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Here we are again, in my darkest night,
I’ve never escaped
I thought the last stretches of a pitch-black pool did not  reach me.

Should I be happy on the crescent carving my brokenness?
you said how beautiful the glimpse of the moonlight is,
they have been a prosaic, silvery dust in dismal,
but now, they are a rare light in the sky.

I adore things that aren’t mine
and so you are,
I held an illusion in my desperation, and it wasn’t the universe's fault for sculpting an embodiment of galaxies and stars, such ethereal like you were living in a myth.

You can be there and begone or just begone
(your mercurial imperative) but this time, I wanted to be left on the traces where you were at.
RQ Jul 2021
although you're gone
the traces of draft remains
i followed hoping it leads me to you
i wandered through the gales
you are nowhere to be found
i still feel it around me
hoping and praying you'd return
come home
Michael R Burch Oct 2020
NOTE: The Natchez Trace is the Nashville bar where I met my future wife Beth. We invented a game called "twister pool" which involved billiards, drinking and a fair bit of physical contortion ...


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 man 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.

Keywords/Tags: Natchez, Trace, love, relationship, relationships, pool, billiards, rhyme, hope, pain, painful, solitude, drink, drinking, enigma, angel, stranger, ambiguity, woman



Rounds
by Michael R. Burch

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

Now agony still hounds me
though elsewhere mirth abounds;
hidebound I stand and try to think,
not sink still further down,
spellbound.

Their ecstasy astounds me,
though drunkenness compounds
resounding laughter into joy;
alloy such glee with beer and see
bliss found.



Swiftly the years mount
by T'ao Ch'ien (365-427)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Swiftly the years mount, exceeding remembrance.
Solemn the stillness of this spring morning.
I will clothe myself in my spring attire
then revisit the slopes of the Eastern Hill
where over a mountain stream a mist hovers,
hovers an instant, then scatters.
Scatters with a wind blowing in from the South
as it nuzzles the fields of new corn.



Con Artistry
by Michael R. Burch

The trick of life is like the sleight of hand
of gamblers holding deuces by the glow
of veiled back rooms, or aces; soon we’ll know
who folds, who stands . . .

The trick of life is like the pool shark’s shot—
the wild massé across green velvet felt
that leaves the winner loser. No, it’s not
the rack, the hand that’s dealt . . .

The trick of life is knowing that the odds
are never in one’s favor, that to win
is only to delay the acts of gods
who’d ante death for sin . . .

and death for goodness, death for in-between.
The rules have never changed; the artist knows
the oldest con is life; the chips he blows
can’t be redeemed.



Late Frost
by Michael R. Burch

The matters of the world like sighs intrude;
out of the darkness, windswept winter light
too frail to solve the puzzle of night’s terror
resolves the distant stars to salts: not white,
but gray, dissolving in the frigid darkness.
I stoke cooled flames and stand, perhaps revealed
as equally as gray, a faded hardness
too malleable with time to be annealed.

Light sprinkles through dull flakes, devoid of color;
which matters not. I did not think to find
a star like Bethlehem’s. I turn my collar
to trudge outside for cordwood. There, outlined
within the doorway’s arch, I see the tree
that holds its boughs aloft, as if to show
they harbor neither love, nor enmity,
but only stars: insignias I know—

false ornaments that flash, overt and bright,
but do not warm and do not really glow,
and yet somehow bring comfort, soft delight:
a rainbow glistens on new-fallen snow.

I had Robert Frost in mind when I wrote this poem, and thus the title. Frost was fond of the word “arch,” and it’s here because of that fondness. The poem imagines him as an old man and a skeptic, but one who never really made a complete break from his childhood faith. The rainbow created by the “artificial stars” was not something I had planned ... in fact, I believe I wrote that line before I understood that the Christmas tree ornaments were creating the rainbow.



The Poet-Midwife
by Michael R. Burch

A poet births words,
brings them into the world like a midwife
then wet-nurses them from infancy to adolescence.
chang cosido Sep 2020
𝚍𝚘𝚗𝚝 𝚢𝚘𝚞 𝚔𝚗𝚘𝚠?
𝚒𝚟𝚎 𝚝𝚛𝚊𝚌𝚎𝚍 𝚖𝚊𝚙𝚜
𝚘𝚗 𝚢𝚘𝚞𝚛 𝚜𝚔𝚒𝚗
𝚜𝚘 𝚖𝚢 𝚏𝚒𝚗𝚐𝚎𝚛𝚝𝚒𝚙𝚜 𝚔𝚗𝚘𝚠
𝚠𝚑ich 𝚙𝚊𝚛𝚝𝚜 𝚘𝚏 𝚢𝚘𝚞 𝚑𝚞𝚛𝚝
𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚠𝚑ich 𝚙𝚊𝚛𝚝𝚜 𝚍𝚘𝚗'𝚝.
𝚒𝚟𝚎 𝚖𝚎𝚖𝚘𝚛𝚒𝚣𝚎𝚍
𝚊𝚕𝚕 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚛𝚒𝚟𝚎𝚛𝚜
𝚒𝚗 𝚢𝚘𝚞𝚛 𝚟𝚎𝚒𝚗𝚜
𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚒 𝚔𝚗𝚘𝚠
𝚠𝚑𝚎𝚛𝚎 𝚒𝚝 𝚊𝚕𝚕 𝚎𝚗𝚍𝚜.
𝚒𝚟𝚎 𝚝𝚛𝚊𝚌𝚎𝚍 𝚖𝚊𝚙𝚜
𝚘𝚗 𝚢𝚘𝚞𝚛 𝚜𝚔𝚒𝚗
𝚜𝚘 𝚠𝚑𝚎𝚗 𝚖𝚢 𝚏𝚒𝚗𝚐𝚎𝚛𝚜
𝚊𝚛𝚎 𝚗𝚘 𝚕𝚘𝚗𝚐𝚎𝚛 𝚝𝚑𝚎𝚛𝚎
𝚝𝚘 𝚝𝚛𝚊𝚌𝚎 𝚒𝚝,
𝚒𝚝 𝚠𝚒𝚕𝚕 𝚔𝚗𝚘𝚠 𝚑𝚘𝚠
𝚝𝚘 𝚊𝚌𝚑𝚎 𝚏𝚘𝚛 𝚖𝚎.
Nolan Willett Sep 2020
You say you hate the human race
I say you have a lovely face
You think you’ll never reach the place
I think that you would miss the chase
So I unlace
And you embrace
And with the world we keep pace
‘Til the day we disappear
And leave without a trace
Safana Aug 2020
You can
Lock me down
and,
You will never
Locked my
Heart up,
Because,
I'm infected
To love and trace,
That light
Striking the lines
of horizon,
Covering earth
Circumference.
Really,
You can
Lock me down
But,
You will never
And ever
Lock my faith
Down
a man
has shoot
and sell
his desire
where tires
embark to
Ilium but
a nobleman
farm his
wit with
hell and
back truck
in a
parade of
fire yet
amble in
Market Square
I wasn't scared to fight, I was scared to lose.
I wasn't scared to shout, I was scared to be misunderstood.
I didn't move out to put an end,
I moved out to give you some space.
But you want what I didn't, so in your life now there is none of my trace.
Erian Rose May 2020
She was
footprints traced in sandy waters
sunflower fields
bloomed in thorns
thunderstorms swept
in salty air
Her spirit twinkled
of northern lights
flirting with a million acres
of honeydew blossoms
She was
the magic
that he adored
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