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Yesterday, a cloud burst in mythologies
and the rain fidgeted over the retreat

of a tidal pantheon; deities swept away
by a current, and we stood awhile, watching

the moon elbow out the dusk. Breathing
is burdensome when cars float on water

and corpses leak out of cavernous
basements. Every tablet, etched, in the cold

heart of building code was read again
and then again. It wasn't enough to blame

Aeolian whim or the raging riposte of Apollo,
now that we had marvelled away Gaia's

ozone skirt. Her amnion always leaked
in folkloric floods each time she birthed

a parable. She once asked Noah to build
an ark so he could ride her waves

and we scrape the sky to impale her
in shards where her womb is soft and yielding,

as we sour the air and burn the water and strip
her of her emerald sigh and melt her hills

and silt her wetlands. Mostly it was the asphalt
plastering her yearning that calcified her veins

and arteries, as she died slowly under our feet.
We could hardly fathom her sorrow for the tears

rolled off her torso like an oil slick
and rode far into the subway for sewers.
Hurricane Ida’s remnants created deadly havoc in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York days after the system hit the Gulf Coast — some 1,000 miles away (npr.org) I composed this poem in the aftermath. Read further at my blog. Originally published at http://davinasolomon.org on September 4, 2021.
S Aug 22
While I stood there-
I swore I saw you sitting, waiting too,
but you had long hair (which would be strange, even for you)-
And when you did passes by I realized that it wasn’t you-
But oh-
did I wish it was you.
Austin Reed Sep 2020
Autumn air;
How you steady me.

Dewy overcast;
Where have you hid the sun?

Swayful trees;
I bought this sweater for you.

Mirrored puddle;
You can’t fool these boots.

Crowding pigeons;
Find your own bagel!

Taxi driver,
Over here! Hey! Over here!
Mitch Prax Jul 2020
NY
I love you
louder than
the city that never sleeps.
New York,
it's got nothing on us,
baby.
In Sonya's
superfluous court
this decision
there stunk
and she's
given stellar
away to
see theirs  
bleed in
a vacuum
of pride
as her
coat was
died blue
in a
vehicular suicide
of labyrinth.
Tom Atkins May 2020
It has been a year since you visited the city.
walked its streets with its crowds of infinite variety,
an anonymous soul elbow to elbow with strangers,
Faces and fashion and more than that, an energy
so unlike your sanctuary in far away Vermont.

You need this, every so often. It feeds you,
a reminder of the power of mass and masses,
your mind awash with the vast mix of America
all gathered in one place, dreams, and nightmares
and side hustles, a place of promise and fear,
everyone going somewhere, doing, reaching,
faces animated. There is purpose here, urgency,

a reminder

of what you fled, and why you come back,
grateful for your place of peace, but aware
that too much peace and you fall into rot,
that yours is a life barely in balance, a needful life,
needful less of things than places, experiences,
the soul of places and people unlike yourself.
like salt in the stew, it flavors you, always in danger
of too much or too little.

Here is the Hassidic Jew in his worn black coat and hat.
Here is the Puerto Rican girl, bright and loud.
Here are the suits,
the old Italian woman pulling her cart of groceries,
the tourists, the hustlers and homeless,
the old Russian men playing chess in the park,
The Arabs gathered for their thick black coffee,
Here are the hayseeds and vagabonds like me,
passing through, thieves of energy that no one misses.
There is more than enough to go around.

Here are carts of food and Gucci knock offs.
Of diners just outside theatres. Hotels
for the rich and poor sit side by side.
Crowds outside Penn Station, steady streams
rise and fall in and out of subway stations.
Water towers and gardens on the roofs.
Carts of clothes on racks roll by you as you walk.
Here are all the things you are not,
somehow becoming you. You should be lost here
but you never are, It feels like home. Not a place of peace,
but a place of constant becoming.
You smile when you are there, even if you leave exhausted.

It is your pilgrimage, Once, twice a year,
But not this year.
TH=he city has grown dark and dangerous.
Time Square is still full of billboards and video screens
and hardly a soul to see them.
We are warned away in this plague year,
the power of the place gone inside, waiting out death,
and you mourn the lost,
and you wonder,
when you can return, and how, and what will be left
for strangers like me.
I love New York City, and watching what they have gone through and are still going through, has been heartbreaking,
Michael R Burch Apr 2020
Solicitation
by Michael R. Burch

He comes to me out of the shadows, acknowledging
my presence with a tip of his hat, always the gentleman,
and his eyes are on my eyes like a snake’s on a bird’s—
quizzical, mesmerizing.

