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Jamie F Nugent May 2016
Bob Dylan is a lot like The Doctor, along with the cult following, that unmistakable coolness, every now and then, a new Dylan is regenerated and replaces the old one, not matter if we like it or not. Now these days, Dylan resembles a William Heatnellesque Doctor. A more refined wise man dressed in black that has seen better days, also along with the truth that mostly only die-hard fans would spend their time on this incarnation. There were also the '80's Doctors who, like Dylan, dressed in suits that seemed too tight in the wrong places, and everything was just abit too scatterbrained, but the '80's were what they were. The Dylan of the mid-'60's seemed very akin to the shakiness of Matt Smith, with a cigarette in hand replacing a sonic screwdriver. Dressed in slim, teddy boy suits and Italian boots, he did seem rather abnormal among many at the time. This was Dylan taking in Beats like Ginsberg, rock n' roll and a Keith Richards' diet of drugs. This epoch of Dylan was more or less killed after a motorcycle crash on the 29th of July 1966. The new Dylan that followed caused mass surprise and equal outrage. A Nashville Dylan. Just like the electric Beatnik Dylan killed the good old folk troubadour Bobby, this completely different Johnny Cash-like Dylan killed off the drugged out, two lighters a day, nighthawk Bob. But in the shadows between the lives of the two, Dylan was hidden away in The Basement with The Band, creating a vast amount of work, this almost is like the John Hurt Doctor, the one that stepped away from the limelight and just did what he had to do. And that is what Dylan did, does and will do.
archwolf-angel Aug 2016
The alarm clock buzzed beside him as he struggled to reach his hand out to shut the alarm away. He groaned as he rolled over from his side of the bed to the other side of his king-sized bed. The other side of the bed, that used to feel so warm, was now empty and cold. He gave out a deep sigh before sitting up on his bed and proceeded to kiss the picture frame on the side table beside his bed. He admired her beautiful face for a few minutes as he smiled painfully before placing it back where it was before. Ruffling his own hair, he walked towards his cupboard to grab a random shirt and threw it on before quickening his steps to the bedroom beside his. He knocked on the door gently before opening it lightly. Walking towards the snoozing female on the bed, he sat down beside her and shook her petite body.

"Hey... Wake up..." he spoke gently as he switched the side lamp on. Long eyelashes fluttered as she slowly opened her eyes, her brown watery orbs shimmered under the small light. Small groans could be heard as she tried to hide herself under the blanket, making the grown man laugh at her cute antics. "Come on, I need to get to work..." he said as he shook her more.

"Noooooooooo~" a small muffled groan could be heard from under the blanket and he chuckled.

"If you are not going wake up, the tickle monster is going to attack you~" He grabbed the girl who was hiding under the blankets and started to tickle her through the thick cloth and cute giggles could be heard as she slowly revealed her head, sitting up as she came eye to eye with the grown man.

"Good morning, Daddy." she greeted politely.

"Good morning, little princess." he greeted back, smiling as he stroked his little girl's long wavy hair that she grew out ever since the day she was borned. "Come on, let's get washed up." he opened his arms, inviting the little girl into his arms. She did the same and held onto his broad shoulders as he carried her and they both went into the bathroom. He sat her down on their sturdy basin counter top as he started shaving his stubs carefully. The 5 year old independently took her father's toothbrush and squeezed some toothpaste on the brush before passing it to him. He smiled lightly before taking his toothbrush and watched as she prepared her own small pink bunny designed toothbrush. After finishing brushing their teeth, he helped the little girl down from the basin as she ran towards the bathtub.

"Kailee! Remove your clothes before you start the bath." he spoke firmly to the girl as she started running the tap to the fill the bathtub.

SPLASH SPLASH SPLASH!

He squeezed his eyes together so that the water that was splashing around would not get into his eyes. "Will you please stop splashing?" he nagged at the young girl but she merely giggled, finding the scene of her father getting all soaked rather amusing. She continued splashing the soaped water in her father's direction, ignoring the fact that he was literally getting drenched in his clothes as he scrubbed her clean.

After drying her up, he brought her back into her bedroom as he looked through her clothes that were hung in her wardrobe. "Daddy! I want to wear that dress!" she exclaimed, pointing to a sky blue dress, with floral prints on the thin silk layer on top of the bottom half of the dress.

"Again? This is probably the 50th time you wore it this year, my dear." he half-complained as he chuckled behind his words, taking it out from the wardrobe and dressed her up in the dress.

"What~? I like this dress." she responded as she waited for her father to help her zip up the dress before she skipped to the full-length mirror in her room and admired herself.

"I know I know. Go down for breakfast. Your grandparents are probably waiting for you." he said as he went back into his own bedroom and prepared himself for his day at work.

Decked in a simple tight fit black tee shirt and light blue ripped jeans, he started styling his hair, slicking his black hair backwards in a neat style. After he was done accessorising, he jogged down the stairs to join his family for breakfast.

As he sat down with his father and mother for breakfast, he saw that his little girl was already done with her meal and had scattered off to play with the two dogs in the yard. "Good morning Mom, Dad." he greeted before bowing a little and started to munch on his sandwich. "Egg sandwich! Mmm, this is tasty." he spoke with a little hype as he munched on it more.

"Dylan... Why did you let her wear that dress again?" his mother nagged at him, but he merely smiled at her with respect.

"It's alright Mom, you know that's her favourite dress." he said nonchalantly before realising that his parents were already looking at one another with worried looks. "It's alright, it really is." he assured them with a cool smile as he heard his phone ring and his secretary's name showed on the phone. "Alright, we need to go. Come on, Kailee!"

At the sound of her father's voice, Kailee kissed the retriever puppies goodbye before running towards Dylan, who was waiting for her with his hand outstretched for her hand. Small fingers gripped around his masculine hand as he tugged her along towards the posh looking van that was waiting for them upfront. The two of them board the van and the well-mannered Kailee greeted the adult man inside.

"Good morning Uncle Fred!" she grinned brightly at the male whom was older than her own father.

"Good morning Kailee, wearing your favourite dress again?" he commented casually but Dylan knew that he eyed him for a bit there.

"Yes! I love this dress!" Kailee exclaimed, smiling brightly as her eyes turned into crescents, just like how her father's would. The three of them went on their way to the company. Upon arriving, they made their way up towards the studios and the elevator stops on the 4th floor. Before the elevator door opened, Dylan knelt down on one knee if front of Kailee and gently brushed his thumb against her chubby cheeks and stroked her hair.

"I've got to go. Behave, okay?" he smiled at her but she pouted.

"Can't you stay with me today?" she mumbled and Dylan felt his heart clenched a little. He had always felt sorry that he could not spend his time with Kailee, but this career was all that was supporting him and his family.

"Sorry baby." he lightly kissed her on her forehead and smiled at her again, "I love you." he murmured to her.

"I love you too." she replied with a small smile as she waved to her father goodbye. Dylan waved a little before walking out of the elevator, leaving Fred and Kailee in the elevator alone as they proceeded to the fifth floor, where Kailee's private tutor was waiting for her.



"Dylan."

"Dylan."

"Mister Dylan Caleb!"

Finally snapping out of his daze, Dylan raised his head as he looked Travis in the eyes. "Yes?" he realised that he have not been paying attention to the song that Travis was playing for him and he watched as  his partner sighed in front of him. "I'm sorry." he apologised to Travis but his blonde friend merely sighed deeper.

"Let's go for a break." Travis suggested and they both stood up, leaving the studio as they started to take a stroll around the building. They finally came to the room where Kailee was receiving her private tutoring. Through the full glass doors, he leaned against a pillar that was out of sight from Kailee. Staring at her backview, he smiled lightly. His heart warmed up, feeling grateful for her existence.

"Are you alright?" Travis placed a hand on Dylan's shoulder and his eyes started to tear up.

"What have I ever done to deserve this?" he murmured, loud enough for Travis to hear and Travis' face turned solemn as he patted Dylan on the shoulder.



Chapter 3

*He stared in the mirror as he fixed his tie nicely. The black tie went nicely with his black shirt and coat. He turned to take a look at his bedroom, which still held the things that belonged to her. Controlling his emotions, he stepped out of his bedroom and saw his 2 years old daughter held in her grandmother's arms, decked in a formal black dress.

"Must we really bring her?" Dylan murmured to his parents, his head lowered and his hands pocketed. He bit his lips as he kept his hopes high, hoping that he did not have to bring his daughter along.

"She is, after all, her mother, Dylan..." His father replied him and he nodded his lightly. He outstretched his arms to welcome his daughter into his embrace as the innocent toddler giggled and held onto her father, his face struggling to smile for the little girl.

"Let's go..." Dylan said calmly as the entire family left the house.

Arriving at their destination, most of the people were already there although it was pretty early. He left his daughter in the care of his parents as he proceeded to greet his guests politely before moving to the main hall, where his wife was.

He slowly approached the white grand coffin which his wife laid in and he hesitated before looking into the glass panel, where he could see the face of his beautiful wife, all dolled up. She looked so beautiful, and he smiled as tears started to fall down his face. Reaching out his hand, he gently caressed the glass panel as his tears started hitting it in droplets.

"Sky..." he murmured her name softly, his body shivering as he admired her face. Her eyes were closed and the small smile on her face made it seem like she was in peace. "What am I to do...? What am I to do without you...?" he mumbled under his breath as he slowly stroked the glass panel. "Ah... Sorry... I'll be okay...You will watch over Kailee and I... Right?" he mumbled some more. He slowly placed his lips against the glass panel and kissed it, his body still shaking uncontrollably. He heard people walking into the room, but he ignored it, placing his full attention on his wife.

"Dylan..." A deep voice spoke as a hand was placed on Dylan's shoulder. "Be strong..." he said. He turned slightly to see TOP standing beside him before turning back to Haneul as he slowly calmed down. Back and forth, people came up to Jiyong to comfort him and send him their condolences. It was a small funeral as Jiyong was a celebrity and he wished to be able to protect his family's privacy by not blowing it up too big. The only guests there were his close friends and family as well as Haneul's. Finally coming eye to eye with Haneul's parents, Jiyong bowed deeply at his in-laws, solemnly portraying his apologies and guilt towards them.

"Sorry that I didn't take good care of Haneul like I've promised to. I'm deeply sorry, Father and Mother." he said in great sorrow.

"Look up, Jiyong-ah." Haneul's father said in a deep, calm voice as her mother teared beside him. "It's not your fault. It's just Haneul's fate that she couldn't live longer. But she is a fool herself, ending her own life like this."

BASH!

Out of nowhere, Haneul's younger brother, Hanbyun, came out and gave Jiyong a punch in the face, sending him crashing to the ground. Jiyong's friends wanted to help him up, but he shook his hand before turning to look Hanbyun in the eye. Instead of anger, he saw sadness in Hanbyun's eyes.

"I'm sorry, Hanbyun-ah." he apologised, not knowing what to say to the depressed young adult. With no reply, Hanbyun stomped out of the funeral hall.

"Sorry Ji-"

"It's okay Father and Mother. Everyone is definitely not in a good mood because of this. Hanbyun is no exception." he lowered his head, feeling shameful to face his in-laws after what happened to their daughter.

"Let's go send Haneul off nicely." Jiyong's father commented to everyone as Seungri, Daesung, TOP, Youngbae, Mithra and Seungyoon were ready to lift the coffin. He nodded as he turned to see his daughter in his mother's arms.

"Umma. Let me hold Hanyoung." Jiyong said as he reached out his hand towards his daughter and held on to her. Sending Haneul off into the fire, he bid his last farewell to his one true love.



Chapter 4

He held his daughter's hand as they slowly walk along the rows of tombs. Once they had arrived at the tomb of the person they were here to visit, Jiyong passed the bouquet of light blue and red roses to Hanyoung. The 5 year old held the bouquet in her arms and made a small prayer as she laid the bouquet on her mother's tomb. Taking out his hankerchief from his pocket, he knelt down in front of the tomb and started wiping her photo and the words that were engraved on the tomb.

"Haneul-ah... Hanyoung and I have come to visit you." he said steadily and softly.

"Umma..." Hanyoung called out to her mother as her small hands reached out to stroke the photo of her late mother. Jiyong held on to his daughter as he forced out a smile.

"Hanyoungie is 5 years old already..." he paused, "Which means you have been gone for 3 years now..." he said, his lips quivering as he tried his best to keep his emotions under control. There was so much he wanted to say to Haneul, but he kept them in his heart as he made a silent prayer. He wanted to tell her how much he missed her, how much he wanted her here with him and Hanyoung, how everything felt so incomplete without her.

"Appa, don't cry..." he heard a small voice comfort him as her warm hands reach out to wipe away his tears. "Hanyoung knows that Appa misses Umma... I miss Umma too..." she murmured to her father as her face to change. Jiyong reached out to hug his daughter tightly, feeling her warmth as his heart continued to tear apart at the thought of his wife. He started to hear little sniffles coming from beside him and he gulped in guilt.

"Alright... Appa won't cry anymore... Hanyoung shall not cry too, okay?" Jiyong swallowed his agony to comfort his daughter. Hanyoung parted the hug and turned towards the tomb and placed her hand on the photo again.

"Umma... Why did you leave me and Appa alone? I want you here with Appa and I..." her innocent thoughts rolled out bit by bit and Jiyong watched as Hanyoung conversed with the photo. "But it's okay... Umma is in better place now... Appa said that Umma will take care of Hanyoung and Appa from that place..." she smiled slightly, "Please take care of Appa... He seems really stressed out from work..." she prayed to her mother out loud and Jiyong cringed at her words, his heart shattering with every word that came out of the young girl's mouth. He choked on his tears, controlling himself as hard as he could.

"Umma... I miss you... And I love you, forever..." she stroked the photo gently.

"I'm so sorry, Hanyoungie..." Jiyong caressed his daughter's face as he lowered his head.

"It's okay, Appa. It's not your fault..." Hanyoung tilted her head in confusion as she patted her father's head, making Jiyong smile slightly.


Bringing Hanyoung to a restaurant for lunch, he ordered his usual as well as Haneul's favourites, Carbonara Spaghetti and Beef Sirloin Steak. As he fed Hanyoung, he started to speak softly.

"You know... This is the restaurant where I first met your Umma..." he said and it called Hanyoung's attention. Her ears perked slightly as she looked up at her father, waiting for him to continue his story.


Chapter 5


"What do you mean there are no more seats left? Don't you know who am I? I'm G-Dragon. What happened to my usual table?"

Jiyong ranted at one of the waiters softly in the restaurant. He was there for his lunch that day, but the restaurant was packed.

"Sorry sir. Your table is taken by that lady. We didn't know you would be coming by today..." the waiter replied in a flustered tone, not knowing how to deal with the situation. Jiyong frowned in anger as he turned to look at the woman who had taken his seat. His expression softened as he watched the woman twirled on her spaghetti. She was in a white collared blouse and a mini black skirt, a pair of studious yet classy spectacles on her nose as she was studying her laptop as she ate. He was overwhelmed by her charisma and beauty uncontrollably. Just then, her eyes looked up and he met with the most beautiful pair of brown orbs that he had ever seen in his entire life. With a pose of dignity and sophistication, she smiled at him before calling over the waiter that Jiyong was questioning. Nodding his head at her words, he literally ran up to Jiyong one more time.

"The lady said that if you don't mind, you can share the table with her." he st
Margot Dylan Jul 2014
Dearest Reader,


My name is Margot Dylan, and I'm a pariah.

On the 16th of April, I told my mother that I was gay. She threw the clay mug that I made for her before she found out I was gay, against the floral, peeling wallpaper mess of a wall, in our kitchen. The decaffeinated peppermint green tea left a wonderful aroma that almost cleansed the room of the stench of 'lesbian'.

I met Dylan Dunham a few days after that, and, a few days later, she was the first girl that I ever loved.

Dylan wore a red flannel jacket, and was a butch and sometimes a *****-but I loved her even at her tomboy cruelest.

Dylan smoked a cigarette that smelled like lonerism, and she looked at me like she didn't care. My heart skipped a beat, as cliche as it sounds, whenever she would remove the cigarette from her mouth, exhale, and look at me as smoke traveled up her face. I looked at her and knew that she was everything that I wasn't, and everything that I wanted.

Dylan was Dianne, before and after school. Dylan was Dianne, who wore floral dresses and lipstick and who ditched her butch clothing in her locker before leaving. Dylan was Dianne, who was straight and who thought Tyler Wesson, from church, was cute. Dylan was Dianne, who had a short hair cut because of track and field, because she explained that she ran a faster time with less hair. Dylan was Dianne, who didn't associate with me before or after school because her parents knew that I was gay.

During school hours, the only thing Dylan did keep from Dianne was the lipstick. I was envious of the cigarette because of it's burgundy stains. We would stand in a stall, as she looked across from me, after each drag. She frequently offered her cigarettes, but I refused because I only let love **** me. If she ever brought alcohol, sometimes she'd kiss me. I told her that I loved her and she said, "I know."

The only thing that Dylan kept from me was my heart, before she started to smoke cigarettes in the bathroom with Annie Way.


I wish you the best moments so they can overcome the worst,

Margot Dylan
Poems about Poets



Caveat Spender
by Michael R. Burch

for Stephen Spender

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.



The Beat Goes On (and On and On and On ...)
by Michael R. Burch

Bored stiff by his board-stiff attempts
at “meter,” I crossly concluded
I’d use each iamb
in lieu of a lamb,
bedtimes when I’m under-quaaluded.

Originally published by Grand Little Things



The Better Man
by Michael R. Burch
 
Dear Ed: I don’t understand why
you will publish this other guy—
when I’m brilliant, devoted,
one hell of a poet!
Yet you publish Anonymous. Fie!

Fie! A pox on your head if you favor
this poet who’s dubious, unsavor
y, inconsistent in texts,
no address (I checked!):
since he’s plagiarized Unknown, I’ll wager!



Kin
by Michael R. Burch

O pale, austere moon,
haughty beauty ...

what do we know of love,
or duty?

Published by Swathe of Light and The HyperTexts



Fahr an' Ice
by Michael R. Burch

Apologies to Robert Frost and Ogden Nash!

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.



Mnemosyne was stunned into astonishment when she heard honey-tongued Sappho, wondering how mortal men merited a tenth Muse.
—Antipater of Sidon, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



Come, investigate loneliness!
a solitary leaf
clings to the Kiri tree
― Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



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 soup 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



Confetti for Ferlinghetti
by Michael R. Burch

Lawrence Ferlinghetti
is the only poet whose name rhymes with “spaghetti”
and, while not being quite as rich as J. Paul Getty,
he still deserves some confetti
for selling a million books while being a modern Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

Like Dante Gabriel Rossetti, his rhyming namesake, Lawrence Ferlinghetti was both poet and painter.



A Passing Observation about Thinking Outside the Box
by Michael R. Burch

William Blake had no public, and yet he’s still read.
His critics are dead.



Housman was right ...
by Michael R. Burch

It's true that life’s not much to lose,
so why not hang out on a cloud?
It’s just the "bon voyage" is hard
and the objections loud.



Dylan Thomas was one of my favorite poets from my early teens and has remained so over the years. I have written three poems ‘for’ him and one poem ‘after’ him …

Myth
by Michael R. Burch

after the sprung rhythm of Dylan Thomas

Here the recalcitrant wind
sighs with grievance and remorse
over fields of wayward gorse
and thistle-throttled lanes.

And she is the myth of the scythed wheat
hewn and sighing, complete,
waiting, lain in a low sheaf—
full of faith, full of grief.

Here the immaculate dawn
requires belief of the leafed earth
and she is the myth of the mown grain—
golden and humble in all its weary worth.

“Myth” won a Dylan Thomas poetry contest. The judge was very complimentary of the poem. I believe I wrote the first version of this poem toward the end of my senior year of high school, around age 18. To my recollection this is my only poem influenced by the “sprung rhythm” of Dylan Thomas (moreso than that of Gerard Manley Hopkins).



Elemental
by Michael R. Burch

for and after Dylan Thomas

The poet delves earth’s detritus—hard toil—
for raw-edged nouns, barbed verbs, vowels’ lush bouquet;
each syllable his pen excretes—dense soil,
dark images impacted, rooted clay.

The poet sees the sea but feels its meaning—
the teeming brine, the mirrored oval flame
that leashes and excites its turgid surface ...
then squanders years imagining love’s the same.

Belatedly, he turns to what lies broken—
the scarred and furrowed plot he fiercely sifts,
among death’s sicksweet dungs and composts seeking
one element whose scorching flame uplifts.

I have published this poem with the title "Elemental" at times, "Radiance" at others, and I have even thought about "Elemental Radiance" but that seems a bit unwieldy.



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.

Keywords/Tags: Dylan Thomas, Laugharne, Wales, ocean, sea, seaside, beach, bays, waves, ocean waves, birds, hawk, herons, gulls, father, poet, poetry, poem, poems, famous poets, elegy



Downdraft
by Michael R. Burch

for Dylan Thomas

We feel rather than understand what he meant
as he reveals a shattered firmament
which before him never existed.

Here, there are no images gnarled and twisted
out of too many words,
but only flocks of white birds

wheeling and flying.

Here, as Time spins, reeling and dying,
the voice of a last gull
or perhaps some spirit no longer whole,

echoes its lonely madrigal
and we feel its strange pull
on the astonished soul.

O My Prodigal!

The vents of the sky, ripped asunder,
echo this wild, primal thunder—
now dying into undulations of vanishing wings . . .

and this voice which in haggard bleak rapture still somehow downward sings.



When I wrote this poem listing poets I like to read, the first poet I named was Dylan Thomas ...

beMused
by Michael R. Burch

Perhaps at three
you'll come to tea,
to have a cuppa here?

You'll just stop in
to sip dry gin?
I only have a beer.

To name the “greats”:
Pope, Dryden, mates?
The whole world knows their names.

Discuss the “songs”
of Emerson?
But these are children's games.

Give me rhythms
wild as Dylan’s!
Give me Bobbie Burns!

Give me Psalms,
or Hopkins’ poems,
Hart Crane’s, if he returns!

Or Langston railing!
Blake assailing!
Few others I desire.

Or go away,
yes, leave today:
your tepid poets tire.



The American poet Thomas Rain Crowe lived in the Dylan Thomas boat house at Laugharne and wrote poems there. These are poems I wrote for Thomas that were influenced by Dylan Thomas and his experience.

Mongrel Dreams (I)
by Michael R. Burch

These nights bring dreams of Cherokee shamans
whose names are bright verbs and impacted dark nouns,
whose memories are indictments of my pallid flesh . . .
and I hear, as from a great distance,
the cries tortured from their guileless lips, proclaiming
the nature of my mutation.

Mongrel Dreams (II)
by Michael R. Burch

for Thomas Rain Crowe

I squat in my Cherokee lodge, this crude wooden hutch of dry branches and leaf-thatch
as the embers smolder and burn,
hearing always the distant tom-toms of your rain dance.

I relax in my rustic shack on the heroned shores of Gwynedd,
slandering the English in the amulet gleam of the North Atlantic,
hearing your troubadour’s songs, remembering Dylan.

I stand in my rough woolen kilt in the tall highland heather
feeling the freezing winds through the trees leaning sideways,
hearing your bagpipes’ lament, dreaming of Burns.

I slave in my drab English hovel, tabulating rents
while dreaming of Blake and burning your poems like incense.

I abide in my pale mongrel flesh, writing in Nashville
as the thunderbolts flash and the spring rains spill,
till the quill gently bleeds and the white page fills,
dreaming of Whitman, calling you brother.



At Wilfred Owen’s Grave
by Michael R. Burch

A week before the Armistice, you died.
They did not keep your heart like Livingstone’s,
then plant your bones near Shakespeare’s. So you lie
between two privates, sacrificed like Christ
to politics, your poetry unknown
except for that brief flurry’s: thirteen months
with Gaukroger beside you in the trench,
dismembered, as you babbled, as the stench
of gangrene filled your nostrils, till you clenched
your broken heart together and the fist
began to pulse with life, so close to death.

Or was it at Craiglockhart, in the care
of “ergotherapists” that you sensed life
is only in the work, and made despair
a thing that Yeats despised, but also breath,
a mouthful’s merest air, inspired less
than wrested from you, and which we confess
we only vaguely breathe: the troubled air
that even Sassoon failed to share, because
a man in pieces is not healed by gauze,
and breath’s transparent, unless we believe
the words are true despite their lack of weight
and float to us like chlorine—scalding eyes,
and lungs, and hearts. Your words revealed the fate
of boys who retched up life here, gagged on lies.

Published by The Chariton Review, The Neovictorian/Cochlea, Rogue Scholars, Romantics Quarterly, Mindful of Poetry, Famous Poets and Poems, Poetry Life & Times, and Other Voices International



US Verse, after Auden
by Michael R. Burch

“Let the living creature lie,
Mortal, guilty, but to me
The entirely beautiful.”

Verse has small value in our Unisphere,
nor is it fit for windy revelation.
It cannot legislate less taxing fears;
it cannot make us, several, a nation.
Enumerator of our sins and dreams,
it pens its cryptic numbers, and it sings,
a little quaintly, of the ways of love.
(It seems of little use for lesser things.)

NOTE: The Unisphere mentioned is a large stainless steel representation of the earth; it was commissioned to celebrate the beginning of the space age for the 1964 New York World's Fair.



Long Division
by Michael R. Burch

for and after Laura Riding Jackson

All things become one
Through death’s long division
And perfect precision.



Nod to the Master
by Michael R. Burch

If every witty thing that’s said were true,
Oscar Wilde, the world would worship You!



Goddess
by Michael R. Burch

for Kevin N. Roberts

“What will you conceive in me?”—
I asked her. But she
only smiled.

“Naked, I bore your child
when the wolf wind howled,
when the cold moon scowled . . .
naked, and gladly.”

“What will become of me?”—
I asked her, as she
absently stroked my hand.

Centuries later, I understand:
she whispered—“I Am.”

