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Madison Aug 2018
He was rain

The spray that came

On a scorching summer day.

He fell from his cloud

Without warning

Kissed the Flickering Flame into submission

All the while, saving a few sweet drops

Just for me.

He was the rain

That kissed the Flame and I.



He was rain

Leaving the Flame and I in wait

To see him on another day.

We danced for him

Inviting him to play

As we spun in each other's arms.

Finally, he joined us

The Flame and I jumped for joy

First side-by-side

Then miles apart.

He was the rain

That made the Flame blush

And set my selfish soul ablaze.


He was rain

Standing between the Flame and I

On any given day.

He soothed the new burns

Marring my skin

Though he always feared

He would put out the Flame.

He was the rain

That loved the Flame

While the both of them

Left me parched.


He was rain

A hurricane

Washing me away from the Flame.

The two of them laughed

Oblivious

And told me to swim

As I began to drown.

He was the rain

Who ran away with the Flame

Just when I thought

They could both be mine.


He was rain

And he slipped away

On a sunny winter's day.

The Flame left, too

Without a note

Left the heart within me

High, dry, and cold

Nothing there to set on fire

Or to give hope.

He was the rain

Who disappeared with the flame

Leaving me all alone.


Now, on this day

I float in a fog.

Floods on one side

On the other, burnt smaug.

I know who I am

And I'm here to stay.

I just wish that the Flame

Didn't take my rain boy away.

Still, he is the rain

Who is in love with the Flame

And I wonder

If he thinks about dry Earth like me

At all.


He is the rain

A fool for the Flame

Just like I was

All along.
A piece I did for a poetry contest about rain.
E over c2 Dec 2018
Breathe it in
The air
Whether it be blistering from the sun
Or frozen from ice crystals
Breathe and feel

The earth goes round the sun
The moon goes round the earth
The tides being pushed and pulled

My mind around you

When the only life we know is pain, a declare that it'll be all fine doesn't heal any wounds
Nor does it make the future seem more bright

Least I can say is this

A flame lives in you
Unlike anyone else's
A flame that burns and crackles and sings and puffs and billows out smoke
An engine keeping you standing
You,  have a flame whittled down by the demons in and around you, but a flame fueled by the stars, not oxygen.
See when I see your flame I see a light more powerful than any other, it's size unharming

Your flame drew me in.

And now you sit
Your flame on its last ounce of stardust thinking this is what it is
This is my flame for my life so why not blow it out.

Truth is, there's millions of stars in the sky.
And all I see in your eyes.
Stars that burn with passion and love
A sight I hold to the highest of above
And so  I write to you now not as a promise of greatness
But a reminder that the Universe is nothing but our statements
And so let me state here I say:
Do not let those demons blow your flame away.
Shelter it and fuel it with every star in your eye
And when it fades do not stop looking at the sky
For there those stars lay in peace
For eons they burn; a galactic lease
For their time is limited like you or I
And so they do not waste it, it's do or die.
So now I say I challenge your flame
To do, and burn and proclaim its name
For you are you.
And you are gold.

/Do not let someone else call you silver. /

For I am sold.
In you.


In you i see stars that accompany my dreams.
And you may not see them but i sure do
It is not a belief it is there in two;
Blue.

The world seems black. But i promise you there is light.
In each one of us a flame burns like the night
So when yours loses shape look to mind and hold my hand
We're made of stardust, and so absorb it where you stand.

Hold my hand.

This life isn't easy and the stars are far away
So let's use the stars in our eyes
Lets believe in a world to make it our own
Lets stand up and say
My flame burns for me today.
Flame love pain life stars hard depression happiness fire
Poetic T Oct 2019
He was the child with the magnifying glass that lingered
in the exhalation of the heavens. Always holding it on
those of weaker statue than himself. Insects were his
starting point, as they were barbecued under the influence
of what was focused between light and glass and what
lived became inanimate just a blackened smear that he
smothered words into the dirt
        
                           I'LL BURN THE WORLD,

His parents saw this and in jest laughed it off as the
Immaturity of a child's frustration. That all was but a
a boy finding his place within the many echoes of manhood.
A child was maturing, and they assumed that he was not
ready for the collision of what was in-between the moments
of childhood and adulthood.

One cold and sodden night where the only things that were dry.
Were submerged in the cover of roofs and foliage.
But even the penetrating raindrops gathered in haste to soak
the earth beneath the leaves protection. All drowned within
nights flourish of immersed air. Where it felt that breath was only
in-between the flurry of h20's deluge.

Within the house, within the rooms crept a silence.
            It wasn't alone, for it wept unseen streams between the  
crisp white borderlines,  were doused in clear liquids,
Draping the curtains in non received  heavy remorse,
the only things that were burdensome were the drapes as the weight of the liquid pulled at the seams holding them aloft.

Remorse was neither felt or given. just a feeling of accomplishment.  
Felt it in the moments that succeeded between this
gathering of dead lights as a flame was lit.
But not a whisper was echoed this flame was lifeless
in the eyes of its beneficiary.
But it lept upon the walls like a ballerina, gentle,
and dancing within the confides of its given dance.

He stood in the hallway the flashback was unexpected,
but he still stood there gazing and the beauty of something
given with such frailty that a breath could extinguish
its potential. His parents had no idea, they were slumbering
within the confines of blankets that entombed the warmth.
Clasping hand even in sleep love was a subconscious yearning.
The thing with these old houses some had decretive metal over
the wind bars in beauty crafted to keep things out.


But this was his plan, what cant get in cant get out.
He'd gone in there room and stole the key.
He took a last glance, and said,
             "I Love You
,Before sealing them within. The flames were silent like
a stalker watching waiting, till the inevitable conclusion.

As things started to burn more passionately, caressing every
thing it was touching. So the smoke started to thicken like
A heavy smog it got into places the fire had not reached.
Moans could be heard, then screams at the realisation of
what was happening. He Could hear them, he could see them.
For even though a teenager he was intuitively cunning,
tinkering with everything and anything.

And small cameras were dotted around the house,
looking listening to everything that was seen and spoken.
It had come to fruition due to one such thing he had heard
being discussed by his parents.

"I saw him in the woods,

                 "Doing what darling?

"He didn't see me but the neighbours cat,
                                  "you know soot,

"What did he do, nothing bad!

                "He tied it up,
"Then threw what I thought was water on it,
                  I thought it was nasty but then!!!  

"Then what, your scaring me,

"He lit a cigarette, I didn't even know he smoked,
  "Then he discarded the match,

       "
The cat, oh my god the cat,

"
But he recorded its screams, he recorded it dying,

"
I couldn't move I was so angry, so humiliated,
        "
I wanted to throttle him there and then,

"
But ill phone the police tomorrow,
                  "He's not right, who would do that,

How dare they think that I can just be fobbed off,
         discarded.

                                             I was making music,
the screams were a delicate symphony,
            acoustics that's couldn't be reproduced.
It had to be from the source.

That laid, the plans for what now enveloped that house,
recording every noise, every scream. But what he needed
was for them to burn, to release the music he needed to
hear to complete his work. And they like parents gave it
there all, he had goose bumps as he heard there terror.
his eyes welled up, not in regret but the beauty that his
parent last words were given to him, so personal was this
moment that he'd never forget it.
                                                        
                                                                ­          "Thank Mum & Dad,

After this he released a mix tape, that could be only
conceived from an artist, in the womb of excellence.
That's the reviews he had, it brought shudders to your
heart and mind. It was if your humanity was crying out to it.

As so forth and more were sewn in the adulation of his work.

Now he needed to make more music, but he needed more
screams to make his next piece two were not enough..

So he wandered the night, dressed in unclean wear
so not to be confused with who, or what he was..
He hung around the homeless parts of town,
plastic sheeting for roofs.. and combustible bedding.
It was as if he'd planned himself. but he had to be smart.
for this was if ill planned he would have a needle in his
arm within the year. But he took his time tiny cameras
recording visually and sound.

He had gathered the combustible elements needed to
make this a orchestra of his needing, not a duet like before.
He didn't down play his past offering, but this would make
an album of despair and monument to the flame.

It had been raining, but only lightly as he needed some
dampness in the air on there sheets cardboard mattresses.
So not to raise suspicion on the dampness of there homes.

As they moved away from the embers of barrel fires,
yes he'd thought about that. Not every home was a
crematorium a cardboard and plastic coffin of there
choosing. He waited clasping his hands together breathing
on them as it was cold night. He liked to watch, a voguer
of sort, but his wasn't the fantasy of death it was to hear the
music that was about to be sung with smoke filled lungs.

He'd set up a unique but rudimentary way to light the fire,
a small gas hob with liquid within. it needed to be a certain
temperature ignite, he had tried it before in a field out west.
Deserted he'd made a mock up of this humble place.
And he wasn't mistaken it was fascinating, the flame spread
like the wind enveloping everything but, it was a dull for even
though the flames wept of everything, its tears turning all to
ash..

It was silent, deafening, he cried for a while, there should never
be censorship of the flame, for what is a log fire without the cracking of its inner self being consumed. This was just smoke
and regret. But he now looked down at the camp, his watch
counting down the precious moments.
                                                             He whispered.
                                              

                                                  "Thankyou,
­
And then like a super nova the darkness was ingulfed in
the aurora of flame, gliding over the ground as if a stream
of conscious reckoning. Those near by the civilians that were
                        across the street were transfixed.
As screams embellished the flames, this was my orchestra
of light and noise. Those across the street were either screaming
or videoing the scene.
I looked at them and wondered where there humanity
had gone to, as to film this moment rather than to rush in
and save the few that they could.

I watched as the engines came, extinguishing my masterpiece
choosing the night was always preferable to the day as flames
dance better when there is less light to contaminate there beauty.

My music, I had become quite the remixer, of vocal and rhythmic
sounds.
                               Within a week I had mad nine new songs.

I named them each as deserved, making them in memory of
those who perished that dreadful night.
            It was well received, a few thought it was a haunting
melody of humanity's struggle, while a few thought it was
over ambitious, and lacked the passion of my first piece.

All together it went down well, and the adulation of the
flame was kept, to honour that which gives as much as
takes the breath of life away.
A year had past and the door rang, it was an officer.

                 "Could you come to the station please,

Had I become the victim of my own success, had someone
broke down the acoustics of my music and realised what
they were?? So many thoughts went through the calm
exterior of my persona. But inside the flame dimmed,
had I lit the last candle. I was taken in to a room,
and questioned evasive not to the point but gathering
speed to the answer, where were you on the
                                                             ­       30th April 2019.

Alabi's were a fantastic thing to plan ahead, I had laced
my date with sleeping tablets to leave her in perpetual
slumber. And got back before she awoke, we made love
we were the flame and the wick.. and our sweat was the wax dripping from our form. The next week I dumped her.

They asked if I recognised a picture, blurry and ill framed
but I could make out the figure was me. No sir I don't why.
This person of interest is wearing your jacket, your logo!
I smiled and was truthful to a degree.
                                                             Planning is everything.

I threw maybe fifty into the crowd when I did a concert
in the city, when we drove past some homeless persons.
We donated what was left to them, do you realise how
cold these streets are, who am I to steal warmth away.
I don't wear my own merchandise what do you think I
am egotistical, no I wanted to help those who I could
have been if not for my music. I lost my parents I know
what its like to be alone.

I think the show went well, as I was released before
reporters even got a sniff. But I knew that my time
was a wick trying to keep the flame lit but dying out
anyway. I had made preparations for this time.

I had brought a club only for gigs, cheesy as hell but
had that 80's disco vibe the entire floor was light up.
But I had brought  the ingredients for thermite,
amazing what you learn in school and the internet.
But I never used mine different libraries in different
cities so not raise suspicion. I  invited the music critics
and others which I had personally disproved of.
its was going to be free drinks and themed 80's night.

Who can not want free drinks, well I wasn't going to be
disappointed 90% came, how lucky the few.
Phones were confiscated, no video, but more
importantly no phone calls to the outside world.
I told them at the end of the night that I was realising
a new song, they were like vultures to flesh.
As the night progressed some wanted to leave,
but we offered them the VIP section also lit flooring.

Now was the time, I had put heating elements under the floor
to ignite the thermite. A supernova of heat even though brief
would ignite the choir of harmony needed. I asked them,
                                                           ­ "Are you ready,

And then silence, I put on my welding glasses,
                                                        ­         I wasn't stupid.
Never look into the heart of the flame unless you want
to be blinded by its beauty.
I pressed a button and it was magnificent, it was like a tide of sunlight, they tried to scramble but all exits were locked.
It was like the wizard of Oz, and the witch I'm meltinggggg..
But this wasn't a fairy tale.. The adulation I had for these
chosen few. What excitement the others had missed.

I'd made my booth flame and smoke proof, I had my own
walkway but I knew that this was the last time I could pay
homage to the flame. As the screams died down.
The wicks smouldered and the floor looked more like a battle
field of  WWII. I began I knew I didn't have a lot of time.
But this was just a single I'd already got the backing music
ready. And as I worked away, I could hear the banging on
the reinforced doors. They gave me a breather to get my
work fulfilled.

I heard the doors start to give way but no matter
I'd only needed this time to tweak the music.
Given I'd started this over an hour ago, it was good
on my part for this not to be broadcast till I saw fit.
As the police burst through, gazing at the flaming
effigies that lied before them, some threw up, gross..

While others saw me smiling I pressed the button and
my new song was word wide.. its was called the critics
tried to burn me down. The response was gratifying.
Likes reached the hundreds of thousands in mere minutes.
Well it was only three minutes twenty five seconds long.
As they shoot at the booth I wiggled my finger at them.
I do like to plan ahead but dam was that loud against the
glass. Got to be said some had wicked aim, made me flinch
a few times.

But alas all things come to an end, I uploaded my videos
of what I had done. I was proud of my contribution to
my legacy and empowering others with my music.
As I looked down at the puddle, I tap danced in it for
a moment and then lit the lighter, I looked a them
and once again waved, I was like a funeral pyre.
A crematorium of silence and then I was gone.
                                                I didn't scream,
I was in her embrace and had done her proud.
Bouazizi’s heavy eyelids parted as the Muezzin recited the final call for the first Adhan of the day.

“As-salatu Khayrun Minan-nawm”
Prayer is better than sleep

Rising from the torment of another restless night, Bouazizi wiped the sleep from his droopy eyes as his feet touched the cold stone floor.

Throughout the frigid night, the devilish jinn did their work, eagerly jabbing away at Bouazizi with pointed sticks, tormenting his troubled conscience with the worry of his nagging indebtedness. All night the face of the man Bouazizi owed money to haunted him. Bouazizi could see the man’s greasy lips and brown teeth jawing away, inches from his face. He imagined chubby caffeine stained fingers reaching toward him to grab some dinars from Bouazizi’s money box.

Bouazizi turned all night like he was sleeping on a board of spikes. His prayers for a restful night again went unanswered. The pall of a blue fatigue would shadow Bouazizi for most of the day.

Bouazizi’s weariness was compounded by a gnawing hunger. By force of habit, he grudgingly opened the food cupboard with the foreknowledge that it was almost bare. Bouazizi’s premonition proved correct as he surveyed a meager handful of chickpeas, some eggs and a few sparse loaves. It was just enough to feed his dependant family; younger brothers and sisters, cousins and a terminally disabled uncle. That left nothing for Bouazizi but a quick jab to his empty gut. He would start this day without breakfast.

Bouazizi made a living as a street vendor. He hustles to survive. Bouazizi’s father died in a construction accident in Libya when he was three. Since the age of 10, Bouazizi had pushed a cart through the streets of Sidi Bouzid; selling fruit at the public market just a few blocks from the home that he has lived in for almost his entire life.

At 27 years of age, Bouazizi has wrestled the beast of deprivation since his birth. To date, he has bravely fought it to a standstill; but day after day the multi-headed hydra of life has snapped at him. He has squarely met the eyes of the beast with fortitude and resolve; but the sharp fangs of a hardscrabble life has sunken deep into Bouazizi’s spleen. The unjust rules of society are powerful claws that slash away at his flesh, bleeding him dry: while the spiked tendrils of poverty wrap Bouazizi’s neck, seeking to strangle him.

Bouazizi is a workingman hero; a skilled warrior in the fight for daily bread. He is accustomed to living a life of scarcity. His daily deliverance is the grace of another day of labor and the blessed wages of subsistence.

Though Allah has blessed this man with fortitude the acuteness of terminal want and the constant struggle to survive has its limits for any man; even for strong champions like Bouazizi.

This morning as Bouazizi washed he peered into a mirror, closely examining new wrinkles on his stubble strewn face. He fingered his deep black curls dashed with growing streaks of gray. He studied them through the gaze of heavy bloodshot eyes. He looked upward as if to implore Allah to salve the bruises of daily life.

Bouazizi braced himself with the splash of a cold water slap to his face. He wiped his cheeks clean with the tail of his shirt. He dipped his toothbrush into a box of baking powder and scoured an aching back molar in need of a root canal. Bouazizi should see a dentist but it is a luxury he cannot afford so he packed an aspirin on top of the infected tooth. The dissolving aspirin invaded his mouth coating his tongue with a bitter effervescence.

Bouazizi liked the taste and was grateful for the expectation of a dulled pain. He smiled into the mirror to check his chipped front tooth while pinching a cigarette **** from an ashtray. The roach had one hit left in it. He lit it with a long hard drag that consumed a good part of the filter. Bouazizi’s first smoke of the day was more filter then tobacco but it shocked his lungs into the coughing flow of another day.

Bouazizi put on his jacket, slipped into his knockoff NB sneakers and reached for a green apple on a nearby table. He took a big bite and began to chew away the pain of his toothache.

