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These are longer poems and longish poems by Michael R. Burch

Les Bijoux (“The Jewels”)
by Charles Baudelaire
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

My lover **** and knowing my heart's whims
Wore nothing more than a few bright-flashing gems;
Her art was saving men despite their sins—
She ruled like harem girls crowned with diadems!

She danced for me with a gay but mocking air,
My world of stone and metal sparking bright;
I discovered in her the rapture of everything fair—
Nay, an excess of joy where the spirit and flesh unite!

Naked she lay and offered herself to me,
Parting her legs and smiling receptively,
As gentle and yet profound as the rising sea—
Till her surging tide encountered my cliff, abruptly.

A tigress tamed, her eyes met mine, intent ...
Intent on lust, content to purr and please!
Her breath, both languid and lascivious, lent
An odd charm to her metamorphoses.

Her limbs, her *****, her abdomen, her thighs,
Oiled alabaster, sinuous as a swan,
Writhed pale before my calm clairvoyant eyes;
Like clustered grapes her ******* and belly shone.

Skilled in more spells than evil imps can muster,
To break the peace which had possessed my heart,
She flashed her crystal rocks’ hypnotic luster
Till my quietude was shattered, blown apart.

Her waist awrithe, her ******* enormously
Out-******, and yet ... and yet, somehow, still coy ...
As if stout haunches of Antiope
Had been grafted to a boy ...

The room grew dark, the lamp had flickered out,
Till firelight, alone, lit each glowing stud;
Each time the fire sighed, as if in doubt,
It steeped her pale, rouged flesh in pools of blood.

Published by Lush Stories, The ****** Salon and loovebook



Child of 9-11
by Michael R. Burch

a poem for Christina-Taylor Green, who was born on September 11, 2001 and died at the age of 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 shellshocked 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 evil 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 gentle 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 bring them to your final bier,
and leave them with my promise, here.



Upon a Frozen Star
by Michael R. Burch

Oh, was it in this dark-Decembered world
we walked among the moonbeam-shadowed fields
and did not know ourselves for weight of snow
upon our laden parkas? White as sheets,
as spectral-white as ghosts, with clawlike hands
****** deep into our pockets, holding what
we thought were tickets home: what did we know
of anything that night? Were we deceived
by moonlight making shadows of gaunt trees
that loomed like fiends between us, by the songs
of owls like phantoms hooting: Who? Who? Who?

And if that night I looked and smiled at you
a little out of tenderness ... or kissed
the wet salt from your lips, or took your hand,
so cold inside your parka ... if I wished
upon a frozen star ... that I could give
you something of myself to keep you warm ...
yet something still not love ... if I embraced
the contours of your face with one stiff glove ...

How could I know the years would strip away
the soft flesh from your face, that time would flay
your heart of consolation, that my words
would break like ice between us, till the void
of words became eternal? Oh, my love,
I never knew. I never knew at all,
that anything so vast could curl so small.

“Upon a Frozen Star” was my first attempt at blank verse.



These Hallowed Halls
by Michael R. Burch

a young Romantic Poet mourns the passing of an age . . .

I.

A final stereo fades into silence
and now there is seldom a murmur
to trouble the slumber
of these ancient halls.

I stand by a window where others have watched
the passage of time—alone,
not untouched.

And I am as they were
...unsure...
for the days
stretch out ahead,
a bewildering maze.

II.

Ah, faithless lover—
that I had never touched your breast,
nor felt the stirrings of my heart,
which until that moment had peacefully slept.

For now I have known the exhilaration
of a heart having vaulted the Pinnacle of Love,
             and the result of each such infatuation ...
the long freefall to earth, as the moon glides above.

III.

A solitary clock chimes the hour
from far above the campus,
but my peers,
returning from their dances,
heed it not.

And so it is
that we fail to gauge Time’s speed
because He moves so unobtrusively
about His task.

Still, when at last
we reckon His mark upon our lives,
we may well be surprised
at His thoroughness.

IV.

Ungentle maiden—
when Time has etched His little lines
so carelessly across your brow,
perhaps I will love you less than now.

And when cruel Time has stolen
your youth, as He certainly shall in course,
perhaps you will wish you had taken me
along with my broken heart,
even as He will take you with yours.

V.

A measureless rhythm rules the night—
few have heard it,
but I have shared it,
and its secret is mine.

To put it into words
is as to extract the sweetness from honey
and must be done as gently
as a butterfly cleans its wings.

But when it is captured, it is gone again;
its usefulness is only
that it lulls to sleep.

VI.

So sleep, my love, to the cadence of night,
to the moans of the moonlit hills’
bass chorus of frogs, while the deep valleys fill
with the nightjar’s strange bullfrog-like trills.

But I will not sleep this night, nor any;
how can I—when my dreams
are always of your perfect face
ringed by soft whorls of fretted lace,
and a tear upon your pillowcase? / framed by your rumpled pillowcase?

VII.

If I had been born when knights roamed the earth
and mad kings ruled savage lands,
I might have turned to the ministry,
to the solitude of a monastery.

But there are no monks or hermits today—
theirs is a lost occupation
carried on, if at all,
merely for sake of tradition.

For today man abhors solitude—
he craves companions, song and drink,
seldom seeking a quiet moment,
to sit alone, by himself, to think.

VIII.

And so I cannot shut myself
off from the rest of the world,
to spend my days in philosophy
and my nights in tears of self-sympathy.

No, I must continue as best I can,
and learn to keep my thoughts away
from those glorious, uproarious moments of youth,
centuries past though lost but a day.

IX.

Yes, I must discipline myself
and adjust to these lackluster days
when men display no chivalry
and romance is the "old-fashioned" way.

X.

A single stereo flares into song
and the first faint light of morning
has pierced the sky's black awning
once again.

XI.

This is a sacred place,
for those who leave,
leave better than they came.

But those who stay, while they are here,
add, with their sleepless nights and tears,
quaint sprigs of ivy to the walls
of these Hallowed Halls.



At the Natchez Trace
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth

I.
Solitude surrounds me
though nearby laughter sounds;
around me mingle men who think
to drink their demons down,
in rounds.

Beside me stands a woman,
a stanza in the song
that plays so low and fluting
and bids me sing along.

Beside me stands a woman
whose eyes reveal her soul,
whose cheeks are soft as eiderdown,
whose hips and ******* are full.