Published by Romantics Quarterly (the first poem in the first issue), Penny Dreadful, Unlikely Stories, Underground Poets, Poetically Speaking, Poetry Life & Times and Little Brown Poetry



Safe Harbor
by Michael R. Burch

for Kevin Nicholas Roberts

The sea at night seems
an alembic of dreams—
the moans of the gulls,
the foghorns’ bawlings.

A century late
to be melancholy,
I watch the last shrimp boat as it steams
to safe harbor again.

In the twilight she gleams
with a festive light,
done with her trawlings,
ready to sleep . . .

Deep, deep, in delight
glide the creatures of night,
elusive and bright
as the poet’s dreams.

Published by The Lyric, Grassroots Poetry, Romantics Quarterly, Angle, Poetry Porch, Poetry Life & Times



The Harvest of Roses
by Michael R. Burch

for Harvey Stanbrough

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.

Originally published by The Raintown Review



In the Whispering Night
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 raging 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.

Published by Songs of Innocence, Romantics Quarterly, Poetry Life & Times and The Chained Muse



Kin
by Michael R. Burch

for Richard Moore

1.
Shrill gull,
how like my thoughts
you, struggling, rise
to distant bliss—
the weightless blue of skies
that are not blue
in any atmosphere,
but closest here ...

2.
You seek an air
so clear,
so rarified
the effort leaves you famished;
earthly tides
soon call you back—
one long, descending glide ...

3.
Disgruntledly you ***** dirt shores for orts
you pull like mucous ropes
from shells’ bright forts ...

You eye the teeming world
with nervous darts—
this way and that ...

Contentious, shrewd, you scan—
the sky, in hope,
the earth, distrusting man.

Published by Triplopia. Able Muse and The HyperTexts



escape!
by michael r. burch

for anaïs vionet

to live among the daffodil folk . . .
slip down the rainslickened drainpipe . . .
suddenly pop out
                             the GARGANTUAN SPOUT . . .
minuscule as alice, shout
yippee-yi-yee!
                       in wee exultant glee
to be leaving behind the
                                       LARGE
THREE-DENALI GARAGE.

Published by Andwerve, Bewildering Stories and The HyperTexts



The Heimlich Limerick
by Michael R. Burch

for Tom Merrill

The sanest of poets once wrote:
"Friend, why be a sheep or a goat?
Why follow the leader
or be a blind *******?"
But almost no one took note.


The Pain of Love
by Michael R. Burch

for Tom Merrill

The pain of love is this:
the parting after the kiss;

the train steaming from the station
whistling abnegation;

each interstate’s bleak white bar / every highways’ broken white bar
that vanishes under your car;

every hour and flower and friend / each (with the second option above)
that cannot be saved in the end;

dear things of immeasurable cost ...
now all irretrievably lost.

Note: The title “The Pain of Love” was suggested by an interview with Little Richard, then eighty years old, in Rolling Stone. He said that someone should create a song called “The Pain of Love.”



Lean Harvests (II)
by Michael R. Burch

for Tom Merrill

the trees are shedding their leaves again:
another summer is over.
the Christians are praising their Maker again,
but not the disconsolate plover:
     i hear him berate
     the fate
     of his mate;
he claims God is no body’s lover.

Published by The Rotary Dial and Angle



The Wonder Boys
by Michael R. Burch

for Leslie Mellichamp, the late editor of The Lyric,
who was a friend and mentor to many poets, and
a fine poet in his own right

The stars were always there, too-bright cliches:
scintillant truths the jaded world outgrew
as baffled poets winged keyed kites—amazed,
in dream of shocks that suddenly came true ...

but came almost as static—background noise,
a song out of the cosmos no one hears,
or cares to hear. The poets, starstruck boys,
lay tuned into their kite strings, saucer-eared.

They thought to feel the lightning’s brilliant sparks
electrify their nerves, their brains; the smoke
of words poured from their overheated hearts.
The kite string, knotted, made a nifty rope ...

You will not find them here; they blew away—
in tumbling flight beyond nights’ stars. They clung
by fingertips to satellites. They strayed
too far to remain mortal. Elfin, young,

their words are with us still. Devout and fey,
they wink at us whenever skies are gray.

Originally published by The Lyric



The Princess and the Pauper
by Michael R. Burch

for Norman Kraeft in memory of his beloved wife June

Here was a woman bright, intent on life,
who did not flinch from Death, but caught his eye
and drew him, powerless, into her spell
of wanting her himself, so much the lie
that she was meant for him—obscene illusion!—
made him seem a monarch throned like God on high,
when he was less than nothing; when to die
meant many stultifying, pained embraces.

She shed her gown, undid the tangled laces
that tied her to the earth: then she was his.
Now all her erstwhile beauty he defaces
and yet she grows in hallowed loveliness—
her ghost beyond perfection—for to die
was to ascend. Now he begs, penniless.

Published by Katrina Anthology, The Lyric and Trinacria



Come Down
by Michael R. Burch

for Harold Bloom and the Ivory Towerists

Come down, O, come down
from your high mountain tower.
How coldly the wind blows,
how late this chill hour ...

and I cannot wait
for a meteor shower
to show you the time
must be now, or not ever.

Come down, O, come down
from the high mountain heather
now brittle and brown
as fierce northern gales sever.          

Come down, or your hearts will grow cold as the weather
when winter devours and spring returns never.

I dedicated this poem to Harold Bloom after reading his introduction to the Best American Poetry anthology he edited. Bloom seemed intent on claiming poetry as the province of the uber-reader (i.e., himself), but I remember reading poems by Blake, Burns, Byron, cummings, Dickinson, Frost, Housman, Keats, Eliot, Pound, Shakespeare, Shelley, Whitman, Wordsworth, Yeats, et al, and grokking them as a boy, without any “advanced” instruction from anyone.



At Cædmon’s Grave

“Cædmon’s Hymn,” composed at the Monastery of Whitby (a North Yorkshire fishing village), is one of the oldest known poems written in the English language, dating back to around 680 A.D. I wrote this poem after visiting Caedmon's grave at Whitby.

At the monastery of Whitby,
on a day when the sun sank through the sea,
and the gulls shrieked wildly, jubilant, free,

while the wind and time blew all around,
I paced those dusk-enamored grounds
and thought I heard the steps resound

of Carroll, Stoker and good Bede
who walked there, too, their spirits freed
—perhaps by God, perhaps by need—

to write, and with each line, remember
the glorious light of Cædmon’s ember,
scorched tongues of flame words still engender.

Here, as darkness falls, at last we meet.
I lay this pale garland of words at his feet.

Published by The Lyric, Volume 80, Number 4



Orpheus
by Michael R. Burch

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.



Millay Has Her Way with a Vassar Professor
by Michael R. Burch

After a night of hard drinking and spreading her legs,
Millay hits the dorm, where the Vassar don begs:
“Please act more chastely, more discretely, more seemly!”
(His name, let’s assume, was, er ... Percival Queemly.)

“Expel me! Expel me!”—She flashes her eyes.
“Oh! Please! No! I couldn’t! That wouldn’t be wise,
for a great banished Shelley would tarnish my name ...
Eek! My game will be lame if I can’t milque your fame!”

“Continue to live here—carouse as you please!”
the beleaguered don sighs as he sags to his knees.
Millay grinds her crotch half an inch from his nose:
“I can live in your hellhole, strange man, I suppose ...
but the price is your firstborn, whom I’ll sacrifice to Moloch.”
(Which explains what became of pale Percy’s son, Enoch.)

Originally published by Lucid Rhythms



Why the Kid Gloves Came Off
by Michael R. Burch

for Lemuel Ibbotson

It's hard to be a man of taste
in such a waste:
hence the lambaste.



Nightfall
by Michael R. Burch

for Kevin Nicholas Roberts

Only the long dolor of dusk delights me now,
     as I await death.
The rain has ruined the unborn corn,
         and the wasting breath
of autumn has cruelly, savagely shorn
               each ear of its radiant health.
As the golden sun dims, so the dying land seems to relinquish its vanishing wealth.

Only a few erratic, trembling stalks still continue to stand,
     half upright,
and even these the winds have continually robbed of their once-plentiful,
          golden birthright.
I think of you and I sigh, forlorn, on edge
               with the rapidly encroaching night.
Ten thousand stillborn lilies lie limp, mixed with roses, unable to ignite.

Whatever became of the magical kernel, golden within
     at the winter solstice?
What of its promised kingdom, Amen!, meant to rise again
          from this balmless poultice,
this strange bottomland where one Scarecrow commands
               dark legions of ravens and mice?
And what of the Giant whose bellows demand our negligible lives, his black vice?

I find one bright grain here aglitter with rain, full of promise and purpose
     and drive.
Through lightning and hail and nightfalls and pale, cold sunless moons
         it will strive
to rise up from its “place” on a network of lace, to the glory
             of being alive.
Why does it bother, I wonder, my brother? O, am I unwise to believe?
                                    But Jack had his beanstalk
                              and you had your poems
                         and the sun seems intent to ascend
               and so I also must climb
          to the end of my time,
     however the story
may unwind
and
end.

This poem was written around a month after Kevin’s death.



I Learned Too Late
by Michael R. Burch

“Show, don’t tell!”

I learned too late that poetry has rules,
although they may be rules for greater fools.

In any case, by dodging rules and schools,
I avoided useless duels.

I learned too late that sentiment is bad—
that Blake and Keats and Plath had all been had.

In any case, by following my heart,
I learned to walk apart.

I learned too late that “telling” is a crime.
Did Shakespeare know? Is Milton doing time?

In any case, by telling, I admit:
I think such rules are s*t.



Discrimination
by Michael R. Burch

for lovers of traditional poetry

The meter I had sought to find, perplexed,
was ripped from books of “verse” that read like prose.
I found it in sheet music, in long rows
of hologramic CDs, in sad wrecks
of long-forgotten volumes undisturbed
half-centuries by archivists, unscanned.
I read their fading numbers, frowned, perturbed—
why should such tattered artistry be banned?

I heard the sleigh bells’ jingles, vampish ads,
the supermodels’ babble, Seuss’s books
extolled in major movies, blurbs for abs ...
A few poor thinnish journals crammed in nooks
are all I’ve found this late to sell to those
who’d classify free verse “expensive prose.”

Published by The Chariton Review, The Eclectic Muse (Canada), Famous Poets and Poems, FreeXpression (Australia), Famous Poets and Poems, Inspirational Stories, Poetry Life & Times and Trinacria (where it was nominated for the Pushcart Prize)



The Composition of Shadows
by Michael R. Burch

“I made it out of a mouthful of air.”—W. B. Yeats

We breathe and so we write; the night
hums softly its accompaniment.
Pale phosphors burn; the page we turn
leads onward, and we smile, content.

And what we mean we write to learn:
the vowels of love, the consonants’
strange golden weight, each plosive’s shape—
curved like the heart. Here, resonant, ...

sounds’ shadows mass beneath bright glass
like singing voles curled in a maze
of blank white space. We touch a face—
long-frozen words trapped in a glaze

that insulates our hearts. Nowhere
can love be found. Just shrieking air.

Published by The Lyric, Contemporary Rhyme, Candelabrum, Iambs & Trochees, Triplopia, Romantics Quarterly, Hidden Treasures (Selected Poem), ImageNation (UK), Yellow Bat Review, Poetry Life & Times, Vallance Review, Poetica Victorian



Me?
by Michael R. Burch

Me?
Whee!
(I stole this poem
From Muhammad Ali.)



Brother Iran
by Michael R. Burch

for the poets of Iran

Brother Iran, I feel your pain.
I feel it as when the Turk fled Spain.
As the Jew fled, too, that constricting span,
I feel your pain, Brother Iran.

Brother Iran, I know you are noble!
I too fear Hiroshima and Chernobyl.
But though my heart shudders, I have a plan,
and I know you are noble, Brother Iran.

Brother Iran, I salute your Poets!
your Mathematicians!, all your great Wits!
O, come join the earth's great Caravan.
We'll include your Poets, Brother Iran.

Brother Iran, I love your Verse!
Come take my hand now, let's rehearse
the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.
For I love your Verse, Brother Iran.

Bother Iran, civilization's Flower!
How high flew your spires in man's early hours!
Let us build them yet higher, for that's my plan,
civilization's first flower, Brother Iran.

To Please The Poet
by Michael R. Burch

for poets who still write musical verse

To please the poet, words must dance—
staccato, brisk, a two-step:
so!
Or waltz in elegance to time
of music—mild,
adagio.

To please the poet, words must chance
emotion in catharsis—
flame.
Or splash into salt seas, descend
in sheets of silver-shining
rain.

To please the poet, words must prance
and gallop, gambol, revel,
rail.
Or muse upon a moment—mute,
obscure, unsure, imperfect,
pale.

To please the poet, words must sing,
or croak, wart-tongued, imagining.

Originally published by The Lyric



The danger is not aiming too high and missing, but aiming too low and hitting the mark.—Michelangelo, translation by Michael R. Burch

Trifles create perfection, yet perfection is no trifle.—Michelangelo, translation by Michael R. Burch

Genius is infinitely patient, and infinitely painstaking.—Michelangelo, translation by Michael R. Burch

If you knew how hard I worked, you wouldn't call it "genius."—Michelangelo, translation by Michael R. Burch

He who follows will never surpass.—Michelangelo, translation by Michael R. Burch

Beauty is what lies beneath superfluities.—Michelangelo, translation by Michael R. Burch

I criticize via creation, not by fault-finding.—Michelangelo, translation by Michael R. Burch



a peom in supsport of a dsylexci peot
by michael r. burch, allso a peot
for ken d williams

pay no hede to the saynayers,
the asburd wordslayers,
the splayers and sprayers,
the heartless diecriers,
the liers!

what the hell due ur criticks no?
let them bellow below!

ur every peom has a good haert
and culd allso seerv as an ichart!

There are a number of puns, including ur (my term for original/ancient/first), no/know, pay/due, the critic as both absurd and an as(s)-burd who is he(artless), and the poet as the (seer)v of an (i)-chart for all. Here is an encoded version:

(pay) k(no)w hede to the say(nay)ers,
the as(s)bird word(s
)layers,
the s(players) and s(prayers),
the he(artless) (die)(cry)ers,
the (lie)rs!

what the hell (due) ur (cry)(ticks) k(no)w?
let them (be)l(low) below!

(ur) every peom has a good haert
and culd (all)so (seer)ve as an (i)chart!



we did not Dye in vain!
by Michael R. Burch

from “songs of the sea snails”

though i’m just a slimy crawler,
my lineage is proud:
my forebears gave their lives
(oh, let the trumps blare loud!)
so purple-mantled Royals
might stand out in a crowd.

i salute you, fellow loyals,
who labor without scruple
as your incomes fall
while deficits quadruple
to swaddle unjust Lords
in bright imperial purple!

Notes: In ancient times the purple dye produced from the secretions of purpura mollusks (sea snails) was known as “Tyrian purple,” “royal purple” and “imperial purple.” It was greatly prized in antiquity, and was very expensive according to the historian Theopompus: “Purple for dyes fetched its weight in silver at Colophon.” Thus, purple-dyed fabrics became status symbols, and laws often prevented commoners from possessing them. The production of Tyrian purple was tightly controlled in Byzantium, where the imperial court restricted its use to the coloring of imperial silks. A child born to the reigning emperor was literally porphyrogenitos ("born to the purple") because the imperial birthing apartment was walled in porphyry, a purple-hued rock, and draped with purple silks. Royal babies were swaddled in purple; we know this because the iconodules, who disagreed with the emperor Constantine about the veneration of images, accused him of defecating on his imperial purple swaddling clothes!



Alien Nation
by Michael R. Burch

for J. S. S., a "Christian" poet

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
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.
Kenechukwu Mar 2020
Dylan’s roof covers your house supposedly,
But you can’t go through the front door,
you don’t even have a key.

You see, Dylan’s roof covers your head
ever so reluctantly
But Dylan won’t kick you out,
you were brought here to work for free.

Dylan doesn’t like you
or anyone with your complexion
But Dylan won’t admit it,
he’d rather ‘serve and protect’ his brethren.
By serve and protect I mean swerve and reject.
Any responsibility for a bullet in your chest.

You see, Dylan’s roof doesn’t just cover 52 states
It covers millions of your reflection
that share melanated traits.

The windows under Dylan’s roof give you a glimpse of your potential.
Freedom and happiness.
You trace the future with a stencil.

After some time,
Dylan’s roof will start to dissipate.
The rains of your liberation
will begin to precipitate.

The seeds that were planted
by the ones gone before us,
will start to germinate
in the fields that once tore us
On the 17th of June 2015, Dylan Roof walked into ‘Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church’ in downtown Charleston, South Carolina and killed nine innocent black people. He was arrested so very gently.
Kerrie Sursely Apr 2015
The Letters. (edit | delete)
by Kerrie Sursely

Hey,
I just want to say thank you!
I was just enjoying your poem.
It made me remember your character, and I love that!
I also want to say thank you for seeing something great in me when I couldn't.
I've worked really hard and will be moving in a month to Georgia to start my doctorate in physical therapy.
And on my journey I will take a part of me you have nourished into existence, a part of me I like very much!
Thank you,
Dylan.

Dear Kerrie,
Today I started packing to leave for Georgia. I stored a lot of things I can't take with me in my parents house. It was when I finished storing these things that I looked at them one last time, and I wondered how familiar they will be when I return. These objects will collect dust and stay the same until I return. But unlike them, we will age, and we will grow. I'm very busy lately, but get ahold of me before I leave if it interests you. I'll make time for you.
Always,
Dylan.

Dear Dylan,
Someone very special to me
(you Dylan) posted a poem on his Facebook a few years back.
By chance I stumbled upon it, fell in love with it, and knew it would be something I would carry with me through life.
Since then I have found myself sending that poem to many people who've sought my advice. In hopes it reaches a place deep in their hearts the way it had mine!
Just as quickly as I had begun to read that poem I could tell it was different, it cought my heart's attention! So, I continued to read it.
It was right before I had finished reading the third line when I realized that poem was going to change my life and...it did!
My dearest Dylan, you unknowingly gave me a gift that day!
I have cherished that poem from that moment and everyday there after!
I would love to give back to you that same gift as you leave one life to embark upon another carrying those thoughts and wonders you've posted today with you. Here is that poem...

One Art.

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.
Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.
Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.
I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.
I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.
Even losing you. Your joking voice, your gesture that I love.
I shouldn't have lied.
It’s evident the art of losing’s not too hard to master, though it may look like I am a disaster.
(Written by, Elizabeth Bishop).

Dylan, just know this! You are without a doubt going to lose many things in life that will break your heart to lose! Especially when you can't find the answers as to why it is you've lost them. Sadly, that's just life!
Most never recover from their loses, only a few do.
That poem saved a part of me back then Dylan and I have only you to thank from the bottom of my heart for that!

Those things you are packing today,
wondering if they will be just as familiar to you when you return, will be! You will see them and instantly feel the same as you had when you left them. That's called HOME!

Today, I found myself starring adoringly at my children as they spent time with each other. Time we are not fortunate enough to spend often. Each of them were happy and laughing. That very moment I also noticed the room became silent, but silent only to me. I swear, I could hear my own memories of how my divorce shattered their lives, mine too! The way it felt back then was a feeling of loss. I became lost so my children became lost without reason or an answer why. I had nowhere to turn for help and even if I had; I would have never uttered a word for fear someone would think I were weak or a failure. I was left broken as a woman, broken as a mother, and no direction on how to find my way out. All I had left were two things, a silver lining I had found within my own tears, "No one will ever steal my smile again!" and what that poem had taught me as I read it, "It's okay to lose things just so long as we don't lose ourselves along the way"!
I vowed right then and there I would never be the victim! I would survive!
I found my strength knowing my children would learn how to be happy and how to survive "life" through my own actions! Then, slowly I was drawn out of my private thoughts by the sound of one of my twin daughters whom back then were only four years old and now are eleven, singing along to a song that filled the room. She sang, "Next to you. There is no other place I'd rather be!" I felt myself smiling ear to ear, feeling proud for overcoming life, finding ourselves again, and most importantly finding "home" within each other again!
That poem you posted that day Dylan was just a poem to you but it was something that became larger than life to me!
It gave back to my children the things they never deserved to lose!
I held myself deep and tight in that moment, proud of myself and proud of my children, cherishing every second of it...IT FELT AMAZING!

Just as that moment passed another thought had came crashing through my mind. Something so easy, something that I should have known all along, and something I will also remember forever along with that poem,
"Life is too amazing to not live amazing!"
Remember that Dylan.
Live your life amazingly!
Every time a moment happens to me the way it had just then, I remember that poem and without fail,
I remember you!
I will forever think of you thanking you silently from my heart!

You are one of the most amazing human beings I have ever been blessed to meet!

In part, let me leave you with one last thought.
Think of how many things that has happened throughout your life. From childhood until today. Think of how many people have come and gone and all of the time those people or moments have consumed from your life. Think of all of those memories you've kept from all of those people. The kind of memories you'll never forget, the kind you know you'll remember when you're at your last moments here on earth. Think of the ones that make you smile maybe even laugh a little. How many do you have? Probably not many, at best maybe just a handful.
I'm asking you this in hopes your answer helps you to really encompass and feel in your heart what I am about to tell you next...
I have just a few of those kinds of memories. Out of those few, TWO ARE OF YOU! Considering how short our time as coworkers and friends really was I find that pretty remarkable if you ask me!

Not only has your poem found a home within my heart but there is a memory of you that I just love, one I'm not soon to forget!
How could I ever forget the look on your face as you eagerly and excitedly clapped your hands so loudly as I slowly placed a plate of three little tacos in front of you.
The happiness you found in the simplicity of a small plate of tacos will forever be etched into my mind leaving me in small fits of laughter!
That probably doesn't sound very funny or something worth mentioning no less worth remembering to anyone else, and it has yet to make whomever I tell that story to laugh. But you laughed as I reminded you of it before, I laughed too! Oh well, it's my memory and I simply adore it just as I adore you!

God made you perfectly different than everyone else Dylan! You are special and unique! Don't quiet your mouth in hopes to hold back the very humor that makes you, you!
Make the world laugh. Hell, make the world cry too! Just be you!

I wish you well Dylan and a life filled with nothing short of what you have gifted me....AMAZING!!!
Take special care to everyone and everything you collect along the way and I promise the world will take care of you!

Till our paths cross again some day...
All of my love, Kerrie!
Margot Dylan Dec 2014
Dearest reader,


My name is Margot Dylan and I am no longer a ******.

I stared at Dianne staring at Frieda Bentley, as she dragged on a Camel Blue and as I dragged my pen across my notepad. I sketched her figure as she walked closer to Frieda, dropping her cigarette on the ground. Frieda smiled at Dianne, as she stepped and twisted her shoe on the smoldering carcass.

And they looked at each other. Not like how normal people look at each other. And Dianne smiled. A smile that was not like any smile Dylan ever gave me.

I felt a hand on my shoulder, with ******* slipping to my collarbone. The ******* tapping belonged to a girl. The girl's name was Thora, a brunette that smelled like bubblegum and 'don't go'. Thora had something in common with Dianne: They both recently came out as gay. Unlike me, both family reactions were fairly positive. In fact, so positive that-What are you drawing?

"Margot?"

I paused, looked at Thora, and looked back at Dianne or Dylan Dunham. "That girl," I pointed in their general direction, as Dianne kissed Frieda on the forehead. Thora followed my finger in time for the kiss on the lips, "the ironic one."

Thora Nelson, daughter of Cameron Nelson and the deceased Geraldine Nelson, looked at my chin and asked, "Who is she?"

Thora's cotton-candy-blues met my puddles of mud, as I looked away, putting my notepad in my backpack. Before I zipped, I grabbed the lime green marker sleeping next to my pack of index cards. My teeth squeezed the leaf colored cap off, as I pulled out the fetus, smelling the aroma of non-toxic afterbirth.

I asked if she wanted a tattoo and she shrugged, "Oh no, you mean I get to choose whether you touch me or not?"

Lightly pressing the fiber tip to her arm, I glanced up at her and shrugged a bony shoulder, "Her name is Dylan Dunham. Well, it's actually Dianne. It's complicated. I used to call her Dylan. She used to call me Margot."

"But your name still is Margot," Thora informed as her eyes followed the acid-green ink trail.

"Some people change, some people don't," I said, with the cap held between my teeth.

I painted her arm in lime hope, by the soda machines. My eyes focused on her pores that I imagined swallowed dirt and bacteria from the side of my palm. I could feel Thora disarm me with her eyes, after I had disarmed her with my words. Her heartbeat echoed inside my grasp.

"I didn't know I was dating Leonardo DaVinci," the words flowing from her mouth.

"I am gay and Italian, so it's not like I was doing a terrific job of hiding it from you," I muttered as I finished and held her pale forearm and bracelet cuffed hand a foot from her face, "Look: it's us underneath a tree."

Turning and wrinkling her nose, she adjusted, moving her head back and forth. " Oh wow. Wow, wow, wow. Meta. So meta. So abstract. Brilliant in its simplicity, deconstructing the concept of natural complexity-"

"Shut up-"

"The tree looks like an umbrella. And we look like we have canes-"

"Those are our fishing poles. In that world, we are fishermen. Fisherwomen. Fishergals-"

"And my **** is too big and your ***** are too small and our smiles aren't big enough-well, at least mine isn't, I can't speak on your behalf," she finished.

Grabbing her arm, I looked at my masterpiece, looked at her, looked at it again, and looked at her again as her smile grew with every glance. "Well, I can see how it'd be up to debate, and you're right: very, very meta. But you do have a big ****, and I'm not one to sacrifice accuracy. Speaking of accuracy: as I look at this green ****, I realized I hit the mark by dating you. Honestly, your **** may have its own zip code..And...I'd like to be in its area? Please stop me."

Her chin touched her knee, as she doubled over, laughing. I played with her hair, wrapping her bangs around my fingers. As my hands were enveloped by her dark hair, I found a scar on her crown. I imagined Thora's milky-white fingers scrubbing through shampooed locks, trembling across the zig and zag of removed glass.