Bouazizi stepped into the street to catch the sun rising over the rooftops. He believed that seeing the sunrise was a good omen that augured well for that day’s business. A sunbeam braking over a far distant wall bathed Bouazizi in a golden light and illumined the alley where he parked his cart holding his remaining stock of week old apples. He lifted the handles and backed his cart out into the street being extra mindful of the cracks in the cobblestone road. Bouazizi sprained his ankle a week ago and it was still tender. Bouazizi had to be careful not to aggravate it with a careless step. Having successfully navigated his cart into the road, Bouazizi made a skillful U Turn and headed up the street limping toward the market.

A winter chill gripped Bouazizi prompting him to zip his jacket up to his neck. The zipper pinched his Adam’s Apple and a few droplets of blood stained his green corduroy jacket. Though it was cold, Bouazizi sensed that spring would arrive early this year triggering a replay of a recurring daydream. Bouazizi imagined himself behind the wheel of a new van on his way to the market. Fresh air and sunshine pouring through the open windows with the cargo space overflowing with fresh vegetables and fruits.

It was a lifelong ambition of Bouazizi to own a van. He dreamed of buying a six cylinder Dodge Caravan. It would be painted red and he would call it The Red Flame. The Red Flame would be fast and powerful and sport chrome spinners. The Red Flame would be filled with music from a Blaupunkt sound system with kick *** speakers. Power windows, air conditioning, leather seats, a moonroof and plenty of space in the back for his produce would complete Bouazizi’s ride.

The Red Flame would be the vehicle Bouazizi required to expand his business beyond the market square. Bouazizi would sell his produce out of the back of the van, moving from neighborhood to neighborhood. No longer would he have to wait for customers to come to his stand in the market. Bouazizi would go to his customers. Bouazizi and the Red Flame would be known in all the neighborhoods throughout the district. Bouazizi shook his head and smiled thinking about all the girls who would like to take rides in the Red Flame. Bouazizi and his Red Flame would be a sight to be noticed and a force to be reckoned with.

“EEEEEYOWWW” a Mercedes horn angrily honked; jarring Bouazizi from the reverie of his daydream. A guy whipping around the corner like a silver streak stuck his head out the window blasting with music yelling, “Hey Mnayek, watch where you push that *******.”

The music faded as the Mercedes roared away. “Barra nikk okhtek” Bouazizi yelled, raising his ******* in the direction of the vanished car. “The big guys in the fancy cars think the road belongs to them”, Bouazizi mumbled to himself.

The insult ****** Bouazizi off, but he was accustomed to them and as he limped along pushing his cart he distracted himself with the amusement of the ascending sun chasing the fleeting shadows of the night, sending them scurrying down narrow alleyways.

Bouazizi imaged himself a character from his favorite movie. He was a giant Transformer, chasing the black shadows of evil away from the city into the desert. After battling evil and conquering the bad guys, he would transform himself back into the regular Bouazizi; selling his produce to the people as he patrolled the highways of Tunisia in the Red Flame, the music blasting out the windows, the chrome spinners flashing in the sunlight. Bouazizi would remain vigilant, always ready to transform the Red Flame to fight the evil doers.

The bumps and potholes in the road jostled Bouazizi’s load of apples. A few fell out of the wooden baskets and were rolling around in the open spaces of the cart. Bouazizi didn’t want to risk bruising them. Damaged merchandise can’t be sold so he was careful to secure his goods and arrange his cart to appeal to women customers. He made sure to display his prized electronic scale in the corner of the cart for all to see.

Bouazizi had a reputation as a fair and generous dealer who always gave good value to his customers. Bouazizi was also known for his kindness. He would give apples to hungry children and families who could not pay. Bouazizi knew the pain of hunger and it brought him great satisfaction to be able to alleviate it in others.

As a man who valued fairness, Bouazizi was particularly proud of his electronic scale. Bouazizi was certain the new measuring device assured all customers that Bouazizi sold just and correct portions. The electronic scale was Bouazizi’s shining lamp. He trusted it. He hung it from the corner post of his cart like it was the beacon of a lighthouse guiding shoppers through the treachery of an unscrupulous market. It would attract all customers who valued fairness to the safe harbor of Bouazizi’s cart.

The electronic scale is Bouazizi’s assurance to his customers that the weights and measures of electronic calculation layed beyond any cloud of doubt. It is a fair, impartial and objective arbiter for any dispute.

Bouazizi believed that the fairness of his scale would distinguish his stand from other produce vendors. Though its purchase put Bouazizi into deep debt, the scale was a source of pride for Bouazizi who believed that it would help his profits to increase and help him to achieve his goal of buying the Red Flame.

As Bouazizi pushed his cart toward the market, he mulled his plan over in his mind for the millionth time. He wasn't great in math but he was able to calculate his financial situation with a degree of precision. His estimations triggered worries that his growing debt to money lenders may be difficult to payoff.

Indebtedness pressed down on Bouazizi’s chest like a mounting pile of stones. It was the source of an ever present fear coercing Bouazizi to live in a constant state of anxiety. His business needed to grow for Bouazizi to get a measure of relief and ultimately prosper from all his hard work. Bouazizi was driven by urgency.

The morning roil of the street was coming alive. Bouazizi quickened his step to secure a good location for his cart at the market. Car horns, the spewing diesel from clunking trucks, the flatulent roar of accelerating buses mixed with the laughs and shrieks of children heading to school composed the rising crescendo of the city square.

As he pushed through the market, Bouazizi inhaled the aromatic eddies of roasting coffee floating on the air. It was a pleasantry Bouazizi looked forward to each morning. The delicious wafts of coffee mingling with the crisp aroma of baking bread instigated a growl from Bouazizi’s empty stomach. He needed to get something to eat. After he got money from his first sale he would by a coffee and some fried dough.

Activity in the market was vigorous, punctuated by the usual arguments of petty territorial disputes between vendors. The disagreements were always amicably resolved, burned away in rising billows of roasting meats and vegetables, the exchange of cigarettes and the plumes of tobacco smoke rising as emanations of peace.

Bouazizi skillfully maneuvered his cart through the market commotion. He slid into his usual space between Aaban and Aameen. His good friend Aaban sold candles, incense, oils and sometimes his wife would make cakes to sell. Aameen was the markets most notorious jokester. He sold hardware and just about anything else he could get his hands on.

Aaban was already burning a few sticks of jasmine incense. It helped to attract customers. The aroma defined the immediate space with the pleasant bouquet of a spring garden. Bouazizi liked the smell and appreciated the increased traffic it brought to his apple cart.

“Hey Basboosa#, do you have any cigarettes?“, Aameen asked as he pulled out a lighter. Bouazizi shook the tip of a Kent from an almost empty pack. Aameen grabbed the cigarette with his lips.

“That's three cartons of Kents you owe me, you cheap *******.” Bouazizi answered half jokingly. Aameen mumbled a laugh through a grin tightly gripping the **** as he exhaled smoke from his nose like a fire breathing dragon. Bouazizi also took out a cigarette for himself.

“Aameem, give me a light”, Bouazizi asked.

Aameen tossed him the lighter.

“Keep it Basboosa. I got others.” Aameen smiled as he showed off a newly opened box of disposable lighters to sell on his stand.

“Made in China, Basboosa. They make everything cheap and colorful. I can make some money with these.”

Bouazizi lit his next to last cigarette. He inhaled deeply. The smoke chased away the cool air in Bouazizi’s lungs with a shot of a hot nicotine rush.

“Merci Aameen” Bouazizi answered. He put the lighter into the almost empty cigarette pack and put it into his hip pocket. The lighter would protect his last cigarette from being crushed.

The laughter and shouts of the bazaar, the harangue of radio voices shouting anxious verses of Imam’s exhorting the masses to submit and the piecing ramble of nondescript AM music flinging piercing unintelligible static surrounded Bouazizi and his cart as he waited for his first customers of the day.

Bouazizi sensed a nervous commotion rise along the line of vendors. A crowd of tourists and locals milling about parted as if to avoid a slithering asp making its way through their midst. The hoots of vendors and the cackle of the crowd made its way to Bouazizi’s knowing ear. He knew what was coming. It was nothing more then another shakedown by city officials acting as bagmen for petty municipal bureaucrats. They claim to be checking vendor licences but they’re just making the rounds collecting protection money from the vendors. Pocketing bribes and payoffs is the municipal authorities idea of good government. They are skilled at using the power of their office to extort tribute from the working poor.

Bouazizi made the mistake of making eye contact with Madame Hamdi. As the municipal authority in charge of vendors and taxis Madame Hamdi held sway over the lives of the street vendors. She relished the power she had over the men who make a meager living selling goods in the square; and this morning she was moving through the market like a bloodhound hot on the trail of an escaped convict. Two burly henchmen lead the way before her. Bouazizi knew Madame Hamdi’s hounds were coming for him.

Bouazizi knew he was ******. Having just made a payment to his money lender, Bouazizi had no extra dinars to grease the palm of Madame Hamdi. He grabbed the handle bars of his cart to make an escape; but Madame Hamdi cut him off and got right into into Bouazizi’s face.

“Ah little Basboosa where are you going? she asked with the tone of playful contempt.

“I suppose you still have no license to sell, ah Basboosa?” Madame Hamdi questioned with the air of a soulless inquisitor.

“You know Madame Hamdi, cart vendors do not need a license.” Bouazizi feebly protested, not daring to look into her eyes.

“Basboosa, you know we can overlook your violations with a small fine for your laxity” a dismissive Madame Hamdi offered.

Bouazizi’s sense of guilt would not permit him to lift his eyes. His head remained bowed. Bouazizi stood convicted of being one of the impoverished.

“I have no spare dinars to offer Madame Hamdi, My pockets are empty, full of holes. My money falls into everyone’s palm but my own. I’m sorry Madame Hamdi. I’ll take my cart home”. He lifted the handlebars in an attempt to escape. One of Madame Hamdi’s henchmen stepped in front of his cart while the other pushed Bouazizi away from it.

“Either you pay me a vendor tax for a license or I will confiscate your goods Basboosa”, Madame Hamdi warned as she lifted Bouazizi’s scale off its hook.

“This will be the first to go”, she said grinning as she examined the scale. “We’ll just keep this.”
Like a mother lion protecting a defenseless cub from the snapping jaws of a pack of ravenous hyenas, Bouazizi lunged to retrieve his prized scale from the clutches of Madame Hamdi. Reaching for it, he touched the scale with his fingertips just as Madame Hamdi delivered a vicious slap to Bouazizi’s cheek. It halted him like a thunderbolt from Zeus.

A henchman overturned Bouazizi’s cart, scatter
Three years ago today Muhammad Bouazizi set himself on fire igniting the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia sparking the Arab Spring Uprisings of 2011.
M Mar 2014
Flame burn bright when we are bornèd
every laugh and tear we shed
Flame burn bright when brother wakens
under broken tire tread
Flame burn bright when kissed the first time
soft warm eyelash on the nose
Flame burn bright in late night slumber
wrapped in arms, a sweet repose
Flame burn bright when we grow older
Flame burn bright when young and crazy
Flame burn bright in stars at night
Flame burn bright, soft and hazy
and when the evening comes at last
to the only cold we'll ever know
Flame goes out.
but- while the drunken stupor lasts,
while we're living, wild and fast,
Flame burn bright.
Terry O'Leary Nov 2013
PROLOGUE
The Flame, aflicker, licks and flays,
illuming evening’s negligees
With braided curls she swirls and sways,
and flits and floats in light ballets

           APOLOGUE
A Flame, to conquer creeping fog,
flew dancing towards a random log
Her flight perplexed a leery frog
beside a silent somber bog

The Flame, a ripple, all alone
alit on leaves where birds had flown
The aching twigs began to moan
A rising breeze began to groan

The Flame arrayed an ancient oak
with torrid tongues and veils of smoke
A ****** bailed, the dam had broke
The leery frog soon ceased to croak

The Flame uncoiled and lashed midair,
consuming crowns with utmost care
A crazed coyote fled her lair,
left in the lurch bewildered bear

The Flame, unfurled, went wild and grew,
enkindled cats and caribou
Remaining... not a residue,
as reeking vapors bade adieu

The Flame revealed her strength unshackled
Flora, fauna crisped and crackled
Fire Witches clucked and cackled
One more forest stripped, then hackled

           EPILOGUE
The arsonists were well aware
the Flame would travel everywhere
The weirs are gone, the land is bare,
and soon you’ll find a city there
Michael R Burch Apr 2020
An Illusion
by Michael R. Burch

The sky was as hushed as the breath of a bee
and the world was bathed in shades of palest gold
when I awoke.

She came to me with the sound of falling leaves
and the scent of new-mown grass;
I held out my arms to her and she passed

into oblivion ...

This is one of my early poems, written around age 16 and published in my high school literary journal, The Lantern. Keywords/Tags: early poems, Juvenilia, illusion, illusory, dream, mirage, morning, fantasy, awakening, waking up, oblivion



The following poems are other early poems and juvenilia by Michael R. Burch ...



Smoke
by Michael R. Burch

The hazy, smoke-filled skies of summer I remember well;
farewell was on my mind, and the thoughts that I can't tell
rang bells within (the din was in) my mind, and I can't say
if what we had was good or bad, or where it is today.
The endless days of summer's haze I still recall today;
she spoke and smoky skies stood still as summer slipped away ...

I wrote this early poem around age 14 and it appeared in my high school journal, the Lantern. It also appeared in my college literary journal, Homespun. It has since been published by The Eclectic Muse (Canada), Fullosia Press and Better Than Starbucks, and translated into Romanian and published by Petru Dimofte. I find it interesting that I was able to write a "rhyme rich" poem at such a young age. In six lines the poem has 26 rhymes and near rhymes.



Regret
by Michael R. Burch

Regret,
a bitter
ache to bear . . .

once starlight
languished
in your hair . . .

a shining there
as brief
as rare.

Regret,
a pain
I chose to bear . . .

unleash
the torrent
of your hair . . .

and show me
once again—
how rare.

I wrote "Regret" around age 19; it has been published by The HyperTexts and The Chained Muse.



Bible Libel
by Michael R. Burch

If God
is good
half the Bible
is libel.

I read the Bible from cover to cover at age 11, ten chapters per day, at the suggestion of my parents. The so-called "word of God" left me aghast. How could anyone possibly claim the biblical god Yahweh/Jehovah was good, wise, loving, just, etc.? I came up with this epigram to express my conclusions around age 11-13.



Ironic Vacation
by Michael R. Burch

Salzburg.
Seeing Mozart’s baby grand piano.
Standing in the presence of sheer incalculable genius.
Grabbing my childish pen to write a poem & challenge the Immortals.
Next stop, the catacombs!

This is a poem I wrote about a vacation my family took to Salzburg when I was a boy, age 11 or perhaps a bit older.



Elegy for a little girl, lost
by Michael R. Burch

... qui laetificat juventutem meam...
She was the joy of my youth,
and now she is gone
.... requiescat in pace...
May she rest in peace
.... amen...
Amen.

I wrote this around age 16-17.



Observance
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

This is the other early poem that made me feel like a real poet. I remember writing it in the break room of the McDonald's where I worked as a high school student. I believe that was at age 17.



Something
by Michael R. Burch

Something inescapable is lost—
lost like a pale vapor curling up into shafts of moonlight,
vanishing in a gust of wind toward an expanse of stars
immeasurable and void.

Something uncapturable is gone—
gone with the spent leaves and illuminations of autumn,
scattered into a haze with the faint rustle of parched grass
and remembrance.

Something unforgettable is past—
blown from a glimmer into nothingness, or less,
which finality has swept into a corner, where it lies
in dust and cobwebs and silence.

This was the first poem that I wrote that didn't rhyme. I believe I wrote it around age 18.



Infinity
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

This is one of the first poems that made me feel like a "real" poet.  I wrote it around age 18.



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.

Written around age 18.



Burn, Ovid
by Michael R. Burch

“Burn Ovid”—Austin Clarke

Sunday School,
Faith Free Will Baptist, 1973:
I sat imagining watery folds
of pale silk encircling her waist.
Explicit *** was the day’s “hot” topic
(how breathlessly I imagined hers)
as she taught us the perils of lust
fraught with inhibition.

I found her unaccountably beautiful,
rolling implausible nouns off the edge of her tongue:
adultery, fornication, *******, ******.
Acts made suddenly plausible by the faint blush
of her unrouged cheeks,
by her pale lips
accented only by a slight quiver,
a trepidation.

What did those lustrous folds foretell
of our uncommon desire?
Why did she cross and uncross her legs
lovely and long in their taupe sheaths?
Why did her ******* rise pointedly,
as if indicating a direction?

“Come unto me,
     (unto me),”
          together, we sang,

cheek to breast,
     lips on lips,
          devout, afire,

my hands
     up her skirt,
          her pants at her knees:

all night long,
     all night long,
           in the heavenly choir.

“*** 101” and “Burn, Ovid” were written about my experiences during ninth grade at Faith Christian Academy, circa age 14-15. However, these poems were not completed until much later and are in a more mature voice and style than most of my other early poems.



*** 101
by Michael R. Burch

That day the late spring heat
steamed through the windows of a Crayola-yellow schoolbus
crawling its way up the backwards slopes
of Nowheresville, North Carolina ...

Where we sat exhausted
from the day’s skulldrudgery
and the unexpected waves of muggy,
summer-like humidity ...

Giggly first graders sat two abreast
behind senior high students
sprouting their first sparse beards,
their implausible bosoms, their stranger affections ...

