known the years to pass
almost unnoticed, whispering through treetops . . .

For here the valleys fill with sunlight
to the brim, then empty again,
and it seems that only I notice
how the years flood out, and in . . .

This is an early poem that made me feel like a “real poet.” I remember writing it in the break room of the McDonald's where I worked as a high school student. I believe that was at age 17. "Observance" was originally published by Nebo as "Reckoning." It was later published by Tucumcari Literary Review, Piedmont Literary Review, Verses, Romantics Quarterly, Setu (India), Better Than Starburcks, The Chained Muse, Formal Verse, the anthology There is Something in the Autumn and Poetry Life & Times. That’s not too shabby for a teen poet!



Ivy
by Michael R. Burch

“Van trepando en mi viejo dolor como las yedras.” — Pablo Neruda
“They climb on my old suffering like ivy.”

Ivy winds around these sagging structures
from the flagstones
to the eave heights,
and, clinging, holds intact
what cannot be saved of their loose entrails.

Through long, blustery nights of dripping condensation,
cured in the humidors of innumerable forgotten summers,
waxy, unguent,
palely, indifferently fragrant, it climbs,
pausing at last to see
the alien sparkle of dew
beading delicate sparrowgrass.

Coarse saw grass, thin skunk grass, clumped mildewed yellow gorse
grow all around, and here remorse, things past,
watch ivy climb and bend,
and, in the end, we ask
if grief is worth the gaps it leaps to mend.



The Communion of Sighs
by Michael R. Burch

There was a moment
without the sound of trumpets or a shining light,
but with only silence and darkness and a cool mist
felt more than seen.
I was eighteen,
my heart pounding wildly within me like a fist.
Expectation hung like a cry in the night,
and your eyes shone like the corona of a comet.

There was an instant . . .
without words, but with a deeper communion,
as clothing first, then inhibitions fell;
liquidly our lips met
—feverish, wet—
forgotten, the tales of heaven and hell,
in the immediacy of our fumbling union . . .
when the rest of the world became distant.

Then the only light was the moon on the rise,
and the only sound, the communion of sighs.

This is one of my early poems but I can’t remember exactly when I wrote it. Due to the romantic style, I believe it was probably written during my first two years in college, making me 18 or 19 at the time.



Moments
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth

There were moments full of promise,
like the petal-scented rainfall of early spring,
when to hold you in my arms and to kiss your willing lips
seemed everything.

There are moments strangely empty
full of pale unearthly twilight—how the cold stars stare!—
when to be without you is a dark enchantment
the night and I share.

Published by Tucumcari Literary Review, Romantics Quarterly, Grassroots Poetry, The Chained Muse, in a Soundcloud reading by Vex Darkly, in a YouTube reading by Jasper Sole, and in a Romanian translation by Petru Dimofte



Lucifer, to the Enola Gay
by Michael R. Burch

Go then,
and give them my meaning
so that their teeming
streets
become my city.

Bring back a pretty
flower—
a chrysanthemum,
perhaps, to bloom
if but an hour,
within a certain room
of mine
where
the sun does not rise or fall,
and the moon,
although it is content to shine,
helps nothing at all.

There,
if I hear the wistful call
of their voices
regretting choices
made
or perhaps not made
in time,
I can look back upon it and recall,
in all
its pale forms sublime,
still
Death will never be holy again.

Published by Romantics Quarterly, Penny Dreadful and Poetry Life & Times



Free Fall (II)
by Michael R. Burch

I have no earthly remembrance of you, as if
we were never of earth, but merely white clouds adrift,
swirling together through Himalayan serene altitudes—
no more man and woman than exhaled breath—unable to fall
back to solid existence, despite the air’s sparseness: all
our being borne up, because of our lightness,
toward the sun’s unendurable brightness . . .

But since I touched you, fire consumes each wing!

We who are unable to fly, stall
contemplating disaster. Despair like an anchor, like an iron ball,
heavier than ballast, sinks on its thick-looped chain
toward the earth, and soon thereafter there will be sufficient pain
to recall existence, to make the coming darkness everlasting.