Beside me stands a woman
who scarcely knows my name;
but I would have her know my heart
if only I knew where to start.

II.
Not every man is as he seems;
not all are prone to poems and dreams.
Not every man would take the time
to meter out his heart in rhyme.
But I am not as other men—
my heart is sentenced to this pen.

III.
Men speak of their "ambition"
but they only know its name . . .
I never say the word aloud,
but I have felt the Flame.

IV.
Now, standing here, I do not dare
to let her know that I might care;
I never learned the lines to use;
I never worked the wolves' bold ruse.
But if she looks my way again,
perhaps I will, if only then.

V.
How can a man have come so far
in searching after every star,
and yet today,
though years away,
look back upon the winding way,
and see himself as he was then,
a child of eight or nine or ten,
and not know more?

VI.
My life is not empty; I have my desire . . .
I write in a moment that few men can know,
when my nerves are on fire
and my heart does not tire
though it pounds at my breast—
wrenching blow after blow.

VII.
And in all I attempted, I also succeeded;
few men have more talent to do what I do.
But in one respect, I stand now defeated;
In love I could never make magic come true.

VIII.
If I had been born to be handsome and charming,
then love might have come to me easily as well.
But if had that been, then would I have written?
If not, I'd remain; **** that demon to hell!

IX.
Beside me stands a woman,
but others look her way
and in their eyes are eagerness . . .
for passion and a wild caress?
But who am I to say?

Beside me stands a woman;
she conjures up the night
and wraps itself around her
till others flit about her
like moths drawn to firelight.

X.
And I, myself, am just as they,
wondering when the light might fade,
yet knowing should it not dim soon
that I might fall and be consumed.

XI.
I write from despair
in the silence of morning
for want of a prayer
and the need of the mourning.
And loneliness grips my heart like a vise;
my anguish is harsher and colder than ice.
But poetry can bring my heart healing
and deaden the pain, or lessen the feeling.
And so I must write till at last sleep has called me
and hope at that moment my pen has not failed me.

XII.
Beside me stands a woman,
a mystery to me.
I long to hold her in my arms;
I also long to flee.

Beside me stands a woman;
how many has she known
more handsome, charming,
chic, alarming?
I hope I never know.

Beside me stands a woman;
how many has she known
who ever wrote her such a poem?
I know not even one.



Of Civilization and Disenchantment
by Michael R. Burch

for Anais Vionet

Suddenly uncomfortable
to stay at my grandfather's house—
actually his third new wife's,
in her daughter's bedroom
—one interminable summer
with nothing to do,
all the meals served cold,
even beans and peas...

Lacking the words to describe
ah!, those pearl-luminous estuaries—
strange omens, incoherent nights.

Seeing the flares of the river barges
illuminating Memphis,
city of bluffs and dying splendors.

Drifting toward Alexandria,
Pharos, Rhakotis, Djoser's fertile delta,
lands at the beginning of a new time and "civilization."

Leaving behind sixty miles of unbroken cemetery,
Alexander's corpse floating seaward,
bobbing, milkwhite, in a jar of honey.

Memphis shall be waste and desolate,
without an inhabitant.
Or so the people dreamed, in chains.



"Orpheus" was recited by Carla Maria Gnappi to her English literature class in Italy, along with other poems of mine, during a study of the poetry of William Blake.

Orpheus
by Michael R. Burch

for and 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.



BeMused
by Michael R. Burch

You will find in her hair
a fragrance more severe
than camphor.
You will find in her dress
no hint of a sweet
distractedness.
You will find in her eyes
horn-owlish and wise
no metaphors
of love, but only reflections
of books, books, books.

If you like Her looks,

meet me in the long rows,
between Poetry and Prose,
where we’ll win Her favor
with jousts, and savor
the wine of Her hair,
the shimmery wantonness
of Her rich-satined dress;
where we’ll press
our good deeds upon Her, save Her
from every distress,
for the lovingkindness
of Her matchless eyes
and all the suns of Her tongues.

We were young,
once,
unlearned and unwise . . .
but, O, to be young
when love comes disguised
with the whisper of silks
and idolatry,
and even the childish tongue claims
the intimacy of Poetry.



Resurrecting Passion
by Michael R. Burch

Last night, while dawn was far away
and rain streaked gray, tumescent skies,
as thunder boomed and lightning railed,
I conjured words, where passion failed ...

But, oh, that you were mine tonight,
sprawled in this bed, held in these arms,
your ******* pale baubles in my hands,
our bodies bent to old demands ...

Such passions we might resurrect,
if only time and distance waned
and brought us back together;
                                                       now
I pray these things might be, somehow.

But time has left us twisted, torn,
and we are more apart than miles.
How have you come to be so far—
as distant as an unseen star?

So that, while dawn is far away,
my thoughts might not return to you,
I feed your portrait to banked flames,
but as they feast, I burn for you.



Progress
by Michael R. Burch

There is no sense of urgency
at the local Burger King.

Birds and squirrels squabble outside
for the last scraps of autumn:
remnants of buns,
goopy pulps of dill pickles,
mucousy lettuce,
sesame seeds.

Inside, the workers all move
with the same très-glamorous lethargy,
conserving their energy, one assumes,
for more pressing endeavors: concerts and proms,
pep rallies, keg parties,
reruns of Jenny McCarthy on MTV.

The manager, as usual, is on the phone,
talking to her boyfriend.
She gently smiles,
brushing back wisps of insouciant hair,
ready for the cover of Glamour or Vogue.

Through her filmy white blouse
an indiscreet strap
suspends a lace cup
through which somehow the ****** still shows.
Progress, we guess, ...

and wait patiently in line,
hoping the Pokémons hold out.



Poppy
by Michael R. Burch

“It is lonely to be born.” – Dannie Abse, “The Second Coming”

It is lonely to be born
between the intimate ears of corn . . .
the sunlit, flooded, shellshocked rows.

The scarecrow flutters, listens, knows . . .

Pale butterflies in staggering flight
ascend the gauntlet winds and light
before the scything harvester.

The winsome buds of cornflowers
prepare themselves to be airborne,
and it is lonely to be shorn,
decapitate, of eager life
so early in love’s blinding maze
of silks and tassels, goldened days
when life’s renewed, gone underground.