The most unlikely coupling—

Lambert, 18, the only college prospect
on the varsity basketball team,
the proverbial talldarkhandsome
swashbuckling cocksman, grinning ...

Beside him, Wanda, 13,
bespectacled, in her primproper attire
and pigtails, staring up at him,
fawneyed, disbelieving ...

And as the bus filled with the improbable musk of her,
as she twitched impaled on his finger
like a dead frog jarred to life by electrodes,
I knew ...

that love is a forlorn enterprise,
that I would never understand it.



hymn to Apollo
by Michael R. Burch

something of sunshine attracted my i
as it lazed on the afternoon sky,
   golden,
splashed on the easel of god ...

what,
i thought,
could this elfin stuff be,
to, phantomlike,
   flit
through tall trees
on fall days, such as these?

and the breeze
whispered a dirge
to the vanishing light;
enchoired with the evening, it sang;
its voice
enchantedly
rang
chanting “Night!” ...

till all the bright light
retired,
expired.

This poem appeared in my high school literary journal, the Lantern. I believe I wrote it around age 16 or 17.



Ince St. Child
by Michael R. Burch

When she was a child
in a dark forest of fear,
imagination cast its strange light
into secret places,
scattering traces
of illumination so bright,
years later, she could still find them there,
their light undefiled.

When she was young,
the shafted light of her dreams
shone on her uplifted face
as she prayed ...
though she strayed
into a night fallen like woven lace
shrouding the forest of screams,
her faith led her home.

Now she is old
and the light that was flame
is a slow-dying ember ...
what she felt then
she would explain;
she would if she could only remember
that forest of shame,
faith beaten like gold.

This was an unusual poem I wrote in my late teens, and it took me some time to figure out who the old woman was. She was a victim of childhood ****** abuse, hence the title I eventually came up with.



Desdemona
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

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

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

and strangled hope, where love dies too.

I wrote "Desdemona" around age 22; it has been published by Penny Dreadful, Carnelian, Romantics Quarterly, Grassroots Poetry and Poetry Life & Times.



Shock
by Michael R. Burch

It was early in the morning of the forming of my soul,
in the dawning of desire, with passion at first bloom,
with lightning splitting heaven to thunder's blasting roll
and a sense of welling fire and, perhaps, impending doom—

that I cried out through the tumult of the raging storm on high
for shelter from the chaos of the restless, driving rain . . .
and the voice I heard replying from a rift of bleeding sky
was mine, I'm sure, and, furthermore, was certainly insane.

I wrote "Shock" around age 19; it has been published by Penny Dreadful, The Eclectic Muse, Fullosia Press, Raider’s Digest, Voices in a Midnight Mind and Poetry Life & Times.



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 grey,
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.

I wrote "The Toast" around age 19; it was originally published by Contemporary Rhyme.



Earthbound
by Michael R. Burch

Tashunka Witko, better known as Crazy Horse, had a vision of a red-tailed hawk at Sylvan Lake, South Dakota. In his vision he saw himself riding a spirit horse, flying through a storm, as the hawk flew above him, shrieking. When he awoke, a red-tailed hawk was perched near his horse.

Earthbound,
and yet I now fly
through these clouds that are aimlessly drifting ...
so high
that no sound
echoing by
below where the mountains are lifting
the sky
can be heard.

Like a bird,
but not meek,
like a hawk from a distance regarding its prey,
I will shriek,
not a word,
but a screech,
and my terrible clamor will turn them to clay—
the sheep,
the earthbound.

I wrote "Earthbound" around age 20 and it has been published by Boston Poetry Magazine, Native American Indian Pride and Native American Poems, Prayers and Stories.



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.

I wrote "Mare Clausum" around age 19; it was originally published by Penny Dreadful.



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.

I believe I wrote the first version of this poem toward the end of my senior year of high school, around age 18.



R.I.P.
by Michael R. Burch

When I am lain to rest
and my soul is no longer intact,
but dissolving, like a sunset
diminishing to the west, ...

and when at last
before His throne my past
is put to test
and the demons and the Beast

await to feast
on any morsel downward cast,
while the vapors of impermanence
cling, smelling of damask ...

then let me go, and do not weep
if I am left to sleep,
to sleep and never dream, or dream, perhaps,
only a little longer and more deep.

Published by Romantics Quarterly and The Chained Muse. This is an early poem from my “Romantic Period” that was written in my late teens, probably around age 18 or 19.



Each Color a Scar
by Michael R. Burch

What she left here,
upon my cheek,
is a tear.

She did not speak,
but her intention
was clear,

and I was meek,
far too meek, and, I fear,
too sincere.

What she can never take
from my heart
is its ache;

for now we, apart,
are like leaves
without weight,

scattered afar
by love, or by hate,
each color a scar.

I wrote "Each Color a Scar" around age 21.



The Tender Weight of Her Sighs
by Michael R. Burch

The tender weight of her sighs
lies heavily upon my heart;
apart from her, full of doubt,
without her presence to revolve around,
found wanting direction or course,
cursed with the thought of her grief,
believing true love is a myth,
with hope as elusive as tears,
hers and mine, unable to lie,
I sigh ...

I believe “The Tender Weight of Her Sighs” and “Each Color a Scar” are companion poems, probably written around the same time at age 21.



Davenport Tomorrow
by Michael R. Burch

Davenport tomorrow ...
all the trees stand stark-naked in the sun.

Now it is always summer
and the bees buzz in cesspools,
adapted to a new life.

There are no flowers,
but the weeds, being hardier,
have survived.

The small town has become
a city of millions;
there is no longer a sea,
only a huge sewer,
but the children don't mind.

They still study
rocks and stars,
but biology is a forgotten science ...
after all, what is life?

Davenport tomorrow ...
all the children murmur through vein-streaked gills
whispered wonders of long-ago.



Fairest Diana
by Michael R. Burch

Fairest Diana, princess of dreams,
born to be loved and yet distant and lone,
why did you linger—so solemn, so lovely—
an orchid ablaze in a crevice of stone?

Was not your heart meant for tenderest passions?
Surely your lips—for wild kisses, not vows!
Why then did you languish, though lustrous, becoming
a pearl of enchantment cast before sows?

Fairest Diana, fragile as lilac,
as willful as rainfall, as true as the rose;
how did a stanza of silver-bright verse
come to be bound in a book of dull prose?

Published by Tucumcari Literary Journal and Night Roses

I believe this poem was written in the late 1970s or very early 1980s, around the time it became apparent that the lovely Diana Spencer was going to marry into the British royal family.



These Hallowed Halls
by Michael R. Burch
a young Romantic Poet mourns the passing of an age ...

I.

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

I stand by a window where others have watched
the passage of time alone,
not untouched,
and I am as they were—
                                       unsure,
and the days
stretch out ahead,
a bewildering maze.

II.

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

For now I have known the exhilaration
of a heart that has leapt from the pinnacle of love,
and the result of every infatuation—
the long freefall to earth, as the moon glides above.

III.

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

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

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

IV.

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

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

V.

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

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

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

VI.

So sleep, my love, to the cadence of night,
to the moans of the moonlit hills
that groan as I do, yet somehow sleep
through the nightjar’s cryptic trills.

But I will not sleep this night, nor any ...
how can I, when my dreams
are always of your perfect face
ringed in whorls of fretted lace,
and a tear upon your pillowcase?

VII.

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

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

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

VIII.

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

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

IX.

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

X.

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

XI.

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

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

I wrote this poem as a college freshman, age 18, watching my peers return to their dorms from a hard night of partying ...



Poetry
by Michael R. Burch

Poetry, I found you
where at last they chained and bound you;
with devices all around you
to torture and confound you,
I found you—shivering, bare.

They had shorn your raven hair
and taken both your eyes
which, once cerulean as Gogh's skies,
had leapt at dawn to wild surmise
of what was waiting there.

Your back was bent with untold care;
there savage brands had left cruel scars
as though the wounds of countless wars;
your bones were broken with the force
with which they'd lashed your flesh so fair.

You once were loveliest of all.
So many nights you held in thrall
a scrawny lad who heard your call
from where dawn’s milling showers fall—
pale meteors through sapphire air.

I learned the eagerness of youth
to temper for a lover’s touch;
I felt you, tremulant, reprove
each time I fumbled over-much.
Your merest word became my prayer.

You took me gently by the hand
and led my steps from child to man;
now I look back, remember when
you shone, and cannot understand
why now, tonight, you bear their brand.

                     *

I will take and cradle you in my arms,
remindful of the gentle charms
you showed me once, of yore;
and I will lead you from your cell tonight
back into that incandescent light
which flows out of the core
of a sun whose robes you wore.
And I will wash your feet with tears
for all those blissful years ...
my love, whom I adore.

I consider "Poetry" to be my Ars Poetica. I believe I wrote the first version in my late teens, probably around age 19.



Regret
by Michael R. Burch

1.
Regret,
a bitter
ache to bear ...

once starlight
languished
in your hair ...

a shining there
as brief
as rare.

2.
Regret ...
a pain
I chose to bear ...

unleash
the torrent
of your hair ...

and show me
once again—
how rare.

I believe I wrote this poem around age 19. I may have been thinking about Rapunzel.



Playmates
by Michael R. Burch

WHEN you were my playmate and I was yours,
we spent endless hours with simple toys,
and the sorrows and cares of our indentured days
were uncomprehended ... far, far away ...
for the temptations and trials we had yet to face
were lost in the shadows of an unventured maze.

Then simple pleasures were easy to find
and if they cost us a little, we didn't mind;
for even a penny in a pocket back then
was one penny too many, a penny to spend.

Then feelings were feelings and love was just love,
not a strange, complex mystery to be understood;
while "sin" and "damnation" meant little to us,
since forbidden cookies were our only lusts!

Then we never worried about what we had,
and we were both sure—what was good, what was bad.
And we sometimes quarreled, but we didn't hate;
we seldom gave thought to the uncertainties of fate.

Hell, we seldom thought about the next day,
when tomorrow seemed hidden—adventures away.
Though sometimes we dreamed of adventures past,
and wondered, at times, why things couldn't last.

Still, we never worried about getting by,
and we didn't know that we were to die ...
when we spent endless hours with simple toys,
and I was your playmate, and we were boys.

This is probably the poem that "made" me, because my high school English teacher called it "beautiful" and I took that to mean I was surely the Second Coming of Percy Bysshe Shelley! "Playmates" is the second "intentional" poem I remember writing; I believe I was around 13 or 14 at the time. It was originally published by The Lyric.



Unfoldings
by Michael R. Burch

for Vicki

Time unfolds ...
Your lips were roses.
... petals open, shyly clustering ...
I had dreams
of other seasons.
... ten thousand colors quiver, blossoming.

Night and day ...
Dreams burned within me.
... flowers part themselves, and then they close ...
You were lovely;
I was lonely.
... a ****** yields herself, but no one knows.

Now time goes on ...
I have not seen you.
... within ringed whorls, secrets are exchanged ...
A fire rages;
no one sees it.
... a blossom spreads its flutes to catch the rain.

Seasons flow ...
A dream is dying.
... within parched clusters, life is taking form ...
You were honest;
I was angry.
... petals fling themselves before the storm.

Time is slowing ...
I am older.
... blossoms wither, closing one last time ...
I'd love to see you
and to touch you.
... a flower crumbles, crinkling, worn and dry.

Time contracts ...
I cannot touch you.
... a solitary flower cries for warmth ...
Life goes on as
dreams lose meaning.
... the seeds are scattered, lost within a storm.

I wrote this poem for a college girlfriend, circa age 18-19.



El Dorado
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

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

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

Yes, it's a fine town, a very fine town
for those who can leave when they tire
of chasing after rainbows and dreams
and living on nothing but fire.
But for those of us who cling to our dreams
and cannot let them go,
like the sad-eyed ladies who wander the streets
and the junkies high on snow,
the dream has become a reality
—the reality of hope
that grew too strong
not to linger on—
and so this is our home.

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

I believe I wrote the first version during my “Romantic phase” around age 16-19.



Each Color a Scar
by Michael R. Burch

What she left here,
upon my cheek,
is a tear.

She did not speak,
but her intention
was clear,

and I was meek,
far too meek, and, I fear,
too sincere.

What she can never take
from my heart
is its ache;

for now we, apart,
are like leaves
without weight,

scattered afar
by love, or by hate,
each color a scar.

I believe I wrote this poem around age 20-21.



Bound
by Michael R. Burch

Now it is winter—the coldest night.
And as the light of the streetlamp casts strange shadows to the ground,
I have lost what I once found
in your arms.

Now it is winter—the coldest night.
And as the light of distant Venus fails to penetrate dark panes,
I have remade all my chains
and am bound.

This poem appeared in my high school journal, the Lantern. I seem to remember writing it around age 14 or 15. It was originally titled "Why Did I Go?"



All My Children
by Michael R. Burch

It is May now, gentle May,
and the sun shines pleasantly
upon the blousy flowers
of this backyard cemet'ry,
upon my children as they sleep.

Oh, there is Hank in the daisies now,
with a mound of earth for a pillow;
his face as hard as his monument,
but his voice as soft as the wind through the willows.

And there is Meg beside the spring
that sings her endless sleep.
Though it’s often said of stiller waters,
sometimes quicksilver streams run deep.

And there is Frankie, little Frankie,
tucked in safe at last,
a child who weakened and died too soon,
but whose heart was always steadfast.

And there is Mary by the bushes
where she hid so well,
her face as dark as their berries,
yet her eyes far darker still.

And Andy ... there is Andy,
sleeping in the clover,
a child who never saw the sun
so soon his life was over.

And Em'ly, oh my Em'ly ...
the prettiest of all ...
now she's put aside her dreams
of lovers dark and tall
for dreams dreamed not at all.

It is May now, merry May
and the sun shines pleasantly
upon these ardent gardens,
on the graves of all my children ...

But they never did depart;
they still live within my heart.

I believe I wrote this poem around age 15-16.



These are poems I wrote later in life.

This is a poem I wrote after reading W. S. Merwin’s translations of Pablo Neruda’s love sonnets.

First and Last
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth, after Pablo Neruda

You are the last arcane rose
of my aching,
my longing,
or the first yellowed leaves—
vagrant spirals of gold
forming huddled bright sheaves;
you are passion forsaking
dark skies, as though sunsets no winds might enclose.
And still in my arms
you are gentle and fragrant—
demesne of my vigor,
spent rigor,
lost power,
fallen musculature of youth,
leaves clinging and hanging,
nameless joys of my youth to this last lingering hour.

Published by Tucumcari Literary Review and Poetry Life & Times



Thirty
by Michael R. Burch

Thirty crept upon me slowly
with feline caution and a slowly-twitching tail;
patiently she waited for the winds to shift;
now, claws unsheathed, she lies seething to assail
her helpless prey.



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.



To Know You as Mary
by Michael R. Burch

To know you as Mary,
when you spoke her name
and her world was never the same ...
beside the still tomb
where the spring roses bloom.

O, then I would laugh
and be glad that I came,
never minding the chill, the disconsolate rain ...
beside the still tomb
where the spring roses bloom.

I might not think this earth
the sharp focus of pain
if I heard you exclaim—
beside the still tomb
where the spring roses bloom

my most unexpected, unwarranted name!
But you never spoke. Explain?



Transplant
by Michael R. Burch

You float, unearthly angel, clad in flesh
as strange to us who briefly knew your flame
as laughter to disease. And yet you laugh.
Behind your smile, the sun forfeits its claim
to earth, and floats forever now the same―
light captured at its moment of least height.

You laugh here always, welcoming the night,
and, just a photograph, still you can claim
bright rapture: like an angel, not of flesh―
but something more, made less. Your humanness
this moment of release becomes a name
and something else―a radiance, a strange
brief presence near our hearts. How can we stand
and chain you here to this nocturnal land
of burgeoning gray shadows? Fly, begone.
I give you back your soul, forfeit all claim
to radiance, and welcome grief’s dark night
that crushes all the laughter from us. Light
in someone Else’s hand, and sing at ease
some song of brightsome mirth through dawn-lit trees
to welcome morning’s sun. O daughter! these
are eyes too weak for laughter; for love’s sight,
I welcome darkness, overcome with light.



Poems for Akhmatova
by Marina Tsvetaeva
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

4
You outshine everything, even the sun
at its zenith. The stars are yours!
If only I could sweep like the wind
through some unbarred door,
gratefully, to where you are ...

to hesitantly stammer, suddenly shy,
lowering my eyes before you, my lovely mistress,
petulant, chastened, overcome by tears,
as a child sobs to receive forgiveness ...



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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Reclamation
an original poem by Michael R. Burch

after Robert Graves, with a nod to Mary Shelley

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

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

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

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

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

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

Need is reborn; love dies.



Everlasting
by Michael R. Burch

Where the wind goes
when the storm dies,
there my spirit lives
though I close my eyes.

Do not weep for me;
I am never far.
Whisper my name
to the last star ...

then let me sleep,
think of me no more.

Still ...

By denying death
its terminal sting,
in my words I remain
everlasting.



Having Touched You
by Michael R. Burch

What I have lost
is not less
than what I have gained.

And for each moment passed
like the sun to the west,
another remained

suspended in memory
like a flower
in crystal

so that eternity
is but an hour
and fall

is no longer a season
but a state
of mind.

I have no reason
to wait;
the wind

does not pause
for remembrance
or regret

because
there is only fate and chance.
And so then, forget . . .

Forget that we were very happy
for a day.
That day was my lifetime.

Before that day I was empty
and the sky was grey.
You were the sunshine,

the sunshine that gave me life.
I took root
and I grew.

Now the touch of death is like a terrible knife,
and yet I can bear it,
having touched you.

