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Poetic T Oct 2014
Testaments wrote in language
Of old
Incantations,
Spells,
Elixirs,
To put hair on your chest,
"But accidents can happen"
Never sniff the jar full of mystery
Or you'll nose about it for weeks,
Platting,
Braiding,
Partings,
Upon it, styles just to hide the sight
Its growing from your nose in fact,
Do you like my
Moustache,
As you
Sneeze,
And then the secrets are out,
Mischief with papers of old  
Noses shouldn't go
"Where noses shouldn't go"
Incantations,
Spells,
Elixirs,  
Are for professionals, not those
"Nosy individuals"
Who should put things
Where they should nose they shouldn't go..
Michael R Burch Nov 2020
Poems about Icarus

These are poems about Icarus, flying and flights of fancy...



Southern Icarus
by Michael R. Burch

Windborne, lover of heights,
unspooled from the truck’s wildly lurching embrace,
you climb, skittish kite...

What do you know of the world’s despair,
gliding in vast... solitariness... there,
so that all that remains is to
fall?

Only a little longer the wind invests its sighs;
you
stall,
spread-eagled, as the canvas snaps

and *****
its white rebellious wings,
and all

the houses watch with baffled eyes.



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's 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.



I AM!
by Michael R. Burch

I am not one of ten billion―I―
sunblackened Icarus, chary fly,
staring at God with a quizzical eye.

I am not one of ten billion, I.

I am not one life has left unsquashed―
scarred as Ulysses, goddess-debauched,
pale glowworm agleam with a tale of panache.

I am not one life has left unsquashed.

I am not one without spots of disease,
laugh lines and tan lines and thick-callused knees
from begging and praying and girls sighing "Please!"

I am not one without spots of disease.

I am not one of ten billion―I―
scion of Daedalus, blackwinged fly
staring at God with a sedulous eye.

I am not one of ten billion, I
AM!



Finally to Burn
(the Fall and Resurrection of Icarus)
by Michael R. Burch

Athena takes me
sometimes by the hand

and we go levitating
through strange Dreamlands

where Apollo sleeps
in his dark forgetting

and Passion seems
like a wise bloodletting

and all I remember
, upon awaking,

is: to Love sometimes
is like forsaking

one’s Being―to glide

heroically beyond thought,

forsaking the here
for the There and the Not.



O, finally to Burn,
gravity beyond escaping!

To plummet is Bliss
when the blisters breaking

rain down red scabs
on the earth’s mudpuddle...

Feathers and wax
and the watchers huddle...

Flocculent sheep,
O, and innocent lambs!,

I will rock me to sleep
on the waves’ iambs.



To sleep's sweet relief
from Love’s exhausting Dream,

for the Night has Wings
gentler than Moonbeams―

they will flit me to Life
like a huge-eyed Phoenix

fluttering off
to quarry the Sphinx.



Riddlemethis,
riddlemethat,

Rynosseross,
throw out the Welcome Mat.

Quixotic, I seek Love
amid the tarnished

rusted-out steel
when to live is varnish.

To Dream―that’s the thing!

Aye, that Genie I’ll rub,

soak by the candle,
aflame in the tub.



Riddlemethis,
riddlemethat,

Rynosseross,
throw out the Welcome Mat.

Somewhither, somewhither
aglitter and strange,

we must moult off all knowledge
or perish caged.

*

I am reconciled to Life
somewhere beyond thought―

I’ll Live the Elsewhere,
I’ll Dream of the Naught.

Methinks it no journey;
to tarry’s a waste,

so fatten the oxen;
make a nice baste.

I’m coming, Fool Tom,
we have Somewhere to Go,

though we injure noone,
ourselves wildaglow.

This odd poem invokes and merges with the anonymous medieval poem “Tom O’Bedlam’s Song” and W. H. Auden’s modernist poem “Musee des Beaux Arts,” which in turn refers to Pieter Breughel’s painting “The Fall of Icarus.” In the first stanza Icarus levitates with the help of Athena, the goddess or wisdom, through “strange dreamlands” while Apollo, the sun god, lies sleeping. In the second stanza, Apollo predictably wakes up and Icarus plummets to earth, or back to mundane reality, as in Breughel’s painting and Auden’s poem. In the third stanza the grounded Icarus can still fly, but only in flights of imagination through dreams of love. In the fourth and fifth stanzas Icarus joins Tom Rynosseross of the Bedlam poem in embracing madness by deserting “knowledge” and its cages (ivory towers, etc.). In the final stanza Icarus agrees with Tom that it is “no journey” to wherever they’re going together and also agrees with Tom that they will injure no one along the way, no matter how intensely they glow and radiate. The poem can be taken as a metaphor for the death and rebirth of Poetry, and perhaps as a prophecy that Poetry will rise, radiate and reattain its former glory...



Free Fall (II)
by Michael R. Burch

I have no earthly remembrance of you, as if
we were never of earth, but merely white clouds adrift,
swirling together through Himalayan serene altitudes―
no more man and woman than exhaled breath―unable to fall
back to solid existence, despite the air’s sparseness: all
our being borne up, because of our lightness,
toward the sun’s unendurable brightness...

But since I touched you, fire consumes each wing!

We who are unable to fly, stall
contemplating disaster. Despair like an anchor, like an iron ball,
heavier than ballast, sinks on its thick-looped chain
toward the earth, and soon thereafter there will be sufficient pain
to recall existence, to make the coming darkness everlasting.



Fledglings
by Michael R. Burch

With her small eyes, pale and unforgiving,
she taught me―December is not for those
unweaned of love, the chirping nestlings
who bicker for worms with dramatic throats

still pinkly exposed, who have not yet learned
the first harsh lesson of survival: to devour
their weaker siblings in the high-leafed ferned
fortress and impregnable bower

from which men must fly like improbable dreams
to become poets. They have yet to learn that,
before they can soar starward, like fanciful archaic machines,
they must first assimilate the latest technology, or

lose all in the sudden realization of gravity,
following Icarus’s, sun-unwinged, singed trajectory.



The Higher Atmospheres
by Michael R. Burch

Whatever we became climbed on the thought
of Love itself; we floated on plumed wings
ten thousand miles above the breasted earth
that had vexed us to such Distance; now all things
seem small and pale, a girdle’s handsbreadth girth...

I break upon the rocks; I break; I fling
my human form about; I writhe; I writhe.
Invention is not Mastery, nor wings
Salvation. Here the Vulture cruelly chides
and plunges at my eyes, and coos and sings...

Oh, some will call the sun my doom, but Love
melts callow wax the higher atmospheres
leave brittle. I flew high: not high enough
to melt such frozen resins... thus, Her jeers.



Notes toward an Icarian philosophy of life...
by Michael R. Burch

If the mind’s and the heart’s quests were ever satisfied,
what would remain, as the goals of life?

If there was only light, with no occluding matter,
if there were only sunny mid-afternoons but no mysterious midnights,
what would become of the dreams of men?

What becomes of man’s vision, apart from terrestrial shadows?

And what of man’s character, formed
in the seething crucible of life and death,
hammered out on the anvil of Fate, by Will?

What becomes of man’s aims in the end,
when the hammer’s anthems at last are stilled?

If man should confront his terrible Creator,
capture him, hogtie him, hold his ***** feet to the fire,
roast him on the spit as yet another blasphemous heretic
whose faith is suspect, derelict...
torture a confession from him,
get him to admit, “I did it!...

what then?

Once man has taken revenge
on the Frankenstein who created him
and has justly crucified the One True Monster, the Creator...

what then?

Or, if revenge is not possible,
if the appearance of matter was merely a random accident,
or a group illusion (and thus a conspiracy, perhaps of dunces, us among them),
or if the Creator lies eternally beyond the reach of justice...

what then?

Perhaps there’s nothing left but for man to perfect his character,
to fly as high as his wings will take him toward unreachable suns,
to gamble everything on some unfathomable dream, like Icarus,
then fall to earth, to perish, undone...

or perhaps not, if the mystics are right
about the true nature of darkness and light.

Is there a source of knowledge beyond faith,
a revelation of heaven, of the Triumph of Love?

The Hebrew prophets seemed to think so,
and Paul, although he saw through a glass darkly,
and Julian of Norwich, who heard the voice of God say,
“All shall be well,
and all manner of things shall be well...”

Does hope spring eternal in the human breast,
or does it just blindly *****?



Icarus Bickerous
by Michael R. Burch

for the Religious Right

Like Icarus, waxen wings melting,
white tail-feathers fall, bystanders pelting.

They look up amazed
and seem rather dazed―

was it heaven’s or hell’s furious smelting

that fashioned such vulturish wings?
And why are they singed?―

the higher you “rise,” the more halting?



Earthbound, a Vision of Crazy Horse
by Michael R. Burch

Tashunka Witko, a Lakota Sioux 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 the 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.

Published by American Indian Pride and Boston Poetry Magazine



Flight
by Michael R. Burch

It is the nature of loveliness to vanish
as butterfly wings, batting against nothingness
seek transcendence...

Originally published by Hibiscus (India)



The Wonder Boys
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

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

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

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

Originally published by The Lyric



American Eagle, Grounded
by Michael R. Burch

Her predatory eye,
the single feral iris,
scans.

Her raptor beak,
all jagged sharp-edged ******,
juts.

Her hard talon,
clenched in pinched expectation,
waits.

Her clipped wings,
preened against reality,
tremble.

Published as “Tremble” by The Lyric, Verses Magazine, Romantics Quarterly, Journeys, The Raintown Review, Poetic Ponderings, Poem Kingdom (All-Star Tribute), The Fabric of a Vision, NPAC―Net Poetry and Art Competition, Poet’s Haven, Listening To The Birth Of Crystals(Anthology), Poetry Renewal, Inspirational Stories, Poetry Life & Times, MahMag (Iranian/Farsi), The Eclectic Muse (Canada)



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 merged, remaining two...

And Grief, which lurked unseen beyond the lens
or in shadows where It crept on furtive claws
as It scritched 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.



Springtime Prayer
by Michael R. Burch

They’ll have to grow like crazy,
the springtime baby geese,
if they’re to fly to balmier climes
when autumn dismembers the leaves...

And so I toss them loaves of bread,
then whisper an urgent prayer:
“Watch over these, my Angels,
if there’s anyone kind, up there.”

Originally published by The HyperTexts



Learning to Fly
by Michael R. Burch

We are learning to fly
every day...

learning to fly―
away, away...

O, love is not in the ephemeral flight,
but love, Love! is our destination―

graced land of eternal sunrise, radiant beyond night!
Let us bear one another up in our vast migration.



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
while 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 famished ocean
and laugh as they vanish, and never repent.
We must dance in the darkness as stars dance before us,
soar, Soar! through the night on a butterfly's breeze...
blown high, upward-yearning, twin spirits returning
to the heights of awareness from which we were seized.

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



For a Palestinian Child, with Butterflies
by Michael R. Burch

Where does the butterfly go
when lightning rails,
when thunder howls,
when hailstones scream,
when winter scowls,
when nights compound dark frosts with snow...
Where does the butterfly go?

Where does the rose hide its bloom
when night descends oblique and chill
beyond the capacity of moonlight to fill?
When the only relief's a banked fire's glow,
where does the butterfly go?

And where shall the spirit flee
when life is harsh, too harsh to face,
and hope is lost without a trace?
Oh, when the light of life runs low,
where does the butterfly go?

Published by Tucumcari Literary Review, Romantics Quarterly, Poetry Life & Times, Victorian Violet Press (where it was nominated for a “Best of the Net”), The Contributor (a Nashville homeless newspaper), Siasat (Pakistan), and set to music as a part of the song cycle “The Children of Gaza” which has been performed in various European venues by the Palestinian soprano Dima Bawab



Sioux Vision Quest
by Crazy Horse, Oglala Lakota Sioux (circa 1840-1877)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

A man must pursue his Vision
as the eagle explores
the sky's deepest blues.

Published by Better Than Starbucks, A Hundred Voices



in-flight convergence
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

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

Originally published by The Aurorean and subsequently nominated for the Pushcart Prize



Squall
by Michael R. Burch

There, in that sunny arbor,
in the aureate light
filtering through the waxy leaves
of a stunted banana tree,

I felt the sudden monsoon of your wrath,
the clattery implosions
and copper-bright bursts
of the bottoms of pots and pans.

I saw your swollen goddess’s belly
wobble and heave
in pregnant indignation,
turned tail, and ran.

Published by Chrysanthemum, Poetry Super Highway, Barbitos and Poetry Life & Times



Flight
by Michael R. Burch

Eagle, raven, blackbird, crow...
What you are I do not know.
Where you go I do not care.
I’m unconcerned whose meal you bear.
But as you mount the sunlit sky,
I only wish that I could fly.
I only wish that I could fly.

Robin, hawk or whippoorwill...
Should men care that you hunger still?
I do not wish to see your home.
I do not wonder where you roam.
But as you scale the sky's bright stairs,
I only wish that I were there.
I only wish that I were there.

Sparrow, lark or chickadee...
Your markings I disdain to see.
Where you fly concerns me not.
I scarcely give your flight a thought.
But as you wheel and arc and dive,
I, too, would feel so much alive.
I, too, would feel so much alive.

This is a poem that I believe I wrote as a high school sophomore. But it could have been written a bit later. I seem to remember the original poem being influenced by William Cullen Bryant's "To a Waterfowl."



Flying
by Michael R. Burch

I shall rise
and try the ****** wings of thought
ten thousand times
before I fly...

and then I'll sleep
and waste ten thousand nights
before I dream;
but when at last...

I soar the distant heights of undreamt skies
where never hawks nor eagles dared to go,
as I laugh among the meteors flashing by
somewhere beyond the bluest earth-bound seas...

if I'm not told
I’m just a man,
then I shall know
just what I am.

This is one of my early poems, written around age 16-17. According to my notes, I may have revised the poem later, in 1978, but if so the changes were minor because the poem remains very close to the original.



Stage Craft-y
by Michael R. Burch

There once was a dromedary
who befriended a crafty canary.
Budgie said, "You can’t sing,
but now, here’s the thing―
just think of the tunes you can carry!"



Clyde Lied!
by Michael R. Burch

There once was a mockingbird, Clyde,
who bragged of his prowess, but lied.
To his new wife he sighed,
"When again, gentle bride?"
"Nevermore!" bright-eyed Raven replied.



Less Heroic Couplets: ****** Most Fowl!
by Michael R. Burch

“****** most foul!”
cried the mouse to the owl.

“Friend, I’m no sinner;
you’re merely my dinner!”
the wise owl replied
as the tasty snack died.

Published by Lighten Up Online and in Potcake Chapbook #7

NOTE: In an attempt to demonstrate that not all couplets are heroic, I have created a series of poems called “Less Heroic Couplets.” I believe even poets should abide by truth-in-advertising laws! ― MRB



Lance-Lot
by Michael R. Burch

Preposterous bird!
Inelegant! Absurd!

Until the great & mighty heron
brandishes his fearsome sword.



Kissin’ ’n’ buzzin’
by Michael R. Burch

Kissin’ ’n’ buzzin’ the bees rise
in a dizzy circle of two.
Oh, when I’m with you,
I feel like kissin’ ’n’ buzzin’ too.



Delicacy
by Michael R. Burch

for all good mothers

Your love is as delicate
as a butterfly cleaning its wings,
as soft as the predicate
the hummingbird sings
to itself, gently murmuring―
“Fly! Fly! Fly!”
Your love is the string
soaring kites untie.



Lone Wild Goose
by Du Fu (712-770)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The abandoned goose refuses food and drink;
he cries querulously for his companions.

Who feels kinship for that strange wraith
as he vanishes eerily into the heavens?

You watch it as it disappears;
its plaintive calls cut through you.

The indignant crows ignore you both:
the bickering, bantering multitudes.

Du Fu (712-770) is also known as Tu Fu. The first poem is addressed to the poet's wife, who had fled war with their children. Ch'ang-an is an ironic pun because it means "Long-peace."



The Red Cockatoo
by Po Chu-I (772-846)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

A marvelous gift from Annam―
a red cockatoo,
bright as peach blossom,
fluent in men's language.

So they did what they always do
to the erudite and eloquent:
they created a thick-barred cage
and shut it up.

Po Chu-I (772-846) is best known today for his ballads and satirical poems. Po Chu-I believed poetry should be accessible to commoners and is noted for his simple diction and natural style. His name has been rendered various ways in English: Po Chu-I, Po Chü-i, Bo Juyi and Bai Juyi.



The Migrant Songbird
Li Qingzhao aka Li Ching-chao (c. 1084-1155)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The migrant songbird on the nearby yew
brings tears to my eyes with her melodious trills;
this fresh downpour reminds me of similar spills:
another spring gone, and still no word from you...