He ***** his head as though something he heard intrigues him
(though I hear nothing) and he smiles, amusing himself at my expense;
his words are full of desire and loathing, and though I hear,
he says nothing that I understand.

The moon shines—maniacal, queer—as he takes my hand and whispers
Our time has come . . . and so we stroll together along the docks
where the sea sends things that wriggle and crawl
scurrying under rocks and boards.

Moonlight in great floods washes his pale face as he stares unseeing
into my eyes. He sighs, and the sound crawls slithering down my spine,
and my blood seems to pause at his touch as he caresses my face.
He unfastens my dress till the white lace shows, and my neck is bared.

His teeth are long, yellow and hard. His face is bearded and haggard.
A wolf howls in the distance. There are no wolves in New York. I gasp.
My blood is a trickle his wet tongue embraces. My heart races madly.
He likes it like that.

Published by Dowton Abbey, Aesthetically Pleasing Vampires, Into the Unknown, Since Halloween is Coming, and Poetry Life & Times. Keywords: vampire, werewolf, supernatural, New York, gentleman, blood, neck, teeth, canines, wolves, desire, loathing, moon, snake, bird, mesmerizing, reptilian
Michael R Burch Apr 2020
El Dorado
by Michael R. Burch

It's a fine town, a fine town,
though its alleys recede into shadow;
it's a very fine town for those who are searching
for an El Dorado.

Because the lighting is poor and the streets are bare
and the welfare line is long,
there must be something of value somewhere
to keep us hanging on
to our El Dorado.

Though the children are skinny, their parents are fat
from years of gorging on bleached white bread,
yet neither will leave
because all believe
in the vague things that are said
of El Dorado.

The young men with the outlandish hairstyles
who saunter in and out of the turnstiles
with a song on their lips and an aimless shuffle,
scuffing their shoes, avoiding the bustle,
certainly feel no need to join the crowd
of those who work to earn their bread;
they must know that the rainbow's end
conceals a *** of gold
near El Dorado.

And the painted “actress” who roams the streets,
smiling at every man she meets,
must smile because, after years of running,
no man can match her in cruelty or cunning.
She must see the satire of “defeats”
and “triumphs” on the ambivalent streets
of El Dorado.

Yes, it's a fine town, a very fine town
for those who can leave when they tire
of chasing after rainbows and dreams
and living on nothing but fire.

But for those of us who cling to our dreams
and cannot let them go,
like the sad-eyed ladies who wander the streets
and the junkies high on snow,
the dream has become a reality
—the reality of hope
that grew too strong
not to linger on—
and so this is our home.

We chew the apple, spit it out,
then eat it "just once more."
For this is the big, big apple,
though it is rotten to the core,
and we are its worm
in the night when we squirm
in our El Dorado.

This is an early poem of mine. I believe I wrote the first version during my “Romantic phase” around age 16 or perhaps a bit later. It was definitely written in my teens because it appears in a poetry contest folder that I put together and submitted during my sophomore year in college. Keywords/Tags: El Dorado, big apple, worms, New York City, junkies, streetwalkers, hookers, prostitutes, actors, actresses, hustlers, conmen


He Lived: Excerpts from “Gilgamesh”
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I.
He who visited hell, his country’s foundation,
Was well-versed in mysteries’ unseemly dark places.
He deeply explored many underworld realms
Where he learned of the Deluge and why Death erases.

II.
He built the great ramparts of Uruk-the-Sheepfold
And of holy Eanna. Then weary, alone,
He recorded his thoughts in frail scratchings called “words”:
But words made immortal, once chiseled in stone.

III.
These walls he erected are ever-enduring:
Vast walls where the widows of dead warriors weep.
Stand by them. O, feel their immovable presence!
For no other walls are as strong as this keep’s.

IV.
Come, climb Uruk’s tower on a starless night—
Ascend its steep stairway to escape modern error.
Cross its ancient threshold. You are close to Ishtar,
The Goddess of Ecstasy and of Terror!

V.
Find the cedar box with its hinges of bronze;
Lift the lid of its secrets; remove its dark slate;
Read of the travails of our friend Gilgamesh—
Of his descent into hell and man’s terrible fate!

VI.
Surpassing all kings, heroic in stature,
Wild bull of the mountains, the Goddess his dam
—Bedding no other man; he was her sole rapture—
Who else can claim fame, as he thundered, “I am!”