Odd, the things that inspire us! I wrote this early poem after watching The Boy in the Bubble: a made-for-TV movie, circa 1976, starring John Travolta. So I would have been around 18 at the time.



Tomb Lake
by Michael R. Burch

Go down to the valley
where mockingbirds cry,
alone, ever lonely . . .
yes, go down to die.

And dream in your dying
you never shall wake.
Go down to the valley;
go down to Tomb Lake.

Tomb Lake is a cauldron
of souls such as yours —
mad souls without meaning,
frail souls without force.

Tomb Lake is a graveyard
reserved for the dead.
They lie in her shallows
and sleep in her bed.

"Tomb Lake" is a companion poem to "Moon Lake" written around age 18.


INCOMPLETE POEMS

These are poems of mine that are incomplete. Some are incomplete because in my youth, around age 15, I became frustrated with my poems, thinking I should already be writing like Keats and Shelley, and destroyed everything I had written. I was able to recreate some of the poems from memory, but other poems remain lost or fragments. Some poems are incomplete because I lost track of the handwritten manuscripts. Some were “completed” by shortening or “pruning” them.

Son
by Michael R. Burch

An island is bathed in blues and greens
as a weary sun settles to rest,
and the memories singing
through the back of my mind
lull me to sleep as the tide flows in.

Here where the hours pass almost unnoticed,
my heart and my home will be till I die,
but where you are is where my thoughts go
when the tide is high.

[etc., in the handwritten version, the father laments abandoning his son]

Son, there where the skylarks sing to the sun
as the rain sprinkles lightly around,
understand if you can
the mind of a man
whose conscience so long ago drowned.

I wrote this poem in my teens and it is fictitious, since I wasn’t a father and had never lived on an island smaller than England.