I imagined Thora Nelson, of Cameron Nelson and the deceased Geraldine Nelson, hearing sirens instead of water hitting the tiles. Her slumping to the floor, as lather and water runs down her face, each tear a memory of being dragged out of a steel ribcage, onto broken glass jungle pavement. It was too easy yet too difficult to imagine her staring at the steaming showerhead. It was too easy yet too difficult to imagine her reaching towards a metallic carcass growing in flames.

Her hand grabbed my leg and I saw her for what might have been the first time.

"Hey you. Listen. Are you listening?"

I nodded.

"I'm in love with you, Margot Dylan. Like, really in love. To the point to where I feel like I'm in a Jennifer Aniston rom-com. It's disgusting."

I didn't know what happened between my exploration of her hair and her pale face studying mine, but, before I knew it, my blood shook and barbed wire nerves orbited around pieces of my body.

The ricochet of a soda can smacking the mouth of the machine sounded. Time was either too fast or too slow, as I looked at Thora's cheap mascara eyes and chapped, soft pink lips. She was the type of girl that could make someone happy not to believe in god.

"And I love you. To the point to where I'd refuse Hogwarts because of not being able see you during the school year."

"How sweet, I know how badly you wanted to get into Ravenclaw," she smiled.

"Sacrifices must be made in the name of love, you know. And it ***** because you're not even my type," I admitted.

"Oh, how tragic. And what is your type, if I may ask?"

"You may, thank you. And the falling in love type," I'm an idiot.

"Could you be anymore cheesy?"

"Mozzarella."

She stopped and looked at me, "Hey, but really, I'm in love with you. It's real."

"I love you, too."

Her eyes were speckled,"You really love me, Margot Dylan? Because I'll believe you."

I leaned in, softly placed my hands on her cheeks, breathing the word, "Yes." I alternated between staring at her mouth and her eyes, as her lids began to drop.  My lips started to dab hers and soon grab, as if soft hooks grew out of and connected our flesh. I found the corner of her mouth, the summit of her cheek, and each crease in her lips. Nine or ninety seconds past before I stopped, pulled away, and looked into her eyes. "Hogwarts is overrated anyway," I lied. She laughed.

Her face was red, as she looked down while covering her face, "Don't look at me, I'm a dork. I'm being a loser. I'm infected."

"It's okay. You can be my infected dork and we can be losers together," my voice was a rasp.

"It really isn't. You see, my face always becomes extraordinarily red after I kiss or am kissed by someone, especially by someone beautiful. And it doesn't help that I've never been kissed by someone I love. And I've never kissed a girl before and I'm really glad you were the first, so there. Gah," her hands fenced her face,"I'm just going to hide behind these hands, don't mind me."

I was in love, "For how long?"

"Probably forever, I don't know. Or until the next installment of American Horror Story, I haven't made up my mind yet."

We heard Ms. Calloway scold Dianne about smoking on school grounds. I looked at Thora and the bell rang. Her hands slowly dropped, as everyone started to move in blurs. Bodies gaining more and more distance. Inches became miles. Feet grew into light-years, and, before I knew it, Thora kissed my cheek and said, "I hope I see you later, okay?"

My hand had something in it. My fingers unfurled and revealed high school origami. My name was on it, with a heart or a ****-I'm the artist in the relationship. I began pulling on *****, the tips of my fingers breaking the paper safe. So delicate must have been her mysterious movements.

I opened it.




A pebble flew from my hand and blipped off her bedroom window. Funny thing about bedroom windows, they look the same at 12:03 am. Or maybe they look a little different when the person you love is behind the glass, as you do an eighties-film-esque pebble throw. Before my next pebble hit the pane, her bedroom light came on.

Navy blue curtains disappeared to the sides as Thora came to the window and rubbed her eyes. A second later, she was gone as I imagined her sneaking past her father's bedroom, quietly down the stairs, and through the foyer. As I imagined this, I could hear the front door being unlocked and creaking open. I walked towards the porch and a yellow glow escaped with a silhouette living in it.

Thora's left hand is burnt, but I don't mind and I don't think I ever will. She held my hand as we walked through the threshold. At first I was nervous when I saw her father in the living room, but I instantly realized that he was passed out, as my eyes found empty beer cans sleeping beside him and around him.

"It's not like this every night," she whispered, "he just has trouble with certain months."

Thora tucks her toes when standing in place. When we were walking up stairs, I knew she would be embarrassed if I looked at her toes, so I kept my eyes on the second floor. I don't understand why she feels this way, though. She has very nice feet, and that's coming from someone who thinks feet are gross.

We walked past punched in doors adjacent to perfect picture frames. Her mother was a beautiful woman.

As we approached Thora's sticker-clad door, she turned to me and whispered, "You're about to enter the only place in the world I feel safe. So, please don't break my heart in it and please use a coaster."

My thumb kissed her smooth burn, as I took my first steps into her bedroom. The light-switch flicked and her room illuminated. There were movie posters hugging the walls, pinned to a bulletin board were pictures of lost people and found memories. She looked at me and whispered, "I don't know how to keep people."

We stood before the side of her bed and I looked at her smile, "You sure you want to do this?" Thora nodded and I reached towards her thighs to lift the bottom of her shirt. Lifting it over her head, I looked at her porcelain figure clad in black *******. I tossed the grey shirt onto her bed.

My eyes swam from her belly button to her *******. My fingers approached and stopped until she said it was okay. Tracing her curves, scars, and stretch marks, she pet my fingers. Thora glanced at my hands on her ******* and then at me, cooing, "I'm sorry."

My hands slid to her sides, "Sorry for what?"

She shrugged, "I don't know," her eyes spilling, "Sorry for this," she motioned at her torso as she stared at her bulletin board and then at me before looking away again, "I want to be perfect. I want to be perfect for you."

"Oh no, no, no," I asked for her hand and then placed it over my left breast, "Can't you feel how beautiful you are?"




Her arm was under my ******* and her hand was on my rib, occasionally running her fingertips across the bumps. She slept with her leg wrapped around mine, staying as close as she could to me. I looked at her, in her slumber, and left a faint, burgundy stain on her forehead. I reached towards our shins and pulled the black cover over our fused bodies.

I feel like I have been in a coma for seventeen years and I've just woken up. If I could, I'd stretch this moment over centuries and use it to smother wars. This relationship probably won't last past my senior year, but that's okay. It truly is.

In this moment, Thora Nelson is the love of my life, and, in ways I don't understand yet, that is the most beautiful thing in the world.



May the sun set in our eyes forever,


Margot Dylan
spysgrandson May 2017
Dylan is dead.
no, not Bob, you Philistine,
Dylan Thomas who implored us
to rage against the night;
so are a passel of poets
and penners, but not I

Emily heard her fly buzz,
well before her eyes shut; she
was a wee bit obsessed
with the reaper

Hemingway's also a goner;
guts enough to shove a shotgun
in his mouth--mostly I wonder if
he tasted blue gunmetal like I did,
and who cleaned his brains
off the wall?

nobody had to clean a red dollop
of mine, for the firing pin was askew
and all I got was a click, and a sense of shame,
and impotence more flaccid than
the one which put the barrel
in my mouth

hell, how hard is it
to **** yourself--I guess harder
than I thought, since I never bought
another rifle

so Dylan is dead
Em and Hem too, but you
are reading these lines without
contemplating your own demise
I suspect

after all, it's early spring
and a time of new things
clawing their way into the light
thinking nothing of the terminal
night -- but it's just a sun dip away:
ask Dylan or Hemingway, or even JFK
but I wouldn't bother the Belle
of Amherst

she would make parting
sweeter than sorrow, and she
never tasted the cold lead, or spoke
with fear or dread of the dumb
and the dead

she never murdered
men in black pajamas  
in a forest primeval...

I didn't see their spirits
ascending, in ribbons of light,
only rivers of their red blood
soaking the green ground,
yet today ravenous
for more it seems

why would she rage
against the good night, when
her carriage waited patiently for her,
and immortality, her vessel bound
for a light Dylan and I
will never see
i dreamed a rattlesnake was loose in the closet i heard it rattling i was afraid to open the door



a man suffering a toothache goes to see his dentist the dentist administers laughing gas when the man comes to his numb tongue swooshes around his mouth he asks how long was i under the dentist answers hours i needed to pull them all out



he imagines when he grows old there will be a pencil grown into one hand and a paintbrush grown into the other they will look like extra fingers grown out from the palms extensions of his personal evolution little children will be horrified when they see mommy mommy look at that man’s hands!



what if we are each presented with a complete picture of a puzzle from the very start then as our lives proceed the pieces begin showing up out of context sometimes recognizable other times a mystery some people are smarter more intuitive than others and are able to piece together the bigger picture some people never figure it out



i wasn’t thinking i didn’t know to think nobody taught me to think maybe my teachers tried but i didn’t get it i wasn’t thinking i was running reacting doing whatever i needed to survive when you’re trying to survive you move fast by instinct you don’t think you just act



many children are relieved when their parents die then they no longer need to explain prove themselves live up to their parent’s expectations yet all children need parents to approve foster mentor teach love



she was missing especially when her children needed her most she was busy lunching with girlfriends dinner dates beauty shop manicure masseuse appointments shopping seamstress fittings constant telephone gossiping criticizing she was too busy to notice she was missing more than anything she wanted to party show off her beauty to be the adored one the hostess with the mostest



i dreamed i was condemned to die by guillotine the executioner wore black and wielded an axe just in case the device failed in the dream the guillotine sliced shallow then the executioner went to work but he kept chopping unsuccessfully severing my head this went on for a long time



1954 Max Schwartzpilgrim sits at table in coffee shop on 5th floor of Maller’s Building elevated train loudly passes as he glances out window it is typical gloomy gray Chicago day he worries how he will find the money to pay off all his mounting debts he is over his head in debit thinks about taking out a hefty life insurance policy then cleverly killing himself but he cherishes his lovely wife Jenny his young children and social life sitting across table Ernie Cohen cracks crass joke Max laughs politely yet is in no mood to encourage his fingers work nervously mutely drumming on Formica table then stubbing out cigarette in glass ashtray lighting another with gold Dunhill lighter bitter tastes of coffee and cigarettes turns his stomach sour he raises his hand calling over Millie the waitress he flirtatiously smiles orders bowl of matzo ball soup with extra matzo ball Ernie says you can’t have enough big ***** for this world Max thinks about his son Odysseus



when Odysseus is very young Dad occasionally brings him to Schwartzpilgrim’s Jewelers Store on Saturday mornings Dad shows off his firstborn son like a prize possession lifting Odysseus in the air Dad takes him to golf range golf is not an interest for Odysseus Dad pushes him to learn proper swing Odysseus fumbles golf club and ***** he loves going anyway because he appreciates spending time with Dad once Dad and Odysseus take shower together Dad is so life-size muscular hairy Odysseus is so little Dad reaches touches Odysseus’s ******* feeling lone ******* Dad says we’ll correct that make it right Odysseus does not understand what Dad is talking about at finish Dad turns up cold water and shields Odysseus with his body he watches Dad dressing in mornings Dad is persnickety to last details of French cuff links silk handkerchief in breast pocket even Dad’s fingernails toenails are manicured buffed shiny clear



Odysseus’s left ******* does not descend into his ******* the adults in extended family routinely want to inspect the abnormality Mom shows them sometimes Dad grows agitated and leaves room it is embarrassing for Odysseus Daddy Lou’s brother Uncle Maury wants to check it out too often like he thinks he is a doctor Uncle Maury is an optometrist the pediatrician theorizes the tangled ******* is possibly the result of a hormone fertility drug Mom took to get pregnant the doctor injects Odysseus with a hormone shot then prescribes several medications to induce the ****** to drop nothing works eventually an inguinal hernia is diagnosed around the age of 9 Odysseus is operated on for a hernia and the ******* surgically moved down into his ******* the doctor says ******* is dead warning of propensity to cancer later in life his left ball is smaller than his right but it is more sensitive and needy he does not understand what the doctor means by “dead” Odysseus fears he will be made fun of he is self-conscious in locker room he does not comprehend for the rest of his life he will carry a diminutive *****



spokin alloud by readar in caulkknee axescent ello we’re Biggie an Smally tha 2 testicles whoooh liv in tha ******* of this felloh Odys Biggie is the soyze of a elthy chicken aegg and Smally is the size of a modest Bing cheery



one breast ****** points northeast the other smaller breast ****** points southwest she is frightened to reveal them to any man frightened to be exposed in woman’s locker room she is the most beautiful girl/woman he will ever know



Bayli Moutray is French/Irish 5’8” lean elongated with bowed legs knobby knees runner’s calves slim hips boy’s shoulders sleepy blue eyes light brown hair a barely discernable freckled birthmark on back of neck and small unequal ******* with puffy ******* pointing in different directions Laura an ex-girlfriend of Odysseus’s describes Bayli’s appearance as “a gangly bird screeching to be fed” Laura can be mean Odysseus thinks Bayli is the coolest girl in the world he is genuinely in love with her they have been sleeping together for nearly a year it is March 11 1974 Bayli’s birthday she turns 22 today Bayli is away with her family in Southeast Asia Odysseus understands what a great opportunity this is for her to learn about another culture he knows Bayli plans to meet up again with him in late summer or autumn in Chicago Dad wants Odysseus to follow in his footsteps and become a successful jewelry salesman he offers Odysseus a well-paying job driving leased Camaro across the Midwest servicing Dad’s established costume jewelry accounts Odysseus reasons it is a chance to squirrel away some cash until Bayli returns it is lonely on the road and awkward adjustment to be back in Chicago Odysseus made other plans after graduating from Hartford Art School he is going to be an important painter after numerous months and many Midwestern cities he begins to feel depressed he questions how Bayli can stay away for so long when he needs her so bad the Moutray’s send Mom and Dad a gift of elegant pewter candleholders made in Indonesia Mom accustomed to silver and gold excludes pewter to be put on display she instructs Teresa to place the candleholders away in a cabinet Mom also neglects to write a thank you note which is quite out of character for Mom Bayli’s father is a Navy Captain in the Pacific he is summoned to Norfolk Naval Station in Virginia the Moutray’s flight has a stopover in Chicago Bayli writes her parents want to meet Odysseus and his family Odysseus asks Dad to arrange his traveling itinerary around the Moutray’s visit Dad schedules Odysseus to service the Detroit and Michigan territory against Odysseus’s pleas Odysseus is living with his sister Penelope on Briar Street it is the only address Bayli’s parents know Odysseus has no way to reach them when the Moutray’s arrive at the door Penelope does not know what to tell them Mom and Dad are not interested in meeting Bayli’s parents it is not the first sign of dissatisfaction or disinterest Mom and Dad convey regarding Bayli Odysseus does not understand why his parents do not like her is it because Bayli is not Jewish is that the sole reason Mom and Dad do not approve of her Odysseus believes he needs his parent’s support he knows he is not like them and will likely never adopt their standards yet he values their consent they are his parents and he honors Mom and Dad let’s take a step back for a moment to get a different perspective a more serious matter is Odysseus’s financial dependency on his parents does a commitment to Bayli threaten the sheltered world his parent’s provide him is it merely money binding him to them why else is he so powerless to his parent’s control outwardly he appears a wild child yet inwardly he is somewhat timid is he cowardly is he unsure of Bayli’s strength and sustainability is that why he let’s Bayli go whatever the reason Dad’s and Mom’s pressure and influence are strong enough to sway his judgment he goes along with their authority losing Bayli is the greatest mistake of Odysseus’s life



he dreams Bayli and he are at a Bob Dylan concert they are hidden in the back of the theater in a dark hall they can hear the band playing Dylan’s voice singing and the echoes of the mesmerized audience Odysseus is ******* Bayli’s body against a wall she is quietly moaning his hand is inside her jeans feeling her wetness rubbing fingers between her legs after the show they hang around an empty lot filled with broken bottles loose bricks they run into Dylan all 3 are laughing and dancing down the sidewalk Dylan is incredibly playful and engaging he says he needs to run an errand not wanting to leave his company Odysseus and Bayli follow along they arrive at an old hospital building it is dark and dingy inside there is a large room filled with medical beds and water tanks housing unspeakably disfigured people swarming intravenous tubes attach the patients to oxygen equipment feed bags and monitoring machines Dylan moves between each victim like a compassionate ambassador Odysseus is freaking out the infirmary is too horrible to imagine he shields his eyes wanders away losing Bayli searching running frantically for a way out he wakes shivering and sweating the pillow is wet sheets twisted he gets up from the bed stares out window into the dark night he wonders where he lost Bayli



these winds of change let them come sailor home from sea hunter home from hill he who can create the worst terror is the greatest warrior
JR Rhine Jul 2017
How long behind Bob Dylan’s Shades—
smoke furls and curls among the glass—
before a man belies his fame?

The corner of the room pervades—
imbued with smoke if so to pass—
How long behind Bob Dylan’s Shades?

Visage so cool but starts to jade;
will eyes see through and to surpass,
before a man belies his fame?

Caught in the great aesthetical wake,
the fans will bend and surge en masse—
How long behind Bob Dylan’s Shades?

His words, his voice, depict a sage—
I wonder if the lore will last
before a man belies his fame.

But once the petals cease to sway
and blades blow back a pompous ***—
How long behind Bob Dylan’s shades,
before a man belies his fame?
1969 Hartford art school is magnet for exceedingly intelligent over-sensitive under-achievers alluring freaks congenital creeps and anyone who cannot cut it in straight world it is about loners dreamers stoners clowns cliques of posers competing to dress draw act most outrageous weird wonderful classrooms clash in diversity of needs some students get it right off while others require so much individual attention one girl constantly raises her hand calls for everything to be repeated explained creativity is treated as trouble and compliance to instruction rewarded most of faculty are of opinion kids are not capable of making original artwork teachers discourage students from dream of becoming well-known until they are older more experienced only practiced skilled artists are competent to create ‘real art’ defined by how much struggle or multiple meanings weave through the work Odysseus wants to make magic boxes without knowing or being informed of Joseph Cornell one teacher tells him you think you’re going to invent some new color the world has never seen? you’re just some rowdy brat from the midwest with a lot of crazy ideas and no evidence of authenticity another teacher warns you’re nothing more than a bricoleur! Odysseus questions what’s a bricoleur teacher informs a rogue handyman who haphazardly constructs from whatever is immediately available Odysseus questions what’s wrong with that? teacher answers it’s low-class folk junk  possessing no real intellectual value independently he reads Marshall McLuhan’s “The Medium Is The Message” and “The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci” he memorizes introductory remark of Leonardo’s “i must do like one who comes last to the fair and can find no other way of providing for himself than by taking all the things already seen by others and not taken by reason of their lesser value” Odysseus dreams of becoming accomplished important artist like Robert Rauschenberg Jasper Johns Andy Warhol he dreams of being in eye of hurricane New York art scene he works for university newspaper and is nicknamed crashkiss the newspaper editor is leader in student movement and folk singer who croons “45 caliber man, you’re so much more than our 22, but there’s so many more of us than you” Odysseus grows mustache wears flower printed pants vintage 1940’s leather jacket g.i. surplus clothes he makes many friends his gift for hooking up with girls is uncanny he is long haired drug-crazed hippie enjoying popularity previously unknown to him rock bands play at art openings everyone flirts dances gets ****** lots of activism on campus New York Times dubs university of Hartford “Berkeley of the east coast” holding up ******* in peace sign is subversive in 1969 symbol of rebellion youth solidarity gesture against war hawks rednecks corporate America acknowledgment of potential beyond materialistic self-righteous values of status quo sign of what could be in universe filled with incredible possibilities he moves in with  painting student one year advanced named Todd Whitman Todd has curly blond hair sturdy build wire rimmed glasses impish smile gemini superb draftsman amazing artist Todd emulates Francisco de Goya and Albrecht Durer Todd’s talent overshadows Odysseus’s Todd’s dad is accomplished professor at distinguished college in Massachusetts to celebrate Odysseus’s arrival Todd cooks all day preparing spaghetti dinner when Odysseus arrives home tripping on acid without appetite Todd is disappointed Odysseus runs down to corner store buys large bottle of wine returns to house Todd is eating spaghetti alone they get drunk together then pierce each other’s ears with needles ice wine cork pierced ears are outlaw style of bad *** bikers like Hell’s Angels Todd says you are a real original Odys and funny too Odysseus asks funny, how? Todd answers you are one crazy ******* drop acid whenever you want smoke **** then go to class this is fun tonight Odys getting drunk and piercing our ears Odysseus says yup i’m having a good time too Todd and Odysseus become best friends Odysseus turns Todd on to Sylvia Plath’s “The Bell Jar” and “Ariel” then they both read Ted Hughes “Crow” illustrated with Leonard Baskin prints Todd turns Odysseus on to German Expressionist painting art movement of garish colors emotionally violent imagery from 1905-1925 later infuriating Third ***** who deemed the work “degenerate” Odysseus dives into works of Max Beckmann Otto Dix Conrad Felixmulller Barthel Gilles George Grosz Erich Heckel Ernst Ludwig Kirchner Felix Nussbaum Karl *******Rottluff Carl Hofer August Macke Max Peckstein Elfriede Lohse-Wachtler Egon Shiele list goes on in 1969 most parents don’t have money to buy their children cars most kids living off campus either ride bikes or hitchhike to school then back home on weekends often without a penny in their pockets Odysseus and Todd randomly select a highway and hitch rides to Putney Vermont Brattleboro Boston Cape Cod New York City or D.C. in search of adventure there is always trouble to be found curious girls to assist in Georgetown Odysseus sleeps with skinny girl with webbed toes who believes he is Jesus he tries to dissuade her but she is convinced

Toby Mantis is visiting New York City artist at Hartford art school he looks like huskier handsomer version of Ringo Starr and women dig him he builds stretchers and stretches canvases for Warhol lives in huge loft in Soho on Broadway and Bleeker invites Odysseus to come down on weekends hang out Toby takes him to Max’s Kansas City Warhol’s Electric Circus they wander all night into morning there are printing companies longshoremen gays in Chelsea Italians in West Village hippies playing guitars protesting the war in Washington Square all kinds of hollering crazies passing out fliers pins in Union Square Toby is hard drinker Odysseus has trouble keeping up  he pukes his guts out number of times Odysseus is *** head not drinker he explores 42nd Street stumbles across strange exotic place named Peep Show World upstairs is large with many **** cubicles creepy dudes hanging around downstairs is astonishing there are many clusters of booths with live **** girls inside girls shout out hey boys come on now pick me come on boys there are hundreds of girls from all over the world in every conceivable size shape race he enters dark stall  puts fifty cents in coin box window screen lifts inside each cluster are 6 to 10 girls either parading or glued to a window for $1 he is allowed to caress kiss their ******* for $2 he is permitted to probe their ****** or *** for $10 girl reaches hand into darkened stall jerks him off tall slender British girl thrills him the most she says let me have another go at your dickey Odysseus spends all his money ******* 5 times departing he notices men from every walk of life passing through wall street stockbrokers executives rednecks mobsters frat boys tourists fat old bald guys smoking thick smelly cigars Toby Mantis has good-looking girlfriend named Lorraine with long brown hair Toby Lorraine and Odysseus sit around kitchen table Odysseus doodles with pencil on paper Toby spreads open Lorraine’s thighs exposing her ****** to Odysseus Lorraine blushes yet permits Toby to finger her Odysseus thinks she has the most beautiful ****** he has ever seen bulging pelvic bone brown distinctive bush symmetric lips Toby and Lorraine watch in amusement as Odysseus gazes intently Tony mischievously remarks you like looking at that ***** don’t you? Odysseus stares silently begins pencil drawing Lorraine’s ****** his eyes darting back and forth following day Lorraine seduces Odysseus while Toby is away walks out **** from shower she is few years older her body lean with high ******* she directs his hands mouth while she talks with someone on telephone it is strange yet quite exciting Odysseus is in awe of New York City every culture in the world intermingling democracy functioning in an uncontrollable managed breath millions of people in motion stories unraveling on every street 24 hour spectacle with no limits every conceivable variety of humanity ******* in same air Odysseus is bedazzled yet intimidated