Lines from Laolao Ting Pavilion
by Li Bai (701-762)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The spring breeze knows partings are bitter;
The willow twig knows it will never be green again.



The Day after the Rain
Lin Huiyin (1904-1955)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I love the day after the rain
and the meadow's green expanses!
My heart endlessly rises with wind,
gusts with wind...
away the new-mown grasses and the fallen leaves...
away the clouds like smoke...
vanishing like smoke...



Untitled Translations

Cupid, if you incinerate my soul, touché!
For like you she has wings and can fly away!
―Meleager, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

As autumn deepens,
a butterfly sips
chrysanthemum dew.
―Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Come, butterfly,
it’s late
and we’ve a long way to go!
―Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Up and at ’em! The sky goes bright!
Let’***** the road again,
Companion Butterfly!
―Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Ah butterfly,
what dreams do you ply
with your beautiful wings?
―Chiyo-ni, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Oh, dreamlike winter butterfly:
a puff of white snow
cresting mountains
―Kakio Tomizawa, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Dry leaf flung awry:
bright butterfly,
goodbye!
―Michael R. Burch, original haiku

Will we remain parted forever?
Here at your grave:
two flowerlike butterflies
―Matsuo Basho, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

a soaring kite flits
into the heart of the sun?
Butterfly & Chrysanthemum
―Michael R. Burch, original haiku

The cheerful-chirping cricket
contends gray autumn's gay,
contemptuous of frost
―Matsuo Basho, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Whistle on, twilight whippoorwill,
solemn evangelist
of loneliness
―Matsuo Basho, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

The sea darkening,
the voices of the wild ducks:
my mysterious companions!
―Matsuo Basho, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Lightning
shatters the darkness―
the night heron's shriek
―Matsuo Basho, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

This snowy morning:
cries of the crow I despise
(ah, but so beautiful!)
―Matsuo Basho, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

A crow settles
on a leafless branch:
autumn nightfall.
―Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Hush, cawing crows; what rackets you make!
Heaven's indignant messengers,
you remind me of wordsmiths!
―O no Yasumaro (circa 711), loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Higher than a skylark,
resting on the breast of heaven:
this mountain pass.
―Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

An exciting struggle
with such a sad ending:
cormorant fishing.
―Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Does my soul abide in heaven, or hell?
Only the sea gull
in his high, lonely circuits, may tell.
―Glaucus, translation by Michael R. Burch

The eagle sees farther
from its greater height―
our ancestors’ wisdom
―Michael R. Burch, original haiku

A kite floats
at the same place in the sky
where yesterday it floated...
―Yosa Buson, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



Critical Mass
by Michael R. Burch

I have listened to the rain all this morning
and it has a certain gravity,
as if it knows its destination,
perhaps even its particular destiny.
I do not believe mine is to be uplifted,
although I, too, may be flung precipitously
and from a great height.

"Gravity" and "particular destiny" are puns, since rain droplets are seeded by minute particles of dust adrift in the atmosphere and they fall due to gravity when they reach "critical mass." The title is also a pun, since the poem is skeptical about heaven-lauding Masses, etc.



Ultimate Sunset
by Michael R. Burch

for my father, Paul Ray Burch, Jr.

he now faces the Ultimate Sunset,
his body like the leaves that fray as they dry,
shedding their vital fluids (who knows why?)
till they’ve become even lighter than the covering sky,
ready to fly...



Free Fall
by Michael R. Burch

for my father, Paul Ray Burch, Jr.

I see the longing for departure gleam
in his still-keen eye,
and I understand his desire
to test this last wind, like those late autumn leaves
with nothing left to cling to...



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



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.

Originally published by Romantics Quarterly



Kin
by Michael R. Burch

for Richard Moore

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

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

3.
Disgruntledly you ***** dirt shores for orts
you pull like mucous ropes
from shells’ bright forts...
You eye the teeming world
with nervous darts―
this way and that...

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



Songstress
by Michael R. Burch

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?



Performing Art
by Michael R. Burch

Who teaches the wren
in its drab existence
to explode into song?

What parodies of irony
does the jay espouse
with its sharp-edged tongue?

What instinctual memories
lend stunning brightness
to the strange dreams

of the dull gray slug
―spinning its chrysalis,
gluing rough seams―

abiding in darkness
its transformation,
till, waving damp wings,

it applauds its performance?
I am done with irony.
Life itself sings.



Lean Harvests
by Michael R. Burch

for T.M.

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

Published by The Rotary Dial and Angle



My Forty-Ninth Year
by Michael R. Burch

My forty-ninth year
and the dew remembers
how brightly it glistened
encrusting September,...
one frozen September
when hawks ruled the sky
and death fell on wings
with a shrill, keening cry.

My forty-ninth year,
and still I recall
the weavings and windings
of childhood, of fall...
of fall enigmatic,
resplendent, yet sere,...
though vibrant the herald
of death drawing near.

My forty-ninth year
and now often I've thought on
the course of a lifetime,
the meaning of autumn,
the cycle of autumn
with winter to come,
of aging and death
and rebirth... on and on.

Originally published by Romantics Quarterly as “My Twenty-Ninth Year”



Myth
by Michael R. Burch

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.



What Works
by Michael R. Burch

for David Gosselin

What works―
hewn stone;
the blush the iris shows the sun;
the lilac’s pale-remembered bloom.

The frenzied fly: mad-lively, gay,
as seconds tick his time away,
his sentence―one brief day in May,
a period. And then decay.

A frenzied rhyme’s mad tip-toed time,
a ballad’s languid as the sea,
seek, striving―immortality.

When gloss peels off, what works will shine.
When polish fades, what works will gleam.
When intellectual prattle pales,
the dying buzzing in the hive
of tedious incessant bees,
what works will soar and wheel and dive
and milk all honey, leap and thrive,

and teach the pallid poem to seethe.



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.

Published by Penny Dreadful, Carnelian, Romantics Quarterly, Grassroots Poetry and Poetry Life & Times



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.



Prodigal
by Michael R. Burch

This poem is dedicated to Kevin Longinotti, who died four days short of graduation from Vanderbilt University, the victim of a tornado that struck Nashville on April 16, 1998.

You have graduated now,
to a higher plane
and your heart’s tenacity
teaches us not to go gently
though death intrudes.

For eighteen days
―jarring interludes
of respite and pain―
with life only faintly clinging,
like a cashmere snow,
testing the capacity
of the blood banks
with the unstaunched flow
of your severed veins,
in the collapsing declivity,
in the sanguine haze
where Death broods,
you struggled defiantly.

A city mourns its adopted son,
flown to the highest ranks
while each heart complains
at the harsh validity
of God’s ways.

On ponderous wings
the white clouds move
with your captured breath,
though just days before
they spawned the maelstrom’s
hellish rift.

Throw off this mortal coil,
this envelope of flesh,
this brief sheath
of inarticulate grief
and transient joy.

Forget the winds
which test belief,
which bear the parchment leaf
down life’s last sun-lit path.

We applaud your spirit, O Prodigal,
O Valiant One,
in its percussive flight into the sun,
winging on the heart’s last madrigal.



Breakings
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

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



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.



Lines for My Ascension
by Michael R. Burch

I.

If I should die,
there will come a Doom,
and the sky will darken
to the deepest Gloom.

But if my body
should not be found,
never think of me
in the cold ground.

II.

If I should die,
let no mortal say,
“Here was a man,
with feet of clay,

or a timid sparrow
God’s hand let fall.”
But watch the sky darken
to an eerie pall

and know that my Spirit,
unvanquished, broods,
and cares naught for graves,
prayers, coffins, or roods.

And if my body
should not be found,
never think of me
in the cold ground.

III.

If I should die,
let no man adore
his incompetent Maker:
Zeus, Jehovah, or Thor.

Think of Me as One
who never died―
the unvanquished Immortal
with the unriven side.

And if my body
should not be found,
never think of me
in the cold ground.

IV.

And if I should “die,”
though the clouds grow dark
as fierce lightnings rend
this bleak asteroid, stark...

If you look above,
you will see a bright Sign―
the sun with the moon
in its arms, Divine.

So divine, if you can,
my bright meaning, and know―
my Spirit is mine.
I will go where I go.

And if my body
should not be found,
never think of me
in the cold ground.



The Locker
by Michael R. Burch

All the dull hollow clamor has died
and what was contained,
removed,

reproved
adulation or sentiment,
left with the pungent darkness

as remembered as the sudden light.

Originally published by The Raintown Review



Keywords/Tags: Sports, locker, lockerroom, clamor, adulation, acclaim, applause, sentiment, darkness, light, retirement, athlete, team, trophy, award, acclamation


Keywords/Tags: Icarus, Daedalus, flight, fly, flying, wind, wings, sun, height, heights, fall, falling, ascent, descent, imagination, bird, birds, butterfly, butterflies, hawk, eagle, geese, plane, kite, kites, mrbfly, mrbflight, mrbicarus
Karen Alexander Mar 2010
aɪ love the slipping vaʊwels
That seɪ yʊər neɪme
In gliding təʊnes that form my lips to a kiss.

The səʊnd of it brings comforting warmth.
The world disappɪəring
In the seɪfe enfolding of yʊər arms,


Naʊ peɪn and tɪərs of sadness
Are companions to the memory of yʊər passing

Once peəred and jɔɪned
United as one,
aɪ  thought,
Forever.
This child’s nəʊtion was innocent of aweəreness
That love’s lexicon is full of such partings

Naʊ aləʊne aɪ strive to grasp an ember of a truth profaʊnd
That while a part of me will alweɪs
Call for you in whispers
And long for yʊər embreɪce
aɪ’ll  preveɪl , surviving separation’s sting.
A tribute
Still standing,
Praʊd
And saʊnd.
Rohinee Sharma Aug 2016
Potted daisy by the window sill
is in love with Mr. Sunshine - the morning brings.

Dapper and Radiant and oh! So warm!
Daisy is spellbound by his charm.

At every first blush ...
she sings her song...
that his love makes her tall , that his love keeps her strong.

But as the daylight begins to wane
Ms. Daisy feels partings strain .

With the setting dusk
the waning glow
the night is set in Indigo

Repose Ms. Daisy , don't rue for the day
For , Mr. Sunshine is but a few hours away !
It's about love
...Short partings do best, though: time wears out affections,
The absent love fades, a new one takes its place.
With Menelaus away, Helen's disinclination for sleeping
Alone led her into her guest's
Warm bed at night. Were you crazy, Menelaus?
Why go off leaving your wife
With a stranger in the house? Do you trust doves to falcons,
Full sheepfolds to mountain wolves?
Here Helen's not at fault, the adulterer's blameless -
He did no more than you, or any man else,
Would do yourself. By providing place and occasion
You precipitated the act. What else did she do
But act on your clear advice? Husband gone; this stylish stranger
Here on the spot; too scared to sleep alone -
Oh, Helen wins my acquittal, the blame's her husband's:
All she did was take advantage of a man's
Human complaisance. And yet, more savage than the tawny
Boar in his rage, as he tosses the maddened dogs
On lightening tusks, or a lioness suckling her unweaned
Cubs, or the tiny adder crushed
By some careless foot, is a woman's wrath, when some rival
Is caught in the bed she shares. Her feelings show
On her face. Decorum's flung to the wind, a maenadic
Frenzy grips her, she rushes headlong off
After fire and steel... .
WaterSheep Jul 2020
Its raining.
Pouring,
Vivid flow of sorrow.

It rained too.
On that day,
Those spider lilies,
Bloomed on you.

Now,
Every downpour,
Is a requiem.
Singing your name.
Sleep well darling.
Michael R Burch Oct 2020
Poems about Flight, Flying, Flights of Fancy, Kites, Leaves, Butterflies, Birds and Bees



Flight
by Michael R. Burch

It is the nature of loveliness to vanish
as butterfly wings, batting against nothingness
seek transcendence...

Originally published by Hibiscus (India)



Southern Icarus
by Michael R. Burch

Windborne, lover of heights,
unspooled from the truck’s wildly lurching embrace,
you climb, skittish kite...

What do you know of the world’s despair,
gliding in vast... solitariness... there,
so that all that remains is to
fall?

Only a little longer the wind invests its sighs;
you
stall,
spread-eagled, as the canvas snaps
and *****
its white rebellious wings,
and all
the houses watch with baffled eyes.



The Wonder Boys
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

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

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

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

Originally published by The Lyric



American Eagle, Grounded
by Michael R. Burch

Her predatory eye,
the single feral iris,
scans.

Her raptor beak,
all jagged sharp-edged ******,
juts.

Her hard talon,
clenched in pinched expectation,
waits.

Her clipped wings,
preened against reality,
tremble.

Published as “Tremble” by The Lyric, Verses Magazine, Romantics Quarterly, Journeys, The Raintown Review, Poetic Ponderings, Poem Kingdom, The Fabric of a Vision, NPAC—Net Poetry and Art Competition, Poet’s Haven, Listening To The Birth Of Crystals (Anthology), Poetry Renewal, Inspirational Stories, Poetry Life & Times, MahMag (Iranian/Farsi), The Eclectic Muse (Canada)



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 merged, remaining two...

And Grief, which lurked unseen beyond the lens
or in shadows where It crept on furtive claws
as It scritched 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.



Springtime Prayer
by Michael R. Burch

They’ll have to grow like crazy,
the springtime baby geese,
if they’re to fly to balmier climes
when autumn dismembers the leaves...

And so I toss them loaves of bread,
then whisper an urgent prayer:
“Watch over these, my Angels,
if there’s anyone kind, up there.”

Originally published by The HyperTexts



Learning to Fly
by Michael R. Burch

We are learning to fly
every day...

learning to fly—
away, away...

O, love is not in the ephemeral flight,
but love, Love! is our destination—

graced land of eternal sunrise, radiant beyond night!
Let us bear one another up in our vast migration.



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
while 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 famished ocean
and laugh as they vanish, and never repent.
We must dance in the darkness as stars dance before us,
soar, Soar! through the night on a butterfly's breeze...
blown high, upward-yearning, twin spirits returning
to the heights of awareness from which we were seized.

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



For a Palestinian Child, with Butterflies
by Michael R. Burch

Where does the butterfly go
when lightning rails,
when thunder howls,
when hailstones scream,
when winter scowls,
when nights compound dark frosts with snow...
Where does the butterfly go?

Where does the rose hide its bloom
when night descends oblique and chill
beyond the capacity of moonlight to fill?
When the only relief's a banked fire's glow,
where does the butterfly go?

And where shall the spirit flee
when life is harsh, too harsh to face,
and hope is lost without a trace?
Oh, when the light of life runs low,
where does the butterfly go?

Published by Tucumcari Literary Review, Romantics Quarterly, Poetry Life & Times, Victorian Violet Press (where it was nominated for a “Best of the Net”), The Contributor (a Nashville homeless newspaper), Siasat (Pakistan), and set to music as a part of the song cycle “The Children of Gaza” which has been performed in various European venues by the Palestinian soprano Dima Bawab



Earthbound, a Vision of Crazy Horse
by Michael R. Burch

Tashunka Witko, a Lakota Sioux 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 the 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.

Published by American Indian Pride and Boston Poetry Magazine



Sioux Vision Quest
by Crazy Horse, Oglala Lakota Sioux (circa 1840-1877)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

A man must pursue his Vision
as the eagle explores
the sky's deepest blues.

Published by Better Than Starbucks and A Hundred Voices



in-flight convergence
by Michael R. Burch

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

here the streetlights that flicker
and those blazing steadfast
seem one: from a distance;
descend,
they abruptly
part ———— ways,
so that nothing is one
which at times does not suddenly blend
into garish insignificance
in the familiar alleyways,
in the white neon flash
and the billboards of Convenience

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

Originally published by The Aurorean and subsequently nominated for the Pushcart Prize



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's 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.



Flight
by Michael R. Burch

Eagle, raven, blackbird, crow...
What you are I do not know.
Where you go I do not care.
I’m unconcerned whose meal you bear.
But as you mount the sunlit sky,
I only wish that I could fly.
I only wish that I could fly.

Robin, hawk or whippoorwill...
Should men care that you hunger still?
I do not wish to see your home.
I do not wonder where you roam.
But as you scale the sky's bright stairs,
I only wish that I were there.
I only wish that I were there.

Sparrow, lark or chickadee...
Your markings I disdain to see.
Where you fly concerns me not.
I scarcely give your flight a thought.
But as you wheel and arc and dive,
I, too, would feel so much alive.
I, too, would feel so much alive.

This is a poem I wrote in high school. I seem to remember the original poem being influenced by William Cullen Bryant's "To a Waterfowl."