Sad confidante of worm and mound,
how little stands to be regained
of what is left.
A tiny cleft
now marks your birth, your reddening
among the amber waves. O, sing!

Another waits to be reborn
among bent thistle, down and thorn.
A hoofprint’s cleft, a ram’s curved horn
curled inward, turned against the heart,
a spoor like infamy. Depart.
You came too late, the signs are clear:
whose world this is, now watches, near.
There is no ****** for the heart.

Originally published by Borderless Journal



An Obscenity Trial
by Michael R. Burch

The defendant was a poet held in many iron restraints
against whom several critics cited numerous complaints.
They accused him of trying to reach the "common crowd,"
and they said his poems incited recitals far too loud.

The prosecutor alleged himself most artful (and best-dressed);
it seems he’d never lost a case, nor really once been pressed.
He was known far and wide for intensely hating clarity;
twelve dilettantes at once declared the defendant another fatality.

The judge was an intellectual well-known for his great mind,
though not for being merciful, honest, sane or kind.
Clerics loved the "Hanging Judge" and the critics were his kin.
Bystanders said, "They'll crucify him!" The public was not let in.

The prosecutor began his case by spitting in the poet's face,
knowing the trial would be a farce.
"It is obscene," he screamed, "to expose the naked heart!"
The recorder (bewildered Society), well aware of his notoriety,
greeted this statement with applause.

"This man is no poet. Just look—his Hallmark shows it.
Why, see, he utilizes rhyme, symmetry and grammar! He speaks without a stammer!
His sense of rhythm is too fine!
He does not use recondite words or conjure ancient Latin verbs.
This man is an impostor!
I ask that his sentence be . . . the almost perceptible indignity
of removal from the Post-Modernistic roster!"

The jury left, in tears of joy, literally sequestered.

The defendant sighed in mild despair, "Might I not answer to my peers?"
But how His Honor giggled then,
seeing no poets were let in.

Later, the clashing symbols of their pronouncements drove him mad
and he admitted both rhyme and reason were bad.



Ann Rutledge’s Irregular Quilt

based on “Lincoln the Unknown” by Dale Carnegie

I.
Her fingers “plied the needle” with “unusual swiftness and art”
till Abe knelt down beside her: then her demoralized heart
set Eros’s dart a-quiver; thus a crazy quilt emerged:
strange stitches all a-kilter, all patterns lost.
                                                                ­      (Her host
kept her vicarious laughter barely submerged.)

II.
Years later she’d show off the quilt with its uncertain stitches
as evidence love undermines men’s plans and women’s strictures
(and a plethora of scriptures.)

III.

But O the sacred tenderness Ann’s reckless stitch contains
and all the world’s felicities: rich cloth, for love’s fine gains,
for sweethearts’ tremulous fingers and their bright, uncertain vows
and all love’s blithe, erratic hopes (like now’s).

IV.
Years later on a pilgrimage, by tenderness obsessed,
Dale Carnegie, drawn to her grave, found weeds in her place of rest
and mowed them back, revealing the spot of the Railsplitter’s joy and grief
(and his hope and his disbelief).

V.
For such is the tenderness of love, and such are its disappointments.
Love is a book of rhapsodic poems. Love is an grab bag of ointments.
Love is the finger poised, the smile, the Question — perhaps the Answer?
Love is the pain of betrayal, the two left feet of the dancer.

VI.
There were ladies of ill repute in his past. Or so he thought. Was it true?
And yet he loved them, Ann (sweet Ann!), as tenderly as he loved you.



The Celtic Cross at Île Grosse
by Michael R. Burch

“I actually visited the island and walked across those mass graves [of 30,000 Irish men, women and children], and I played a little tune on me whistle. I found it very peaceful, and there was relief there.” – Paddy Maloney of The Chieftains

There was relief there,
and release,
on Île Grosse
in the spreading gorse
and the cry of the wild geese . . .

There was relief there,
without remorse,
when the tin whistle lifted its voice
in a tune of artless grief,
piping achingly high and longingly of an island veiled in myth.

And the Celtic cross that stands here tells us, not of their grief,
but of their faith and belief—
like the last soft breath of evening lifting a fallen leaf.

When ravenous famine set all her demons loose,
driving men to the seas like lemmings,
they sought here the clemency of a better life, or death,
and their belief in God was their only wealth.

They were proud folk, with only their lives to owe,
who sought the liberation of this strange new land.
Now they lie here, ragged row on ragged row,
with only the shadows of their loved ones close at hand.

And each cross, their ancient burden and their glory,
reflects the death of sunlight on their story.

And their tale is sad—but, O, their faith was grand!



wild wild west-east-north-south-up-down
by michael r. burch

each day it resumes—the great struggle for survival.

the fiercer and more perilous the wrath,
the wilder and wickeder the weaponry,
the better the daily odds
(just don’t bet on the long term, or revival).

so ur luvable Gaud decreed, Theo-retically,
if indeed He exists
                               as ur Bible insists—
the Wildest and the Wickedest of all
with the brightest of creatures in thrall
(unless u
somehow got that bleary
Theo-ry
wrong too).



I wrote this poem after discovering the poetry of e. e. cummings while reading poetry independently in high school. My “cummings period” started around 1974 at age 15-16. I believe this poem was the first of its genre. I seem to remember working on it my sophomore and junior years, making mostly minor revisions in 1975.

i (dedicated to u)

i.

i move within myself
i see beyond the sky
and fathom with full certainty:
this lifes a lethal lie

my teachers try to tell me
that they know more than i
(and well they may
but do they know
shrewd TIME is slipping by
and leaving us all to die?)

i shout within myself
i stand up to be seen
but only my eyes
watch as i rise
and i am left between
the nightmare of “REALITY”
and sleeps soothing scenes
and both are only dreams

i cry out to my “friends”
but none of them can hear
i weep in dark frustration
but they swim beyond my tears
i reach out to assist them
but they cannot find my hand
they all believe in “GOD”
yet all of them are ******

come, my self, come with me
move within your shell
cast aside such “enlightenment”
and let us leave this living hell

ii.

i watch the maidens play
their fickle games of love
and is this is what
life is of
then i have had enough

all my teachers tell me
to adjust to SOCIETY
yet none of them will venture
how (false) it came to be
this gaud, SOCIETY

i watch the maidens play
and though i want them much
i know the illusion of their purity
would shatter at my touch
leaving annihilated truth
to be pieced together to dispel
the lies that accompany youth

i watch the maidens play
and know that what i want
i cannot take because
then it would be gone

iii.

