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I LIKE POEMS MRX Aug 2015
I HAVE MADE A CONTRACT WITH OTHER TROLLS\/\/\/>/..™™™™™™™™™ NO MORE TROLL KILLING FOR NO ONE. I WILL LIKE POEMS NOT KILLIE KILLIE ANY BODY\;;:::-#-$--$+=+;+(=(+=+$(@)@9+#-@(=--@-=-$-$-
'BEST­ REGARDS
X MAN 01160346661221298000000044166909

;$$&$&$&$&$&$I HAVE MADE A CONTRACT WITH OTHER TROLLS\/\/\/>/..™™™™™™™™™ NO MORE TROLL KILLING FOR NO ONE. I WILL LIKE POEMS NOT KILLIE KILLIE ANY BODY\;;:::-#-$--$+=+;+(=(+=+$(@)@9+#-@(=--@-=-$-$-
'BEST­ REGARDS
X MAN 01160346661221298000000044166909

;$$&$&$&$&$&$HAVE MADE A CONTRACT WITH OTHER TROLLS\/\/\/>/..™™™™™™™™™ NO MORE TROLL KILLING FOR NO ONE. I WILL LIKE POEMS NOT KILLIE KILLIE ANY BODY\;;:::-#-$--$+=+;+(=(+=+$(@)@9+#-@(=--@-=-$-$-
'BEST­ REGARDS
X MAN 01160346661221298000000044166909

;$$&$&$&$&$&$I HAVE MADE A CONTRACT WITH OTHER TROLLS\/\/\/>/..™™™™™™™™™ NO MORE TROLL KILLING FOR NO ONE. I WILL LIKE POEMS NOT KILLIE KILLIE ANY BODY\;;:::-#-$--$+=+;+(=(+=+$(@)@9+#-@(=--@-=-$-$-
'BEST­ REGARDS
X MAN 01160346661221298000000044166909

;$$&$&$&$&$&$I HAVE MADE A CONTRACT WITH OTHER TROLLS\/\/\/>/..™™™™™™™™™ NO MORE TROLL KILLING FOR NO ONE. I WILL LIKE POEMS NOT KILLIE KILLIE ANY BODY\;;:::-#-$--$+=+;+(=(+=+$(@)@9+#-@(=--@-=-$-$-
'BEST­ REGARDS
X MAN 01160346661221298000000044166909

;$$&$&$&$&$&$HAVE MADE A CONTRACT WITH OTHER TROLLS\/\/\/>/..™™™™™™™™™ NO MORE TROLL KILLING FOR NO ONE. I WILL LIKE POEMS NOT KILLIE KILLIE ANY BODY\;;:::-#-$--$+=+;+(=(+=+$(@)@9+#-@(=--@-=-$-$-
'BEST­ REGARDS
X MAN 01160346661221298000000044166909

;$$&$&$&$&$&$HAVE MADE A CONTRACT WITH OTHER TROLLS\/\/\/>/..™™™™™™™™™ NO MORE TROLL KILLING FOR NO ONE. I WILL LIKE POEMS NOT KILLIE KILLIE ANY BODY\;;:::-#-$--$+=+;+(=(+=+$(@)@9+#-@(=--@-=-$-$-
'BEST­ REGARDS
X MAN 01160346661221298000000044166909

;$$&$&$&$&$&$I HAVE MADE A CONTRACT WITH OTHER TROLLS\/\/\/>/..™™™™™™™™™ NO MORE TROLL KILLING FOR NO ONE. I WILL LIKE POEMS NOT KILLIE KILLIE ANY BODY\;;:::-#-$--$+=+;+(=(+=+$(@)@9+#-@(=--@-=-$-$-
'BEST­ REGARDS
X MAN 01160346661221298000000044166909

;$$&$&$&$&$&$HAVE MADE A CONTRACT WITH OTHER TROLLS\/\/\/>/..™™™™™™™™™ NO MORE TROLL KILLING FOR NO ONE. I WILL LIKE POEMS NOT KILLIE KILLIE ANY BODY\;;:::-#-$--$+=+;+(=(+=+$(@)@9+#-@(=--@-=-$-$-
'BEST­ REGARDS
X MAN 01160346661221298000000044166909

;$$&$&$&$&$&$I HAVE MADE A CONTRACT WITH OTHER TROLLS\/\/\/>/..™™™™™™™™™ NO MORE TROLL KILLING FOR NO ONE. I WILL LIKE POEMS NOT KILLIE KILLIE ANY BODY\;;:::-#-$--$+=+;+(=(+=+$(@)@9+#-@(=--@-=-$-$-
'BEST­ REGARDS
X MAN 01160346661221298000000044166909

;$$&$&$&$&$&$I HAVE MADE A CONTRACT WITH OTHER TROLLS\/\/\/>/..™™™™™™™™™ NO MORE TROLL KILLING FOR NO ONE. I WILL LIKE POEMS NOT KILLIE KILLIE ANY BODY\;;:::-#-$--$+=+;+(=(+=+$(@)@9+#-@(=--@-=-$-$-
'BEST­ REGARDS
X MAN 01160346661221298000000044166909

;$$&$&$&$&$&$HAVE MADE A CONTRACT WITH OTHER TROLLS\/\/\/>/..™™™™™™™™™ NO MORE TROLL KILLING FOR NO ONE. I WILL LIKE POEMS NOT KILLIE KILLIE ANY BODY\;;:::-#-$--$+=+;+(=(+=+$(@)@9+#-@(=--@-=-$-$-
'BEST­ REGARDS
X MAN 01160346661221298000000044166909

;$$&$&$&$&$&$I HAVE MADE A CONTRACT WITH OTHER TROLLS\/\/\/>/..™™™™™™™™™ NO MORE TROLL KILLING FOR NO ONE. I WILL LIKE POEMS NOT KILLIE KILLIE ANY BODY\;;:::-#-$--$+=+;+(=(+=+$(@)@9+#-@(=--@-=-$-$-
'BEST­ REGARDS
X MAN 01160346661221298000000044166909

;$$&$&$&$&$&$I HAVE MADE A CONTRACT WITH OTHER TROLLS\/\/\/>/..™™™™™™™™™ NO MORE TROLL KILLING FOR NO ONE. I WILL LIKE POEMS NOT KILLIE KILLIE ANY BODY\;;:::-#-$--$+=+;+(=(+=+$(@)@9+#-@(=--@-=-$-$-
'BEST­ REGARDS
X MAN 01160346661221298000000044166909

;$$&$&$&$&$&$HAVE MADE A CONTRACT WITH OTHER TROLLS\/\/\/>/..™™™™™™™™™ NO MORE TROLL KILLING FOR NO ONE. I WILL LIKE POEMS NOT KILLIE KILLIE ANY BODY\;;:::-#-$--$+=+;+(=(+=+$(@)@9+#-@(=--@-=-$-$-
'BEST­ REGARDS
X MAN 01160346661221298000000044166909

;$$&$&$&$&$&$HAVE MADE A CONTRACT WITH OTHER TROLLS\/\/\/>/..™™™™™™™™™ NO MORE TROLL KILLING FOR NO ONE. I WILL LIKE POEMS NOT KILLIE KILLIE ANY BODY\;;:::-#-$--$+=+;+(=(+=+$(@)@9+#-@(=--@-=-$-$-
'BEST­ REGARDS
X MAN 01160346661221298000000044166909

;$$&$&$&$&$&$I HAVE MADE A CONTRACT WITH OTHER TROLLS\/\/\/>/..™™™™™™™™™ NO MORE TROLL KILLING FOR NO ONE. I WILL LIKE POEMS NOT KILLIE KILLIE ANY BODY\;;:::-#-$--$+=+;+(=(+=+$(@)@9+#-@(=--@-=-$-$-
'BEST­ REGARDS
X MAN 01160346661221298000000044166909

;$$&$&$&$&$&$HAVE MADE A CONTRACT WITH OTHER TROLLS\/\/\/>/..™™™™™™™™™ NO MORE TROLL KILLING FOR NO ONE. I WILL LIKE POEMS NOT KILLIE KILLIE ANY BODY\;;:::-#-$--$+=+;+(=(+=+$(@)@9+#-@(=--@-=-$-$-
'BEST­ REGARDS
X MAN 01160346661221298000000044166909

;$$&$&$&$&$&$HAVE MADE A CONTRACT WITH OTHER TROLLS\/\/\/>/..™™™™™™™™™ NO MORE TROLL KILLING FOR NO ONE. I WILL LIKE POEMS NOT KILLIE KILLIE ANY BODY\;;:::-#-$--$+=+;+(=(+=+$(@)@9+#-@(=--@-=-$-$-
'BEST­ REGARDS
X MAN 01160346661221298000000044166909

;$$&$&$&$&$&$I HAVE MADE A CONTRACT WITH OTHER TROLLS\/\/\/>/..™™™™™™™™™ NO MORE TROLL KILLING FOR NO ONE. I WILL LIKE POEMS NOT KILLIE KILLIE ANY BODY\;;:::-#-$--$+=+;+(=(+=+$(@)@9+#-@(=--@-=-$-$-
'BEST­ REGARDS
X MAN 01160346661221298000000044166909

;$$&$&$&$&$&$HAVE MADE A CONTRACT WITH OTHER TROLLS\/\/\/>/..™™™™™™™™™ NO MORE TROLL KILLING FOR NO ONE. I WILL LIKE POEMS NOT KILLIE KILLIE ANY BODY\;;:::-#-$--$+=+;+(=(+=+$(@)@9+#-@(=--@-=-$-$-
'BEST­ REGARDS
X MAN 01160346661221298000000044166909

;$$&$&$&$&$&$I HAVE MADE A CONTRACT WITH OTHER TROLLS\/\/\/>/..™™™™™™™™™ NO MORE TROLL KILLING FOR NO ONE. I WILL LIKE POEMS NOT KILLIE KILLIE ANY BODY\;;:::-#-$--$+=+;+(=(+=+$(@)@9+#-@(=--@-=-$-$-
'BEST­ REGARDS
X MAN 01160346661221298000000044166909

;$$&$&$&$&$&$I HAVE MADE A CONTRACT WITH OTHER TROLLS\/\/\/>/..™™™™™™™™™ NO MORE TROLL KILLING FOR NO ONE. I WILL LIKE POEMS NOT KILLIE KILLIE ANY BODY\;;:::-#-$--$+=+;+(=(+=+$(@)@9+#-@(=--@-=-$-$-
'BEST­ REGARDS
X MAN 01160346661221298000000044166909

;$$&$&$&$&$&$HAVE MADE A CONTRACT WITH OTHER TROLLS\/\/\/>/..™™™™™™™™™ NO MORE TROLL KILLING FOR NO ONE. I WILL LIKE POEMS NOT KILLIE KILLIE ANY BODY\;;:::-#-$--$+=+;+(=(+=+$(@)@9+#-@(=--@-=-$-$-
'BEST­ REGARDS
X MAN 01160346661221298000000044166909

;$$&$&$&$&$&$HAVE MADE A CONTRACT WITH OTHER TROLLS\/\/\/>/..™™™™™™™™™ NO MORE TROLL KILLING FOR NO ONE. I WILL LIKE POEMS NOT KILLIE KILLIE ANY BODY\;;:::-#-$--$+=+;+(=(+=+$(@)@9+#-@(=--@-=-$-$-
'BEST­ REGARDS
X MAN 01160346661221298000000044166909

;$$&$&$&$&$&$I HAVE MADE A CONTRACT WITH OTHER TROLLS\/\/\/>/..™™™™™™™™™ NO MORE TROLL KILLING FOR NO ONE. I WILL LIKE POEMS NOT KILLIE KILLIE ANY BODY\;;:::-#-$--$+=+;+(=(+=+$(@)@9+#-@(=--@-=-$-$-
'BEST­ REGARDS
X MAN 01160346661221298000000044166909

;$$&$&$&$&$&$HAVE MADE A CONTRACT WITH OTHER TROLLS\/\/\/>/..™™™™™™™™™ NO MORE TROLL KILLING FOR NO ONE. I WILL LIKE POEMS NOT KILLIE KILLIE ANY BODY\;;:::-#-$--$+=+;+(=(+=+$(@)@9+#-@(=--@-=-$-$-
'BEST­ REGARDS
X MAN 01160346661221298000000044166909

;$$&$&$&$&$&$&#&&#Entry---@-@-@-@-@-@-@-@ XMAN IS NOT MR L,GARY ,/\/\/>>/>///>/>/HE IS INNOCENT I WAS GOING BY THE NAME DRACULACRACKINGYETTY TWO YEARS AGO NOW IM DONE/>\>\>£>£>..£..¢.£..£.£.¢¢¥¢¥¢¥¢¥£¥¢¥LET THE TROLLS DIE OUT BY THEIR OWN SWORD//\/\/\/\/\/\/.\/.\//\/\//.\/\
MRXMAN
zebra Nov 2017
1) : No Animal poems
2) : No Extreme poems
3) : No Old whatsoever poems
4) : No *** poems
5) : No ****** poems
6) : No Casandra complex poems
7) : No Celebs poems No wait thats OK!
8) : No ******* poems
9) : No Disambiguation poems.
10) :No go **** yourself poems
11): No **** me poems
12): No *** poems
13): No love poems
14): No hate poems
15): No nature poems
16): No political poems
17) No happy poems
18) No ****** poems
19) No poems about body functions
20) No funny poems
21) No honey poems
22) No poems about, AI malfunctions
23) No poems about no poems ;)
..................
*just refine
yourself
out of
*******
existence
poems
A COLLABORATION WITH Temporal Fugue and Rose
Ivan Brooks Sr Jan 2018
Some poems are like classic cars
They're old, bestsellers and great
Very famous and heavyweight,
Their legendary tales told at the bars.

Some poems are like Lamborghini
Fast, loud and stir up different emotions
They are magical and perform like Houdini
Taking us beyond our wildest imaginations.

Some poems are like a Ferrari
Fast, loud, costly and mindblowing
Some went through fine tuning
Ready for the adventurous desert safari.

Some poems are a Mercedes SLK
Fast,affordable,famous,people's favorite
Upon sight, people just stand around and talk
Every time we see them we celebrate.

Some poems are simple and great
Some are so good and impossible to rate.
Some will keep you woke
Brilliant and so off the hook!

Some poems are so romantic
Appealing to one's fantasy
Some are just so demonic
Embellished with total heresy.

Some poems are like a Rollsroyce
They intrigue us
Classic, historic, famous
They embody royalty, very luxurious.

Some poems are like a Bugatti Veyron
very costly, fast, collectible
Loved by kings and Barons
Making our speed appetites insatiable.

Some poems are Mustangs
Muscles, deep, street savvy
Gruesome like hunger pangs
They are powerful and heavy.

Some poems are like Teslas
Clean, smart, rich people's favorite
Costing the average people accessive dollars
They are smoothly written and moderate.

Some poems are like a Koenigsegg
Fast, rare, collectible and very costly
They instantly sweep you off your one leg
leaving you like '' seriously! ''

Some poems will make you go WOW!
And some will make you bow
Making you feel inferior to the poet
Especially the ones written by a laureate.

Some poems are mundane
containing things to drive you insane
Some poems are just cool
but contains useful cools

Some poems have powerful impacts
they contain deep knowledge and facts
Some poems are very good
Some will nourish you like food.

Some poem will bore you
Some poems will entertain you
Some poems will enrich you
And reach you wherever you are.

Some poems will set your mind on fire
And leave lasting impacts like screeching tires
Some poems are just incredible
Revealing things that are relatable.

Some poems are wonderful
And some are prayerful
Some are a little bit radical
And some are somehow political.

Some poems are just ordinary
Yet they're devotion to start early
And motivation to use during the day
Something to take you all the way.

Some poets are so creative
their poems are just amazing.
Some are outright provocative
Yet their works are just fascinating.


©️ #IvanBrookspoetry✍️
Poems have many attributes or characteristics ...help me if I left some out.
Some poems walk with me,
Some poems simply talk to me,
Some poems reach out to me,
Some poems scream and shout at me,
whilst some poems eventually grow on me.

Some poems slow dance with me,
Some poems enchant me - they are
breathtakingly mesmerising to me,
Some poems captivate me after hijacking me,
Some poems rip my heart out
and break every single piece of me.

Some poems absolutely impress me,
Some poems couldn't care less about me,
Some poems embrace every inch of me,
Some poems share my soul with me.

Some poems inspire me and motivate me,
Some poems **** the very life out of me,
Some poems resonate with every fibre of me,
Some poems switch a little light on for me.

Some poems will forever live inside of me,
Some poems twist themselves and lie to me,
Some poems are open and honest with me,
Some poems...are just like people to me!

By Lady R.F (c)2016
martin Apr 2012
Poems that make you stare into space
poems that show you another place
passion poems, cherry red, inspiration bouncy bed
poems not to recite to your mother
poems to whisper to your lover

Poems that soar like a bird on the wing
poems that crash before they begin
poems in bars, poems with stars
poems you want to put in a vase                                                  
                 and water

Poems that need a lot of deciphering
poems you see a bit of your life in
poems written by a maniac
for the benefit of an insomniac

Poems with windows to the soul
poems like footballers scoring a goal
poems to savour, make you want more
poems for everyone, poems galore

Poems brief, poems long
poems that seem to go on and on
like this one
Edward Feb 1
Alyssa, thank you for your poems GBU.
Larry , thank you for your poems GBU
Kristy, thank you for your poems here GBU.
Roumen, thank you for your Poetry GBU.
Wendy, thank you for your poetry GBU.
Brandon, thank you for your poems GBU.
Sally, thank you for your poetry GBU.
Mark, thank you for your Poems GBU.
The Girl, thank you for your Poems GBU.
Ava, thank you for your Poetry GBU.
Godson, thank you for your Poems GBU.
TheRaven thank you for your Poems GBU.
Raven , thank you for your Poetry GBU.
Krippi, thank you for your Poetry GBU.
Mike H, thank you for your Poems GBU.
Willow, thank you for your Poems GBU.
Kim, thank you for your Poetry GBU.
Keith, thank you for your Poems GBU.
Jules, thank you for your Poems,GBU.
Traveler,thank you for your Poems GBU.
Moonlight, thank you for your Poems GBU.
AB, thank you for yourPoetry GBU.
MAM, thank you for your Poetry GBU.
Guy, thank you for your Poetry GBU.
Fawn, thank you for your Poetry GBU.
Frank, thank you for your Poems GBU.
Melancholy, thank you for your Poems GBU.
Pradip, thank you for your Poetry GBU.
Melanie, thank you for your Poetry GBU.
Mike E, thank you for your Poems GBU.
Lilian, thank you for your Poems GBU.
Phil, thank you for your Poetry GBU.
Katja, thank you for your Poems GBU.
Godwin, thank you for your Poems GBU.
Jennifer, thank you for your poetry GBU.
Bijan, thank you for your poetry GBU.
FJ, thank you for your poetry GBU.
For the ones that I miss sorry GBU.
My hands are really sore right now.
DC raw love Nov 2014
POEMS ABOUT POEMS
POEMS OF SILENCE
POEMS ABOUT JOY
POEMS OF KINDNESS
POEMS ABOUT LONELINESS
POEMS OF SADNESS
POEMS ABOUT SORRY
POEMS OF LOVE
POEMS ABOUT CARE
POEMS OF FORGIVENESS
POEMS ABOUT LIFE
POEMS OF DEATH
POEMS ABOUT DRUGS
POEMS OF SWEAT
POEMS ABOUT RELEASING
POEMS OF DREAMS
POEMS ABOUT FEELINGS
TO RELEASE EVERYTHING
THIS IS MY LIFE
NOW THAT I'M CLEAN
Elijah Clark May 2013
Poems of hope
Poems of gifts
Poems of anything that fits

Poems of laughter
Poems of fun
Even poems about the sun

Poems of hatred
Poems of anger
Even poems about a hanger

Poems of sadness
Poems of joy
Even poems about a boy

Poems Are called poems
But are poems really poems.?
First poem. Wrote in about two minutes. Freestyle poem
Livingdeadgirl May 2014
Poems are art
                 Science
                       Things

Poems are life
                 History
                     Classes

Poems are English
                            Latin
                             Cultural

Poems are what they are
                                   Alliteration
                                              Spanish

Poems are metaphors
                                  Similes
                                       Literary devices

Poems are rhyme
                           Rhythm
                                Songs

Poems are meaning
                             Boldness
                                    Thought

Poems are classified
                             Outgoing
                                    Stressed

Poems are choice
                            Topic
                                Emotion

Poems are love
                         Hate
                              Sad

Poems are wanted
                            Needed
                                 Treasured

Poems are clear
                      Undiscribed
                               Everywhere

Poems are near
                          Far
                             Home

Poems are poems
                           Stories
                                Writings

Poems are literature
                           Memorable
                                             Safe
I wrote this for an english assignment in 9th grade.....
Poems about Poems