Flying
by Michael R. Burch

I shall rise
and try the ****** wings of thought
ten thousand times
before I fly...

and then I'll sleep
and waste ten thousand nights
before I dream;

but when at last...
I soar the distant heights of undreamt skies
where never hawks nor eagles dared to go,
as I laugh among the meteors flashing by
somewhere beyond the bluest earth-bound seas...
if I'm not told
I’m just a man,
then I shall know
just what I am.

This is one of my early poems, written around age 16-17.



Stage Craft-y
by Michael R. Burch

There once was a dromedary
who befriended a crafty canary.
Budgie said, "You can’t sing,
but now, here’s the thing—
just think of the tunes you can carry!"



Clyde Lied!
by Michael R. Burch

There once was a mockingbird, Clyde,
who bragged of his prowess, but lied.
To his new wife he sighed,
"When again, gentle bride?"
"Nevermore!" bright-eyed Raven replied.



Less Heroic Couplets: ****** Most Fowl!
by Michael R. Burch

“****** most foul!”
cried the mouse to the owl.
“Friend, I’m no sinner;
you’re merely my dinner!”
the wise owl replied
as the tasty snack died.

Published by Lighten Up Online and in Potcake Chapbook #7.



Lance-Lot
by Michael R. Burch

Preposterous bird!
Inelegant! Absurd!
Until the great & mighty heron
brandishes his fearsome sword.



Kissin’ ’n’ buzzin’
by Michael R. Burch

Kissin’ ’n’ buzzin’ the bees rise
in a dizzy circle of two.
Oh, when I’m with you,
I feel like kissin’ ’n’ buzzin’ too.



Delicacy
by Michael R. Burch

for all good mothers

Your love is as delicate
as a butterfly cleaning its wings,
as soft as the predicate
the hummingbird sings
to itself, gently murmuring—
“Fly! Fly! Fly!”
Your love is the string
soaring kites untie.



Lone Wild Goose
by Du Fu (712-770)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The abandoned goose refuses food and drink;
he cries querulously for his companions.
Who feels kinship for that strange wraith
as he vanishes eerily into the heavens?
You watch it as it disappears;
its plaintive calls cut through you.
The indignant crows ignore you both:
the bickering, bantering multitudes.



The Red Cockatoo
by Po Chu-I (772-846)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

A marvelous gift from Annam—
a red cockatoo,
bright as peach blossom,
fluent in men's language.

So they did what they always do
to the erudite and eloquent:
they created a thick-barred cage
and shut it up.



The Migrant Songbird
Li Qingzhao aka Li Ching-chao (c. 1084-1155)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The migrant songbird on the nearby yew
brings tears to my eyes with her melodious trills;
this fresh downpour reminds me of similar spills:
another spring gone, and still no word from you...



Lines from Laolao Ting Pavilion
by Li Bai (701-762)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The spring breeze knows partings are bitter;
The willow twig knows it will never be green again.



The Day after the Rain
Lin Huiyin (1904-1955)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I love the day after the rain
and the meadow's green expanses!
My heart endlessly rises with wind,
gusts with wind...
away the new-mown grasses and the fallen leaves...
away the clouds like smoke...
vanishing like smoke...



Untitled Translations

Cupid, if you incinerate my soul, touché!
For like you she has wings and can fly away!
—Meleager, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

As autumn deepens,
a butterfly sips
chrysanthemum dew.
—Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Come, butterfly,
it’s late
and we’ve a long way to go!
—Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Up and at ’em! The sky goes bright!
Let’***** the road again,
Companion Butterfly!
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Ah butterfly,
what dreams do you ply
with your beautiful wings?
—Chiyo-ni, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Oh, dreamlike winter butterfly:
a puff of white snow
cresting mountains
—Kakio Tomizawa, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Dry leaf flung awry:
bright butterfly,
goodbye!
—Michael R. Burch, original haiku

Will we remain parted forever?
Here at your grave:
two flowerlike butterflies
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

a soaring kite flits
into the heart of the sun?
Butterfly & Chrysanthemum
—Michael R. Burch, original haiku

The cheerful-chirping cricket
contends gray autumn's gay,
contemptuous of frost
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Whistle on, twilight whippoorwill,
solemn evangelist
of loneliness
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

The sea darkening,
the voices of the wild ducks:
my mysterious companions!
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Lightning
shatters the darkness—
the night heron's shriek
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

This snowy morning:
cries of the crow I despise
(ah, but so beautiful!)
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

A crow settles
on a leafless branch:
autumn nightfall.
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Hush, cawing crows; what rackets you make!
Heaven's indignant messengers,
you remind me of wordsmiths!
—O no Yasumaro (circa 711), loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Higher than a skylark,
resting on the breast of heaven:
this mountain pass.
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

An exciting struggle
with such a sad ending:
cormorant fishing.
—Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Does my soul abide in heaven, or hell?
Only the sea gull
in his high, lonely circuits, may tell.
—Glaucus, translation by Michael R. Burch

The eagle sees farther
from its greater height—
our ancestors’ wisdom
—Michael R. Burch, original haiku

A kite floats
at the same place in the sky
where yesterday it floated...
—Yosa Buson, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



Descent
by Michael R. Burch

I have listened to the rain all this morning
and it has a certain gravity,
as if it knows its destination,
perhaps even its particular destiny.
I do not believe mine is to be uplifted,
although I, too, may be flung precipitously
and from a great height.



Ultimate Sunset
by Michael R. Burch

for my father, Paul Ray Burch, Jr.

he now faces the Ultimate Sunset,
his body like the leaves that fray as they dry,
shedding their vital fluids (who knows why?)
till they’ve become even lighter than the covering sky,
ready to fly...



Free Fall
by Michael R. Burch

for my father, Paul Ray Burch, Jr.

I see the longing for departure gleam
in his still-keen eye,
and I understand his desire
to test this last wind, like those late autumn leaves
with nothing left to cling to...



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



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.

Originally published by Romantics Quarterly



Kin
by Michael R. Burch

for Richard Moore

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

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

3.
Disgruntledly you ***** dirt shores for orts
you pull like mucous ropes
from shells’ bright forts...
You eye the teeming world
with nervous darts—
this way and that...
Contentious, shrewd, you scan—
the sky, in hope,
the earth, distrusting man.



Songstress
by Michael R. Burch

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.



Performing Art
by Michael R. Burch

Who teaches the wren
in its drab existence
to explode into song?
What parodies of irony
does the jay espouse
with its sharp-edged tongue?
What instinctual memories
lend stunning brightness
to the strange dreams
of the dull gray slug
—spinning its chrysalis,
gluing rough seams—
abiding in darkness
its transformation,
till, waving damp wings,
it applauds its performance?
I am done with irony.
Life itself sings.



Lean Harvests
by Michael R. Burch

for T.M.

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

Published by The Rotary Dial and Angle



My Forty-Ninth Year
by Michael R. Burch

My forty-ninth year
and the dew remembers
how brightly it glistened
encrusting September,...
one frozen September
when hawks ruled the sky
and death fell on wings
with a shrill, keening cry.

My forty-ninth year,
and still I recall
the weavings and windings
of childhood, of fall...
of fall enigmatic,
resplendent, yet sere,...
though vibrant the herald
of death drawing near.

My forty-ninth year
and now often I've thought on
the course of a lifetime,
the meaning of autumn,
the cycle of autumn
with winter to come,
of aging and death
and rebirth... on and on.

Originally published by Romantics Quarterly as “My Twenty-Ninth Year”



Myth
by Michael R. Burch

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.



What Works
by Michael R. Burch

for David Gosselin

What works—
hewn stone;
the blush the iris shows the sun;
the lilac’s pale-remembered bloom.

The frenzied fly: mad-lively, gay,
as seconds tick his time away,
his sentence—one brief day in May,
a period. And then decay.

A frenzied rhyme’s mad tip-toed time,
a ballad’s languid as the sea,
seek, striving—immortality.

When gloss peels off, what works will shine.
When polish fades, what works will gleam.
When intellectual prattle pales,
the dying buzzing in the hive
of tedious incessant bees,
what works will soar and wheel and dive
and milk all honey, leap and thrive,
and teach the pallid poem to seethe.



Child of 9-11
by Michael R. Burch

a poem for Christina-Taylor Green, who
was born on September 11, 2001 and who
died at age nine, shot to death...

Child of 9-11, beloved,
I bring this lily, lay it down
here at your feet, and eiderdown,
and all soft things, for your gentle spirit.
I bring this psalm — I hope you hear it.

Much love I bring — I lay it down
here by your form, which is not you,
but what you left this shell-shocked world
to help us learn what we must do
to save another child like you.

Child of 9-11, I know
you are not here, but watch, afar
from distant stars, where angels rue
the evil things some mortals do.
I also watch; I also rue.

And so I make this pledge and vow:
though I may weep, I will not rest
nor will my pen fail heaven's test
till guns and wars and hate are banned
from every shore, from every land.

Child of 9-11, I grieve
your tender life, cut short... bereaved,
what can I do, but pledge my life
to saving lives like yours? Belief
in your sweet worth has led me here...
I give my all: my pen, this tear,
this lily and this eiderdown,
and all soft things my heart can bear;
I bring them to your final bier,
and leave them with my promise, here.

Originally published by The Flea



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.

Published by Penny Dreadful, Carnelian, Romantics Quarterly, Grassroots Poetry and Poetry Life & Times



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.



Reading between the lines
by Michael R. Burch

Who could have read so much, as we?
Having the time, but not the inclination,
TV has become our philosophy,
sheer boredom, our recreation.



Rilke Translations

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.



Herbsttag ("Autumn Day")
by Rainer Maria Rilke
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Lord, it is time. Let the immense summer go.
Lay your long shadows over the sundials
and over the meadows, let the free winds blow.
Command the late fruits to fatten and shine;
O, grant them another Mediterranean hour!
Urge them to completion, and with power
convey final sweetness to the heavy wine.
Who has no house now, never will build one.
Who's alone now, shall continue alone;
he'll wake, read, write long letters to friends,
and pace the tree-lined pathways up and down,
restlessly, as autumn leaves drift and descend.

Originally published by Measure



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.



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.



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!



The Beggar's Song
by Rainer Maria Rilke
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I live outside your gates,
exposed to the rain, exposed to the sun;
sometimes I'll cradle my right ear
in my right palm;
then when I speak my voice sounds strange,
alien...
I'm unsure whose voice I'm hearing:
mine or yours.
I implore a trifle;
the poets cry for more.
Sometimes I cover both eyes
and my face disappears;
there it lies heavy in my hands
looking peaceful, instead,
so that no one would ever think
I have no place to lay my head.



Ivy
by Michael R. Burch

“Van trepando en mi viejo dolor como las yedras.” — Pablo Neruda
“They climb on my old suffering like ivy.”

Ivy winds around these sagging structures
from the flagstones
to the eave heights,
and, clinging, holds intact
what cannot be saved of their loose entrails.
Through long, blustery nights of dripping condensation,
cured in the humidors of innumerable forgotten summers,
waxy, unguent,
palely, indifferently fragrant, it climbs,
pausing at last to see
the alien sparkle of dew
beading delicate sparrowgrass.
Coarse saw grass, thin skunk grass, clumped mildewed yellow gorse
grow all around, and here remorse, things past,
watch ivy climb and bend,
and, in the end, we ask
if grief is worth the gaps it leaps to mend.



Joy in the Morning
by Michael R. Burch

for my grandparents George Edwin Hurt and Christine Ena Hurt

There will be joy in the morning
for now this long twilight is over
and their separation has ended.
For fourteen years, he had not seen her
whom he first befriended,
then courted and married.
Let there be joy, and no mourning,
for now in his arms she is carried
over a threshold vastly sweeter.
He never lost her; she only tarried
until he was able to meet her.



Prodigal
by Michael R. Burch

This poem is dedicated to Kevin Longinotti, who died four days short of graduation from Vanderbilt University, the victim of a tornado that struck Nashville on April 16, 1998.

You have graduated now,
to a higher plane
and your heart’s tenacity
teaches us not to go gently
though death intrudes.

For eighteen days
—jarring interludes
of respite and pain—
with life only faintly clinging,
like a cashmere snow,
testing the capacity
of the blood banks
with the unstaunched flow
of your severed veins,
in the collapsing declivity,
in the sanguine haze
where Death broods,
you struggled defiantly.

A city mourns its adopted son,
flown to the highest ranks
while each heart complains
at the harsh validity
of God’s ways.

On ponderous wings
the white clouds move
with your captured breath,
though just days before
they spawned the maelstrom’s
hellish rift.

Throw off this mortal coil,
this envelope of flesh,
this brief sheath
of inarticulate grief
and transient joy.

Forget the winds
which test belief,
which bear the parchment leaf
down life’s last sun-lit path.

We applaud your spirit, O Prodigal,
O Valiant One,
in its percussive flight into the sun,
winging on the heart’s last madrigal.



Breakings
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

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



The Quickening
by Michael R. Burch

I never meant to love you
when I held you in my arms
promising you sagely
wise, noncommittal charms.

And I never meant to need you
when I touched your tender lips
with kisses that intrigued my own—
such kisses I had never known,
nor a heartbeat in my fingertips!



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 black nightmare skies
one night without disguise,
while children toss about
uneasy, full of doubt,
beware the devil's eyes...
it's Halloween!



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.



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.



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



Her Grace Flows Freely
by Michael R. Burch

July 7, 2007

Her love is always chaste, and pure.
This I vow. This I aver.
If she shows me her grace, I will honor her.
This I vow. This I aver.
Her grace flows freely, like her hair.
This I vow. This I aver.
For her generousness, I would worship her.
This I vow. This I aver.
I will not **** her for what I bear
This I vow. This I aver.
like a most precious incense–desire for her,
This I vow. This I aver.
nor call her “*****” where I seek to repair.
This I vow. This I aver.
I will not wink, nor smirk, nor stare
This I vow. This I aver.
like a foolish child at the foot of a stair
This I vow. This I aver.
where I long to go, should another be there.
This I vow. This I aver.
I’ll rejoice in her freedom, and always dare
This I vow. This I aver.
the chance that she’ll flee me–my starling rare.
This I vow. This I aver.
And then, if she stays, without stays, I swear
This I vow. This I aver.
that I will joy in her grace beyond compare.
This I vow. This I aver.



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.



Incommunicado
by Michael R. Burch

All I need to know of life I learned
in the slap of a moment,
as my outward eye turned
toward a gauntlet of overhanging lights
which coldly burned, hissing—
"There is no way back!..."
As the ironic bright blood
trickled down my face,
I watched strange albino creatures twisting
my flesh into tight knots of separation
all the while tediously insisting—
“He's doing just fine!"



Letdown
by Michael R. Burch

Life has not lived up to its first bright vision—
the light overhead fluorescing, revealing
no blessing—bestowing its glaring assessments
impersonally (and no doubt carefully metered).
That first hard

SLAP

demanded my attention. Defiantly rigid,
I screamed at their backs as they, laughingly,

ripped

my mother’s pale flesh from my unripened shell,
snapped it in two like a pea pod, then dropped
it somewhere—in a dustbin or a furnace, perhaps.

And that was my clue

that some deadly, perplexing, unknowable task
lay, inexplicable, ahead in the white arctic maze
of unopenable doors, in the antiseptic gloom...



Recursion
by Michael R. Burch

In a dream I saw boys lying
under banners gaily flying
and I heard their mothers sighing
from some dark distant shore.

For I saw their sons essaying
into fields—gleeful, braying—
their bright armaments displaying;
such manly oaths they swore!

From their playfields, boys returning
full of honor’s white-hot burning
and desire’s restless yearning
sired new kids for the corps.

In a dream I saw boys dying
under banners gaily lying
and I heard their mothers crying
from some dark distant shore.



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



Life Sentence
by Michael R. Burch

... I swim, my Daddy’s princess, newly crowned,
toward a gurgly Maelstrom... if I drown
will Mommy stick the Toilet Plunger down
to **** me up?... She sits upon Her Throne,
Imperious (denying we were one),
and gazes down and whispers “precious son”...

... the Plunger worked; i’m two, and, if not blessed,
still Mommy got the Worst Stuff off Her Chest;
a Vacuum Pump, They say, will do the rest...

... i’m three; yay! whee! oh good! it’s time to play!
(oh no, I think there’s Others on the way;
i’d better pray)...

... i’m four; at night I hear the Banging Door;
She screams; sometimes there’s Puddles on the Floor;
She wants to **** us, or, She wants some More...

... it’s great to be alive if you are five (unless you’re me);
my Mommy says: “you’re WRONG! don’t disagree!
don’t make this HURT ME!”...