Enkidu Enters the House of Dust
an original poem by Michael R. Burch

I entered the house of dust and grief.
Where the pale dead weep there is no relief,
for there night descends like a final leaf
to shiver forever, unstirred.

There is no hope left when the tree’s stripped bare,
for the leaf lies forever dormant there
and each man cloaks himself in strange darkness, where
all company’s unheard.

No light’s ever pierced that oppressive night
so men close their eyes on their neighbors’ plight
or stare into darkness, lacking sight ...
each a crippled, blind bat-bird.

Were these not once eagles, gallant men?
Who sits here—pale, wretched and cowering—then?
O, surely they shall, they must rise again,
gaining new wings? “Absurd!

For this is the House of Dust and Grief
where men made of clay, eat clay. Relief
to them’s to become a mere windless leaf,
lying forever unstirred.”

“Anu and Enlil, hear my plea!
Ereshkigal, they all must go free!
Beletseri, dread scribe of this Hell, hear me!”
But all my shrill cries, obscured

by vast eons of dust, at last fell mute
as I took my place in the ash and soot.



Reclamation
an original poem by Michael R. Burch

after Robert Graves, with a nod to Mary Shelley

I have come to the dark side of things
where the bat sings
its evasive radar
and Want is a crooked forefinger
attached to a gelatinous wing.

I have grown animate here, a stitched corpse
hooked to electrodes.
And night
moves upon me—progenitor of life
with its foul breath.

Blind eyes have their second sight
and still are deceived. Now my nature
is softly to moan
as Desire carries me
swooningly across her threshold.

Stone
is less infinite than her crone’s
gargantuan hooked nose, her driveling lips.
I eye her ecstatically—her dowager figure,
and there is something about her that my words transfigure

to a consuming emptiness.
We are at peace
with each other; this is our venture—
swaying, the strings tautening, as tightropes
tauten, as love tightens, constricts

to the first note.
Lyre of our hearts’ pits,
orchestration of nothing, adits
of emptiness! We have come to the last of our hopes,
sweet as congealed blood sweetens for flies.

Need is reborn; love dies.

Keywords/Tags: Epic of Gilgamesh, epic, epical, orient occident, oriental, ancient, ancestors, ancestry, primal
Sky Feb 2020
the rain makes the asphalt look sad and pregnant.

i turn my head for one moment and a lonely 7 train skitters by, barely grazing my left ear. i close my eyes. i close my eyes because if you look, you get sad and that's how you lose. so i look down at my feet at the soft, shimmering asphalt instead

and i watch the train through the asphalt. it torpedoes by, one silver frame at a time, like a silent film still bobbing around in its chemical bath. i continue to watch, from a safe distance.

(its like looking out the window at the cars zooming by. its all fun and safe until you reach your hand out a bit too far and the next thing you know, some ******* car up and runs away with it.
its like marriage.)

except im in college and the wheels of the train never quite touch the ground, but hover, hover over like some kind of homeless intoxicated guardian angel stranded in a sprawling urban desert.

(he lies on top a one of those BigBellys, lies on his stomach, sandaled feet dangling just inches from the ground. blink blink, goes the BigBelly. Gabriel groans,
incomprehensible muttering)

and the train throws bleachy yellow squares of light throw themselves onto upon the pregnant asphalt in fits of just destructive laughter and when they hit the ground by that time they're already hugging themselves, hugging and shaking all over like fuuuuuuck, it's sooo cold in here (in my body!) each one of em murmuring in a foreign tongue about how someone keepzon etching street names into the bathroom walls

Thayer and Broadway at 3AM on a Wednesday morning is someone's oasis, mine for as long as i stand here, my mind stumbling back n forth from one airpod to the other as i feel like im sinking down, down into the soft squishy asphalt wit the weight of my backpack making my shoulders touch the floor wit my bleachy yellow head dangling from my neck as i blink needily / cravingly / searchingly at a sidewalk that stares back at me with the most deadest honest (to godest) blankest expression i ever seen on a no-body

and when i look into its eyes i can see myself but im standing in the  middle of Times Square and -- hey -- everythings looking up! but it cant be me because im here at Thayer and Broadway dangling my head and angling it AWAY from the passing train because if you look, you get sad, you think of home, and when you think of home, thats when you really know you've lost, not sure what but you've lost and you probably cant even actually go home after youve lost because, well, mother**** it you've lost and life just likes to call you a cuck and hit you in the throat like that

but i wouldn't know, i haven't gotten that far yet
here i am standing at the intersection of Thayer and Waterman. the rain glistens on the deserted streets and it's beautiful, but really, all i want to do is go home.
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