i watch the lovely maidens
i search their sightless eyes
i find that only darkness
lies behind each guise

i try to touch their feelings
but they have been replaced
by intelligence and manners
and tact and social grace

i want to make them love me
but they cannot love themselves
and though they seek love desperately
and care for little else
they stand little chance
of much more than romance
for a few days

i try to friend the men
but they have even less
for they want nothing more
than whatever seems “the best”
their hollow, burnt-out eyes
reveal their souls have flown
and all that loss has left
is a strange, sad fear of debt
and a love for things of gold

ive.

ive never seen a day break
but ive seen a life shatter
it was mine
and i suppose it still is:
all ten thousand pieces

id.

id like to put it together
(someONE please tell me how!)
for i am out of the glue
called u
that held my life together

i.e.

and i wish that u
and i were through
but whatever u do
dont say that we are!




Cycles
by Michael R. Burch

I see his eyes caress my daughter’s *******
through her thin cotton dress,
and how an indiscreet strap of her white bra
holds his bald fingers
in fumbling mammalian awe . . .

And I remember long cycles into the bruised dusk
of a distant park,
hot blushes,
wild, disembodied rushes of blood,
portentous intrusions of lips, tongues and fingers . . .

and now in him the memory of me lingers
like something thought rancid,
proved rotten.
I see Another again—hard, staring, and silent—
though long-ago forgotten . . .

And I remember conjectures of ***** lines,
brief flashes of white down bleacher stairs,
coarse patches of hair glimpsed in bathroom mirrors,
all the odd, questioning stares . . .

Yes, I remember it all now,
and I shoo them away,
willing them not to play too long or too hard
in the back yard—
with a long, ineffectual stare

that years from now, he may suddenly remember.



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.



No One
by Michael R. Burch

No One hears the bells tonight;
they tell him something isn’t right.
But No One feels no need to rush:
he smiles from beds soft, green and lush
as far away a startled thrush
flees screeching owls in sinking flight.

No One hears the cannon’s roar
and muses that its voice means war
comes knocking on men’s doors tonight.
He sleeps outside in awed delight
beneath the enigmatic stars
and shivers in their cooling light.

No One knows the world will end,
that he’ll be lonely, without friend
or foe to conquer. All will be
once more, celestial harmony.
He’ll miss men’s voices, now and then,
but worlds can be remade again.



“Sea Dreams” is one of my longer and more ambitious early poems, along with the full version of “Jessamyn’s Song.” To the best of my recollection, I wrote “Sea Dreams” around age 18 in high school my senior year, then worked on in college. It appeared in my poetry contest notebook and thus was substantially complete by 1978.

Sea Dreams
by Michael R. Burch

I.
In timeless days
I've crossed the waves
of seaways seldom seen ...

By the last low light of evening
the breakers that careen
then dive back to the deep
have rocked my ship to sleep,
and so I've known the peace
of a soul at last at ease
there where Time's waters run
in concert with the sun.

With restless waves
I've watched the days’
slow movements, as they hum
their antediluvian songs.

Sometimes I've sung along,
my voice as soft and low
as the sea's, while evening slowed
to waver at the dim
mysterious moonlit rim
of dreams no man has known.

In thoughtless flight,
I've scaled the heights
and soared a scudding breeze
over endless arcing seas
of waves ten miles high.

I've sheared the sable skies
on wings as soft as sighs
and stormed the sun-pricked pitch
of sunset’s scarlet-stitched,
ebullient dark demise.

I've climbed the sun-cleft clouds
ten thousand leagues or more
above the windswept shores
of seas no vessel’s sailed
— great seas as grand as hell's,
shores littered with the shells
of men's "immortal" souls —
and I've warred with dark sea-holes
whose open mouths implored
their depths to be explored.

And I've grown and grown and grown
till I thought myself the king
of every silver thing . . .

But sometimes late at night
when the sorrowing wavelets sing
sad songs of other times,
I taste the windborne rime
of a well-remembered day
on the whipping ocean spray,
and I bow my head to pray . . .

II.
It's been a long, hard day;
sometimes I think I work too hard.
Tonight I'd like to take a walk
down by the sea —
down by those salty waves
brined with the scent of Infinity,
down by that rocky shore,
down by those cliffs I’d so often climb
when the wind was **** with the tang of lime
and every dream was a sailor's dream.

Then small waves broke light,
all frothy and white,
over the reefs in the ramblings of night,
and the pounding sea
—a mariner’s dream—
was bound to stir a boy's delight
to such a pitch
that he couldn't desist,
but was bound to splash through the surf in the light
of ten thousand stars, all shining so bright!

Christ, those nights were fine,
like a well-seasoned wine,
yet more scalding than fire
with the marrow’s desire.

Then desire was a fire
burning wildly within my bones,
fiercer by far than the frantic foam . . .
and every wish was a moan.
Oh, for those days to come again!
Oh, for a sea and sailing men!
Oh, for a little time!

It's almost nine
and I must be back home by ten,
and then . . . what then?
I have less than an hour to stroll this beach,
less than an hour old dreams to reach . . .
And then, what then?

Tonight I'd like to play old games—
games that I used to play
with the somber, sinking waves.

When their wraithlike fists would reach for me,
I'd dance between them gleefully,
mocking their witless craze
—their eager, unchecked craze—
to batter me to death
with spray as light as breath.

Oh, tonight I'd like to sing old songs—
songs of the haunting moon
drawing the tides away,
songs of those sultry days
when the sun beat down
till it cracked the ground
and the sea gulls screamed
in their agony
to touch the cooling clouds.

The distant cooling clouds.

Then the sun shone bright
with a different light
over sprightlier lands,
and I was always a pirate in flight.

Oh, tonight I'd like to dream old dreams,
if only for a while,
and walk perhaps a mile
along this windswept shore,
a mile, perhaps, or more,
remembering those days,
safe in the soothing spray
of the thousand sparkling streams
that tumble into this sea.
I like to slumber in the caves
of a sailor's dark sea-dreams . . .
oh yes, I'd love to dream,
to dream
and dream
and dream.