What the Poet Sees
by Michael R. Burch

What the poet sees,
he sees as a swimmer
~~~underwater~~~
watching the shoreline blur
sees through his breath’s weightless bubbles...
Both worlds grow obscure.

Published by ByLine, Mandrake Poetry Review, Poetically Speaking, E Mobius Pi, Underground Poets, Little Brown Poetry,  Triplopia, Poetic Ponderings, Poem Kingdom, PW Review, Neovictorian/Cochlea, Muse Apprentice Guild, Mindful of Poetry, Poetry on Demand, Poet’s Haven, Famous Poets and Poems and Bewildering Stories



Muse/Goddess
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

Centuries later, I understand;
she whispered―“I Am.”

This was the first poem to appear in the first issue of Romantics Quarterly; it has also been published by Penny Dreadful, Unlikely Stories, Underground Poets, Poetically Speaking, Poetry Life & Times and Little Brown Poetry



Currents
by Michael R. Burch

How can I write and not be true
to the rhythm that wells within?
How can the ocean not be blue,
not buck with the clapboard slap of tide,
the clockwork shock of wave on rock,
the motion creation stirs within?

Originally published by The Lyric



In the Whispering Night
by Michael R. Burch

for George King, a poem of poetic kinship and brotherhood

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 in Songs of Innocence, Romantics Quarterly and Poetry Life & Times



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.



escape!
by michael r. burch

for anaïs vionet

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

This is another poem about poetic kinship ― here, escaping the real world for the world of imagination.



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.



The Better Man
by Michael R. Burch

Dear Ed: I don’t understand why
you will publish this other guy―
when I’m brilliant, devoted,
one hell of a poet!
Yet you publish Anonymous. Fie!

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



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?



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.

Originally published by The HyperTexts



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

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

Originally published by Grand Little Things



US Verse, after Auden
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

Published by The Raintown Review, The Barefoot Muse and Poetry Life & Times

The Unisphere mentioned is a spherical stainless steel representation of the earth constructed for the 1964 New York World’s Fair. It was commissioned to celebrate the beginning of the space age and dedicated to "Man's Achievements on a Shrinking Globe in an Expanding Universe." The lines quoted in the epigraph are from W. H. Auden’s love poem “Lullaby.”



The Forge
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

of water so contrary just a hiss
escapes it―water instantly a mist.

It writhes, a thing of senseless shapelessness...

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

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

Originally published by The Chariton Review



Poetry
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

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

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

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

*

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

I consider "Poetry" to be my Ars Poetica. I believe I wrote the first version of "Poetry" in my late teens, around age 18-19. Originally published by The Lyric, then subsequently by Amerikai költok a második (Hungarian translation by by István Bagi), La Luce Che Non Muore (Italy), The Eclectic Muse (Canada), Shabestaneh (Iran), Kritya (India), Sailing in the Mist of Time (Anthology of Fifty Award-Winning Poems), Anthology of Contemporary American Poetry, Captivating Poetry (Anthology), Formal Verse, Tucumcari Literary Review, The Chained Muse, Poet’s Haven, Poet’s Corner, Famous Poets and Poems and Inspirational Stories



Instruction
by Michael R. Burch

Toss this poem aside
to the filigreed and the prettified tide
of sunset.

Strike my name,
and still it is all the same.
The onset

of night is in the despairing skies;
each hut shuts its bright bewildered eyes.
The wind sighs

and my heart sighs with her―
my only companion, O Lovely Drifter!
Still, men are not wise.

The moon appears; the arms of the wind lift her,
pooling the light of her silver portent,
while men, impatient,

are beings of hurried and harried despair.
Now willows entangle their fragrant hair.
Men sleep.

Cornsilk tassels the moonbright air.
Deep is the sea; the stars are fair.
I reap.



Chit Chat: In the Poetry Chat Room
by Michael R. Burch

WHY SHULD I LERN TO SPELL?
HELL,
NO ONE REEDS WHAT I SAY
ANYWAY!!!

Sing for the cool night,
whispers of constellations.
Sing for the supple grass,
the tall grass, gently whispering.
Sing of infinities, multitudes,
of all that lies beyond us now,
whispers begetting whispers.
And i am glad to also whisper...

I WUS HURT IN LUV I’M DYIN’
FER TH’ TEARS I BEEN A-CRYIN’!!!

i abide beyond serenities
and realms of grace,
above love’s misdirected earth,
i lift my face.
i am beyond finding now...

I WAS IN, LOVE, AND HE ******* ME!!!
THE ****!!! TOTALLY!!!

i loved her once, before, when i
was mortal too, and sometimes i
would listen and distinctly hear
her laughter from the juniper,
but did not go...

I JUST DON’T GET POETRY, SOMETIMES.
IT’S OKAY, I GUESS.
I REALLY DON’T READ THAT MUCH AT ALL,
I MUST CONFESS!!! ;-)

Travail, inherent to all flesh,
i do not know, nor how to feel.
Although i sing them nighttimes still:
the bitter woes, that do not heal...

POETRY IS BORING.
SEE, IT *****!!!, I’M SNORING!!! ZZZZZZZ!!!

The words like breath, i find them here,
among the fragrant juniper,
and conifers amid the snow,
old loves imagined long ago...

WHY DON’T YOU LIKE MY PERFICKT WORDS
YOU USELESS UN-AMERIC’N TURDS?!!!

What use is love, to me, or Thou?
O Words, my awe, to fly so smooth
above the anguished hearts of men
to heights unknown, Thy bare remove...



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.

Published by The Lyric and The Ekphrastic Review



In Praise of Meter
by Michael R. Burch

The earth is full of rhythms so precise
the octave of the crystal can produce
a trillion oscillations, yet not lose
a second's beat. The ear needs no device
to hear the unsprung rhythms of the couch
drown out the mouth's; the lips can be debauched
by kisses, should the heart put back its watch
and find the pulse of love, and sing, devout.

If moons and tides in interlocking dance
obey their numbers, what's been left to chance?
Should poets be more lax―their circumstance

as humble as it is?―or readers wince

to see their ragged numbers thin, to hear
the moans of drones drown out the Chanticleer?

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



The Whole of Wit
by Michael R. Burch

for Richard Moore

If brevity is the soul of wit
then brevity and levity
are the whole of it.



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.

Originally published by Able Muse



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



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, Grassroots Poetry, Romantics Quarterly, Angle and Poetry Life & Times



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 one brief flurry: 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.

Originally published by The Chariton Review



The Princess and the Pauper
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

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

her ghost beyond perfection―for to die
was to ascend. Now he begs, penniless.



Come Down
by Michael R. Burch

for Harold Bloom

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

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

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

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

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



In a Stolen Moment
by Kim Cherub (an alias of Michael R. Burch)

In a stolen moment,
when the clock’s hands complete their inevitable course
and sleep is the night’s dark spell,
I call it a curse,

seeking the force,
the font of candescent words, the electric thrill
tingling from brain to spine
to incessant quill―

the fever, the chill.
I know it as well as I know myself.
Time’s second hand stirs; not I; in my cell,
words spill.



Orpheus
by Michael R. Burch

after William Blake

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Discrimination
by Michael R. Burch

for poets who continue to write traditional poetry

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

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

Originally published by The Chariton Review



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).

Originally published by Light Quarterly



Observance
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

This is an early poem that made me feel like a real poet. I remember writing it in the break room of the McDonald's where I worked as a high school student. I believe that was at age 17. "Observance" was originally published by Nebo as "Reckoning." It was later published by Tucumcari Literary Review, Piedmont Literary Review, Verses, Romantics Quarterly, the anthology There is Something in the Autumn and Poetry Life & Times.



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.)



Radiance
by Michael R. Burch

for Dylan Thomas

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

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

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



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.



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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



The Toast
by Michael R. Burch

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



These Hallowed Halls
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

I stand by a window where others have watched
the passage of time―alone,
not untouched.
And I am as they were

unsure

for the days
stretch out ahead,
a bewildering maze.


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

For now I have known the exhilaration
of a heart that has vaulted the Pinnacle of Love,
and the result of each such infatuation―
the long freefall to earth, as the moon glides above.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


VI.
So sleep, my love, to the cadence of night,
to the moans of the moonlit hills'
bass chorus of frogs, while the deep valleys fill
with the nightjar’s shrill, cryptic trills.
But I will not sleep this night, nor any...

how can I―when my dreams
are always of your perfect face
ringed by soft whorls of fretted lace,
and a tear upon your pillowcase?

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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



Brother Iran
by Michael R. Burch

for the poets of Iran

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

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

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

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

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



To Please The Poet
by Michael R. Burch

for poets who still write musical verse

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

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

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

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

Originally published by The Lyric



The Po' Biz Explained
by Michael R. Burch

A poet may work from sun to sun,
but his editor's work is never done.

The editor’s work is never done.
The critic adjusts his cummerbund.

While the critic adjusts his cummerbund,
the audience exits to mingle and slum.

As the audience exits to mingle and slum,
the anthologist rules, a pale jury of one.



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.



An Obscenity Trial
by Michael R. Burch

The defendant was a poet held in many iron restraints
against whom several critics cited numerous complaints.
They accused him of trying to reach the "common crowd,"
and they said his poems incited recitals far too loud.

The prosecutor alleged himself most stylish and best-dressed;
it seems he’d never lost a case, nor really once been pressed.
He was known far and wide for intensely hating clarity;
twelve dilettantes at once declared the defendant another fatality.

The judge was an intellectual well-known for his great mind,
though not for being merciful, honest, sane or kind.
Clerks loved the "Hanging Judge" and the critics were his kin.
Bystanders said, "They'll crucify him!" The public was not let in.

The prosecutor began his case
by spitting in the poet's face,
knowing the trial would be a farce.
"It is obscene,"
he screamed,
"to expose the naked heart!"
The recorder (bewildered Society)
greeted this statement with applause.

"This man is no poet.
Just look―his Hallmark shows it.
Why, see, he utilizes rhyme, symmetry and grammar!
He speaks without a stammer!
His sense of rhythm is too fine!
He does not use recondite words
or conjure ancient Latin verbs.
This man is an imposter!
I ask that his sentence be
the almost perceptible indignity
of removal from the Post-Modernistic roster."
The jury left in tears of joy, literally sequestered.

The defendant sighed in mild despair,
"Please, let me answer to my peers."
But how His Honor giggled then,
seeing no poets were let in.

Later, the clashing symbols of their pronouncements drove him mad
and he admitted both rhyme and reason were bad.

Published by The Neovictorian/Cochlea and Poetry Life & Times. A well-known poet/editor criticized this poem for being "journalistic." But then the poem is written from the point of view of a journalist who's covering the trial of a poet about to be burned at the stake by his peers. The poem was completed by the end of my sophomore year in college. It appears in my 1978 poetry contest folder. But I believe I wrote the original version a bit earlier, probably around age 18 or 19.



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.



Distances
by Michael R. Burch

There is a small cleanness about her,
as though she has always just been washed,
and there is a dull obedience to convention
in her accommodating slenderness
as she feints at her salad.

She has never heard of Faust, or Frost,
and she is unlikely to have been seen
rummaging through bookstores
for mementos of others
more difficult to name.

She might imagine “poetry”
to be something in common between us,
as we write, bridging the expanse
between convention and something...
something the world calls “art”
for want of a better word.

At night I scream
at the conventions of both our worlds,
at the distances between words
and their objects: distances
come lately between us,
like a clean break.



Nashville and Andromeda
by Michael R. Burch

I have come to sit and think in the darkness once again.
It is three a.m.; outside, the world sleeps...

How nakedly now and unadorned
the surrounding hills
expose themselves
to the lithographies of the detached moonlight―
******* daubed by the lanterns
of the ornamental barns,
firs ruffled like silks
casually discarded...

They lounge now―
indolent, languid, spread-eagled―
their wantonness a thing to admire,
like a lover’s ease idly tracing flesh...

They do not know haste,
lust, virtue, or any of the sanctimonious ecstasies of men,
yet they please
if only in the solemn meditations of their loveliness
by the ***** pen...

Perhaps there upon the surrounding hills,
another forsakes sleep
for the hour of introspection,
gabled in loneliness,
swathed in the pale light of Andromeda...

Seeing.
Yes, seeing,
but always ultimately unknowing
anything of the affairs of men.



Resurrecting Passion
by Michael R. Burch

Last night, while dawn was far away
and rain streaked gray, tumescent skies,
as thunder boomed and lightning railed,
I conjured words, where passion failed...

But, oh, that you were mine tonight,
sprawled in this bed, held in these arms,
your ******* pale baubles in my hands,
our bodies bent to old demands...

Such passions we might resurrect,
if only time and distance waned
and brought us back together; now
I pray that this might be, somehow.

But time has left us twisted, torn,
and we are more apart than miles.
How have you come to be so far―
as distant as an unseen star?

So that, while dawn is far away,
my thoughts might not return to you,
I feed your portrait to the flames,
but as they feast, I burn for you.



Caveat
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

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

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

Originally published by Clementine Unbound



Imperfect Sonnet
by Michael R. Burch

A word before the light is doused: the night
is something wriggling through an unclean mind,
as rats creep through a tenement. And loss
is written cheaply with the moon’s cracked gloss
like lipstick through the infinite, to show
love’s pale yet sordid imprint on us. Go.

We have not learned love yet, except to cleave.
I saw the moon rise once... but to believe...
was of another century... and now...
I have the urge to love, but not the strength.

Despair, once stretched out to its utmost length,
lies couched in squalor, watching as the screen
reveals "love's" damaged images: its dreams...
and ******* limply, screams and screams.

Originally published by Sonnet Scroll



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

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

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

Originally published by Ironwood



Nightfall
by Michael R. Burch

for Kevin Nicholas Roberts

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

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

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

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



The Board
by Michael R. Burch

Accessible rhyme is never good.
The penalty is understood―
soft titters from dark board rooms where
the businessmen paste on their hair
and, Walter Mitties, woo the Muse
with reprimands of Dr. Seuss.

The best book of the age sold two,
or three, or four (but not to you),
strange copies of the ones before,
misreadings that delight the board.
They sit and clap; their revenues
fall trillions short of Mother Goose.



The following is a much-rejected poem. If a joke falls and no one gets it, did the jokester really exist?

Confession
by Michael R. Burch

What shall I say to you, to confess,
words? Words that can never express
anything close to what I feel?

For words that seem tangible, real,
when I think them
become vaguely surreal when I put ink to them.

And words that I thought that I knew,
like "love" and "devotion"
never ring true.

While "passion"
sounds strangely like the latest fashion
or a perfume.

NOTE: At the time I wrote this poem, a perfume named Passion was in fashion. For all that I know, it may still be.



Revision
by Michael R. Burch

I found a stone
ablaze in a streambed,
honed to a flickering jewel
by all the clear,
swiftly-flowing
millennia of water...


and as I kneeled
to do it obeisance,
the homage of retrieval,
it occurred to me
that perhaps its muddied
underbelly

rooted precariously
in the muck
and excrescence
of its slow loosening
upward...

might not be finished,
like a poem
brilliantly faceted
but only half revised,
which sparkles
seductively
but is not yet worth

ecstatic digging.

Originally published by The HyperTexts



Impotent
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I believe this poem was written in my early twenties, around 1980.



Grave Thoughts
by Michael R. Burch

as a poet i’m rather subVerse-ive;
as a writer i much prefer Curse-ive.
and why not be brave
on my way to the grave
since i doubt that i’ll end up reHearse-ive?

NOTE: “Subversive,” “cursive” and “rehearse-ive” are double entendres: subversive/below verse, cursive/curse, rehearsed/recited and re-hearsed (reincarnated to end up in a hearse again).



Pointed Art
by Michael R. Burch

The point of art is that
there is no point.
(A grinning, quick-dissolving cat
from Cheshire
must have told you that.)

The point of art is this―
the hiss
of Cupid’s bright bolt, should it miss,
is bliss
compared to Truth’s neurotic kiss.



Editor's Notes
by Michael R. Burch

Eat, drink and be merry
(tomorrow, be contrary).

(***** and complain
in bad refrain,
but please―not till I'm on the plane!)

Write no poem before its time
(in your case, this means never).

Linger over every word
(by which, I mean forever).

By all means, read your verse aloud.
I'm sure you'll be a star
(and just as distant, when I'm gone);
your poems are beauteous (afar).



The Poet's Condition
by Michael R. Burch

The poet's condition
(bother tradition)
is whining contrition.
Supposedly sage,

his editor knows
his brain's in his toes
though he would suppose
to soon be the rage.

His readers are sure
his work's premature
or merely manure,
insipidly trite.

His mother alone
will answer the phone
(perhaps with a moan)
to hear him recite.



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.



Artificial Smile
by Michael R. Burch

I’m waiting for my artificial teeth
to stretch belief, to hollow out the cob
of zealous righteousness, to grasp life’s stub
between clenched molars, and yank out the grief.

Mine must be art-official―zenlike Art―
a disembodied, white-enameled grin
of Cheshire manufacture. Part by part,
the human smile becomes mock porcelain.

Till in the end, the smile alone remains:
titanium-based alloys undestroyed
with graves’ worm-eaten contents, all the pains
of bridgework unrecalled, and what annoyed

us most about the corpses rectified
to quaintest dust. The Smile winks, deified.



Pity Clarity
by Michael R. Burch

Pity Clarity,
and, if you should find her,
release her from the tangled webs
of dusty verse that bind her.

And as for Brevity,
once the soul of wit―
she feels the gravity
of ironic chains and massive rhetoric.

And Poetry,
before you may adore her,
must first be freed
from those who for her loveliness would ***** her.

This poem expresses my unhappiness with the "state of the art" in three different poetic camps or churches.



Wonderland
by Michael R. Burch

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



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.



Alien Nation
by Michael R. Burch

for J. S. S., a "Christian" poet who believes in "hell"

On a lonely outpost on Mars
the astronaut practices “speech”
as alien to primates below
as mute stars winking high, out of reach.

And his words fall as bright and as chill
as ice crystals on Kilimanjaro―
far colder than Jesus’s words
over the “fortunate” sparrow.

And I understand how gentle Emily
felt, when all comfort had flown,
gazing into those inhuman eyes,
feeling zero at the bone.

Oh, how can I grok his arctic thought?
For if he is human, I am not.



Keywords/Tags: Poems, Poets, Poetry, Muse, Goddess, Rhythm, Rhyme, Creation, Words, Works

Published as the collection “Poems about Poems”
jack of spades Feb 2015
i kind of hate poetry, like,
i'm sick of flowery words to avoid straight-up honesty
i'm sick of the deception and the depression
and the predictable rhyme schemes.
i mean, there's that kind of poetry
and that's the kind that i kind of hate.
a lot.
i'm a poet, okay? i'm a poet who likes
flower words with flowery lines
used only to cover up lies about
how much dinner i ate last night
and sometimes i have to admit
that i do kinda dig talking in rhymes.

but i'm really sick of that kind of poetry.
i kind of hate it.

give me poems that speak past their words,
give me poems that fill the air,
give me poems that breath and decompose.
give me girls with dark marbled skin whose voices break out of the cages they're trapped in.
give me boys in high heels.
give me revolution and remaking.
give me poetry.
give me songs.
i'm sick of the romantic stuff.
give me poems pieced together with discontent,
give me poems picked apart by nervous hands,
give me poems that will shatter all former concepts of reality,
give me poems that declare platonic love to an old best friend.
give me poems that have meaning.
real, tangible meaning.
i'm sick of looking at perfectly-formatted pages
that have to use set-up and textual ranges in order to be considered proper poetry.
i'm sick of verses with well-measured lines,
because those are the ones that i can't whisper to myself at night because
i ramble the poems.
i ramble the words.
give me poems that i can fill a room with.

i kind of forgot my first line, but that's alright
see, i don't know where exactly i'm going with this but
that's just how it is.

so give me poems that aren't pre-conceived,
give me poems that aren't thought out for the sake of their beauty.
give me poems that will hurt me.
give me poems that will hit me.
give me poems that will **** me.

i kind of hate poetry,
but not all kinds of it.
just the kinds of poems
that don't seem to notice
their true ability,
cause i like the kind of poems
that have the power
to change a society

(or at least someone's mind about something).
Jeni B123 Feb 2015
My poems hide in my morning cup of coffee.
In good hair days.
In nights without homework.
In the little victories of life.

My poems hide in board games while camping.

My poems hide in falling of a horse, but getting back on.

My poems hide in crazy and untraditional habits.
In rearranging and organizing my bedroom.
In summer trips to the emergency room.
In the dents, bruises, and scars that I seem to collect.

My poems hide in compliments from strangers.

My poems hide in the eyes of animals who have grown up alongside of me.

My poems hide in moments spent with my best friends.
In sleepovers in the motorhome outside my house.
In Tulip Time parades twirling my baton.

My poems hide in the embrace of a long-distance friend.

My poems hide in my parents, and in the times they are proud of me.

My poems hide in the memories I’ve made.
In mission trips where 9-Square and hacky-sack are the main pastimes.
In seashell hunting on a clean, white beach.
In being a queen in the eighth grade show.

My poems hide in the trips that I take.
In the adventures I have in ordinary settings.
In the twenty four hour ride to Florida.
In the states I have yet to visit.

My poems hide in my relationship with God.

My poems hide in all the beautiful, trivial things around me.

My poems are constantly hiding, waiting, begging to be discovered.
Robert Ronnow Aug 2015
Prose is unpretentious, that's its attraction. Avoids bombast of line breaks but forgoes -- what -- perfect rest. Anyway today, a November day in February, no chance getting rest with the poor clay I'm made from.

With my mother this weekend, her dementia proceeding according to what plan. Saturday the kind of day I never have. Actually read three stories by Updike. One extraordinary -- Tomorrow and Tomorrow and So Forth -- which I chose from his Complete through 1975 for the reference to Macbeth and in it he so humanely, sympathetically explains through the high school English teacher's thoughts Shakespeare's mid-life bitterness or disappointment realizing few men achieve their potential in the face of history, society and their personal flaws. Making for tragedy. Hard to be humorous about that although Updike finds in Shakespeare's late plays, especially The Tempest, a resolution amounting to wisdom that there can be contentment with imperfection and partial achievement. Updike took some of the starch out of my contention that all Shakespeare's plays are comedies, impossible to take Hamlet, Lear, Macbeth and Othello seriously. Certainly not Romeo and Juliet. It is a consolation that Updike's and even Shakespeare's achievements are imperfect although it would be wringing blood from a rock for me to achieve as much. The other two stories by Updike assured me that prose story-telling is as hit or miss as poetry. Bulgarian Poetess and How to Love America and Leave It At the Same Time made me think how fortunate I had been to find Tomorrow on the first try.

Not so much luck. I was attracted like a bee to a blossom to Shakespeare's lines in my personal anthology. No anthology and the poetry dependency it has created and I might have passed over the story. But now there is this conversation between me and all other writers. The anthology helps me know what I like but now I am tempted to try to articulate why I like what I like. Like the calendar, time and all else man lays his mind to it is a matter of bringing order from chaos by naming things according to our observations.

First, I like to understand what's going on in the poem. Not paraphrase it but describe the action. In Yeats' Lapis Lazuli, in the first paragraph, strophe or stanza, he talks about a community, a city or country, in which people, the women especially, high-toned maybe?, are upset about a political or wartime situation and are too hysterical for art or grace. Then he talks about actors playing Hamlet and Lear holding it together even though their characters die at the end of the play. No shouting, no crying. Then a paragraph or stanza about how whole civilizations are transitory too. Finally, in a reference to one of our oldest civilizations, two old Chinamen and their retainer are in the mountains. From their perspective, calm acceptance and longevity, perhaps some sadness, they look on all of history and non-history with something like gladness.

From there we can appreciate the artistry -- in Yeats' case the interesting rhymes and variable line lengths -- recognizing, however, that the artistry is not so much a demonstration of skill or a performance as the particular vehicle or discipline by which this artist discovered the content of his mind. It little matters whether verse is free, rhymed, blank, or formed as long as it is understandable and meaningful. Understandable to anyone, meaningful to someone.

The oldest formulation I have is Pound's -- the great themes of literature can be written on the back of a postage stamp. Until recently, I thought you could do it but you'd have to write very small. Now I know you can do it in your normal handwriting. I think they are Love (how we come into the world), Death (how we leave the world) and Governance (how we live in the world together). It may be possible to group Love and Death together, coming into and going out of life being similarly unknowable mysteries. The ways of talking about this one same mystery are apparently endless and endlessly fascinating. We cannot leave it alone. Almost all the greatest poems are about this mystery. Life is but a dream.

Then there is Governance -- how we live in the world together -- about which there are far fewer great poems. And usually they are about how our failure to live together leads back into the unknowable mystery through premature and sometimes mass death. Siamanto's The Dance comes to mind. I think the best poems of this type are written by so-called oppressed people.

Many poems treat both themes. But on the question of content, Pound is where I begin. My anthology -- Whole Wide World -- has a section which I'll call Double & Triple Features: Poems to Read Together, which pairs and groups poems according to my feeling that they share something -- theme, voice, structure -- in common. Subject matter is, I think, the commonest sharing. If I tried to name each pairing or grouping I might then have a hundred or more themes. Naming them adequately would be difficult to impossible. But why? And why not try? It would be a necessary start to talking about the poems: I read these poems together because....

Prose doesn't have to be beautiful, sometimes it's best when it's flat as Hemingway conclusively proved and one of its attractions is you can run on and on as long as the mind goes on following a thought without a stop sign for a whole page of books like Proust or Faulkner or Joyce.

Auden's is the second useful formulation that comes to mind (besides his chummy reverence for Shakespeare in naming him Top Bard). He classifies poems five ways:

            1. A good poem that's meaningful to him;
            2. A good poem that's not meaningful to him;
            3. A good poem that may someday become meaningful to him;
            4. A bad poem that's meaningful to him;
            5. A bad poem that's not meaningful to him.

I find I do about the same. But I discard all poems, good and bad, that are not meaningful to me. I have little taste for artistry for art's sake. The poem must speak to me or awaken me. Dickinson's formulation -- takes the top of your head off -- is the same as We can't define ******* but we know it when we see it.

A short aside: it feels inappropriate to answer the question What do you do? by saying I'm a poet. It would be like saying I'm a leader or I'm a prophet. You cannot anoint yourself a poet, a leader or a prophet -- others must do it for you. I wonder if I would be more comfortable if I had a larger audience (following) like Billy Collins for example. I think not. It would be like being a rock star, not a composer.

It's much more acceptable to say I'm a writer. Then when you answer the question Oh, what do you write? with Poetry, you are not self-aggrandizing, merely irrelevant, effete. Being a poet is viewed as being a flasher or nudist, exposing parts of yourself others would rather not see, at least not up close and personal, providing more information than others need or want to have. Maybe that's a good definition of a bad poet. Self-revelation dressed in verbal prowess is acceptable but naked, abject confession is unpardonable, tedious.

Although content is requisite for a poem to be meaningful, a poem is not really a communication like fiction or essay. It is more like an object, like a painting or sculpture, and perhaps like a musical score, sheet music. Yet I would still instruct students of poetry to first read each poem by the sentence, not the line, to derive its meaning, understand its argument, visualize its action. Then one might ask how and why is it sculpted, structured, with line breaks and strophes. Ultimately, the form of the poem is nothing more or less than the method by which the poet discovered his meaning. Although it is arbitrary -- it could have been said another way -- it is the only way it could be said by this person in this time and place. I have always liked the idea of a sculptor carving away stone or wood to reveal the form inside the block.

The poem lives on as an object, recognized by many or few or none. Like art or furniture, most are briefly useful then are moved to the attic or shed where they gather dust and mouse turds then break, dry and decay and find their way to the dump, the dust heap of history, only not even human history, just your personal history.

The anthology has made me an antiquarian -- one who cares as much for objects made by others as if I had made them myself.

So how can one talk about poems? The argument that any attempt to discuss or describe a poem is better served by simply reading the poem, perhaps memorizing it, has merit. Except in one respect -- the process can take you to undiscovered and half-discovered country within yourself. Always, first, you must understand the action otherwise we are just re-reading ourselves in our own tried and untrue ways. We must not mistake an old dog dying for a puppy being born. Misunderstanding the words is like constructing a science experiment with a flawed methodology and then using the results to shape or live in the world. It can be dangerous. Therefore reading poetry is a mental discipline worthy as the scientific method itself. It takes you out of yourself.

The fun of criticism comes in examining why and how the poem made you feel or think as you did. You can read closely for the chosen words, rhythms, lines and stanzas. You may admire the skill or wit of the poet. And you can refer to your own experience to understand your reaction. You can even disagree with the poet's thought or perception, or reject the sentiment. You can say that's him, not me.

Then there are Bloom's formulations of which I am wary, he being a critic not a poet. Yet here they are. Three sources of healthy complexity or difficulty in poems: 1) Sustained allusiveness -- cultural references that require the reader to be educated beyond the poem's content, for which he cites Milton as an example and could have Dante; 2) Cognitive originality -- leaps of perception and depths of understanding that startle, enlighten and take off the top of your head, for which he cites Shakespeare and Dickinson as examples and to which I would add much of what is memorable in modern poetry; and 3) Personal mythmaking -- whereby the poet constructs over time a system of images and personal (more than cultural) references that with familiarity become understandable and meaningful, citing Yeats and Blake as examples. How to make this formulation useful.

A second formulation by Bloom discusses poetic figures or the indirect means by which poetry uncovers truth, dancing with and romancing language rather than wrestling and pinning it down like philosophy tries. There are four: 1) Irony or saying one thing and meaning another, usually the opposite; 2) Symbol (synecdoche) or making one thing stand for another; 3) Contiguity (metonymy) or using an aspect or quality of something to represent the whole; and 4) Metaphor or transferring the qualities or associations of one thing to another.

Meanwhile, here's my **** poetica:

1) Poetry is an acquired taste, like golf or wine, with no obligation to appreciate it.

2) Poetry is divination; prose explains what we think we know but poetry discovers what we didn't know we thought.

3) Poetry is one of many man-made systems, like baseball or the scientific method, for producing knowledge, meaning and pleasure. Or are they all natural as ***?

4) Of all the other arts, poetry is most like sculpture; the word "poem" comes from the Indo- European root meaning "to make, to build."

5) It is impossible to write exactly what you mean or be accurately understood; poetry uses this to its advantage.