Odysseus spends summer of 1970 at art colony in Cummington Massachusetts it is magical time extraordinary place many talented eccentric characters all kinds of happenings stage plays poetry readings community meals volleyball after dinner volleyball games are hilarious fun he lives alone in isolated studio amidst wild raspberries in woods shares toilet with field mouse no shower he reads Jerzy Kosinski’s “Painted Bird” then “Being There” then “Steps” attractive long haired girl named Pam visits community for weekend meets Odysseus they talk realize they were in first grade together at Harper amazing coincidence automatic ground for “we need to have *** because neither of us has seen each other since first grade” she inquires where do you sleep? Todd hitches up from Hartford to satisfy curiosity everyone sleeps around good-looking blue-eyed poet named Shannon Banks from South Boston tells Odysseus his ******* is not big enough for kind of ******* she wants but she will **** him off that’s fine with him 32 year old poet named Ellen Morrissey from Massachusetts reassures him ******* is fine Ellen is beginning to find her way out from suffocating marriage she has little daughter named Nina Ellen admires Odysseus’s free spirit sees both his possibilities and naïveté she realizes he has crippling family baggage he has no idea he is carrying thing about trauma is as it is occurring victim shrugs laughs to repel shock yet years later pain horror sink in turned-on with new ideas he returns to Hartford art school classes are fun yet confusing he strives to be best drawer most innovative competition sidetracks him Odysseus uses power drill to carve pumpkin on Halloween teachers warn him to stick to fundamentals too much creativity is suspect Todd and he are invited to holiday party Odysseus shows up with Ellen Morrissey driving in her father’s station wagon 2 exceptionally pretty girls flirt with him he is live wire they sneak upstairs he fingers both at same time while they laugh to each other one of the girls Laura invites him outside to do more he follows they walk through falling snow until they find hidden area near some trees Laura lies down lifts her skirt she spreads her legs dense ***** mound he is about to explore her there when Laura looks up sees figure with flashlight following their tracks in snow she warns it’s Bill my husband run for your life! Odysseus runs around long way back inside party grabs a beer pretending he has been there next to Ellen all night few minutes later he sees Laura and Bill return through front door Bill has dark mustache angry eyes Odysseus tells Ellen it is late maybe they should leave soon suddenly Bill walks up to him with beer in hand cracks bottle over his head glass and beer splatter Odysseus jumps up runs out to station wagon Ellen hurriedly follows snow coming down hard car is wedged among many guest vehicles he starts engine locks doors maneuvers vehicle back and forth trying to inch way out of spot Bill appears from party walks to his van disappears from out of darkness swirling snow Bill comes at them wielding large crowbar smashes car’s headlights taillights side mirrors windshield covered in broken glass Ellen ducks on floor beneath glove compartment sobs cries he’s going to **** us! we’re going to die! Odysseus steers station wagon free floors gas pedal drives on back country roads through furious snowstorm in dark of night no lights Odysseus contorts crouches forward in order to see through hole in shattered windshield Ellen sees headlights behind them coming up fast it is Bill in van Bill banging their bumper follows them all the way back to Hartford to Odysseus’s place they run inside call police Bill sits parked van outside across street as police arrive half hour later Bill pulls away next day Odysseus and Ellen drive to Boston to explain to Ellen’s dad what has happened to his station wagon Odysseus stays with Ellen in Brookline for several nights another holiday party she wants to take him along to meet her friends her social circles are older he thinks to challenge their values be outrageous paints face Ellen is horrified cries you can’t possibly do this to me these are my close friends what will they think? he defiantly answers my face is a mask who cares what i look like? man woman creature what does it matter? if your friends really want to know me they’ll need to look beyond the make-up tonight i am your sluttish girlfriend! sometimes Odysseus can be a thoughtless fool

Laura Rousseau Shane files for divorce from Bill she is exceptionally lovely models at art school she is of French descent her figure possessing exotic traits she stands like ballerina with thick pointed ******* copious ***** hair Odysseus is infatuated she frequently dances pursues him Laura says i had the opportunity to meet Bob Dylan once amazed Odysseus questions what did you do? she replies what could i possibly have in common with Bob Dylan? Laura teases Odysseus about being a preppy then lustfully gropes him grabs holds his ***** they devote many hours to ****** intimacy during ******* she routinely reaches her hand from under her buns grasps his testicles squeezing as he pumps he likes that Laura is quite eccentric fetishes over Odysseus she even thrills to pick zits on his back he is not sure if it is truly a desire of hers proof of earthiness or simply expression of mothering Laura has two daughters by Bill Odysseus is in over his head Laura tells Odysseus myth of Medea smitten with love for Jason Jason needs Medea’s help to find Golden Fleece Medea agrees with promise of marriage murders her brother arranges ****** of king who has deprived Jason his inheritance couple is forced into exile Medea bears Jason 2 sons then Jason falls in love with King Creon’s daughter deserts Medea is furious she makes shawl for King Creon’s daughter to wear at her wedding to Jason  shawl turns to flames killing bride Medea murders her own sons by Jason Odysseus goes along with story for a while but Laura wants husband Odysseus is merely scruffy boy with roving eyes Laura becomes galled by Odysseus leaves him for one of his roommates whom she marries then several years later divorces there is scene when Laura tells Odysseus she is dropping him for his roommate he is standing in living room of her house space is painted deep renaissance burgundy there are framed photographs on walls in one photo he is hugging Laura and her daughters under big oak tree in room Laura’s friend Bettina other girl he fingered first night he met Laura at party is watching with arms crossed he drops to floor curls body sobs i miss you so much Laura turns to Bettina remarks look at him men are such big babies he’s pitiful Bettina nods

following summer he works installing displays at G. Fox Department Store besides one woman gay men staff display department for as long as he can remember homosexuals have always been attracted to him this misconception is probably how he got job his tenor voice suggesting not entirely mature man instead more like tentative young boy this ambiguous manifestation sometimes also evidences gestures thoroughly misleading after sidestepping several ****** advances one of his co-workers bewilderingly remarks you really are straight manager staff are fussy chirpy catty group consequently certain he is not gay they discriminate against him stick him with break down clean up slop jobs at outdoor weekend rock concert in Constitution Plaza he meets 2 younger blond girls who consent to go back to his place mess around both girls are quite dazzling yet one is somewhat physically undeveloped they undress and model for Odysseus radio plays Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly With His Song” both girls move to rhythm sing along he thinks to orchestrate direct decides instead to let them lead lies on bed while curvaceous girl rides his ******* slender girl sits on his face they switch all 3 alternate giggle laughter each girl reaches ****** on his stiffness later both assist with hands mouths his ****** is so intense it leaves him paralyzed for a moment

in fall he is cast as Claudius in production of Hamlet Odysseus rehearses diligently on nights o
Jeremy Duff Mar 2013
Every time, I pass by an In-N-Out I remember that night we went to a show in Sacramento.
You, driving your van full of people and hopes and laughs and drugs,
pulled up in front of the school around 5 o'clock on a rainy January afternoon.
I hopped in, immediately overwhelmed by the love I took the back seat to myself.
In front of me was Jena, wearing her blue and purple sweater that I always will remember by.
Next to her was Fritz, dressed in his usual attire consisting of a hoody and jeans.
Next to him was Shelby, a girl I had not had the pleasure of spending time with before that night.
She didn't say much throughout the whole night nor has she since then.
Riding shotgun was Dylan, another person I had not hung out with before. He was busy mixing shisha and hash oil and I don't blame him for not saying hello.
And you, Tyler, you were driving. And as we drove with the windows down, your hair whipped around.

Almost as soon as we were on our way, I was packing spliff, courtesy of Shelby into a pipe, courtesy me.
We got it burning, just as we reached the highway and not long after that the hookah, courtesy Fritz, was slowly burning the hash-shisha concoction, courtesy Dylan.
I remember not saying much, except when we sang along to some rap song that I could not tell you the name of now.
And at one point, after the spliff had all been smoked and quick hooka session  had concluded Dylan turned around and asked me something I could not make out.
I replied back to him with a what and he again asked an non-understandable question, only this time I said "Sorry, I can't hear you, I'm really high."
Everybody in the van laughed and Tyler said she loved me and Fritz patted me on the back and Shelby turned around and smile at me.
Maybe a half hour after we left we stopped at In-N-Out for some beautiful Double-Doubles.
Once we got our food we began to understand that we had ordered not Double-Doubles but regular hamburgers. Albeit we were very put off by this, it did little to ruin our night.

I can only remember brief portions of that night.
I remember being dropped off at the curb of a punk rock show Shelby and I were attending.
I remember meeting our friends Lukas and Dakota, who are dating, inside.
I remember standing watching the bands, thinking of God knows what.
I remember walking two blocks to a parking lot the van was parked in.
I remember getting in, again overwhelmed by the love and this time, smoke.
I remember Lukas and I went outside to smoke a cigarette.
I remember a local coming up to us and asking us for a light.
I remember talking to him about something. The weather, perhaps.
I remember hugging Lukas good bye and getting in the van.
I remember falling asleep.
I remember waking up at a gas station where the tank was filled, courtesy Fritz.
I remember getting home.
I remember the laughs
and the smoke
and Lukas
and Fritz
and Tyler
and Jena
and Shelby
and Dakota
and Dylan.
I remember the love.
Stephen E Yocum Oct 2013
The Island Moorea,
backpacking Tahiti,
In the heat, the sun,
The rhythm of my footfalls
crunching loose gravel road,
The swish of pack swaying
in conert to my measured pace.

Breeze pushing branches of Palm,
Ocean waves breaching shoreline long.
Island vehicles passing, occupant's laughing,
a man laboring under large pack, alone walking,
Who could have been freely riding,
Unthinkable to Island Folk,
in hot tropical places.

Some humble homes pasted along the way.
Greetings exchanged with smiling faces there.
Not long afterward a new sound approaching,
crunching gravel, rolling up behind me.

A lovely young girl, perhaps nineteen,
long brown naked legs bike a peddling.
Hair jet black, long to her waist, wearing
a sarong, split up the side,
Shoulders bare and brown.
Dark eyes of wonder, sparkling of youth.
A radiant smile adorning a splendid face.

We went for a time at my even pace,
looking and smiling each in our place.
"Hello there," I said, she giggled, beamed
even bigger. Perfect teeth displayed.

"Why you walk?" She asked in heavily
accented puzzlement.

"To get to where I'm going". I replied
This response producing a pleasant laugh
from the girl. In which I too joined in.

"You go One Chicken?" She asked
I stopped then and turned to her.
"Where is One Chicken?" I questioned
with a grin.

She raised her graceful arm,
one finger pointing up the road.
"One Chicken there," she informed.

It was a store/bar, sort of place,
In the very midst of nowhere.
Indeed, more than one chicken roamed,
Many chickens did and a pig or two,
mingling free and doing their thing.

We entered out of the bright daylight,
into the deepest of darks,
Like in a movie theater, when arriving late.
Eyes adjusting slowly to what lay ahead.

A few Island Beers later,
I had acquired several new friends,
The girl my invitation to the party of
already happy people a little drunk on beer.
The Music was mostly of French persuasion,
With a bit of Bob Dylan thrown in.
The Beatles also had a tune or two.
The Liverpool beat resounding down Tahiti way.

Before the light did fail, I shouldered my pack
and walked some distance from Chickens and Pigs.
Found the beach, hung my Hammock for the night.
Built a small fire and opened a can of Spam delight.

She appeared again about ten,
looking beautiful in the new moonlight.
Newly washed hair, still damp and
smelling fresh of Lilacs,
Or some such aromatic scent.
We did not speak, no words were needed,

Made love on the sand, 'till the retreat of the
tide and sand ***** did come out, in their
eerie numbers, to eat what was at hand.
I suppose even us if we let them.

We retired then both to my hammock,
A pretty neat trick if you can swing it.
And we did.

She was so childlike and yet,
very much a woman grown.
There was no pretense shown,
no false inhibitions rendered.
These were not limitations of her culture.
people that respond to their emotional impulses.
An open and free spirited people living
passionately within each minute.

It all felt more akin to a dream than real,
All around me there was beauty,
Loving and being loved without hurry,
Free of guilt or even a single expectation.
Living in that wondrous moment,
of uncomplicated human splendor.
Like some Garden of Eden surrender.
A real life Gauguin painting.

In the morning, we swam naked in the sea,
frolicked like kids having a day at the beach.
Made love in the sand, I dozed in the sun.
Upon awaking she was gone.

I waited an hour or two, packed up my camp,
shouldered my load and returned to the road.
A few minutes later, again I heard the now
familiar crunch of rubber tires,
rolling road surface and there she was,
a straw basket in her Bike's basket,  
A huge smile on her unforgettable,
beautiful face.

We sat in a grove of trees,
among birds singing, in sight of the sea,
Upon a Palm log and ate fresh bread and
fruit. Drank strong black coffee (French Roast
I presume,) nibbling some marvelous cheese.
We tried to talk, but she understood little of
what I tried to say, my French was nearly
nonexistent, only adding to confusions sake .

She leaned her head on my shoulder,
the way lovers do and tenderly held
my hand within her two,
As if not wanting to let go,
Those gestures said all there was to say,
And we savored each silent moment.

We parted there, she on blue, rusty bike
and me on "shanks mare",
Off in two different directions,
Each out into the depths of our own lives,
Gone just like that. . . And yet,
Indelible, never to be forgotten or replaced.
Some days and nights, that young maiden of
Moorea does still visit me, in dreams as real
as can be. She never grows old, nor does the
beauty we shared for that one brief moment in
time immortal.

Someplace among the Islands of Tahiti
there is a woman in her sixties, most likely
a Mother, even a Grandmother yet living.
I hope she recalls as fondly the American blond
man with the big Orange Backpack, that in 1972
she met upon the road, near "One Chicken" and
loved freely and completely for two days and a
night, as that man does so fondly remember her.
Sean Flaherty Apr 2014
I want this to be about you, 
But it's not

It resides in the hours
That I spent wide awake
When I couldn't sleep so I smoked
And I couldn't dream so I wrote
What I hoped I'd see

For the metaphors 
I couldn't keep churning out
So I smoked some more
And I spurted out
Lines about lines

For the driver on the dented highway
With the window cracked
To feel the chills of the air blowing past
Listening to Bob Dylan tell her
The person she was supposed to be but
Never was
And never will

I want this to tell you how I feel,
But it won't

And if she drives far enough she'll reach that
Looming exit
The one she knows she must take
Back to the life she's sick of living
But fights through the pain
For the same reasons that I
Fight through, because
I want to meet a pretty girl
With great vocabulary,
And a smile like Rita Heyworth

I'm still looking for that girl
To drive me across that highway
And recycle old Dylan lines
As if they were personal dictums
She had synthesized herself
And we can freewheel this road together

See I'll never be that great poet that
Three hundred and twenty-nine thousand people
Have watched on the Internet
And that is a comfort

Because the truth resists simplicity
And in my heart of hearts I am a simple man
And telling the truth through words in meter
Or in stanzas
Will never come as naturally to me
As it does to Dylan
But in my acceptance of my ignorance
I become more powerful
Than I'd ever need to be 
Poetic.

So if writing is always my hobby
And never my workhorse
If I can self-satisfy through 
Strict stanzas that I will
Seldom share
If it is only to a girl 
Driving on a highway
Singing songs about formerly-modern America that I
Recite these rehearsed thoughts of mine
Than I will have succeeded

Because my career will have been love
And maybe I can write this 
About you.
And then, and only then, it will be.
Again, years old.
But different. I wrote this... almost like people write in their diary.
The Genesis of the Queen.
The day I knew I was a poet.
Nat Lipstadt Apr 2014
for Ali, Ali, Ali, a daughter by any other name
                                                        (April 2014)
Dear Nat,

your letter caught me up,
at the Village Vanguard bar,
so addressed and there saved,
knowing, believing it's a sign,
time to meet fleshed again,
my sometimes sub-let
neighborhood friend

doing a gig there
this weekend
finishing up the tour
where it all began,
nothing gonna change my mind,
in the city that's where I'm staying.

the road is calling out my name,
but I ain't walking out the door anytime soon,
they want too much body and soul,
but don't worry once or even twice,
got some cash, it's all right

early afternoon, bar empty,
got a few rainy minutes,
got me paper n' pen
and a beer, from the
bar man who also gets
me whatever else I need (haha)

sorry I missed you in Cleveland,
you, back in New York when
I'm finally out your way,
ain't just like fate,
to make us ache so all alone

read your lyrics,
made making some suggestions,
like a baby's new clothes,
lots of bows, a few lines fell
down onto the floor
can't be found
like broken pearls on a dance floor

J. sends regards,
told her what you wrote about
A Long Black Veil, she laughed,
promises she will wear one
when next we all three meet

touring was good and hard,
traveling time is writing time,
but sitting here thinking
how many years have passed and gone
since we first met,
so many roads different taken
by many a first friend,
each one I've never seen against,
let's not that happen to us

rail riding done for awhile,
see ya back on Bleecker Street,
if we're still "cool"
we'll have that fire burning!
Ok, we'll swap some  lines, fine,
but I want, claiming dibs
on that ole easy chair

P.S. got the rent money covered till your return in the summer

Bobby
April 1968
~~~~~~~~~
Between 1968 and 1973,
split my time tween Cleveland and NYC,
before returning to ny full time in the summer of '71.

I lived at 352 Bleecker,
above the long gone
but now moved to Brooklyn,
Pink Teacup restaurant. The eyetalian bakery on the corner of Bleecker and Seventh Ave., long time gone...almost fifty freaking years ago...anyway...I think the stain glass window is still there, gonna have to check it out...shoot forgot about Google Earth!
The 352 Blues

this city treats the poor
with swift unkindness,
but if you peel your eyes,
you don't necessarily have to always
sing the ole 352 Bleecker Blues

the eyetalian storekeeper,
gives us morning java,
when we sing for him on the guitar,
The Star-Spangled Banner,
refills, if we add America the Beautiful

they say that heat rises,
but that don't seem true
in our third floor walk up
on rue 352 Bleecker Street,
the cold companion enters
thru the busted stain glass window

no matter, no cares,
we light the fireplace,
with wood and anything that'll burn,
we scavenged from the street,
pallets and newspapers,
yesterday's 352 truths

at two AM, the cops, in their cars
cooping, fast asleep, only just us,
the johns, the ****** and troubadours,
walking the streets looking for
free stuff to burn

pass the hat for tips
next to the arch,
enough for daily bread
but we get our ***** and ****
for free, just for singing the 352 blues

even when down and out
on the village streets,
bleak on Bleecker street,
you gotta sing the 352 blues,
especially when you're
riding high and living cool,
down on easy Bleecker Street
~~~~~~~
Before you ask me if this true,
save your breath,
the answer is
Which part?
Mike Hauser May 2014
I woke up this morning in a Bob Dylan song
Wasn't quite sure of where I was
All along the watch tower or somewhere there about
I'm kind of wondering at the cause

I watched as William Zanzinger beat down Hattie Carroll
Knew something about this must be done
It's hard for your feet to catch traction when they're not on the ground
Floating inside of a Dylan song

I must have looked both dazed and confused
With a case of the Subterranean Homesick Blues
But I figure I'm going to change my way of thinking
As I hold out for Winterlude

That night I hooked up with the Jack of Hearts
With Lilly and Rosemary both by his side
Must have had something up his sleeve for certain
Cause all he did was stand in the corner and smile

The big girl now standing next to me said
Your going to make me lonesome when you leave this song
At that she cried buckets of rain
In the shelter of the storm

And all of this happened this morning
When I woke up in a Bob Dylan song
A tad bit bored with my writing lately... trying new things
Skaidrum Nov 2015
...
"They say freedom is a state of mind."
↡↡↡
Nostalgic reminder;
We exchanged souls on the sidewalk once.
His marble dreams dripped along porcelain palms,
Open blue terrors decayed at the birth
of the crow's injured wing.
We're hunting twin nightmares in
dawn's clothes that we've stolen.
Your mother tongue was a certain silence;
And what did I tell you,
I told you not to read death's lips by
the faint glow of the moon.

↡↡↡
I'm sure her wolven love didn't do you justice.
Brown eyes were tarnishing the coals of Jupiter
think foam, lust, and a side dish of insanity.
It's remarkable really;
how love had absolutely nothing to do with it.
There he is again;
Nightfall knockin' on your coffin with ease
please tell me you at least

⇸  h e s i t a t e d  ⇷
to let him in.
Violet bruises paint some pretty reminders,
Pastel happiness doesn't cover up
how long he's suffered.
God didn't bother to leave his name
among the wreckage of your bones.
I still wonder why that is.

↡↡↡
Lets turn these sorrows into strangers
like the way iron melts against your cheekbones.
Unfair warning; caution if you may
poison has never been an easy pill to swallow.
Never let the black sea lend you a double mirror
that's asking for self-destruction straight up.
There's rosemary placed in-between winter's wooden teeth,
it doesn't excuse every frozen god ****** cavity.
They say illnesses have cynical faces,
Grey skin isn't a cigarette dream
don't go igniting yourself
like the Fourth of July.
And I'm so sorry that this whole time
You've been drowning, and we've just been
describing the water.
Your freedom was your undoing, Dylan.

↡↡↡
"But someday, we will meet again."
...
I miss you, my friend.

Fifteen years,
One hundred & Thirty-Five days.

© Copywrite Skaidrum
Mateuš Conrad Aug 2018
.ludo savis... play nice... ludo savis... play nice:

i knew the relationship was over when i encountered her ex-boyfriend sitting in her st. petersburg flat drinking ***** with me, no, wait, it was when she started questionning me using cosmopolitan magazine quiz about perfect girlfriends on our way from st. petersburg to moscow to see metallica, while all i wanted was to listen to bob dylan and appreciate whatever rural russia had to offer... beside that? it took me quiet a time to fiddle through and find the glagolitic alphabet, the slavic alphabet before the learned greek came across "my" people, given the romans never venture that far... good luck finding an african phonetic encoding system, beside the hieroglyphs... i won't bother looking right now... not to insult, though: so much for a large phallus megalomania contra envy... Ⰶ: życie (life) is not the half of the caron ž in the form of: the acute... (ź): ździra (don't ask, seriously, the word implies worse than ***** / szmata)... źródło (source)... eh... the one-armed caron (ž)... ź... i can't explain it any further: you need to speak the lingo to keep the "nuance" alive... southern slavs treat the caron akin to ž = ż... how beautiful... given the english language has no diacritical marker application: can't exactly claim diacritical markers using only the automated hovering decapitated heads above ι & ȷ... i'm not english i'm tired of looking up h'america's *******! i don't need not fancy pants to debrief the people i'm concerned with to mind, not giving a **** about them... thanks for your jeans: subtitle made in canada... beside the whole mao shitshow of: made in china.... back in the 1990s! *******... even in terms of music h'america isn't really relevant.. it just is... and "whatever" this "is" is to be, will remain... but only as an r.e.m. ref. pointer, that requires the physical translation of the lyrics: the one i love... a simple prop: to occupy my mind.... fire! the silesian vampire... because... said so... learning about monsters is what i could only fathom, which included me... but, sorry... the glagolithic script... ⰄⰀⰏ: dam... i.e. i will give... fun fact: r.e.m. didn't sell their: it's the end of the world as we know it (and i feel fine) to microsoft for a commercial break.. glagolitic script... where are the africans? oh, right, nowhere when phonetic encoding is turning heads... **** me... even the blind are onto the affair...  i went as far back as the glagolithic script: pre cyrillic, about the same time that the latins incorporated the northern "savages" with applying the chisel to the ᚱ / R... ᚠ / F... copernican "up-side down": why do all tree (beside the pines) resemble a Y shape, a gamma? why did god compensate his existence with opiates?! refresh my memory, though, why am i drawing blanks at african phonetic encoding? **** me, the blind drew something, the deaf too... if you played the guitar, forget about reading braille... you need tender, french, fingertips.... you can't play the guitasr and read braille... mind you... encoding morse overshadows braille... but even the european blindman overcomes the fully ****-naked butter-cup sprinting *** of a black man every day of the week: i'm not here to compensate for a leprechaun's sized *****: mind you... in the hands of a porcelain ***- beauty? everything looks like a hiroshima... i just started to entertain an asian fetish... 4th knuckle mizzing... missing... the most ****** aspect of a female aesthetic? her hand... when *** & the city cited trimming ***** hair (no circumsion, really?), so no asian porcelain hands, no 4th knuckle missing?! i hate what the anglo-speaking world has become, it's this, this, this quasi-Islam.... at least i respect the Quran... but 1984, by the secular prophet of the western world? why do people still calling it: silicon vallyey... it's a ******* curtain, smart-you not seeing the replacement mechanisms of the silicon curtain: now wow... ******, where you're getting-to-go get from? any ideas?! a tehran baza?! ******. 1960s homosexuals fiddling their way past the tunis police, happy? loitering sucker-****** pansie? again... entertain me... where is the african phonetic encoding system... this is my "i.q." avenue masterpiece... i don't care about i.q. but a ******* blind man beat the african at phonetic encoding... personally?


one just simply falls, tired of the right-wing momentum regarding beauty, it's such a bothersome crtique of its generic foundation if beauty..... i hate it, this objective classicism: back to the future take no, 4; *******...

             again, where were the africans sorting
out their invetement in the slave trade...
ONLY WHITE PEOPLE
WERE BAD, CONCERNING BLACK PEOPLE...
Idi Amin... Idi Amin Idi Amin Idi Amin Idi Amin
Idi Amin... Idi Amin Idi Amin Idi Amin Idi Amin ....
******! please!
ever see an african-h'american in africa?
   ******! please!
ever see an african-h'american in africa?
i said: ******! please!
ever see an african-h'american in africa?
i'd love to see an african-h'american
in africa... mouthin-off their stature...

                   african phonetic encoding....

debussy                                       chopin




satie                                              schumannn...