She bathes in silver
~~~~ afloat ~~~~
on her reflections
—Michael R. Burch

I liked the line “She bathes in silver” but didn’t have anything to follow it up with, so I eventually opted for a short haiku-like poem, which I rather fancy now.



Gone
by Michael R. Burch

Tonight, it is dark
and the stars do not shine.

A man who is gone
was a good friend of mine.

We were friends.

And the sky was the strangest shade of orange on gold
when I awoke to find him gone ...

This is one of my very earliest poems, one that was lost when I destroyed all the poems I had written in a fit of frustration and despair. The opening lines and "the strangest shade of orange on gold" are all of the original poem that I have been able to remember. I believe I wrote the original poem around age 14.



Excerpt from "Jessamyn's Song"
by Michael R. Burch

By the window ledge where the candle begs
the night for light to live,
the deepening darkness gives
the heart good cause to shudder.
For there are curly, tousled heads
that know one use for bed
and not any other.
"Goodnight father."
"Goodnight mother."
"Goodnight sister."
"Goodnight brother."
"Tomorrow new adventures
we surely shall discover!"

"Jessamyn's Song" was a long poem I wrote in my early teens about a relationship that began when a boy and girl were very young and lasted into "old age." At the time I wrote the poem, forty seemed to be beyond superannuated, so I believe I killed off the hero at that ripe old age.



Styx
by Michael R. Burch

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

I don't remember exactly when I wrote "Styx," perhaps around age 18, but I do remember it being part of a longer poem originally titled "Death." The first four lines seemed better than the rest of the poem, so I opted for the better part of valor: discretion.



Dust (I)
by Michael R. Burch

God, keep them safe until
I join them, as I will.
God, guard their tender dust
until I meet them, as I must.

This is one of my earliest poems, written around 1973-1974 at age 15-16, around the same time as “Jessamyn’s Song.” In fact, I believe it was part of the longer poem, toward the end. No, I take that back. This was at one time the closing stanza of “All My Children,” written around the same time, but probably closer to 1973.



Dust (II)
by Michael R. Burch

We are dust
and to dust we must
return ...
but why, then,
life’s hopeless sojourn?

I believe this poem was written some time after the first "Dust" poem, but I'm not sure exactly when. Thus, I will keep them together because the titles and themes are the same.



Dust (III)
by Michael R. Burch

Flame within flame,
we burned and burned relentlessly
till there was nothing left to be consumed.
Only ash remained, the smoke plumed
like a spirit leaving its corpse, and we
were left with only a name
ever common between us.
We had thought to love “eternally,”
but the wick sputtered, the candle swooned,
the flame subsided, the smoke ballooned,
and our communal thought was: flee, flee, flee
the choking dust.

The third in the series, I'm not sure when this poem was written, but I will keep it with its companions.



Sarjann
by Michael R. Burch

What did I ever do
to make you hate me so?
I was only nine years old,
lonely and afraid,
a small stranger in a large land.
Why did you abuse me
and taunt me?
Even now, so many years later,
the question still haunts me:
what did I ever do?

Why did you despise me and reject me,
pushing and shoving me around
when there was no one to protect me?
Why did you draw a line
in the bone-dry autumn dust,
daring me to cross it?
Did you want to see me cry?
Well, if you did, you did.

... oh, leave me alone,
for the sky opens wide
in a land of no rain,
and who are you
to bring me such pain? ...

This is a "true poem" in the sense of being about the "real me." I had a bad experience with an older girl named Sarjann (or something like that), who used to taunt me and push me around at a bus stop in Roseville, California (the "large land" of "no rain" where I was a "small stranger" because I only lived there for a few months). I believe this poem was written around age 16, but could have been written earlier. There was more to the poem, but I decided to shorten it.


Nevermore!
by Michael R. Burch

Nevermore! O, nevermore
shall the haunts of the sea—
the swollen tide pools
and the dark, deserted shore—
mark her passing again.

And the salivating sea
shall never kiss her lips
nor caress her ******* and hips
as she dreamt it did before,
once, lost within the uproar.

The waves will never claim her,
nor take her at their leisure;
the sea gulls shall not have her,
nor could she give them pleasure . . .
She sleeps forevermore.

She sleeps forevermore,
a ****** save to me
and her other lover,
who lurks now, safely smothered
by the restless, surging sea.

And, yes, they sleep together,
but never in that way!
For the sea has stripped and shorn
the one I once adored,
and washed her flesh away.

He does not stroke her honey hair,
for she is bald, bald to the bone!
And how it fills my heart with glee
to hear them sometimes cursing me
out of the depths of the demon sea . . .

their skeletal love—impossibility!

Published by Romantics Quarterly and Penny Dreadful; I wrote this poem around age 19 under the influence of Edgar Allan Poe.



Poet to poet
by Michael R. Burch

I have a dream
pebbles in a sparkling sand
of wondrous things.

I see children
variations of the same man
playing together.

Black and yellow, red and white,
stone and flesh, a host of colors
together at last.

I see a time
each small child another's cousin
when freedom shall ring.

I hear a song
sweeter than the sea sings
of many voices.

I hear a jubilation
respect and love are the gifts we must bring
shaking the land.

I have a message,
sea shells echo, the melody rings
the message of God.

I have a dream
all pebbles are merely smooth fragments of stone
of many things.

I live in hope
all children are merely small fragments of One
that this dream shall come true.

I have a dream . . .
but when you're gone, won't the dream have to end?
Oh, no, not as long as you dream my dream too!

Here, hold out your hand, let's make it come true.
i can feel it begin
Lovers and dreamers are poets too.

poets are lovers and dreamers too

I wrote “Poet to poet” around age 17, under the influence of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I have a dream” speech / sermon / poem.



Am I
by Michael R. Burch

Am I inconsequential;
do I matter not at all?
Am I just a snowflake,
to sparkle, then to fall?

Am I only chaff?
Of what use am I?
Am I just a feeble flame,
to flicker, then to die?

Am I inadvertent?
For what reason am I here?
Am I just a ripple
in a pool that once was clear?

Am I insignificant?
Will time pass me by?
Am I just a flower,
to live one day, then die?

Am I unimportant?
Do I matter either way?
Or am I just an echo—
soon to fade away?

This is one of my earliest poems; if I remember correctly, it was written the same day as “Time,” which appeared in my high school sophomore poetry assignment booklet. If not, it was a companion piece written around the same time. The refrain “Am I” is an inversion of the biblical “I Am” supposedly given to Moses as the name of God. I was around 14 or 15 when I wrote the two poems.



Time
by Michael R. Burch

Time,
where have you gone?
What turned out so short,
had seemed like so long.

Time,
where have you flown?
What seemed like mere days
were years come and gone.

Time,
see what you've done:
for now I am old,
when once I was young.

Time,
do you even know why
your days, minutes, seconds
preternaturally fly?

This is a companion piece to "Am I." It appeared in my high school project notebook "Poems" along with "Playmates," so I was probably around 14 or 15 when I wrote it.



Ambition
by Michael R. Burch

Men speak of their “ambition”
and I smile to hear them say
that within them burns such fire,
such a longing to be great ...

But I laugh at their “Ambition”
as their wistfulness amasses;
I seek Her tongue’s indulgence
and Her parted legs’ crevasses.

I was very ambitious about my poetry, even as a teenager. I wrote this one around age 18 or 19.



Reflections on the Loss of Vision
by Michael R. Burch

The sparrow that cries from the shelter of an ancient oak tree and the squirrels
that dash in delight through the treetops as the first snow glistens and swirls,
remind me so much of my childhood and how the world seemed to me then,
    that it seems if I tried
    and just closed my eyes,
I could once again be nine or ten.

The rabbits that hide in the bushes where the snowflakes collect as they fall,
hunch there, I know, in the fast-piling snow, yet now I can't see them at all.
For time slowly weakened my vision; while the patterns seem almost as clear,
    some things that I saw
    when I was a boy,
are lost to me now in my “advancing” years.

The chipmunk who seeks out his burrow and the geese now preparing to leave
are there as they were, and yet they are not; and if it seems childish to grieve,
still, who would condemn a blind man for bemoaning the vision he lost?
    Well, in a small way,
    through the passage of days,
I have learned some of his loss.

As a keen-eyed young lad I endeavored to see things most adults could not—
the camouflaged nests of the hoot owls, the woodpecker’s favorite haunts.
But now I no longer can find them, nor understand how I once could,
    and it seems such a waste
    of those far-sighted days,
to end up near blind in this wood.

I believe I wrote the first version of this poem around age 19 or 20. I put it aside for many years and didn’t finish it until 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic. This is one of my more Robert-Frost-like poems and perhaps not a bad one for the age at which it was written.



Sanctuary at Dawn
by Michael R. Burch

I have walked these thirteen miles
just to stand outside your door.
The rain has dogged my footsteps
for thirteen miles, for thirty years,
through the monsoon seasons ...
and now my tears
have all been washed away.

Through thirteen miles of rain I slogged,
I stumbled and I climbed
rainslickened slopes
that led me home
to the hope that I might find
a life I lived before.

The door is wet; my cheeks are wet,
but not with rain or tears ...
as I knock I sweat
and the raining seems
the rhythm of the years.

Now you stand outlined in the doorway
—a man as large as I left—
and with bated breath
I take a step
into the accusing light.

Your eyes are grayer
than I remembered;
your hair is grayer, too.
As the red rust runs
down the dripping drains,
our voices exclaim—

"My father!"
"My son!"

“Sanctuary at Dawn” appeared in my first poetry chapbook manuscript, so it was written either in high school or during my first two years of college: age 18 is an educated guess.



Winter
by Michael R. Burch

The rose of love’s bright promise
lies torn by her own thorn;
her scent was sweet
but at her feet
the pallid aphids mourn.

The lilac of devotion
has felt the winter ****
and shed her dress;
companionless,
she shivers—****, forlorn.

I wrote "Winter" around age 20; it has been published by Songs of Innocence, The Aurorean and Contemporary Rhyme.



Analogy
by Michael R. Burch

Our embrace is like a forest
lying blanketed in snow;
you, the lily, are enchanted
by each shiver trembling through;

I, the snowfall, cling in earnest
as I press so close to you.
You dream that you now are sheltered;
I dream that I may break through.

I believe I wrote this poem around age 18. The lily symbolizes purity and virginity.



It's Halloween!
by Michael R. Burch

If evening falls
on graveyard walls
far softer than a sigh;

if shadows fly
moon-sickled skies,
while children toss their heads
uneasy in their beds,
beware the witch's eye!

If goblins loom
within the gloom
till playful pups grow terse;

if birds give up their verse
to comfort chicks they nurse,
while children dream weird dreams
of ugly, wiggly things,
beware the serpent's curse!

If spirits scream
in haunted dreams
while ancient sibyls rise
to plague nightmarish skies
one night without disguise,
while children toss about
uneasy, full of doubt,
beware the Devil's lies . . .
it's Halloween!

I wrote “It’s Halloween!” around 1978, circa age 20.



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 casual lover.

They walk to their cars and they laugh as they go,
though we know their forced 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 inscrutable 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 sagely 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 vividly remember writing this poem after my first office party  around age 20.



Lay Down Your Arms
by Michael R. Burch

Lay down your arms; come, sleep in the sand.
The battle is over and night is at hand.
Our voyage has ended; there's nowhere to go ...
the earth is a cinder still faintly aglow.

Lay down your pamphlets; let's bicker no more.
Instead, let us rest here on this ravaged shore.
The sea is still boiling; the air is wan, thin ...
So lay down your pamphlets; now no one will “win.”

Lay down your hymnals; abandon all song.
If God was to save us, He waited too long.
A new world emerges, but this world is through . . .
so lay down your hymnals, or write something new.

I wrote “Lay Down Your Arms” around age 21 and it became my first published poem, possibly. Can an acceptance be a rejection? I never received a copy of the first journal that accepted one of my poems, The Romantist, so I still don’t know if my first “published poem” was actually published!



Laughter from Another Room
by Michael R. Burch

Laughter from another room
mocks the anguish that I feel;
as I sit alone and brood,
only you and I are real.

Only you and I are real.
Only you and I exist.
Only burns that blister heal.
Only dreams denied persist.

Only dreams denied persist.
Only hope that lingers dies.
Only love that lessens lives.
Only lovers ever cry.

Only lovers ever cry.
Only sinners ever pray.
Only saints are crucified.
The crucified are always saints.

The crucified are always saints.
The maddest men control the world.
The dumb man knows what he would say;
the poet never finds the words.

The poet never finds the words.
The minstrel never hits the notes.
The minister would love to curse.
The warrior longs to spare his foe.

The warrior longs to spare his foe.
The scholar never learns the truth.
The actors never see the show.
The hangman longs to feel the noose.

The hangman longs to feel the noose.
The artist longs to feel the flame.
The proudest men are not aloof;
the guiltiest are not to blame.

The guiltiest are not to blame.
The merriest are prone to brood.
If we go outside, it rains.
If we stay inside, it floods.

If we stay inside, it floods.
If we dare to love, we fear.
Blind men never see the sun;
other men observe through tears.

Other men observe through tears
the passage of these days of doom;
now I listen and I hear
laughter from another room.

Laughter from another room
mocks the anguish that I feel.
As I sit alone and brood,
only you and I are real.

I believe I wrote this poem around age 18-19.



Ode to the Sun
by Michael R. Burch

Day is done . . .
on, swift sun.
Follow still your silent course.
Follow your unyielding course.
On, swift sun.

Leave no trace of where you've been;
give no hint of what you've seen.
But, ever as you onward flee,
touch me, O sun,
touch me.

Now day is done . . .
on, swift sun.
Go touch my love about her face
and warm her now for my embrace;
for though she sleeps so far away,
where she is not, I shall not stay.
Go tell her now I, too, shall come.
Go on, swift sun,
go on.

I seem to remember writing this poem toward the end of my senior year in high school, around age 18. It was originally published by Tucumcari Literary Review.



Beckoning
by Michael R. Burch

Yesterday
the wind whispered my name
while the blazing locks
of her rampant mane
lay heavy on mine.

And yesterday
I saw the way
the wind caressed tall pines
in forests laced by glinting streams
and thick with tangled vines.

And though she reached
for me in her sleep,
the touch I felt was Time's.

I wrote "Beckoning" around age 18.



The Last Enchantment
by Michael R. Burch

Oh, Lancelot, my truest friend,
how time has thinned your ragged mane
and pinched your features; still you seem
though, much, much changed—somehow unchanged.

Your sword hand is, as ever, ready,
although the time for swords has passed.
Your eyes are fierce, and yet so steady
meeting mine ... you must not ask.

The time is not, nor ever shall be,
for Merlyn’s words were only words;
and now his last enchantment wanes,
and we must put aside our swords ...

Originally published by Trinacria

I believe I wrote this poem in my early twenties, around 1980. I distinctly remember working on the poem on a flight to England in 1982 because an attractive girl was sitting beside me on the plane and I remember wishing she would ask me what I was doing. No such luck! According to my notes the poem was revised and filed in 1984, but it remains largely as it was originally written.



As the Flame Flowers
by Michael R. Burch

As the flame flowers, a flower, aflame,
arches leaves skyward, aching for rain,
but it only encounters wild anguish and pain
as the flame sputters sparks that ignite at its stem.

Yet how this frail flower aflame at the stem
reaches through night, through the staggering pain,
for a sliver of silver that sparkles like rain,
as it flutters in fear of the flowering flame.

Mesmerized by a distant crescent-shaped gem
which glistens like water though drier than sand,
the flower extends itself, trembles, and then
dies as scorched leaves burst aflame in the wind.

I believe I wrote the first version of this poem in my late teens. The flower aflame yet entranced by the moon is, of course, a metaphor for destructive love and its passions.



Ashes
by Michael R. Burch

A fire is dying;
ashes remain . . .
ashes and anguish,
ashes and pain.

A fire is fading
though once it burned bright . . .
ashes once embers
are ashes tonight.

This is a companion poem to “As the Flame Flowers,” written the same day, I believe.



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.

I wrote the first version of this poem around age 18, then revised it 30 years later and dedicated the new version to my wife Beth.



“Whoso List to Hunt” is a famous early English sonnet written by Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503-1542) in the mid-16th century.

Whoever Longs to Hunt
by Sir Thomas Wyatt
loose translation/interpretation/modernization by Michael R. Burch

Whoever longs to hunt, I know the deer;
but as for me, alas!, I may no more.
This vain pursuit has left me so bone-sore
I'm one of those who falters, at the rear.
Yet friend, how can I draw my anguished mind
away from the doe?
                               Thus, as she flees before
me, fainting I follow.
                                I must leave off, therefore,
since in a net I seek to hold the wind.

Whoever seeks her out,
                                     I relieve of any doubt,
that he, like me, must spend his time in vain.
For graven with diamonds, set in letters plain,
these words appear, her fair neck ringed about:
Touch me not, for Caesar's I am,
And wild to hold, though I seem tame.



Be that Rock
by Michael R. Burch

for my grandfather George Edwin Hurt Sr.

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

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

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

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

I don't remember when I wrote this poem, but I will guess around age 18 in 1976. The verse quoted is from an old, well-worn King James Bible my grandfather gave me after his only visit to the United States, as he prepared to return to England with my grandmother. I was around eight at the time and didn't know if I would ever see my grandparents again, so I was heartbroken – destitute, really.



Describing You
by Michael R. Burch

How can I describe you?

The fragrance of morning rain
mingled with dew
reminds me of you;

the warmth of sunlight
stealing through a windowpane
brings you back to me again.

This is an early poem of mine, written as a teenager, possibly age 16 due to the romantic style and sentiments.



Say You Love Me
by Michael R. Burch

Joy and anguish surge within my soul;
contesting there, they cannot be controlled,
for grinding yearnings grip me like a vise.
Stars are burning;
it's almost morning.

Dreams of dreams of dreams that I have dreamed
dance before me, forming formless scenes;
and now, at last, the feeling grows
as stars, declining,
bow to morning.

And you are music echoing through dreams,
rising from some far-off lyric spring;
oh, somewhere in the night I hear you sing.
Stars on fire
form a choir.

Now dawn's fierce brightness burns within your eyes;
you laugh at me as dancing embers die.
You touch me so and still I don't know why . . .
But say you love me.
Say you love me.

I wrote this poem around age 25.



The Beautiful People
by Michael R. Burch

They are the beautiful people,
and their shadows dance through the valleys of the moon
to the listless strains of an ancient tune.

Oh, no ... please don't touch them,
for their smiles might fade.
Don’t go ... don’t approach them
as they promenade,
for they waltz through a vacuum
and dream they're not made
of the dust and gross dankness
to which men degrade.

They are the beautiful people,
and their spirits sighed in their mothers’ wombs
as the distant echoings of unearthly tunes.

Winds do not blow there
and storms do not rise,
and each hair has its place
and each gown has its price.
And they whirl through the darkness
untouched by our cares
as we watch them and long for
a "life" such as theirs.

I believe I wrote this poem around 1976, at age 18 or thereabouts.



Gentry
by Michael R. Burch

The men shined their shoes
and the ladies chose their clothes;
the rifle stocks were varnished
till they were untarnished
by a speck of dust.

The men trimmed their beards;
the ladies rouged their lips;
the horses were groomed
until the time loomed
for them to ride.

The men mounted their horses,
the ladies did the same;
then in search of game they went,
a pleasant time they spent,
and killed the fox.

This poem was published in my college literary journal, Homespun, in 1977, along with "Smoke" and four other poems of mine. I have never been a fan of hunting or fishing, or inflicting pain on other creatures. I believe I wrote the poem around age 18.



I Am Lonely
by Michael R. Burch

Oh God, I am lonely;
I am weak and sore afraid.
Now, just who am I to turn to
when my heart is torn in two?

Oh God, I am lonely
and I cannot find a mate.
Now, just who am I to turn to
when the best friend that I’ve made

remains myself?

This poem appeared in my high school journal the Lantern. I believe it was written circa age 16.



Impotent
by Michael R. Burch

Tonight my pen
is barren
of passion, spent of poetry.

I hear your name
upon the rain
and yet it cannot comfort me.

I feel the pain
of dreams that wane,
of poems that falter, losing force.

I write again
words without end,
but I cannot control their course . . .

Tonight my pen
is sullen
and wants no more of poetry.

I hear your voice
as if a choice,
but how can I respond, or flee?

I feel a flame
I cannot name
that sends me searching for a word,

but there is none
not over-done,
unless it's one I never heard.

I believe this poem was written in my late teens or early twenties.



absinthe sea
by Michael R. Burch

i hold in my hand a goblet of absinthe
the bitter green liqueur
reflects the dying sunset over the sea
and the darkling liquid froths
up over the rim of my cup
to splash into the free,
churning waters of the sea
i do not drink

i do not drink the liqueur,
for I sail on an absinthe sea
that stretches out unendingly
into the gathering night
its waters are no less green
and no less bitter,
nor does the sun strike them with a kinder light
they both harbor night,
and neither shall shelter me

neither shall shelter me
from the anger of the wind
or the cruelty of the sun
for I sail in the goblet of some Great God
who gazes out over a greater sea,
and when my life is done,
perhaps it will be because
He lifted His goblet and sipped my sea.

I seem to remember writing this poem in college, just because I liked the sound of the word “absinthe.” I had no idea, really, what it was or what absinthe looked or tasted like, beyond something I had read somewhere.



Blue Cowboy
by Michael R. Burch

He slumps against the pommel,
a lonely, heartsick boy—