“Sea Dreams” is one of my longer and more ambitious early poems, along with the full version of “Jessamyn’s Song.” For years I thought I had written “Sea Dreams” around age 19 or 20. But then I remembered a conversation I had with a friend about the poem in my freshman dorm, so the poem must have been started by age 18 or earlier. Dating my early poems has been a bit tricky, because I keep having little flashbacks that help me date them more accurately, but often I can only say, “I know this poem was written by about such-and-such a date, because ...”



Alien Nation
by Michael R. Burch

for J. S. S., a Christian poet who believes in “hell”

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
must have 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.

Note: The coinage “grok” appears in Robert Heinlein’s classic sci-fi novel Stranger in a Strange Land. The novel’s protagonist, Valentine Michael Smith, was raised on Mars by enlightened Martians, and he often feels out of sorts on Earth, where he struggles to grok (understand deeply and profoundly) earthlings and their primitive, often inhuman, ways.

Keywords/Tags: These Hallowed Halls, ivy, college, university, school, class, classmates, students, study
These are longer and longish poems by Michael R. Burch.
(for Daisy, a true companion to poet rr)

in the city,
we fight daily the toughest of hombres,
brown, grayed, mottled city pigeons,
who fear no human predator,
in the fight
for the crumbs and crusts of
inspiration
however, they may come our way

get a message, a post,
with the words
“a good create”

the words form a chord,
in my throat, taut, visible, tense
even knowing it’s likely a typo,
probably meant “creature,.”

but the phrase strikes me
as one too little spoke
in our diurnal drudgery
numbing~dumbing struggle,
but, I take them as (a) writ,
for the crumb of challenge
proffered

if we cannot justify our existence,
daily with a new create,
then incumbent upon us
to cherish, double and thrice,
the good and wonderful
creates,
the surround us

been decades since my body
was warmed by the shape of an animal’s
curves fitted into mine,
our sleep rhythm intertwined,
nay,
one
<>
so once again,
I mourn a living poem
who crossed my path
in photo, in words,
but never,
not in,
living color


but the sighs of loss,
real

so as is my wont,
inquire within,
where shelter?

in the love
we create
tween us and our

creatures.
Michael R Burch Jun 2023
These are my best poems, according to Google. I let Google pick my best poems with the search:

The best poems of Michael R. Burch

The search returns 24 poems but by repeating the search a few times, I managed to come up with 35 poems...



Will There Be Starlight (#1)
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth

Will there be starlight
tonight
while she gathers
damask
and lilac
and sweet-scented heathers?

And will she find flowers,
or will she find thorns
guarding the petals
of roses unborn?

Will there be starlight
tonight
while she gathers
seashells
and mussels
and albatross feathers?

And will she find treasure
or will she find pain
at the end of this rainbow
of moonlight on rain?



I Pray Tonight (#2)
by Michael R. Burch

I pray tonight
the starry Light
might
surround you.

I pray
by 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.



The Harvest of Roses (#3)
by Michael R. Burch

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.



Because Her Heart Is Tender (#4)
by Michael R. Burch

 for Beth

She scrawled soft words in soap: "Never Forget,"
Dove-white on her car's window, and the wren,
because her heart is tender, might regret
it called the sun to wake her. As I slept,
she heard lost names recounted, one by one.

She wrote in sidewalk chalk: "Never Forget,"
and kept her heart's own counsel. No rain swept
away those words, no tear leaves them undone.

Because her heart is tender with regret,
bruised by razed towers' glass and steel and stone
that shatter on and on and on and on,
she stitches in wet linen: "NEVER FORGET,"
and listens to her heart's emphatic song.

The wren might tilt its head and sing along
because its heart once understood regret
when fledglings fell beyond, beyond, beyond ...
its reach, and still the boot-heeled world strode on.

She writes in adamant: "NEVER FORGET"
because her heart is tender with regret.



Caveat Spender (#5)
by Michael R. Burch

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.



Free Fall (#6)
by Michael R. Burch

These cloudless nights, the sky becomes a wheel
where suns revolve around an axle star ...
Look there, and choose. Decide which moon is yours.
Sink Lethe-ward, held only by a heel.

Advantage. Disadvantage. Who can tell?
To see is not to know, but you can feel
the tug sometimes—the gravity, the shell
as lustrous as damp pearl. You sink, you reel

toward some draining revelation. Air—
too thin to grasp, to breathe. Such pressure. Gasp.
The stars invert, electric, everywhere.
And so we fall, down-tumbling through night’s fissure ...

two beings pale, intent to fall forever
around each other—fumbling at love’s tether ...
now separate, now distant, now together.



In Praise of Meter (#7)
by Michael R. Burch

The earth is full of rhythms so precise
the octave of the crystal can produce
a trillion oscillations, yet not lose
a second's beat. The ear needs no device
to hear the unsprung rhythms of the couch
drown out the mouth's; the lips can be debauched
by kisses, should the heart put back its watch
and find the pulse of love, and sing, devout.

If moons and tides in interlocking dance
obey their numbers, what's been left to chance?
Should poets be more lax—their circumstance
as humble as it is?—or readers wince
to see their ragged numbers thin, to hear
the moans of drones drown out the Chanticleer?



Moments (#8)
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.



Let Me Give Her Diamonds (#9)

for Beth

Let me give her diamonds
for my heart’s
sharp edges.

Let me give her roses
for my soul’s
thorn.

Let me give her solace
for my words
of treason.

Let the flowering of love
outlast a winter
season.

Let me give her books
for all my lack
of reason.

Let me give her candles
for my lack
of fire.

Let me kindle incense,
for our hearts
require

the breath-fanned
flaming perfume
of desire.



Step Into Starlight (#10)
by Michael R. Burch

Step into starlight,
lovely and wild,
lonely and longing,
a woman, a child . . .

Throw back drawn curtains,
enter the night,
dream of his kiss
as a comet ignites . . .

Then fall to your knees
in a wind-fumbled cloud
and shudder to hear
oak hocks groaning aloud.

Flee down the dark path
to where the snaking vine bends
and withers and writhes
as winter descends . . .

And learn that each season
ends one vanished day,
that each pregnant moon holds
no spent tides in its sway . . .

For, as suns seek horizons—
boys fall, men decline.
As the grape sags with its burden,
remember—the wine!



Wulf and Eadwacer (#11)
(Anonymous, circa 960-990 AD)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

My clan's curs pursue him like crippled game.
They'll rip him apart if he approaches their pack.
We are so different.