­and?
              there's too much of loon'don....
                   had enough of it, ****'s....
too much ***-kissing,
too much of the h'american swindle...
carelesss buggers; these brits...
******* ****** jolly-tribe
               ****-ups....
  
i drink and relax solving a sudoku -
i'm not doing it to compete -
   just having a conversation with
my neighbor about the difference
between Alzheimer's
and dementia brought back memories
of what i negated for some time...

it's only when someone else tells
you of their elder relative's dementia
you muster the courage to
spot the same symptoms in
your relative...

         my grandfather has dementia...
my early teenage years,
every summer visiting him,
traveling to Krakow,
     going fishing,
riding our bicycles in the afternoon...
he feeding my what books
i should read...
      i still visit,
  spend about a month,
say, keep him company,
   fix up the kitchen...

  but it's such an exhausting disease...
not so much for the sufferer -
this mild form of Alzheimer -
no killer proteins eating away at
the brain cells -
   dementia?
the ontological nadir of old age...
then again, perhaps the zenith...

a closure...
   the long term memory opens,
while the short term memory
closes -
   he still can solve a crossword
puzzle like a mad genius...
but he lapses into what is
the cinema of mortality...
                 he remembers things
like the two SS-men
   posted in my home town,
running up to them
and saying -
herr bitte bon-bon!...
  the raven black of the uniform
and the glaring *******...

    i blocked the fact that it was
dementia, when my grandmother
thought it was wise to scare all
of us, uncle, mother and father
into thinking it could degenerate
into Alzheimer's...
        he still recognizes me!
Alzheimer's sufferers can't
even muster that!

   at best... dementia couples itself up
with melancholia,
  the natural melancholia
akin to the sadness expressed by
Nietzsche: only when the house
has been completed,
but never during the construction...

dementia is just an endless memory
loop...
   when man is allowed to finally
put down the hammer, the sickle...
and retire?
  he's standing on the precipices of mortality...
on a dam about to crack open,
and release a surge of the sea
of memory...
   why wouldn't he take the time
to remember?
  to remember himself?
        
the tedium comes when the same
persons implores others to listen to them...
when memories become less
of the old man's cinema and more
affairs of an oral culture -
our culture has lost the point
of oral transmission -
  hence dementia sufferers have
to evolve -
                  into not talking so much...
not as a mean spirited conviction -
why? i do the same -
   i have about 10 focal memories
that constant revive me -
               and i'm only 32...
          but i don't talk about them...
hell, i won't write them...
   it's my own, private cinema -
but my grandfather comes from
a time before the optical explosion
of television...

         i don't need to hear what he saw -
all i need is to tattoo his mannerisms
and face onto my psyche...

   but dementia, thank god,
is a listening tedium...
                     point being...
a life opens up,
   but any immediacy of life disappears...
hence his persistent ability
to solve crossword puzzles,
enjoy reading the newspaper -
but the significance of remembering
yesterday is missing...
    
he's an old man...
   he has no obligations in terms of
duty in a professional arena of
the metalwork factory...
why wouldn't he attempt to push death
aside and not linger on
the memory of his, magnum opus -
his life sigma oeuvre?

     me?
  some would call this music neo-**** skinhead
****...
   wumpscut, two songs...
   thorns & wreath of barbs,
     bunkertor sieben (reprise)...
but it relaxes me when sitting on a sudoku,
drinking Bacardi cola and lime...
      enjoying the cool August air
after just enough rain
that manages to exfoliates the flowers
with refreshed sensuality...

  sudoku no. 10101...
    after enough numbers pop up,
the tactic is to hone in on one number
in each of the 9 squares and 9 vertical
and 9 linear line...
for sudoku no. 10101 in the Friday's
edition of the times?

   it went something akin to this

[8, 5] - [3] - [1] - [9] - [7] - [2, 6] - [4]

that's the closest schematic
i'll have for you,
   with regards to how the grid is filled.

i drink and relax solving a sudoku -
i'm not doing it to compete -
   just having a conversation with
my neighbor about the difference
between Alzheimer's
and dementia brought back memories
of what i negated for some time...

it's only when someone else tells
you of their elder relative's dementia
you muster the courage to
spot the same symptoms in
your relative...

         my grandfather has dementia...
my early teenage years,
every summer visiting him,
traveling to Krakow,
     going fishing,
riding our bicycles in the afternoon...
he feeding my what books
i should read...
      i still visit,
  spend about a month,
say, keep him company,
   fix up the kitchen...

  but it's such an exhausting disease...
not so much for the sufferer -
this mild form of Alzheimer -
no killer proteins eating away at
the brain cells -
   dementia?
the ontological nadir of old age...
then again, perhaps the zenith...

a closure...
   the long term memory opens,
while the short term memory
closes -
   he still can solve a crossword
puzzle like a mad genius...
but he lapses into what is
the cinema of mortality...
                 he remembers things
like the two SS-men
   posted in my home town,
running up to them
and saying -
herr bitte bon-bon!...
  the raven black of the uniform
and the glaring *******...

    i blocked the fact that it was
dementia, when my grandmother
thought it was wise to scare all
of us, uncle, mother and father
into thinking it could degenerate
into Alzheimer's...
        he still recognizes me!
Alzheimer's sufferers can't
even muster that!

   at best... dementia couples itself up
with melancholia,
  the natural melancholia
akin to the sadness expressed by
Nietzsche: only when the house
has been completed,
but never during the construction...

dementia is just an endless memory
loop...
   when man is allowed to finally
put down the hammer, the sickle...
and retire?
  he's standing on the precipices of mortality...
on a dam about to crack open,
and release a surge of the sea
of memory...
   why wouldn't he take the time
to remember?
  to remember himself?
        
the tedium comes when the same
persons implores others to listen to them...
when memories become less
of the old man's cinema and more
affairs of an oral culture -
our culture has lost the point
of oral transmission -
  hence dementia sufferers have
to evolve -
                  into not talking so much...
not as a mean spirited conviction -
why? i do the same -
   i have about 10 focal memories
that constant revive me -
               and i'm only 32...
          but i don't talk about them...
hell, i won't write them...
   it's my own, private cinema -
but my grandfather comes from
a time before the optical explosion
of television...

         i don't need to hear what he saw -
all i need is to tattoo his mannerisms
and face onto my psyche...

   but dementia, thank god,
is a listening tedium...
                     point being...
a life opens up,
   but any immediacy of life disappears...
hence his persistent ability
to solve crossword puzzles,
enjoy reading the newspaper -
but the significance of remembering
yesterday is missing...
    
he's an old man...
   he has no obligations in terms of
duty in a professional arena of
the metalwork factory...
why wouldn't he attempt to push death
aside and not linger on
the memory of his, magnum opus -
his life sigma oeuvre?

     me?
  some would call this music neo-**** skinhead
****...
   wumpscut, two songs...
   thorns & wreath of barbs,
     bunkertor sieben (reprise)...
but it relaxes me when sitting on a sudoku,
drinking Bacardi cola and lime...
      enjoying the cool August air
after just enough rain
that manages to exfoliates the flowers
with refreshed sensuality...

  sudoku no. 10101...
    after enough numbers pop up,
the tactic is to hone in on one number
in each of the 9 squares and 9 vertical
and 9 linear line...
for sudoku no. 10101 in the Friday's
edition of the times?

   it went something akin to this

[8, 5] - [3] - [1] - [9] - [7] - [2, 6] - [4]

that's the closest schematic
i'll have for you,
   with regards to how the grid is filled.

oh sure sure, the uncircumcised man,
crucified when all the orthodox were
drunk,
                   פור day,
       drunk cruxion?!
                 lovey purin "misgivings";
what's next?

   oh sure sure, the jews would hav e crucified
me on the hill of: tel megiddo
****-heads throwing up their kippahs
into the air in some skewed form
of celebration...
       like bacchus entering
Valhalla asking: where's the mead?
    i've had too much wine...
where'y the whiskey?

   i'll keep repeating...
              talk about jews among the polonaiase?
hush hush: ****, dont want to bring
bad luck... jews in poland are very much akin
to roma gypsies: lucky charms...
but... do you see any ******* leprechauns
around? look at me: i see none...
  let's tell the joke in verse,
not the stadard: a priest a rabbi and an imam
walk into a bar...
****... is that even a joke?! muslims don't drink!
what's the imam having; cranberry juice?!

and englishman a scot and an irish walk
into a bar... the three of them walk
out on stag-duty with inflanted sheep and
speaking cymcru... terrible joke...
as all my jokes were to begin with...

         i am currently navigating,
my uncle's ex girlfriend is sleeping downstairs
on the couch,
blah blah Tuscany... blah blah prosecco...
i'm becoming suspect: she's a gemini,
isn't she? all the geminis i ever met where
extroverted self-absorbed louis XIV types...
they need to, they need to self-absorb themselves
in order to extract the sort of energy
associate with rhetoric,
   and how they constantly digress,
there's always a sub-plot to the plot... nay,
there are always sub-plots...
          great company, i mean...
when a person speaks all the time there are
no awkward moments of silence,
until the said person tells the "eager" listener...
play some music...
she's a warsaw girl, so she's a pretty learned
in the ways of the world,
i'm just an ostrowiec commoner...

    oy vey! oy vey: she'***** 40 and lamenting...
i too complain about my uncle...
she had an abortion with him...
i once talked with my uncle about music
while he surfaced at mrs. roshandler's back garabe...
we ate sri lankan fried chicken wings and
chips and listened to californication
for the very first time...

   abundance of hope in Tuscany...
"apparently"... but if you have ever watched
a woman, borderline on asylum incarceration?
i was looking at one just example...
  it's not a pretty sight...
even when she asked: how's *** and business?
i'm a monk...
          or at least i tend to...
even if she came from a stock of
failed relationships: fine fine...
            now?

i served up decent food,
a malvani and a tikka masala curry...
          naan bread,
     turmeric infused rice,
vanilla cheese cake with strawberries...
she enjoyed it,
i like to please people...
    mind you: ever see a slim chef?
i wouldn't trust a slim chef,
i never have, i never will,
you need some chubby chub chub rounding-offs...
mind you: i much prefer cooking
food than eating it,
but i would never trust a chef associated
with a c.o.d. associated with counting calories...
never have, never will...
two noteworthy proverbs:
1. too many cooks in one kitchen =
no decent meal is being made...
  one cook, one couldron, that's your best bet...
2. never trust a slim, athletic cook...
those ******* can shove their kale
       smoothies....
they can slurp up those smoothies
turning their ***** in straw ******* vortexes!
i'll cook on lard trimmings,

em....
  [9] - [2] - [6] - [3] - [8] - [1] - [4] - [5, 7]?
that's when the sudoku puzzle was filled...
all the nines... all the twos... etc. became filled
in the 9 grids...

well...
     "apart" from: my uncle's girlfriend:
i've been living in englamd
for nearly 30 yeasrs...
i've dated a french girl,
an australian, a russian....
but u've never dated an english
girl: i guess they much prefer
aged pakistani grooming gang
members....
            i guess:
**** gasoline on them,
they're all readied and geared up!

braille contra morse?
if you want to play the guitar?
forget the braille....
you need tender fingertips
to read braille...
morse? nit so much...
here's a comparison...
i see!

    a.:   ⠓⠑   ⠺⠓⠕
                       ⠎⠑⠑⠎
    ⠊⠎       ⠁⠃⠇⠑
                   ⠞⠕
                                     ­   ⠗⠑⠁⠙

b. play the guitar and learn to....
read finger tip braille, ******....

· · · ·  ·         
· − −  · · · ·  − − − 
· · ·  ·  ·  · · · :
                  · ·  · · · 
▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄ ▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄ · − · ·  ·  (a / b)
      −  − − − 
                   · − ·  · ▄▄▄▄▄▄▄ − · ·  (a)

(he who sees: is able to read)...

           i can attest...
             i would find myself readily reading
morse in braille,
than braille by itself...
                far more easier.

finger-tips... i'd sooner read your morse
as braille, than braille as morse..
if i was a pearl i’d feel itchy scratchy stuck inside an oyster shell if i was a tree i’d  be a big fat redwood fantasizing about Julia Butterfly Hill living and peeing around me if i was a dog i’d be a Catahoula hound if i was Italian i’d be Sicilian if i was pasta i’d be spaghetti if i was Icelandic i’d be Bjork if i was a rock star i’d be Elvis Presley Bob Dylan Jimi Hendrix Jim Morrison John Lennon Bruce Spingsteen Maynard James Keenan if i was i writer i’d be Herman Melville Mark Twain James Joyce William Faulkner Thomas Bernhard Yukio Mishima Naguib Mahfouz Phillip K. **** Gabriel Garcia Marquez Annie Proulx Lydia Davis if i was a poet i’d be Walt Whitman Sylvia Plath Ted Hughes Gwendolyn Brooks Pablo Neruda  Heather McHugh Carl Sandburg Robert Frost Arthur Rimbaud Dante Alighieri Homer if i was a painter i’d be Leonardo Da Vinci Michelangelo da Caravaggio Johan Vermeer Rembrandt van Rijn Paul Cezanne Marcel Duchamp Jackson ******* Mark Rothko Ad Reinhardt Anselm Kiefer Susan Rothenberg if i was a photographer i’d be Man Ray Ansel Adams Edward Weston Diane Arbus Robert Mapplethorpe Sally Mann Helmut Newton Richard Avedon Annie Leibovitz if i was a philosopher i’d be Socrates Plato Aristotle Jean Jacques Rousseau Sören Kierkegaard Immanuel Kant Karl Marx Georg Hegel Friedrich Nietzsche Henry David Thoreau Ralph Waldo Emerson  Jean-Paul Sartre Jean Baudrillard Michel Foucault if i was a singer i’d be Woody Guthrie Otis Redding Grace Slick Bob Marley Joni Mitchell Marvin Gaye Johnny Cash Patsy Cline June Carter Patti Smith Chrissie Hinde Nick Cave P J Harvey Beyonce if i wa a band i’d be Velvet Underground Ramones *** Pistols Clash Cure Smiths Joy Division Uncle Tupelo Pixies Nirvana Nine Inch Nails Madrugada Sigur Ros White Stripes Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra Justice of the Unicorns if i was a boot i’d be Chippewa Frye Ariat Red Wing Tony Lama Wellington if i was a shoe i’d be Christian Louboutin Jimmy Choo Kedds Chaco Chuck Taylor p f flyer if i was a dress i’d be Channel Dolce & Gabbanna Giorgio Armani Marc Jacobs Comme des Garçons if i was a cowboy shirt i’d be H bar C Rockmount Temp Tex Karman Wrangler Levis Strauss Lee if i was a hat i’d be a Stetson Borsalino Stephen Jones if i was a fruit i’d be a mango apple banana blackberry if i was an scent i’d smell like fresh perspiration jasmine sandalwood ylang ylang the ocean if i was a doctor i’d be a gynecologist neurosurgeon if i was a flower i’d be a hibiscus rose orchard if i was a stone i’d be a sparkling ruby diamond opal if i was a knife i’d be a k-bar switch-blade machete if i was a gun i’d be a Remington Winchester Beretta Glock AK-47 if i was a car i’d be a Lamborghini Ferrari BMW Saab Volkswagen GTO Ford Mustang Dodge Challenger if i was a  TV show i’d be Law and Order if i was actor i’d be Charlie Chaplin Humphrey Bogart Steve McQueen Robert De Niro Ed Norton Shawn Penn if i was an actress i’d be Marlene Dietrich Ingrid Bergman Natalie Wood Audrey Hepburn Marilyn Monroe Helen Mirren  Meryil Streep Brigette Fonda Robin Wright Julianne Moore Angie Harmon if i was a female comedian i’d be Gilda Radner Lily Tomlin Nora Dunn Joan Cusack Sarah Silverman Tina Fey if i was a  football player i’d be Sid Luckman George Blanda Walter Payton **** Butkus Mike Singletary Joe Montana Jerry Rice Payton Manning LaDanian Tomlinson  Drew Breeze if i was a celebrity i’d be Charlotte Gainsbourg if i was a rapper i’d be Tupac Shakur if i was a movie director i’d be Sam Peckinpah Robert Altman Stanley Kubrick Roman Polanski Werner Herzog Rainer Fassbinder Louis Bunuel Alfred Hitchcock Jean-Luc Godard François Truffaut if i was a bird i’d be a eagle hawk sparrow bluebird if i was a fish i’d be a dolphin shark narwhal Charlie the tuna if i was breakfast i’d be a French toast pancake folded in half with 2 strips of bacon in between if i was a cold cereal i’d be snap crackle popping rice crispies shredded wheat cheerios oatmeal if i was tea i’d be Japanese green matcha Irish breakfast Tulsi Thai holy basil Lapsang souchong Luzianne Lipton if i was a soap i’d be French hand milled ayurvedic Avon Ivory Dove Pears Aveda  if i was a man i’d be a football basketball baseball tennis swimmer athlete if i was a woman i’d be a track star runner writer painter gardener doctor nurse yoga mom i'm just scratching the surface and the beat goes on lahdy dah dah
Chapter Two

“I think of art, at its most significant, as a DEW line, a Distant Early Warning System that can always be relied on to tell the old culture what is beginning to happen to it.”                Marshall McLuhan  
  
I attended Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania because my father was incarcerated at the prison located in the same town.  My tuition subsidized to a large extent by G.I. Bill, still a significant means of financing an education for generations of emotionally wasted war veterans. “The United States Penitentiary (USP Lewisburg)” is a high-security federal prison for male inmates. An adjacent satellite prison camp houses minimum-security male offenders. My father was strictly high-security, convicted of various crimes against humanity, unindicted for sundry others. My father liked having me close by, someone on the outside he trusted, who also happened to be on his approved Visitor List. As instructed, I became his conduit for substances both illicit, like drugs, and the purely contraband, a variety of Italian cheeses, salamis, prepared baked casseroles of eggplant parmesan, cannoli, Baci chocolate from Perugia, in Tuscany, south of Florence, and numerous bottles of Italian wine, pungent aperitifs, Grappa, digestive stimulants and sweet liquors. I remained the good son until the day he died, the source of most of the mess I got myself into later on, and specifically the main caper at the heart of this story.

I must confess: my father scared the **** out of me.  Particularly during those years when he was not in jail, those years he spent at home, years coinciding roughly with my early adolescence.  These were my molding clay years, what the amateur psychologists write off with the term: “impressionable years hypothesis.” In his own twisted, grease-ball theory of child rearing, my father may have been applying the “guinea padrone hypothesis,” in his mind, nothing more certain would toughen me up for whatever he and/or Life had planned for me. Actually, his aspirations for me-given my peculiar pedigree--were non-existent as far as the family business went. He knew I’d never be either a Don or a Capo di Tutti Capi, or an Underboss or Sotto Capo.)  A Caporegime—mid-management to be sure, with as many as ten crews of soldiers reporting to him-- was also, for me, out of the question. Dad was a soldier in and of the Lucchese Family, strictly a blue-collar, knock-around kind of guy. But even soldier status—which would have meant no rise in Mafioso caste for him—was completely out of the question, never going to happen for me.

A little background: the Lucchese Family originated in the early 1920s with Gaetano “Tommy” Reina, born in 1889 in Corleone, Sicily. You know the town and its environs well. Fran Coppola did an above average job cinematizing the place in his Godfather films.  Coppola: I am a strict critic when it comes to my goombah, would-be French New Wave auteur Francis Ford Coppola.  Ever since “One From the Heart, 1982”--one of the biggest Hollywood box office flops & financial disasters of all time--he’s been a bit thin-skinned when it comes to criticism.  So, I like to zing him when I can. Actually, “One From the Heart” is worth seeing again, not just for Tom Waits soundtrack--the film’s one Academy Award nomination—but also Natasha Kinski’s ***: always Oscar-worthy in my book. My book? Interesting expression, and factually correct for once, given what you are reading right now.

Tommy Reina was the first Lucchese Capo di Tutti Capi, the first Boss of All the Bosses. By the 1930s the Luccheses pretty much controlled all criminal activity in the Bronx and East Harlem. And Reina begat Pinzolo who begat Gagliano who begat Tommy Three Finger Brown Lucchese (who I once believed, moonlighted as a knuckle ball relief pitcher for Yankees.)
Three Finger Brown gave the Lucchese Family its name. And Tommy begat Carmine Tramunti, who begat Anthony Tony Ducks Corallo. From there the succession gets a bit crazy. Tony Ducks, convicted of Rico charges, goes to prison, sentenced to life.  From behind bars he presides through a pair of candidates most deserving the title of boss: enter Vittorio Little Vic Amuso and Anthony Gaspipe Casso.  Although Little Vic becomes Boss after being nominated by Casso, it is Gaspipe really calling the shots, at least until he joins Little Vic behind bars.
Amuso-Casso begat Louis Louie Bagels Daidone, who begat the current official boss, Stephen Wonderboy Crea.  According to legend, Boss Crea got his nickname from Bernard Malamud’s The Natural, a certain part of his prodigious anatomy resembling the baseball bat hand-carved by Roy Hobbs. To me this sounds a bit too literary, given the family’s SRI Lexile/Reading Performance Scores, but who am I to mock my peoples’ lack of liberal arts education?

Begat begat Begato. (I goof on you, kind reader. Always liked the name Begato in the context of Bible-flavored genealogy. Mille grazie, King James.)

Lewisburg Penitentiary has many distinguished alumni: Whitey Bulger (1963-1965), Jimmy Hoffa (1967-1971) and John Gotti (1969-1972), for example.  And fictionally, you can add Paulie Cicero played by Paul Scorvino in Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas, not to be confused with Paulie Walnuts Gualtieri played by Tony Sirico from the HBO TV series The Sopranos. Nor, do I refer to Paulie Gatto, the punk who ratted out Sonny Corleone in Coppola’s The Godfather, you know: “You won’t see Paulie no more,” according to fat Clemenza, played by the late Richard “Leave the gun, take my career” Castellano, who insisted to the end that he wasn’t bitter about his underwhelming post-Godfather film career. I know this for a fact from one of my cousins in the Gambino Family. I also know that the one thing the actor Castellano would never comment on was a rumor that he had connections to organized crime, specifically that he was a nephew to Paulie Castellano, the Gambino crime family boss who was assassinated in 1985, outside Midtown New York’s Sparks Steak House, an abrupt corporate takeover commissioned by John Teflon Don Gotti. But I’m really starting to digress here, although I am reminded of another interesting historical personage, namely Joseph Crazy Joe Gallo, who was also terminated “with extreme prejudice” while eating dinner at a restaurant.  Confused? And finally--not to be confused with Paul Muldoon, poetry gatekeeper at The New Yorker magazine, that Irish **** scumbag who consistently rejects publication of my work. About two years ago I started including the following comment in my on-line Contact Us, poetry submission:  “Hey Paulie, Eat a Bag of ****!”

This may come as a surprise, Gentle Reader, but I am a poet, not a Wise Guy.  For reasons to be explained, I never had access to the family business. I am also handicapped by the Liberal Arts education I received, infected by a deluge, a veritable Katrina ****** of classic literature.  That stuff in books rubs off after awhile, and I suppose it was inevitable. I couldn’t help evolving for the most part into a warm-blooded creature, unlike the reptiles and frogs I grew up with.

Again, I am a poet not a wise guy. And, first and foremost, I am a human being. Cold-blooded, I am not. I generate my own heat, which is the best definition I know for how a poet operates. But what the hell do I know? Paulie “Eat a Bag of ****” Muldoon doesn’t think much of my work. And he’s the ******* troll guarding the New Yorker’s poetry gate. Nevertheless, I’m a Poet, not a Wise Guy.  I repeat myself, I know, but it is important to establish this point right from the start of this narrative, because, if you don’t get that you’re never going to get my story.

Maybe the best way to explain my predicament—And I mean PREDICAMENT in the sense of George Santayana: "Life is not a spectacle or a feast; it is a predicament." (www.brainyquote.com), not to be confused with George’s son Carlos, the Mexican-American rock star: Oye Como Va, Babaloo!

www.youtube.com/watch?v...YouTube Dec 20, 2011 - Uploaded by a106kirk1, The Best of Santana. This song is owned by Santana and Columbia Records.

Maybe the best way for me to explain my predicament is with a poem, one of my early works, unpublished, of course, by Paulie “Eat a Bag of ****” Muldoon:

“CRAZY JOE REVISITED”  
        
by Benjamin Disraeli Sekaquaptewa-Buonaiuto

We WOPs respect criminality,
Particularly when it’s organized,
Which explains why any of us
Concerned with the purity of our bloodline
Have such a difficult time
Navigating the river of respectability.

To wit: JOEY GALLO.
WEB-BIO: (According to Bob Dylan)
“Born in Red Hook, Brooklyn in the year of who knows when,
Opened up his eyes to the tune of accordion.

“Joey” Lyrics/Send "Joey" Ringtone to your Cell
Joseph Gallo, AKA: "Joey the Blond."
He was a celebrated New York City gangster,
A made member of the Profaci crime family,
Later known as the Colombo crime family,

That’s right, CRAZY JOE!
One time toward the end of a 10-year stretch,
At three different state prisons,
Including Attica Correctional Facility in Attica, New York,
Joey was interviewed in his prison cell
By a famous NY Daily News reporter named Joe McGinnis.
The first thing the reporter sees?
One complete wall of the cell is lined with books, a
Green leather bound wall of Harvard Classics.
After a few hours mainly listening to Joey
Wax eloquently about his life,
A narrative spiced up with elegant summaries,
Of classic Greek theory, Roman history,
Nietzsche and other 19th Century German philosophers,
McGinnis is completely blown away by Inmate Gallo,
Both Joey’s erudition and the power of his intellect,
The reporter asks a question right outta
The Discrete Charm of the Bourgeoisie:
“Mr. Gallo, I must say,
The power of your erudition and intellect
Is simply overwhelming.
You are a brilliant man.
You could have been anything,
Your heart or ambition desired:
A doctor, a lawyer, an architect . . .
Yet you became a criminal. Why?”

Joey Gallo: (turning his head sideways like Peter Falk or Vincent Donofrio, with a look on his face like Go Back to Nebraska, You ******* Momo!)

“Understand something, Sonny:
Those kids who grew up to be,
Doctors and lawyers and architects . . .

They couldn’t make it on the street.”

Gallo later initiated one of the bloodiest mob conflicts,
Since the 1931 Castellammare War,
And was murdered as a result of it,
While quietly enjoying,
A plate of linguini with clam sauce,
At a table--normally a serene table--
At Umberto’s Clam House.

Italian Restaurant Little Italy - Umberto's Clam House (www.umbertosclamhouse.com)
In Little Italy New York City 132 Mulberry Street, New York City | 212-431-7545.

Whose current manager --in response to all restaurant critics--
Has this to say:
“They keep coming back, don’t they?
The joint is a holy shrine, for chrissakes!
I never claimed it was the food or the service.
Gimme a ******* break, you momo!
I should ask my paisan, Joe Pesci
To put your ******* head in a vise.”

(Again, Martin Scorsese getting it exactly right, This time in  . . . Casino (1995) - IMDb www.imdb.com/title/tt0112641/Internet Movie Database Rating: 8.2/10 - ‎241,478 votes Directed by Martin Scorsese. With Robert De Niro, Sharon Stone, Joe Pesci, James Woods. Greed, deception, money, power, and ****** occur between two  . . . Full Cast & Crew - ‎Trivia - ‎Awards - ‎(1995) - IMDb)

Given my lifelong, serious exposure to and interest in German philosophy, I subscribe to the same weltanschauung--pronounced: veltˌänˌSHouəNG—that governed Joey Gallo’s behavior.  My point and Mr. Gallo’s are exactly the same:  a man’s ability to make it on the street is the true measure of his worth.  This ethos was a prominent one in the Bronx where and when I grew up, where I came of age during the 1950s and 60s.  Italian organized crime was always an option, actually one of the preferred options--like playing for the Yankees or being a movie star—until, that is, reality set in.  And reality came in many forms. For 100% Italian kids it came in a moment of crystal adolescent clarity and self-evaluation:  Am I tough enough to make it on the street?  Am I ever going to be tough enough to make it on the street? Will I be eaten alive by more cunning, more violent predators on the street?