6) Line length -- enjambment -- is the single most important feature of poetry.

7) Poems are made from ideas; poetry is philosophy but where philosophy wrestles language down, poetry romances language.

8) Meaning is the most important product of poetry but it's completely personal; poems almost always say one thing and mean another but the poet often doesn't know what he meant.

9) It is almost impossible not to rhyme or write rhythmically in English or any other language.

10) The forms poets use are how the poet gets to his truth and are basically arbitrary choices.

11) Poems may be difficult and complex and irrational but they must be comprehensible.

12) Just describing the action of the poem will take you where you need to go.
www.ronnowpoetry.com
Pieter Gouvart Oct 2017
I don't write poems for some likes
Maybe I write poems to conquer the love of my life
I don't write poems that sound nice
They’re just some basic rhymes on feelings that run so wild

I don't write poems when I feel all right
I write them when I'm missing someone by my side
I don't write poems for my pride
I write poems ‘cause it's more a necessity
Than a way to fill some leisure time

I don't write poems to get famous
I write them because they tell my truth not because they're fabulous
I don't write poems to be popular
I just wanna be recognized by one, my one and only muse, my guiding star

I don't write poems to get rich
I write poems because I'm sick
I don't write poems for the men at the top of the pyramid
I write them for the sensitive ones, the crazy ones, the ones banished from society

I don't write poems to change the world
It's hard enough for me to change myself
I don't write poems to bring peace to this globe
I write them to find peace of mind

I write poems because just for a moment in time
I’d forget this empty place where I have to hide
I torture my mind with rhymes, easy ones, not too hard to find
Simple words I try to combine
Because it’s the only way to acquire meaning for a man who finds it hard to combine
The certainties of his heart with all the doubts in his mind
I wrote this poem as an introduction of my published collections of poems.
Nat Lipstadt Jul 2013
Mashup

Part I

I mashup me, myself, and perhaps thee too.


Excerpts from my poems about poets, poetry and the process of compositions. In chronological order, earliest to latest.
---------------------------------------------------------­------------------

With words we paint,
With syllables we embrace,
Tasked and ennobled,
We are forever fully employed,
Missionaries to all,
You too, are one as well,
Your fate can't be renounced,

when the rusted unborn poem notion is almost done,
but remains unpublished,
for no beginning, no title, can be found,

Then I recall the cornucopia days,
when poems spilled forth like
there would never be a when they wouldn't,

I revisit my old friends, couplets, twins and triplets,
seeded inside every tear, happy or sad,
sweetly and freely,

my old friends, reread,
words rearranged in new combinations,
old poems, plants bearing new fruits,
re-titled all of them, one name,
a collection entitled,
My Solace.


My eyes, my eyes, see only the
Totality of this moment.
When mastery of multi-tasking
Is the single best poem this man ever
Penned with his entirety,
Of which not word survived
For its unspoken silence was its glory.

My compact with you is to
remind us all, through
music, dance, words (poetry) and love,
This is the only compact
with the power of human law.


Color me flesh ****,
Color me blue bottled,
Red ripped asunder,
The sweetness ascribed to my love poetry,
A subtraction of the bitterness of a failed life.
Colorist of my seams, my woven words,
I am white now, my canvas completed,
Waiting for another poet to write over it,
And chaining new words to what was prior writ.

Al,  what you did not ask was this:
With each passing poem,
I am lessened within, expurgated,
In a sense part of me, expunged,
Part of me, passing too,
Every poems birth diminishes me.


You ask me how I find the time,
(To write)
But time is not the issue,
For they, are all prepared, needing only recognition,
For they, are all in readiness, needing only composition.

For who's who in poetry
is all of us!
saviors and failures,
recorders and decoders,
night writers of the oohs and aahs
of dreams and nightmares.

When this poet cannot,
no longer, anymore,
tastes his poems upon your lips,
keep your poems within his heart,
then he breathes no more,
and becomes one who was, yet is,
because of you, in poetry.

Awful poetry, some good, you will write.
But write and write till your heart be calmed,
For even ancient kings felt the anguish  of the soul,
And we profit even today by King David's psalms.


This wizened fool has his hands full,
Mouths to feed, bread to earn and bake,
As midnight is almost nigh,
He rests prone and adds a verse to this old poem
He long ago scribbled down, grimace-smiles now,
Realizing there is little difference tween him and the
Sad Eyed Teenagers of the Lowland.

For poetry salves his wounds still, even now,
Unashamedly, he thinks, hallelujah!

The poem is the afterbirth,
A conflicts resolution, an outcome,
Battlefield debris, the residue of
An exacting vision, a sentiment surging,
And your army of words, inadequate to the task,
Fighting to capture that insight flashed,
Each word a soldier, disheveled,
Crying, let me live, let me be saved,
Let me make a poem,
Let it be inscribed upon my victorious flag.

The poem is the sweat left upon the brow,
Having exercised the five senses,
The salt of struggle and debate,
It's completion, each word,
Both a victory and a defeat.

To write but a single line,
That uplifts the heart,
Eases pain, gives delight to strangers,
And makes you laugh out loud
With shivery pleasure,
That usurps a whole day and night,
That is a poet's true measure.

Mastery of the poetic,
Measured not in quantity,
But in tears of satisfaction
When others love the taste
Of newly born stanzas
Upon their lips,
couplets born and transcribed
In the wee hours of the morn.


You can have my love, my soul,
But leave to me the labor of poetry.
Loving you with words is my domain,
The speciality of my terrain,
So no more hasta la pasta if you please,
And by the bye, I would love some
Tonight, say around eight,
At a restaurant where the moon is
The only light illuminating our faces.

Until you have bent your ear to Shakespeare's sonnets,
Till you have laughed with Ogden Nash,
Wept with Frost, visited Byron's ghost,
Read the songs of King Solomon,
And once you
Despair of being their equal,
Shed your winter coat of worry,
***** your courage to the sticking point,
Begin to write then with reckless courage,
Unfettered abandon, make a fool of yourself!

Scout the competition.
Weep, for you and I will never surpass
The giants who preceeded us, and yet,
Laugh, cause they thought the same thing as well...


All I can say is
En Garde!
I will be coming back soon enough.
because you are my best poem,
and the there will always be another stanza needed...

I am no Houdini, it's quite simple,
After 5 years, I read her like a book,
A book of my poems that she has inspired,
Entitled the Mysteries of True Love.


Each letter, a morsel in your mouth,
Each phrase, a fork full of pleasure,
Each stanza, a full fledged member in a tasting menu,
Perfect only in conjunction with the preceding flavor,
and the one that follows,  and the one that follows.

Taste each poem upon thy tongue and then pass it on,
you know how....

Each word, whether chewed thoroughly,
or lightly placed upon a bud for flavor,
needs the careful consideration of your mouth.

When I hear Shakespeare
My own voice is stilled, it's poverty exposed,
I am ashamed of every word I ever wrote.
Hush me not, for t'is true,
Yet I write on for an audience of one, on but one subject,
A subject, a life, mine,
yet, still unmastered, even after decades of trying.

My poverty exposed, unmasked
for what it is worth, or not.


Lest you think this is paean to men
Another grand male boast,
Be advised this ditty be writty
By a man who, while no longer gritty,
Just put jelly on his scrambled eggs
And ketchup on his toast!

Mmmmmmm there might be a poem
Lurking in that too...

So baby,
shut it down,
turn me on,
make me warm for real,
glide your now practiced fingertips on my grizzled cheek,
whisper a phony "ugh,"
cause I know, you will read
this iPad love poem
and cherish us for evermore.


Soul of brevity, poetically,
I'll never be, this insightful critique,
("Your poems are too long")
I've received in multiplicity, from sources internationally,
perhaps, lucky me, you've read this far?

Surely still a chance that an angel will touch my lips,
my internal parts sign a final treaty, inside an armistice,
night sweats sighs a thing fully forgot,
poetry writing can now be dispatched,
maybe that will be my Act III,
if I can stay awake for it.

Walk a Single Word.
To write a poem, a single word select,
embrace it with a fullness that lovers, family and friends
and the *** who cut you off in the middle lane
do daily provide

Grasp said word, walk it onto a yellow, blue lined, legal pad,
touch said word with the whisper of a single tear, a single curse,
like a pebble in a pond,
said word will miracle expand
hugging you with concentric circles of lines of poetry,
visionary words and stanzas that almost complete themselves
and you

The rhymes you will require, the meter you will select,
no need to struggle, hug your child and as Abraham told Isaac,
God and Google will provide

The simple trickster, a wordsmiths, even your average poet laureate,
got nothing on you that you don't already possess, to offer them
Plenty stiff competition.


Therefore,
My life is mine to take,
Should I wish to choose the
Place, date, the time
To let the poetry cease,
I will announce it mostly gladly
with a blessing of
Shehecheyanu* and a
Smiling "by your leave."

Sometimes the pen, unnecessary.
The poem, fully formed, in his mouth, born.

Silent back labor, unbeknownst the existence
Of such a thing, yet knowing now
His contractions, coming fast and furious,
Eyes many centimeters dilated,
The sac's fluid breaks upon the poet's tongue,
He pronounces in a single breath his
Immaculate Completion

When his hand to mouth, goes,
Like Moses, when he touched the burning coals,
The words are signaled, freedom!
The words announce:
We are now created, conceived and
This new oxgenated atmosphere is now our
final resting place.

This child, the poem, this exhalation,
Once freed, is lost to him,
It's been renamed, retitled,
by hundreds of newly adopted parents as
Ours.


Words needed to create another love poem for my beloved,
Nose and toes, ******* and eyes all regularly poetically,
Cherished,
Now I have knuckled under
And competed a full poetic body scan
And have paid tribute to each n'every part of you,
Even your knuckles...which I am busy kissing
While writing this poem in my distracted mind.

The next time it be for the morning meal,
I will eat it in bed,
far from their kitchen hiding places,
And celebrate my heroics with original
Frosted Flakes and milk,
And extra sugar just for spite!
The bedroom fairies, living under the pillow,
Emerge to beg in iambic pentameter,
Won't get nary a bite,
Until they they return the poems they stole
From my midnight dreams.


I am exhausted. So many gems to decorate
My body, my soul. I must stop here,
So many of you have reached out, none of you overlooked.

Overwhelmed, let us sit together now
And celebrate the silence that comes after the
Gasp, the sigh, that the words have taken from
Our selves, from within.


On and on thru the night,
Riffing, rapping, rambling, and spitting,
Ditties and darts, couplets and barbs,
Single words and elegies,
Free verse and a lot of fking curse words,
It was a moment, a time
that deserved
to be preserved,
and so this poem got writ

You may think this story apocryphal
Which is another way of saying untrue,
But I got his boarding pass and it is signed,
To this crazy poetry dude, long may you rasp,
And it is signed by Mr. P. Simon, a big fan,
And it has never since that day,
Left my grasp


Some poems never end,
Nor meant too.
Alliterative phrases, invitations,
Add a verse, a word, even a sound,
An exclamation of delight,
A stanza in its own right.

Unfinished work, forever additive, collaborative.
Modify mine, pass it on.

Read somewhere some poems never end,
Now I understand that better,
Cause there are no bandages, stitches that can close,
Cause there are no pills, switches that can shut off,
The ripping sound, the cutting noise, the raging inside
Heard blocks away, almost reaching a house where you live,
And dying in the same **** place that
Poems come from after midnight.


And even if I am stranger now,
I'll prove useful to have around,
Giving you poetry precisely couture designed by command,
So I fully expect to be hugging you happy
Soon enough.
You'll see.

No matter combo or organized, a good nights sleep
Elusive
So poetry is my default rest position,
My screen savior.

**So when I warn,
All my poems are copywrighted,
My meaning simple, words crystal,
They belong to us, but mostly to you
Who are reading these words
Mashup Part II  Is now posted.

It appears that I write a lot on this topic.   Anyway all theses are indeed snippets from poems  I wrote  and have posted here.  Started with the oldest poems May 18 and working my way thru 'em
Cecilia Nov 2015
Love poems
aren't just poems of the in love

Love poems
can also be poems of the "falling-out-of-love" people
People who wants to be free
but can't be.

Love poems
aren't just poems of the in love

Love poems
can also be poems of the "hoping" people
People who loves someone
but were never loved back

Love poems
aren't just poems of the in love

Love poems
can also be poems of the "betrayed" people
People who longed with all their hearts
but were never tended to

Love poems
Isn't just about love
because love
isn't always just love

Love coincides with all the opposites
before we can say it's real.
Love coincides with the opposites
before we can truly feel.
Two Bulgarian poets entered “The Second Genesis” – Anthology of Contemporary World Poetry – India’2014
Poems of the Bulgarian poets Bozhidar Pangelov and Mira Dushkova are included in the Indian project “The Second Genesis: An Anthology of Contemporary World Poetry”. Bozhidar Pangelov’s poems are: “Time is an Idea” and “…I hear” translated by Vessislava Savova; as for Mira Dushkova’s poems – “Beyond”, “Sozopolis” and “The Girl”, they were translated by Petar Kadiyski.


For the authors:
Bozhidar Pangelov was born in the soft month of October in the city of the chestnut trees, Sofia, Bulgaria, where he lives and works. He likes joking that the only authorship which he acknowledges are his three children and the job-hobby in the sphere of the business services. His first book Four Cycles (2005) written entirely with an unknown author but in a complete synchronous on motifs of the Hellenic legends and mythos. The coauthor (Vanja Konstantinova) is an editor of his next book Delta (2005) and she is the woman whom “The Girl Who…” (2008) is dedicated to. His last (so far) book is “The Man Who…” (2009). In June 2013 a bi lingual poetry book A Feather of Fujiama is being published in Amazon.com as a Kindle edition. Some of his poems are translated in Italian, German, Polish, Russian, Chinese and English languages and are published on poetry sites as well as in anthologies and some periodicals all over the world. Bozhidar Pangelov is on of the German project Europe takes Europa ein Gedicht. “Castrop Rauxel ein Gedicht RUHR 2010” and the project “SPRING POETRY RAIN 2012”, Cyprus.
Mira Dushkova (1974) was born in in Veliko Tarnovo, the medieval capital of Bulgaria. She earned a MA degree from the University of Veliko Tarnovo, and later on a PhD in Modern Bulgarian Literature, from Ruse University Angel Kanchev, in 2010, where she is currently teaching literature courses.
Her writing includes poetry, essays, literary criticism and short stories. She has published several poetry books in Bulgarian: “I Try Histories As Clothes“ (1998), „Exercise On The Scarecrow” (2000), „Scents and Sights“ (2004), literary monograph “Semper Idem : Konstantin Konstantinov. Poetics of the late stories“ (2012, 2013) and the story collection „Invisible Things“ (2014).
Her poems have been published in literary editions in Bulgaria, USA, Sweden, Hungary, Croatia, Romania, Turkey and India. Some of her poems and essays have been first prize winners of different Bulgarian contests for literature.
She has attended poetry festivals in Bulgaria, Croatia (Zagreb) and Turkey (Istanbul and Ordu).
She lives in Ruse – Bulgaria.

For the Antology “The Second Genesis”:
In the anthology titled „The Second Genesis“ are published the poems of 150 poets from 57 countries. All poems are in English. The Antology consists of 546 pages. “The Second Genesis” includes authors’ and editors’ biographies and three indexes: of the authors; of the poem titles and an index based on the first verses. It is issued by “A.R.A.W.LII” (Academy of ‘raitɘ(s) And Word Literati) – an academy, which encourages literature and creative writing and realizes cultural connections between India and the other countries. Four times a year ARAWLII publishes in India the international magazine for poetry and creative writing „Prosopisia“. Its Chief Editor and President of A.R.A.W.LII is Prof. Anuraag Sharma. He is also author of Antology’s Introduction.
Participating Countries:
Albania, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Albania, Great Britain, Germany, Greece, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, India, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Spain, Italy, Jordan, Canada, Cyprus, China, Kosovo, Cuba, Macao, Macedonia, Niger, Norway, Pakistan, Palestine, Poland, Puerto Rico, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, USA, Singapore, Syria, Serbia, Taiwan, Tunis, Turkey, Fiji, Philippines, Finland, France, Holland, Croatia, Montenegro, Czech Republic, Chile, Sweden, Switzerland, Scotland, South Africa, Japan
For the editors:
Anuraag Sharma – editor and president of A.R.A.W.LII
Poet, critic, author of short stories, translator and playwrighter, Anuraag has to his credit the following publications: “Kiske Liye?”, “Punarbhava”, “Audhava”, Dimensions of the Angel: A Study of the poetry of Les Murray’s Poetry “Iswaswillbe” – a collection of short stories, “Setu” (“The Bridges”). He has also co-editor the volume of conference papers: ”Caring Cultures: Sharing Imaginations. Some of his recent publications include: “A Trilogy of plays”, “Mehraab” (“The Arch”) – translations of selected poems of four Canberra Poets, “Papa and Other Poems”, “Sau Baras Ka Sitara Eik” – translation of Andrew Parkin’s “A Star of Hundred Years”, “As if a wooden house I am”- translations of Surendra Chaturverdi, “Satish Verma: The Poet” and “Tere Jaane ke Baad Tere Aane as Pehle”. He is also editor-in-chief of two international journals – “Lemuria” and “Prosopisia”. Currently he is working as a Professor in English at Govt. College “Kekri” Ajmer, India.

Moizur Rehman Khan – co-redactor, project manager, secretary of A.R.A.W.LII
He studied Urdo and Persian Literature in college and later on competed his master degree in English literature from “Dayanand” College, Ajmer, India. He completed his research dissertation under the supervision of Anuraag Sharma on “Major themes in the poetry of Chris Wallas-Crabbe”. He is a creative writer. His poems and articles have been published in various magazines and journals. Currently he is teaching English at DMS, RIE, Ajmer, India.
References for the Antology:
“No middle no end, the poems in The Second Genesis have been speaking to you long before the beginning and will continue without you…don’t worry, its binding has long since unglued, its pages, worn and disheveled, will always be speaking to you, they’ve been compiled this way, to be read out of order, backwards, shelved or scattered in an attic between the coffee and greasy finger stains…The Second Genesis is the history of the Book where you become its words, ink and pulp.”
Craig Czury

“The Second Genesis is at the crossroads of a new poetic becoming. a poetry claiming its second beginning not only for art but the heart pulsating and feeding the entire body. This anthology is a successful fusion of unique, inimitable and polyphonic poetry, a well-organized improvisation with a solid and flexible structure.”

Dalia Staponkute

“The Second Genesis, a compendium of world poetry which is also a poetry of the world, suggests so much a new beginning as it does a recognition of the ongoing creation that continues to animate our collective existence. Our precarious era requires a global affirmation that we are all in this together. Poetry has always said as much, and here it says it again, in the idioms of our time.”
Paul Kane
**
“Visionary and international, The Second Genesis, introduced and edited by Anuraag Sharma, sparkles with poetry of insight, intelligence and feeling and is an indispensable reminder of our human aspirations and experience in the early 21st century. Poets from nearly sixty countries rub shoulders in this ambitious and wide-ranging collection, and their poems resonate and mingle in a multi-layered voice. It is the voice of our humanity.
In his Introduction, Dr. Sharma points to the invaluable importance of poetry in what he calls our destructive Lear era:
Beyond the Lear Century, across the 21st Century lies the island of Prospero and Ariel and Miranda and Ferdinand – the region of faith, hope and innocence, the land of virtue, and all forgiveness sans grievances, sans regrets, sans curses. The doleful shades lead to pastures new.
We must weigh our hopes. The Second Genesis is at hand….”
Diana Sampey
Nat Lipstadt Jul 2013
I mashup me, myself, and thee: Part II

Excerpts from my poems about poets, poetry and the process of composition. In chronological order, from the earliest to the most recent.
---------------------------------------------------------­-----------------------------------------------------------------­----


The three poems went about their business,
Bringing heaven to earth,
FYI, even Angels can't be everywhere, so,
God invented poems to do his ***** work,
Cleansing souls.

They rode in~out of town on a prankster wave,
A cheering throng was not around,
But a singular poet saw, recorded the vision,
And thus, this nameless poet,
Below unmasked, unsealed,
Cleansed one more soul,
And that soul, this soul, as required,
Paid it forward.
~
Nothing produced from this place
where routine means the gorge tastes bile,
When surcease is welcome relief,
Where dancing on ice in bare feet
Is step one to ripping your chest open by your own hands,
The toxins thus released rejuvenated by salted air,
Can be finally be transcribed onto paper
And realized.

Warn them once and then begin, you,
Get serious, delve, with hurricane unambiguity,
to torrential words upon the unsuspecting,
let them taste the rawness, only the truth provides,
let them know salt tears so briney,
They will flee this place, n'er to return.

~
One day she intro'd me as her fav poet,
To which I acknowledged by addressing her as
My number one fan,
Which seems to have stuck,
so I acknowledge her as such,
And always add a polite, respectful, winking,
Yes ma'am!
~
Like this new day,
there are always
new poems

Like last night's sunset,
day's efforts reviewed,
a special light,
a yellowed marker,
highlighting a few deserving

Take them home,
kiss them goodnight,
rest them in the poetry file
that is no file,
but a large fabric box where
sewing tools once stored

How appropriate and
how happy that makes me.

~
Yo! Yo!
Remember your first real high,
That moment
No absolution, no return.
That moment
When you admitted, confessed,
to yourself:

I am
Forever forward,
A home-grown poet.
I am
Soul enslaved to words.
The alphabet - My oxygen molecules,
I am both,
Addict and dealer
A ****** poet

Yo! Yo!
So you do recall,
The exact moment,
God-spark-within, ascendancy gained
You lost control,
Wept words instead of tears!
A ****** poet ******!

Yo! Yo!

Sophie's Choice.
You chose writing over breathing,
Worshiper of the purest pleaure,
******* in deep the smoke-high of
Head-nodding discontented contentment
Stealing anything you saw
For to satisfy the need, the craven
Craving.
****** poets!

Yo! Yo!

Don't you're ever sleep?
Hear that the city, the state,
Gonna methadone your kind
In a special program
Teach you only language to sign.
**** poets!

I am a ****** poet.

The first step taken.
Admission.
Poetry is my default rest position,

My drug of choice.
~
Have you noticed here

Each poet declaims his fellow
The better one, his teacher,
From whom they shall learn and gather up
Inspiration

Gonna run for Congress,
My first bill, Poetry-care,
Will make it a requirement that
All citizens must contribute,
Exchange once a day
To this peaceful place,
Even just a syllable, a single letter,

K?

~
Literally my eyes see words awaiting coordinating,
Poems flying by, needing plucking,
How a child eats his morning cereal,
His rituals informing, of the man yet to be,
How our bodies lay, hair unbrushed,
Tying us into a conjoined knot...

No matter that plain words are my ordinary tools,
With them I shall scribe the small,
Cherish the little, grab the middle,
Simplicity my golden rule,
Write they say, about what you know best,
Surely in the diurnal motions,
The arc of daily commotion,
Do we not all excel?
~
The ice of poetry,
glassine smooth
but
charged hardness,
hits you, ****** you,
unexpected snowball in the face,

the fire of poetry,
cherished phrase, a patois,
comfort food when
whole winter skies
swallow you bleak

mutual contradictions of poetry
savaging the soothed ego,
revealing the raging id

what's in a word anyway?

~
Please Pop, pick wise,
the life and lies, the faces and disguises,
I will need employ to achieve success
in the eyes of my reading beholders,
who own the liens on my soul
because of the promises I believed,
when you sang me
glowing lullabies of my future days,
how everyone would love my stories,
my poems, someday...
~
Place your ****** hands upon thy chest.
Let them melt thru and come to rest,
Inside, the battle ongoing, under thy breast.
Watch, eyes open, knowing, fearful.
Swiftly, with no hesitation, from within,
Rip open your body, exhaling the best,
And the worst of what you got.

The cool air rushes in,
Stirring the inside stew of:
Infected grime, shameful desires,
Secrets that should not have been exposed,
The ***** stuff that you alone know exists.

Contact with the atmosphere makes
Self-pity dies, blue blood turn red,
The TNT tightness explodes,
Ashamed, you have only one escape hatch.

Now, you are ready to write.

~
My life is on the boring side,
So welcome gents to look inside,
The surfed sites, the emails, hardly slimy,
But stay the fk away from my poetry!

Tis obvious from your midnight editing,
That my wordily, working body has been discretely
Simonized,
My data,
Googlized,
My poems,
Scrutinized,
A comma, a colon, a verb, out of place, capsized,
Little threads kept in door jambs, their alteration,
Your snooping presence, a confirming revelation
~
Where I write, here, all comes so easy,
Every glance a poem formed,
Every phrase a title to a poem served,
Every conversation overheard and those wind-lifted brought,
A seed, a germ, a word~worm hooked to the pole crook of
My finger saying, see man, time to get more ink and paper,
Go and catch us a few poems for dinner

The snapper weakfish word colors are
Running past my-by the thousands,
We will need a basket to catch but a fraction
Of what you see, more than more enough to share,
Only Happy Poems for all

It is this rhyming way I view the wold,
That is my freedom, is my-present essence,
How the poems come, how thy flow,
Peaking, I cannot berate, rarely eat,
Sleep a thing of the past (as you be aware, beware)
There is poetry in simply everything.

~
But if my aura be a comfort insufficient,
Let this surprise poetic gift awaiting your arrival,
Give you rest, from crying surcease!

For when the who, the why of me interrogatory posed,
Describe me in a brevity I ne'er possessed, say:
He was just a poet, and I,
Just, his lover, number one fan.

This truth eternal, never to change.
~
But I am open to learning, the arduous task
Of raising a teenage daughter,
After I have my head examined

Though I am just a bunch of eclectic electrons,
I got powers a few, like making life's happiness
Hearted happier, encouraging your forays into
You-know-what,
And when tables turn, a hasty retreat you beat,
For imaginary cappuccinos and poems we will meet,
Comparing notes on who felt lousier when...

But what I can do 100% is assure you
There is no lone nor lonely daughter extant,
Your voice not just clear but soft-edged,
For I have poetically adopted you,
Here and now, assuming you sign on the
.............................................................­line

~
Take these words at plain face,
and look not askance
at this fair warning,
for I am but a tragic,
empty vessel for you to fill,
you are the raconteur,
me, just a  
poet poseur extraordinaire,
street urchin, word merchant,
all my verbally, wordly goods expropriated
from the wind,  where your scattered thoughts
lie about, carelessly,
unattended
~
Guiltless in life, we but survived,
Hurting no one, no thing,
Yet, here we lie, ignored, unattended,
Yet, you fail again to see our connection?
You do not recognize us?

We are the shells, the husks of you,
Your poems unread, you labors unpreserved,
All wasted, for unless they are read, they die,
As you will too.
Some fast, by water, some slower, time-eroded,
All, ended, by drowning in the Sea of Who Cares!

~
What sourced this elegiac distich,
Too many poets, fully disclosing their downbeat, aroma of defeat?

The world is in a **** mood, not one of us, got nothing
Good to say, seems that love storms ripping hearts
With no trace of mercy, the radio has elected nonstop
Taylor Swift and Jonas Bro's
Just to make the point!

It is so easy to feel ******,
When the sun is unshining, elegant distich, **** me.

Thinking back, getting a good idea,
Found some long necked Corona overlooked,
Turn on the tv, pretend I'm a real cowboy,
And for god's sake, shut down poetry,
Good Bye Poetry, for the rest of the day.
~
once upon a time,
a traffic light rainbow,
stopped n' go, was a word design,
demarcated visions of spun sugar,
bodegas sold me
magic beans by the pound,
masterminded into cups of delight,
treasury's bounty overflowed,
now, dregs drain, sink stained,
as are my writing utensils,
my ink stained, us-less, fingers

come visit me, unknown stranger,
let us exchange fluidity, barbs,
a contest of kissing, eye lashing
wit ands shared vision stashing,
and together, once more,
write with our feet,
while holding hands,
becoming once more
poets of the street.

Only, come quickly.

~

But reading thy cries, an exercise,
Teeth-gnashing frustration.
It brings no relief.

So sad girl,
Write till you are righted,
May be it will snow on July 4th,
And tho unnatural,
So is thy grief.

Nonetheless, write me write me all about it,
Right us,
For tho snow falls, its loveliness,
Makes the heart rise up in gladness!
~
She brings me coffee in bed.
I propose a violin accompaniment.
Some babka, with nice-crumbly-in-bed
Streusel topping,
A concerto we could make!

Her derision snorted so loud,
The mollusks on the beach
From their shells come out.

"Good luck with that,
Put that fantasy on
Your **** poetry site,
Cause that is the closest you will ever get!"

~
For she will be my heroine for all time,

These words to expand with rhyme and verse,
T'is a welcome task, one familiar, but anew,
Each dawn each dusk, a daily trust, a love poem diurnal-birthed,
As if god created the world, but left upon completion,
With a grievous thirst, a new notion, he did burst.

He created the Eighth Day, for celebration of his
Most cherished invention, the idea of love.
This is where, the secret writ Eleventh Commandment occurs,
Love thy Poetry Gods, Honor them with daily verbs.
~
Officer...you should see me gut a

Poem,

Slice its belly open,
Sometimes straight, sometimes Askew,
Feed the gulls them
****** insides on the dock, by-moonlight,
Can ya cut me some slack?

Mmm, I see here in your license,
You are a disabled guy,
A **** poet ******,
Who often does his best work
Legally all alone in the HOV lane,
So I'm gonna let you off this time
Just with a warning!

~
We can share words, we can grant tiny easements,
We can weep with you unseen tears,
We can etsy you little homemade gifts
Like this.

That you can take and keep, and break out in time of need knowing full well that these words will not spoil nor rancid turn, cannot be out grown,, or torn, or rent asunder in anyway for once they are shared
They are irrevocable.
~
When you write,
It as if you write upon our
One skin,
For I am your tablet,
Your sole/sol/soul composition.

So stop kissing me
and
Write upon us.

~
This will not be the hardest poem I e're wrote,
But if there is no inspiration
For you to smote,
And armpits refuse to provide perspiration,
To source juices for a new creation,
Try this trick,
I promise you
No one will lick your ice cream cone,
Nor mistake you for Leonard Cohen,
But when you are done,
You will be High Priest of
Hello Poetry for the rest of the day!
~
You think you can write?
Then employ  a word outside your comfort zone,
Go it alone,
And write four sentences that will make
The hopeful reader stand up and
you twice as much, and shout

Hallelujah
*******.

Work. Poetry is work. Hard work.
Don't fret. But, think on it. Have the sweetest dreams.
In the morning, when you but awake,
A poem will be aborning in thy mind,
And dare I say it, you will find a new freedom
In free verse.
(I know you will slip in a rhyme or two,
I can't help but do it too)

~
Had myself forgot,
That a poem needs a
Frame of jungle gym sounds,
An aural aura resonance unbound.
Purposed to make the heart lift
Your ears say:

Say what!

It needs a tune,
An internal music,
It needs a lilt!
A cadence, that both
Marches and swings,
Even when'd urgent dirge
grief pours forth.
~
This Sabbath day you fog-hide
Your gift of bay and beach
So quiet implore, beseech,
Keep the sailors safe,
And your poets saved.

I ask much.
But I ask for all of us,
There are so many such
That are booster-chair needy
That I am succumbed, overwhelmed,
Enormity fearsome needs help even from a deity.

Small words, big hopes.

If you cannot grant it,
Won't wait for intervention,
Do it myself, answer prayers one and all,
Best I can, starting now with this
Po-hymn.

~
I used to sleep
With pen and paper on my nighttime table.
Nowadays, my iPad tablet rests upon my chest,
Not only does it keep me warn,
It takes my poems from within, Fresh Direct,^
Edits, credits, and delivers them to your door,
While I'm still sleeping.

Which is why they come at all hours.
It is also why they call them,
Love's Labour's Lost saving devices.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
**So I spend my cold, hard time
laying down cold hard verse,
Can't stop, cause it's my daddy's dying curse.

I am both: Addict and dealer, a ****** poet ******.
Robert Guerrero Dec 2012
poems
my friends my family
the only thing i have to help
when im lost and have no one to turn to
i grab my only hope for survival
this cruel world ruined me

poems
my own counselor and consultant
i have been cursed with evil emotions
yet i harness them in my poems
hopeing for them to leave my soul

poems
always there for me to write
always there for me to enjoy
my only means of entertainment
unless i watch the blood flow

poems
my key to a world unknown
my adventure on this wretched planet
unchained and ready to ****
my last poem still unwritten

poems
still in all of us
like an unknown power
a single poem could save humanity
but still they remain lost to poetry

poems
our last hope to rescue us from the dark
our light at the end of the tunnel
can we really let it go
we thrive to let our emotions know
our lives are not a show

poems
releasing us from the currents
having faith in the poets
the made us who we are today
look in the mirror and write a poem

poems
are the end of the apocalypse
we ended a war inside of us
hoping to end the war in humanity

poems
our own savior from the chains
our master of words
elegant in nature
and true in your words

poems
you steal the air in my lungs
you stop my heart
you are the one we love
dont hide from us

poems
the truth untold
and today you are told
the path you have paved is the one i shall stay on
Shazia ullah Jan 2016
Me and you and poems

Ages ago i used to love poetry
I could write anything
Anywhere any time
Even my dreams consisted of poems
I would wake up middle of the night
Looking frantically for paper
So the poem that had formed in my dreams wouldnt disappear
All i would write about was you,
Me, me and you, and us
My poems were happy with
Those few moments we had spent together
Poems that contained fragments of memory in them
Of me and you walking together
They were happy poems
They'd make me smile and blush
And then i stopped and the happy poems stopped
Me and you, we stopped
I dont know why but after that
There were no more poems
I had nothing to write about
Poems as i knew them had to have
Smiles and laughter and love
I didnt have that with you gone
So i stopped
But then you came back and
The poems started again
And here we are
Happy again
Everything is beautiful again
But now theres question in my poems
An uncertainty a lack of trust maybe
Will these poems ever stop again
Modern Charon
by Michael R. Burch

I, too, have stood―paralyzed at the helm
watching onrushing, inevitable disaster.
I too have felt sweat (or ecstatic tears) plaster
damp hair to my eyes, as a slug’s dense film
becomes mucous-insulate. Always, thereafter
living in darkness, bright things overwhelm.

Originally published by The Neovictorian/Cochlea. I wrote this poem in 2001 after the 911 terrorist attacks.



Warming Her Pearls
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth

Warming her pearls, her *******
gleam like constellations.
Her belly is a bit rotund ...
she might have stepped out of a Rubens.



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, Grassroots Poetry, Romantics Quarterly, Angle, Poetry Life & Times