his horse his sole companion,
his gun his only toy
—and bitterly regretting
he ever came so far,
forsaking all home's comforts
to sleep beneath the stars,
he sighs.

He thinks about the lover
who waits for him no more
till a tear anoints his lashes,
lit by the careless stars.
He reaches to his aching breast,
withdraws a golden lock,
and kisses it in silence
as empty as his thoughts
while the wind sighs.

Blue cowboy, ride that lonesome ridge
between the earth and distant stars.
Do not fall; the fiends of hell
would leap to feast upon your heart.

Blue cowboy, sift the burnt-out sand
for a drop of water warm and brown.
Dream of streams like silver seams
even as you gulp it down.

Blue cowboy, sing defiant songs
to hide the weakness in your soul.
Blue cowboy, ride that lonesome ridge
and wish that you were going home
as the stars sigh.

I believe I wrote this poem during my songwriting phase, sometime between 1974 and 1976, around age 16 or a bit later.



This is another very early poem of mine.

All My Children
by Michael R. Burch

It is May now, gentle May,
and the sun shines pleasantly
upon the blousy flowers
of this backyard cemet'ry,
upon my children as they sleep.

Oh, there is Hank in the daisies now,
with a mound of earth for a pillow;
his face as hard as his monument,
but his voice as soft as the wind through the willows.

And there is Meg beside the spring
that sings her endless sleep.
Though it’s often said of stiller waters,
sometimes quicksilver streams run deep.

And there is Frankie, little Frankie,
tucked in safe at last,
a child who weakened and died too soon,
but whose heart was always steadfast.

And there is Mary by the bushes
where she hid so well,
her face as dark as their berries,
yet her eyes far darker still.

And Andy ... there is Andy,
sleeping in the clover,
a child who never saw the sun
so soon his life was over.

And Em'ly, oh my Em'ly ...
the prettiest of all ...
now she's put aside her dreams
of lovers dark and tall
for dreams dreamed not at all.

It is May now, merry May
and the sun shines pleasantly
upon the green gardens,
on the graves of all my children ...

But they never did depart;
They still live within my heart.

God, keep them safe until
I join them, as I will.
God, guard their tender dust
until I meet them, as I must.

This is one of my earliest poems, written circa age 15.
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.



“Whoso List to Hunt” is a famous early English sonnet written by Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503-1542) in the mid-16th century.

Whoever Longs to Hunt
by Sir Thomas Wyatt
loose translation/interpretation/modernization by Michael R. Burch

Whoever longs to hunt, I know the deer;
but as for me, alas!, I may no more.
This vain pursuit has left me so bone-sore
I'm one of those who falters, at the rear.
Yet friend, how can I draw my anguished mind
away from the doe?
                                   Thus, as she flees before
me, fainting I follow.
                                     I must leave off, therefore,
since in a net I seek to hold the wind.

Whoever seeks her out,
                                         I relieve of any doubt,
that he, like me, must spend his time in vain.
For graven with diamonds, set in letters plain,
these words appear, her fair neck ringed about:
Touch me not, for Caesar's I am,
And wild to hold, though I seem tame.



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
Alejandro O Jun 2015
Beautiful flame princess, where could you be?
Oh; Beautiful flame princess. so sweet, innocent, and serene.

Beautiful flame princess, I wonder if you could see that the universe has bought me to you.
Oh; Beautiful flame princess, I know you don't know me.

Beautiful flame princess, won't you light up those beautiful brown eyes through the universe I was able to hear you're cries.
Oh; Beautiful flame princess, I know you think I'm full of lies.

Beautiful flame princess , I was made for you.
Oh; Beautiful flame princess, won't you light up the sky. and if you're willing then I'm willing to try.

                                             Beautiful Flame Princess.
Dale Birren Jun 2014
Flame, Dear Flame
So dull yet so bright
Guide my journey through the dark

Flame, Dear Flame
So frail, yet much alight
Guide my sight with your amber spark

You are the key that unlocks the instrument betwixt my ears.
You are my shepherd through the thorns of Evil's might.

Flame. Dear Flame
Dying, yet full of life
Keep me warm through the cold of night
Kelly Sep 2012
For all hours when all must fade.
Like flame on flame, and deep on deep.
When all half sleep.
The Iron sword upon the knees.
Blood flows in pools as all lay.
Like flame on flame, and deep on deep.
Aurora RW Aug 2019
Him
He is like a flame that burns, brighter than any star in the sky.
A flame lit by the soul to survive a thousand winters.
A flame so delicate and so bold is cause for my restlessness.
None shall sway this flame of mine, its light too great,
Too powerful.
It can be spat on, blown on, poured on from endless monsoons.
And yet his flame burns bright.
My flame, his heart, all suffering,
All enduring.
Cannot be Shaken,
Fears nothing,
Believes and loves all.
His Flame so bold and beautiful,
Slowly causing my demise.
His flame I love with greater passion,
Stronger than Hercules,
My flame exists on hope,
believes all,
feels all,
knows all.
His flame, my flame,
Will never give up.
---AuroraRW
ALIEN MOSTLY Apr 2018
Queen of passion
Broken through love
She who gives all
Surely loses it all

Passions burning flame
No other flame may withstand
Burning out
Flame versus flame

Sad socrpio
You let a dull match in
Twig with no spark
Stealing your fire
Dulling her shine

Sad Scorpio, you know
Flame dulled
Stolen fire, a burning rage
Sad scorpio

Broken by a dull stick
Dull stick
Calls you dull

Sad Scorpio
Sad, sad Scorpio
Wishing to burn
She has been robbed

Flame stolen
Flame that once burned
All who challenged

Sad Scorpio
Steal your flame back
No.
You let him burn

He won't reignite your flame
No.
He burns you
Burns you up
Yet you stay, sad Scorpio

Says he is the only one
Who will keep you warm
No.
He burns you

Sad Scorpio
Steal your flane
Let him dwindle
Shine again
Work in progress, bit of a train of thought
Victor Marques Dec 2009
The flowers of my garden are happy and free,


The silence of the night is in flame...

Be good, be humble don't complain,

The universe is generous for you and me...


The flame is the flame that you love to see.

The flower is a flower in the vase in a distant sea,

The boats come to the same port...

The flame is up the north.


In the golden stars of the flame of the night,

It is the same flame for the poor and the bright,

The lights that you and the mirror can love and see,

Are the flame of you and me...



Kindest regards from the best region for Port
Victor
Mind Wanderer Feb 2015
As the stars shine in the dark night sky, my heart shines upon your soul.
The flame encases them, flowing through them, around them
Descending upon the earth they separate
Journeying to find each other again
I will never stop seeing you for what you are.

Her eyes are a fiery world of emotion, volcanic
The depth is endless, shaken from the reality of this world
Soft gentle skin, smooth, unseen perfection
Her mind an endless ocean of thought
She breathes, searching, for the flame that burns within

His mind battered from the constant misunderstanding
The past is over and his new beginning is overdue
Searching for the taste of all that he knows, Searching for the flame that burns within

The universe sets it’s plan in motion
It’s an inevitable fate
Two souls searching, working toward this certain conclusion.
The flame is cast, frequency’s align

Ascending far above the earth
The flames merge once again, bound by destiny
And again the flame encases them, following them into eternity
Forever searching for the merging of the twin flame.
Troy Feb 2020
The flame of love
So contained while it's flourishing
But remove the barriers of love
And the flame turns on you

It sets you ablaze
As the flame turns dark
Causing unbearable pain
As you wish for it to end

You try so hard
To put up a wall
Around this new flame
But to no avail

It burns so hot
You feel like you could melt
Your chest clenched tightly
As every beat pounds

Holding tightly
You ask yourself
What did I do
To deserve this pain

But you hear no response
No whisper to let you know
That the flame that's inside
Is the flame of sorrow

It burns so vibrant
It threatens to burn
Right out of your chest
Leaving you hollow inside

But nothing can help
Only time will tame it
For when this flame burns
All hope feels lost

You beg and plead
For it to stop
But the best you can do
Is calm the sorrow

Do other things
Hang out with friends who care
For they will help you heal
Over this time of torture

Forget about the past
Cause you can't change it
Things happen that's out of our control
And it's okay to feel hurt

But just remember
That burning inside
The flame that seems to never die
Will slowly fade away in time
Much have been said
About my brother
Flame
How from his hands
Borne both
Creation
And destruction
Songs were sung
About trivial flickers
And infernos legendary
Allow me to say
My piece about
My brother flame
Flame
Words seems lifeless
Next to your colored streaks
Hearths spark
Red
Candles shine
Yellow
Blue
Is the burn from my oven
Life is borne
From your touch
Embers glow at your grasp
Metal refined from your speech
The world itself
Is teeming in life
For the sun
Looks down upon it
In its heart
You
My brother flame
Burn brightest
Fire
Is the element of change
You burn from the tears
Of the oppressed
You blaze from the verses
Of the revolutionary
Artists, lovers, and dreamers
Their eyes burn
With passion
Your disposition
My brother has never been cold
My Sister Wind
You warm her
With your embrace
Shed her chains and give her wings
That she may fly
Full of grace
Brother flame
You are a legend
May bards sing forever
Your songs
How you cradled the Phoenix
In its death
And herald its birth
From the same ashes it came from
How you fled with Prometheus
From Olympus
And sparked the dreams of men
You are a perfect instrument
Of God’s glory and renown
After heaven denied Earth
Rain
Elijah’s offer you consumed
On Horeb
Moses
Have seen you burning
A lonely bush
You’ve shown this lonely shepherd
He was standing on Holy Ground
And on God’s plan
Much have been said
About my brother flame
My piece reveals
Of those I am certain
These three
Life
Passion
Renown


12:27:08.03:23
A wedding gift for R.E.
Anderson Ritchie Feb 2012
A flame of Holy ordination
and ignition, shall not soon
burn out and falter.
This flame though a wick it
surely hath, will not expire,
tho' should you cover it
all its bright light shall fade,
let this light beam boldly
into shadows and all shall
tremble and fear.
This flame of Holy ordination
lit with the softest touch,
grows brighter and fiercer,
tho' not in anger or hate,
but passion, and should
this flame lose that bright passion
then I surely would weep, and
prostrate myself in search of
re-ignition, for this flame is better
for five minutes than darkness eternity
in darkness,
I earnestly seek this flame.
Adam Childs Mar 2015
I am the fire that holds the glow
of a hidden flame that captures
all that fall within.
As all my fire flowers around me
bellowed by every heartbeat.
As many invisible doorways break
open and all is awakened in air of ruby
reds and orange flame, as they
burst and bloom.  

I am the fire that swallows all fire so
shout at me more little drill sergeant
for you light my fire.
For I will explode all over your anger
and blow you out like a little candle.
As I am a colossal fiery breeze as turbulent
winds encircle like a forest fire I engulf.

My coat shines and glows with orange
embers fanned by a million life times
of survival.
The power of my radiating heat melts
bones like ice in boiling water or the
hot sun against margarine.
Dare you look into my stare take a dip
a little swim and I will reignite your
flame.

I am the WILD Tiger never in caged by
any shouldst or ought to for I am a free
and my path always open for me to seek
fuel for my flame.
As my fire is never suffocated by conditions
or rule as I possess all the space around me.
Like oxygen I **** it all in while exploding into
higher spaces much greater places.

I feel the taste of LOVE and HATE as they are
both painted upon my tongue and feed my
appetite.
Like two sticks Love and Hate I rub them both
together please give me more smoke and fire.
You rub your soft injustice against my hard wood
I will bring you storm clouds and flames.
As I fight for right as naturally as gravity is
pulling us to earth.
I will transform any situation never stopping
to ask if I can as I throw myself at anything.


I wash souls of petty despair as they bath
within my glare.
Come close to me and I will hold you tenderly
in the nets of my sight like hammocks
in my eyes.
Let me lick and sooth your many wounds
as we together we softly purr.
Purring sweetly together like a V8 engine I can
slowly restore all your strength and power.

I pounce and spring of solid rock that feels
so soft and elastic like rubber.
A thousand coordinated sparks ****** themselves
forward as they blaze a trail to fast for the brain.
You will be liberated when you find my fire
rocket blades ignited we will dance and play
through time.


So much can be gained when running with the
Tiger, caressing air with a watery velvet.
As you slip through a jungle with a silky strawberry
orange flame, how we Love the beautiful
Tiger's Flame
Ntsika H Sep 2015
I've always wanted to know how it feels to be a flame, or a dime.
I've seen people looking like they were born in perfection, with no regrets about their reflections. And looks were never a lesson they had to learn.

I've always wanted to know how it feels to be a flame, or a dime.
I've seen them smile with a perfect smile, with faces clear from lines. No scars, cause they look like stars.

I've always wanted to know how it feels to be a flame, or a dime.
I mean, looking so pretty and you do it so effortlessly and every second person throws a flirt, just to see if they could be with thee.

I've always wanted to know how it feels to be a flame, or a dime.
When you put on pajamas and still look like a runway model, while other run away from run ways cause they aren't model enough for runways.

I've always wanted to know how it feels to be a flame, or a dime.
I guess it feels like perfection cause you're in love with your reflection and you get compliments every second.

I've always wanted to know what it feels like to be a flame, or a dime.
I guess I'll never know.
Cause that's just how things go.
Looks aren't for us all.
Just for you, and your all.
You look beautiful.
I noticed that perfection fell for your reflection. I hope that was the right decision.
I hope your voice, personality  and heart are just as beautiful.
brian odongo Feb 2018
We lit a flame in an opaque  world
Not from wood but from a  candle
For woods sparkles bright
But produce ashes that cause blight
But candles melts to produces a stronger wax
Such is our flame burning to only reproduce a greater love
We lit a flame that first set our hearts on fire
And the fire spreads and then put our whole soul a blaze
Our flame is not shaken by violent winds
But it sways side by side dancing even to its violent  rhythms
Hand in hand ,heart in heart we lit a flame
A flame that does not burn down but builds up
A flame that that light our own souls and other souls too
For such is a candle it burns not for its own sake
TussyLambz Jul 2018
I want it so bad
Never going to quit it
Flip the switch and hit ignition
Toss these hands I talk in all ten digits

**** wishing - let me finish,
Raw- dish it out the kitchen
Saw- vision now they listen
Off an opp and take position

Never in my life did i think i'd make it
Fight, take it
Might bend to vice
Been in sight, fend or die breaking

God I know you hear my pain
Twisted system call em' viens
Wicked lifted off the reigns
Vicious gifted follow flame

Agh! I'm a savage, a beast
Murdering beats, I read it and weep, God
Looking to thee, God- never going to stop watch
Put 'em em a lock box.. one shot

So sorry, not the man you needed
On my knees I don't believe em'
Read between I'm not deceiving
Split the means I mean

Never in my life did i think i'd make it
Fight, take it
Might bend to vice
Been in sight, fend or die breaking

God I know you hear my pain
Twisted system call em viens
Wicked lifted off the reigns
Vicious gifted follow flame

Hope I can say something worth a ****
Hope I can change something understand this
Pressure pinning me down
Picture myself under the ground

Taking leaps and bounds
Can i stand it be without
Peaking then drown - **** it all
Speaking my meaning - Hear me now

Never in my life did i think i'd make it
Fight, take it
Might bend to vice
Been in sight, fend or die breaking

God I know you hear my pain
Twisted system call em' viens
Wicked lifted off the reigns
Vicious gifted follow flame

Agh why looking to me for something deep
I can’t even feel emotion
let that **** repeatin’ heat in motion
seeking to be not broken

Leave it to me, reach between lost omens
Looking to feed the beast I’m hopin’
Ahead of my time I’m rapping these rhymes
But go unnoticed

Never in my life did i think i'd make it
Fight, take it
Might bend to vice
Been in sight, fend or die breaking

God I know you hear my pain
Twisted system call em' viens
Wicked lifted off the reigns
Vicious gifted follow flame
listen here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aon2ZN5G_PQ
Amitav Radiance Apr 2015
I watch that flame
Flickering coyly
Yet so powerful
Radiance around
Wakes up the flame
Within me
Reflected outside
A silent bond
Flame sways
My eyes follow
It movements
Burns with passion
The air and silence
Adds to the ambiance
Here I sit alone
With the flame
That lights my path
sked Jan 2016
No flame is ever burning
It starts with a combustion
And blows into a stirring hot passion
But no matter how bright
Flame will always wither away into the unknown

Where has the flame gone?
One would ask
Why has the flame done this to me?
Another would scream
Why can't I even get flame in the first place?
Some will cry about

The answer is simple
Flame comes from a part combustible material
But that's only half the battle
It also needs to be exposed to an oxidizer and heat
And on top of that it needs to continue to be exposed to oxygen for oxidation
This can only be achieved through something called work
Caleb John Nov 2017
There's a flame in this world thats been used to take down the men of this world. Its a flame that leaves a burn and then we wonder why did i turn. That flame is an instinct that looks so good the feel of its warm light but its easy to forget its bitter bite. Its a tattoo and it only takes one night to leave its burns on you. So many boys chase it because its an addiction. These boys never grew up to become men. They chased after that girl and afterwards they feel the need to hurl because after that night l they realize they feel different. They lost a part of themselves and took a part of her to. Dont chase after that flame it will leave you scorched in pain. You wouldnt believe the burns from that flame. Luckily i never felt the full force of that heat but ive seen the scars and regrets of those who are ready to place another bet. I look around and see Godless boys curled around that flame not aware of the scorch not aware of the pain but im no better then them. I try to warn them but they only scoff and mock telling me i dont know the pleasure. But its not pleasure its pressure with so many pains i cant even imagine. Dont chase that flame it will turn a Godly man into a Godless boy.
acacia Jul 2019
Postured up high
green vertical sign
vertical is blue
after green comes blue

He takes it in all night
sipping from a cursed chalice
pull down your armor
show the world your undergarments
take off your hidden charms

Drag a sword across the way
stab them in the chest
they pray to your name
they pray you find their way
Uncoil your serpent
let jets rush through your ears
feel your soul detach, feel your spirit detach,
let this hole detach, keep your spirit in tact

You'd look softer in moonlight
you, the God, calls upon Mount Lake --
you dip your mind into the "A-ness of A";
flail all of your belongings, they belong to the ground
everything is all natural, everything you do is a distraction

Contemplation -- is that what you want?
contemplation -- is that your goal?
Followers think you're their only true lover,
they lay down their kidneys for you --
pedestal, you lay on, above the matrix,
above the world, above (y)our citta, above the soul;

take back everything you say,
purge all of your thoughts: you never had to be this way,
your ghosts now lurk in your pocket, bees swarm your eyes,
they will never stop until -- don't ponder stupid questions like that,
don't assume I'm higher than you, don't you assume I grovel at you feet --

go to the planet of nothing, see what it all really looks like
grandiose can only get you so far
your arrogance stinks up your soul
this room wreaks with cynical fascism, the carpet molds
and your contagious bacteria grows

I will clean up your mess for you,
I'll bask in this narcissistic stench of yours
they take your pictures, they curse at your name,
they see you smile, they lick up your blame
I'd want to be your only true lover
I'm not a spatial thinker

You follow up the road to the stairs
to the highest door shrouded in white
Here,you sing in hymns and snowy tundras,
Here, you are clad in black
your skin is white as carbon
your heart is browner and darker and blacker than below

I burn down your trees
you burn down my city
they aid in your destruction
pseudo-knowledge is their best bet
you've tricked them all now

Get out of my castle
this could be Our castle
I'm ready for it right now
give me the Green light,
let me be the blue-black flame,
the flame to hold your white up high

O, my flame
I still hold your vision in my mind
the walks we will take
the grass verdant and the water trickling
down our steps
it's all there to remind ourselves
that we are interwoven with ourselves and
the birds and trees and bees
these bushes float above the grassy hills
Do you still love the fairies? The spirits
are nothing but our own mind, we are the spirits
in the garden, in our garden, in your garden

O, my flame,
some things will never change
some things have never changed at all
though it may seem that way
to our unseeing eyes
to our veiled eyes
we cannot see all colors, anyway,
so what makes you think that we
see it all? we cannot hear all sounds, anyway,
so what makes you think that we
can contemplate it all?

I will always be there for you, Ground,
to feed you and to water you
O, my flame,
the night-light breathes through
our trees, we walk the distance in the night
the rain won't touch us here
Do you want it to touch us there?

O, my flame,
swim towards me, swim through the fields,
swim through the meadows, swim through the air,
swim through the porous clouds, swim through the smoldering
smoke, swim through the smoke-soaked toads, swim in a knee-length
sea,
whatever it takes to get towards me, whatever it takes to get near me,
whatever it takes to fall in me,
say you are still kindled
Some things will never change
Jason S Apr 2012
I am the furnace master
     the pyromaniac
   the keeper of the warm
          inviting flame
         I am the fire, you are my fuel
                The world is my fuel
be not careless, lest the fire consume your mind
                      The flames rule all things
                 They make meaning from nothing
        They are the mover, the pusher, the guider of all
     Try to control it, and it finds a way around you
If it cannot move around you, it moves through you
     If not through you, then it finds a new place to rage
            The flame burns all, though few can see
             The flame is everywhere, no one is safe
               It has surely been in your heart, your soul
           You felt it, And you knew it was there
The flame called you to life, and showed you the path, and you knew
   But knowing how, and doing, are completely different
        All have felt the flame, but not all know of it
Subtlety is the game, straight-forward strength, subtle motion
  Surely all have felt the lovers passion, and the flame of life
     Surely you have felt the flame of hatred, or of hunger  
                                      The fire of anger, of joy, of sorrow