Wulf's on one island; I'm on another.
His island's a fortress, fastened by fens.
Here bloodthirsty men howl for carnage.
They'll rip him apart if he approaches their pack.
We are so different.

My thoughts pursued Wulf like panting hounds.
Whenever it rained and I wept,
big, battle-strong arms embraced me.
It felt good, to a point, but the end was loathsome.

Wulf, oh, my Wulf! My desire for you
has made me sick; your seldom-comings
have left me famished, deprived of real meat.

Do you hear, Heaven-Watcher? A wolf has borne
our wretched whelp to the woods.
One can easily sever what never was one:
our song together.



A Surfeit of Light (#12)
by Michael R. Burch

There was always a surfeit of light in your presence.
You stood distinctly apart, not of the humdrum world—
a chariot of gold in a procession of plywood.

We were all pioneers of the modern expedient race,
raising the ante: Home Depot to Lowe’s.
Yours was an antique grace—Thrace’s or Mesopotamia’s.

We were never quite sure of your silver allure,
of your trillium-and-platinum diadem,
of your utter lack of flatware-like utility.

You told us that night—your wound would not scar.
The black moment passed, then you were no more.
The darker the sky, how much brighter the Star!

The day of your funeral, I ripped out the crown mold.
You were this fool’s gold.



Abide (#13)
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).



Autumn Conundrum (#14)
by Michael R. Burch

It's not that every leaf must finally fall,
it's just that we can never catch them all.



Breakings (#15)
by Michael R. Burch

I did it out of pity.
I did it out of love.
I did it not to break the heart of a tender, wounded dove.

But gods without compassion
ordained: Frail things must break!
Now what can I do for her shattered psyche’s sake?

I did it not to push.
I did it not to shove.
I did it to assist the flight of indiscriminate Love.

But gods, all mad as hatters,
who legislate such great matters,
ordained that everything irreplaceable shatters.



don’t forget (#16)
by michael r. burch

for Beth

don’t forget to remember
that Space is curved (like your Heart)
and that even Light
is bent by your Gravity.



Enigma (#17)
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth
 
O, terrible angel,
bright lover and avenger,
full of whimsical light and vile anger;
wild stranger,
seeking the solace of night, or the danger;
pale foreigner,
alien to man, or savior.

Who are you,
seeking consolation and passion
in the same breath,
screaming for pleasure, bereft
of all articles of faith,
finding life
harsher than death?

Grieving angel,
giving more than taking,
how lucky the man
who has found in your love, this—our reclamation;
fallen wren,
you must strive to fly though your heart is shaken;
weary pilgrim,
you must not give up though your feet are aching;
lonely child,
lie here still in my arms; you must soon be waking.



Epitaph for a Palestinian Child (#18)
by Michael R. Burch

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




Fahr an' Ice (#19)
by Michael R. Burch

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.



For All That I Remembered (#20)
by Michael R. Burch

For all that I remembered, I forgot
her name, her face, the reason that we loved ...
and yet I hold her close within my thought.
I feel the burnished weight of auburn hair
that fell across her face, the apricot
clean scent of her shampoo, the way she glowed
so palely in the moonlight, angel-wan.

The memory of her gathers like a flood
and bears me to that night, that only night,
when she and I were one, and if I could ...
I'd reach to her this time and, smiling, brush
the hair out of her eyes, and hold intact
each feature, each impression. Love is such
a threadbare sort of magic, it is gone
before we recognize it. I would crush
my lips to hers to hold their memory,
if not more tightly, less elusively.



in-flight convergence (#21)
by Michael R. Burch

serene, almost angelic,
the lights of the city                extend
over lumbering behemoths
shrilly screeching displeasure;
                                             they say
that nothing is certain,
that nothing man dreams or ordains
long endures his command

here the streetlights that flicker
and those blazing steadfast
seem one:                from a distance;
                descend,
they abruptly
part              ways,

so that nothing is one
which at times does not suddenly blend
into garish insignificance
in the familiar alleyways,
in the white neon flash
and the billboards of Convenience

and man seems the afterthought of his own Brilliance
as we thunder down the enlightened runways.



In the Whispering Night (#22)
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 savage 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.



In this Ordinary Swoon (#23)
by Michael R. Burch

In this ordinary swoon
as I pass from life to death,
I feel no heat from the cold, pale moon;
I feel no sympathy for breath.

Who I am and why I came,
I do not know; nor does it matter.
The end of every man’s the same
and every god’s as mad as a hatter.

I do not fear the letting go;
I only fear the clinging on
to hope when there’s no hope, although
I lift my face to the blazing sun

and feel the greater intensity
of the wilder inferno within me.



Leaf Fall (#24)
by Michael R. Burch

Whatever winds encountered soon resolved
to swirling fragments, till chaotic heaps
of leaves lay pulsing by the backyard wall.
In lieu of rakes, our fingers sorted each
dry leaf into its place and built a high,
soft bastion against earth's gravitron—
a patchwork quilt, a trampoline, a bright
impediment to fling ourselves upon.

And nothing in our laughter as we fell
into those leaves was like the autumn's cry
of also falling. Nothing meant to die
could be so bright as we, so colorful—
clad in our plaids, oblivious to pain
we'd feel today, should we leaf-fall again.



Once (#25)

for Beth

Once when her kisses were fire incarnate
and left in their imprint bright lipstick, and flame,
when her breath rose and fell over smoldering dunes,
leaving me listlessly sighing her name . . .

Once when her ******* were as pale, as beguiling,
as wan rivers of sand shedding heat like a mist,
when her words would at times softly, mildly rebuke me
all the while as her lips did more wildly insist . . .

Once when the thought of her echoed and whispered
through vast wastelands of need like a Bedouin chant,
I ached for the touch of her lips with such longing
that I vowed all my former vows to recant . . .

Once, only once, something bloomed, of a desiccate seed—
this implausible blossom her wild rains of kisses decreed.



Ordinary Love (#26)
by Michael R. Burch

Indescribable—our love—and still we say
with eyes averted, turning out the light,
"I love you," in the ordinary way

and tug the coverlet where once we lay,
all suntanned limbs entangled, shivering, white ...
indescribably in love. Or so we say.