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 Poetry Porch/Sonnet Scroll



Fascination with Light
by Michael R. Burch

Desire glides in on calico wings,
a breath of a moth
seeking a companionable light,

where it hovers, unsure,
sullen, shy or demure,
in the margins of night,

a soft blur.

With a frantic dry rattle
of alien wings,
it rises and thrums one long breathless staccato

and flutters and drifts on in dark aimless flight.

And yet it returns
to the flame, its delight,
as long as it burns.

Originally published by The HyperTexts



Kin
by Michael R. Burch

O pale, austere moon,
haughty beauty ...

what do we know of love,
or duty?



Water and Gold
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

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

Published by The Lyric, Black Medina, The Eclectic Muse, Kritya (India), Shabestaneh (Iran), Anthology of Contemporary American Poetry, Captivating Poetry (Anthology), Strange Road, Freshet, Shot Glass Journal, Better Than Starbucks, Famous Poets and Poems, Sonnetto Poesia, Poetry Life & Times



escape!!!
by michael r. burch

for anaïs vionet

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



Leave Taking
by Michael R. Burch

Brilliant leaves abandon battered limbs
to waltz upon ecstatic winds
until they die.

But the barren and embittered trees,
lament the frolic of the leaves
and curse the bleak November sky ...

Now, as I watch the leaves' high flight
before the fading autumn light,
I think that, perhaps, at last I may

have learned what it means to say—
goodbye.

This poem started out as a stanza in a much longer poem, "Jessamyn's Song," that dates to around age 14 or 15.



Passionate One
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth

Love of my life,
light of my morning―
arise, brightly dawning,
for you are my sun.

Give me of heaven
both manna and leaven―
desirous Presence,
Passionate One.



Stay With Me Tonight
by Michael R. Burch

Stay with me tonight;
be gentle with me as the leaves are gentle
falling to the earth.
And whisper, O my love,
how that every bright thing, though scattered afar,
retains yet its worth.

Stay with me tonight;
be as a petal long-awaited blooming in my hand.
Lift your face to mine
and touch me with your lips
till I feel the warm benevolence of your breath’s
heady fragrance like wine.

That which we had
when pale and waning as the dying moon at dawn,
outshone the sun.
And so lead me back tonight
through bright waterfalls of light
to where we shine as one.

Originally published by The Lyric



bachelorhoodwinked
by Michael R. Burch

u
are
charming
& disarming,
but mostly alarming
since all my resolve
dissolved!

u
are
chic
as a sheikh's
harem girl in the sheets
but my castle’s no longer my own
and my kingdom's been overthrown!



chrysalis
by Michael R. Burch

these are the days of doom
u seldom leave ur room
u live in perpetual gloom

yet also the days of hope
how to cope?
u pray and u *****

toward self illumination ...
becoming an angel
(pure love)

and yet You must love Your Self



Self Reflection
by Michael R. Burch

(for anyone struggling with self-image)

She has a comely form
and a smile that brightens her dorm ...
but she's grossly unthin
when seen from within;
soon a griefstricken campus will mourn.

Yet she'd never once criticize
a friend for the size of her thighs.
Do unto others—
sisters and brothers?
Yes, but also ourselves, likewise.



War is Obsolete
by Michael R. Burch

Trump’s war is on children and their mothers.
"An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind." ― Gandhi

War is obsolete;
even the strange machinery of dread
weeps for the child in the street
who cannot lift her head
to reprimand the Man
who failed to countermand
her soft defeat.

But war is obsolete;
even the cold robotic drone
that flies far overhead
has sense enough to moan
and shudder at her plight
(only men bereft of Light
with hearts indurate stone
embrace war’s Siberian night.)

For war is obsolete;
man’s tribal “gods,” long dead,
have fled his awakening sight
while the true Sun, overhead,
has pity on her plight.
O sweet, precipitate Light!―
embrace her, reject the night
that leaves gentle fledglings dead.

For each brute ancestor lies
with his totems and his “gods”
in the slavehold of premature night
that awaited him in his tomb;
while Love, the ancestral womb,
still longs to give birth to the Light.
So which child shall we ****** tonight,
or which Ares condemn to the gloom?

Originally published by The Flea. While campaigning for president in 2016, Donald Trump said that, as commander-in-chief of the American military, he would order American soldiers to track down and ****** women and children as "retribution" for acts of terrorism. When aghast journalists asked Trump if he could possibly have meant what he said, he verified more than once that he did. Keywords/Tags: war, terrorism, retribution, violence, ******, children, Gandhi, Trump, drones



In My House
by Michael R. Burch

When you were in my house
you were not free―
in chains bound.

Manifest Destiny?

I was wrong;
my plantation burned to the ground.
I was wrong.
This is my song,
this is my plea:
I was wrong.

When you are in my house,
now, I am not free.
I feel the song
hurling itself back at me.
We were wrong.
This is my history.

I feel my tongue
stilting accordingly.

We were wrong;
brother, forgive me.

Published by Black Medina



Shock
by Michael R. Burch

It was early in the morning of the forming of my soul,
in the dawning of desire, with passion at first bloom,
with lightning splitting heaven to thunder's blasting roll
and a sense of welling fire and, perhaps, impending doom―
that I cried out through the tumult of the raging storm on high
for shelter from the chaos of the restless, driving rain ...
and the voice I heard replying from a rift of bleeding sky
was mine, I'm sure, and, furthermore, was certainly insane.

I may have been reading too many gothic ghost stories when I wrote this one! I think it shows a good touch with meter for a young poet, since I wrote it in my early teens.



In Praise of Meter
by Michael R. Burch

The earth is full of rhythms so precise
the octave of the crystal can produce
a trillion oscillations, yet not lose
a second's beat. The ear needs no device
to hear the unsprung rhythms of the couch
drown out the mouth's; the lips can be debauched
by kisses, should the heart put back its watch
and find the pulse of love, and sing, devout.
If moons and tides in interlocking dance
obey their numbers, what's been left to chance?
Should poets be more lax―their circumstance
as humble as it is?―or readers wince
to see their ragged numbers thin, to hear
the moans of drones drown out the Chanticleer?

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



Completing the Pattern
by Michael R. Burch

Walk with me now, among the transfixed dead
who kept life’s compact and who thus endure
harsh sentence here—among pink-petaled beds
and manicured green lawns. The sky’s azure,
pale blue once like their eyes, will gleam blood-red
at last when sunset staggers to the door
of each white mausoleum, to inquire—
What use, O things of erstwhile loveliness?



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.

Published by Grassroots Poetry and Poetry Webring



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



White in the Shadows
by Michael R. Burch

White in the shadows
I see your face,
unbidden. Go, tell
Love it is commonplace;

tell Regret it is not so rare.

Our love is not here
though you smile,
full of sedulous grace.
Lost in darkness, I fear
the past is our resting place.

Published by Carnelian, The Chained Muse, Poetry Life & Times, A-Poem-A-Day and in a YouTube video by Aurora G. with the titles “Ghost,” “White Goddess” and “White in the Shadows”



The Octopi Jars
by Michael R. Burch

Long-vacant eyes
now lodged in clear glass,
a-swim with pale arms
as delicate as angels'...

you are beyond all hope
of salvage now...
and yet I would pause,
no fear!,
to once touch
your arcane beaks...

I, more alien than you
to this imprismed world,
notice, most of all,
the scratches on the inside surfaces
of your hermetic cells ...

and I remember documentaries
of albino Houdinis
slipping like wraiths
over the walls of shipboard aquariums,
slipping down decks'
brine-lubricated planks,
spilling jubilantly into the dark sea,
parachuting through clouds of pallid ammonia...

and I know now in life you were unlike me:
your imprisonment was never voluntary.



The Children of Gaza

Nine of my poems have been set to music by the composer Eduard de Boer and have been performed in Europe by the Palestinian soprano Dima Bawab. My poems that became “The Children of Gaza” were written from the perspective of Palestinian children and their mothers. On this page the poems come first, followed by the song lyrics, which have been adapted in places to fit the music …



Epitaph for a Child of Gaza
by Michael R. Burch

I lived as best I could, and then I died.
Be careful where you step: the grave is wide.



Frail Envelope of Flesh
by Michael R. Burch

for the mothers and children of Gaza

Frail envelope of flesh,
lying cold on the surgeon’s table
with anguished eyes
like your mother’s eyes
and a heartbeat weak, unstable ...

Frail crucible of dust,
brief flower come to this―
your tiny hand
in your mother’s hand
for a last bewildered kiss ...

Brief mayfly of a child,
to live two artless years!
Now your mother’s lips
seal up your lips
from the Deluge of her tears ...



For a Child of Gaza, with Butterflies
by Michael R. Burch

Where does the butterfly go
when lightning rails
when thunder howls
when hailstones scream
while winter scowls
and 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?



I Pray Tonight
by Michael R. Burch

for the children of Gaza and their mothers

I pray tonight
the starry Light
might
surround you.

I pray
by 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.



Something
by Michael R. Burch

for the mothers and children of Gaza

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

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

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



Mother’s Smile
by Michael R. Burch

for the mothers of Gaza and their children

There never was a fonder smile
than mother’s smile, no softer touch
than mother’s touch. So sleep awhile
and know she loves you more than “much.”

So more than “much,” much more than “all.”
Though tender words, these do not speak
of love at all, nor how we fall
and mother’s there, nor how we reach
from nightmares in the ticking night
and she is there to hold us tight.

There never was a stronger back
than father’s back, that held our weight
and lifted us, when we were small,
and bore us till we reached the gate,

then held our hands that first bright mile
till we could run, and did, and flew.
But, oh, a mother’s tender smile
will leap and follow after you!



Such Tenderness
by Michael R. Burch

for the mothers of Gaza

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

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

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

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



who, US?
by Michael R. Burch

jesus was born
a palestinian child
where there’s no Room
for the meek and the mild

... and in bethlehem still
to this day, lambs are born
to cries of “no Room!”
and Puritanical scorn ...

under Herod, Trump, Bibi
their fates are the same―
the slouching Beast mauls them
and WE have no shame:

“who’s to blame?”



My nightmare ...

I had a dream of Jesus!
Mama, his eyes were so kind!
But behind him I saw a billion Christians
hissing "You're nothing!," so blind.
―The Child Poets of Gaza (written by Michael R. Burch for the children of Gaza)



I, too, have a dream ...

I, too, have a dream ...
that one day Jews and Christians
will see me as I am:
a small child, lonely and afraid,
staring down the barrels of their big bazookas,
knowing I did nothing
to deserve their enmity.
―The Child Poets of Gaza (written by Michael R. Burch for the children of Gaza)



Suffer the Little Children
by Nakba

I saw the carnage . . . saw girls' dreaming heads
blown to red atoms, and their dreams with them . . .

saw babies liquefied in burning beds
as, horrified, I heard their murderers’ phlegm . . .

I saw my mother stitch my shroud’s black hem,
for in that moment I was one of them . . .

I saw our Father’s eyes grow hard and bleak
to see frail roses severed at the stem . . .

How could I fail to speak?
―Nakba is an alias of Michael R. Burch



Here We Shall Remain
by Tawfiq Zayyad
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Like twenty impossibilities
in Lydda, Ramla and Galilee ...
here we shall remain.

Like brick walls braced against your chests;
lodged in your throats
like shards of glass
or prickly cactus thorns;
clouding your eyes
like sandstorms.

Here we shall remain,
like brick walls obstructing your chests,
washing dishes in your boisterous bars,
serving drinks to our overlords,
scouring your kitchens' filthy floors
in order to ****** morsels for our children
from between your poisonous fangs.

Here we shall remain,
like brick walls deflating your chests
as we face our deprivation clad in rags,
singing our defiant songs,
chanting our rebellious poems,
then swarming out into your unjust streets
to fill dungeons with our dignity.

Like twenty impossibilities
in Lydda, Ramla and Galilee,
here we shall remain,
guarding the shade of the fig and olive trees,
fermenting rebellion in our children
like yeast in dough.

Here we wring the rocks to relieve our thirst;
here we stave off starvation with dust;
but here we remain and shall not depart;
here we spill our expensive blood
and do not hoard it.

For here we have both a past and a future;
here we remain, the Unconquerable;
so strike fast, penetrate deep,
O, my roots!



Enough for Me
by Fadwa Tuqan
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Enough for me to lie in the earth,
to be buried in her,
to sink meltingly into her fecund soil, to vanish ...
only to spring forth like a flower
brightening the play of my countrymen's children.

Enough for me to remain
in my native soil's embrace,
to be as close as a handful of dirt,
a sprig of grass,
a wildflower.



Palestine
by Mahmoud Darwish
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

This land gives us
all that makes life worthwhile:
April's blushing advances,
the aroma of bread warming at dawn,
a woman haranguing men,
the poetry of Aeschylus,
love's trembling beginnings,
a boulder covered with moss,
mothers who dance to the flute's sighs,
and the invaders' fear of memories.

This land gives us
all that makes life worthwhile:
September's rustling end,
a woman leaving forty behind, still full of grace, still blossoming,
an hour of sunlight in prison,
clouds taking the shapes of unusual creatures,
the people's applause for those who mock their assassins,
and the tyrant's fear of songs.

This land gives us
all that makes life worthwhile:
Lady Earth, mother of all beginnings and endings!
In the past she was called Palestine
and tomorrow she will still be called Palestine.
My Lady, because you are my Lady, I deserve life!



Distant light
by Walid Khazindar
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Bitterly cold,
winter clings to the naked trees.
If only you would free
the bright sparrows
from the tips of your fingers
and release a smile—that shy, tentative smile—
from the imprisoned anguish I see.
Sing! Can we not sing
as if we were warm, hand-in-hand,
shielded by shade from a glaring sun?
Can you not always remain this way,
stoking the fire, more beautiful than necessary, and silent?
Darkness increases; we must remain vigilant
and this distant light is our only consolation—
this imperiled flame, which from the beginning
has been flickering,
in danger of going out.
Come to me, closer and closer.
I don't want to be able to tell my hand from yours.
And let's stay awake, lest the snow smother us.

Walid Khazindar was born in 1950 in Gaza City. He is considered one of the best Palestinian poets; his poetry has been said to be "characterized by metaphoric originality and a novel thematic approach unprecedented in Arabic poetry." He was awarded the first Palestine Prize for Poetry in 1997.



Excerpt from “Speech of the Red Indian”
by Mahmoud Darwish
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Let's give the earth sufficient time to recite
the whole truth ...
The whole truth about us.
The whole truth about you.

In tombs you build
the dead lie sleeping.
Over bridges you *****
file the newly slain.

There are spirits who light up the night like fireflies.
There are spirits who come at dawn to sip tea with you,
as peaceful as the day your guns mowed them down.

O, you who are guests in our land,
please leave a few chairs empty
for your hosts to sit and ponder
the conditions for peace
in your treaty with the dead.



Existence
by Fadwa Tuqan
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

In my solitary life, I was a lost question;
in the encompassing darkness,
my answer lay concealed.

You were a bright new star
revealed by fate,
radiating light from the fathomless darkness.

The other stars rotated around you
—once, twice —
until I perceived
your unique radiance.

Then the bleak blackness broke
and in the twin tremors
of our entwined hands
I had found my missing answer.

Oh you! Oh you intimate, yet distant!
Don't you remember the coalescence
Of our spirits in the flames?
Of my universe with yours?
Of the two poets?
Despite our great distance,
Existence unites us.



Nothing Remains
by Fadwa Tuqan
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Tonight, we’re together,
but tomorrow you'll be hidden from me again,
thanks to life’s cruelty.

The seas will separate us ...
Oh!—Oh!—If I could only see you!
But I'll never know ...
where your steps led you,
which routes you took,
or to what unknown destinations
your feet were compelled.

You will depart and the thief of hearts,
the denier of beauty,
will rob us of all that's dear to us,
will steal our happiness,
leaving our hands empty.

Tomorrow at dawn you'll vanish like a phantom,
dissipating into a delicate mist
dissolving quickly in the summer sun.

Your scent—your scent!—contains the essence of life,
filling my heart
as the earth absorbs the lifegiving rain.

I will miss you like the fragrance of trees
when you leave tomorrow,
and nothing remains.

Just as everything beautiful and all that's dear to us
is lost—lost!—when nothing remains.



Identity Card
by Mahmoud Darwish
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Record!
I am an Arab!
And my identity card is number fifty thousand.
I have eight children;
the ninth arrives this autumn.
Will you be furious?

Record!
I am an Arab!
Employed at the quarry,
I have eight children.
I provide them with bread,
clothes and books
from the bare rocks.
I do not supplicate charity at your gates,
nor do I demean myself at your chambers' doors.
Will you be furious?

Record!
I am an Arab!
I have a name without a title.
I am patient in a country
where people are easily enraged.
My roots
were established long before the onset of time,
before the unfolding of the flora and fauna,
before the pines and the olive trees,
before the first grass grew.
My father descended from plowmen,
not from the privileged classes.
My grandfather was a lowly farmer
neither well-bred, nor well-born!
Still, they taught me the pride of the sun
before teaching me how to read;
now my house is a watchman's hut
made of branches and cane.
Are you satisfied with my status?
I have a name, but no title!

Record!
I am an Arab!
You have stolen my ancestors' orchards
and the land I cultivated
along with my children.
You left us nothing
but these bare rocks.
Now will the State claim them
as it has been declared?

Therefore!
Record on the first page:
I do not hate people
nor do I encroach,
but if I become hungry
I will feast on the usurper's flesh!
Beware!
Beware my hunger
and my anger!

NOTE: Darwish was married twice, but had no children. In the poem above, he is apparently speaking for his people, not for himself personally.



Passport
by Mahmoud Darwish
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

They left me unrecognizable in the shadows
that bled all colors from this passport.
To them, my wounds were novelties—
curious photos for tourists to collect.
They failed to recognize me. No, don't leave
the palm of my hand bereft of sun
when all the trees recognize me
and every song of the rain honors me.
Don't set a wan moon over me!

All the birds that flocked to my welcoming wave
as far as the distant airport gates,
all the wheatfields,
all the prisons,
all the albescent tombstones,
all the barbwired boundaries,
all the fluttering handkerchiefs,
all the eyes—
they all accompanied me.
But they were stricken from my passport
shredding my identity!

How was I stripped of my name and identity
on soil I tended with my own hands?
Today, Job's lamentations
re-filled the heavens:
Don't make an example of me, not again!
Prophets! Gentlemen!—
Don't require the trees to name themselves!
Don't ask the valleys who mothered them!
My forehead glistens with lancing light.
From my hand the riverwater springs.
My identity can be found in my people's hearts,
so invalidate this passport!



Autumn Conundrum
by Michael R. Burch

for the mothers and children of Gaza

It's not that every leaf must finally fall,
it's just that we can never catch them all.



Piercing the Shell

for the mothers and children of Gaza

If we strip away all the accouterments of war,
perhaps we'll discover what the heart is for.



gimME that ol’ time religion!
by michael r. burch

fiddle-dee-dum, fiddle-dee-dee,
jesus loves and understands ME!
safe in his grace, I’LL **** them to hell—
the strumpet, the harlot, the wild jezebel,
the alky, the druggie, all queers short and tall!
let them drink ashes and wormwood and gall,
’cause fiddle-dee-DUMB, fiddle-dee-WEEEEEEEEEee ...
jesus loves and understands
ME!



To the boy Elis
by Georg Trakl
translation by Michael R. Burch

Elis, when the blackbird cries from the black forest,
it announces your downfall.
Your lips sip the rock-spring's blue coolness.

Your brow sweats blood
recalling ancient myths
and dark interpretations of birds' flight.

Yet you enter the night with soft footfalls;
the ripe purple grapes hang suspended
as you wave your arms more beautifully in the blueness.

A thornbush crackles;
where now are your moonlike eyes?
How long, oh Elis, have you been dead?

A monk dips waxed fingers
into your body's hyacinth;
Our silence is a black abyss

from which sometimes a docile animal emerges
slowly lowering its heavy lids.
A black dew drips from your temples:

the lost gold of vanished stars.

TRANSLATOR'S NOTE: I believe that in the second stanza the blood on Elis's forehead may be a reference to the apprehensive ****** sweat of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. If my interpretation is correct, Elis hears the blackbird's cries, anticipates the danger represented by a harbinger of death, but elects to continue rather than turn back. From what I have been able to gather, the color blue had a special significance for Georg Trakl: it symbolized longing and perhaps a longing for death. The colors blue, purple and black may represent a progression toward death in the poem.



Habeas Corpus
by Michael R. Burch

from “Songs of the Antinatalist”

I have the results of your DNA analysis.
If you want to have children, this may induce paralysis.
I wish I had good news, but how can I lie?
Any offspring you have are guaranteed to die.
It wouldn’t be fair—I’m sure you’ll agree—
to sentence kids to death, so I’ll waive my fee.



In His Kingdom of Corpses
by Michael R. Burch

In His kingdom of corpses,
God has been heard to speak
in many enraged discourses,
high, high from some mountain peak
where He’s lectured man on compassion
while the sparrows around Him fell,
and babes, for His meager ration
of rain, died and went to hell,
unbaptized, for that’s His fashion.

In His kingdom of corpses,
God has been heard to vent
in many obscure discourses
on the need for man to repent,
to admit that he’s a sinner;
give up ***, and riches, and fame;
be disciplined at his dinner
though always he dies the same,
whether fatter or thinner.

In his kingdom of corpses,
God has been heard to speak
in many absurd discourses
of man’s Ego, precipitous Peak!,
while demanding praise and worship,
and the bending of every knee.
And though He sounds like the Devil,
all religious men now agree
He loves them indubitably.



Uyghur Poetry Translations

With my translations I am trying to build awareness of the plight of Uyghur poets and their people, who are being sent in large numbers to Chinese "reeducation" concentration camps.

Perhat Tursun (1969-????) is one of the foremost living Uyghur language poets, if he is still alive. Unfortunately, Tursun was "disappeared" into a Chinese "reeducation" concentration camp where extreme psychological torture is the norm. According to a disturbing report he was later "hospitalized." Apparently no one knows his present whereabouts or condition, if he has one. According to John Bolton, when Donald Trump learned of these "reeducation" concentration camps, he told Chinese President Xi Jinping it was "exactly the right thing to do." Trump’s excuse? "Well, we were in the middle of a major trade deal."

Elegy
by Perhat Tursun
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

"Your soul is the entire world."
―Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

Asylum seekers, will you recognize me among the mountain passes' frozen corpses?
Can you identify me here among our Exodus's exiled brothers?
We begged for shelter but they lashed us bare; consider our naked corpses.
When they compel us to accept their massacres, do you know that I am with you?

Three centuries later they resurrect, not recognizing each other,
Their former greatness forgotten.
I happily ingested poison, like a fine wine.
When they search the streets and cannot locate our corpses, do you know that I am with you?

In that tower constructed of skulls you will find my dome as well:
They removed my head to more accurately test their swords' temper.
When before their swords our relationship flees like a flighty lover,
Do you know that I am with you?

When men in fur hats are used for target practice in the marketplace
Where a dying man's face expresses his agony as a bullet cleaves his brain
While the executioner's eyes fail to comprehend why his victim vanishes, ...
Seeing my form reflected in that bullet-pierced brain's erratic thoughts,
Do you know that I am with you?

In those days when drinking wine was considered worse than drinking blood,
did you taste the flour ground out in that blood-turned churning mill?
Now, when you sip the wine Ali-Shir Nava'i imagined to be my blood
In that mystical tavern's dark abyssal chambers,
Do you know that I am with you?

TRANSLATOR NOTES: This is my interpretation (not necessarily correct) of the poem's frozen corpses left 300 years in the past. For the Uyghur people the Mongol period ended around 1760 when the Qing dynasty invaded their homeland, then called Dzungaria. Around a million people were slaughtered during the Qing takeover, and the Dzungaria territory was renamed Xinjiang. I imagine many Uyghurs fleeing the slaughters would have attempted to navigate treacherous mountain passes. Many of them may have died from starvation and/or exposure, while others may have been caught and murdered by their pursuers. If anyone has a better explanation, they are welcome to email me at mikerburch@gmail.com (there is an "r" between my first and last names).



The Fog and the Shadows
adapted from a novel by Perhat Tursun
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

“I began to realize the fog was similar to the shadows.”

I began to realize that, just as the exact shape of darkness is a shadow,
even so the exact shape of fog is disappearance
and the exact shape of a human being is also disappearance.
At this moment it seemed my body was vanishing into the human form’s final state.

After I arrived here,
it was as if the danger of getting lost
and the desire to lose myself
were merging strangely inside me.

While everything in that distant, gargantuan city where I spent my five college years felt strange to me; and even though the skyscrapers, highways, ditches and canals were built according to a single standard and shape, so that it wasn’t easy to differentiate them, still I never had the feeling of being lost. Everyone there felt like one person and they were all folded into each other. It was as if their faces, voices and figures had been gathered together like a shaman’s jumbled-up hair.

Even the men and women seemed identical.
You could only tell them apart by stripping off their clothes and examining them.
The men’s faces were beardless like women’s and their skin was very delicate and unadorned.
I was always surprised that they could tell each other apart.
Later I realized it wasn’t just me: many others were also confused.

For instance, when we went to watch the campus’s only TV in a corridor of a building where the seniors stayed when they came to improve their knowledge. Those elderly Uyghurs always argued about whether someone who had done something unusual in an earlier episode was the same person they were seeing now. They would argue from the beginning of the show to the end. Other people, who couldn’t stand such endless nonsense, would leave the TV to us and stalk off.

Then, when the classes began, we couldn’t tell the teachers apart.
Gradually we became able to tell the men from the women
and eventually we able to recognize individuals.
But other people remained identical for us.

The most surprising thing for me was that the natives couldn’t differentiate us either.
For instance, two police came looking for someone who had broken windows during a fight at a restaurant and had then run away.
They ordered us line up, then asked the restaurant owner to identify the culprit.
He couldn’t tell us apart even though he inspected us very carefully.
He said we all looked so much alike that it was impossible to tell us apart.
Sighing heavily, he left.



The Encounter
by Abdurehim Otkur
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I asked her, why aren’t you afraid? She said her God.
I asked her, anything else? She said her People.
I asked her, anything more? She said her Soul.
I asked her if she was content? She said, I am Not.



The Distance
by Tahir Hamut
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

We can’t exclude the cicadas’ serenades.
Behind the convex glass of the distant hospital building
the nurses watch our outlandish party
with their absurdly distorted faces.

Drinking watered-down liquor,
half-****, descanting through the open window,
we speak sneeringly of life, love, girls.
The cicadas’ serenades keep breaking in,
wrecking critical parts of our dissertations.

The others dream up excuses to ditch me
and I’m left here alone.

The cosmopolitan pyramid
of drained bottles
makes me feel
like I’m in a Turkish bath.

I lock the door:
Time to get back to work!

I feel like doing cartwheels.
I feel like self-annihilation.



Refuge of a Refugee
by Ablet Abdurishit Berqi aka Tarim
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I lack a passport,
so I can’t leave legally.
All that’s left is for me to smuggle myself to safety,
but I’m afraid I’ll be beaten black and blue at the border
and I can’t afford the trafficker.

I’m a smuggler of love,
though love has no national identity.
Poetry is my refuge,
where a refugee is most free.

The following excerpts, translated by Anne Henochowicz, come from an essay written by Tang Danhong about her final meeting with Dr. Ablet Abdurishit Berqi, aka Tarim. Tarim is a reference to the Tarim Basin and its Uyghur inhabitants...

I’m convinced that the poet Tarim Ablet Berqi the associate professor at the Xinjiang Education Institute, has been sent to a “concentration camp for educational transformation.” This scholar of Uyghur literature who conducted postdoctoral research at Israel’s top university, what kind of “educational transformation” is he being put through?

Chen Quanguo, the Communist Party secretary of Xinjiang, has said it’s “like the instruction at school, the order of the military, and the security of prison. We have to break their blood relations, their networks, and their roots.”

On a scorching summer day, Tarim came to Tel Aviv from Haifa. In a few days he would go back to Urumqi. I invited him to come say goodbye and once again prepared Sichuan cold noodles for him. He had already unfriended me on Facebook. He said he couldn’t eat, he was busy, and had to hurry back to Haifa. He didn’t even stay for twenty minutes. I can’t even remember, did he sit down? Did he have a glass of water? Yet this farewell shook me to my bones.

He said, “Maybe when I get off the plane, before I enter the airport, they’ll take me to a separate room and beat me up, and I’ll disappear.”

Looking at my shocked face, he then said, “And maybe nothing will happen …”

His expression was sincere. To be honest, the Tarim I saw rarely smiled. Still, layer upon layer blocked my powers of comprehension: he’s a poet, a writer, and a scholar. He’s an associate professor at the Xinjiang Education Institute. He can get a passport and come to Israel for advanced studies. When he goes back he’ll have an offer from Sichuan University to be a professor of literature … I asked, “Beat you up at the airport? Disappear? On what grounds?”

“That’s how Xinjiang is,” he said without any surprise in his voice. “When a Uyghur comes back from being abroad, that can happen.”…



This poem helps us understand the nomadic lifestyle of many Uyghurs, the hardships they endure, and the character it builds...

Iz (“Traces”)
by Abdurehim Otkur
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

We were children when we set out on this journey;
Now our grandchildren ride horses.

We were just a few when we set out on this arduous journey;
Now we're a large caravan leaving traces in the desert.

We leave our traces scattered in desert dunes' valleys
Where many of our heroes lie buried in sandy graves.

But don't say they were abandoned: amid the cedars
their resting places are decorated by springtime flowers!

We left the tracks, the station... the crowds recede in the distance;
The wind blows, the sand swirls, but here our indelible trace remains.

The caravan continues, we and our horses become thin,
But our great-grand-children will one day rediscover those traces.



My Feelings
by Dolqun Yasin
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The light sinking through the ice and snow,
The hollyhock blossoms reddening the hills like blood,
The proud peaks revealing their ******* to the stars,
The morning-glories embroidering the earth’s greenery,
Are not light,
Not hollyhocks,
Not peaks,
Not morning-glories;
They are my feelings.

The tears washing the mothers’ wizened faces,
The flower-like smiles suddenly brightening the girls’ visages,
The hair turning white before age thirty,
The night which longs for light despite the sun’s laughter,
Are not tears,
Not smiles,
Not hair,
Not night;
They are my nomadic feelings.

Now turning all my sorrow to passion,
Bequeathing to my people all my griefs and joys,
Scattering my excitement like flowers festooning fields,
I harvest all these, then tenderly glean my poem.

Therefore the world is this poem of mine,
And my poem is the world itself.



To My Brother the Warrior
by Téyipjan Éliyow
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

When I accompanied you,
the commissioners called me a child.
If only I had been a bit taller
I might have proved myself in battle!

The commission could not have known
my commitment, despite my youth.
If only they had overlooked my age and enlisted me,
I'd have given that enemy rabble hell!

Now, brother, I’m an adult.
Doubtless, I’ll join the service soon.
Soon enough, I’ll be by your side,
battling the enemy: I’ll never surrender!

Keywords/Tags: Uyghur, translation, Uighur, Xinjiang, elegy, Kafka, China, Chinese, reeducation, prison, concentration camp, desert, nomad, nomadic, race, racism, discrimination, Islam, Islamic, Muslim, mrbuyghur



Free Fall to Liftoff
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 ...



The One True Poem
by Michael R. Burch

Love was not meaningless ...
nor your embrace, nor your kiss.

And though every god proved a phantom,
still you were divine to your last dying atom ...

So that when you are gone
and, yea, not a word remains of this poem,

even so,
We were One.



The Poem of Poems
by Michael R. Burch

This is my Poem of Poems, for you.
Every word ineluctably true:
I love you.



Peace Prayer
by Michael R. Burch

Be calm.
Be still.
Be silent, content.

Be one with the buffalo cropping the grass to a safer height.

Seek the composure of the great depths, barely moved by exterior storms.

Lift your face to the dawning light; feel how it warms.

And be calm.
Be still.
Be silent, content.



Sometimes the Dead
by Michael R. Burch

Sometimes we catch them out of the corners of our eyes—
the pale dead.
After they have fled
the gourds of their bodies, like escaping fragrances they rise.

Once they have become a cloud’s mist, sometimes like the rain
they descend;
they appear, sometimes silver like laughter,
to gladden the hearts of men.

Sometimes like a pale gray fog, they drift
unencumbered, yet lumbrously,
as if over the sea
there was the lightest vapor even Atlas could not lift.

Sometimes they haunt our dreams like forgotten melodies
only half-remembered.
Though they lie dismembered
in black catacombs, sepulchers and dismal graves; although they have committed felonies,

yet they are us. Someday soon we will meet them in the graveyard dust
blood-engorged, but never sated
since Cain slew Abel.
But until we become them, let us steadfastly forget them, even as we know our children must ...



What the Poet Sees
by Michael R. Burch

What the poet sees,
he sees as a swimmer
~~~underwater~~~
watching the shoreline blur
sees through his breath’s weightless bubbles ...
Both worlds grow obscure.