For me, the setting in of reality took an entirely different form.  I knew I had what it takes, i.e., the requisite ferocity for street life. I had it in spades, as they say. In fact, I’d been blessed with the gift of hyper-volatility—traced back to my great-grandfather, Pietro of the village of Moschiano, in the province of Avellino, in the region of Campania, Italia Sud. Having visited Moschiano in my early 20s and again in my late 50s, I know the place well. The village square sits “down in the holler,” like in West Virginia; the Apennine terrain, like the Appalachians, rugged and thick. Rugged and thick like the people, at least in part my people. And volatile, I am, gifted with a primitive disposition when it comes to what our good friend Abraham Maslow would call lower order needs. And please, don’t ask me to explain myself now; just keep reading, *******.  All your questions will be answered.

Great Grandfather Pietro once, at point blank range, blew a man’s head off with a lumpara, or sawed-off shotgun. It was during an argument over—get this--a penny’s worth of pumpkin seeds--one of many stories I never learned in childhood. He served 10 years in a Neapolitan penitentiary before being paroled and forced to immigrate to America.  The government of the relatively new nation--The Kingdom of Italy (1861)--came up with a unique eugenic solution for the hunger and misery down south, south of Rome, the long shin bone, ankle, foot, toes & kickball that are the remote regions of the Mezzogiorno, Southern Italy: Campania, Basilicata, Calabria, Puglia & Sicilia. Northern politicians asked themselves: how do we flush these skeevy southerners, these crooks and assassins down South, how do we flush the skifosos down the toilet—the flush toilet, a Roman invention, I report proudly and accept the gratitude on behalf of my people. Immigration to America: Fidel Castro did the same thing in the 1980s, hosing out his jails and mental hospitals with that Marielista boatlift/Emma Lazarus Remix: “Give us your tired and poor, your lunatics, thieves and murderers.” But I digress. I’ll give you my entire take on the history of Italy including Berlusconi and the “Bunga Bunga” parties with 14-year old Moroccan pole dancers . . . go ahead, skip ahead.

Yes, genetically speaking, I was sufficiently ferocious to make it on the street, and it took very little spark to light my fuse. Moreover, I’ve always been good at figuring out the angles--call it street smarts--also learned early in life. Likewise, for knowing the territory: The Bronx was my habitat. I was rapacious and predacious by nature, and if there was a loose buck out there, and legs to be broken, I knew where to go.
Yet, alas, despite all my natural talents & acquired skills, I remained persona-non-grata for the Lucchese Family. To my great misfortune, I fell into a category of human being largely shunned by Italian organized crime: Mestizo-Italiano, a diluted form of full strength 100% Italian blood. It’s one of those voodoo blood-brotherhood things practiced by Southern European, Mediterranean tribal people, only in part my people.  Growing up, my predicament was always tricky, always somewhat bizarre. Simply put: I was of a totally different tribe. Blame my exotic mother, a genuine Hopi Corn Maiden from Shungopavi, high up on Second Mesa of the Hopi Reservation, way out in northern Arizona. And if this is not sufficiently, ******* nuts enough for you, add to the child-rearing minestrone that she raised me Jewish in The Bronx.  I **** you not. I took my Bar Mitzvah Hebrew instruction from the infamous Rabbi Meir Kahane, that’s right, Meir “Crazy Rebbe” Kahane himself--pronounced kɑː'hɑːna--if you grok the phonetics.

In light of the previously addressed “impressionable years hypothesis,” I wrote a poem about my early years. It follows in the next chapter. It is an epic tale, a biographical magnum opus, a veritable creation myth, conceived one night several years ago while squatting in a sweat lodge, tripping on peyote. I
Where do I start
How should i begin,
I guess i will just write
until the very end,
I could start with my name
and where i am from,
Yes, I will start with that
and then more will come,
My name is Dylan
and I was born in North Carolina,
I am nineteen years old
but I feel even older,
I look much younger or so I am told
My days are long and filled with joy
I have a daughter
No, not a boy
I work, go to school, and am a father
I own my own business
As God as my witness
I have a beautiful companion
who is full of life
She is my joy
No, not a boy
My two girls are my life
one is my daughter
The other my future wife
My Passion is Business
My title is Entrepreneur
I love what i do
Which is more than most
If you love your work
Than you too can boast
My business is a brand
Perception Apparel is the name
I create unique Clothes
And nothing is quite the same
Check me out,
The website is the name!
Among my hobbies sports are fairly high
Basketball is my favorite
Still not sure why
Other interests  may include:
Food, movies, and long walks on the beach
This is begining to sound like a date
I can't think of anything else to say
My life in 300 words
It is sort of sad in a way
My life in one paragraph
Yet i have nothing left to say?
Well It seems I have begun to rant
I hope now you may know me
There is not much to see
For this is all there is to me
In essence of time
let's bring this to a close
And if you are lost, this was my Prose.
Assignment for my class where we were asked to introduce ourselves.
b e mccomb May 2019
depression
rears it’s ugly head
with no desire to do
anything

except lay
in bed
scroll
sleep
wake up and
eat
watch tv
sleep
and
sleep

sitting
in silence
listening to
the fan spin
and wondering
why i bother

why i’m still
here when
nothing i do
even matters

that everyone
would be
happier
without me
around to
bother them

it’s the kind of
time of life
where the only
real peace of mind
to be found is
in bob dylan

the old bob dylan
that you find in
broken cd cases
floating in forgotten
thrift store
music stacks

the songs of a young
person who didn’t know
where he was going in
a crazy and unjust world
he couldn’t control as it
fell apart around his ears

bob dylan never has
any answers for me
just rambles on
another interlude of
mournful harmonica
until i remember
he told me where
the answers are
and the answers
aren’t easy to find

up there in the sky
whistling around
bare tree branches
holding up birds’ wings
letting a lost balloon travel
thousands of miles from
the tightly clenched hand
of the child who lost it

how many years
has it been?
and i’m still here
blowing in the wind

the winds are busy
too busy to stop
for one second and
just give me the answer

why
am i
even
here?

i don’t want
to be here
maybe this earth
just isn’t for me

or maybe i should
give up on whatever
is left here for me
hop on a bus and
become some kind of
modern rambling man

because i don’t know
and almost don’t care
what i’m doing here
doing right now

all i want
is sleep
even half conscious
muddled sleep
anything to distract
from the grotesquely
realistic nightmare
that is real life

or maybe i’ll get
utterly wasted
on cheap ***
and miserable thoughts
drown them out until
something stronger
than the alcohol
pulls me down
something strong
like sleep

because now
when it’s time to sleep
i find myself
completely unable to

i’m trying to
look at the positives
trying to see this as
an opportunity
but all i can see
is an eternity
stretching before me
of what if’s and
maybe this and why
and why not and
who do i want to be
what do i want to do

a lifetime
of indecisions
rolls its carpet out
in front of my feet

i wasn’t ready
i’m not ready now
i’ll probably never
be ready for anything

what am i
even doing

no answers to be found
here in this poem
just rambling as the
cd spins on until it
scratches to a halt
rub my eyes
press play
hope maybe on this
go round i can find
an answer

but the thing i never
seem to remember is
there isn’t any
answer to be found

not when it’s flown
away and is up
in the clouds watching
the sunset and the
stars begin to pop
out of the deep blue

just blowing
away in the wind
copyright 5/19/19 by b. e. mccomb
Ely Averill Jan 2016
Dylan
Strong and steadfast
Light brown hair and blue eyes
Smiling, giggling, having fun
schoolboy
ah, christ, what a CREW:
more
poetry, always more
P O E T R Y .

if it doesn't come, coax it out with a
laxative. get your name in LIGHTS,
get it up there in
8 1/2 x 11 mimeo.

keep it coming like a miracle.

ah christ, writers are the most sickening
of all the louts!
yellow-toothed, slump-shouldered,
gutless, flea-bitten and
obvious . . . in tinker-toy rooms
with their flabby hearts
they tell us
what's wrong with the world-
as if we didn't know that a cop's club
can crack the head
and that war is a dirtier game than
marriage . . .
or down in a basement bar
hiding from a wife who doesn't appreciate him
and children he doesn't
want
he tells us that his heart is drowning in
*****. hell, all our hearts are drowning in *****,
in pork salt, in bad verse, in soggy
love.
but he thinks he's alone and
he thinks he's special and he thinks he's Rimbaud
and he thinks he's
Pound.

and death! how about death? did you know
that we all have to die? even Keats died, even
Milton!
and D. Thomas-THEY KILLED HIM, of course.
Thomas didn't want all those free drinks
all that free *****-
they . . . FORCED IT ON HIM
when they should have left him alone so he could
write write WRITE!

poets.

and there's another
type. I've met them at their country
places (don't ask me what I was doing there because
I don't know).

they were born with money and
they don't have to ***** their hands in
slaughterhouses or washing
dishes in grease joints or
driving cabs or pimping or selling ***.

this gives them time to understand
Life.

they walk in with their cocktail glass
held about heart high
and when they drink they just
sip.

you are drinking green beer which you
brought with you
because you have found out through the years
that rich ******* are tight-
they use 5 cent stamps instead of airmail
they promise to have all sorts of goodies ready
upon your arrival
from gallons of whisky to
50 cent cigars. but it's never
there.
and they HIDE their women from you-
their wives, x-wives, daughters, maids, so forth,
because they've read your poems and
figure all you want to do is **** everybody and
everything. which once might have been
true but is no longer quite
true.

and-
he WRITES TOO.
POETRY, of
course. everybody
writes
poetry.

he has plenty of time and a
postoffice box in town
and he drives there 3 or 4 times a day
looking and hoping for accepted
poems.

he thinks that poverty is a weakness of the
soul.

he thinks your mind is ill because you are
drunk all the time and have to work in a
factory 10 or 12 hours a
night.

he brings his wife in, a beauty, stolen from a
poorer rich
man.
he lets you gaze for 30 seconds
then hustles her
out. she has been crying for some
reason.

you've got 3 or 4 days to linger in the
guesthouse he says,
"come on over to dinner
sometime."
but he doesn't say when or
where. and then you find out that you are not even
IN HIS HOUSE.

you are in
ONE of his houses but
his house is somewhere
else-
you don't know
where.

he even has x-wives in some of his
houses.

his main concern is to keep his x-wives away from
you. he doesn't want to give up a
**** thing. and you can't blame him:
his x-wives are all young, stolen, kept,
talented, well-dressed, schooled, with
varying French-German accents.

and!: they
WRITE POETRY TOO. or
PAINT. or
****.

but his big problem is to get down to that mail
box in town to get back his
rejected poems
and to keep his eye on all the other mail boxes
in all his other
houses.

meanwhile, the starving Indians
sell beads and baskets in the streets of the small desert
town.

the Indians are not allowed in his houses
not so much because they are a ****-threat
but because they are
***** and
ignorant. *****? I look down at my shirt
with the beerstain on the front.
ignorant? I light a 6 cent cigar and
forget about
it.

he or they or somebody was supposed to meet me at
the
train station.

of course, they weren't
there. "We'll be there to meet the great
Poet!"

well, I looked around and didn't see any
great poet. besides it was 7 a.m. and
40 degrees. those things
happen. the trouble was there were no
bars open. nothing open. not even a
jail.

he's a poet.
he's also a doctor, a head-shrinker.
no blood involved that
way. he won't tell me whether I am crazy or
not-I don't have the
money.

he walks out with his cocktail glass
disappears for 2 hours, 3 hours,
then suddenly comes walking back in
unannounced
with the same cocktail glass
to make sure I haven't gotten hold of
something more precious than
Life itself.

my cheap green beer is killing
me. he shows heart (hurrah) and
gives me a little pill that stops my
gagging.
but nothing decent to
drink.

he'd bought a small 6 pack
for my arrival but that was gone in an
hour and 15
minutes.

"I'll buy you barrels of beer," he had
said.

I used his phone (one of his phones)
to get deliveries of beer and
cheap whisky. the town was ten miles away,
downhill. I peeled my poor dollars from my poor
roll. and the boy needed a tip, of
course.

the way it was shaping up I could see that I was
hardly Dylan Thomas yet, not even
Robert Creeley. certainly Creeley wouldn't have
had beerstains on his
shirt.

anyhow, when I finally got hold of one of his
x-wives I was too drunk to
make it.

scared too. sure, I imagined him peering
through the window-
he didn't want to give up a **** thing-
and
leveling the luger while I was
working
while "The March to the Gallows" was playing over
the Muzak
and shooting me in the *** first and
my poor brain
later.

"an intruder," I could hear him telling them,
"ravishing one of my helpless x-wives."

I see him published in some of the magazines
now. not very good stuff.

a poem about me
too: the ******.

the ****** whines too much. the ****** whines about his
country, other countries, all countries, the ******
works overtime in a factory like a fool, among other
fools with "pre-drained spirits."
the ****** drinks seas of green beer
full of acid. the ****** has an ulcerated
hemorrhoid. the ****** picks on ****
"fragile ****." the ****** hates his
wife, hates his daughter. his daughter will become
an alcoholic, a *******. the ****** has an
"obese burned out wife." the ****** has a
spastic gut. the ****** has a
"****** brain."

thank you, Doctor (and poet). any charge for
this? I know I still owe you for the
pill.

Your poem is not too good
but at least I got your starch up.
most of your stuff is about as lively as a
wet and deflated
beachball. but it is your round, you've won a round.
going to invite me out this
Summer? I might scrape up
trainfare. got an Indian friend who'd like to meet
you and yours. he swears he's got the biggest
pecker in the state of California.

and guess what?
he writes
POETRY
too!
Freddy S Zalta Nov 2014
I walk through these autumn streets, Brooklyn in November.
I walk listening to Dylan, trying not to remember...the spring, the summer...

As the previous winter thawed and the leaves began to bud,
There was this lonely kid who walked alone...
Walked through those Brooklyn streets listening to Dylan, trying to remember what it was that he was hoping for, waiting for...

As the Spring breeze began to blow, the rain began to fall and the flowers began to grow and the kid felt 9 feet tall.
The dreams of summer, the afternoon slumbers and the allnighters spent with my brothers.
Unexpected, unprotected by armor - no memories yet, just dreams, hopes and embryonic ideas of what lay ahead. Possibilities unlimited.
Blue eyes...all it took were her blue eyes...
Summer flew on by - long walks on beaches, sunrises and sunsets, holding hands...babies crying...August and the end of summer racing in the street towards you...towards me.
September - still hot but not as strong - you walk, and walk alone.

I walk alone through these Brooklyn streets, listening to Dylan, Van Morrison and Nick Cave - remembering but forgetting to ignore her tears, her lies and her blue eyes.
October - hurricane winds blow down the leaves across the sidewalks, the streets and upon the highways where we once drove like the boys of summer standing boldly in the sun - where has the time gone?
Where has the time gone?

I walk through these autumn streets, Brooklyn in November.
I walk listening to Dylan, trying not to remember...the spring, the summer...
ajit peter Oct 2016
Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won't come again
And don't speak too soon
For the wheel's still in spin
And there's no tellin' who
That it's namin'
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin'.  - Bob Dylan
To Bob Dylan
Terry O'Leary Jul 2015
The dawn unfolds beyond my fractured windowpane
and breezes tease while drapes, like serpents, slip aside
exposing worlds that race and run aground, insane,
displaying scenes obscene that savants strive to mask and hide.

Outside, the streets are stark (last night they seemed so cruel
when demons danced as lanterns 'lumed the lynching tree -
its shadow shuddered, lurking in my vestibule -
within the night, I sense these things I sometimes cannot see).

Perdu in darkened doorways (those which watch the ones that weep)
men hide their shame in crevices in search of cloaked relief.
The ladies of the evening leave (their time to sleep!)
the alleyways, retaining bitter tastes of untold grief.

Soon drifters (distraught dregs that stray from street to street)
abandon benches, squat on curbstones some call home,
appeal to strangers for a coin or simple bite to eat -
refused… gaze down… left empty-handed in the morning gloam.

Observe with me, beyond my fractured windowpane,
the boy with crooked smile - the one who's seen the  beast -
with tears, he stoops and clasps the cross while wiping off the stain -
the abbey door along the lane conceals a pious priest.

While at the mall, Mike sees some cigs, and stealth'ly steals a pack;
the Man, observing, thinks ‘Hey Boy, this caper calls for blood’,
takes aim, then shoots the fated stripling eight times in the back.
Come, mourn for Mike and brother Justice, facedown in the mud.

Fatigued and bored, some kids harass the alley now -
to pass the time, Joe smokes a joint and Lizzy snorts a line;
computer games (which quake with doom) can help somehow,
so Eric plays with Dylan on the road to Columbine.

The shanty towns have hunkered down as if in mortal sport
while broken bodies' shattered bones repose supine,
and mamas (now bereft of child) in anguished pain contort,
their eyes drip drops of wrath which wither on a twisted vine.

Now Mr Baxter, private bankster (cruising down the road,
pursuing profit pushers, waving magic mushroom wands),
adores addiction to the bailout (coffers overflowed)
and jests with all the junkies, while he's dealing with the bonds.

Marauders man the marketplace (with billions guaranteed)  
while kids with swollen bellies beg neath hollow sunken eyes,
and (cut to naught) the down-and-out (like trodden beet roots) bleed.
Life's carousel invites us all, though few can ring the prize.

A washerwoman, timeworn, totters from the tram -
she shuffles to her hovel on a lonesome distant hill,
despondent, shuts the shutters, downs her final dram -
a magpie quickly picks at crumbs forsaken on the sill.

Jihadist and Crusader warders faithfully guard the gates,
behead impious infidels, else burn them at the stake
(yes, God incites each side for good, the other side He hates),
with saintly satisfaction gained provoking pagan ache.

The watchers pry behind our fractured windowpanes
inspect us all, tear down the walls of privacy
controlling every point of view opinion entertains,
forbidding thoughts one mustn't think, with which they don’t agree.

Come, cast a furtive glance… there's something in the far…
from towns to dunes in deserts dry, the welkin belches sudden death
by dint of soulless drones that stalk beneath a straying star
erasing life in random ways in freedom’s final breath.

But closer lies an island, where the keepers keep the wards.
No sense, no charges nor defense - a verdict? Yes! … grotesque -
the guiltless gush confessions, born and bred on waterboards.
Impartial trials? A travesty instead, indeed quite Kafkaesque.

Now dusk draws near beyond my fractured windowpane
while mankind drowns like burnt-out suns in fading lurid light;
and scarlet clots of grim deceit and ebon beads of bane
flow, deified, within the rotting corpse of human night.
O
          Out of a bed of love
When that immortal hospital made one more moove to soothe
          The curless counted body,
               And ruin and his causes
Over the barbed and shooting sea assumed an army
          And swept into our wounds and houses,
I climb to greet the war in which I have no heart but only
          That one dark I owe my light,
Call for confessor and wiser mirror but there is none
          To glow after the god stoning night
And I am struck as lonely as a holy marker by the sun.

                              No
          Praise that the spring time is all
Gabriel and radiant shrubbery as the morning grows joyful
               Out of the woebegone pyre
And the multitude's sultry tear turns cool on the weeping wall,
          My arising prodgidal
Sun the father his quiver full of the infants of pure fire,
          But blessed be hail and upheaval
That uncalm still it is sure alone to stand and sing
          Alone in the husk of man's home
And the mother and toppling house of the holy spring,
          If only for a last time.
abecedarian Jan 2018
rite like Dylan/past the point of no return

all my life wanted to rite just once like Dylan.

but too set in the errors of my way to complement/compliment a master of the phrase, the original tunes I hum’em all
plagued and plagiarized and yet pleasing

head the Head over to the refrigerator, arrive in one piece,
but totally not remembering why I came this way,
cause i am way way past the point of no return

Oh yeah oh yeah cool brother Corona light to succor the soul,
while roasting body slow in a lavender bubble bath and it ain’t
even noon and no no room for company, this solo wonder-boy
tripping alone

pay my bills in the bath, winnow the widow-maker reading list,
good ****** on a free sundaey and there ain’t no football to watch and autocorrect authority don’t like ****** it only godded one D, as if He needs two D’s to mess us up better

the Corona doing magic trick disappearing so fast and here i am
certified past the point of return and there ain’t no more beer
in the general vicinity

so now the time to summarize my little darlings;
don’t break beer bottles in the bathroom,
don’t pay your bills in the bathtub when u gots 53.42 in cking,
don’t take your iPhone unsheathed into the same vicinity

all you will be left with is maxed out cc’s,
messes you want
not to tangle with,
brain leavings of a bad poem half write,
it isn’t even bad dylan mimicry
but confirmation you passed the point of no return

and u happy hum
don’t think twice it’s alright
it is all on my cover photo
Michael R Burch Sep 2020
Sonnets

For this collection I have used the original definition of "sonnet" as a "little song" rather than sticking to rigid formulas. The sonnets here include traditional sonnets, tetrameter sonnets, hexameter sonnets, curtal sonnets, 15-line sonnets, and some that probably defy categorization, which I call free verse sonnets for want of a better term. Most of these sonnets employ meter, rhyme and form and tend to be Romantic in the spirit of the Romanticism of Blake, Keats, Shelley, Wordsworth and Dylan Thomas.




Auschwitz Rose
by Michael R. Burch

There is a Rose at Auschwitz, in the briar,
a rose like Sharon's, lovely as her name.
The world forgot her, and is not the same.
I still love her and enlist this sacred fire
to keep her memory exalted flame
unmolested by the thistles and the nettles.

On Auschwitz now the reddening sunset settles;
they sleep alike―diminutive and tall,
the innocent, the "surgeons." Sleeping, all.

Red oxides of her blood, bright crimson petals,
if accidents of coloration, gall my heart no less.
Amid thick weeds and muck
there lies a rose man's crackling lightning struck:
the only Rose I ever longed to pluck.
Soon I'll bed there and bid the world "Good Luck."

Originally published by The Neovictorian/Cochlea



In Praise of Meter
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?

Originally published by The Eclectic Muse and in The Best of the Eclectic Muse 1989-2003



Discrimination
by Michael R. Burch

The meter I had sought to find, perplexed,
was ripped from books of "verse" that read like prose.
I found it in sheet music, in long rows
of hologramic CDs, in sad wrecks
of long-forgotten volumes undisturbed
half-centuries by archivists, unscanned.
I read their fading numbers, frowned, perturbed―
why should such tattered artistry be banned?

I heard the sleigh bells’ jingles, vampish ads,
the supermodels’ babble, Seuss’s books
extolled in major movies, blurbs for abs ...
A few poor thinnish journals crammed in nooks
are all I’ve found this late to sell to those
who’d classify free verse "expensive prose."

Originally published by The Chariton Review



The Forge
by Michael R. Burch

To at last be indestructible, a poem
must first glow, almost flammable, upon
a thing inert, as gray, as dull as stone,

then bend this way and that, and slowly cool
at arms-length, something irreducible
drawn out with caution, toughened in a pool

of water so contrary just a hiss
escapes it―water instantly a mist.
It writhes, a thing of senseless shapelessness ...

And then the driven hammer falls and falls.
The horses ***** their ears in nearby stalls.
A soldier on his cot leans back and smiles.

A sound of ancient import, with the ring
of honest labor, sings of fashioning.

Originally published by The Chariton Review



For All That I Remembered
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.

Originally published by The Raintown Review



Leaf Fall
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.

Originally published by The Neovictorian/Cochlea



Isolde's Song
by Michael R. Burch

Through our long years of dreaming to be one
we grew toward an enigmatic light
that gently warmed our tendrils. Was it sun?
We had no eyes to tell; we loved despite
the lack of all sensation―all but one:
we felt the night's deep chill, the air so bright
at dawn we quivered limply, overcome.

To touch was all we knew, and how to bask.
We knew to touch; we grew to touch; we felt
spring's urgency, midsummer's heat, fall's lash,
wild winter's ice and thaw and fervent melt.
We felt returning light and could not ask
its meaning, or if something was withheld
more glorious. To touch seemed life's great task.

At last the petal of me learned: unfold.
And you were there, surrounding me. We touched.
The curious golden pollens! Ah, we touched,
and learned to cling and, finally, to hold.

Originally published by The Raintown Review



See
by Michael R. Burch

See how her hair has thinned: it doesn't seem
like hair at all, but like the airy moult
of emus who outraced the wind and left
soft plumage in their wake. See how her eyes
are gentler now; see how each wrinkle laughs,
and deepens on itself, as though mirth took
some comfort there and burrowed deeply in,
outlasting winter. See how very thin
her features are―that time has made more spare,
so that each bone shows, elegant and rare.

For loveliness remains in her grave eyes,
and courage in her still-delighted looks:
each face presented like a picture book's.
Bemused, she blows us undismayed goodbyes.

Originally published by Writer's Digest's: The Year's Best Writing 2003



In the Whispering Night
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,
and 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 bodies to some violent 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 world of resplendence from which we were seized.

Published in Songs of Innocence, Romantics Quarterly and Poetry Life & Times. This is a sonnet I wrote for my favorite college English teacher, George King, about poetic kinship, brotherhood and romantic flights of fancy.



The Toast
by Michael R. Burch

For longings warmed by tepid suns
(brief lusts that animated clay),
for passions wilted at the bud
and skies grown desolate and gray,
for stars that fell from tinseled heights
and mountains bleak and scarred and lone,
for seas reflecting distant suns
and weeds that thrive where seeds were sown,
for waltzes ending in a hush,
for rhymes that fade as pages close,
for flames' exhausted, drifting ash,
and petals falling from the rose, ...
I raise my cup before I drink,
saluting ghosts of loves long dead,
and silently propose a toast―
to joys set free, and those I fled.