... i’m six; They say i’m tall, yet Time grows Short;
we have a thriving Family; Abort!;
a tadpole’s ripping Mommy’s Room apart...

... i’m seven; i’m in heaven; it feels strange;
I saw my life go gurgling down the Drain;
another Noah built a Mighty Ark;
God smiled, appeased, a Rainbow split the Dark;
... I saw Bright Colors also, when She slammed
my head against the Tub, and then I swam
toward the magic tunnel... last, I heard...
is that She feels Weird.



Beast 666
by Michael R. Burch

“... what rough beast... slouches toward Bethlehem to be born?”—W. B. Yeats

Brutality is a cross
wooden, blood-stained,
gas hissing, sibilant,
lungs gilled, deveined,
red flecks on a streaked glass pane,
jeers jubilant,
mocking.

Brutality is shocking—
tiny orifices torn,
impaled with hard lust,
the fetus unborn
tossed in a dust-
bin. The scarred skull shorn,
nails bloodied, tortured,
an old wound sutured
over, never healed.

Brutality, all its faces revealed,
is legion:
Death March, Trail of Tears, Inquisition...
always the same.
The Beast of the godless and of man’s “religion”
slouching toward Jerusalem:
horned, crowned, gibbering, drooling, insane.



America's Riches
by Michael R. Burch

Balboa's dream
was bitter folly—
no El Dorado near, nor far,
though seas beguiled
and rivers smiled
from beds of gold and silver ore.

Drake retreated
rich with plunder
as Incan fled Conquistador.
Aztecs died
when Spaniards lied,
then slew them for an ingot more.

The pilgrims came
and died or lived
in fealty to an oath they swore,
and bought with pain
the precious grain
that made them rich though they were poor.

Apache blood,
Comanche tears
were shed, and still they went to war;
they fought to be
unbowed and free—
such were Her riches, and still are.

Published by Poetic Reflections and Tucumcari Literary Review



Kindergarten
by Michael R. Burch

Will we be children as puzzled tomorrow—
our lessons still not learned?
Will we surrender over to sorrow?
How many times must our fingers be burned?
Will we be children sat in the corner,
paddled again and again?
How long must we linger, playing Jack Horner?
Will we ever learn, and when?
Will we be children wearing the dunce cap,
giggling and playing the fool,
re-learning our lessons forever and ever,
still failing the golden rule?



Photographs
by Michael R. Burch

Here are the effects of a life
and they might tell us a tale
(if only we had time to listen)
of how each imperiled tear would glisten,
remembered as brightness in her eyes,
and how each dawn’s dramatic skies
could never match such pale azure.

Like dreams of her, these ghosts endure
and they tell us a tale of impatient glory...
till a line appears—a trace of worry?—
or the wayward track of a wandering smile
which even now can charm, beguile?

We might find good cause to wonder
as we see her pause (to frown?, to ponder?):
what vexed her in her loveliness...
what weight, what crushing heaviness
turned her lustrous hair a frazzled gray,
and stole her youth before her day?

We might ask ourselves: did Time devour
the passion with the ravaged flower?
But here and there a smile will bloom
to light the leaden, shadowed gloom
that always seems to linger near...
And here we find a single tear:
it shimmers like translucent dew
and tells us Anguish touched her too,
and did not spare her for her hair
of copper, or her eyes' soft hue.

Published in Tucumcari Literary Review



Numbered
by Michael R. Burch

He desired an object to crave;
she came, and she altared his affection.
He asked her for something to save:
a memento for his collection.
But all that she had was her need;
what she needed, he knew not to give.
They compromised on a thing gone to seed
to complete the half lives they would live.
One in two, they were less than complete.
Two plus one, in their huge fractious home
left them two, the new one in the street,
then he, by himself, one, alone.
He awoke past his prime to new dawn
with superfluous dew all around,
in ten thousands bright beads on his lawn,
and he knew that, at last, he had found
a number of things he had missed:
things shining and bright, unencumbered
by their price, or their place on a list.
Then with joy and despair he remembered
and longed for the lips he had kissed
when his days were still evenly numbered.



Nucleotidings
by Michael R. Burch

“We will walk taller!” said Gupta,
sorta abrupta,
hand-in-hand with his mom,
eyeing the A-bomb.

“Who needs a mahatma
in the aftermath of NAFTA?
Now, that was a disaster,”
cried glib Punjab.

“After Y2k,
time will spin out of control anyway,”
flamed Vijay.

“My family is relatively heavy,
too big even for a pig-barn Chevy;
we need more space,”
spat What’s His Face.

“What does it matter,
dirge or mantra,”
sighed Serge.

“The world will wobble
in Hubble’s lens
till the tempest ends,”
wailed Mercedes.

“The world is going to hell in a bucket.
So **** it and get outta my face!
We own this place!
Me and my friends got more guns than ISIS,
so what’s the crisis?”
cried Bubba Billy Joe Bob Puckett.



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.

I wrote this poem around age 15-16.



Kingdom Freedom
by Michael R. Burch

LORD, grant me a rare sweet spirit of forgiveness.
Let me have none of the lividness
of religious outrage.

LORD, let me not be over-worried
about the lack of “morality” around me.
Surround me,
not with law’s restrictive cage,
but with Your spirit, freer than the wind,
so that to breathe is to have freest life,
and not to fly to You, my only sin.



Birthday Poem to Myself
by Michael R. Burch

LORD, be no longer this Distant Presence,
Star-Afar, Righteous-Anonymous,
but come! Come live among us;
come dwell again,
happy child among men—
men rejoicing to have known you
in the familiar manger’s cool
sweet light scent of unburdened hay.
Teach us again to be light that way,
with a chorus of angelic songs lessoned above.
Be to us again that sweet birth of Love
in the only way men can truly understand.
Do not frown darkening down upon an unrighteous land
planning fierce Retributions we require, and deserve,
but remember the child you were; believe
in the child I was, alike to you in innocence
a little while, all sweetness, and helpless without pretense.
Let us be little children again, magical in your sight.
Grant me this boon! Is it not my birthright—
just to know you, as you truly were, and are?
Come, be my friend. Help me understand and regain Hope’s long-departed star!



Litany
by Michael R. Burch

Will you take me with all my blemishes?
I will take you with all your blemishes, and show you mine. We’ll **** wine out of cardboard boxes till our teeth and lips shine red like greedily gorging foxes’. We’ll swill our fill, then have *** for hours till our neglected guts at last rebel. At two in the morning, we’ll eat cold Krystals out of greasy cardboard boxes, and we will be in love.

And that’s it?
That’s it.

And can I go out with my friends and drink until dawn?
You can go out with your friends and drink until dawn, come home lipstick-collared, pass out by the pool, or stay at the bar till the new moon sets, because we will be in love, and in love there is no room for remorse or regret. There is no right, no wrong, and no mistrust, only limb-numbing ***, hot-pistoning lust.

And that’s all?
That’s all.

That’s great!
But wait...

Wait? Why? What’s wrong?
I want to have your children.

Children?
Well, perhaps just one.

And what will happen when we have children?
The most incredible things will happen—you’ll change, stop acting so strangely, start paying more attention to me, start paying your bills on time, grow up and get rid of your horrible friends, and never come home at a-quarter-to-three drunk from a night of swilling, smelling like a lovesick skunk, stop acting so lewdly, start working incessantly so that we can afford a new house which I will decorate lavishly and then grow tired of in a year or two or three, start growing a paunch so that no other woman would ever have you, stop acting so boorishly, start growing a beard because you’re too tired to shave, or too afraid, thinking you might slit your worthless wrinkled throat...



Mending Glass
by Michael R. Burch

In the cobwebbed house—
lost in shadows
by the jagged mirror,
in the intricate silver face
cracked ten thousand times,
silently he watches,
and in the twisted light
sometimes he catches there
a familiar glimpse of revealing lace,
white stockings and garters,
a pale face pressed indiscreetly near
with a predatory leer,
the sheer flash of nylon,
an embrace, or a sharp slap,
... a sudden lurch of terror.

He finds bright slivers
—the hard sharp brittle shards,
the silver jags of memory
starkly impressed there—
and mends his error.



Shadowselves
by Michael R. Burch

In our hearts, knowing
fewer days—and milder—beckon,
how are we, now, to measure
that flame by which we reckon
the time we have remaining?

We are shadows
spawned by a blue spurt of candlelight.
Darkly, we watch ourselves flicker.

Where shall we go when the flame burns less bright?
When chill night steals our vigor?

Why are we less than ourselves? We are shadows.

Where is the fire of youth? We grow cold.

Why does our future loom dark? We are old.

Why do we shiver?

In our hearts, seeing
fewer days—and briefer—breaking,
now, even more, we treasure
the brittle leaf-like aching
that tells us we are living.



Pressure
by Michael R. Burch

Pressure is the plug of ice in the frozen hose,
the hiss of water within vinyl rigidly green and shining,
straining to writhe.

Pressure is the kettle’s lid ceaselessly tapping its tired dance,
the hot eye staring, its frantic issuance
unavailing.

Pressure is the bellow’s surge, the hard forged
metal shedding white heat, the beat of the clawed hammer
on cold anvil.

Pressure is a day’s work compressed into minutes,
frantic minute vessels constricted, straining and hissing,
unable to writhe,

the fingers drumming and tapping their tired dance,
eyes staring, cold and reptilian,
hooded and blind.

Pressure is the spirit sighing—reflective,
restrictive compression—an endless drumming—
the bellows’ echo before dying.

The cold eye—unblinking, staring.
The hot eye—sinking, uncaring.



Open Portal
by Michael R. Burch

“You already have zero privacy—get over it.”
Scott McNealy, CEO of Sun Microsystems

While you’re at it—
don’t bother to wear clothes:
We all know what you’re concealing underneath.

Let the bathroom door swing open.
Let, O let Us peer in!
What you’re doing, We’ve determined, may be a sin!

When you visit your mother
and it’s time to brush your teeth,
it’s okay to openly spit.

And, while you’re at it,
go ahead—
take a long, noisy ****.

What the he|ll is your objection?
What on earth is all this fuss?
Just what is it, exactly, you would hide from US?



beMused
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

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

Give me rhythm
wild as Dylan!
Give me Bobbie Burns!

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

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

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



The Century’s Wake
by Michael R. Burch

lines written at the close of the 20th century

Take me home. The party is over,
the century passed—no time for a lover.

And my heart grew heavy
as the fireworks hissed through the dark
over Central Park,
past high-towering spires to some backwoods levee,
hurtling banner-hung docks to the torchlit seas.
And my heart grew heavy;
I felt its disease—
its apathy,
wanting the bright, rhapsodic display
to last more than a single day.

If decay was its rite,
now it has learned to long
for something with more intensity,
more gaudy passion, more song—
like the huddled gay masses,
the wildly-cheering throng.

You ask me—
How can this be?

A little more flair,
or perhaps only a little more clarity.

I leave her tonight to the century’s wake;
she disappoints me.



Salve
by Michael R. Burch

for the victims and survivors of 9-11

The world is unsalvageable...
but as we lie here
in bed
stricken to the heart by love
despite war’s
flickering images,
sometimes we still touch,
laughing, amazed,
that our flesh
does not despair
of love
as we do,
that our bodies are wise
in ways we refuse
to comprehend,
still insisting we eat,
drink...
even multiply.

And so we touch...
touch, and only imagine
ourselves immune:
two among billions
in this night of wished-on stars,
caresses,
kisses,
and condolences.

We are not lovers of irony,
we
who imagine ourselves
beyond the redemption
of tears
because we have salvaged
so few
for ourselves...

and so we laugh
at our predicament,
fumbling for the ointment.



Stump
by Michael R. Burch

This used to be a poplar, oak or elm...
we forget the names of trees, but still its helm,
green-plumed, like some Greek warrior’s, nobly fringed,
with blossoms almond-white, but verdant-tinged,
this massive helm... this massive, nodding head
here contemplated life, and now is dead...

Perhaps it saw its future, furrow-browed,
and flung its limbs about, dejectedly.
Perhaps it only dreamed as, cloud by cloud,
the sun plod through the sky. Heroically,
perhaps it stood against the mindless plots
of concrete that replaced each flowered bed.
Perhaps it heard thick loggers draw odd lots
and could not flee, and so could only dread...

The last of all its kind? They left its stump
with timeworn strange inscriptions no one reads
(because a language lost is just a bump
impeding someone’s progress at mall speeds).

We leveled all such “speed bumps” long ago
just as our quainter cousins leveled trees.
Shall we, too, be consumed by what we know?
Once gods were merely warriors; august trees
were merely twigs, and man the least divine...
mere fables now, dust, compost, turpentine.



First Dance
by Michael R. Burch

for Sykes and Mary Harris

Beautiful ballerina—
so pert, pretty, poised and petite,
how lightly you dance for your waiting Beau
on those beautiful, elegant feet!

How palely he now awaits you, although
he’ll glow from the sparks when you meet!



Keep the Body Well
by Michael R. Burch

for William Sykes Harris III

Is the soul connected to the brain
by a slender silver thread,
so that when the thread is severed
we call the body “dead”
while the soul — released from fear and pain —
is finally able to rise
beyond earth’s binding gravity
to heaven’s welcoming skies?

If so — no need to quail at death,
but keep the body well,
for when the body suffers
the soul experiences hell.



On Looking into Curious George’s Mirrors
by Michael R. Burch

for Maya McManmon, granddaughter of the poet Jim McManmon

Maya was made in the image of God;
may the reflections she sees in those curious mirrors
always echo back Love.

Amen



Maya’s Beddy-Bye Poem
by Michael R. Burch

for Maya McManmon, granddaughter of the poet Jim McManmon

With a hatful of stars
and a stylish umbrella
and her hand in her Papa’s
(that remarkable fella!)
and with Winnie the Pooh
and Eeyore in tow,
may she dance in the rain
cheek-to-cheek, toe-to-toe
till each number’s rehearsed...
My, that last step’s a leap! —
the high flight into bed
when it’s past time to sleep!

Note: “Hatful of Stars” is a lovely song and image by Cyndi Lauper.



Chip Off the Block
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy

In the fusion of poetry and drama,
Shakespeare rules! Jeremy’s a ham: a
chip off the block, like his father and mother.
Part poet? Part ham? Better run for cover!
Now he’s Benedick — most comical of lovers!

NOTE: Jeremy’s father is a poet and his mother is an actress; hence the fusion, or confusion, as the case may be.



Whose Woods
by Michael R. Burch

Whose woods these are, I think I know.
**** Cheney’s in the White House, though.
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his chip mills overflow.

My sterile horse must think it queer
To stop without a ’skeeter near
Beside this softly glowing “lake”
Of six-limbed frogs gone nuclear.

He gives his hairless tail a shake;
I fear he’s made his last mistake—
He took a sip of water blue
(Blue-slicked with oil and HazMat waste).

Get out your wallets; ****’s not through—
Enron’s defunct, the bill comes due...
Which he will send to me, and you.
Which he will send to me, and you.



1-800-HOT-LINE
by Michael R. Burch

“I don’t believe in psychics,” he said, “so convince me.”

When you were a child, the earth was a joy,
the sun a bright plaything, the moon a lit toy.
Now life’s minor distractions irk, frazzle, annoy.
When the crooked finger beckons, scythe-talons destroy.

“You’ll have to do better than that, to convince me.”

As you grew older, bright things lost their meaning.
You invested your hours in commodities, leaning
to things easily fleeced, to the convenient gleaning.
I see a pittance of dirt—untended, demeaning.

“Everyone knows that!” he said, “so convince me.”

Your first and last wives traded in golden bands
for vacations from the abuses of your cruel hands.
Where unwatered blooms line an arid plot of land,
the two come together, waving fans.

“Everyone knows that. Convince me.”

As your father left you, you left those you brought
to the doorstep of life as an afterthought.
Two sons and a daughter tap shoes, undistraught.
Their tears are contrived, their condolences bought.

“Everyone knows that. CONVINCE me.”

A moment, an instant... a life flashes by,
a tunnel appears, but not to the sky.
There is brightness, such brightness it sears the eye.
When a life grows too dull, it seems better to die.

“I could have told you that!” he shrieked, “I think I’ll **** myself!”

Originally published by Penny Dreadful



Lines for My Ascension
by Michael R. Burch

I.
If I should die,
there will come a Doom,
and the sky will darken
to the deepest Gloom.

But if my body
should not be found,
never think of me
in the cold ground.

II.
If I should die,
let no mortal say,
“Here was a man,
with feet of clay,

or a timid sparrow
God’s hand let fall.”
But watch the sky darken
to an eerie pall

and know that my Spirit,
unvanquished, broods,
and cares naught for graves,
prayers, coffins, or roods.

And if my body
should not be found,
never think of me
in the cold ground.