Even those who, like me, spend their lives thinking they rule the flame,
Are only puppets, actually serving it.
O Beloved.
Wound me with tenderness
as I embrace Your living flame of love.

Burn away my fears and self-pity
that holds me back from being
consumed by the flames of Your love.

Ignite the hearth of my own heart,
so I may share Your living flame
with tenderness to spread the flame of divine life.

Melt away my insecurities and dishonesty, so
I can stand before You as a living flame burning
wildly to embrace everything as a gift from You.
There was once a witch named alice
She liked to play with fire  
The fire started as but a small spark
One day the fire spoke to her

The fire would would whisper to her everyday
and slowly it grew warmer and warmer

As the fire grew it began to race across the sky
it became so bright that the darkness completely faded back

The witch asked the fire what it's purpose is
The large fire began to say "To give hope."

The witch then began to go towards the lake
The flame had never seen a sight so comforting and beautiful

The witch began to go into the lake
As the flame saw that the black and cold waters brought her joy
the flame asked "may i join you?"

The witch began to think and cleverly said "please join me. this dark is very peaceful and relaxing" and so this flame began to come closer and closer to the lake.

The flame was watching the water dance below him and slowly went closer. The witch began to go as close to the flame as possible and called out "NO MORE!"

The witch had splashed the fire until it disappeared. The witch was finally free. She had finally let go and slowly began to sleep.

The witch began to say "Duty is for those who aren't me. Children should be free from the flame that grows inside of ME." the witch realized what the world needed was calm peace, not hope.

THE END.
This is my property, all of this is my story steal it and beware. This is owned by Zachary Ethan Gorenstein.
Ariana Mar 2012
I am the moth, you are the flame.
I am blinded in the darkness,
Surronded by the cold.
I am fragile, weak and fleeting.
I am the moth.

You are the flame.
You burn bright and true,
Chasing away shadows with your light.
You draw me closer and closer,
Enticing me with the heat you exude.

I am the moth intoxicated by the flame.
You are forbidden, yet irristable.
The fire is seductive, untameable, and wild.
My desires are undeniable.
But to touch is to be burned.

I am the moth, killed by your flame.
Mitchell Duran Oct 2013
The Flame
Is the only thing

We have.

Without it,
We are but

A shadow  
Fading
With the dawn.

A leaf
Cut from its
Tree.

A wave that has crashed
But with no sea
To return to.

The flame began
By chance;

All important things do.

I see the beginning in a
Droplet of dew hanging from the grass;

Soft angel breath's of a
Waking new born;

Or the lonely valleys
Whose names are lost for good.

Perchance I can one day understand
What the magic is we have at hand.
There are so many distractions these days,
That many seem to have lost their way.

I breathe.
I close my eyes.
I see a place with a name
That exists in another time.
I frame it to see it, but it
Is far past my vision.

This collision,
This friction of wishing,
Believing, hoping, dreaming,
Leaves me hopeless

And alone.

How can one be so caught up with a dream,
Yet live another life so far from that reality?

The flame dances inside a crystal holder.
Wax spills down from the heated smolder.
I see this and come to realize,
The flame stays the same, only I get older.

There the flame sits,
Deep within me.
I shine her keys.
I adhere to its wishes.
Went it's tired,
I do its dishes.

And we live like this.
Whistling through the cracked, dampened
Sidewalks,
Seeing with two pairs of eyes.
Taking turns when the other feels the need to sigh,
Brushing away the idea,
That everything up to now's been a lie.

When she goes away,
I'm lost and unseen.
And when she returns,
I'm too to tired to believe.

A day goes by.
And another does too.
Then soon, when her warmth has healed me,
I can sit down and begin, once again.

The Flame:
She rests underneath your pillow
And pushes the branches of the willow.
She cries into your shoulder,
As you cradle her head and
She's the baker at 3am
To brew your coffee and cook your bread.

And when she dies,
You will die.

And together, you'll live on,
Far past the eulogy, the tears, the sobs, and deaths decree.

You'll live within
The words, the tastes, the sounds, and the seams.

You'll live together weaving

Another's dreamer's

Dream.
Janette Aug 2012
Born to the night in the cry of wolves,
We are….inked lovers spilling secrets, under velvet skies,
Shrouding the night in silver spools;
The season of silver silence, hangs upon shades of silken soul,
This midnight offering, a white entice;
My hair shimmers brightly, a wet fleece of gold, of shadow and starlight,
And shimmering hues, emerald and sapphire breathe kindred embers into the bellows of passion;
Challenging the flame that burns; entwined....






Whispered intrigue lays in the crescent of moon,
In an eminent blaze of sweetest surrender
Unborn whispers lie entwined with heated petals, silken;
We shiver....I shiver,
I am warm arms embraced;
Your lips hard yet soft against my side,
The feel of flesh warmed to a rising flame...










The long moon steps into midnight;
My *******, full of your hands as candles, pour hard against the ebon fall,

Luscious to the hush of soft smiles
Steeled eloquence flows in ribbon ripples;
Winter sown, blood quilled, in midnights cast;
Cloaked in beautiful, shadow's bed a bouquet of lacy foxglove...














Eyes closed and deep of breath,
Moistness seeps the sugared flower,  and longing surges deep;
Shudder me wicked, drench me quick;
The wildness swirls inside as he moves like a shadow over my heart
His tongue eager to swim the gushing urge;
Touching, slick-slide, the soothe of smooth fingers slip past softness;
Lips cross, moist to moan me quick, sliding to quivers.
Thigh's whispering and heart pounding ,
Soft, the wind blows, tapping walls, fingers dancing
And shadow sways to moonlight...

Velvet-soft, the  sweet of tongue's mesh,
Fire burning,
The tips of breast's aroused by the touch of a slow hand lover;
Your tongue gently rolls, wet and burning hot,
Hungrily, it feeds diving deep, and sandalwood spires upon the malachite air,
And burning murmurs the silent song, pleasures
Your flame to touch me hot, softly hard,
Against the darting quivering rose, stokes sweet, the flame of conjure....















I weep as you strain to slay this huntress of indolent submission;
Descending into darkness, I squirm upon your touch, lifting my altar upon your hunger,
Eyes lost to ecstasy, the flow quickens from abyssal moans;
Overflowing with need, release bound by gold shattered stars
Suckling whispered thoughts;
With us, for us, in us, in dreams, in thoughts, in love
....And in....time my love..................
His rain, has become my decadent addiction.........where my thoughts manifest into tangible words, written slowly over his flesh........laced with twilights absolute surrender drowning, in the renewal of his liquid seduction....grasping, frantic starless wishes in hand....chasing shadows...I curl to myself, longing for your darkness...falling into a cradle of need finding myself ...rocked alone..... J
All the ingredients are in place
Then a spark and a flame is born,
But flames are weak.
They must be fed daily
The winds can make it stronger,
But be careful the winds can blow it out.
The flame grows stronger

Soon others notice the blaze
They wonder where I got the flame
I try to explain
If I’m lucky I can see their ingredients
Sometimes watch their spark
Help tend their flame
And sometimes they reject your fire
I strive to keep it burning
Strive not to get discouraged when I can’t maintain post gas explosions

But when it does become an inferno
Then the fun begins
You can’t help setting things on fire
It becomes a shield
Flaming armor that protects you from the enemy
Wings of flame that carry you and your dreams
A shield to protect those you love
A raging inferno that challenges the darkness
A beacon of hope to all who search
And all this came from humble beginnings
All of this comes from a simple spark
An old poem of mine that I cleaned up
tamia Nov 2015
what a beautiful thing it is to have loved such a flame
a fire that started slowly
then grew taller, grew brighter
a beam of light in the darkness that was magic to me.

what a beautiful thing it is to have loved such a flame
i felt its warmth and i spectated
i came closer and it suddenly turned into different hues
gentle yellows, angry reds, sullen blues.

what a beautiful thing it is to have loved such a flame
it was beautiful, it was bright
it was burning, a star in the night
but then it hurt too much, i could no longer fight.

what a beautiful thing it is to have loved such a flame
i came to close to your fire and you scorched my soul
and i knew what i had to do:
i had to put you out for the better.

what a beautiful thing it is to have loved such a flame
and i'm sorry i stole your fire, i let you die down
i'm sorry i let you hurt me
and make me feel like i was being burnt alive to a slow and steady death

what a beautiful thing it is to have loved such a flame
and now all you are is ghostly smoke
slightly suffocating me still
but fading away while i sit in the darkness
goodbye
almat011 Feb 2019
With each step, the heat of passion of love and excitement only intensifies. I burn with fire from the love of passion, he can fill the whole world. And the sky turned pink. The sky glitters with glitter. The air is filled with the fragrance of love and the world is more beautiful and you are becoming more and more divine in my eyes, I bow to your extraterrestrial beauty and belong to you alone, the goal of all my lives for all eternity. You are the one that I will always dream of and my heart will forever love and want you alone. The goddess appearing to me in ****** thoughts and depraved dreams of passion. Up close you are beautiful to tears - these are tears of sincere happiness and admiration.
You are more beautiful than the most beautiful. Merge together forever and ever with the spirit of yours, and your inner world, my lonely soul dreams. See the depths of your amazing me. To give you your eternal devotion: you are my life, eternity and my destiny, you are my only right choice, you are everything that I love and want. Both my heart and my mind are open only to you. You look so romantic and beautiful, your charm, your spell beckons my mind to you, it is useless for them to resist you, they can only fully obey, surrender to you alone. My legs go only to you, my eyes look only at you, and I focus only on you. Everything in me is overwhelmed with you. And inside, from the love of you, is incredible, absolute lightness. And from the fact that you are not with me, my heart hurts almost to a heart attack. Epochally, I fell in love with you totally, beyond ******-poetic, overly ****. Yes, truly, you are my empress, and only I worship you, look at this temple of my love, dedicated to you, on this great altar, look around, you are everywhere, sit on this throne of love, my great and beautiful goddess. Each your kiss is indescribable and priceless, it is vital. Every your look, fantastically-romantically-touchingly beautiful. He kindles the fire of love and passion in men. Your charm is a powerful force that attracts everything and everyone to itself.
Awakening true, sparkling love for you, of universal scale. This throne of eternal praise and worship is only for you alone, and the chorus, singing about your beauty only for you. In you, every millimeter of your perfect, hot, hot-**** body is beautiful. My world is in your uniquely beautiful eyes, in your feelings and emotions, and I’m not tired of talking about your perfect proportions. Only your caresses give such feelings as love and happiness. Striking, powerful, attractive appearance. The magnificent grace of your body has no equal. Only your divinely beautiful body is worthy of the highest praise and points. I am only waiting for you. You're all I think about. The empress of my subconscious, in my inner world, dreams, and memories, you are everywhere. I always wait only for you. You are my only eternal thought that helps to live in this world, my beautiful emotion, and an amazing feeling. Only, like you, can excite with a look and fall in love with yourself forever. Life without you is unthinkable, impossible. Believe me, I know this for sure, your beauty shines gently with honey, golden light and brilliance. Your beauty is powerful hypnosis.
You are tremendously in love with you totally. You are the highest goddess: beauty, love and erotica. For me, you are the supreme being of all universes. You rule and command over male minds and hearts. Please do not be offended by this truth, but you are so beautiful that you don’t even need cosmetics, only you can look so natural and beautiful, but you are also very powerful ****** attraction, arousal, my only hobby, I’m madly obsessed with you. Your voice sounds sleeker than a violin, more touching than a piano, lighter than a harp, thinner than a triangle. So amazing, your beautiful skin glitters sexually, it is perfect, sweet, juicy. And your perfect figure, perfection itself. You are not replaceable and priceless. You are the most important, most valuable thing in my life. Your infinitely amazing, impressive, external and internal beauty sets you apart from all living and nonliving. So stunningly passionate, your beautiful body is a powerful magnet attracting a huge amount of affection and passion. You are perfect, your beautiful figure is so perfect that you don't even need clothes. I am struck down on a feast, and I bow deeply, taking off my hat to your royal authority, for me it is a great honor and a great honor to be with you by your side, you are my idol and autograph, I take it from me and keep it from my heart, exposing it to the honorary a place in your altar of love, where only you are everywhere, I am your eternal, devoted fan. You have no equal, I adore everything in you. You are the highest, absolute aerobatics. You are a beautiful and perfect image that you can imagine. This is what a beautiful goddess looks like. You are the highest good, pleasure and pleasure in this universe. I put a madman of points and a sign of infinity to boot, your unique beauty. You are so beautiful that you immediately want to marry, and live with you all eternity.
Your teasing sexually exciting figure keeps my mind completely under your control. You are a thermonuclear *** bomb-boom babe. You are all my eyes want to see. Your gently saldko-**** voice is all that my ears want to hear. The smell of your skin is all I want to breathe. I breathe only because you are near me. When you're near the heart of love knocks more. And the level of excitement from your beauty reaches the highest degree. About how beautiful you are and how I love you, that's all I want to tell you. Your gorgeous flesh and soul is all that your flesh and soul wants to feel forever. Your love is all I want to feel forever from you. You're so beautiful, just a sight for sore eyes. You are much higher than blue blood. I am only obsessed with you. You are ****. Cool babe. Unreal beautiful. Drooling flow in men only from you. Resist such as you are simply useless. Your sweet laugh, your **** smile, soft look, impeccable outfit, battles everybody in a row. You are the most juicy relish, sensual, tender, feminine passion. You are my love and soul outlet.
You are absolute, the highest *****. Eternal novelty. It is unbearable, excessively, supremely, beautiful, and only you look overly ****. You are in the highest stage of evolution, you are the most ideal, you are my idol, my ideal, the most true and authentic embodiment of beauty. You are the sexually ****** heat of love and passion. Your body brings you to the highest level of arousal. You yourself tenderness and femininity. You are 1 000 000 000 percent luxury, priceless, the only, eternal value. All the pleasant moments in life are associated only with you. Your sweet caresses and kisses are a very powerful drug. You are the most valuable gift of the universe. You are gorgeous in any kind of image frame, everywhere, always and in everything. You feel a surprisingly soft, sensual, tenderness. The beauty in your eyes is something amazing, uniquely beautiful, it is very beautiful fascinating magic. Very beautiful and indescribably pleasant feeling. Your amazingly beautiful image touches the most delicate and barely visible strings of souls easily and gently. By causing a special vibration of the true love melody, he finally falls in love with you.
So beautiful and bold, spectacular. 1 000 000 000 000 000 000 likes you alone and a sign of infinity to boot. The ******, ****** heat of love and lust emanates from you. You set a new world record for beauty. Which is impossible to achieve. You are a beautiful, socialite. You are synonymous with beauty. The eternal standard and *** symbol in the history of mankind. Absolutely beautiful. Every millimeter of your beautiful body is beautiful in you. The jaw drops and the gift of speech from such incredible beauty is lost. Just do not be offended, please forgive me if something is wrong. But from such a beautiful appearance as you have in men, a powerful ******* of the *****, guys and men end up in their underpants. Unlimitedly beautiful. Sexiest in the whole universe. So **** that you don't even need clothes. You are for the happiest and luckiest man in the world. You are a jackpot. Flash, full house. *** symbol.
You are synonymous with beauty and ideal. You are so beautiful just amazing. you have a direct view of a ****, sultry predator. You are the sweetest. From you comes a powerful, ****, ****** energy. you are indescribably beautiful. You're spectacular, juicy, ****. M, You sound cool, like a mega cool, percussive, lyric rap beat. As a platinum and gold vinyl record, you are a super hit. You are a bestseller of poetry and prose. You're my princess. Queen. The Empress Goddess. The ultimate creation of all universes, spheres and dimensions. I think so. To doge to what extent a girl can be beautiful. Just amazing. The queen of my mind and heart. Your tender image overwhelms my soul with light, beautiful love and lust. You have such a soft pearl skin. Your beautiful appearance forever and ever conquered my heart and my mind. You are the most beautiful of its kind. You are endowed with the rarest beauty at all times. Fashion model. Just the thought of you excites and falls in love. You are a masterpiece of nature and of God himself. Your infinitely amazing beauty, the rarest and most amazing, the most beautiful in the history of mankind.
The most desirable, silk, velvet skin, gorgeous, beautiful, always and everywhere. Strikingly beautiful, your **** body as if calls for kissing and licking, caressing, satisfying you again and again. You're too ****, hot flame of passion. You are the best prize, a gift that can only get a man, the best among all his lives. You are perfect and perfect. The more I look at you, the more I fall in love with you because you beat all the beauty and mind records, my super **** top model, everywhere in the first place in beauty and mind. In you, every millimeter of your body is perfect, with you all seconds are beautiful. The body shines brilliantly: luxurious chic, beautiful. The title itself is a beautiful girl in the world. The supreme creation of all universes. The finest children are born only with you. Aerobatics. Girl high hummingbird.
Your charming charm is a super **** mega power that is simply impossible to overcome. The sweetest gourmet, I adore your gorgeous body, when I see you, only one word sounds in my head: yum, I will completely give myself to you. I will always love only you unconsciously, unconsciously, your gently ****** image sat in the depths of my mind completely. From your amazingly contagious beauty, your mouth opens and you lose your voice. Dizzyingly, stunningly beautiful, you are like a giant tornado, from which everything attracts you. And the heart and soul yearn all the time only for you. It doesn't matter if you love me or not, the main thing is that I still love you, and in my subconscious mind, I will only love you forever. Your luxurious appearance of the highest quality, this is a workshop, the filigree work of Mother Nature, this is just a masterpiece that constitutes a unique example of true beauty, you have no equal, you are a girl of high caliber. You are absolutely beautiful to such a degree, so beautiful, so exotic, ******, and your image sounds poetic like very beautiful music of love that I’m just afraid and shy to come to you, I’m afraid to talk to you, as if standing next to a goddess, or with a super mega star, a world scale model that even aliens probably know. My heart beats more often, I can’t speak normally, from excitement, goosebumps all over my body, and it just shakes.
All these are symptoms of true love for you, well, just: oh), wow). To be your boyfriend and husband is the greatest honor in the world, he knelt in front of you with flowers in his hands. Your appearance is perfect just like Barbie. You are so beautiful that only you want to have *** forever, countless, infinite number of times. You are unattainable, you are like a star whose light of the soul, like a searchlight, illuminates me in the deep darkness of solitude. In love with you thorough. You are simply amazingly beautiful. You are the best of the best. Goddess of all goddesses, empress of all empresses, queen of all queens. More beautiful you just can not imagine a girl. Sexier than you just can not be anything. Beautiful soul just is not found. There was nothing more perfect than you and never will be, simply because I think so. Laponka, I am your faithful fan, you are my only idol, idol, icon of beauty. It doesn't matter who you are, I will accept you any. Because in any case I am eager to be only with you. You have a **** smile, and your sensual look is just awesome. And from your voice and look a pleasant shiver all over your body. You are special, the best that is in all worlds, universes and dimensions. You're just a sight for sore eyes. To you I feel the most powerful, love and ****** inclination. You're cooler than any ****** and afrodosiak. From your beauty just cling to the constraints and embarrassment.
**** Barbie, fell in love with you powerfully for sure. Wow. God, how beautiful you are, God, hell, let me see you, wow, this is just super, just super, my God, it’s necessary to what extent a girl can be beautiful, you're just awesome, just awesome, you're beautiful. My Goddess. About you, I will dream of all eternity, desire and crave only you alone. You're high, ecstasy. In your eyes there is some special fairytale beauty. Lady of my heart. You are the continuation of my soul. Billions of suns of joy, happiness, and love explode in the soul and this every time you see. With you every second is overflowing with the warm, divine, sunshine of true love, happiness and joy. You are like hypnotic sitar music. I would kiss your hands and feet every day. I want to constantly have *** with only one you. You are the embodiment of ****** and ****** passion. Only your skin color is infinitely exciting and falling in love. Your **** voice excites, and intonation falls in love. In you, literally everything excites. You are beautiful in any form, place, dress. If I see you, then the day is not in vain. Your image is powerfully falling in love. Oh meamor, goose bumps run through when you touch me, your breath stops when you look at me.
You're too beautiful. You are a **** lioness. You are the flame of sensual passion. You are a thermonuclear *** bomb. I admire your amazing beauty. You are amazing, perfect, you are perfect. I think so. Your flesh is sweeter than sweet. In bed, sultry lioness. The color of your skin is so ****, ******, and very attractive and beautiful. You have a rare and amazing beauty. You are the most beautiful in the universe, all universes, dimensions, all worlds. You are the supreme creation of nature and of God, the highest, perfect being. This is true because I think so.