Second Sight (II)
by Michael R. Burch

(Newborns see best at a distance of 8 to 14 inches.)

Wiser than we know, the newborn screams,
red-faced from breath, and wonders what life means
this close to death, amid the arctic glare
of warmthless lights above.
Beware! Beware!―
encrypted signals, codes? Or ciphers, noughts?

Interpretless, almost, as his own thoughts―
the brilliant lights, the brilliant lights exist.
Intruding faces ogle, gape, insist―
this madness, this soft-hissing breath, makes sense.
Why can he not float on, in dark suspense,
and dream of life? Why did they rip him out?

He frowns at them―small gnomish frowns, all doubt―
and with an ancient mien, O sorrowful!,
re-closes eyes that saw in darkness null
ecstatic sights, exceeding beautiful.



Archaischer Torso Apollos (“Archaic Torso of Apollo”)
by Rainer Maria Rilke
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

We cannot know the beheaded god
nor his eyes' forfeited visions. But still
the figure's trunk glows with the strange vitality
of a lamp lit from within, while his composed will
emanates dynamism. Otherwise
the firmly muscled abdomen could not beguile us,
nor the centering ***** make us smile
at the thought of their generative animus.
Otherwise the stone might seem deficient,
unworthy of the broad shoulders, of the groin
projecting procreation's triangular spearhead upwards,
unworthy of the living impulse blazing wildly within
like an inchoate star―demanding our belief.
You must change your life.

TRANSLATOR'S NOTE: This is a Rilke sonnet about a major resolution: changing the very nature of one's life. While it is only my personal interpretation of the poem above, I believe Rilke was saying to himself: "I must change my life." Why? Perhaps because he wanted to be a real artist, and when confronted with real, dynamic, living and breathing art of Rodin, he realized that he had to inject similar vitality, energy and muscularity into his poetry. Michelangelo said that he saw the angel in a block of marble, then freed it. Perhaps Rilke had to find the dynamic image of Apollo, the God of Poetry, in his materials, which were paper, ink and his imagination.―Michael R. Burch



Komm, Du (“Come, You”)
by Ranier Maria Rilke
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

This was Rilke’s last poem, written ten days before his death. He died open-eyed in the arms of his doctor on December 29, 1926, in the Valmont Sanatorium, of leukemia and its complications. I had a friend who died of leukemia and he was burning up with fever in the end. I believe that is what Rilke was describing here: he was literally burning alive.

Come, you―the last one I acknowledge; return―
incurable pain searing this physical mesh.
As I burned in the spirit once, so now I burn
with you; meanwhile, you consume my flesh.

This wood that long resisted your embrace
now nourishes you; I surrender to your fury
as my gentleness mutates to hellish rage―
uncaged, wild, primal, mindless, outré.

Completely free, no longer future’s pawn,
I clambered up this crazy pyre of pain,
certain I’d never return―my heart’s reserves gone―
to become death’s nameless victim, purged by flame.

Now all I ever was must be denied.
I left my memories of my past elsewhere.
That life―my former life―remains outside.
Inside, I’m lost. Nobody knows me here.



Der Panther ("The Panther")
by Rainer Maria Rilke
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

His weary vision's so overwhelmed by iron bars,
his exhausted eyes see only blank Oblivion.
His world is not our world. It has no stars.
No light. Ten thousand bars. Nothing beyond.
Lithe, swinging with a rhythmic easy stride,
he circles, his small orbit tightening,
an electron losing power. Paralyzed,
soon regal Will stands stunned, an abject thing.
Only at times the pupils' curtains rise
silently, and then an image enters,
descends through arrested shoulders, plunges, centers
somewhere within his empty heart, and dies.



Liebes-Lied (“Love Song”)
by Rainer Maria Rilke
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

How can I withhold my soul so that it doesn’t touch yours?
How can I lift mine gently to higher things, alone?
Oh, I would gladly find something lost in the dark
in that inert space that fails to resonate until you vibrate.
There everything that moves us, draws us together like a bow
enticing two taut strings to sing together with a simultaneous voice.
Whose instrument are we becoming together?
Whose, the hands that excite us?
Ah, sweet song!



Sweet Rose of Virtue
by William Dunbar [1460-1525]
loose translation 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 that is held most dear―
except only that you are merciless.

Into your garden, today, I followed you;
there I saw flowers of freshest hue,
both white and red, delightful to see,
and wholesome herbs, waving resplendently―
yet everywhere, no odor but bitter rue.

I fear that March with his last arctic blast
has slain my fair rose of pallid and gentle cast,
whose piteous death does my heart such pain
that, if I could, I would compose her roots again―
so comforting her bowering leaves have been.



Ebb Tide
by Michael R. Burch

Massive, gray, these leaden waves
bear their unchanging burden―
the sameness of each day to day

while the wind seems to struggle to say
something half-submerged planks at the mouth of the bay
might nuzzle limp seaweed to understand.

Now collapsing dull waves drain away
from the unenticing land;
shrieking gulls shadow fish through salt spray―
whitish streaks on a fogged silver mirror.

Sizzling lightning impresses its brand.
Unseen fingers scribble something in the wet sand.

This is a free verse sonnet originally published by Southwest Review.



Water and Gold
by Michael R. Burch

You came to me as rain breaks on the desert
when every flower springs to life at once,
but joy's a wan illusion to the expert:
the Bedouin has learned how not to want.

You came to me as riches to a miser
when all is gold, or so his heart believes,
until he dies much thinner and much wiser,
his gleaming bones hauled off by chortling thieves.

You gave your heart too soon, too dear, too vastly;
I could not take it in; it was too much.
I pledged to meet your price, but promised rashly.
I died of thirst, of your bright Midas touch.

I dreamed you gave me water of your lips,
then sealed my tomb with golden hieroglyphs.

Originally published by The Lyric



The City Is a Garment
by Michael R. Burch

A rhinestone skein, a jeweled brocade of light,―
the city is a garment stretched so thin
her festive colors bleed into the night,
and everywhere bright seams, unraveling,

cascade their brilliant contents out like coins
on motorways and esplanades; bead cars
come tumbling down long highways; at her groin
a railtrack like a zipper flashes sparks;

her hills are haired with brush like cashmere wool
and from their cleavage winking lights enlarge
and travel, slender fingers ... softly pull
themselves into the semblance of a barge.

When night becomes too chill, she softly dons
great overcoats of warmest-colored dawn.

Originally published by The Lyric



The Folly of Wisdom
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.

This is a free verse sonnet originally published by Romantics Quarterly.



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 free verse sonnets 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.



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).

This is a free verse sonnet originally published by Light Quarterly.



Free Fall
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 breath. 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.

This is a 15-line free verse sonnet originally published by Sonnet Scroll.



Once
by Michael R. Burch

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.

Originally published by The Lyric



At Once
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth

Though she was fair,
though she sent me the epistle of her love at once
and inscribed therein love’s antique prayer,
I did not love her at once.

Though she would dare
pain’s pale, clinging shadows, to approach me at once,
the dark, haggard keeper of the lair,
I did not love her at once.

Though she would share
the all of her being, to heal me at once,
yet more than her touch I was unable bear.
I did not love her at once.

And yet she would care,
and pour out her essence ...
and yet―there was more!

I awoke from long darkness,
and yet―she was there.

I loved her the longer;
I loved her the more
because I did not love her at once.

Originally published by The Lyric



Twice
by Michael R. Burch

Now twice she has left me
and twice I have listened
and taken her back, remembering days

when love lay upon us
and sparkled and glistened
with the brightness of dew through a gathering haze.

But twice she has left me
to start my life over,
and twice I have gathered up embers, to learn:

rekindle a fire
from ash, soot and cinder
and softly it sputters, refusing to burn.

Originally published by The Lyric



Moments
by Michael R. Burch

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.



The Harvest of Roses
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.

Originally published by The Raintown Review



Distances
by Michael R. Burch

Moonbeams on water―
the reflected light
of a halcyon star
now drowning in night ...
So your memories are.

Footprints on beaches
now flooding with water;
the small, broken ribcage
of some primitive slaughter ...
So near, yet so far.

NOTE: In the first stanza the "halcyon star" is the sun, which has dropped below the horizon and is thus "drowning in night." But its light strikes the moon, creating moonbeams which are reflected by the water. Sometimes memories seem that distant, that faint, that elusive. Footprints are being washed away, a heart is missing from its ribcage, and even things close at hand can seem infinitely beyond our reach.



A Surfeit of Light
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.



Songstress
by Michael R. Burch

for Nadia Anjuman

Within its starkwhite ribcage, how the heart
must flutter wildly, O, and always sing
against the pressing darkness: all it knows
until at last it feels the numbing sting
of death. Then life's brief vision swiftly passes,
imposing night on one who clearly saw.
Death held your bright heart tightly, till its maw―
envenomed, fanged―could swallow, whole, your Awe.

And yet it was not death so much as you
who sealed your doom; you could not help but sing
and not be silenced. Here, behold your tomb's
white alabaster cage: pale, wretched thing!
But you'll not be imprisoned here, wise wren!
Your words soar free; rise, sing, fly, live again.

A poet like Nadia Anjuman can be likened to a caged bird, deprived of flight, who somehow finds it within herself to sing of love and beauty. But when the world finally robs her of both flight and song, what is left for her but to leave the world, thus bereaving the world of herself and her song?



Come Down
by Michael R. Burch

for Harold Bloom

Come down, O, come down
from your high mountain tower.
How coldly the wind blows,
how late this chill hour ...

and I cannot wait
for a meteor shower
to show you the time
must be now, or not ever.

Come down, O, come down
from the high mountain heather
now brittle and brown
as fierce northern gales sever.

Come down, or your heart
will grow cold as the weather
when winter devours
and spring returns never.

NOTE: I dedicated this poem to Harold Bloom after reading his introduction to the Best American Poetry anthology he edited. Bloom seemed intent on claiming poetry as the province of the uber-reader (i.e., himself), but I remember reading poems by Blake, Burns, cummings, Dickinson, Frost, Housman, Eliot, Pound, Shakespeare, Whitman, Yeats, et al, and grokking them as a boy, without any “advanced” instruction from anyone.



Such Tenderness
by Michael R. Burch

for the mothers of Gaza and loving, compassionate mothers everywhere

There was, in your touch, such tenderness―as
only the dove on her mildest day has,
when she shelters downed fledglings beneath a warm wing
and coos to them softly, unable to sing.

What songs long forgotten occur to you now―
a babe at each breast? What terrible vow
ripped from your throat like the thunder that day
can never hold severing lightnings at bay?

Time taught you tenderness―time, oh, and love.
But love in the end is seldom enough ...
and time?―insufficient to life’s brief task.
I can only admire, unable to ask―

what is the source, whence comes the desire
of a woman to love as no God may require?



In this Ordinary Swoon
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.

This is a mostly tetrameter sonnet with shorter and longer lines.



Mare Clausum
by Michael R. Burch

These are the narrows of my soul―
dark waters pierced by eerie, haunting screams.
And these uncharted islands bleakly home
wild nightmares and deep, strange, forbidding dreams.

Please don’t think to find pearls’ pale, unearthly glow
within its shoals, nor corals in its reefs.
For, though you seek to salvage Love, I know
that vessel lists, and night brings no relief.

Pause here, and look, and know that all is lost;
then turn, and go; let salt consume, and rust.
This sea is not for sailors, but the ******
who lingered long past morning, till they learned

why it is named:
Mare Clausum.

This is a free verse sonnet with shorter and longer lines, originally published by Penny Dreadful. Mare Clausum is Latin for "Closed Sea." I wrote the first version of this poem as a teenager.



Redolence
by Michael R. Burch

Now darkness ponds upon the violet hills;
cicadas sing; the tall elms gently sway;
and night bends near, a deepening shade of gray;
the bass concerto of a bullfrog fills
what silence there once was; globed searchlights play.

Green hanging ferns adorn dark window sills,
all drooping fronds, awaiting morning’s flares;
mosquitoes whine; the lissome moth again
flits like a veiled oud-dancer, and endures
the fumblings of night’s enervate gray rain.

And now the pact of night is made complete;
the air is fresh and cool, washed of the grime
of the city’s ashen breath; and, for a time,
the fragrance of her clings, obscure and sweet.

Published by The Eclectic Muse and The Best of the Eclectic Muse 1989-2003



Fountainhead
by Michael R. Burch

I did not delight in love so much
as in a kiss like linnets' wings,
the flutterings of a pulse so soft
the heart remembers, as it sings:
to bathe there was its transport, brushed
by marble lips, or porcelain,―
one liquid kiss, one cool outburst
from pale rosettes. What did it mean ...

to float awhirl on minute tides
within the compass of your eyes,
to feel your alabaster bust
grow cold within? Ecstatic sighs
seem hisses now; your eyes, serene,
reflect the sun's pale tourmaline.

Originally published by Romantics Quarterly



Pan
by Michael R. Burch

... Among the shadows of the groaning elms,
amid the darkening oaks, we fled ourselves ...

... Once there were paths that led to coracles
that clung to piers like loosening barnacles ...

... where we cannot return, because we lost
the pebbles and the playthings, and the moss ...

... hangs weeping gently downward, maidens’ hair
who never were enchanted, and the stairs ...

... that led up to the Fortress in the trees
will not support our weight, but on our knees ...

... we still might fit inside those splendid hours
of damsels in distress, of rustic towers ...

... of voices of the wolves’ tormented howls
that died, and live in dreams’ soft, windy vowels ...

Originally published by Sonnet Scroll



The Endeavors of Lips
by Michael R. Burch

How sweet the endeavors of lips: to speak
of the heights of those pleasures which left us weak
in love’s strangely lit beds, where the cold springs creak:
for there is no illusion like love ...

Grown childlike, we wish for those storied days,
for those bright sprays of flowers, those primrosed ways
that curled to the towers of Yesterdays
where She braided illusions of love ...

"O, let down your hair!"―we might call and call,
to the dark-slatted window, the moonlit wall ...
but our love is a shadow; we watch it crawl
like a spidery illusion. For love ...

was never as real as that first kiss seemed
when we read by the flashlight and dreamed.

Originally published by Romantics Quarterly (USA) and The Eclectic Muse (Canada)



Loose Knit
by Michael R. Burch

She blesses the needle,
fetches fine red stitches,
criss-crossing, embroidering dreams
in the delicate fabric.

And if her hand jerks and twitches in puppet-like fits,
she tells herself
reality is not as threadbare as it seems ...

that a little more darning may gather loose seams.

She weaves an unraveling tapestry
of fatigue and remorse and pain; ...
only the nervously pecking needle
****** her to motion, again and again.

This is a free verse sonnet published by The Chariton Review as “The Knitter,” then by Penumbra, Black Bear Review and Triplopia.



If You Come to San Miguel
by Michael R. Burch

If you come to San Miguel
before the orchids fall,
we might stroll through lengthening shadows
those deserted streets
where love first bloomed ...

You might buy the same cheap musk
from that mud-spattered stall
where with furtive eyes the vendor
watched his fragrant wares
perfume your ******* ...

Where lean men mend tattered nets,
disgruntled sea gulls chide;
we might find that cafetucho
where through grimy panes
sunset implodes ...

Where tall cranes spin canvassed loads,
the strange anhingas glide.
Green brine laps splintered moorings,
rusted iron chains grind,
weighed and anchored in the past,

held fast by luminescent tides ...
Should you come to San Miguel?
Let love decide.



A Vain Word
by Michael R. Burch

Oleanders at dawn preen extravagant whorls
as I read in leaves’ Sanskrit brief moments remaining
till sunset implodes, till the moon strands grey pearls
under moss-stubbled oaks, full of whispers, complaining
to the minions of autumn, how swiftly life goes
as I fled before love ... Now, through leaves trodden black,
shivering, I wander as winter’s first throes
of cool listless snow drench my cheeks, back and neck.

I discerned in one season all eternities of grief,
the specter of death sprawled out under the rose,
the last consequence of faith in the flight of one leaf,
the incontinence of age, as life’s bright torrent slows.

O, where are you now?―I was timid, absurd.
I would find comfort again in a vain word.

Published by Chrysanthemum and Tucumcari Literary Review



Chloe
by Michael R. Burch

There were skies onyx at night ... moons by day ...
lakes pale as her eyes ... breathless winds
******* tall elms; ... she would say
that we loved, but I figured we’d sinned.

Soon impatiens too fiery to stay
sagged; the crocus bells drooped, golden-limned;
things of brightness, rinsed out, ran to gray ...
all the light of that world softly dimmed.

Where our feet were inclined, we would stray;
there were paths where dead weeds stood untrimmed,
distant mountains that loomed in our way,
thunder booming down valleys dark-hymned.

What I found, I found lost in her face
while yielding all my virtue to her grace.

Originally published by Romantics Quarterly as “A Dying Fall”



Aflutter
by Michael R. Burch

This rainbow is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh.―Yahweh

You are gentle now, and in your failing hour
how like the child you were, you seem again,
and smile as sadly as the girl (age ten?)
who held the sparrow with the mangled wing
close to her heart. It marveled at your power
but would not mend. And so the world renews
old vows it seemed to make: false promises
spring whispers, as if nothing perishes
that does not resurrect to wilder hues
like rainbows’ eerie pacts we apprehend
but cannot fail to keep. Now in your eyes
I see the end of life that only dies
and does not care for bright, translucent lies.
Are tears so precious? These few, let us spend
together, as before, then lay to rest
these sparrows’ hearts aflutter at each breast.

This is a poem about a couple committing suicide together. The “eerie pact” refers to a Bible verse about the rainbow being a “covenant,” when the only covenant human beings can depend on is the original one that condemned us to suffer and die. That covenant is always kept perfectly.



To Flower
by Michael R. Burch

When Pentheus ["grief'] went into the mountains in the garb of the baccae, his mother [Agave] and the other maenads, possessed by Dionysus, tore him apart (Euripides, Bacchae; Apollodorus 3.5.2; Ovid, Metamorphoses 3.511-733; Hyginus, Fabulae 184). The agave dies as soon as it blooms; the moonflower, or night-blooming cereus, is a desert plant of similar fate.

We are not long for this earth, I know―
you and I, all our petals incurled,
till a night of pale brilliance, moonflower aglow.
Is there love anywhere in this strange world?
The Agave knows best when it's time to die
and rages to life with such rapturous leaves
her name means Illustrious. Each hour more high,
she claws toward heaven, for, if she believes
in love at all, she has left it behind
to flower, to flower. When darkness falls
she wilts down to meet it, where something crawls:
beheaded, bewildered. And since love is blind,
she never adored it, nor watches it go.
Can we be as she is, moonflower aglow?

Originally published by The Neovictorian/Cochlea



Flight 93
by Michael R. Burch

I held the switch in trembling fingers, asked
why existence felt so small, so purposeless,
like a minnow wriggling feebly in my grasp ...

vibrations of huge engines thrummed my arms
as, glistening with sweat, I nudged the switch
to OFF ... I heard the klaxon-shrill alarms

like vultures’ shriekings ... earthward, in a stall ...
we floated ... earthward ... wings outstretched, aghast
like Icarus ... as through the void we fell ...

till nothing was so beautiful, so blue ...
so vivid as that moment ... and I held
an image of your face, and dreamed I flew

into your arms. The earth rushed up. I knew
such comfort, in that moment, loving you.

This is a free verse sonnet originally published by The Lyric.



Oasis
by Michael R. Burch

I want tears to form again
in the shriveled glands of these eyes
dried all these long years
by too much heated knowing.

I want tears to course down
these parched cheeks,
to star these cracked lips
like an improbable dew

in the heart of a desert.

I want words to burble up
like happiness, like the thought of love,
like the overwhelming, shimmering thought of you

to a nomad who
has only known drought.

This is a mostly hexameter sonnet with shorter and longer lines.



Melting
by Michael R. Burch

Entirely, as spring consumes the snow,
the thought of you consumes me: I am found
in rivulets, dissolved to what I know
of former winters’ passions. Underground,
perhaps one slender icicle remains
of what I was before, in some dark cave―
a stalactite, long calcified, now drains
to sodden pools, whose milky liquid laves
the colder rock, thus washing something clean
that never saw the light, that never knew
the crust could break above, that light could stream:
so luminous, so bright, so beautiful ...
I lie revealed, and so I stand transformed,
and all because you smiled on me, and warmed.



Afterglow
by Michael R. Burch

The night is full of stars. Which still exist?
Before time ends, perhaps one day we’ll know.
For now I hold your fingers to my lips
and feel their pulse ... warm, palpable and slow ...

once slow to match this reckless spark in me,
this moon in ceaseless orbit I became,
compelled by wilder gravity to flee
night’s universe of suns, for one pale flame ...

for one pale flame that seemed to signify
the Zodiac of all, the meaning of
love’s wandering flight past Neptune. Now to lie
in dawning recognition is enough ...

enough each night to bask in you, to know
the face of love ... eyes closed ... its afterglow.



All Afterglow
by Michael R. Burch

Something remarkable, perhaps ...
the color of her eyes ... though I forget
the color of her eyes ... perhaps her hair
the way it blew about ... I do not know
just what it was about her that has kept
her thought lodged deep in mine ... unmelted snow
that lasted till July would be less rare,
clasped in some frozen cavern where the wind
sculpts bright grotesqueries, ignoring springs’
and summers’ higher laws ... there thawing slow
and strange by strange degrees, one tick beyond
the freezing point which keeps all things the same
... till what remains is fragile and unlike
the world above, where melted snows and rains
form rivulets that, inundate with sun,
evaporate, and in life’s cyclic stream
remake the world again ... I do not know
that we can be remade―all afterglow.



These Hallowed Halls
by Michael R. Burch

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

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.
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 that has leapt every pinnacle of Love,
and the result of all such infatuations―
the long freefall to earth, as the moon glides above.



Come!
by Michael R. Burch

Will you come to visit my grave, I wonder,
in the season of lightning, the season of thunder,
when I have lain so long in the indifferent earth
that I have no girth?

When my womb has conformed to the chastity
your anemic Messiah envisioned for me,
will you finally be pleased that my *** was thus rendered
unpalatable, disengendered?

And when those strange loathsome organs that troubled you so
have been eaten by worms, will the heavens still glow
with the approval of God that I ended a maid―
thanks to a *****?

And will you come to visit my grave, I wonder,
in the season of lightning, the season of thunder?



Erin
by Michael R. Burch

All that’s left of Ireland is her hair―
bright carrot―and her milkmaid-pallid skin,

her brilliant air of cavalier despair,
her train of children―some conceived in sin,

the others to avoid it. For nowhere
is evidence of thought. Devout, pale, thin,
gay, nonchalant, all radiance. So fair!

How can men look upon her and not spin
like wobbly buoys churned by her skirt’s brisk air?
They buy. They ***** to pat her nyloned shin,
to share her elevated, pale Despair ...
to find at last two spirits ease no one’s.

All that’s left of Ireland is the Care,
her impish grin, green eyes like leprechauns’.



The Composition of Shadows
by Michael R. Burch

“I made it out of a mouthful of air.”―W. B. Yeats

We breathe and so we write; the night
hums softly its accompaniment.
Pale phosphors burn; the page we turn
leads onward, and we smile, content.

And what we mean we write to learn:
the vowels of love, the consonants’
strange golden weight, each plosive’s shape―
curved like the heart. Here, resonant,

sounds’ shadows mass beneath bright glass
like singing voles curled in a maze
of blank white space. We touch a face―
long-frozen words trapped in a glaze

that insulates our hearts. Nowhere
can love be found. Just shrieking air.



The Composition of Shadows (II)
by Michael R. Burch

We breathe and so we write;
the night
hums softly its accompaniment.

Pale phosphors burn;
the page we turn
leads onward, and we smile, content.

And what we mean
we write to learn:
the vowels of love, the consonants’

strange golden weight,
the blood’s debate
within the heart. Here, resonant,

sounds’ shadows mass
against bright glass,
within the white Labyrinthian maze.

Through simple grace,
I touch your face,
ah words! And I would gaze

the night’s dark length
in waning strength
to find the words to feel

such light again.
O, for a pen
to spell love so ethereal.



To Please The Poet
by Michael R. Burch

To please the poet, words must dance―
staccato, brisk, a two-step:
so!
Or waltz in elegance to time
of music mild,
adagio.

To please the poet, words must chance
emotion in catharsis―
flame.
Or splash into salt seas, descend
in sheets of silver-shining
rain.

To please the poet, words must prance
and gallop, gambol, revel,
rail.
Or muse upon a moment, mute,
obscure, unsure, imperfect,
pale.

To please the poet, words must sing,
or croak, wart-tongued, imagining.



The First Christmas
by Michael R. Burch

’Twas in a land so long ago . . .
the lambs lay blanketed in snow
and little children everywhere
sat and watched warm embers glow
and dreamed (of what, we do not know).

And THEN―a star appeared on high,
The brightest man had ever seen!
It made the children whisper low
in puzzled awe (what did it mean?).
It made the wooly lambkins cry.

For far away a new-born lay,
warm-blanketed in straw and hay,
a lowly manger for his crib.
The cattle mooed, distraught and low,
to see the child. They did not know

it now was Christmas day!

This is a poem in which I tried to capture the mystery and magic of the first Christmas day. If you like my poem, you are welcome to share it, but please cite me as the author, which you can do by including the title and subheading.



The Lingering and the Unconsoled Heart
by Michael R. Burch

There is a silence―
the last unspoken moment
before death,

when the moon,
cratered and broken,
is all madness and light,

when the breath comes low and complaining,
and the heart is a ruin
of emptiness and night.

There is a grief―
the grief of a lover's embrace
while faith still shimmers in a mother’s tears ...

There is no emptier time, nor place,
while the faint glimmer of life is ours
that the lingering and the unconsoled heart fears

beyond this: seeing its own stricken face
in eyes that drift toward some incomprehensible place.



Lozenge
by Michael R. Burch

When I was closest to love, it did not seem
real at all, but a thing of such tenuous sweetness
it might dissolve in my mouth
like a lozenge of sugar.