III.
If I should die,
let no man adore
his incompetent Maker:
Zeus, Jehovah, or Thor.

Think of Me as One
who never died—
the unvanquished Immortal
with the unriven side.

And if my body
should not be found,
never think of me
in the cold ground.

IV.
And if I should “die,”
though the clouds grow dark
as fierce lightnings rend
this bleak asteroid, stark...

If you look above,
you will see a bright Sign—
the sun with the moon
in its arms, Divine.

So divine, if you can,
my bright meaning, and know—
my Spirit is mine.
I will go where I go.

And if my body
should not be found,
never think of me
in the cold ground.

Keywords/Tags: flight, flying, fancy, kites, leaves, birds, bees, butterflies, wings, heights, fall, falling
SM Apr 2014
Faded memories
lose their colour
and conversation
Alive
but wearing thin
with each recollection
and overlapped
by the heartache
meetings
kisses
and partings
tomorrow holds so close
Destined to be replaced
and painfully short lived
So fades another day
and another
and another
Mark Nelson Sep 2010
Willow herb floating

on silent certainty

ashes of sighs


not fleeting,

unvapoured on the

blossom of the rain,

I am too light to

pull or push

the swing of delight

through this land.




The rain left me for a

while

sun unshielding

-a thousand widows

more unyielding than the depths . .

Once shadowed whisperers

of delight,gossamer

sparkling , descending

their chains

of necromantic hope.





Lilith is no night owl

she is mother, eve

and my becoming:

sweet earth spun

at once ,

exhaling her .





The see saw

bumped gently

on my chin

it is a most gentle

form of awakening.




The silence bore no whispers

till sinking through the quicksand

-or was it quicksilver?

-in any case I could smell little

in my amniotic amnesia.

I made ten thousand friends,till their soap

made this place clean.



Is this a seed or a dying

hopefulness

-is my sallow sowing

beyond all shores of

reproduction;

a reflection of the child

they dared not bear?



Is my last breath like this

a forgotton yielding

will they catch me

as I fall ?

-(sweet earth)-



This moth of my ending,

a shallow recantation,

my fears-

their memories, mere

testubes of

stylish hope .





I breathe the elegant stare

you have forgotten .

Once more free

from such

rememberance






I need not ,

remained not ,

your imploded ,

wakefulness .





A thousand pardons

exhaled like silk

entwining

an unfinished race

spider of a thousand eyes .



One may say

I was

stared

to death

but surrogate air

mocks childish pity.



Taut refelexions

bear salt echoes

in silk convulsions

fresh water

a veneered hope .



Easier in death than life

is a child's sorrowed

partings ,

the illusion of

bouyancy

rippled tides

unfelt.



The oceans have not enough salt

for such shrunken sorrow.

if we could but once

have shared

unbreathed aspersion .



The room has come and gone

the pillow quite undry

unforgotten

unremembered.

A web untouched
2003. Tribute to Christina Lothian english teacher ,ended her life in the river Ayr ,in the embrace of another woman .They jumped together.I found out 30 years too late.
VENUS62 Jun 2014
Your embrace perfunctory

A trace of our history

Hesitations in your voice

Speak of your choice

Demurring eyelashes aver

It is all over- Forever.

Excuses new you innovate
Towards the door your gravitate

My eyes plead and placate
As my heart you vacate
Vanessa Corinne Jul 2013
The cracks in the side-walk at the end of the road
We've walked for many years, lost our way back home

I wonder, as this ride comes to an end
It was fun while it lasted, but we know it’s all pretend

I’ll walk away with a smile to the world
The memories disappear, as we close and lock the door

Nothing lasts forever, everybody fades
Sand through the hourglass as life slips away

When you leave me, I'll bury you and all inside
Petrified forever in memory still alive

As the days bleed together since you said goodbye
Maybe we'll live forever, in another life...
Onoma Feb 2017
Arrayed in partings,
your hands
slicked with ****** oil--
themed their folding
upon the plane of a table.
Recovering from your sides.
Nirmalee Mar 2013
Life is a colourful pageant,
Where various people come and go.
But only few of them are to stay in our hearts
While the rest only a part of the show.

The few, which in our hearts reign,
Wonderful moments we share with them,
And when the ruthless time tears up apart,
It's hard to bear the pain in the heart.

We're left with only a few colourful memories,
Which make a tear roll down the cheek,
Alas! naive you are when you hide the tear,
'cause you're heart is still as weak!

It's worthless trying to expunge the memories,
Which are indelibly graven in our hearts,
Yet you have to gather yourself and enjoy the show,
As there are many more to come --today and tomorrow.
Tara Emad Sep 2012
A gloomy day is upon us when the leaves fall,

glistening under the sun as they slowly make their way to ground

Like the wave of a hand, flopping inward and out,

as it motions goodbye.

When the sun is setting and bleeds into the sky

with the oils of a canvas of war

****** red, sinking into the horizon,

gradually burying itself into Earth.

And when the birds decide to leave us in winter,

heading North, like an arrow below the clouds,

signalling to our safety, but we stay nestled around;

we cannot fly.

When the stream’s path has been broken,

and gravity summons the waters to the deadest of ends,

a puddle of joy is formed,

for us to bathe away our sins.

When stars shimmer in the darkest of night

false wishes, like false hopes,

but we look at them and smile.

We marvel at this beauty,

because we wish our partings were as breath-taking.

We wish our tears didn’t look so ugly,

and our hearts wouldn’t ache

and our breaths weren’t so shallow,

as we realize it is time to say farewell.

In nature, everything comes back,

The sun rises again, the leaves grow,

and the birds return to their land,

stars are reborn even waters feed our plants.

But we, we stay just where we are,

and learn to redirect our melancholy,

our energy,

to nature…

Underground.
s Jun 2017
My sixth glass of water,
waiting for a full bladder;

Pills prescribed in piles
of multiple blue files.

Neatly pleated hair
with things to declare
about somebody's religion
or marital affair -
red stained partings
and black & gold chains
with symbols of pious belief
 -  so proud, so vain.

A weighing machine,
and a ticking clock;
Footsteps - squeaky clean;
and beige tiled blocks

'You're up next', and
I'm ushered into that cabin of hers
which smells of chemistry labs
and the former patient's nerves.

I'm suddenly too aware
of the low ceiling above,
that completes the misery
Of this clinic, so unloved.

Isn't this is where you
typically celebrate  
the evidence of your love,
your will to pro create ?
The fruits of your bonds,
and all those monogamous wants.

What an irony -
the waiting room -
filled with stories
of impending doom

or merciful glory.
Viromnibus Aug 2014
The karvings of this awe-full fantasy amplifies,
the throbbing of my freezing heart.
The shapelessness of the kloud whispers,
wonderful mysteries in inaudible murmurs.

The blue-orange painted kanvas above.
The silhouette of the mountains that hide,
behind the undaunted smokes that forms.
The opening that the heavens made,  
to show the earth its dazzling threshold.
Gradually.
Sensationally.
Approaching the land with unfathomable ardor.

Devout of the seamless tenuous night,
Gangas klangs echoes through the cold.
Lumps of land deprive the moment of silence,
as the people sing to the gods with reverence.

Heareth me, O goddess of the krops!
O god o'er all the mountains come see;
How gracefully she stood before me.
While the pyre gives emphasis to her figure.

Kurves of the kreseant resembles her smile;
edges of her lips sink.
Beautiful exkavation mark on her left cheek,

all in perfekt symmetry; perfektion in all she is.

"Saya Suka Awak" I told her.
that very moment:
Sparkling of the stars devoured our eyes.
Sweetest morose partings seeped in voiceless lullabies;
in unison with symphonic notes lulling unsaid goodbyes.
Through the last movement of vagueness the moment subsides.

For the love that profess fades,
with the chilly thin air it travels;
back to the heart of the other.
Oceans apart they were,
yet atop the mountains. . .
love blossomed.
This poem was made during my stay at Bauko, Mt. Province, Philippines for the first ever SEED Program Philippines hosted by San Beda College. I was lucky enough to be one of the nationa delegates for the event. There I was able to meet people from other ASEAN countries and of course the local folks of the place. In that event I saw too many yet wrote so less; perhaps because I was so busy. But, I was able to write this.. Inspired by the panoramic mountain view, chilly weather and someone from the delegates, this poem was born. #SEEDProgram2014 #SayaSukaAwak. <3 ^_^
Sean Fitzpatrick May 2014
Wise men in their bad hours have envied
The little people making merry like grasshoppers
In spots of sunlight, hardly thinking
Backward but never forward, and if they somehow
Take hold upon the future they do it
Half asleep, with the tools of generation
Foolishly reduplicating
Folly in thirty-year periods; the eat and laugh too,
Groan against labors, wars and partings,
Dance, talk, dress and undress; wise men have pretended
The summer insects enviable;
One must indulge the wise in moments of mockery.
Strength and desire possess the future,
The breed of the grasshopper shrills, "What does the future
Matter, we shall be dead?" Ah, grasshoppers,
Death's a fierce meadowlark: but to die having made
Something more equal to the centuries
Than muscle and bone, is mostly to shed weakness.
The mountains are dead stone, the people
Admire or hate their stature, their insolent quietness,
The mountains are not softened nor troubled
And a few dead men's thoughts have the same temper.
By Robinson Jeffers, not by me :)
The man seems heavy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robinson_Jeffers
Prabhu Iyer May 2013
Dust gathers everywhere.
Only a swab on the windscreen is clear
on my dust-laden car.

Too tight to wear,
the ring
vibrates vigorously on the washing machine.
The cycle is ending. Intensity waxing.

A song of the solitary koel
serenades a reverie.

I open the screen from inside.
You, the windows from the outside.
Glances exchanged from either side.

It is the time of the late flower.
A drop, even a drop of hot water,
the skin craves for a touch.
In partings, a beginning.

In still winds, all the leaves silent.
Peace comes visiting, a migratory bird
and sits sagely by the bare stalks,
in a hurry to reach
far off lands beyond the seas.

You only get a moment: a moment
when the world freezes.
A mid-summer reverie...!
annh Dec 2018
Morning is not my time of day,
That's when concepts float away,
Across the garden, down the lane,
Through the gate at Hester Payne's.

Teacher's pet and top pass,
Hester sits eyes front in class,
With rubbers straight and pencils sharp,
A clean page ready to start.

I, of course, am running late,
Hair a-fly, face scrubbed in haste.
Chasing my thoughts, I see them now,
Bouncing ahead: ’Where? Why? How?’

Miss Armitage says I can do better,
Just follow her lead to the letter.
She raps twice: ’Attention, please!’
We all fall quiet - three sniffs, one sneeze.

’Now settle down, it's time to count.’
Braids and partings turn around
To face the board and I'm up first.
Chalk in hand, could things get worse?

In front of Danny, in front of Sue,
In front of Seamus. And you know who?
Three plus three, then five times six,
Square root of nine, just take your pick.

Six and...thirty...three, I'm sure.
Or was that seven? Maybe four.
My mouth goes dry, I stare and blink.
Lord knows, I find it hard to think.

Up the corridor, down the stairs,
Right then left, my thoughts in pairs,
Sift and swirl and giddy about.
’Behave yourself, now cut that out!’

’Come back here, where you belong.
Don't wonder off! Don't make me wrong!’

I scratch my answers, the class is aghast,
It seems I've something right at last.

Hester sighs, as glum as can be,
For today...this morning...for everyone to see,
My thoughts have stuck with me.
Children's verse.
Mallow Sep 2015
We conquer foul play caused by past discrepancies
Somewhere along the chart, hearts sink into the sand
Scars caused by burned skin never change their shape
Even when nursed back to health, they still hold the same print.
The pleasure that you speak of is too far in the distance,
All moves are read with a cautious eye
Feelings cannot be talked off the overhanging ledge
The fire of pain cannot be put out inside.

Roads do not just lay out paths before us,
They form partings of what was once a unified land.
Promised deliveries are only distractions
So the forbidden can again be secretly admired.
Why does the bond have to be evolved?
Why does it have to mean coexist as the separate?
We all live lives so solitary and curious
Where there is always a bit left on the side.

Hopeless and heartless is what we are left with
The more we go on the less we can hold onto in pride.
Call the delivery man for food, love and friendship
When we are done we tell him to go on and drive.
All feels like an existence in a video game
Where all the lights are made to be blinding
Same pages may exist but
How they are read is never beloved again.
RSV Mar 2014
Laughter, giggles, smiles.
Tears, heartbreaks, pains.
Success, failures, mistakes.
Loves, bodies, unions, partings.
Births, deaths.
Life keeps moving on,
even when we don't.
Time ceases, moments stop...life goes on.
Life got to do, what it got to do!
Jack Nov 2014
~

“Snowflakes gather in crystalline drfitings”

Lifting your hair, kissing the nape of your neck
Warm flesh waits on tippy toe desires
Lips brush skin, lower beyond silver chain clasp
Sighs slip past moon shadow echoes

“Frost bitten warnings fuel whistling winds”

Candlelight flickers in illumined frenzy
Strong hands caress velvet curves, moving
Satin ******* excite at the touch, firming
Mouths meet across milky shoulders

“Chilly coatings mingle, drafty windows squeal”

Reaching behind delicate fingers guide, slowly
Passion emanates from quivered partings
Honey drippings moisten, sticky, sweet
Whispered moans tantalize, moments ignite

“Wind chimes sing frantically behind icicle curtains”

Down pillow yearnings, grasped, held
Eyes look back, smiles meet motions
Held closer, breathless exhales on dreams exposed
Deeper finds the pristine moment

“Algid gusts wail through frigid echoed alleyways”

My name, loudly called, enchanted nirvana
Faster still, bodies in charged friction
Two become one, senses explode, flooding oasis
Eruptions quake bodies in perspired heap

“Arctic blast pierces sweltering pleasures”

Ecstasy sings in midnight harmonies
Melodic as the polar pulsations beyond
Numbed in devotion’s destinations
Wondrous snowy white blankets chill the world

*“As our love provides winter’s perfect heat”
Hey, it is cold...just trying to stay warm.  :)
shhh Jul 2015
there they go.
my heart swells,
all so very sour,
as if my wings were cut off,
as if a fish out of water,
if anything else were to sing of this feelings,
it would be this hole in my chest,
and the urge to cry.
partings are so bittersweet.
i wish i could say good bye till it be morrow,
in hopes that i would see you again tomorrow.
Satra-Sia Jul 2018
I sit with my afro, tall and round like the trees
I sit with my afro between my mother's knees
And I cry.
She thinks it's because she pulled my hair
I let her feel guilty but really that's not fair
Because it's you.
So as my mother glides the comb through my onyx curls
Your web of lies begins to unfurl
And all at once you were my world
But now you're nothing.
My mother's hands twist my hair into braids
Partings in more ways than one have been made
Memories like my brother's fade
But not for you.
Yours are stronger than my mother's hands
Yet as soft as my Indian strands
And how I wish I could get the clippers and shave
my head and watch my memories of you fall away
But I can't.

So as my mother braids my hair down my back
I remember you and try to forget the fact
That you ran your hands through this Raven hair
Shielded my now tear streaked face from the frozen air
Forget that you loved the coarse strands
As much as the Indian; soft in your hands
So I lock away these memories with each braid
And try to prove to myself that I'm more afraid
Of losing my afro than losing you.


I tell myself that it's my mother pulling that makes me cry
But you and I,
Know that's not true.
Connor Oct 2016
I (fabrication)

Arthur Quincy folds his arms together
Sensing that interfering desire again!

Cant shake this fugue
Or forget the bad stuff he used to take/
Its a lingering presence/

The residual ash in his eyes blinking coffins & dazzling premonitions to the other smalltown poets writing in
Their kitchens to the sound of
Wheatgrass dancing outside in June and
A vacuum's warm considerate hum
From upstairs.

Post office on strike and
Cars being made with straw MAN he thinks
What happened here???
The day crossed out with faulty watches
And parkbench *** fantasies
& the crude laughing regular here
Sipping his tea
Wondering if he'll ever be as much a hit with the ladies as he was in the 1970s

Former beggarman Quincy lays himself out in an empty parking lot feeling invulnerable to the snow

As it collects over his shirt he whistles a happy tune from a date he went on before

The great sourness shelled him out of
Social fulfillment.

Now he keeps to himself
Making stories out of his bedroom and
Crying
crying for
His first love &
The laundry place shut down now wheres he gonna go/

Old Quincy used to smoke expensive tobacco but has since decided to save it for whenever he remarries. Or a brilliant morning where the neighbor sleeps in so he can sleep in too.