Your charming charm is a super **** mega power that is simply impossible to overcome. The sweetest gourmet, I adore your gorgeous body, when I see you, only one word sounds in my head: yum, I will completely give myself to you. I will always love only you unconsciously, unconsciously, your gently ****** image sat in the depths of my mind completely. From your amazingly contagious beauty, your mouth opens and you lose your voice. Dizzyingly, stunningly beautiful, you are like a giant tornado, from which everything attracts you. And the heart and soul yearn all the time only for you. It doesn't matter if you love me or not, the main thing is that I still love you, and in my subconscious mind, I will only love you forever. Your luxurious appearance of the highest quality, this is a workshop, the filigree work of Mother Nature, this is just a masterpiece that constitutes a unique example of true beauty, you have no equal, you are a girl of high caliber. You are absolutely beautiful to such a degree, so beautiful, so exotic, ******, and your image sounds poetic like very beautiful music of love that I’m just afraid and shy to come to you, I’m afraid to talk to you, as if standing next to a goddess, or with a super mega star, a world scale model that even aliens probably know. My heart beats more often, I can’t speak normally, from excitement, goosebumps all over my body, and it just shakes. All these are symptoms of true love for you, well, just: oh), wow).
To be your boyfriend and husband is the greatest honor in the world, he knelt in front of you with flowers in his hands. Your appearance is perfect just like Barbie. You are so beautiful that only you want to have *** forever, countless, infinite number of times. You are unattainable, you are like a star whose light of the soul, like a searchlight, illuminates me in the deep darkness of solitude. In love with you thorough. You are simply amazingly beautiful. You are the best of the best. Goddess of all goddesses, empress of all empresses, queen of all queens. More beautiful you just can not imagine a girl. Sexier than you just can not be anything. Beautiful soul just is not found. There was nothing more perfect than you and never will be, simply because I think so. Laponka, I'm your faithful fan, you are my only idol, idol, icon of beauty. It doesn't matter who you are, I will accept you any. Because in any case I am eager to be only with you. You have a **** smile, and your sensual look is just awesome. And from your voice and look a pleasant shiver all over your body. You are special, the best that is in all worlds, universes and dimensions. You're just a sight for sore eyes. To you I feel the most powerful, love and ****** inclination. You're cooler than any ****** and afrodosiak. From your beauty just cling to the constraints and embarrassment.
I am obsessed only with you, my miss universe, I put madness billion points of your beautiful appearance, and a sign of infinity to boot. No offense, my sweetest, but your beautiful body excites, your imagination completely amazes you, you are so beautiful that you do not need, neither cosmetics, nor clothes, such perfect, natural beauty, only your divine beautiful body is endowed. Merge together the whole with your body, soul, heart, and mind, for all eternity I thirst. You dominate in my heart, mind, and soul, you are deep in my mind and subconscious, everything is filled only by you my goddess, and I see you in my dreams and I am sincerely happy when I see you in them. If I saw you in reality, then it was a happy day that was not in vain. Be with me dear, as you decorate with you all the eternity that I want to spend only with you one-on-one. You are my beautiful goddess of love and eroticism, and only I worship you. Rare, beautiful beauty, natural gave only you. The closer you are, the more beautiful. Your delicate skin shines so beautifully in the light, you have a stunning perfect skin color. I am overly in love with you. You are super beautiful. I tirelessly crave you, you are extremely, infinitely beautiful, you are too, too attractive. You're cooler than any ******. Impeccably beautiful, like a doll. You are so delicious. You are the light of happiness, the light of love and happiness comes and goes with you. You decorate everything with you, everything suits you, because you are beautiful.
You are stunning, fantastically breathtakingly beautiful, the only unique sample of the true, pure form of beauty. You are the hottest, **** topic, about the beauty of which it is impossible to stop talking, so beautiful that you want to sing out of love for you, the girl from whom it is impossible to take your eyes off. So amazingly beautiful, perfect, ******, hot, passionately savory, juicy forms, your divinely beautiful, endlessly, stunning beautiful, seductive body sound so captivatingly beautiful, sweet, gently voluptuous. Who wants to caress and caress, kiss, lick, stick to intimate places all the time, and give your tenderness with your hands, and bring it to ****** so that you feel the heat and tremor of your heated body, and kiss a satisfied body and kiss. Each cell of the soul and body is supremely filled with only you, love and excitement. Truly I am thirsty to belong only to you and to spend all eternity only with you alone.
I will be frank with you. Oooh yes, it says heart and mind. Eyes are eager to see you forever. Your image throws on the highest stage of love. Without you, life is meaningless and empty, and you know that for sure, so why are you torturing me. You know, I appeared in your life for a reason. That I was created only for you. You are special, I can not live without you. You are my obsession, my passion. Your beautiful image sounds so beautiful and sublime, the degree of love and arousal rises uncontrollably, leading to a higher dimension called love. When you stand next to me. Your ******, ****** image is the highest, divine, legendary *****. You are the sweetest in the whole universe. You are sensual, ****, ****** power. You are so ****** and **** to such an extent that when you look at the guys, it’s ironic that you guys, at the sight of you from excitement, end up in your underpants. You are the one whose appearance is envied by all people, gods, all higher beings, you are the only eternal value. You are a hipper, a turbo is ****, you are a hyperrealism of sexuality.
You have the most juicy **** skin color, it is so sweet, so beckoning and eager caress. You are the goddess of love, *** and erotica. Every millimeter of your body is just perfect and perfect. You are all that my heart and soul wants. Only your body and your kisses can excite me. Only to your body, I feel *** addiction. You are the highest value in my life. You are tempted and tempted, you want to have *** countless times. Your skin is the color of one hot, unforgettable night, your libido is the word lava in your hot body, burning passion, only your photos can excite me, only your beauty turns off my brain, you are a ****, ****** melody in my head, you are like a hot bath after a hard day, like an ****** massage, like a soft pillow with sleeping softness.
Every day I am drawn to you more and more and it can not be stopped because it is uncontrollable every day my ****** ***** wants you more and more aggressively he is waiting for endless *** only with you and I once again make sure that you are I will want forever and ever. Because I am truly in love with you in your body and soul. And this feeling is only enhanced with time on the mental and physical levels. Looking at you in the head is only one word Goddess, the empress of my heart, or one ***. It's just an ecstasy of excitement, every movement you take is so ****** and beautiful, burning your skin's passion and in your eyes so much ***.
You are a **** lioness. you are the flame of sensual passion. I admire your amazing beauty. You are amazing, perfect, you are perfect. I think so. Your flesh is sweeter than sweet. In bed, sultry lioness.
Author Musin Almat Zhumabekovich
AD Sifford May 2014
Thank you God
For the flame You've sparked in me

Lord, burn my heart
With the light of your Spirit
Set Fire to my soul

I want to live for You forever
God consume me in the flames
Of your blazing love
May my life be a burnt offering to You

Use me, O Lord
As a match
To light the world

Ignite me, God
Then let loose my soul
As a leaf set afire
Fluttering in your mighty wind
Spinning across the fields of this world,
Heating everything I touch

May the fire spread to all who will hear
So that they too may burn with passion
For the One and only God

God use me
My life
My testimony

Make my mouth a furnace
May my words consume the world
May my tongue burn for You
May those who hear me burn like the Sun
May I be as the brightest star in heaven

God, let your fire spread
It cannot be contained in me
I'm but a single blade of grass
The flames reach out from me
Longing for more to burn

Spread my flame
May it become a blaze

Reach across the fields
And through the woods
And up the mountains

Lord, may I burn across the sea
To reach the ends of the earth
With the fire of your Spirit

May You kindle this flame within me
Never let it flicker
Never let it wink
But let it burn brightly in my eyes
And pour out from my lungs

You have set a fire within me
Your Spirit burns in me
A flame that cannot be quenched

I am melted by your love

But the world is cold
It lives without warmth
And it finds no light of fire
It knows not of the flame
It seeks warmth but has no match
No flint that will ignite it

In your hands You hold many torches
Lord I am but one
Throw your torches down on the world
So that it too may burn
Warm with your love
Glowing with your hope and peace
Throw your fire on them
So that they may know
The comfort of your flame
So they too can light their paths
And see in dark places

Oh, dear God
You have ignited a flame within me
A flame that cannot be quenched
Now let your light shine
And let your heat rise
Let my faith burn
Until the world is all ablaze

God set this world on fire
As You have done for me
Lord set your world on fire
Let your children burn
So by your light the world may see
|Written 2011|
*from my Ignite collection, being poem #5. Please see the collection page itself.

© 2017 A.D. Sifford.
I'm okay with you sharing my poems, but I ask that you show courtesy. Please be honest about the authorship by attributing it to my name. Thank you,
- Sifford
Newdigate prize poem recited in the Sheldonian Theatre
Oxford June 26th, 1878.

To my friend George Fleming author of ‘The Nile Novel’
and ‘Mirage’

I.

A year ago I breathed the Italian air,—
And yet, methinks this northern Spring is fair,—
These fields made golden with the flower of March,
The throstle singing on the feathered larch,
The cawing rooks, the wood-doves fluttering by,
The little clouds that race across the sky;
And fair the violet’s gentle drooping head,
The primrose, pale for love uncomforted,
The rose that burgeons on the climbing briar,
The crocus-bed, (that seems a moon of fire
Round-girdled with a purple marriage-ring);
And all the flowers of our English Spring,
Fond snowdrops, and the bright-starred daffodil.
Up starts the lark beside the murmuring mill,
And breaks the gossamer-threads of early dew;
And down the river, like a flame of blue,
Keen as an arrow flies the water-king,
While the brown linnets in the greenwood sing.
A year ago!—it seems a little time
Since last I saw that lordly southern clime,
Where flower and fruit to purple radiance blow,
And like bright lamps the fabled apples glow.
Full Spring it was—and by rich flowering vines,
Dark olive-groves and noble forest-pines,
I rode at will; the moist glad air was sweet,
The white road rang beneath my horse’s feet,
And musing on Ravenna’s ancient name,
I watched the day till, marked with wounds of flame,
The turquoise sky to burnished gold was turned.

O how my heart with boyish passion burned,
When far away across the sedge and mere
I saw that Holy City rising clear,
Crowned with her crown of towers!—On and on
I galloped, racing with the setting sun,
And ere the crimson after-glow was passed,
I stood within Ravenna’s walls at last!

II.

How strangely still! no sound of life or joy
Startles the air; no laughing shepherd-boy
Pipes on his reed, nor ever through the day
Comes the glad sound of children at their play:
O sad, and sweet, and silent! surely here
A man might dwell apart from troublous fear,
Watching the tide of seasons as they flow
From amorous Spring to Winter’s rain and snow,
And have no thought of sorrow;—here, indeed,
Are Lethe’s waters, and that fatal ****
Which makes a man forget his fatherland.

Ay! amid lotus-meadows dost thou stand,
Like Proserpine, with poppy-laden head,
Guarding the holy ashes of the dead.
For though thy brood of warrior sons hath ceased,
Thy noble dead are with thee!—they at least
Are faithful to thine honour:—guard them well,
O childless city! for a mighty spell,
To wake men’s hearts to dreams of things sublime,
Are the lone tombs where rest the Great of Time.

III.


Yon lonely pillar, rising on the plain,
Marks where the bravest knight of France was slain,—
The Prince of chivalry, the Lord of war,
Gaston de Foix:  for some untimely star
Led him against thy city, and he fell,
As falls some forest-lion fighting well.
Taken from life while life and love were new,
He lies beneath God’s seamless veil of blue;
Tall lance-like reeds wave sadly o’er his head,
And oleanders bloom to deeper red,
Where his bright youth flowed crimson on the ground.

Look farther north unto that broken mound,—
There, prisoned now within a lordly tomb
Raised by a daughter’s hand, in lonely gloom,
Huge-limbed Theodoric, the Gothic king,
Sleeps after all his weary conquering.
Time hath not spared his ruin,—wind and rain
Have broken down his stronghold; and again
We see that Death is mighty lord of all,
And king and clown to ashen dust must fall

Mighty indeed their glory! yet to me
Barbaric king, or knight of chivalry,
Or the great queen herself, were poor and vain,
Beside the grave where Dante rests from pain.
His gilded shrine lies open to the air;
And cunning sculptor’s hands have carven there
The calm white brow, as calm as earliest morn,
The eyes that flashed with passionate love and scorn,
The lips that sang of Heaven and of Hell,
The almond-face which Giotto drew so well,
The weary face of Dante;—to this day,
Here in his place of resting, far away
From Arno’s yellow waters, rushing down
Through the wide bridges of that fairy town,
Where the tall tower of Giotto seems to rise
A marble lily under sapphire skies!

Alas! my Dante! thou hast known the pain
Of meaner lives,—the exile’s galling chain,
How steep the stairs within kings’ houses are,
And all the petty miseries which mar
Man’s nobler nature with the sense of wrong.
Yet this dull world is grateful for thy song;
Our nations do thee homage,—even she,
That cruel queen of vine-clad Tuscany,
Who bound with crown of thorns thy living brow,
Hath decked thine empty tomb with laurels now,
And begs in vain the ashes of her son.

O mightiest exile! all thy grief is done:
Thy soul walks now beside thy Beatrice;
Ravenna guards thine ashes:  sleep in peace.

IV.

How lone this palace is; how grey the walls!
No minstrel now wakes echoes in these halls.
The broken chain lies rusting on the door,
And noisome weeds have split the marble floor:
Here lurks the snake, and here the lizards run
By the stone lions blinking in the sun.
Byron dwelt here in love and revelry
For two long years—a second Anthony,
Who of the world another Actium made!
Yet suffered not his royal soul to fade,
Or lyre to break, or lance to grow less keen,
’Neath any wiles of an Egyptian queen.
For from the East there came a mighty cry,
And Greece stood up to fight for Liberty,
And called him from Ravenna:  never knight
Rode forth more nobly to wild scenes of fight!
None fell more bravely on ensanguined field,
Borne like a Spartan back upon his shield!
O Hellas!  Hellas! in thine hour of pride,
Thy day of might, remember him who died
To wrest from off thy limbs the trammelling chain:
O Salamis!  O lone Plataean plain!
O tossing waves of wild Euboean sea!
O wind-swept heights of lone Thermopylae!
He loved you well—ay, not alone in word,
Who freely gave to thee his lyre and sword,
Like AEschylos at well-fought Marathon:

And England, too, shall glory in her son,
Her warrior-poet, first in song and fight.
No longer now shall Slander’s venomed spite
Crawl like a snake across his perfect name,
Or mar the lordly scutcheon of his fame.

For as the olive-garland of the race,
Which lights with joy each eager runner’s face,
As the red cross which saveth men in war,
As a flame-bearded beacon seen from far
By mariners upon a storm-tossed sea,—
Such was his love for Greece and Liberty!

Byron, thy crowns are ever fresh and green:
Red leaves of rose from Sapphic Mitylene
Shall bind thy brows; the myrtle blooms for thee,
In hidden glades by lonely Castaly;
The laurels wait thy coming:  all are thine,
And round thy head one perfect wreath will twine.

V.

The pine-tops rocked before the evening breeze
With the hoarse murmur of the wintry seas,
And the tall stems were streaked with amber bright;—
I wandered through the wood in wild delight,
Some startled bird, with fluttering wings and fleet,
Made snow of all the blossoms; at my feet,
Like silver crowns, the pale narcissi lay,
And small birds sang on every twining spray.
O waving trees, O forest liberty!
Within your haunts at least a man is free,
And half forgets the weary world of strife:
The blood flows hotter, and a sense of life
Wakes i’ the quickening veins, while once again
The woods are filled with gods we fancied slain.
Long time I watched, and surely hoped to see
Some goat-foot Pan make merry minstrelsy
Amid the reeds! some startled Dryad-maid
In girlish flight! or lurking in the glade,
The soft brown limbs, the wanton treacherous face
Of woodland god! Queen Dian in the chase,
White-limbed and terrible, with look of pride,
And leash of boar-hounds leaping at her side!
Or Hylas mirrored in the perfect stream.

O idle heart!  O fond Hellenic dream!
Ere long, with melancholy rise and swell,
The evening chimes, the convent’s vesper bell,
Struck on mine ears amid the amorous flowers.
Alas! alas! these sweet and honied hours
Had whelmed my heart like some encroaching sea,
And drowned all thoughts of black Gethsemane.

VI.

O lone Ravenna! many a tale is told
Of thy great glories in the days of old:
Two thousand years have passed since thou didst see
Caesar ride forth to royal victory.
Mighty thy name when Rome’s lean eagles flew
From Britain’s isles to far Euphrates blue;
And of the peoples thou wast noble queen,
Till in thy streets the Goth and *** were seen.
Discrowned by man, deserted by the sea,
Thou sleepest, rocked in lonely misery!
No longer now upon thy swelling tide,
Pine-forest-like, thy myriad galleys ride!
For where the brass-beaked ships were wont to float,
The weary shepherd pipes his mournful note;
And the white sheep are free to come and go
Where Adria’s purple waters used to flow.

O fair!  O sad!  O Queen uncomforted!
In ruined loveliness thou liest dead,
Alone of all thy sisters; for at last
Italia’s royal warrior hath passed
Rome’s lordliest entrance, and hath worn his crown
In the high temples of the Eternal Town!
The Palatine hath welcomed back her king,
And with his name the seven mountains ring!

And Naples hath outlived her dream of pain,
And mocks her tyrant!  Venice lives again,
New risen from the waters! and the cry
Of Light and Truth, of Love and Liberty,
Is heard in lordly Genoa, and where
The marble spires of Milan wound the air,
Rings from the Alps to the Sicilian shore,
And Dante’s dream is now a dream no more.

But thou, Ravenna, better loved than all,
Thy ruined palaces are but a pall
That hides thy fallen greatness! and thy name
Burns like a grey and flickering candle-flame
Beneath the noonday splendour of the sun
Of new Italia! for the night is done,
The night of dark oppression, and the day
Hath dawned in passionate splendour:  far away
The Austrian hounds are hunted from the land,
Beyond those ice-crowned citadels which stand
Girdling the plain of royal Lombardy,
From the far West unto the Eastern sea.

I know, indeed, that sons of thine have died
In Lissa’s waters, by the mountain-side
Of Aspromonte, on Novara’s plain,—
Nor have thy children died for thee in vain:
And yet, methinks, thou hast not drunk this wine
From grapes new-crushed of Liberty divine,
Thou hast not followed that immortal Star
Which leads the people forth to deeds of war.
Weary of life, thou liest in silent sleep,
As one who marks the lengthening shadows creep,
Careless of all the hurrying hours that run,
Mourning some day of glory, for the sun
Of Freedom hath not shewn to thee his face,
And thou hast caught no flambeau in the race.

Yet wake not from thy slumbers,—rest thee well,
Amidst thy fields of amber asphodel,
Thy lily-sprinkled meadows,—rest thee there,
To mock all human greatness:  who would dare
To vent the paltry sorrows of his life
Before thy ruins, or to praise the strife
Of kings’ ambition, and the barren pride
Of warring nations! wert not thou the Bride
Of the wild Lord of Adria’s stormy sea!
The Queen of double Empires! and to thee
Were not the nations given as thy prey!
And now—thy gates lie open night and day,
The grass grows green on every tower and hall,
The ghastly fig hath cleft thy bastioned wall;
And where thy mailed warriors stood at rest
The midnight owl hath made her secret nest.
O fallen! fallen! from thy high estate,
O city trammelled in the toils of Fate,
Doth nought remain of all thy glorious days,
But a dull shield, a crown of withered bays!

Yet who beneath this night of wars and fears,
From tranquil tower can watch the coming years;
Who can foretell what joys the day shall bring,
Or why before the dawn the linnets sing?
Thou, even thou, mayst wake, as wakes the rose
To crimson splendour from its grave of snows;
As the rich corn-fields rise to red and gold
From these brown lands, now stiff with Winter’s cold;
As from the storm-rack comes a perfect star!

O much-loved city!  I have wandered far
From the wave-circled islands of my home;
Have seen the gloomy mystery of the Dome
Rise slowly from the drear Campagna’s way,
Clothed in the royal purple of the day:
I from the city of the violet crown
Have watched the sun by Corinth’s hill go down,
And marked the ‘myriad laughter’ of the sea
From starlit hills of flower-starred Arcady;
Yet back to thee returns my perfect love,
As to its forest-nest the evening dove.

O poet’s city! one who scarce has seen
Some twenty summers cast their doublets green
For Autumn’s livery, would seek in vain
To wake his lyre to sing a louder strain,
Or tell thy days of glory;—poor indeed
Is the low murmur of the shepherd’s reed,
Where the loud clarion’s blast should shake the sky,
And flame across the heavens! and to try
Such lofty themes were folly:  yet I know
That never felt my heart a nobler glow
Than when I woke the silence of thy street
With clamorous trampling of my horse’s feet,
And saw the city which now I try to sing,
After long days of weary travelling.

VII.

Adieu, Ravenna! but a year ago,
I stood and watched the crimson sunset glow
From the lone chapel on thy marshy plain:
The sky was as a shield that caught the stain
Of blood and battle from the dying sun,
And in the west the circling clouds had spun
A royal robe, which some great God might wear,
While into ocean-seas of purple air
Sank the gold galley of the Lord of Light.

Yet here the gentle stillness of the night
Brings back the swelling tide of memory,
And wakes again my passionate love for thee:
Now is the Spring of Love, yet soon will come
On meadow and tree the Summer’s lordly bloom;
And soon the grass with brighter flowers will blow,
And send up lilies for some boy to mow.
Then before long the Summer’s conqueror,
Rich Autumn-time, the season’s usurer,
Will lend his hoarded gold to all the trees,
And see it scattered by the spendthrift breeze;
And after that the Winter cold and drear.
So runs the perfect cycle of the year.
And so from youth to manhood do we go,
And fall to weary days and locks of snow.
Love only knows no winter; never dies:
Nor cares for frowning storms or leaden skies
And mine for thee shall never pass away,
Though my weak lips may falter in my lay.

Adieu!  Adieu! yon silent evening star,
The night’s ambassador, doth gleam afar,
And bid the shepherd bring his flocks to fold.
Perchance before our inland seas of gold
Are garnered by the reapers into sheaves,
Perchance before I see the Autumn leaves,
I may behold thy city; and lay down
Low at thy feet the poet’s laurel crown.

Adieu!  Adieu! yon silver lamp, the moon,
Which turns our midnight into perfect noon,
Doth surely light thy towers, guarding well
Where Dante sleeps, where Byron loved to dwell.

— The End —