Published by ByLine, Mandrake Poetry Review, Poetically Speaking, E Mobius Pi, Underground Poets, Little Brown Poetry, Little Brown Poetry, Triplopia, Poetic Ponderings, Poem Kingdom, PW Review, Neovictorian/Cochlea, Muse Apprentice Guild, Mindful of Poetry, Poetry on Demand, Poet’s Haven, Famous Poets and Poems, and Bewildering Stories



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.

Published by The Lyric and The Ekphrastic Review



Chit Chat: In the Poetry Chat Room
by Michael R. Burch

WHY SHULD I LERN TO SPELL?
HELL,
NO ONE REEDS WHAT I SAY
ANYWAY!!! :(

Sing for the cool night,
whispers of constellations.
Sing for the supple grass,
the tall grass, gently whispering.
Sing of infinities, multitudes,
of all that lies beyond us now,
whispers begetting whispers.
And i am glad to also whisper . . .

I WUS HURT IN LUV I’M DYIN’
FER TH’ TEARS I BEEN A-CRYIN’!!!

i abide beyond serenities
and realms of grace,
above love’s misdirected earth,
i lift my face.
i am beyond finding now . . .

I WAS IN, LOVE, AND HE ******* ME!!!
THE ****!!! TOTALLY!!!

i loved her once, before, when i
was mortal too, and sometimes i
would listen and distinctly hear
her laughter from the juniper,
but did not go . . .

I JUST DON’T GET POETRY, SOMETIMES.
IT’S OKAY, I GUESS.
I REALLY DON’T READ THAT MUCH AT ALL,
I MUST CONFESS!!! ;-)

Travail, inherent to all flesh,
i do not know, nor how to feel.
Although i sing them nighttimes still:
the bitter woes, that do not heal . . .

POETRY IS BORING.
SEE, IT *****!!!, I’M SNORING!!! ZZZZZZZ!!!

The words like breath, i find them here,
among the fragrant juniper,
and conifers amid the snow,
old loves imagined long ago . . .

WHY DON’T YOU LIKE MY PERFICKT WORDS
YOU USELESS UN-AMERIC’N TURDS?!!!

What use is love, to me, or Thou?
O Words, my awe, to fly so smooth
above the anguished hearts of men
to heights unknown, Thy bare remove . . .



Each Color a Scar
by Michael R. Burch

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

She did not speak,
but her intention
was clear,

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

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

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

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



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 gleaming
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 ...



Sanctuary at Dawn
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

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

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

"My father!"
"My son!"

NOTE: “Sanctuary at Dawn” was written either in high school or during my first two years of college.



All Things Galore
by Michael R. Burch

for my grandfathers George Edwin Hurt Sr. and Paul Ray Burch Sr.

Grandfather,
now in your gray presence
you are

somehow more near

and remind me that,
once, upon a star,
you taught me

wish

that ululate soft phrase,
that hopeful phrase!

and everywhere above, each hopeful star

gleamed down

and seemed to speak of times before
when you clasped my small glad hand
in your wise paw

and taught me heaven, omen, meteor . . .



Attend Upon Them Still
by Michael R. Burch

for my grandparents George and Ena Hurt

With gentleness and fine and tender will,
attend upon them still;
thou art the grass.

Nor let men’s feet here muddy as they pass
thy subtle undulations, nor depress
for long the comforts of thy lovingness,

nor let the fuse
of time wink out amid the violets.
They have their use―

to wave, to grow, to gleam, to lighten their paths,
to shine sweet, transient glories at their feet.
Thou art the grass;

make them complete.



The Composition of Shadows
by Michael R. Burch

for poets who write late at night

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

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

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

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

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



First Steps
by Michael R. Burch

for Caitlin Shea Murphy

To her a year is like infinity,
each day—an adventure never-ending.
She has no concept of time,
but already has begun the climb—
from childhood to womanhood recklessly ascending.

I would caution her, "No! Wait!
There will be time enough another day ...
time to learn the Truth
and to slowly shed your youth,
but for now, sweet child, go carefully on your way! ..."

But her time is not a time for cautious words,
nor a time for measured, careful understanding.
She is just certain
that, by grabbing the curtain,
in a moment she will finally be standing!

Little does she know that her first few steps
will hurtle her on her way
through childhood to adolescence,
and then, finally, pubescence . . .
while, just as swiftly, I’ll be going gray!



brrExit
by Michael R. Burch

what would u give
to simply not exist—
for a painless exit?
he asked himself, uncertain.

then from behind
the hospital room curtain
a patient screamed—
"my life!"



Vacuum
by Michael R. Burch

Over hushed quadrants
forever landlocked in snow,
time’s senseless winds blow ...

leaving odd relics of lives half-revealed,
if still mostly concealed ...
such are the things we are unable to know

that once intrigued us so.

Come then, let us quickly repent
of whatever truths we’d once determined to learn:
for whatever is left, we are unable to discern.

There’s nothing left of us; it’s time to go.



Spring
by Charles d'Orleans (c.1394-1465)
loose translation/modernization by Michael R. Burch

Young lovers,
greeting the spring
fling themselves downhill,
making cobblestones ring
with their wild leaps and arcs,
like ecstatic sparks
struck from coal.

What is their brazen goal?

They grab at whatever passes,
so we can only hazard guesses.
But they rear like prancing steeds
raked by brilliant spurs of need,
Young lovers.



Oft in My Thought
by Charles d'Orleans (c.1394-1465)
loose translation/modernization by Michael R. Burch

So often in my busy mind I sought,
Around the advent of the fledgling year,
For something pretty that I really ought
To give my lady dear;
But that sweet thought's been wrested from me, clear,
Since death, alas, has sealed her under clay
And robbed the world of all that's precious here―
God keep her soul, I can no better say.

For me to keep my manner and my thought
Acceptable, as suits my age's hour?
While proving that I never once forgot
Her worth? It tests my power!
I serve her now with masses and with prayer;
For it would be a shame for me to stray
Far from my faith, when my time's drawing near—
God keep her soul, I can no better say.

Now earthly profits fail, since all is lost
And the cost of everything became so dear;
Therefore, O Lord, who rules the higher host,
Take my good deeds, as many as there are,
And crown her, Lord, above in your bright sphere,
As heaven's truest maid! And may I say:
Most good, most fair, most likely to bring cheer—
God keep her soul, I can no better say.

When I praise her, or hear her praises raised,
I recall how recently she brought me pleasure;
Then my heart floods like an overflowing bay
And makes me wish to dress for my own bier—
God keep her soul, I can no better say.



Confession of a Stolen Kiss
by Charles d'Orleans (c.1394-1465)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

My ghostly father, I confess,
First to God and then to you,
That at a window (you know how)
I stole a kiss of great sweetness,
Which was done out of avidness—
But it is done, not undone, now.

My ghostly father, I confess,
First to God and then to you.

But I shall restore it, doubtless,
Again, if it may be that I know how;
And thus to God I make a vow,
And always I ask forgiveness.

My ghostly father, I confess,
First to God and then to you.

Translator note: By "ghostly father" I take Charles d'Orleans to be confessing to a priest. If so, it's ironic that the kiss was "stolen" at a window and the confession is being made at the window of a confession booth. But it also seems possible that Charles could be confessing to his human father, murdered in his youth and now a ghost. There is wicked humor in the poem, as Charles is apparently vowing to keep asking for forgiveness because he intends to keep stealing kisses at every opportunity!



Charles d'Orleans translations of Rondels/Roundels/Rondeaux

Note: While there is some confusion about the names and definitions of poetic forms such as the rondel, roundel, rondelle and rondeau, these are all rhyming poems with refrains.

Rondel: Your Smiling Mouth
by Charles d'Orleans (c.1394-1465)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Your smiling mouth and laughing eyes, bright gray,
Your ample ******* and slender arms' twin chains,
Your hands so smooth, each finger straight and plain,
Your little feet—please, what more can I say?

It is my fetish when you're far away
To muse on these and thus to soothe my pain—
Your smiling mouth and laughing eyes, bright gray,
Your ample ******* and slender arms' twin chains.

So would I beg you, if I only may,
To see such sights as I before have seen,
Because my fetish pleases me. Obscene?

I'll be obsessed until my dying day
By your sweet smiling mouth and eyes, bright gray,
Your ample ******* and slender arms' twin chains!



The season has cast its coat aside
by Charles d'Orleans (c.1394-1465)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The season has cast its coat aside
of wind and cold and rain,
to dress in embroidered light again:
bright sunlight, fit for a bride!

There isn't a bird or beast astride
that fails to sing this sweet refrain:
"The season has cast its coat aside! "

Now rivers, fountains, springs and tides
dressed in their summer best
with silver beads impressed
in a fine display now glide:
the season has cast its coat aside!



The year lays down his mantle cold
by Charles d'Orleans (c.1394-1465)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The year lays down his mantle cold
of wind, chill rain and bitter air,
and now goes clad in clothes of gold
of smiling suns and seasons fair,
while birds and beasts of wood and fold
now with each cry and song declare:
"The year lays down his mantle cold! "
All brooks, springs, rivers, seaward rolled,
now pleasant summer livery wear
with silver beads embroidered where
the world puts off its raiment old.
The year lays down his mantle cold.



Winter has cast his cloak away
by Charles d'Orleans (c.1394-1465)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Winter has cast his cloak away
of wind and cold and chilling rain
to dress in embroidered light again:
the light of day—bright, festive, gay!
Each bird and beast, without delay,
in its own tongue, sings this refrain:
"Winter has cast his cloak away! "
Brooks, fountains, rivers, streams at play,
wear, with their summer livery,
bright beads of silver jewelry.
All the Earth has a new and fresh display:
Winter has cast his cloak away!

Note: This rondeau was set to music by Debussy in his "Trois chansons de France."



Caedmon's Hymn (circa 658-680 AD)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Humbly now we honour heaven-kingdom's Guardian,
the Measurer's might and his mind-plans,
the goals of the Glory-Father. First he, the Everlasting Lord,
established earth's fearful foundations.
Then he, the First Scop, hoisted heaven as a roof
for the sons of men: Holy Creator,
mankind's great Maker! Then he, the Ever-Living Lord,
afterwards made men middle-earth: Master Almighty!



Les Bijoux (The Jewels)
by Charles Baudelaire
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

My lover **** and knowing my heart's whims
Wore nothing more than a few bright-flashing gems;
Her art was saving men despite their sins—
She ruled like harem girls crowned with diadems!

She danced for me with a gay but mocking air,
My world of stone and metal sparking bright;
I discovered in her the rapture of everything fair—
Nay, an excess of joy where the spirit and flesh unite!

Naked she lay and offered herself to me,
Parting her legs and smiling receptively,
As gentle and yet profound as the rising sea—
Till her surging tide encountered my cliff, abruptly.

A tigress tamed, her eyes met mine, intent ...
Intent on lust, content to purr and please!
Her breath, both languid and lascivious, lent
An odd charm to her metamorphoses.

Her limbs, her *****, her abdomen, her thighs,
Oiled alabaster, sinuous as a swan,
Writhed pale before my calm clairvoyant eyes;
Like clustered grapes her ******* and belly shone.

Skilled in more spells than evil imps can muster,
To break the peace which had possessed my heart,
She flashed her crystal rocks’ hypnotic luster
Till my quietude was shattered, blown apart.

Her waist awrithe, her ******* enormously
Out-******, and yet ... and yet, somehow, still coy ...
As if stout haunches of Antiope
Had been grafted to a boy ...

The room grew dark, the lamp had flickered out.
Mute firelight, alone, lit each glowing stud;
Each time the fire sighed, as if in doubt,
It steeped her pale, rouged flesh in pools of blood.



Duellem (The Duel)
by Charles Baudelaire
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Two combatants charged! Their fearsome swords
brightened the air with fiery sparks and blood.
Their clashing blades clinked odd serenades,
reminding us: youth's inspired by overloud love.

But now their blades lie broken, like our hearts!
Still, our savage teeth and talon-like fingernails
can do more damage than the deadliest sword
when lovers lash about with such natural flails.

In a deep ravine haunted by lynxes and panthers,
our heroes roll around in a cozy embrace,
leaving their blood to redden the colorless branches.
This abyss is pure hell; our friends occupy the place.

Come, let us roll here too, cruel Amazon;
let our hatred’s ardor never be over and done!



Le Balcon (The Balcony)
by Charles Baudelaire
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Paramour of memory, ultimate mistress,
source of all pleasure, my only desire;
how can I forget your ecstatic caresses,
the warmth of your ******* by the roaring fire,
paramour of memory, ultimate mistress?

Each night illumined by the burning coals
we lay together where the rose-fragrance clings―
how soft your *******, how tender your soul!
Ah, and we said imperishable things,
each night illumined by the burning coals.

How beautiful the sunsets these sultry days,
deep space so profound, beyond life’s brief floods ...
then, when I kissed you, my queen, in a daze,
I thought I breathed the bouquet of your blood
as beautiful as sunsets these sultry days.

Night thickens around us like a wall;
in the deepening darkness our irises meet.
I drink your breath, ah! poisonous yet sweet!,
as with fraternal hands I massage your feet
while night thickens around us like a wall.

I have mastered the sweet but difficult art
of happiness here, with my head in your lap,
finding pure joy in your body, your heart;
because you’re the queen of my present and past
I have mastered love’s sweet but difficult art.

O vows! O perfumes! O infinite kisses!
Can these be reborn from a gulf we can’t sound
as suns reappear, as if heaven misses
their light when they sink into seas dark, profound?
O vows! O perfumes! O infinite kisses!



Il pleure dans mon coeur (“It rains in my heart”)
by Paul Verlaine
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

It rains in my heart
As it rains on the town;
Heavy languor and dark
Drenches my heart.

Oh, the sweet-sounding rain
Cleansing pavements and roofs!
For my listless heart's pain
The pure song of the rain!

Still it rains without reason
In my overcast heart.
Can it be there's no treason?
That this grief's without reason?

As my heart floods with pain,
Lacking hatred, or love,
I've no way to explain
Such bewildering pain!



Spleen
by Paul Verlaine
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The roses were so very red;
The ivy, impossibly black.
Dear, with a mere a turn of your head,
My despair’s flooded back!

The sky was too gentle, too blue;
The sea, far too windswept and green.
Yet I always imagined―or knew―
I’d again feel your spleen.

Now I'm tired of the glossy waxed holly,
Of the shimmering boxwood too,
Of the meadowland’s endless folly,
When all things, alas, lead to you!



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.



Dispensing Keys
by Hafiz aka Hafez
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The imbecile
constructs cages
for everyone he knows,
while the sage
(who has to duck his head
whenever the moon glows)
keeps dispensing keys
all night long
to the beautiful, rowdy,
prison gang.



Infectious!
by Hafiz aka Hafez
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I became infected with happiness tonight
as I wandered idly, singing in the starlight.
Now I'm wonderfully contagious ...
so kiss me!