Fledglings
by Michael R. Burch

With her small eyes, pale and unforgiving,
she taught me—December is not for those
unweaned of love, the chirping nestlings
who bicker for worms with dramatic throats

still pinkly exposed, who have not yet learned
the first harsh lesson of survival: to devour
their weaker siblings in the high-leafed ferned
fortress and impregnable bower

from which men must fly like improbable dreams
to become poets. They have yet to learn that,
before they can soar starward, like fanciful archaic machines,
they must first assimilate the latest technology, or

lose all in the sudden realization of gravity,
following Icarus’s, sun-unwinged, singed trajectory.



The Higher Atmospheres
by Michael R. Burch

Whatever we became climbed on the thought
of Love itself; we floated on plumed wings
ten thousand miles above the breasted earth
that had vexed us to such Distance; now all things
seem small and pale, a girdle’s handsbreadth girth ...

I break upon the rocks; I break; I fling
my human form about; I writhe; I writhe.
Invention is not Mastery, nor wings
Salvation. Here the Vulture cruelly chides
and plunges at my eyes, and coos and sings ...

Oh, some will call the sun my doom, but Love
melts callow wax the higher atmospheres
leave brittle. I flew high: not high enough
to melt such frozen resins ... thus, Her jeers.



Retro
by Michael R. Burch

Now, once again,
love’s a redundant pleasure,
as we laugh
at my childish fumblings
through the acres of your dress,
past your wily-wired brassiere,
through your *******’ pink billows
of thrill-piqued frills ...

Till I lay once again—panting redfaced
at your gayest lack of resistance,
and, later, at your milktongued
mewlings in the dark ...

When you were virginal,
sweet as eucalyptus,
we did not understand
the miracle of repentance,
and I took for granted
your obsessive distance ...

But now I am happily unbuttoning
that chaste dress,
unhitching that firm-latched bra,
tugging at those parachute-like *******—
the ones you would have gladly forgotten
had I not bought them in this year’s size.

Originally published by Erosha
Kewayne Wadley Jan 2020
Beside the porch of broken dreams
She invited me to her dreams.
When I asked whether or not
which door to walk through.
That's when she cut the lights off
& everything got dark
Beside the porch of broken dreams.
I too, sit
without so much as a light
to keep me company
ALesiach Jul 2019
Rocking on the front porch
Watching the stars in heaven play
Rocking back and forth
Sipping from my lemonade
Melting all my cares away

ALesiach © 08/05/2017
Jodie-Elaine Nov 2018
The dog is nine years
three months
six days old
and still counting,
the old man sits and counts up in
a chair rocking on an old porch,
creaking floorboards faded wooden again
from turquoise,
turning raw in their old age.
Parts of the floorboard have chipped away beneath
the chairs wasted slats
and yet the old man still sits, counting
down
time
like a train whistling at a
trespasser on the tracks
like a stray hair curling from
it's braid
get off those tracks
'cause you know it's not your place.
All we ever do is rot back down to
the floors we came from
and maybe
all we end up doing is completing a week
and then we're not counting anymore,
and maybe
the chair doesn't rock back to dust
and forth to
nine years
three months
and six days old
and we sit on our old porches
watching the train tracks and
maybe we know it's not the
time or the place
but a train whistles at the
trespasser
and we watch the young girl
and we count down, looking away
when it happens.
But we're not counting any more
and we sink into the porches we came from.
2015
K Balachandran Nov 2018
Purple mango leaves,
The tree unfurls on one morn;
Tender smile at the porch!
She Writes Jun 2018
Losing friends is inevitable
I’ve lost many before
Death, distance, and lifestyle
Has already taken its toll

You were the friend
I couldn’t bear to lose
Although you are gone
My hope is not spent

I will keep you in my heart
Holding on to the sentiment
Even the lost can find their way home
If you leave the porch light on
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