The view from his window is a continous rotation of wet crows who peer in and for a brief moment see the man's hands to his head making sure his hair hasn't fallen off yet..
House walls heavy with age
expose themselves occasionally
With an after image of past inhabitors,
The essence of their dry lips
Or olive cotton sweaters hanging from a rocking chair,
The enthusiasm of a corner lamp
Unappreciated by all
Past and present.

II (veteran romantic)

Arthur Quincy shelters his mind from strange ideas
Or conspiracy he hasn't "lost it" yet at least!

He has a hobby of painting the active society and
Expresses mood as colorful clouds
Floating out the skull of us to
Blend in an energy pollinating the
Deli and antique shop and yoga studio
V A P O R
to be swallowed by accident and catch the empathic disease of the
Depressed and jubilant simultaneous,
Makes easy living confusing and
Impossible to achieve in an absolute way!
He carries this belief
When interacting with others
Arthur Quincy understands
That balance is key to fulfillment
(so far as his life is concerned)

However, hardly anyone has seem him laugh and so assumes he doesn't have the ability to.
In reality he saves his joy and holds it to lift his lungs from despairing all day long to be released
Late afternoon in the comfort of home
As a display of feral bellows and supernatural ecstasy. This seems somewhat overromantic and exaggerated but someone has claimed to have had the rare pleasure of witnessing it!

Arthur calls the same address once a week, an anonymous voice speaks from the line opposite and while mysterious
It is clear he adores this voice. He adores the unacted subtlety and passion in this voice.
He smiles when he hears this voice which is simply enough.

Nearby those naive poets use Arthur as a muse sometimes too directly
Often referencing rumors of his hermetic life
Or retreating into his headspace
Unrealistically blowing his experiences into fable
And turning even his stirless sleep into a fabulous fruitbasket of language.

On the surface he appears forlorn and
Bitter with the winter gradually molding to his skin. Like anyone can tell you he has felt this before! Haven't you? But through all the stories and impossibilities of Arthur he is reserved in his
Knowing of important things. He is reserved in revealing that he not only knows how music sounds but where music comes from. He never reads the newspaper out of habit to feel in-the-know. He never lies about his feelings or his intentions.
Arthur exists in the
Glow of himself
And persists on breathing the glow of the street,
He is a wordless poet and veteran romantic.

III (funeral)

One day Arthur passed away a few weeks from Thanksgiving.
His name put on the paper he never read
And examined by a young girl
Who was only hearing of him now.

"Arthur C. Quincy/ 73/ passed away this Saturday. To be remembered as a quiet and misunderstood man envigored with the lightness only percieved by a rare and special few"

This description came as a surprise to those who knew Quincy as the claustrophic and uninteresting grump
Who's sidewalk idlings were unexplained and strangely hostile.

He saw the sky and its shifting canvas,
He saw the distant cats leaned on balconies impressed with the daytime ambiguity in firestations and libraries.
He would conjur a grin
From the passive conversation between a mother and her son.
He once saw two strangers fall for each other on the bus! A conjoined sun had bloomed between them.

Just a few attended the funeral. Upon inspection of his house following Arthur's death, someone found a will left for Helen Ashbury. A 55 year old woman who lived a three day drive away in Michigan..An identity to his weekly telephone fantasy!
It assumed all of his belongings to her, among them a military grade flashlight with his carved initials, a photograph of his time as a lumberer signed to "Peter! All the best in Costa Rica" and a copy of W.C Williams collected poems. Where folded on page 206 as part of the poem "Orchestra" was highlighted

"I love you. My heart is
innocent.
         And this is the first day of the world!"

Eventually Helen Ashbury received the news of Arthurs passing, as well as these things.
At the sight of the poem she wept,
the man she only knew through a voice after years of correspondence.
Upon being questioned she refused to explain their meeting in the first place. That was a special time, a time which the public would misinterpret or slander with rumor.
While Arthur wasn't widely loved in the town during his life, he was a popular topic from death on. As more information came out! Serving in world war II and his companionship with a parisian ***,
Who shared the wonder of the rooftop and spoke on the value of tea as a food replacement.
He once met a girl there at a dance and in a show electrified with lust they moved to Lucienne Boyer without the knowledge of who would win the war.
He had a son with her, Who resided in France most of his life as Quincy regrettably
Abandoned their situation to
Pursue other things, in his journal he admits his wish to have connected with him more, referring to his leaving as the worst mistake in his life.
All of this masked behind his firm neutrality. His walk lacking suggestion and his wrist without the delicacy of a painter (not that people knew he painted and so didn't pay attention to anything like that)

He was buried by noon. Some say his son was at the funeral. People gave their partings, and Helen wanted so badly to say goodbye to him. Instead left with his curios and his infinite voice.

IV (i'll be around)

The following year at a yard sale Helen came across a series of musty and used records. In the stack of them was a Cab Calloway compilation. Nestled in his desperate wailings and hi-de-** was the track "I'll Be Around" a slow and patient song that Arthur sang to her once. She recalled that night with ease, and felt her shoulders sink at the thought.
The album was $4, on the drive home she watched the trees shake with the wind, their leaves transluscently pale at the angle she was going. She could feel a weight there in her chest. The weight of him, of his heart supposing itself onto hers magnetically. She rolled down the windows and let the wind surround her, blowing her blonde hair back and forcing her to squint a little.

"I love you. My heart is innocent"

she recalled the poem he left for her. Of course not written by him but it felt as deeply personal as if he had.

"-and this is the first day of the world!"

Helen lifted a cigarette out from her purse. The drag extinguishing immediately as it's trail left the car. A bewilderment slowly consumed her.
Prabhu Iyer Oct 2016
So time to and move on and goodbye.
Like the strangers we were
in all the time we sojourn together.

unemotional be
for all it is a wistless life,
aeon in aeon:
meetings and partings

****** be the vogue,
mallet-smash the mirrors
them in the halls of
spirited dreams

barefooted walk  on those shards then
red be they tinged, **** if they do
for there is a pleasure in this pain

always like this, rivers that rise
high up in the hills, swelling in the rain
die dry in the heartless dunes

and a piper sounds out the songs
caravans on horizon
that them streams carried
here into their graves

for deep somewhere
subterranean buried
lies a clothed casket
broken heart, sunken dream

so let us move on. you, on,
and I, to my dance
to each their own.
i kept nothing fresh
that i could let rot on the vine
didnt need divinity
to make water from wine
drank my fill from the cup of life
then lay down to die
where i lay still
waiting for time
Christina O Jul 2018
If I was being honest,
I wouldn’t be here if faith wasn’t real.
All the pain I’ve been through would eat me alive
and tear apart the very part inside of me that make me who I am.
If faith wasn’t real,
tomorrow would never exist
and yesterday would have no meaning.
Counting my days would be useless
and the clock on the wall would be stuck at wherever time it stopped at.
If faith wasn’t real,
I wouldn’t believe in arcs and partings of waters.
The cross would be just another story no one would tell.
But truth is,
faith IS real,
and more importantly His love is real,
and never ending.
PK Wakefield May 2011
deeply so, have ever you thought, on a moment that you thought you knew
it? have you ever thought of
     Summer with her flush
     amber skin just bursting
     almost apricot thick
     colours professing
      out her richly thatched
      mouth in between the
      lips of seraphs
      oceans of wind that
in which a frond is bending, just almost breaking bending, in the
immense touching blood of blades of sand and grains of grass
who slough from brows of aching partings
and sore graftings.

                                                                        in  yourself  think ever you Did
                                                                        the arms of your lover
                                                                 against stiffly you clutched who
                                                                      lean ribs, who in them beats
                                                                      mornings of song little a
                                                                      filled with drifting fuzzy
                                                                 daughters lazy wood's cotton

?
  in summer i went to seattle and down to its neck i drew my hands
and around them i was a sweating magic light full and a blister
of smiling residue; my grin was like a girl put my tongue in her mouth
and she pulled me real close and her bumps rumpled on my bumps
and we were real slow and hot and she was gross and perfect and long
and i remember how she's scalp was like a small black jungle
that my fingers (as her teeth were like little ****** of tingling all over
my scent) marauded around the profusion of her dazzling locks
which mocked the night who was contumelious at how they made love
with,andMurdered, whate'er foolish lance or drape of light was foolish
enough to touch with them. her hair was a serious fierce laughter. and
it filled right me up. right up to my pooling blood foolishly her face
was a goddess and i was a lamb.
Katherine Feb 2012
-
What's to be said of two raindrops who,
in a gust of wind, form together as one-
only to be torn apart by an impending smash on new earth?
To ride the concrete that rejects them
concentrated by gravity
stomped upon by careless feet
who carry heads with no notion of the anguish they cause.
What's to be said of a world faced by an impending smash?
crumbling under each shattered drop,
countless partings of the earth
under each pounding foot,
the roots of earthling ignorance.
A world that's forced to carry endless heads
with no notion of the anguish they cause.
S M Jul 2016
Through partings of dismay
I lead myself to stable
A feeding of my prey
Big-eyed and unable

I trudge a swallow track
To a barren fixture
My mind itself attacks
Its own beleaguered mixture

Night I spend in transit
On familiar paths of woe
And memory demands it
That I shall never grow

Repeatedly I’m tarnished
To a blank and endless room
And my skin is taught and varnished
By the silent aching moon
Misnomer Nov 2011
Spear my years with a nail or two
to disintegrate the partings of rust,
and with honey foretelling lacking short age,
creates a fine wealth to adjust.

The confinements of rails
seek some sort of wayward point,
breading, kneeding,
in absence of hunching mirth.

So when the 2's and 3's
speed up to fine 6's and 7's;
remind me. Remind me to
seed kind water and properly place them.
tried a bit with rhythm, but the middle/end does not sound quite like the first.
Jude kyrie Oct 2016
Waltz me forever

Waltz me through life
For now and hereafter
With glitterball  lights in your eyes
Waltz me through children
With joy and with laughter
Though love and million soft sighs

Waltz me through  sadness
and the joy that comes after.
With your kiss as my golden prize.
Waltz me through the partings
With the joy of returning
To see the sweet love in your eyes.

When I am old and I'm faded
And so tired and jaded
And the clouds are all heavy with rain.
Take my hand and dance with me.
And Waltz me again and again.
Just for you my love
Keep us waltzing
All my heart
For You
Jude
Afeli Mar 2018
Tch
He scrunches up his face;
A bravura of sheer irksomeness.
Fruitless tries of wild fathom.

His act halts his face facing mine;
dawning of endless gaze.
After a splendid array of irritability all that his partings exit is a set sound of,
Tch.
And I smile at the utter cuteness of the act.
He never fails to make me smile be it in any way... Even such as this, even though he doesnt realize that that the sound of Tch he makes, makes me smile.
James Sebastian Aug 2014
There is an infinity
between the walls of this room
there is an ephemeral affinity
between midnight and noon
and the curtains at last
would bring rise to an absence
while the ceiling has seen
all our natural afflictions
derisions, incisions left lasting
from storms and from partings
given thoughts it would form
the most honest predictions
there is an infinity
between our vacant caresses
that exist yet only
when my mind digresses
Michael R Burch Apr 2020
What Works
by Michael R. Burch

for David Gosselin

What works—
hewn stone;
the blush the iris shows the sun;
the lilac’s pale-remembered bloom.

The frenzied fly: mad-lively, gay,
as seconds tick his time away,
his sentence—one brief day in May,
a period. And then decay.

A frenzied rhyme’s mad tip-toed time,
a ballad’s languid as the sea,
seek, striving—immortality.

When gloss peels off, what works will shine.
When polish fades, what works will gleam.
When intellectual prattle pales,
the dying buzzing in the hive
of tedious incessant bees,
what works will soar and wheel and dive
and milk all honey, leap and thrive,

and teach the pallid poem to seethe.



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 ...
We loved and life we left alone and deftly was it done;
we sang our song all summer long beneath the sultry sun.

I wrote this poem as a boy, after seeing an ad for the movie "Summer of ’42," which starred the lovely Jennifer O’Neill and a young male actor who might have been my nebbish twin. I didn’t see the R-rated movie at the time: too young, according to my parents! But something about the ad touched me; even thinking about it today makes me feel sad and a bit out of sorts. The movie came out in 1971, so the poem was probably written around 1971-1972. In any case, the poem was published in my high school literary journal, The Lantern, in 1976. The poem is “rhyme rich” with eleven rhymes in the first four lines: well, farewell, tell, bells, within, din, in, say, today, had, bad. The last two lines appear in brackets because they were part of the original poem but I later chose to publish just the first six lines. I didn’t see the full movie until 2001, around age 43, after which I addressed two poems to my twin, Hermie …



Listen, Hermie
by Michael R. Burch

Listen, Hermie . . .
you can hear the strangled roar
of water inundating that lost shore . . .

and you can see how white she shone

that distant night, before
you blinked
and she was gone . . .

But is she ever really gone from you . . . or are
her lips the sweeter since you kissed them once:
her waist wasp-thin beneath your hands always,
her stockinged shoeless feet for that one dance
still whispering their rustling nylon trope
of―“Love me. Love me. Love me. Give me hope
that love exists beyond these dunes, these stars.”

How white her prim brassiere, her waist-high briefs;
how lustrous her white slip. And as you danced―
how white her eyes, her skin, her eager teeth.
She reached, but not for *** . . . for more . . . for you . . .
You cannot quite explain, but what is true
is true despite our fumblings in the dark.

Hold tight. Hold tight. The years that fall away
still make us what we are. If love exists,
we find it in ourselves, grown wan and gray,
within a weathered hand, a wrinkled cheek.

She cannot touch you now, but I would reach
across the years to touch that chord in you
which still reverberates, and play it true.



Tell me, Hermie
by  Michael R. Burch

Tell me, Hermie ― when you saw
her white brassiere crash to the floor
as she stepped from her waist-high briefs
into your arms, and mutual griefs ―
did you feel such fathomless awe
as mystics do, in artists’ reliefs?

How is it that dark night remains
forever with us ― present still ―
despite her absence and the pains
of dreams relived without the thrill
of any ecstasy but this ―
one brief, eternal, transient kiss?

She was an angel; you helped us see
the beauty of love’s iniquity.



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.

Published by Romantics Quarterly, Poetica Victorian, Nutty Stories (South Africa)



I Pray Tonight
by Michael R. Burch

I pray tonight
the starry light
might
surround you.

I pray
each day
that, come what may,
no dark thing confound you.

I pray ere tomorrow
an end to your sorrow.
May angels’ white chorales
sing, and astound you.



A Possible Argument for Mercy
by Michael R. Burch

Did heaven ever seem so far?
Remember-we are as You were,
but all our lives, from birth to death―
Gethsemane in every breath.



Gethsemane in Every Breath
by Michael R. Burch

LORD, we have lost our way, and now
we have mislaid love―earth's fairest rose.
We forgot hope's song―the way it goes.
Help us reclaim their gifts, somehow.

LORD, we have wondered long and far
in search of Bethlehem's retrograde star.
Now in night's dead cold grasp, we gasp:
our lives one long-drawn rattling rasp

of misspent breath... before we drown.
LORD, help us through this spiral down
because we faint, and do not see
above or beyond despair's trajectory.

Remember that You, too, once held
imperiled life within your hands
as hope withdrew... that where You knelt
―a stranger in a stranger land―

the chalice glinted cold afar
and red with blood as hellfire.
Did heaven ever seem so far?
Remember―we are as You were,

but all our lives, from birth to death―
Gethsemane in every breath.



Just Smile
by Michael R. Burch

We’d like to think some angel smiling down
will watch him as his arm bleeds in the yard,
ripped off by dogs, will guide his tipsy steps,
his doddering progress through the scarlet house
to tell his mommy "boo-boo!," only two.

We’d like to think his reconstructed face
will be as good as new, will often smile,
that baseball’s just as fun with just one arm,
that God is always Just, that girls will smile,
not frown down at his thousand livid scars,
that Life is always Just, that Love is Just.

We do not want to hear that he will shave
at six, to raze the leg hairs from his cheeks,
that lips aren’t easily fashioned, that his smile’s
lopsided, oafish, snaggle-toothed, that each
new operation costs a billion tears,
when tears are out of fashion.
O, beseech
some poet with more skill with words than tears
to find some happy ending, to believe
that God is Just, that Love is Just, that these
are Parables we live, Life’s Mysteries ...

Or look inside his courage, as he ties
his shoelaces one-handed, as he throws
no-hitters on the first-place team, and goes
on dates, looks in the mirror undeceived
and smiling says, "It’s me I see. Just me."

He smiles, if life is Just, or lacking cures.
Your pity is the worst cut he endures.

Originally published by Lucid Rhythms



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.



Gallant Knight
by Michael R. Burch

for Alfred Dorn and Anita Dorn

Till you rest with your beautiful Anita,
rouse yourself, Poet; rouse and write.
The world is not ready for your departure,
Gallant Knight.