The Tally
by Hafiz aka Hafez
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Lovers
don't reveal
all
their Secrets;
under the covers
they
may
count each other's Moles
(that reside
and hide
in the shy regions
by forbidden holes),
then keep the final tally
strictly
from Aunt Sally!

This is admittedly a VERY loose translation of the original Hafiz poem!



Mirror
by Kajal Ahmad, a Kurdish poet
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

My era's obscuring mirror
shattered
because it magnified the small
and made the great seem insignificant.
Dictators and monsters filled its contours.
Now when I breathe
its jagged shards pierce my heart
and instead of sweat
I exude glass.



The Lonely Earth
by Kajal Ahmad
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The pale celestial bodies
never bid her “Good morning!”
nor do the creative stars
kiss her.
Earth, where so many tender persuasions and roses lie interred,
might expire for the lack of a glance, or an odor.
She’s a lonely dusty orb,
so very lonely!, as she observes the moon's patchwork attire
knowing the sun's an imposter
who sears with rays he has stolen for himself
and who looks down on the moon and earth like lodgers.



Kurds are Birds
by Kajal Ahmad
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Per the latest scientific classification, Kurds
now belong to a species of bird!
This is why,
traveling across the torn, fraying pages of history,
they are nomads recognized by their caravans.
Yes, Kurds are birds! And,
even worse, when
there’s nowhere left to nest, no refuge from their pain,
they turn to the illusion of traveling again
between the warm and arctic sectors of their homeland.
So I don’t think it strange Kurds can fly but not land.
They wander from region to region
never realizing their dreams
of settling,
of forming a colony, of nesting.
No, they never settle down long enough
to visit Rumi and inquire about his health,
or to bow down deeply in the gust-
stirred dust,
like Nali.



Birdsong
by Rumi
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Birdsong relieves
my deepest griefs:
now I'm just as ecstatic as they,
but with nothing to say!
Please universe,
rehearse
your poetry
through me!



After the Deluge
by Michael R. Burch

She was kinder than light
to an up-reaching flower
and sweeter than rain
to the bees in their bower
where anemones blush
at the affections they shower,
and love’s shocking power.

She shocked me to life,
but soon left me to wither.
I was listless without her,
nor could I be with her.
I fell under the spell
of her absence’s power.
in that calamitous hour.

Like blithe showers that fled
repealing spring’s sweetness;
like suns’ warming rays sped
away, with such fleetness ...
she has taken my heart—
alas, our completeness!
I now wilt in pale beams
of her occult remembrance.



grave request
by michael r. burch

come to ur doom
in Tombstone;

the stars stark and chill
over Boot Hill

care nothing for ur desire;

still,

imagine they wish u no ill,
that u burn with the same antique fire;

for there’s nothing to life but the thrill
of living until u expire;

so come, spend ur last hardearned bill
on Tombstone.



Defenses
by Michael R. Burch

Beyond the silhouettes of trees
stark, naked and defenseless
there stand long rows of sentinels:
these pert white picket fences.

Now whom they guard and how they guard,
the good Lord only knows;
but savages would have to laugh
observing the tidy rows.



Pool's Prince Charming
by Michael R. Burch

(this is my tribute poem, written on the behalf of his fellow pool sharks, for the legendary Saint Louie Louie Roberts)

Louie, Louie, Prince of Pool,
making all the ladies drool ...
Take the “nuts”? I'd be a fool!
Louie, Louie, Prince of Pool.

Louie, Louie, pretty as Elvis,
owner of (ahem) a similar pelvis ...
Compared to you, the books will shelve us.
Louie, Louie, pretty as Elvis.

Louie, Louie, fearless gambler,
ladies' man and constant rambler,
but such a sweet, loquacious ambler!
Louie, Louie, fearless gambler.

Louie, Louie, angelic, chthonic,
pool's charming hero, but tragic, Byronic,
winning the Open drinking gin and tonic?
Louie, Louie, angelic, chthonic.



The Aery Faery Princess
by Michael R. Burch

for Keira

There once was a princess lighter than fluff
made of such gossamer stuff—
the down of a thistle, butterflies’ wings,
the faintest high note the hummingbird sings,
moonbeams on garlands, strands of bright hair ...
I think she’s just you when you’re floating on air!



pretty pickle
by Michael R. Burch

u’d blaspheme if u could
because ur God’s no good,
but of course u cant:
ur just a lowly ant
(or so u were told by a Hierophant).



and then i was made whole
by Michael R. Burch

... and then i was made whole,
but not a thing entire,
glued to a perch
in a gilded church,
strung through with a silver wire ...

singing a little of this and of that,
warbling higher and higher:
a thing wholly dead
till I lifted my head
and spat at the Lord and his choir.



Album
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

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



Because You Came to Me
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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



Beckoning
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

I believe I wrote the first version of this poem around age 18, wasn't happy with it, put it aside, then revised it six years later.



Besieged
by Michael R. Burch

Life—the disintegration of the flesh
before the fitful elevation of the soul
upon improbable wings?

Life—is this all we know,
the travail one bright season brings? ...

Now the fruit hangs,
impendent, pregnant with death,
as the hurricane builds and flings
its white columns and banners of snow

and the rout begins.



****** or Heroine?
by Michael R. Burch

(for mothers battling addiction)

serve the Addiction;
worship the Beast;
feed the foul Pythons
your flesh, their fair feast ...

or rise up, resist
the huge many-headed hydra;
for the sake of your Loved Ones
decapitate medusa.



Loose Knit
by Michael R. Burch

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

And if her hand jerks and twitches in puppet-like fits,
she tells herself
reality is not as threadbare as it seems ...
that a little more darning may gather loose seams.

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



If I am Syrian, what of it?
Stranger, we all dwell in one world, not its portals.
The same original Chaos gave birth to all mortals.
—Meleager, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Love, how can I call on you:
does Desire dwell with the dead?
Cupid, that bold boy, never bowed his head
to wail.
—Meleager, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Cupid, I swear,
your quiver holds only empty air:
for all your winged arrows, set free,
are now lodged in me.
—Meleager, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

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

Cupid, the cuddly baby
safe in his mother's lap,
chucking the dice one day,
gambled my heart away.
—Meleager, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I lie defeated. Set your foot on my neck. Checkmate.
I recognize you by your weight;
yes, and by the gods, you’re a load to bear.
I am also well aware
of your fiery darts.
But if you seek to ignite human hearts,
******* with your tinders;
mine’s already in cinders.
—Meleager, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

When I see Theron everything’s revealed.
When he’s gone all’s concealed.
—Meleager, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

When I see Theron everything’s defined;
When he’s gone I’m blind.
—Meleager, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

When I see Theron my eyes bug out;
When he’s gone even sight is in doubt.
—Meleager, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Mother-Earth, to all men dear,
Aesigenes was never a burden to you,
so please rest lightly on him here.
—Meleager, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Meleager dedicates this lamp to you, dear Cypris, as a plaything,
since it has been initiated into the mysteries of your nocturnal ceremonies.
—Meleager, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I know you lied, because these ringlets
still dripping scented essences
betray your wantonness.
These also betray you—
your eyes sagging with the lack of sleep,
stray tendrils of your unchaste hair escaping its garlands,
your limbs uncoordinated by the wine.
Away, trollop, they summon you—
the reveling lyre and the clattering castanets rattled by lewd fingers!
—Meleager, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Moon and Stars,
lighting the way for lovers,
and Night,
and you, my mournful Mandolin, my ***** companion ...
when will we see her, the little wanton one, lying awake and moaning to her lamp?
Or does she embrace some other companion?
Then let me hang conciliatory garlands on her door,
wilted by my tears,
and let me inscribe thereupon these words:
"For you, Cypris,
the one to whom you revealed the mysteries of your revels,
Meleager,
offers these spoiled tokens of his love."
—Meleager, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Silence!
They must have carried her off!
Who could be so barbaric,
to act with such violence,
to wage war against Love himself?
Quick, prepare the torches!
But wait!
A footfall, Heliodora's!
Get back in my *****, heart!
—Meleager, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Tears, the last gifts of my love,
I send drenching down to you, Heliodora.
Here on your puddling tomb I pour them out—
soul-wrenching tears
in memory of affliction and affection.
Piteously, so piteously Meleager mourns you,
you still so precious, so dear to him in death,
paying vain tributes to Acheron.
Alas! Alas! Where is my beautiful one,
my heart's desire?
Death has taken her from me, has robbed me of her,
and the lustrous blossom lies trampled in dust.
But Earth-Mother, nurturer of us all ...
Mother, I beseech you, hold her gently to your *****,
the one we all bewail.
—Meleager, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



You ask me why I've sent you no new verses?
There might be reverses.
―Martial, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

You ask me to recite my poems to you?
I know how you'll "recite" them, if I do.
―Martial, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

NOTE: The irascible Martial is suggesting that if he shares his poems, they will be plagiarized.

You ask me why I choose to live elsewhere?
You're not there.
―Martial, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

You ask me why I love the fresh country air?
You're not befouling it there.
―Martial, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

You never wrote a poem,
yet criticize mine?
Stop abusing me or write something fine
of your own!
―Martial, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

He starts everything but finishes nothing;
thus I suspect there's no end to his stuffing.
―Martial, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

NOTE: Martial concluded his epigram with a variation of the f-word; please substitute it if you prefer it.

You alone own prime land, dandy!
Gold, money, the finest porcelain―you alone!
The best wines of the most famous vintages―you alone!
Discrimination and wit―you alone!
You have it all―who can deny that you alone are set for life?
But everyone has had your wife―she is never alone!
―Martial, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

You dine in great magnificence
while offering guests a pittance.
Sextus, did you invite
friends to dinner tonight
to impress us with your enormous appetite?
―Martial, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

To you, my departed parents, dear mother and father,
I commend my little lost angel, Erotion, love’s daughter.
She fell a mere six days short of outliving her sixth frigid winter.
Protect her now, I pray, should the chilling dark shades appear;
muzzle hell’s three-headed hound, less her heart be dismayed!
Lead her to romp in some sunny Elysian glade,
her devoted patrons. Watch her play childish games
as she excitedly babbles and lisps my name.
Let no hard turf smother her softening bones; and do
rest lightly upon her, earth, she was surely no burden to you!
―Martial, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



Alien Nation
by Michael R. Burch

for a Christian poet who believes in “hell”

On a lonely outpost on Mars
the astronaut practices “speech”
as alien to primates below
as mute stars winking high, out of reach.

And his words fall as bright and as chill
as ice crystals on Kilimanjaro —
far colder than Jesus’s words
over the “fortunate” sparrow.

And I understand how gentle Emily
must have felt, when all comfort had flown,
gazing into those inhuman eyes,
feeling zero at the bone.

Oh, how can I grok his arctic thought?
For if he is human, I am not.



Burn
by Michael R. Burch

for Trump

Sunbathe,
ozone baby,
till your parched skin cracks
in the white-hot flash
of radiation.

Incantation
from your pale parched lips
shall not avail;
you made this hell.
Now burn.



Burn, Ovid
by Michael R. Burch

“Burn Ovid”—Austin Clarke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This poem is set at Faith Christian Academy, which I attended for a year during the ninth grade, in 1972-1973. While the poem definitely had its genesis there, I believe I revised it more than once and didn't finish it till 2001, nearly 28 years later, according to my notes on the poem. Another poem, "*** 101," was also written about my experiences at FCA that year.



*** 101
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

The most unlikely coupling—

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

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

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

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

This companion poem to "Burn, Ovid" is also set at Faith Christian Academy, in 1972-1973.



honeybee
by michael r. burch

love was a little treble thing—
prone to sing
and (sometimes) to sting



honeydew
by michael r. burch

i sampled honeysuckle
and it made my taste buds buckle!



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.



Huntress
Michael R. Burch

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



Ibykos Fragment 286 (III)
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Come spring, the grand
apple trees stand
watered by a gushing river
where the maidens’ uncut flowers shiver
and the blossoming grape vine swells
in the gathering shadows.

Unfortunately
for me
Eros never rests
but like a Thracian tempest
ablaze with lightning
emanates from Aphrodite;

the results are frightening—
black,
bleak,
astonishing,
violently jolting me from my soles
to my soul.

Originally published by The Chained Muse



Ince St. Child
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

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



Lullaby
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy

Cherubic laugh; sly, impish grin;
Angelic face; wild chimp within.

It does not matter; sleep awhile
As soft mirth tickles forth a smile.

Gray moths will hum a lullaby
Of feathery wings, then you and I

Will wake together, by and by.

Life’s not long; those days are best
Spent snuggled to a loving breast.

The earth will wait; a sun-filled sky
Will bronze lean muscle, by and by.

Soon you will sing, and I will sigh,
But sleep here, now, for you and I

Know nothing but this lullaby.



Kin
by Michael R. Burch

O pale, austere moon,
haughty beauty ...

what do we know of love,
or duty?



Kindred
by Michael R. Burch

Rise, pale disastrous moon!
What is love, but a heightened effect
of time, light and distance?

Did you burn once,
before you became
so remote, so detached,

so coldly, inhumanly lustrous,
before you were able to assume
the very pallor of love itself?

What is the dawn now, to you or to me?

We are as one,
out of favor with the sun.

We would exhume
the white corpse of love
for a last dance,

and yet we will not.
We will let her be,
let her abide,

for she is nothing now,
to you
or to me.



Reflections
by Michael R. Burch

I am her mirror.
I say she is kind,
lovely, breathtaking.
She screams that I’m blind.

I show her her beauty,
her brilliance and compassion.
She refuses to believe me,
for that’s the latest fashion.

She storms and she rages;
she dissolves into tears
while envious Angels
are, by God, her only Peers.



Excerpts from “Travels with Einstein”
by Michael R. Burch

for Trump

I went to Berlin to learn wisdom
from Adolph. The wild spittle flew
as he screamed at me, with great conviction:
“Please despise me! I look like a Jew!”

So I flew off to ’Nam to learn wisdom
from tall Yankees who cursed “yellow” foes.
“If we lose this small square,” they informed me,
earth’s nations will fall, dominoes!”

I then sat at Christ’s feet to learn wisdom,
but his Book, from its genesis to close,
said: “Men can enslave their own brothers!”
(I soon noticed he lacked any clothes.)

So I traveled to bright Tel Aviv
where great scholars with lofty IQs
informed me that (since I’m an Arab)
I’m unfit to lick dirt from their shoes.

At last, done with learning, I stumbled
to a well where the waters seemed sweet:
the mirage of American “justice.”
There I wept a real sea, in defeat.

Originally published by Café Dissensus



Remembrance
by Michael R. Burch

Remembrance like a river rises;
the rain of recollection falls;
frail memories, like vines, entangled,
cling to Time's collapsing walls.

The past is like a distant mist,
the future like a far-off haze,
the present half-distinct an hour
before it blurs with unseen days.



Resurrecting Passion
by Michael R. Burch

Last night, while dawn was far away
and rain streaked gray, tumescent skies,
as thunder boomed and lightning railed,
I conjured words, where passion failed ...

But, oh, that you were mine tonight,
sprawled in this bed, held in these arms,
your ******* pale baubles in my hands,
our bodies bent to old demands ...

Such passions we might resurrect,
if only time and distance waned
and brought us back together; now
I pray that this might be, somehow.

But time has left us twisted, torn,
and we are more apart than miles.
How have you come to be so far—
as distant as an unseen star?

So that, while dawn is far away,
my thoughts might not return to you,
I feed your portrait to the flames,
but as they feast, I burn for you.

Published in Songs of Innocence and The Chained Muse.



Currents
by Michael R. Burch

How can I write and not be true
to the rhythm that wells within?
How can the ocean not be blue,
not buck with the clapboard slap of tide,
the clockwork shock of wave on rock,
the motion creation stirs within?

Originally published by The Lyric



Righteous
by Michael R. Burch

Come to me tonight
in the twilight, O, and the full moon rising,
spectral and ancient, will mutter a prayer.

Gather your hair
and pin it up, knowing
that I will release it a moment anon.

We are not one,
nor is there a scripture
to sanctify nights you might spend in my arms,

but the swarms
of bright stars revolving above us
revel tonight, the most ardent of lovers.

Published by Writer’s Gazette, Tucumcari Literary Review and The Chained Muse



R.I.P.
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

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

Originally published by Romantics Quarterly



The Shape of Mourning
by Michael R. Burch

The shape of mourning
is an oiled creel
shining with unuse,

the bolt of cold steel
on a locker
shielding memory,

the monthly penance
of flowers,
the annual wake,

the face in the photograph
no longer dissolving under scrutiny,
becoming a keepsake,

the useless mower
lying forgotten
in weeds,

rings and crosses and
all the paraphernalia
the soul no longer needs.



Tillage
by Michael R. Burch

What stirs within me
is no great welling
straining to flood forth,
but an emptiness
waiting to be filled.

I am not an orchard
ready to be harvested,
but a field
rough and barren
waiting to be tilled.



For All That I Remembered
by Michael R. Burch

For all that I remembered, I forgot
her name, her face, the reason that we loved ...
and yet I hold her close within my thought.
I feel the burnished weight of auburn hair
that fell across her face, the apricot
clean scent of her shampoo, the way she glowed
so palely in the moonlight, angel-wan.

The memory of her gathers like a flood
and bears me to that night, that only night,
when she and I were one, and if I could ...
I'd reach to her this time and, smiling, brush
the hair out of her eyes, and hold intact
each feature, each impression. Love is such
a threadbare sort of magic, it is gone
before we recognize it. I would crush
my lips to hers to hold their memory,
if not more tightly, less elusively.

Originally published by The Raintown Review



Hearthside
by Michael R. Burch

“When you are old and grey and full of sleep...” ― W. B. Yeats

For all that we professed of love, we knew
this night would come, that we would bend alone
to tend wan fires’ dimming bars―the moan
of wind cruel as the Trumpet, gelid dew
an eerie presence on encrusted logs
we hoard like jewels, embrittled so ourselves.

The books that line these close, familiar shelves
loom down like dreary chaperones. Wild dogs,
too old for mates, cringe furtive in the park,
as, toothless now, I frame this parchment kiss.

I do not know the words for easy bliss
and so my shriveled fingers clutch this stark,
long-unenamored pen and will it: Move.
I loved you more than words, so let words prove.

This sonnet is written from the perspective of the great Irish poet William Butler Yeats in his loose translation or interpretation of the Pierre de Ronsard sonnet “When You Are Old.” The aging Yeats thinks of his Muse and the love of his life, the fiery Irish revolutionary Maude Gonne. As he seeks to warm himself by a fire conjured from ice-encrusted logs, he imagines her doing the same. Although Yeats had insisted that he wasn’t happy without Gonne, she said otherwise: “Oh yes, you are, because you make beautiful poetry out of what you call your unhappiness and are happy in that. Marriage would be such a dull affair. Poets should never marry. The world should thank me for not marrying you!”



I Know The Truth
by Marina Tsvetaeva
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

I know the truth―abandon lesser truths!

There's no need for anyone living to struggle!
See? Evening falls, night quickly descends!
So why the useless disputes―generals, poets, lovers?

The wind is calming now; the earth is bathed in dew;
the stars' infernos will soon freeze in the heavens.
And soon we'll sleep together, under the earth,
we who never gave each other a moment's rest above it.



I Know The Truth (Alternate Ending)
by Marina Tsvetaeva
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I know the truth―abandon lesser truths!

There's no need for anyone living to struggle!
See? Evening falls, night quickly descends!
So why the useless disputes―generals, poets, lovers?

The wind caresses the grasses; the earth gleams, damp with dew;
the stars' infernos will soon freeze in the heavens.
And soon we'll lie together under the earth,
we who were never united above it.



Poems about Moscow
by Marina Tsvetaeva
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

5
Above the city Saint Peter once remanded to hell
now rolls the delirious thunder of the bells.

As the thundering high tide eventually reverses,
so, too, the woman who once bore your curses.

To you, O Great Peter, and you, O Great Tsar, I kneel!
And yet the bells above me continually peal.

And while they keep ringing out of the pure blue sky,
Moscow's eminence is something I can't deny ...

though sixteen hundred churches, nearby and afar,
all gaily laugh at the hubris of the Tsars.

8
Moscow, what a vast
uncouth hostel of a home!
In Russia all are homeless
so all to you must come.

A knife stuck in each boot-top,
each back with its shameful brand,
we heard you from far away.
You called us: here we stand.

Because you branded us criminals
for every known kind of ill,
we seek the all-compassionate Saint,
the haloed one who heals.

And there behind that narrow door
where the uncouth rabble pour,
we seek the red-gold radiant heart
of Iver, who loved the poor.

Now, as "Halleluiah" floods
bright fields that blaze to the west,
O sacred Russian soil,
I kneel here to kiss your breast!



Insomnia
by Marina Tsvetaeva
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

2
In my enormous city it is night
as from my house I step beyond the light;
some people think I'm daughter, mistress, wife ...
but I am like the blackest thought of night.

July's wind sweeps a way for me to stray
toward soft music faintly blowing, somewhere.
The wind may blow until bright dawn, new day,
but will my heart in its rib-cage really care?

Black poplars brushing windows filled with light ...
strange leaves in hand ... faint music from distant towers ...
retracing my steps, there's nobody lagging behind ...
This shadow called me? There's nobody here to find.

The lights are like golden beads on invisible threads ...
the taste of dark night in my mouth is a bitter leaf ...
O, free me from shackles of being myself by day!
Friends, please understand: I'm only a dreamlike belief.



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

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

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



This gypsy passion of parting!
by Marina Tsvetaeva
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

This gypsy passion of parting!
We meet, and are ready for flight!
I rest my dazed head in my hands,
and think, staring into the night ...

that no one, perusing our letters,
will ever understand the real depth
of just how sacrilegious we were,
which is to say we had faith,

in ourselves.



The Appointment
by Marina Tsvetaeva
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I will be late for the appointed meeting.
When I arrive, my hair will be gray,
because I abused spring.
And your expectations were much too high!

I shall feel the effects of the bitter mercury for years.
(Ophelia tasted, but didn't spit out, the rue.)
I will trudge across mountains and deserts,
trampling souls and hands without flinching,

living on, as the earth continues
with blood in every thicket and creek.
But always Ophelia's pallid face will peer out
from between the grasses bordering each stream.

She took a swig of passion, only to fill her mouth
with silt. Like a shaft of light on metal,
I set my sights on you, highly. Much too high
in the sky, where I have appointed my dust its burial.



Rails
by Marina Tsvetaeva
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The railway bed's steel-blue parallel tracks
are ruled out, neatly as musical staves.

Over them, people are transported
like possessed Pushkin creatures
whose song has been silenced.
See them: arriving, departing?

And yet they still linger,
the note of their pain remaining ...
always rising higher than love, as the poles freeze
to the embankment, like Lot's wife transformed to salt, forever.

Despair has arranged my fate
as someone arranges a wedding;
then, like a voiceless Sappho
I must weep like a pain-wracked seamstress

with the mute lament of a marsh heron!
Then the departing train
will hoot above the sleepers
as its wheels slice them to ribbons.

In my eye the colors blur
to a glowing but meaningless red.
All young women, at times,
are tempted by such a bed!



Every Poem is a Child of Love
by Marina Tsvetaeva
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Every poem is a child of love,
A destitute ******* chick
A fledgling blown down from the heights above―
Left of its nest? Not a stick.
Each heart has its gulf and its bridge.
Each heart has its blessings and griefs.
Who is the father? A liege?
Maybe a liege, or a thief.



Villanelle: Hangovers
by Michael R. Burch

We forget that, before we were born,
our parents had “lives” of their own,
ran drunk in the streets, or half-******.

Yes, our parents had lives of their own
until we were born; then, undone,
they were buying their parents gravestones

and finding gray hairs of their own
(because we were born lacking some
of their curious habits, but soon

would certainly get them). Half-******,
we watched them dig graves of their own.
Their lives would be over too soon

for their curious habits to bloom
in us (though our children were born
nine months from that night on the town

when, punch-drunk in the streets or half-******,
we first proved we had lives of our own).



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

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



Haunted
by Michael R. Burch

Now I am here
and thoughts of my past mistakes are my brethren.
I am withering
and the sweetness of your memory is like a tear.

Go, if you will,
for the ache in my heart is its hollowness
and the flaw in my soul is its shallowness;
there is nothing to fill.

Take what you can;
I have nothing left.
And when you are gone, I will be bereft,
the husk of a man.

Or stay here awhile.
My heart cannot bear the night, or these dreams.
Your face is a ghost, though paler, it seems
when you smile.

Published by Romantics Quarterly



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 when we were living with my grandfather in his house on Chilton Street, within walking distance of the Nashville fairgrounds. I remember walking to the fairgrounds, stopping at a Dairy Queen along the way, and swimming at a public pool. But I believe the Ferris wheel only operated during the state fair. So my “educated guess” is that this poem was written during the 1973 state fair, or shortly thereafter. I remember watching people hanging suspended in mid-air, waiting for carnies to deposit them safely on terra firma again.



Her Preference
by Michael R. Burch

Not for her the pale incandescence of dreams,
the warm glow of imagination,
the hushed whispers of possibility,
or frail, blossoming hope.

No, she prefers the anguish and screams
of bitter condemnation,
the hissing of hostility,
damnation's rope.



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.

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."



Nevermore!
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

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

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

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

their skeletal love―impossibility!

This is one of my Poe-like creations, written around age 19. I think the poem has an interesting ending, since the male skeleton is missing an important "member."



Mehmet Akif Ersoy: Modern English Translations of Turkish Poems

Mehmet Âkif Ersoy (1873-1936) was a Turkish poet, author, writer, academic, member of parliament, and the composer of the Turkish National Anthem.



Snapshot
by Mehmet Akif Ersoy
loose English translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Earth’s least trace of life cannot be erased;
even when you lie underground, it encompasses you.
So, those of you who anticipate the shadows,
how long will the darkness remember you?



Zulmü Alkislayamam
"I Can’t Applaud Tyranny"
by Mehmet Akif Ersoy
loose English translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I can't condone cruelty; I will never applaud the oppressor;
Yet I can't renounce the past for the sake of deluded newcomers.
When someone curses my ancestors, I want to strangle them,
Even if you don’t.
But while I harbor my elders,
I refuse to praise their injustices.
Above all, I will never glorify evil, by calling injustice “justice.”
From the day of my birth, I've loved freedom;
The golden tulip never deceived me.
If I am nonviolent, does that make me a docile sheep?
The blade may slice, but my neck resists!
When I see someone else's wound, I suffer a great hardship;
To end it, I'll be whipped, I'll be beaten.
I can't say, “Never mind, just forget it!” I'll mind,
I'll crush, I'll be crushed, I'll uphold justice.
I'm the foe of the oppressor, the friend of the oppressed.
What the hell do you mean, with your backwardness?