When I held you in my arms, I did not feel
our lack of completeness,
knowing how easy it was
for us to cling to each other.

And there were nights when the clouds
sped across the moon’s face,
exposing such rarified brightness
we did not witness

so much as embrace
love’s human appearance.

This is a free verse sonnet originally published by The HyperTexts.



The Princess and the Pauper
by Michael R. Burch

for Norman Kraeft in memory of his beloved wife June Kysilko Kraeft

Here was a woman bright, intent on life,
who did not flinch from Death, but caught his eye
and drew him, powerless, into her spell
of wanting her himself, so much the lie
that she was meant for him―obscene illusion!―

made him seem a monarch throned like God on high,
when he was less than nothing; when to die
meant many stultifying, pained embraces.

She shed her gown, undid the tangled laces
that tied her to the earth: then she was his.
Now all her erstwhile beauty he defaces
and yet she grows in hallowed loveliness―
her ghost beyond perfection―for to die
was to ascend. Now he begs, penniless.



Album
by Michael R. Burch

I caress them―trapped in brittle cellophane―
and I see how young they were, and how unwise;
and I remember their first flight―an old prop plane,
their blissful arc through alien blue skies ...

And I touch them here through leaves which―tattered, frayed―
are also wings, but wings that never flew:
like insects’ wings―pinned, held. Here, time delayed,
their features never changed, remaining two ...

And Grief, which lurked unseen beyond the lens
or in shadows where It crept on feral claws
as It scratched Its way into their hearts, depends
on sorrows such as theirs, and works Its jaws ...

and slavers for Its meat―those young, unwise,
who naively dare to dream, yet fail to see
how, lumbering sunward, Hope, ungainly, flies,
clutching to Her ruffled breast what must not be.



Because You Came to Me
by Michael R. Burch

Because you came to me with sweet compassion
and kissed my furrowed brow and smoothed my hair,
I do not love you after any fashion,
but wildly, in despair.

Because you came to me in my black torment
and kissed me fiercely, blazing like the sun
upon parched desert dunes, till in dawn’s foment
they melt, I am undone.

Because I am undone, you have remade me
as suns bring life, as brilliant rains endow
the earth below with leaves, where you now shade me
and bower me, somehow.



Break Time
by Michael R. Burch

for those who lost loved ones on 9-11

Intrude upon my grief; sit; take a spot
of milk to cloud the blackness that you feel;
add artificial sweeteners to conceal
the bitter aftertaste of loss. You’ll heal
if I do not. The coffee’s hot. You speak:
of bundt cakes, polls, the price of eggs. You glance
twice at your watch, cough, look at me askance.
The TV drones oeuvres of high romance
in syncopated lip-synch. Should I feel
the underbelly of Love’s warm Ideal,
its fuzzy-wuzzy tummy, and not reel
toward some dark conclusion? Disappear
to pale, dissolving atoms. Were you here?
I brush you off: like saccharine, like a tear.



911 Carousel
by Michael R. Burch

“And what rough beast ... slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?”―W. B. Yeats

They laugh and do not comprehend, nor ask
which way the wind is blowing, no, nor why
the reeling azure fixture of the sky
grows pale with ash, and whispers “Holocaust.”

They think to seize the ring, life’s tinfoil prize,
and, breathless with endeavor, shriek aloud.
The voice of terror thunders from a cloud
that darkens over children adult-wise,

far less inclined to error, when a step
in any wrong direction is to fall
a JDAM short of heaven. Decoys call,
their voices plangent, honking to be shot . . .

Here, childish dreams and nightmares whirl, collide,
as East and West, on slouching beasts, they ride.



At Cædmon’s Grave
by Michael R. Burch

“Cædmon’s Hymn,” composed at the Monastery of Whitby (a North Yorkshire fishing village), is one of the oldest known poems written in the English language, dating back to around 680 A.D. According to legend, Cædmon, an illiterate Anglo-Saxon cowherd, received the gift of poetic composition from an angel; he subsequently founded a school of Christian poets. Unfortunately, only nine lines of Cædmon’s verse survive, in the writings of the Venerable Bede. Whitby, tiny as it is, reappears later in the history of English literature, having been visited, in diametric contrast, by Lewis Carroll and Bram Stoker’s ghoulish yet evocative Dracula.


At the monastery of Whitby,
on a day when the sun sank through the sea,
and the gulls shrieked wildly, jubilant, free,

while the wind and time blew all around,
I paced those dusk-enamored grounds
and thought I heard the steps resound

of Carroll, Stoker and good Bede
who walked there, too, their spirits freed
―perhaps by God, perhaps by need―

to write, and with each line, remember
the glorious light of Cædmon’s ember,
scorched tongues of flame words still engender.

Here, as darkness falls, at last we meet.
I lay this pale garland of words at his feet.

Originally published by The Lyric



Radiance
by Michael R. Burch

for Dylan Thomas

The poet delves earth’s detritus―hard toil―
for raw-edged nouns, barbed verbs, vowels’ lush bouquet;
each syllable his pen excretes―dense soil,
dark images impacted, rooted clay.

The poet sees the sea but feels its meaning―
the teeming brine, the mirrored oval flame
that leashes and excites its turgid surface ...
then squanders years imagining love’s the same.

Belatedly he turns to what lies broken―
the scarred and furrowed plot he fiercely sifts,
among death’s sicksweet dungs and composts seeking
one element that scorches and uplifts.



Downdraft
by Michael R. Burch

for Dylan Thomas

We feel rather than understand what he meant
as he reveals a shattered firmament
which before him never existed.

Here, there are no images gnarled and twisted
out of too many words,
but only flocks of white birds

wheeling and flying.

Here, as Time spins, reeling and dying,
the voice of a last gull
or perhaps some spirit no longer whole,

echoes its lonely madrigal
and we feel its strange pull
on the astonished soul.

O My Prodigal!

The vents of the sky, ripped asunder,
echo this wild, primal thunder—
now dying into undulations of vanishing wings . . .

and this voice which in haggard bleak rapture still somehow downward sings.



Huntress
by Michael R. Burch

after Baudelaire

Lynx-eyed, cat-like and cruel, you creep
across a crevice dropping deep
into a dark and doomed domain.
Your claws are sheathed. You smile, insane.
Rain falls upon your path, and pain
pours down. Your paws are pierced. You pause
and heed the oft-lamented laws
which bid you not begin again
till night returns. You wail like wind,
the sighing of a soul for sin,
and give up hunting for a heart.
Till sunset falls again, depart,
though hate and hunger urge you―"On!"

Heed, hearts, your hope―the break of dawn.

Published by The HyperTexts, Dracula and His Kin and Sonnetto Poesia (Canada)



Happily Never After (the Second Curse of the ***** Toad)
by Michael R. Burch

He did not think of love of Her at all
frog-plangent nights, as moons engoldened roads
through crumbling stonewalled provinces, where toads
(nee princes) ruled in chinks and grew so small
at last to be invisible. He smiled
(the fables erred so curiously), and thought
bemusedly of being reconciled
to human flesh, because his heart was not
incapable of love, but, being cursed
a second time, could only love a toad’s . . .
and listened as inflated frogs rehearsed
cheekbulging tales of anguish from green moats . . .
and thought of her soft croak, her skin fine-warted,
his anemic flesh, and how true love was thwarted.



Because She Craved the Very Best
by Michael R. Burch

Because she craved the very best,
he took her East, he took her West;
he took her where there were no wars
and brought her bright bouquets of stars,
the blush and fragrances of roses,
the hush an evening sky imposes,
moonbeams pale and garlands rare,
and golden combs to match her hair,
a nightingale to sing all night,
white wings, to let her soul take flight ...

She stabbed him with a poisoned sting
and as he lay there dying,
she screamed, "I wanted everything!"
and started crying.



Caveat
by Michael R. Burch

If only we were not so eloquent,
we might sing, and only sing, not to impress,
but only to enjoy, to be enjoyed.

We might inundate the earth with thankfulness
for light, although it dies, and make a song
of night descending on the earth like bliss,

with other lights beyond―not to be known―
but only to be welcomed and enjoyed,
before all worlds and stars are overthrown ...

as a lover’s hands embrace a sleeping face
and find it beautiful for emptiness
of all but joy. There is no thought to love

but love itself. How senseless to redress,
in darkness, such becoming nakedness . . .

Originally published by Clementine Unbound



To the Post-Modern Muse, Floundering
by Michael R. Burch


The anachronism in your poetry
is that it lacks a future history.
The line that rings, the forward-sounding bell,
tolls death for you, for drowning victims tell
of insignificance, of eerie shoals,
of voices underwater. Lichen grows
to mute the lips of those men paid no heed,
and though you cling by fingertips, and bleed,
there is no lifeline now, for what has slipped
lies far beyond your grasp. Iron fittings, stripped,
have left the hull unsound, bright cargo lost.
The argosy of all your toil is rust.

The anchor that you flung did not take hold
in any harbor where repair is sold.

Originally published by Ironwood



Wonderland
by Michael R. Burch

We stood, kids of the Lamb, to put to test
the beatific anthems of the blessed,
the sentence of the martyr, and the pen’s
sincere religion. Magnified, the lens
shot back absurd reflections of each face―
a carnival-like mirror. In the space
between the silver backing and the glass,
we caught a glimpse of Joan, a frumpy lass
who never brushed her hair or teeth, and failed
to pass on GO, and frequently was jailed
for awe’s beliefs. Like Alice, she grew wee
to fit the door, then couldn’t lift the key.
We failed the test, and so the jury’s hung.
In Oz, “The Witch is Dead” ranks number one.



Day, and Night
by Michael R. Burch

The moon exposes pockmarked scars of craters;
her visage, veiled by willows, palely looms.
And we who rise each day to grind a living,
dream each scented night of such perfumes
as drew us to the window, to the moonlight,
when all the earth was steeped in cobalt blue―
an eerie vase of achromatic flowers
bled silver by pale starlight, losing hue.

The night begins her waltz to waiting sunrise―
adagio, the music she now hears;
and we who in the sunlight slave for succor,
dreaming, seek communion with the spheres.
And all around the night is in crescendo,
and everywhere the stars’ bright legions form,
and here we hear the sweet incriminations
of lovers we had once to keep us warm.

And also here we find, like bled carnations,
red lips that whitened, kisses drawn to lies,
that touched us once with fierce incantations
and taught us love was prettier than wise.



130 Refuted
by Michael R. Burch

My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips' red;
―Shakespeare, Sonnet 130

Seas that sparkle in the sun
without its light would have no beauty;
but the light within your eyes
is theirs alone; it owes no duty.
And their kindled flame, not half as bright,
is meant for me, and brings delight.

Coral formed beneath the sea,
though scarlet-tendriled, cannot warm me;
while your lips, not half so red,
just touching mine, at once inflame me.
And the searing flames your lips arouse
fathomless oceans fail to douse.

Bright roses’ brief affairs, declared
when winter comes, will wither quickly.
Your cheeks, though paler when compared
with them?―more lasting, never prickly.

And your cheeks, though wan, so dear and warm,
far vaster treasures, need no thorns.

Originally published by Romantics Quarterly



Love Sonnet LXVI
by Pablo Neruda
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I love you only because I love you;
I am torn between loving and not loving you,
between apathy and desire.
My heart vacillates between ice and fire.

I love you only because you’re the one I love;
I hate you deeply, but hatred makes me implore you all the more
so that in my inconstancy
I do not see you, but love you blindly.

Perhaps January’s frigid light
will consume my heart with its cruel rays,
robbing me of the key to contentment.

In this tragic plot, I ****** myself
and I will die loveless because I love you,
because I love you, my Love, in fire and in blood.



Love Sonnet XI
by Pablo Neruda
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I crave your mouth, your voice, your hair.
I stalk the streets, silent and starving.
Bread does not satisfy me; dawn does not divert me
from my relentless pursuit of your fluid spoor.

I long for your liquid laughter,
for your sunburned hands like savage harvests.
I lust for your fingernails' pale marbles.
I want to devour your ******* like almonds, whole.

I want to ingest the sunbeams singed by your beauty,
to eat the aquiline nose from your aloof face,
to lick your eyelashes' flickering shade.

I pursue you, snuffing the shadows,
seeking your heart's scorching heat
like a puma prowling the heights of Quitratue.



Love Sonnet XVII
by Pablo Neruda
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I do not love you like coral or topaz,
or the blazing hearth’s incandescent white flame;
I love you as obscure things are embraced in the dark ...
secretly, in shadows, unguessed & unnamed.

I love you like shrubs that refuse to blossom
while pregnant with the radiance of mysterious flowers;
now, thanks to your love, an earthy fragrance
lives dimly in my body’s odors.

I love you without knowing―how, when, why or where;
I love you forthrightly, without complications or care;
I love you this way because I know no other.

Here, where “I” no longer exists ... so it seems ...
so close that your hand on my chest is my own,
so close that your eyes close gently on my dreams.



Sonnet XLV
by Pablo Neruda
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Don't wander far away, not even for a day, because―
how can I explain? A day is too long ...
and I’ll be waiting for you, like a man in an empty station
where the trains all stand motionless.

Don't leave me, my dear, not even for an hour, because―
then despair’s raindrops will all run blurrily together,
and the smoke that drifts lazily in search of a home
will descend hazily on me, suffocating my heart.

Darling, may your lovely silhouette never dissolve in the surf;
may your lashes never flutter at an indecipherable distance.
Please don't leave me for a second, my dearest,

because then you'll have gone far too far
and I'll wander aimlessly, amazed, asking all the earth:
Will she ever return? Will she spurn me, dying?



Imperfect Sonnet
by Michael R. Burch

A word before the light is doused: the night
is something wriggling through an unclean mind,
as rats creep through a tenement. And loss
is written cheaply with the moon’s cracked gloss
like lipstick through the infinite, to show
love’s pale yet sordid imprint on us. Go.

We have not learned love yet, except to cleave.
I saw the moon rise once ... but to believe ...
was of another century ... and now ...
I have the urge to love, but not the strength.

Despair, once stretched out to its utmost length,
lies couched in squalor, watching as the screen
reveals "love's" damaged images: its dreams ...
and ******* limply, screams and screams.

Originally published by Sonnet Scroll



Mayflies
by Michael R. Burch

These standing stones have stood the test of time
but who are you
and what are you
and why?

As brief as mist, as transient, as pale ...
Inconsequential mayfly!

Perhaps the thought of love inspired hope?
Do midges love? Do stars bend down to see?
Do gods commend the kindnesses of ants
to aphids? Does one eel impress the sea?

Are mayflies missed by mountains? Do the stars
regret the glowworm’s stellar mimicry
the day it dies? Does not the world grind on
as if it’s no great matter, not to be?

Life, to be sure, is nothing much to lose.
And yet somehow you’re everything to me.

Originally published by Clementine Unbound



Artificial Smile
by Michael R. Burch

I’m waiting for my artificial teeth
to stretch belief, to hollow out the cob
of zealous righteousness, to grasp life’s stub
between clenched molars, and yank out the grief.

Mine must be art-official―zenlike Art―
a disembodied, white-enameled grin
of Cheshire manufacture. Part by part,
the human smile becomes mock porcelain.

Till in the end, the smile alone remains:
titanium-based alloys undestroyed
with graves’ worm-eaten contents, all the pains
of bridgework unrecalled, and what annoyed

us most about the corpses rectified
to quaintest dust. The Smile winks, deified.



Modern Appetite
by Michael R. Burch

It grumbled low, insisting it would feast
on blood and flesh, etcetera, at least
three times a day. With soft lubricious grease

and pale salacious oils, it would ease
its way through life. Each day―an aperitif.
Each night―a frothy bromide, for relief.

It lived on TV fare, wore pinafores,
slurped sugar-coated gumballs, gobbled S’mores.
When gas ensued, it burped and farted. ’Course,

it thought aloud, my wife will leave me. ******
are not so **** particular. Divorce
is certainly a settlement, toujours!

A Tums a day will keep the shrink away,
recalcify old bones, keep gas at bay.
If Simon says, etcetera, Mother, may
I have my hit of calcium today?


Mother of Cowards
by Michael R. Burch aka "The Loyal Opposition"

So unlike the brazen giant of Greek fame
With conquering limbs astride from land to land,
Spread-eagled, showering gold, a strumpet stands:
A much-used trollop with a torch, whose flame
Has long since been extinguished. And her name?
"Mother of Cowards!" From her enervate hand
Soft ash descends. Her furtive eyes demand
Allegiance to her ****'s repulsive game.

"Keep, ancient lands, your wretched poor!" cries she
With scarlet lips. "Give me your hale, your whole,
Your huddled tycoons, yearning to be pleased!
The wretched refuse of your toilet hole?
Oh, never send one unwashed child to me!
I await Trump's pleasure by the gilded bowl!"

Originally published by Light



Premonition
by Michael R. Burch

Now the evening has come to a close and the party is over ...
we stand in the doorway and watch as they go―
each stranger, each acquaintance, each unembraceable lover.

They walk to their cars and they laugh as they go,
though we know their warm laughter’s the wine ...
then they pause at the road where the dark asphalt flows
endlessly on toward Zion ...

and they kiss one another as though they were friends,
and they promise to meet again “soon” ...
but the rivers of Jordan roll on without end,
and the mockingbird calls to the moon ...

and the katydids climb up the cropped hanging vines,
and the crickets chirp on out of tune ...
and their shadows, defined by the cryptic starlight,
seem spirits torn loose from their tombs.

And I know their brief lives are just eddies in time,
that their hearts are unreadable runes
to be wiped clean, like slate, by the dark hand of fate
when their corpses lie ravaged and ruined ...

You take my clenched fist and you give it a kiss
as though it were something you loved,
and the tears fill your eyes, brimming with the soft light
of the stars winking gently above ...

Then you whisper, "It's time that we went back inside;
if you'd like, we can sit and just talk for a while."
And the hope in your eyes burns too deep, so I lie
and I say, "Yes, I would," to your small, troubled smile.

I rather vividly remember writing this poem after an office party the year I co-oped with AT&T (at that time the largest company in the world, with presumably a lot of office parties). This would have been after my sophomore year in college, making me around 20 years old. The poem is “true” except that I was not the host because the party was at the house of one of the upper-level managers. Nor was I dating anyone seriously at the time.



Your e-Verse
by Michael R. Burch

for the posters and posers on www.fillintheblank.com

I cannot understand a word you’ve said
(and this despite an adequate I.Q.);
it must be some exotic new haiku
combined with Latin suddenly undead.

It must be hieroglyphics mixed with Greek.
Have Pound and T. S. Eliot been cloned?
Perhaps you wrote it on the ***, so ******
you spelled it backwards, just to be oblique.

I think you’re very funny, so, “Yuk! Yuk!”
I know you must be kidding; didn’t we
write crap like this and call it “poetry,”
a form of verbal exercise, P.E.,
in kindergarten, when we ran “amuck?”

Oh, sorry, I forgot to “make it new.”
Perhaps I still can learn a thing or two
from someone tres original, like you.



http://www.firesermon.com
by Michael R. Burch

your gods have become e-vegetation;
your saints―pale thumbnail icons; to enlarge
their images, right-click; it isn’t hard
to populate your web-site; not to mention
cool sound effects are nice; Sound Blaster cards
can liven up dull sermons, [zing some fire];
your drives need added Zip; you must discard
your balky paternosters: ***!!! Desire!!!
these are the watchwords, catholic; you must
as Yahoo! did, employ a little lust :)
if you want great e-commerce; hire a bard
to spruce up ancient language, shed the dust
of centuries of sameness; lameness *****;
your gods grew blurred; go 3D; scale; adjust.

Published by: Ironwood, Triplopia and Nisqually Delta Review

This poem pokes fun at various stages of religion, all tied however elliptically to T. S. Eliot's "Fire Sermon: (1) The Celts believed that the health of the land was tied to the health of its king. The Fisher King's land was in peril because he had a physical infirmity. One bad harvest and it was the king's fault for displeasing the gods. A religious icon (the Grail) could somehow rescue him. Strange logic! (2) The next stage brings us the saints, the Catholic church, etc. Millions are slaughtered, tortured and enslaved in the name of religion. Strange logic! (3) The next stage brings us to Darwin, modernism and "The Waste Land.” Religion is dead. God is dead. Man is a glorified fungus! We'll evolve into something better adapted to life on Earth, someday, if we don’t destroy it. But billions continue to believe in and worship ancient “gods.” Strange logic! (4) The current stage of religion is summed up by this e-mail: the only way religion can compete today is as a form of flashy entertainment. ***** a website before it's too late. Hire some **** supermodels and put the evangelists on the Internet!



The State of the Art (?)
by Michael R. Burch

Has rhyme lost all its reason
and rhythm, renascence?
Are sonnets out of season
and poems but poor pretense?

Are poets lacking fire,
their words too trite and forced?
What happened to desire?
Has passion been coerced?

Shall poetry fade slowly,
like Latin, to past tense?
Are the bards too high and holy,
or their readers merely dense?



Plastic Art or Night Stand
by Michael R. Burch

Disclaimer: This is a poem about artificial poetry, not love dolls! The victim is the Muse.

We never questioned why “love” seemed less real
the more we touched her, and forgot her face.
Absorbed in molestation’s sticky feel,
we failed to see her staring into space,
her doll-like features frozen in a smile.
She held us in her marionette’s embrace,
her plastic flesh grown wet and slick and vile.
We groaned to feel our urgent fingers trace
her undemanding body. All the while,
she lay and gaily bore her brief disgrace.
We loved her echoed passion’s squeaky air,
her tongueless kisses’ artificial taste,
the way she matched, then raised our reckless pace,
the heart that seemed to pound, but was not there.



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
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.



Keywords/Tags: sonnet, sonnets, meter, rhythm, music, musical, rhyme, form, formal verse, formalist, tradition, traditional, romantic, romanticism, rose, fire, passion, desire, love, heart, number, numbers, mrbson
"Have you any idea why a raven is like a writing desk?"
~Later, towards the end~
Alice asks, "Hatter, why is a raven like a writing desk?"
Mad Hatter: "I haven't the slightest idea."
Then Alice disappears back home.*
So why is a raven like a writing desk?
Ravens symbolizes death and to me Writing symbolizes
freedom.
But when you think about it ravens fly-- come and go as they please. Writers feel like that when they write at a writing desk--
come and go as they please.
So maybe there's the answer...
Ravens are free, and a writing desk is a place to be free.
But maybe a raven is also like a writing desk because most good poems deal with some type of grief, or joy...Every good poet deals with issues with life and the grief that comes with death. Every great writer has troubles-- look at; Edger Allen Poe, Dylan Thomas, and Emily Dickerson, just to name a few. Edger often wrote of ravens and drank, Dylan also drank, and Emily was afraid to go outside. We all have troubles, but only a certain amount of people can write about them in poetry and make the words be so beautiful. So maybe in the movie there was no answer, but it all seems to random to have no answer. So here's my answer: Freedom and Troubles, Ravens have/deal with both as well as a writer at a writing desk.
Do you know why a raven is like a writing desk?
copyright; McNally Inc. 2010
6/28 Nina McNally
not a poem, just thoughts.
Nat Lipstadt Sep 2018
“leave at your own chosen speed”

always,
Dylan inserts a phrase that haunts,
indestructible permafrost,
played in slow and ever slower reverb all life long,
for it’s intuitive and you recognize it too well
as the best companion to the sour ending of another love affair

(but! this one differs; called love yourself)

the sad of a dying love, remembering the steady drift away,
capped by a casual remark that doesn’t sting but
cuts a Y on your chest, a lover’s coroner courtesy,
the bad humours permitted to at long last healthy escape

you’re staggered but say nothing for
speed
is a changeable elf, a mischievous devil,
requiring constant monitoring cause you moving,
but the speed limit alway a reflection of the road you’re on

speed is a tag along to show the overall fit still works,
though now far from the obvious and familiar
and the inspiration modifies,
so you retrofit untill the parts are incapable of
bending to new demands, contours unfamiliar, old plans no good

“leave at your own chosen speed”

for I am leaving you as I leave myself,
beaches erode,  lighthouses corrode, the salt cannot be refused,
the earth demands your return as the lease is deemed
non-renewable and the space where the date shall be inserted,
is parcel of the contract and though blank, certain to be fulfilled

the body erodes, the ***** parts corrode,
and this season of the new year^ comes with the usual disclaimer
recited on the tenth day from today

‘who will live, who will die,’^^

taught to you as a young-in, a child who can comprehend
even before manhood arrives, comprehend that life ends,
all good things and it ain’t no use, born compromised, but
“don’t think twice, it’s alright”

the slate you have written overdue for a prudent clean wet erasure,
so you begin to leave at your own chosen speed,
which is kind of nice, even cool, organizing your papers,
write with contented softness that so long eluded,
now come easy heady peasy

after a life of reciting poetry, good bad and always too long,
the pressure is on and off, side by side, even a dimming bulb
sheds some light, revealing what yet needs revealing


that Day of Atonement annual visitor,^^^ he/she of impish humors,
makes Pandora play a new station,
‘dimming of the day,’
reminder that it gave you a piece of an unowned heart to hold,
leased temporarily but the temp is roaring,
who, boo hoo, for you?

life and love is all about leaving,
the pen in penitent gone dry, no refills in this new world,
wish that **** rooster would stop crowing at
the break of sundown,^^^^  when I'll be gone
I'll be travelling on, for when the new day begins,
that’s my own signature personal gravestone marker,
the sundown poet
------------------------------------------------------------­-------



~the first day of the new year on the Jewish calendar
  Mon, 10 September 2018 =  1st of Tishrei, 5779

  Rosh Hashana 5779
^ see https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yom_Kippur

^^ see poem  https://hellopoetry.com/poem/1833523/for-leonard-cohen-who-by-fire/

^^^ see poem https://hellopoetry.com/poem/462537/how-i-observed-the-day-of-atonement/

^^^^ jewish law says the day begins at sunset till the next sundown

— The End —