Teach us to sing in the ringing cathedrals
of your Verse, as you outduel the Night.
Give us new eyes to see Love's bright Vision
robed in Light.

Teach us to pray, that the true Word may conquer,
that the slaves may be freed, the blind have Sight.
Write the word LOVE with a burning finger.
I shall recite.

O, bless us again with your chivalrous pen,
Gallant Knight!

It was my honor to have been able to publish the poetry of Dr. Alfred Dorn and his wife Anita Dorn.



To Have Loved
by Michael R. Burch

"The face that launched a thousand ships ..."

Helen, bright accompaniment,
accouterment of war as sure as all
the polished swords of princes groomed to lie
in mausoleums all eternity ...

The price of love is not so high
as never to have loved once in the dark
beyond foreseeing. Now, as dawn gleams pale
upon small wind-fanned waves, amid white sails, ...

now all that war entails becomes as small,
as though receding. Paris in your arms
was never yours, nor were you his at all.
And should gods call

in numberless strange voices, should you hear,
still what would be the difference? Men must die
to be remembered. Fame, the shrillest cry,
leaves all the world dismembered.

Hold him, lie,
tell many pleasant tales of lips and thighs;
enthrall him with your sweetness, till the pall
and ash lie cold upon him.

Is this all? You saw fear in his eyes, and now they dim
with fear’s remembrance. Love, the fiercest cry,
becomes gasped sighs in his once-gallant hymn
of dreamed “salvation.” Still, you do not care

because you have this moment, and no man
can touch you as he can ... and when he’s gone
there will be other men to look upon
your beauty, and have done.

Smile―woebegone, pale, haggard. Will the tales
paint this―your final portrait? Can the stars
find any strange alignments, Zodiacs,
to spell, or unspell, what held beauty lacks?

Published by The Raintown Review, Triplopia, The Electic Muse, The Chained Muse, and The Pennsylvania Review



Fahr an' Ice
(Apologies to Robert Frost and Ogden Nash)
by Michael R. Burch

From what I know of death, I'll side with those
who'd like to have a say in how it goes:
just make mine cool, cool rocks (twice drowned in likker),
and real fahr off, instead of quicker.

Originally published by Light Quarterly



Ordinary Love
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

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

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

Winner of the 2001 Algernon Charles Swinburne poetry contest; published by The Lyric, Romantics Quarterly, Mandrake Poetry Review, Carnelian, and Famous Poets and Poems



The Locker
by Michael R. Burch

All the dull hollow clamor has died
and what was contained,
removed,

reproved
adulation or sentiment,
left with the pungent darkness

as remembered as the sudden light.

Originally published by The Raintown Review



Tremble
by Michael R. Burch

Her predatory eye,
the single feral iris,
scans.

Her raptor beak,
all jagged sharp-edged ******,
juts.

Her hard talon,
clenched in pinched expectation,
waits.

Her clipped wings,
preened against reality,
tremble.

Published by The Lyric, Verses Magazine, Romantics Quarterly, Journeys, The Raintown Review, MahMag (Iran), The Eclectic Muse (Canada)



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

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

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

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



Shrill Gulls and Other Skeptics
by Michael R. Burch

for Richard Moore

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

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

3.
Disgruntledly you ***** dirt shores for orts
you pull like mucous ropes
from shells’ bright forts...
You eye the teeming world
with nervous darts―
this way and that...
Contentious, shrewd, you scan―
the sky, in hope,
the earth, distrusting man.

Originally published by Able Muse



Caveat Spender
by Michael R. Burch

It’s better not to speculate
"continually" on who is great.
Though relentless awe’s
a Célèbre Cause,
please reserve some time for the contemplation
of the perils of EXAGGERATION.



At Wilfred Owen’s Grave
by Michael R. Burch

A week before the Armistice, you died.
They did not keep your heart like Livingstone’s,
then plant your bones near Shakespeare’s. So you lie
between two privates, sacrificed like Christ
to politics, your poetry unknown
except for that brief flurry’s: thirteen months
with Gaukroger beside you in the trench,
dismembered, as you babbled, as the stench
of gangrene filled your nostrils, till you clenched
your broken heart together and the fist
began to pulse with life, so close to death.
Or was it at Craiglockhart, in the care
of “ergotherapists” that you sensed life
is only in the work, and made despair
a thing that Yeats despised, but also breath,
a mouthful’s merest air, inspired less
than wrested from you, and which we confess
we only vaguely breathe: the troubled air
that even Sassoon failed to share, because
a man in pieces is not healed by gauze,
and breath’s transparent, unless we believe
the words are true despite their lack of weight
and float to us like chlorine—scalding eyes,
and lungs, and hearts. Your words revealed the fate
of boys who retched up life here, gagged on lies.



Safe Harbor
by Michael R. Burch

for Kevin N. Roberts

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

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

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

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

Published by The Lyric, Romantics Quarterly and Angle



The Harvest of Roses
by Michael R. Burch

for Harvey Stanbrough

I have not come for the harvest of roses—
the poets' mad visions,
their railing at rhyme...
for I have discerned what their writing discloses:
weak words wanting meaning,
beat torsioning time.

Nor have I come for the reaping of gossamer—
images weak,
too forced not to fail;
gathered by poets who worship their luster,
they shimmer, impendent,
resplendently pale.

Originally published by The Raintown Review when Harvey Stanbrough was the editor



The Pain of Love
by Michael R. Burch

for T.M.

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

the train steaming from the station
whistling abnegation;

each interstate’s bleak white bar
that vanishes under your car;

every hour and flower and friend
that cannot be saved in the end;

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

Note: The title “The Pain of Love” was suggested by an interview with Little Richard, then eighty years old, in Rolling Stone. He said that someone should create a song called “The Pain of Love.” I have always found the departure platforms of railway stations and the vanishing broken white bars of highway dividing lines depressing.



Lean Harvests
by Michael R. Burch

for T.M.

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

Published by The Rotary Dial and Angle



The Heimlich Limerick
by Michael R. Burch

for T. M.

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



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

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

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

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



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).



Snapshots
by Michael R. Burch

Here I scrawl extravagant rainbows.
And there you go, skipping your way to school.
And here we are, drifting apart
like untethered balloons.

Here I am, creating "art,"
chanting in shadows,
pale as the crinoline moon,
ignoring your face.

There you go,
in diaphanous lace,
making another man’s heart swoon.

Suddenly, unthinkably, here he is,
taking my place.

Published by Tucumcari Literary Review, Romantics Quarterly, Centrifugal Eye, and The Eclectic Muse



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.

Originally published by The HyperTexts



Step Into Starlight
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

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

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

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

Originally published by The Lyric



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 airy 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; I believe I was around 16 when I wrote it.



****** Analysis
by Michael R. Burch

This is not what I need . . .
analysis,
paralysis,
as though I were a seed
to be planted,
supported
with a stick and some string
until I emerge.
Your words
are not water. I need something
more nourishing,
like cherishing,
something essential, like love
so that when I climb
out of the lime
and the mulch. When I shove
myself up
from the muck . . .
we can ****.



The One and Only
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth

If anyone ever loved me,
It was you.

If anyone ever cared
beyond mere things declared;
if anyone ever knew ...
My darling, it was you.

If anyone ever touched
my beating heart as it flew,
it was you,
and only you.



Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller

#2 - Love Poetry

She says an epigram’s too terse
to reveal her tender heart in verse ...
but really, darling, ain’t the thrill
of a kiss much shorter still?
―from “Xenia” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

#5 - Criticism

Why don’t I openly criticize the man? Because he’s a friend;
thus I reproach him in silence, as I do my own heart.
―from “Xenia” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

#11 - Holiness

What is holiest? This heart-felt love
binding spirits together, now and forever.
―from “Xenia” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

#12 - Love versus Desire

You love what you have, and desire what you lack
because a rich nature expands, while a poor one retracts.
―from “Xenia” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

#19 - Nymph and Satyr

As shy as the trembling doe your horn frightens from the woods,
she flees the huntsman, fainting, uncertain of love.
―from “Xenia” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

#20 - Desire

What stirs the ******’s heaving ******* to sighs?
What causes your bold gaze to brim with tears?
―from “Xenia” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

#23 - The Apex I

Everywhere women yield to men, but only at the apex
do the manliest men surrender to femininity.
―from “Xenia” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

#24 - The Apex II

What do we mean by the highest? The crystalline clarity of triumph
as it shines from the brow of a woman, from the brow of a goddess.
―from “Xenia” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

#25 -Human Life

Young sailors brave the sea beneath ten thousand sails
while old men drift ashore on any bark that avails.
―from “Xenia” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

#35 - Dead Ahead

What’s the hardest thing of all to do?
To see clearly with your own eyes what’s ahead of you.
―from “Xenia” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

#36 - Unexpected Consequence

Friends, before you utter the deepest, starkest truth, please pause,
because straight away people will blame you for its cause.
―from “Xenia” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

#41 - Earth vs. Heaven

By doing good, you nurture humanity;
but by creating beauty, you scatter the seeds of divinity.
―from “Xenia” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



The Poet
by Michael R. Burch

He walks to the sink,
takes out his teeth,
rubs his gums.
He tries not to think.

In the mirror, on the mantle,
Time—the silver measure—
does not stare or blink,
but in a wrinkle flutters,
in a hand upon the brink
of a second, hovers.

Through a mousehole,
something scuttles
on restless incessant feet.
There is no link

between life and death
or from a fading past
to a more tenuous present
that a word uncovers
in the great wink.

The white foam lathers
at his thin pink
stretched neck
like a tightening noose.
He tries not to think.



These are poems I wrote in my early teens on the themes of play, playing, playmates, vacations, etc.

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 longish poem I remember writing; I believe I was around 13 or 14 at the time.



Playthings
by Michael R. Burch

a sequel to “Playmates”

There was a time, as though a long-forgotten dream remembered,
when you and I were playmates and the days were long;
then we were pirates stealing plaits of daisies
from trembling maidens fearing men so strong . . .

Our world was like an unplucked Rose unfolding,
and you and I were busy, then, as bees;
the nectar that we drank, it made us giddy;
each petal within reach seemed ours to seize . . .

But you were more the doer, I the dreamer,
so I wrote poems and dreamed a noble cause;
while you were linking logs, I met old Merlin
and took a dizzy ride to faery Oz . . .

But then you put aside all "silly" playthings;
with sunburned hands you built, from bricks and stone,
tall buildings, then a life, and then you married.
Now my fantasies, again, are all my own.

I believe “Playthings” was written in my late teens, around 1977. According to my notes, I revised the poem in 1991, then again in 2020 and 2021.



hey pete
by Michael R. Burch

for Pete Rose

hey pete,
it's baseball season
and the sun ascends the sky,
encouraging a schoolboy's dreams
of winter whizzing by;
go out, go out and catch it,
put it in a jar,
set it on a shelf
and then you'll be a Superstar.

This is another of my boyhood poems about play and playing. When I was a boy, Pete Rose was my favorite baseball player; this poem is not a slam at him, but rather an ironic jab at the term "superstar."



Have I been too long at the fair?
by Michael R. Burch

Have I been too long at the fair?
The summer has faded,
the leaves have turned brown;
the Ferris wheel teeters ...
not up, yet not down.
Have I been too long at the fair?

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



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. But I wrote the poem much later in life: around 50 years later, in 2020.



Of course the ultimate form of play is love ...



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 little dream-poem appeared in my high school literary journal, the Lantern, so I was no older than 18 when I wrote it, probably younger. I will guess around age 16.



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 ...

This poem appeared in my high school journal, the Lantern, in 1976. It also appeared in my college literary journal, Homespun, in 1977. I was probably around 14 when I wrote the poem.



Myth
by Michael R. Burch

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.



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.

I believe this poem was written around age 18 as the poem itself says.



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 remember reading the poem and asking myself, "Did I really write that?" I believe I wrote it around age 17 or 18.



Will There Be Starlight
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth

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

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

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

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

If I remember correctly, I wrote the first version of this poem toward the end of my senior year in high school, around age 18, then forgot about it for fifteen years until I met my future wife Beth and she reminded me of the poem’s mysterious enchantress.



Childhood's End
by Michael R. Burch

How well I remember
those fiery Septembers:
dry leaves, dying embers of summers aflame
lay trampled before me
and fluttered, imploring
the bright, dancing rain to descend once again.

Now often I’ve thought on
the meaning of autumn,
how the moons those pale mornings enchanted dark clouds
while robins repeated
gay songs they had heeded
so wisely when winters before they’d flown south.

And still, in remembrance,
I’ve conjured a semblance
of childhood and how the world seemed to me then;
but early this morning,
when, rising and yawning,
my lips brushed your ******* . . . I celebrated its end.

I believe I wrote this poem in my early twenties, no later than 1982, but probably around 1980.



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 ...

This poem has an unusual rhyme scheme, with the last word of each line rhyming with the first word of the next line. The final line is a “closing couplet” in which both words rhyme with the last word of the preceding line. I believe I invented this ***** form and will dub it the "End-First Curtal Sonnet."



Starting from Scratch with Ol’ Scratch
by Michael R. Burch

for the Religious Right

Love, with a small, fatalistic sigh
went to the ovens. Please don’t bother to cry.
You could have saved her, but you were all *******
complaining about the Jews to Reichmeister Grupp.

Scratch that. You were born after World War II.
You had something more important to do:
while the children of the Nakba were perishing in Gaza
with the complicity of your government, you had a noble cause (a
religious tract against homosexual marriage
and various things gods and evangelists disparage.)

Jesus will grok you? Ah, yes, I’m quite sure
that your intentions were good and ineluctably pure.
After all, what the hell does he care about Palestinians?
Certainly, Christians were right about serfs, slaves and Indians.
Scratch that. You’re one of the Devil’s minions.



Orpheus
by Michael R. Burch

for and after William Blake

I.
Many a sun
and many a moon
I walked the earth
and whistled a tune.

I did not whistle
as I worked:
the whistle was my work.
I shirked

nothing I saw
and made a rhyme
to children at play
and hard time.

II.
Among the prisoners
I saw
the leaden manacles
of Law,

the heavy ball and chain,
the quirt.
And yet I whistled
at my work.

III.
Among the children’s
daisy faces
and in the women’s
frowsy laces,

I saw redemption,
and I smiled.
Satanic millers,
unbeguiled,

were swayed by neither girl,
nor child,
nor any God of Love.
Yet mild

I whistled at my work,
and Song
broke out,
ere long.



Duet (II)
by Michael R. Burch

If love is just an impulse meant to bring
two tiny hearts together, skittering
like hamsters from their Quonsets late at night
in search of lust’s productive exercise . . .

If love is the mutation of some gene
made radiant—an accident of bliss
played out by two small actors on a screen
of silver mesh, who never even kiss . . .

If love is evolution, nature’s way
of sorting out its DNA in pairs,
of matching, mating, sculpting flesh’s clay . . .
why does my wrinkled hamster climb his stairs

to set his wheel revolving, then descend
and stagger off . . . to make hers fly again?

Originally published by Bewildering Stories



Rant: The Elite
by Michael R. Burch

When I heard Harold Bloom unsurprisingly say:
Poetry is necessarily difficult. It is our elitist art ...
I felt a small suspicious thrill. After all, sweetheart,
isn’t this who we are? Aren’t we obviously better,
and certainly fairer and taller, than they are?

Though once I found Ezra Pound
perhaps a smidgen too profound,
perhaps a bit over-fond of Benito
and the advantages of fascism
to be taken ad finem, like high tea
with a pure white spot of intellectualism
and an artificial sweetener, calorie-free.

I know! I know! Politics has nothing to do with art
And it tempts us so to be elite, to stand apart ...
but somehow the word just doesn’t ring true,
echoing effetely away—the distance from me to you.

Of course, politics has nothing to do with art,
but sometimes art has everything to do with becoming elite,
with climbing the cultural ladder, with being able to meet
someone more Exalted than you, who can demonstrate how to ****
so that everyone below claims one’s odor is sweet.
You had to be there! We were falling apart
with gratitude! We saw him! We wept at his feet!

Though someone will always be far, far above you, clouding your air,
gazing down at you with a look of wondering despair.



Chinese Poets: English Translations

These are modern English translations of poems by some of the greatest Chinese poets of all time, including Du Fu, Huang O, Li Bai, Li Ching-jau, Li Qingzhao, Po Chu-I, Tzu Yeh, Yau Ywe-Hwa and Xu Zhimo.



Lines from Laolao Ting Pavilion
by Li Bai (701-762)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The spring breeze knows partings are bitter;
The willow twig knows it will never be green again.