Çanakkale Sehitlerine
"For the Çanakkale Martyrs"
by Mehmet Akif Ersoy
loose English translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Was there ever anything like the Bosphorus war?―
The earth’s mightiest armies pressing Marmara,
Forcing entry between her mountain passes
To a triangle of land besieged by countless vessels.
Oh, what dishonorable assemblages!
Who are these Europeans, come as rapists?
Who, these braying hyenas, released from their reeking cages?
Why do the Old World, the New World, and all the nations of men
now storm her beaches? Is it Armageddon? Truly, the whole world rages!
Seven nations marching in unison!
Australia goose-stepping with Canada!
Different faces, languages, skin tones!
Everything so different, but the mindless bludgeons!
Some warriors Hindu, some African, some nameless, unknown!
This disgraceful invasion, baser than the Black Death!
Ah, the 20th century, so noble in its own estimation,
But all its favored ones nothing but a parade of worthless wretches!
For months now Turkish soldiers have been vomited up
Like stomachs’ retched contents regarded with shame.
If the masks had not been torn away, the faces would still be admired,
But the ***** called civilization is far from blameless.
Now the ****** demand the destruction of the doomed
And thus bring destruction down on their own heads.
Lightning severs horizons!
Earthquakes regurgitate the bodies of the dead!
Bombs’ thunderbolts explode brains,
rupture the ******* of brave soldiers.
Underground tunnels writhe like hell
Full of the bodies of burn victims.
The sky rains down death, the earth swallows the living.
A terrible blizzard heaves men violently into the air.
Heads, eyes, torsos, legs, arms, chins, fingers, hands, feet...
Body parts rain down everywhere.
Coward hands encased in armor callously scatter
Floods of thunderbolts, torrents of fire.
Men’s chests gape open,
Beneath the high, circling vulture-like packs of the air.
Cannonballs fly as frequently as bullets
Yet the heroic army laughs at the hail.
Who needs steel fortresses? Who fears the enemy?
How can the shield of faith not prevail?
What power can make religious men bow down to their oppressors
When their stronghold is established by God?
The mountains and the rocks are the bodies of martyrs!...
For the sake of a crescent, oh God, many suns set, undone!
Dear soldier, who fell for the sake of this land,
How great you are, your blood saves the Muslims!
Only the lions of Bedr rival your glory!
Who then can dig the grave wide enough to hold you. and your story?
If we try to consign you to history, you will not fit!
No book can contain the eras you shook!
Only eternities can encompass you!...
Oh martyr, son of the martyr, do not ask me about the grave:
The prophet awaits you now, his arms flung wide open, to save!



W. S. Rendra translations

Willibrordus Surendra Broto Rendra (1935-2009), better known as W. S. Rendra or simply Rendra, was an Indonesian dramatist and poet. He said, “I learned meditation and the disciplines of the traditional Javanese poet from my mother, who was a palace dancer. The idea of the Javanese poet is to be a guardian of the spirit of the nation.” The press gave him the nickname Burung Merak (“The Peacock”) for his flamboyant poetry readings and stage performances.

SONNET
by W. S. Rendra
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Best wishes for an impending deflowering.

Yes, I understand: you will never be mine.
I am resigned to my undeserved fate.
I contemplate
irrational numbers―complex & undefined.

And yet I wish love might ... ameliorate ...
such negative numbers, dark and unsigned.
But at least I can’t be held responsible
for disappointing you. No cause to elate.
Still, I am resigned to my undeserved fate.
The gods have spoken. I can relate.

How can this be, when all it makes no sense?
I was born too soon―such was my fate.
You must choose another, not half of who I AM.
Be happy with him when you consummate.

THE WORLD'S FIRST FACE
by W. S. Rendra
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Illuminated by the pale moonlight
the groom carries his bride
up the hill―
both of them naked,
both consisting of nothing but themselves.

As in all beginnings
the world is naked,
empty, free of deception,
dark with unspoken explanations―
a silence that extends
to the limits of time.

Then comes light,
life, the animals and man.

As in all beginnings
everything is naked,
empty, open.

They're both young,
yet both have already come a long way,
passing through the illusions of brilliant dawns,
of skies illuminated by hope,
of rivers intimating contentment.

They have experienced the sun's warmth,
drenched in each other's sweat.

Here, standing by barren reefs,
they watch evening fall
bringing strange dreams
to a bed arrayed with resplendent coral necklaces.

They lift their heads to view
trillions of stars arrayed in the sky.
The universe is their inheritance:
stars upon stars upon stars,
more than could ever be extinguished.

Illuminated by the pale moonlight
the groom carries his bride
up the hill―
both of them naked,
to recreate the world's first face.

Keywords/Tags: Rendra, Indonesian, Javanese, translation, love, fate, god, gods, goddess, groom, bride, world, time, life, sun, hill, hills, moon, moonlight, stars, life, animals?, international, travel, voyage, wedding, relationship, mrbtran



Shadows
by Michael R. Burch

Alone again as evening falls,
I join gaunt shadows and we crawl
up and down my room's dark walls.

Up and down and up and down,
against starlight―strange, mirthless clowns―
we merge, emerge, submerge . . . then drown.

We drown in shadows starker still,
shadows of the somber hills,
shadows of sad selves we spill,

tumbling, to the ground below.
There, caked in grimy, clinging snow,
we flutter feebly, moaning low

for days dreamed once an age ago
when we weren't shadows, but were men . . .
when we were men, or almost so.



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.



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 Quickening
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth

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!



Ah! Sunflower
by Michael R. Burch

after William Blake

O little yellow flower
like a star...
how beautiful,
how wonderful
we are!



Published as the collection "Modern Charon"

Keywords/Tags: Charon, Styx, death, ferry, boat, ship, captain, steering, helm, wheel, rudder, shipwreck, disaster, night, darkness, 911, 9-11, mrbch
Gaby Comprés Jan 2019
poems are raining down from the ceiling.
poems are crawling in from the windows.
the garden is blooming poems.
it is also a poem.
this house is mostly poems.
the yellow dog in the yellow house is barking poems.
the girl who lives down the street is a poem
and she speaks to the neighbor in poems.
me, watching them from my window, is a poem
and all the words i want to tell them are made of poems.
her brother rides a bicycle poem
and the laughter he leaves behind is a poem.
the man who walks by smiles a poem.
more children come, dressed in poems
and they begin to play, which is my favorite poem.
the sun sets, like a poem
and the darkness that comes is a poem.
nobody goes home, and this too is a poem.
the crickets begin to sing, which is a kind of poem.
today is all poems.
the lamppost is shining poems,
the light is a poem,
the cold coffee is a poem,
this window is a poem,
and the night that holds all of this is a poem.
oh, i never want to leave.
written after ‘orchids are sprouting from the floorboards’ by Kaveh Akbar.
Lieve Nov 2015
I like to think of my palms as poems
or perhaps, my poems as palms
as I hold them both, hands up,
in offering.
begging for you to take them by the handfuls
grasping them with your own,
poems, palms,
palms, poems
I blow them in kisses
so another may hold them grippless
letting them slip to the sky
fingerpainting the framework
that pillars the planet
presented in feather light
poems, palms,
palms, poems
I breathe them in doses
healing myself in the powdered pressure of
poems, palms
palms, poems
to my wounds, cleansing and mending
in the touch of words, these
poems, palms
palms, poems
in offering, as I hold them both
for you to kiss and breathe and mend
as well
Urdu Poetry: English Translations



You will never comprehend me:
I pour out my feelings; you only read the words!
―original poet unknown, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



Tears are colorless―thank God!―
otherwise my pillow might betray my heart.
―original poet unknown, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



Near Sainthood
by Mirza Ghalib
loose translation/interpretation by Kanu V. Prajapati and Michael R. Burch

On the subject of mystic philosophy, Ghalib,
your words might have struck us as deeply profound ...
Hell, we might have pronounced you a saint,
if only we hadn't found
you drunk
as a skunk!

There are more English translations of poems by Mirza Ghalib later on this page.



Every Once in a While
by Amjad Islam Amjad
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Every once in a while,
immersed in these muggy nights
when all earth’s voices seem to have fallen
into the bruised-purple silence of half-sleep,
I awaken from a wonderful dream
to see through the veil that drifts between us
that you too are companionless and wide awake.



First Rendezvous
by Amjad Islam Amjad
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

This story of the earth
is as old as the universe,
as old as the birth
of the first day and night.

This story of the sky
is included in the words we casually uttered,
you and I,
and yet it remains incomplete, till the end of sight.

This earth and all the scenes it contains
remain witnesses to the moment
when you first held my hand
as we watched the world unfolding, together.

This world
became the focus
for the first rendezvous
between us.



Impossible and Improbable Visions
by Amjad Islam Amjad
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Eyes interpret visions,
rainbow auras waver;
similar scenes appear
different to individual eyes,
as innumerable oases
coexist in one desert
or a single thought acquires
countless shapes.



I Have to Find My Lost Star
by Amjad Islam Amjad
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Searching the emptiest of skies
overflowing with innumerable stars,
I have to find the one
that belongs
to me.

...

Gazing at galaxies beyond galaxies,
all glorious with evolving wonder,
I ponder her name,
finding no sign to remember.

...

Lost things, they say,
are sometimes found
in the same accumulations of dust
where they once vanished.

I have to find the lost star
that belongs to me.



Withered Roses
by Allama Iqbal
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

What words of mine can describe you,
desire of the nightingale's heart?
The morning breeze was your nativity,
the afternoon garden, a tray of perfumes.

My tears welled up like dew,
till in my abandoned heart your rune grew,
this dream-emblem of love:
this spray of withered roses.

There are more English translations of poems by Allama Iqbal later on this page.



Last Night
by Faiz Ahmed Faiz
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Last night, your memory stole into my heart―
as spring sweeps uninvited into barren gardens,
as morning breezes reinvigorate dormant deserts,
as a patient suddenly feels better, for no apparent reason ...

There are more English translations of poems by Faiz Ahmed Faiz later on this page.



Intimacy
by Rahat Indori
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I held the Sun, Stars and Moon at a distance
till the time your hands touched mine.
Now I am not a feather to be easily detached:
instruct the hurricanes and tornados to observe their limits!

There are more English translations of poems by Rahat Indori later on this page.



Strange Currents
by Amir Khusrow
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

O Khusrow, the river of love
creates strange currents—
the one who would surface invariably drowns,
while the one who submerges, survives.

There are more English translations of poems by Amir Khusrow later on this page.



The Eager Traveler
by Ahmad Faraz
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Even in the torture chamber, I was the lucky one;
when each lottery was over, unaccountably I had won.

And even the mightiest rivers found accessible refuge in me;
though I was called an arid desert, I turned out to be the sea.

And how sweetly I remember you—oh, my wild, delectable love!—
as the purest white blossoms bloom, on talented branches above.

And while I’m half-convinced that folks adore me in this town,
still, all the hands I kissed held knives and tried to shake me down.

You lost the battle, my coward friend, my craven enemy,
when, to victimize my lonely soul, you sent a despoiling army.

Lost in the wastelands of vast love, I was an eager traveler,
like a breeze in search of your fragrance, a vagabond explorer.

There are more English translations of poems by Ahmad Faraz later on this page.



The Condition of My Heart
by Munir Niazi
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

It is not necessary for anyone else to get excited:
The condition of my heart is not the condition of hers.
But were we to receive any sort of good news, Munir,
How spectacular compared to earth's mundane sunsets!

There are more English translations of poems by Munir Niazi later on this page.



Failures
by Nida Fazli
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I was unable to relate
the state
of my heart to her,
while she failed to infer
the nuances
of my silences.



Apni Marzi se
by Nida Fazli Shayari
translated by Mandakini Bhattacherya and Michael R. Burch

This journey was not of my making;
As the winds blow, I’m blown along ...
Time and dust are my ancient companions;
Who knows where I’m bound or belong?

There are more English translations of poems by Nida Fazli later on this page.



My Apologies, Sona
by Gulzar
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

My apologies, Sona,
if traversing my verse's terrain
in these torrential rains
inconvenienced you.

The monsoons are unseasonal here.

My poems' pitfalls are sometimes sodden.
Water often overflows these ditches.
If you stumble and fall here, you run the risk
of spraining an ankle.

My apologies, however,
if you were inconvenienced
because my dismal verse lacks light,
or because my threshold's stones
interfered as you passed.

I have often cracked toenails against them!

As for the streetlamp at the intersection,
it remains unlit ... endlessly indecisive.

If you were inconvenienced,
you have my heartfelt apologies!

There are more English translations of poems by Gulzar later on this page.



Come As You Are
by Rabindranath Tagore
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Come as you are, forget appearances!
Is your hair untamable, your part uneven, your bodice unfastened? Never mind.
Come as you are, forget appearances!

Skip with quicksilver steps across the grass.
If your feet glisten with dew, if your anklets slip, if your beaded necklace slides off? Never mind.
Skip with quicksilver steps across the grass.

Do you see the clouds enveloping the sky?
Flocks of cranes erupt from the riverbank, fitful gusts ruffle the fields, anxious cattle tremble in their stalls.
Do you see the clouds enveloping the sky?

You loiter in vain over your toilet lamp; it flickers and dies in the wind.
Who will care that your eyelids have not been painted with lamp-black, when your pupils are darker than thunderstorms?
You loiter in vain over your toilet lamp; it flickers and dies in the wind.

Come as you are, forget appearances!
If the wreath lies unwoven, who cares? If the bracelet is unfastened, let it fall. The sky grows dark; it is late.
Come as you are, forget appearances!



Unfit Gifts
by Rabindranath Tagore
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

At sunrise, I cast my nets into the sea,
dredging up the strangest and most beautiful objects from the depths ...
some radiant like smiles, some glittering like tears, others flushed like brides’ cheeks.
When I returned, staggering under their weight, my love was relaxing in her garden, idly tearing leaves from flowers.
Hesitant, I placed all I had produced at her feet, silently awaiting her verdict.
She glanced down disdainfully, then pouted: "What are these bizarre things? I have no use for them!"
I bowed my head, humiliated, and thought:
"Truly, I did not contend for them; I did not purchase them in the marketplace; they are unfit gifts for her!"
That night I flung them, one by one, into the street, like refuse.
The next morning travelers came, picked them up and carted them off to exotic countries.



The Seashore Gathering
by Rabindranath Tagore
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

On the seashores of endless worlds, earth's children converge.
The infinite sky is motionless, the restless waters boisterous.
On the seashores of endless worlds earth's children gather to dance with joyous cries and pirouettes.
They build sand castles and play with hollow shells.
They weave boats out of withered leaves and laughingly float them out over the vast deep.
Earth's children play gaily on the seashores of endless worlds.
They do not know, yet, how to cast nets or swim.
Divers fish for pearls and merchants sail their ships, while earth's children skip, gather pebbles and scatter them again.
They are unaware of hidden treasures, nor do they know how to cast nets, yet.
The sea surges with laughter, smiling palely on the seashore.
Death-dealing waves sing the children meaningless songs, like a mother lullabying her baby's cradle.
The sea plays with the children, smiling palely on the seashore.
On the seashores of endless worlds earth's children meet.
Tempests roam pathless skies, ships lie wrecked in uncharted waters, death wanders abroad, and still the children play.
On the seashores of endless worlds there is a great gathering of earth's children.



This Dog
by Rabindranath Tagore
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Each morning this dog,
who has become quite attached to me,
sits silently at my feet
until, gently caressing his head,
I acknowledge his company.

This simple recognition gives my companion such joy
he shudders with sheer delight.

Among all languageless creatures
he alone has seen through man entire—
has seen beyond what is good or bad in him
to such a depth he can lay down his life
for the sake of love alone.

Now it is he who shows me the way
through this unfathomable world throbbing with life.

When I see his deep devotion,
his offer of his whole being,
I fail to comprehend ...

How, through sheer instinct,
has he discovered whatever it is that he knows?

With his anxious piteous looks
he cannot communicate his understanding
and yet somehow has succeeded in conveying to me
out of the entire creation
the true loveworthiness of man.



Being
by Momin Khan Momin
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

You are so close to me
that no one else ever can be.

NOTE: There is a legend that the great Urdu poet Mirza Ghalib offered all his diwan (poetry collections) in exchange for this one sher (couplet) by Momin Khan Momin. Does the couplet mean "be as close" or "be, at all"? Does it mean "You are with me in a way that no one else can ever be?" Or does it mean that no one else can ever exist as truly as one's true love? Or does this sher contain an infinite number of elusive meanings, like love itself?



Being (II)
by Momin Khan Momin
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

You alone are with me when I am alone.
You are beside me when I am beside myself.
You are as close to me as everyone else is afar.
You are so close to me that no one else ever can be.



Perhaps
by Momin Khan Momin
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The cohesiveness between us, you may remember or perhaps not.
Our solemn oaths of faithfulness, you may remember, or perhaps forgot.
If something happened that was not to your liking,
the shrinking away that produces silence, you may remember, or perhaps not.
Listen, the sagas of so many years, the promises you made amid time's onslaught,
which you now fail to mention, you may remember or perhaps not.
These new resentments, those often rehashed complaints,
these lighthearted and displeasing stories, you may remember, or perhaps forgot.
Some seasons ago we shared love and desire, we shared joy ...
That we once were dear friends, you may have perhaps forgot.
Now if we come together, by fate or by chance, to express old loyalties ...
Our every shared breath, all our sighs and regrets, you may remember, or perhaps not.



What Happened to Them?
by Nasir Kazmi
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Those who came ashore, what happened to them?
Those who sailed away, what happened to them?

Those who were coming at dawn, when dawn never arrived ...
Those caravans en route, what happened to them?

Those I awaited each night on moonless paths,
Who were meant to light beacons, what happened to them?

Who are these strangers surrounding me now?
All my lost friends and allies, what happened to them?

Those who built these blazing buildings, what happened to them?
Those who were meant to uplift us, what happened to them?

NOTE: This poignant poem was written about the 1947 partition of India into two nations: India and Pakistan. I take the following poem to be about the aftermath of the division.



Climate Change
by Nasir Kazmi
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The songs of our silenced lips are different.
The expressions of our regretful hearts are different.

In milder climes our grief was more tolerable,
But the burdens we bear now are different.

O, walkers of awareness's road, keep your watch!
The obstacles strewn on this stony path are different.

We neither fear separation, nor desire union;
The anxieties of my rebellious heart are different.

In the first leaf-fall only flowers fluttered from twigs;
This year the omens of autumn are different.

This world lacks the depth to understand my heartache;
Please endow me with melodies, for my cry is different!

One disconcerting glance bared my being;
Now in barren fields my visions are different.

No more troops, nor flags. Neither money, nor fame.
The marks of the monarchs on this land are different.

Men are not martyred for their beloveds these days.
The youths of my youth were so very different!



Nasir Kazmi Couplets

When I was a child learning to write
my first scribblings were your name.
―Nasir Kazmi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

When my feet lost the path
where was your hand?
―Nasir Kazmi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Everything I found is yours;
everything I lost is also yours.
―Nasir Kazmi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



Memory
by Faiz Ahmed Faiz, as performed by Iqbal Bano
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

In the wastelands of solitude, my love,
the echoes of your voice quiver,
the mirages of your lips waver.

In the deserts of alienation,
out of the expanses of distance and isolation's debris
the fragrant jasmines and roses of your presence delicately blossom.

Now from somewhere nearby,
the warmth of your breath rises,
smoldering forth an exotic perfume―gently, languorously.

Now far-off, across the distant horizon,
drop by shimmering drop,
fall the glistening dews of your beguiling glances.

With such tenderness and affection—oh my love!—
your memory has touched my heart's cheek so that it now seems
the sun of separation has set; the night of blessed union has arrived.



Speak!
by Faiz Ahmed Faiz
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Speak, if your lips are free.
Speak, if your tongue is still your own.
While your body is still upright,
Speak if your life is still your own.



Tonight
by Faiz Ahmed Faiz
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Do not strike the melancholy chord tonight! Days smoldering
with pain in the end produce only listless ashes ...
and who the hell knows what the future may bring?
Last night’s long lost, tomorrow's horizon’s a wavering mirage.
And how can we know if we’ll see another dawn?
Life is nothing, unless together we make it ring!
Tonight we are love gods! Sing!

Do not strike the melancholy chord tonight!
Don’t harp constantly on human suffering!
Stop complaining; let Fate conduct her song!
Give no thought to the future, seize now, this precious thing!
Shed no more tears for temperate seasons departed!
All sighs of the brokenhearted soon weakly dissipate ... stop dithering!
Oh, do not strike the same flat chord again! Sing!



When Autumn Came
by Faiz Ahmed Faiz
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

So it was that autumn came to flay the trees,
to strip them ****,
to rudely abase their slender dark bodies.

Fall fell in vengeance on the dying leaves,
flung them down to the floor of the forest
where anyone could trample them to mush
undeterred by their sighs of protest.

The birds that herald spring
were exiled from their songs—
the notes ripped from their sweet throats,
they plummeted to the earth below, undone
even before the hunter strung his bow.

Please, gods of May, have mercy!
Bless these disintegrating corpses
with the passion of your resurrection;
allow their veins to pulse with blood again.

Let at least one tree remain green.
Let one bird sing.



Last Night (II)
by Faiz Ahmed Faiz
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Last night, your lost memory returned ...
as spring steals silently into barren gardens,
as cool breezes stir desert sands,
as an ailing man suddenly feels better, for no apparent reason ...

There are more English translations of poems by Faiz Ahmed Faiz later on this page.



Ghazal
by Mirza Ghalib
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Not the blossomings of songs nor the adornments of music:
I am the voice of my own heart breaking.

You toy with your long, dark curls
while I remain captive to my dark, pensive thoughts.

We congratulate ourselves that we two are different
but this weakness has burdened us both with inchoate grief.

Now you are here, and I find myself bowing—
as if sadness is a blessing, and longing a sacrament.

I am a fragment of sound rebounding;
you are the walls impounding my echoes.



The Mistake
by Mirza Ghalib
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

All your life, O Ghalib,
You kept repeating the same mistake:
Your face was *****
But you were obsessed with cleaning the mirror!



Inquiry
by Mirza Ghalib
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The miracle of your absence
is that I found myself endlessly searching for you.



It's Only My Heart!
by Mirza Ghalib
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

It’s only my heart, not unfeeling stone,
so why be dismayed when it throbs with pain?
It was made to suffer ten thousand darts;
why let one more torment impede us?

There are more English translations of poems by Mirza Ghalib later on this page.



Couplets
by Jaun Elia
loose translations by Michael R. Burch

I am strange—so strange
that I self-destructed and don't regret it.
―Jaun Elia, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The wound is deep—companions, friends—embrace me!
What, did you not even bother to stay?
―Jaun Elia, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

My nature is so strange
that today I felt relieved when you didn't arrive.
―Jaun Elia, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Night and day I awaited myself;
now you return me to myself.
―Jaun Elia, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Greeting me this cordially,
have you so easily erased my memory?
―Jaun Elia, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Your lips have provided thousands of answers;
so what is the point of complaining now?
―Jaun Elia, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Perhaps I haven't fallen in love with anyone,
but at least I convinced them!
―Jaun Elia, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The city of mystics has become bizarre:
everyone is wary of majesty, have you heard?
―Jaun Elia, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Did you just say "Love is eternal"?
Is this the end of us?
―Jaun Elia, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

You are drawing very close to me!
Have you decided to leave?
―Jaun Elia, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



Intimacy
by Rahat Indori
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I held the Sun, Stars and Moon at a distance
till the time your hands touched mine.
Now I am not a feather to be easily detached:
instruct the hurricanes and tornados to observe their limits!



The Mad Moon
by Rahat Indori
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Stars have a habit of showing off,
but the mad moon sojourns in darkness.



Body Language
by Rahat Indori
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Your body’s figures are written in cursive!
How will I read you? Hand me the book!



Insatiable
by Rahat Indori
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

This mighty ocean, so deep and vast!
If it sates my thirst, how long can it last?



Honor
by Rahat Indori
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Achievements may fade but the name remains strong;
walls may buckle but the roof stays on.
On a pile of corpses a child stands alone
and declares that his family still lives on!



Dust in the Wind
by Rahat Indori
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

This is how I introduce myself to questioners:
Pick up a handful of dust, then blow ...



Dissembler
by Rahat Indori
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

In your eyes this, in your heart that, on your lips something else?
If this is how you are, impress someone else!



Rumor (M)ill
by Rahat Indori
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I heard rumors my health was bad; still
it was prying people who made me ill.



The Vortex
by Rahat Indori
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I am the river whose rapids form a vortex;
You were wise to avoid my banks.



Homebound
by Rahat Indori
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

If people fear what they meet at every turn,
why do they ever leave the house?



Becoming One
by Amir Khusrow
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I have become you, as you have become me;
I am your body, you my Essence.
Now no one can ever say
that you are someone else,
or that I am anything less than your Presence!



I Am a Pagan
by Amir Khusrow
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I am a pagan disciple of love: I need no creeds.
My every vein has become taut, like a tuned wire.
I do not need the Brahman's girdle.
Leave my bedside, ignorant physician!
The only cure for love is the sight of the patient's beloved:
there is no other medicine he needs!
If our boat lacks a pilot, let there be none:
we have god in our midst: we do not fear the sea!
The people say Khusrow worships idols:
True! True! But he does not need other people's approval;
he does not need the world's.

(My translation above was informed by a translation of Dr. Hadi Hasan.)



Amir Khusrow’s elegy for his mother
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Wherever you shook the dust from your feet
is my relic of paradise!



Paradise
by Amir Khusrow
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

If there is an earthly paradise,
It's here! It's here! It's here!



Mystery
by Munir Niazi
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

She was a mystery:
Her lips were parched ...
but her eyes were two unfathomable oceans.



I continued delaying ...
by Munir Niazi
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I continued delaying ...
the words I should speak
the promises I should keep
the one I should dial
despite her cruel denial

I continued delaying ...
the shoulder I must offer
the hand I must proffer
the untraveled lanes
we may not see again

I continued delaying ...
long strolls through the seasons
for my own selfish reasons
the remembrances of lovers
to erase thoughts of others

I continued delaying ...
to save someone dear
from eternities unclear
to make her aware
of our reality here

I continued delaying ...



Couplets
by Mir Taqi Mir
loose translations by Michael R. Burch

Sharpen the barbs of every thorn, O lunatic desert!
Perhaps another hobbler, limping by on blistered feet, follows me!
―Mir Taqi Mir, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

My life is a bubble,
this world an illusion.
―Mir Taqi Mir, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Selflessness has gotten me nowhere:
I neglected myself far too long.
―Mir Taqi Mir, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I know now that I know nothing,
and it only took me a lifetime to learn!
―Mir Taqi Mir, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Love's just beginning, so why do you whine?
Why not wait and watch how things unwind!
―Mir Taqi Mir, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



Come!
by Gulzar
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Come, let us construct night
over the monumental edifice of silence.
Come, let us clothe ourselves in the winding sheets of darkness,
where we'll ignite our bodies' incandescent wax.
As the midnight dew dances its delicate ballet,
let us not disclose the slightest whispers of our breath!
Lost in night's mists,
let us lie immersed in love's fragrance,
absorbing our bodies' musky aromas!
Let us rise like rustling spirits ...