Your hair's blonde thicket now is tangle-gray;
you turn your back; you murmur to the night,
"I love you," in the ordinary way.

Beneath the sheets our hands and feet would stray
to warm ourselves. We do not touch despite
a love so indescribable. We say

we're older now, that "love" has had its day.
But that which Love once countenanced, delight,
still makes you indescribable. I say,
"I love you," in the ordinary way.



Piercing the Shell (#27)
by Michael R. Burch

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



Sweet Rose of Virtue (#28)
by William Dunbar
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Sweet rose of virtue and of gentleness,
delightful lily of youthful wantonness,
richest in bounty and in beauty clear
and in every virtue men hold most dear―
except only that you are merciless.

Into your garden, today, I followed you;
there I found flowers of freshest hue,
both white and red, delightful to see,
and wholesome herbs, waving resplendently―
yet nowhere one leaf nor petal of rue.

I fear that March with his last arctic blast
has slain my fair flower and left her downcast;
whose piteous death does my heart such pain
that I long to plant love's root again―
so comforting her bowering leaves have been.



The Divide (#29)
by Michael R. Burch

The sea was not salt the first tide ...
was man born to sorrow that first day
with the moon—a pale beacon across the Divide,
the brighter for longing, an object denied—
the tug at his heart's pink, bourgeoning clay?

The sea was not salt the first tide ...
but grew bitter, bitter—man's torrents supplied.
The bride of their longing—forever astray,
her shield a cold beacon across the Divide,
flashing pale signals: Decide. Decide.
Choose me, or His Brightness, I will not stay.

The sea was not salt the first tide ...
imploring her, ebbing: Abide, abide.

The silver fish flash there, the manatees gray.

The moon, a pale beacon across the Divide,
has taught us to seek Love's concealed side:
the dark face of longing, the poets say.

The sea was not salt the first tide ...
the moon a pale beacon across the Divide.



The Folly of Wisdom (#30)
by Michael R. Burch

She is wise in the way that children are wise,
looking at me with such knowing, grave eyes
I must bend down to her to understand.
But she only smiles, and takes my hand.

We are walking somewhere that her feet know to go,
so I smile, and I follow ...

And the years are dark creatures concealed in bright leaves
that flutter above us, and what she believes—
I can almost remember—goes something like this:
the prince is a horned toad, awaiting her kiss.

She wiggles and giggles, and all will be well
if only we find him! The woodpecker’s knell
as he hammers the coffin of some dying tree
that once was a fortress to someone like me

rings wildly above us. Some things that we know
we are meant to forget. Life is a bloodletting, maple-syrup-slow.



The Peripheries of Love (#31)
by Michael R. Burch

Through waning afternoons we glide
the watery peripheries of love.
A silence, a quietude falls.

Above us—the sagging pavilions of clouds.
Below us—rough pebbles slowly worn smooth
grate in the gentle turbulence
of yesterday’s forgotten rains.

Later, the moon like a ******
lifts her stricken white face
and the waters rise
toward some unfathomable shore.

We sway gently in the wake
of what stirs beneath us,
yet leaves us unmoved ...
curiously motionless,

as though twilight might blur
the effects of proximity and distance,
as though love might be near—

as near
as a single cupped tear of resilient dew
or a long-awaited face.



The Shrinking Season (#32)
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.



Be that Rock (#33)
by Michael R. Burch

for George Edwin Hurt Sr.

When I was a child
I never considered man’s impermanence,
for you were a mountain of adamant stone:
a man steadfast, immense,
and your words rang.

And when you were gone,
I still heard your voice, which never betrayed,
"Be strong and of a good courage,
neither be afraid ..."
as the angels sang.

And, O!, I believed
for your words were my truth, and I tried to be brave
though the years slipped away
with so little to save
of that talk.

Now I'm a man—
a man ... and yet Grandpa ... I'm still the same child
who sat at your feet
and learned as you smiled.
Be that rock.



Crescendo Against Heaven (#34)
by Michael R. Burch

As curiously formal as the rose,
the imperious Word grows
until it sheds red-gilded leaves:
then heaven grieves
love’s tiny pool of crimson recrimination
against God, its contention
of the price of salvation.

These industrious trees,
endlessly losing and re-losing their leaves,
finally unleashing themselves from earth, lashing
themselves to bits, washing
themselves free
of all but the final ignominy
of death, become
at last: fast planks of our coffins, dumb.

Together now, rude coffins, crosses,
death-cursed but bright vermilion roses,
bodies, stumps, tears, words: conspire
together with a nearby spire
to raise their Accusation Dire ...
to scream, complain, to point out these
and other Dark Anomalies.

God always silent, ever afar,
distant as Bethlehem’s retrograde star,
we point out now, in resignation:
You asked too much of man’s beleaguered nation,
gave too much strength to his Enemy,
as though to prove Your Self greater than He,
at our expense, and so men die
(whose accusations vex the sky)
yet hope, somehow, that You are good ...
just, O greatest of Poets!, misunderstood.



Desdemona (#35)
by Michael R. Burch

Though you possessed the moon and stars,
you are bound to fate and wed to chance.
Your lips deny they crave a kiss;
your feet deny they ache to dance.
Your heart imagines wild romance.

Though you cupped fire in your hands
and molded incandescent forms,
you are barren now, and—spent of flame—
the ashes that remain are borne
toward the sun upon a storm.

You, who demanded more, have less,
your heart within its cells of sighs
held fast by chains of misery,
confined till death for peddling lies—
imprisonment your sense denies.

You, who collected hearts like leaves
and pressed each once within your book,
forgot. None—winsome, bright or rare—
not one was worth a second look.
My heart, as others, you forsook.

But I, though I loved you from afar
through silent dawns, and gathered rue
from gardens where your footsteps left
cold paths among the asters, knew—
each moonless night the nettles grew

and strangled hope, where love dies too.



These are my personal picks of poems not selected by Google ...



Sunset
by Michael R. Burch

This poem is dedicated to my grandfather, George Edwin Hurt, who died April 4, 1998.

Between the prophecies of morning
and twilight’s revelations of wonder,
the sky is ripped asunder.

The moon lurks in the clouds,
waiting, as if to plunder
the dusk of its lilac iridescence,

and in the bright-tentacled sunset
we imagine a presence
full of the fury of lost innocence.

What we find within strange whorls of drifting flame,
brief patterns mauling winds deform and maim,
we recognize at once, but cannot name.