A Toast to Uncle Yun
by Li Bai (701-762)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Water reforms, though we slice it with our swords;
Sorrow returns, though we drown it with our wine.

Li Bai (701-762) was a romantic figure who has been called the Lord Byron of Chinese poetry. He and his friend Du Fu (712-770) were the leading poets of the Tang Dynasty era, which has been called the "Golden Age of Chinese poetry." Li Bai is also known as Li Po, Li Pai, Li T’ai-po, and Li T’ai-pai.



Moonlit Night
by Du Fu (712-770)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Alone in your bedchamber
you gaze out at the Fu-Chou moon.

Here, so distant, I think of our children,
too young to understand what keeps me away
or to remember Ch'ang-an ...

A perfumed mist, your hair's damp ringlets!
In the moonlight, your arms' exquisite jade!

Oh, when can we meet again within your bed's drawn curtains,
and let the heat dry our tears?



Moonlit Night
by Du Fu (712-770)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Tonight the Fu-Chou moon
watches your lonely bedroom.

Here, so distant, I think of our children,
too young to understand what keeps me away
or to remember Ch'ang-an ...

By now your hair will be damp from your bath
and fall in perfumed ringlets;
your jade-white arms so exquisite in the moonlight!

Oh, when can we meet again within those drawn curtains,
and let the heat dry our tears?



Lone Wild Goose
by Du Fu (712-770)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The abandoned goose refuses food and drink;
he cries querulously for his companions.

Who feels kinship for that strange wraith
as he vanishes eerily into the heavens?

You watch it as it disappears;
its plaintive calls cut through you.

The indignant crows ignore you both:
the bickering, bantering multitudes.

Du Fu (712-770) is also known as Tu Fu. The first poem is addressed to the poet's wife, who had fled war with their children. Ch'ang-an is an ironic pun because it means "Long-peace."



The Red Cockatoo
by Po Chu-I (772-846)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

A marvelous gift from Annam—
a red cockatoo,
bright as peach blossom,
fluent in men's language.

So they did what they always do
to the erudite and eloquent:
they created a thick-barred cage
and shut it up.

Po Chu-I (772-846) is best known today for his ballads and satirical poems. Po Chu-I believed poetry should be accessible to commoners and is noted for his simple diction and natural style. His name has been rendered various ways in English: Po Chu-I, Po Chü-i, Bo Juyi and Bai Juyi.



The Migrant Songbird
Li Qingzhao aka Li Ching-chao (c. 1084-1155)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The migrant songbird on the nearby yew
brings tears to my eyes with her melodious trills;
this fresh downpour reminds me of similar spills:
another spring gone, and still no word from you ...



The Plum Blossoms
Li Qingzhao aka Li Ching-chao (c. 1084-1155)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

This year with the end of autumn
I find my reflection graying at the edges.
Now evening gales hammer these ledges ...
what shall become of the plum blossoms?

Li Qingzhao was a poet and essayist during the Song dynasty. She is generally considered to be one of the greatest Chinese poets. In English she is known as Li Qingzhao, Li Ching-chao and The Householder of Yi’an.



Star Gauge
Sui Hui (c. 351-394 BC)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

So much lost so far away
on that distant rutted road.

That distant rutted road
wounds me to the heart.

Grief coupled with longing,
so much lost so far away.

Grief coupled with longing
wounds me to the heart.

This house without its master;
the bed curtains shimmer, gossamer veils.

The bed curtains shimmer, gossamer veils,
and you are not here.

Such loneliness! My adorned face
lacks the mirror's clarity.

I see by the mirror's clarity
my Lord is not here. Such loneliness!

Sui Hui, also known as Su Hui and Lady Su, appears to be the first female Chinese poet of note. And her "Star Gauge" or "Sphere Map" may be the most impressive poem written in any language to this day, in terms of complexity. "Star Gauge" has been described as a palindrome or "reversible" poem, but it goes far beyond that. According to contemporary sources, the original poem was shuttle-woven on brocade, in a circle, so that it could be read in multiple directions. Due to its shape the poem is also called Xuanji Tu ("Picture of the Turning Sphere"). The poem is now generally placed in a grid or matrix so that the Chinese characters can be read horizontally, vertically and diagonally. The story behind the poem is that Sui Hui's husband, Dou Tao, the governor of Qinzhou, was exiled to the desert. When leaving his wife, Dou swore to remain faithful. However, after arriving at his new post, he took a concubine. Lady Su then composed a circular poem, wove it into a piece of silk embroidery, and sent it to him. Upon receiving the masterwork, he repented. It has been claimed that there are up to 7,940 ways to read the poem. My translation above is just one of many possible readings of a portion of the poem.



Reflection
Xu Hui (627–650)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Confronting the morning she faces her mirror;
Her makeup done at last, she paces back and forth awhile.
It would take vast mountains of gold to earn one contemptuous smile,
So why would she answer a man's summons?

Due to the similarities in names, it seems possible that Sui Hui and Xu Hui were the same poet, with some of her poems being discovered later, or that poems written later by other poets were attributed to her.



Waves
Zhai Yongming (1955-)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The waves manhandle me like a midwife pounding my back relentlessly,
and so the world abuses my body—
accosting me, bewildering me, according me a certain ecstasy ...



Monologue
Zhai Yongming (1955-)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I am a wild thought, born of the abyss
and—only incidentally—of you. The earth and sky
combine in me—their concubine—they consolidate in my body.

I am an ordinary embryo, encased in pale, watery flesh,
and yet in the sunlight I dazzle and amaze you.

I am the gentlest, the most understanding of women.
Yet I long for winter, the interminable black night, drawn out to my heart's bleakest limit.

When you leave, my pain makes me want to ***** my heart up through my mouth—
to destroy you through love—where's the taboo in that?

The sun rises for the rest of the world, but only for you do I focus the hostile tenderness of my body.
I have my ways.

A chorus of cries rises. The sea screams in my blood but who remembers me?
What is life?

Zhai Yongming is a contemporary Chinese poet, born in Chengdu in 1955. She was one of the instigators and prime movers of the “Black Tornado” of women’s poetry that swept China in 1986-1989. Since then Zhai has been regarded as one of China’s most prominent poets.



Pyre
Guan Daosheng (1262-1319)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

You and I share so much desire:
this love―like a fire—
that ends in a pyre's
charred coffin.



"Married Love" or "You and I" or "The Song of You and Me"
Guan Daosheng (1262-1319)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

You and I shared a love that burned like fire:
two lumps of clay in the shape of Desire
molded into twin figures. We two.
Me and you.

In life we slept beneath a single quilt,
so in death, why any guilt?
Let the skeptics keep scoffing:
it's best to share a single coffin.

Guan Daosheng (1262-1319) is also known as Kuan Tao-Sheng, Guan Zhongji and Lady Zhongji. A famous poet of the early Yuan dynasty, she has also been called "the most famous female painter and calligrapher in the Chinese history ... remembered not only as a talented woman, but also as a prominent figure in the history of bamboo painting." She is best known today for her images of nature and her tendency to inscribe short poems on her paintings.



Tzu Yeh (circa 400 BC)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I heard my love was going to Yang-chou
So I accompanied him as far as Ch'u-shan.
For just a moment as he held me in his arms
I thought the swirling river ceased flowing and time stood still.



Tzu Yeh (circa 400 BC)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Will I ever hike up my dress for you again?
Will my pillow ever caress your arresting face?



Tzu Yeh (circa 400 BC)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Night descends ...
I let my silken hair spill down my shoulders as I part my thighs over my lover.
Tell me, is there any part of me not worthy of being loved?



Tzu Yeh (circa 400 BC)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I will wear my robe loose, not bothering with a belt;
I will stand with my unpainted face at the reckless window;
If my petticoat insists on fluttering about, shamelessly,
I'll blame it on the unruly wind!



Tzu Yeh (circa 400 BC)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

When he returns to my embrace,
I’ll make him feel what no one has ever felt before:
Me absorbing him like water
Poured into a wet clay jar.



Tzu Yeh (circa 400 BC)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Bare branches tremble in a sudden breeze.
Night deepens.
My lover loves me,
And I am pleased that my body's beauty pleases him.



Tzu Yeh (circa 400 BC)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Do you not see
that we
have become like branches of a single tree?



Tzu Yeh (circa 400 BC)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I could not sleep with the full moon haunting my bed!
I thought I heard―here, there, everywhere―
disembodied voices calling my name!
Helplessly I cried "Yes!" to the phantom air!



Tzu Yeh (circa 400 BC)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I have brought my pillow to the windowsill
so come play with me, tease me, as in the past ...
Or, with so much resentment and so few kisses,
how much longer can love last?



Tzu Yeh (circa 400 BC)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

When she approached you on the bustling street, how could you say no?
But your disdain for me is nothing new.
Squeaking hinges grow silent on an unused door
where no one enters anymore.



Tzu Yeh (circa 400 BC)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I remain constant as the Northern Star
while you rush about like the fickle sun:
rising in the East, drooping in the West.

Tzŭ-Yeh (or Tzu Yeh) was a courtesan of the Jin dynasty era (c. 400 BC) also known as Lady Night or Lady Midnight. Her poems were pinyin ("midnight songs"). Tzŭ-Yeh was apparently a "sing-song" girl, perhaps similar to a geisha trained to entertain men with music and poetry. She has also been called a "wine shop girl" and even a professional concubine! Whoever she was, it seems likely that Rihaku (Li-Po) was influenced by the lovely, touching (and often very ****) poems of the "sing-song" girl. Centuries later, Arthur Waley was one of her translators and admirers. Waley and Ezra Pound knew each other, and it seems likely that they got together to compare notes at Pound's soirees, since Pound was also an admirer and translator of Chinese poetry. Pound's most famous translation is his take on Li-Po's "The River Merchant's Wife: A Letter." If the ancient "sing-song" girl influenced Li-Po and Pound, she was thus an influence―perhaps an important influence―on English Modernism. The first Tzŭ-Yeh poem makes me think that she was, indeed, a direct influence on Li-Po and Ezra Pound.―Michael R. Burch



The Day after the Rain
Lin Huiyin (1904-1955)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I love the day after the rain
and the meadow's green expanses!
My heart endlessly rises with wind,
gusts with wind ...
away the new-mown grasses and the fallen leaves ...
away the clouds like smoke ...
vanishing like smoke ...



Music Heard Late at Night
Lin Huiyin (1904-1955)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

for Xu Zhimo

I blushed,
hearing the lovely nocturnal tune.

The music touched my heart;
I embraced its sadness, but how to respond?

The pattern of life was established eons ago:
so pale are the people's imaginations!

Perhaps one day You and I
can play the chords of hope together.

It must be your fingers gently playing
late at night, matching my sorrow.

Lin Huiyin (1904-1955), also known as Phyllis Lin and Lin Whei-yin, was a Chinese architect, historian, novelist and poet. Xu Zhimo died in a plane crash in 1931, allegedly flying to meet Lin Huiyin.



Saying Goodbye to Cambridge Again
Xu Zhimo (1897-1931)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Quietly I take my leave,
as quietly as I came;
quietly I wave good-bye
to the sky's dying flame.

The riverside's willows
like lithe, sunlit brides
reflected in the waves
move my heart's tides.

Weeds moored in dark sludge
sway here, free of need,
in the Cam's gentle wake ...
O, to be a waterweed!

Beneath shady elms
a nebulous rainbow
crumples and reforms
in the soft ebb and flow.

Seek a dream? Pole upstream
to where grass is greener;
rig the boat with starlight;
sing aloud of love's splendor!

But how can I sing
when my song is farewell?
Even the crickets are silent.
And who should I tell?

So quietly I take my leave,
as quietly as I came;
gently I flick my sleeves ...
not a wisp will remain.

(6 November 1928)

Xu Zhimo's most famous poem is this one about leaving Cambridge. English titles for the poem include "On Leaving Cambridge," "Second Farewell to Cambridge," "Saying Goodbye to Cambridge Again,"  and "Taking Leave of Cambridge Again."



The Leveler
by Michael R. Burch

The nature of Nature
is bitter survival
from Winter’s bleak fury
till Spring’s brief revival.

The weak implore Fate;
bold men ravish, dishevel her . . .
till both are cut down
by mere ticks of the Leveler.

I believe I wrote this poem around age 20, in 1978 or thereabouts. It has since been published in The Lyric, Tucumcari Literary Review, Romantics Quarterly and The Aurorean.



The Insurrection of Sighs
by Michael R. Burch

She was my Shiloh, my Gethsemane;
she nestled my head to her breast
and breathed upon my insensate lips
the fierce benedictions of her ubiquitous sighs,
the veiled allegations of her disconsolate tears . . .

Many years I abided the agile assaults of her flesh . . .
She loved me the most when I was most sorely pressed;
she undressed with delight for her ministrations
when all I needed was a good night’s rest . . .

She anointed my lips with her soft lips’ dews;
the insurrection of sighs left me fallen, distressed, at her elegant heel.
I felt the hard iron, the cold steel, in her words and I knew:
the terrible arrow showed through my conscripted flesh.

The sun in retreat left her victor and all was Night.
The last peal of surrender went sinking and dying—unheard.



Star Crossed
by Michael R. Burch

Remember—
night is not like day;
the stars are closer than they seem ...
now, bending near, they seem to say
the morning sun was merely a dream
ember.



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?



Options Underwater: The Song of the First Amphibian
by Michael R. Burch

“Evolution’s a Fishy Business!”

1.
Breathing underwater through antiquated gills,
I’m running out of options. I need to find fresh Air,
to seek some higher Purpose. No porpoise, I despair
to swim among anemones’ pink frills.

2.
My fins will make fine flippers, if only I can walk,
a little out of kilter, safe to the nearest rock’s
sweet, unmolested shelter. Each eye must grow a stalk,
to take in this green land on which it gawks.

3.
No predators have made it here, so I need not adapt.
Sun-sluggish, full, lethargic―I’ll take such nice long naps!

The highest form of life, that’s me! (Quite apt
to lie here chortling, calling fishes saps.)

4.
I woke to find life teeming all around―
mammals, insects, reptiles, loathsome birds.
And now I cringe at every sight and sound.
The water’s looking good! I look Absurd.

5.
The moral of my story’s this: don’t leap
wherever grass is greener. Backwards creep.
And never burn your bridges, till you’re sure
leapfrogging friends secures your Sinecure.

Originally published by Lighten Up Online


Yasna 28, Verse 6
by Zarathustra (Zoroaster)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Lead us to pure thought and truth
by your sacred word and long-enduring assistance,
O, eternal Giver of the gifts of righteousness.

O, wise Lord, grant us spiritual strength and joy;
help us overcome our enemies’ enmity!

Translator’s Note: The Gathas consist of 17 hymns believed to have been composed by Zoroaster, also known as Zarathustra, Zarathushtra Spitama or Ashu Zarathushtra.

Keywords/Tags: amphibian, amphibians, evolution, gills, water, air, lungs, fins, flippers, fish, fishy business, poets, poetry, writing, art, work, works, rhyme, ballad, immortality, passion, emotion, desire, mrbwork, mrbworks

Published as the collection "What Works"
Poetic T Nov 2015
I told her to close her eyes, told her one moment

"But I hate surprises,
"Because I love you baby ill close tightly,

I delved me fingers deep inside, moistness
Touched me, lingering on my senses.

"Ok now open you mouth, taste this baby,

"Mmm, tuna fingers,

She latched on to my digits deeps inside her mouth
Tongue searching every crevice to taste every drop
That had lingered on my supple partings.

"You no how to treat me right,
"Can I taste once more,

We are a greedy one, ok let me freshen up first.
Impatiently she waited, as I cleaned it, watching
My fingers caress it, part it touching inside.
Moistness glazed my fingers, i could hear her
Breath gaining pace, with every parting she smiled.

"You like  watching  me do this but it takes time,
"Too quickly will ruin the  taste  don't want to be  dry,

She smiled as my hands guided her, tongue gently caressed
The moistness parting the way for her tongue to take in the
Aroma of what is inside gently she delved and tasted upon
The dew that dripped on her senses and she smiled.

"Was it good for you my baby,

She wiped her mouth sheepishly, and smiled,

"I so do love the taste,
"But no more I'm full, greedily I had plundered your offering,

The two cuddled up, giggling to one another she smelled
Her fingers, "They still smell like tuna, well you love the
Taste in you, My cucumber tuna sandwiches are heaven,

"You no how to treat me right baby
"Feeding my desire,

Shall we go to bed,

"You know what makes me happy honey,

And two ladies shut the door and pleasure is bound, but
That is another moment to tell not for now.
You people and your filthy minds :) tuna cucumber sarnies Mmm so tasty and moist yum.

— The End —