Old Habits Die Hard
by Gulzar
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The habit of breathing
is an odd tradition.
Why struggle so to keep on living?
The body shudders,
the eyes veil,
yet the feet somehow keep moving.
Why this journey, this restless, relentless flowing?
For how many weeks, months, years, centuries
shall we struggle to keep on living, keep on living?
Habits are such strange things, such hard things to break!



Inconclusive
by Gulzar
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

A body lies on a white bed—
dead, abandoned,
a forsaken corpse they forgot to bury.
They concluded its death was not their concern.
I hope they return and recognize me,
then bury me so I can breathe.



Wasted
by Faiz Ahmed Faiz
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

You have noticed her forehead, her cheeks, her lips ...
In whose imagination I have lost everything.



Countless
by Faiz Ahmed Faiz
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I recounted the world's countless griefs
by recounting your image countless times.



Do Not Ask
by Faiz Ahmed Faiz
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Do not ask, my love, for the love that we shared before:
You existed, I told myself, so existence shone.
For a moment the only light that I knew, alone,
was yours; worldly griefs remained dark, distant, afar.

Spring shone, as revealed in your face, but what did I know?
Beyond your bright eyes, what delights could the sad world hold?
Had I won you, cruel Fate would have ceded, no longer bold.
Yet all this was not to be, though I wished it so.

The world knows sorrows beyond love’s brief dreams betrayed,
and pleasures beyond all sweet, idle ideals of romance:
the dread dark spell of countless centuries and chance
is woven with silk and satin and gold brocade.

Bodies are sold everywhere for a pittance—it’s true!
Besmeared with dirt and bathed in bright oceans of blood,
Crawling from infested ovens, a gory cud.
My gaze returns to you: what else can I do?

Your beauty haunts me still, and will to the last.
But the world is burdened by sorrows beyond those of love,
By pleasures beyond romance.
So please do not demand a love that is over, and past.



O God!
by Qateel Shifai
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Torture my heart, O God!
If you so desire, leave me a madman, O God!

Have I asked for the moon and stars?
Enlighten my heart and give my eyes sight, O God!

We have all seen this disk called the sun,
Now give us a real dawn, O God!

Either relieve our pains here on this earth
Or make my heart granite, O God!



Hereafter
by Qateel Shifai
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Since we met and parted, how can we sleep hereafter?
Lost in each others' remembrance, must we not weep hereafter?

Deluges of our tears will keep us awake all night:
Our eyelashes strung with strands of pearls, hereafter!

Thoughts of our separation will sear our grieving hearts
Unless we immerse them in the cooling moonlight, hereafter!

If the storm also deceives us, crying Qateel!,
We will scuttle our boats near forsaken shores, hereafter.



Picnic
by Parveen Shakir
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

My friends laugh elsewhere on the beach
while I sit here, alone, counting the waves,
writing and rewriting your name in the sand ...



Confession
by Parveen Shakir
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Your image overwhelmed my vision.
As the long nights passed, I became obsessed with your visage.
Then came the moment when I quietly placed my lips to your picture ...



Rain
by Parveen Shakir
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Why shiver alone in the rain, maiden?
Embrace the one in whose warming love your body and mind would be drenched!
There are no rains higher than the rains of Love,
after which the bright rainbows of separation will glow with the mysteries of hues.



My Body's Moods
by Parveen Shakir
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I long for the day when you'll be obsessed with me,
when, forgetting the world, you'll miss me with a passion
and stop complaining about my reticence!
Then I may forget all other transactions and liabilities
to realize my world in your arms,
letting my body's moods guide me.
In that moment beyond boundaries and limitations
as we defy the conventions of veil and turban,
let's try our luck and steal a taste of the forbidden fruit!



Moon
by Parveen Shakir
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

All of us passengers,
we share the same fate.
And yet I'm alone here on earth,
and she alone there in the sky!



Vanity
by Parveen Shakir
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

His world is so simple, so very different from mine.
So distinct—his dreams and desires.
He speaks rarely.
This morning he wrote: "I saw some lovely flowers and thought of you."
Ha! I know my aging face is no orchid ...
but how I wish I could believe whatever he says, however momentarily!



Come
by Ahmad Faraz
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Come, even with anguish, even to torture my heart;
Come, even if only to abandon me to torment again.

Come, if not for our past commerce,
Then to faithfully fulfill the ancient barbaric rituals.

Who else can recite the reasons for our separation?
Come, despite your reluctance, to continue the litanies, the ceremony.

Respect, even if only a little, the depth of my love for you;
Come, someday, to offer me consolation as well.

Too long you have deprived me of the pathos of longing;
Come again, my love, if only to make me weep.

Till now, my heart still suffers some slight expectation;
So come, ***** out even the last flickering torch of hope!



I Cannot Remember
by Ahmad Faraz
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I once was a poet too (you gave life to my words), but now I cannot remember
Since I have forgotten you (my love!), my art too I cannot remember

Yesterday consulting my heart, I learned
that your hair, lips, mouth, I cannot remember

In the city of the intellect insanity is silence
But now your sweet, spontaneous voice, its fluidity, I cannot remember

Once I was unfamiliar with wrecking ***** and ruins
But now the cultivation of gardens, I cannot remember

Now everyone shops at the store selling arrows and quivers
But neglects his own body, the client he cannot remember

Since time has brought me to a desert of such arid forgetfulness
Even your name may perish; I cannot remember

In this narrow state of being, lacking a country,
even the abandonment of my fellow countrymen, I cannot remember



The Infidel
by Mirza Ghalib
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Ten thousand desires: each one worth dying for ...
So many fulfilled, and yet still I yearn for more!

Being in love, for me there was no difference between living and dying ...
and so I lived each dying breath watching you, my lovely Infidel, sighing                       afar.



Ghazal
by Mirza Ghalib
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Life becomes even more complicated
when a man can’t think like a man ...

What irrationality makes me so dependent on her
that I rush off an hour early, then get annoyed when she's "late"?

My lover is so striking! She demands to be seen.
The mirror reflects only her image, yet still dazzles and confounds my eyes.

Love’s stings have left me the deep scar of happiness
while she hovers above me, illuminated.

She promised not to torment me, but only after I was mortally wounded.
How easily she “repents,” my lovely slayer!



Ghazal
by Mirza Ghalib
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

It’s time for the world to hear Ghalib again!
May these words and their shadows like doors remain open.

Tonight the watery mirror of stars appears
while night-blooming flowers gather where beauty rests.

She who knows my desire is speaking,
or at least her lips have recently moved me.

Why is grief the fundamental element of night
when blindness falls as the distant stars rise?

Tell me, how can I be happy, vast oceans from home
when mail from my beloved lies here, so recently opened?



Abstinence?
by Mirza Ghalib
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Let me get drunk in the mosque,
Or show me the place where God abstains!



Step Carefully!
by Mirza Ghalib
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Step carefully Ghalib―this world is merciless!
Here people will "adore" you to win your respect ... or your downfall.



Bleedings
by Mirza Ghalib
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Love requires patience but lust is relentless;
what colors must my heart bleed before it expires?

There are more English translations of poems by Mirza Ghalib later on this page.



No Explanation! (I)
by Ahmad Faraz
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Please don't ask me how deeply it hurt!
Her sun shone so bright, even the shadows were burning!



No Explanation! (II)
by Ahmad Faraz
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Please don't ask me how it happened!
She didn't bind me, nor did I free myself.



Alone
by Ahmad Faraz
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Why are you sad that she goes on alone, Faraz?
After all, you said yourself that she was unique!



Separation
by Ahmad Faraz
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Faraz, if it were easy to be apart,
would Angels have to separate body from soul?



Time
by Ahmad Faraz
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

What if my face has more wrinkles than yours?
I am merely well-worn by Time!



Miraji Epigrams

I'm obsessed with this thought:
does God possess mercy?
―Miraji, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Come, see this dance, the immaculate dance of the devadasi!
―Miraji, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Echoes of an ancient prophecy:
when my life has come and gone,
when I am dead and done,
perhaps someone
                            hearing again in a distant spring
will echo my songs
the world over.
―Miraji, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

If I understand things correctly, Miraji wrote the lines above after translating a verse by Sappho in which she said that her poems would be remembered in the future. I suspect both poets and both prophecies were correct!



Every Day and in Every Direction
by Nida Fazli
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Everywhere and in every direction we see innumerable people:
each man a victim of his own loneliness, reticence and silences.
From dawn to dusk men carry enormous burdens:
all preparing graves for their soon-to-be corpses.
Each day a man lives, the same day he dies.
Each new day requires the same old patience.
In every direction there are roads for him to roam,
but in every direction, men victimize men.
Every day a man dies many deaths only to resurrect from his ashes.
Each new day presents new challenges.
Life's destiny is not fixed, but a series of journeys:
thus, till his last breath, a man remains restless.



Couplets
by Nida Fazli
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

It was my fate to entangle and sink myself
because I am a boat and my ocean lies within.
―Nida Fazli, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

You were impossible to forget once you were gone:
hell, I remembered you most when I tried to forget you!
―Nida Fazli, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Don't squander these pearls:
such baubles may ornament sleepless nights!
―Nida Fazli, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The world is like a deck of cards on a gambling table:
some of us are bound to loose while others cash in.
―Nida Fazli, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

There is a proper protocol for everything in this world:
when visiting gardens never force butterflies to vacate their flowers!
―Nida Fazli, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Since I lack the courage to commit suicide,
I have elected to bother people with my life a bit longer.
―Nida Fazli, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



Changing Seasons
by Noshi Gillani
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Each changing season
reveals something
concealed by her fears:
an escape route from this island
illuminated by her tears.



Dust
by Bahadur Shah Zafar or Muztar Khairabadi
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Unable to light anyone's eye
or to comfort anyone's heart ...
I am nothing but a handful of dust.



Piercings
by Firaq Gorakhpuri
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

No one ever belonged to anyone else for a lifetime.
We cannot own another's soul.
The beauty we see and the love we feel are only illusions.
All my life I tried to save myself from the piercings of your eyes ...
But I failed and the daggers ripped right through me.



Salvation
Mohammad Ibrahim Zauq
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Anxious and fatigued, I consider the salvation of death ...
But if there is no peace in the grave,
where can I go to be saved?



Child of the Century
by Abdellatif Laâbi (a Moroccan poet)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I’m a child of this dreary century, a child who never grew up.
Doubts that ignited my tongue singed my wings.
I learned to walk, then I unlearned progress.
I grew weary of oases and camels infatuated with ruins.
My head inclined East only to occupy the middle of the road
as I awaited the insane caravans.



Nostalgia
by Abdulla Pashew (a Kurdish poet)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

How I desire the heavens!
Each solitary star lights the way to a tryst.

How I desire the sky!
Standing alone, remote, the sky is as vast as any ocean.

How I desire love's heavenly scent!
When each enticing blossom releases its essence.



Oblivion
by Al-Saddiq Al-Raddi (an African poet who writes in Arabic)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Discard your pen
before you start reading;
consider the ink,
how it encompasses bleeding.

Learn from the horizon
through eyes' narrowed slits
the limitations of vision
and hands' treacherous writs.

Do not blame me,
nor indeed anyone,
if you expire before
your reading is done.



In Medias Res
by Shaad Azimabadi
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

When I heard the story of my life recounted,
I caught only the middle of the tale.
I remain unaware of the beginning or end.



Debt Relief
by Piyush Mishra
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

We save Sundays for our loved ones ...
all other days we slave to repay debts.



Reoccurrence
by Amrita Bharati (a Hindi poet)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

It was a woman's heart speaking,
that had been speaking for eons ...

It was a woman's heart silenced,
that had been silenced for centuries ...

And between them loomed a mountain
that a man or a rat gnawed at, even in times of amity ...
gnawing at the screaming voice,
at the silent tongue,
from the primeval day.



Don't Approach Me
by Arif Farhad
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Don't approach me here by the river of time
where I flop like a fish in a net!



Intoxicants
by Amrut Ghayal (a Gujarati poet)
translation by Kanu V. Prajapati and Michael R. Burch

O, my contrary mind!
You're such a fool, afraid to drink the fruit of the vine!
But show me anything universe-designed
that doesn't intoxicate, like wine.



I’m like a commodity being priced in the market-place:
every eye ogles me like a buyer’s.
—Majrooh Sultanpuri, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

If you insist, I’ll continue playing my songs,
forever piping the flute of my heart.
—Majrooh Sultanpuri, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The moon has risen once again, yet you are not here.
My heart is a blazing pyre; what do I do?
—Majrooh Sultanpuri, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



Drunk on Love
by Mirza Ghalib
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Drunk on love, I made her my God.
She quickly informed me that God belongs to no man!

Exiles
by Mirza Ghalib
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Often we have heard of Adam's banishment from Eden,
but with far greater humiliation, I abandon your garden.

To Whom Shall I Complain?
by Mirza Ghalib
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

To whom shall I complain when I am denied Good Fortune in acceptable measure?
Dementedly, I demanded Death, but was denied even that dubious pleasure!



Ghazal
by Mirza Ghalib
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

You should have stayed a little longer;
you left all alone, so why not linger?

We’ll meet again, you said, some day similar to this one,
as if such days can ever recur, not vanish!

You left our house as the moon abandons night's skies,
as the evening light abandons its earlier surmise.

You hated me: a wife abnormally distant, unknown;
you left me before your children were grown.

Only fools ask why old Ghalib still clings to breath
when his fate is to live desiring death.



How strange has life become:
Our evenings drag out, yet our years keep flashing by!
―original poet unknown, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



Life Advice
by Allama Iqbal
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

This passive nature will not allow you to survive;
If you want to live, raise a storm!



O, Colorful Rose!
by Allama Iqbal
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

You are not troubled with solving enigmas
O, beautiful Rose! nor do you have sublime feelings in your heart

Though you ornament the assembly, still you flower apart
(In life's assembly I am not permitted such comforts)

In my garden I am the complete orchestra of longing
While your life is devoid of love's passionate warmth

To pluck you from the branch is not my custom
(I am not blinded by mere appearances)

O, colorful rose this hand is not your tormentor
(I am no callous flower picker!)

I am no intern to analyze you with scientific eyes
Like a lover, I see you with nightingales' eyes

Despite your innumerable tongues, you have chosen silence
What secrets, O Rose, lie concealed in your *****?

Like me you're a leaf from the garden of Ñër
Far from the garden I am, far from the garden we both are

You are content, but I am a scattered fragrance
Pierced by the sword of love in my quest

This turmoil within me might be a means of fulfillment
This torment, a source of illumination

My frailty might be the beginning of strength
My envy might mirror the cup of divination

My constant vigil is a world-illuminating candle
And teaches this steed, the human intellect, to gallop



Bright Rose
by Allama Iqbal
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

You cannot loosen the heart's knot;
perhaps you have no heart,
no share in the chaos

of this garden, where I yearn (for what?)
but harvest no roses.
Of what use to me is wisdom?

Having abandoned the garden,
you are at peace, while I remain anxious,
disconsolate in my terror.

Perhaps Jamshid's empty cup
foretold the future, but may wine
never satisfy my mouth,

till I find you in the mirror.

Jamshid's empty cup: Jamshid saw the reflection of future events in a wine cup.



Coal to Diamond
Allama Iqbal, after Nietzsche
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

My flesh is so vile, I am less than dust
while your brilliance out-blazes the mirror's heart.
My darkness defiles the chafing-dish
before my cremation; a miner's boot
tramples my cranium; I'm covered with ashes.

Do you know my life's bleak essence?
Condensations of smoke, black clouds stillborn
from a single spark; while in feature and nature
starlike, your every facet's a splendor—
gleam of the King's crown, the scepter's jewel.

"Please, friend, be wise," the diamond replied,
"assume a gemlike dignity! Carbon must harden,
to fill one's ***** with radiance. Burn
because you are soft. Banish fear and grief.
Be hard as stone, be diamond."



Firefly
by Allama Iqbal
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

A candle among roses
In the evening garden
A shooting star
A flash of the moon's gown
A spark of the sun's hem
In syncopated eclipse

Emissary of day
In night's dark kingdom
Unseen at home
Lucid in exile
Opposite of the moth,
The firefly is light



The Age of Infancy
by Allama Iqbal
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The earth and sky remained unknown to me
The expanse of my mother's ***** was my only world

Her every movement communicated life's pleasures to me
Yet my own voice conveyed only meaningless words

During infancy's pain, if someone made me cry
The clank of the door chain would comfort me

Oh! How I stared at the moon those long, lonely hours,
Regarding its silent journey through broken clouds

I would ask repeatedly about its mountains and plains
Only to be surprised by some prudent lie

My eye was devoted to seeing, my lips to speech
My heart was inquisitiveness personified



Fiction
by Allama Iqbal
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

"Why didn't you make me immortal?"
Beauty asked God, perplexed.

God, vexed,
replied: "The world is a fiction fashioned from emptiness.

You were born bright, ever-changing:
true beauty is transient, estranging."

The moon picked up their discord
and beamed it on to the morning star

who informed dawn's clouds of her dark secret.
The dew overheard it all, formed a tear

and drenched the shivering rose petals
(now survived by the hardier nettles).


Destiny
by Allama Iqbal
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Isn't it futile to complain about God's will,
When you are your own destiny?

Excerpts from "The Tulip of Sinai"
by Allama Iqbal
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

1

My heart is bright, from burning inwardly.
My eyes weep blood, for all the world to see.
Am I the fool, or is it only he
Who calls all Love mere wild insanity!

3

Love grants the garden soft breezes of May.
Love teaches the meadow sunflowers to be gay.
Love rockets bright rays even into the deep
So that fishes' schools can find their way.

4

Love reckons the price of eagles cheap.
Love surrenders pheasants to the falcons’ steep
Murderous dives. Our offended hearts weep
till suddenly, out of ambush, Love leaps!

5

Love paints the tulip petals’ hue.
Love stirs the spirit’s bitter rue.
And, should you could cleave this carrion clay,
You would behold Love’s bloodshed too.

7

A spent scent in a garden: hopes expire.
I know not what I seek, no, nor require.
But whether I am satisfied, or starved,
Still here I burn: a martyr to desire.

13

How long, my heart, will you be like the moth,
Infatuated with a bit of cloth
Or winking flame? Just once, my foolish heart,
Be fully consumed in yourself, or depart.

Excerpts from "Cordoba"
by Allama Iqbal
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

... And yet in this form
Hues of eternal life
Splendor of man's love
Love, life's foundation
Death has no claim on love
Love, the tide
Stemming the torrent
Love, the nameless eras
Love, Gabriel's breath
Love, the Prophet of God
Love, the Word of God
Love, the radiant rose
Love, the transcendent wine
Love, the goblet of kings
Love, life's music
Love, the passion for life
Love, the fire of life

... A drop of blood turns
Stone to beating hearts
The heart's cry is joy
Illumination and melody
You brighten my heart
My song wells up in my breast
You draw man's heart
Into the presence of God
But the passion of love
For God is man's alone
I ignite man's passion
Though his sight is finite
His heart's more expansive than the sky
So what if God desires, rules?
He doesn't earn the pain!
I am an Indian infidel
Witness my fervor
In my heart, prayers
On my lips, blessings
Love is my flute
Love, my song
In my every bone
"God is God"

... Yet the world is illusion
The man of God is reason's horizon
The harvest of love
The fire of the ingathering
Heaven's passion


Keywords/Tags: Urdu, translation, love poetry, desire, passion, longing, romance, romantic, God, heaven, mrburdu
G C Oct 2013
I'll keep writing poems about you
I'll write poems about your short spiked brown hair,
And how I loved to run my fingers through it,
Because it was  soft and felt nice,
I'll write poems about your long pale neck,
And how I kissed it a million times,
While inhaling your masculine scent,
I'll write poems about your big brown eyes,
And how I could see my reflection in them,
Along with the sparkle that used to shine,
I'll write poems about your eyebrows,
And how I think it's nice that they almost meet,
Because it gives you an innocent look,
I'll write poems about your beautiful lips,
And how I kissed them,
Leaving a stain of red lipstick,
I'll write poems about your smile,
And how it was so big and sincere,
I just could not resist,
I'll write poems about your hands,
And how they stroked my back,
With their soft, gentle touch,

I'll write poems about your height,
And how I loved it,
I loved all 6 feet 3 inches of you,
I still do.
I'll keep writing poems about you.
Poems are little
Snippets
Of what goes on
In one’s mind

Poems are made of
Short
Lines
Preferably those
That rhyme

Poems can be
Shallow
About the little things
Happening on
The surface

Poems can be
Deep
About the fractured thoughts
Underneath a
Painted smile

Poems can be silly
Full of fun
And laughter

Poems can be serious
Filled to the brim
With melancholy

Poems can be happy
A world of sunshine
Rainbows
And all things nice

Poems can be sad
Raining with tears
Peppered with sighs
And others that are not that
Nice

Poems depend
On their creators
To give them
That special touch
That special identity
To who you are
To what you really
Think and feel
Adasyev Jul 2018
LAST UPDATE:
I won't cancel my account here and delete any poems which I like... I once was a poet here with freedom of speech. It is past now. Thank you all. Black, blue, silver, green or white can't be repainted with pink, as some state paid fools would desire. Bye

I STARTED WITH THIS;
Please be aware that the account hellopoetry.com/retardnnn with current female nickname "sara" IS NOT A REAL PERSON POETRY ACCOUNT, but a social media watching account used by the MINISTRY OF THE INTERIOR OF THE CZECH REPUBLIC.

Please don't follow this account or support it anyway. If you get or did get any private messages from this account, they are a scam.

Since 2016, this account "retardnnn" can be found on many social media platforms including deviantart.com/retardnnn and many others. Here are some characteristics of it:

- there is never any uploaded content of the user, so no poems from "sara" even on this site where an invitation poem is required to join the community (perhaps deleted after joining)
- favorites of the fictional user are completely non-sense and accidental, completed just by clicking on similar tags, resulting in a mix of poems coming from many years, this is very distinct from a real person loving poems from people who they watch at a moment. You can see it yourself on hellopoetry.com/retardnnn
- in other sites like pinterest.com, the photo of "retardnnn" or "Sara" is some kind of pretty looking teenage girl. Even not being the same ******* all sites, this is a (jail)bait. By searching the source of the profile pictures, as I did, you can go back to the years 2012 or 2013, and the source photo is matched to Russian websites. This is certainly NOT a real person.

Use your brain, not sympathy for girl names.

I claim the main reason the mentioned profile joined Hellopoetry several months ago is me. Particularly my short prose written in Czech that I published here on December 28th which mocks in a very unpleasant way corruption-driven part of state administration in Prague, responsible for supervising so-called "independent contractors" employment model which is widespread in my country (also known in UK and US I guess). It also targeted particular state official in Prague in a way that became some kind of popular after that. With this text, I achieved what I wanted and I am proud of it.

The user hellopoetry.com/retardnnn is now watching me but I blocked them, so is present just as number 6 but invisible in my watchers list.

I WILL DELETE THIS non poetry related text after this user GETS OFF THIS SITE. Thanks, LV

The employee rights complaint written by me dealing with Czech authorities is accessible through http://tinyurl.com/svarcsystem (in Czech language of course).

UPDATE: In an attempt to discourage people reading my poems, I have ADS IN FRONT of my poems. You can see it by logging off (at least from my IP).

UPDATE 2: For visitors coming outside, the number of views of this text IS FALSIFIED, compared to what I see when I log in.

UPDATE 3: After publishing this, ads disappeared. Also user hellopoetry.com/retardnnn stopped watching me. The number of views of my texts is rising again.

UPDATE 4: Ads again renewed, but this time for any poems I see from my IP (country). Guys are working hard.

UPDATE 5: After having published new header about censorship on my profile page, FREQUENCY OF ADS dropped but they are still present.

UPDATE 6: Still being the same guy (Adasyev) I have changed my profile name to a better known one, only to see if this will influence displaying ads.

UPDATE 7: After doing this, the number of views (of this text) as seen below is blocked at 251 (for readers coming outside the community, my IP or country). The number of views at my poems is also blocked.

UPDATE 8: Number of views is fixed to 540 as of August 5. This is meant from country's IP adresses.

UPDATE 9: When viewed from my country's IP, the profile hellopoetry.com/retardnnn is still present with 8 followers.

UPDATE 10: Number of views of this text was fixed to 635 when viewed from my country's IP. As of August 6. When I log in the current number is 715. Ads are displaying almost everywhere on this site from my country's IP. Immediately after publishing the above text number is modified to 726. Any future value will be falsified and blocked from my country, so it lacks a sense to continue with this updating.

UPDATE 11: In response to the censorship on this site from my country I have already deleted in the last days the incriminated text from December 28th and few others concerning state administration in my country.

PLEASE NOTE: With the current censorship on this server in Czech Republic, you can't be sure whether I get or did get any private messages from you. I didn't get one till now.

I DIDN'T REPLY TO ANYONE TILL NOW. IF YOU GET ANY MESSAGES FROM ME, BE SURE THE ONLY THING I CAN DO HERE NOW IS TO UPDATE THIS TEXT AND MY PROFILE'S TEXT.

Link to this post is:
https://hellopoetry.com/poem/2631516/a-message-from-me/

Shortened link (as seen in my profile's header) is:
tinyurl.com/linktomylasttext

UPDATE 12: Czech (counter)-intelligence agency BIS performs hard censorship here by legally modifying data on the server side in cooperation with FBI. That's it.
Autumn Aug 2014
I see too many sad poems.
I don't even want to read them because I don't want to be sad.
I like happy poems
Even sappy poems.
I like poems that make me smile and feel alive
I like warm cozy poems
Even poems about the weather and clothes and food and candy
I think we should all try to write happy poems once in a while.
You should want people to read your poem and smile.
Not to say a sad poem can't be very good,
But the world is far too beautiful
Maybe this is easy for me to say because I'm really happy.
Just Me Jun 2015
You read my poems. You think you know.
I spill my words on to paper my whole heart and my anger.

You Read my poems and think you know.
I'm broken, emotional and my own failure.

You read my poems and my fears are clear.
You read my poems my hearts with them.

You read my poems. My relationship is so over.

You read my poems. I'm in love.

You read my poems.....
Its obvious I wept.

You read my poems, I'm far from home.
You read my poems, I'm all alone.

Your Reading my poems, I must be bipolar.
Your reading my poems, but they are far from over.

I'm this, I'm that of that your sure.
Your reading my poems, but there will be more....

— The End —