Fascination with Light
by Michael R. Burch

Desire glides in on calico wings,
a breath of a moth
seeking a companionable light,

where it hovers, unsure,
sullen, shy or demure,
in the margins of night,

a soft blur.

With a frantic dry rattle
of alien wings,
it rises and thrums one long breathless staccato

then flutters and drifts on in dark aimless flight.

And yet it returns
to the flame, its delight,
as long as it burns.



I began writing poetry around age eleven, mostly for personal amusement at first, then started to write with larger goals in mind around age thirteen or fourteen (I was very ambitious). This is one of my earliest poems, written in my teens ...

Styx
by Michael R. Burch

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



This is another early poem, written as a teenager, that made me feel like a "real poet" ...

Infinity
by Michael R. Burch

Have you tasted the bitterness of tears of despair?
Have you watched the sun sink through such pale, balmless air
that your heart sought its shell like a crab on a beach,
then scuttled inside to be safe, out of reach?

Might I lift you tonight from earth’s wreckage and damage
on these waves gently rising to pay the moon homage?
Or better, perhaps, let me say that I, too,
have dreamed of infinity . . . windswept and blue.



This is another early poem, and my first poem that didn't rhyme...

Something
by Michael R. Burch

―for the children of the Holocaust and the Nakba

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



This is a very early poem of mine. I believe I wrote the first version around age 14 or 15 ...

Leave Taking
by Michael R. Burch

Brilliant leaves abandon battered limbs
to waltz upon ecstatic winds
until they die.

But the barren and embittered trees,
lament the frolic of the leaves
and curse the bleak November sky ...

Now, as I watch the leaves' high flight
before the fading autumn light,
I think that, perhaps, at last I may

have learned what it means to say—
goodbye.



First They Came for the Muslims
by Michael R. Burch

after Martin Niemöller

First they came for the Muslims
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Muslim.

Then they came for the homosexuals
and I did not speak out
because I was not a homosexual.

Then they came for the feminists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a feminist.

Now when will they come for me
because I was too busy and too apathetic
to defend my sisters and brothers?

"First They Came for the Muslims" has been adopted by Amnesty International for its Words That Burn anthology, a free online resource for students and educators. According to Google the poem has appeared on a staggering 691,000 web pages. That's a lot of cutting and pasting! It is indeed an honor to have one of my poems published by such an outstanding organization as Amnesty International, one of the world's finest. Not only is the cause good―a stated goal is to teach students about human rights through poetry―but so far the poetry published seems quite good to me. My poem appears beneath the famous Holocaust poem that inspired it, "First They Came" by Martin Niemöller. Here's a bit of background information: Words That Burn is an online poetry anthology and human rights educational resource for students and teachers created by Amnesty International in partnership with The Poetry Hour. Amnesty International is the world’s largest human rights organization, with seven million supporters. Its new webpage has been designed to "enable young people to explore human rights through poetry whilst developing their voice and skills as poets." This exemplary resource was inspired by the poetry anthology Words that Burn, curated by Josephine Hart of The Poetry Hour, which in turn was inspired by Thomas Gray's observation that "Poetry is thoughts that breathe and words that burn."

Keywords/Tags: best, poems, best poems, most popular poems, Burch, Michael R. Burch
Khadijat Bello May 2023
Democracy

What is it, really?
An illusion, if you ask me
A system making you think you can choose it
The system plays you a great trick

Use my home land, a case study.
She's flawed from when she used the military
Canada lost sight for morality
The United Kingdom then becomes a general market even though it's a Monarchy

Wake up! Democracy is only a trick
Russia is still in Capitalism
China is still most Socialist till this day; She's still practicing socialism
Arabia is better off with Federalism

How then do you think Democracy is real?
She's flawed and ill
Makes you to ****
Not minding if it's your kin
I still root for Monarchy, I get to know my king
And even the military, the soldiers act by order.
So what then is Democracy?
Day 4 of May. And it came in a question
solEmn oaSis Jul 2022
it is not emergency but so
merging epic getting-in to
" T M A L M " episode 2
          were
reminiscing and heading
on the way too,
right inside the ride
            where
i picked packed boom,
as i rewrite my old poem
entitled tic tac toe
           wears
a single syllabication
of chosen words' lyricism
narrated from start to end and
          bears
a no beware bars set up
until i care to dare
the bottom bares on top !
       fear
neither nobody nor elses foes
and heaven knows good son
who does one hell of a bad
       near
unproven bundled doses of unrhymed
lines made by those unarmed farmers
gonewild with unarmored poetries .
                    T  E  A  R ! ! !
             h  r  r  e
             r  a  r  p
            o  s  i  e
            u  u  v a
            g  r  e  t
             h  e  s  s
tear may rate as reat !
once heard clearly by
an ear gifted of a wise listening ,
as clever as hearing skills of a rat.
yet stare without a tare ...
... there could be a lonely s
which stands for silent !
Such as e need not to spell rat
as well as t must pull out
to lend an ear for the voice
speech by an E T
-- Enhance Talking
in behalf of A R
-- Agrarian Reform
"don't come inside"
usually, in fact, almost always
I would pull out
with a split second to spare
and ******* all over her
turning her navel in to
some sort of overflow ***-gutter
proceed to roll over
panting like an old dog in the sun
roll a cigarette whilst she
wipes us both down with some nearby
toilet roll and suggest
we watch something on her laptop
this time was different though
I pulled out and she lays there
and starts tugging me off
entirely unnecessarily
as though both of our lives
depended on it
and I'm glad she did
I started spraying hot **** everywhere
and I think to myself
"I'm painting the ******* walls!"
it was nothing short of sensational
...
and it all seemed very Bukowskiesque
max Jan 2021
if you happen to fall,
follow the stars,
i'll be there too,
i'll meet you at mars
#r
3 Dec 2020
i am a beautiful bout of starts and sky
compiled into a confounded heart, left
reasonless in the dark so many times

hold me gently, like you promise now, when
we finally form a union, beautiful motion
scrubbing off the dirt and rinsing off my feet

hear me, my tired soul
hear me

forgiving the unkind parts of me
and respecting my needs,
recognizing the demon’s sins
seeing my ardent potential
chaining up my loose lead mind
promising a golden future for no one else
but me
12/21/2020 but written another time.
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