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Julia Betancourt Feb 2019
I regret not knowing any better than I did when he still loved me.
I must have been inside of a wind tunnel- for months- not hearing anything.
I must have been deaf or something, I must have been too boring,
I must have been annoying.

I think I am annoying.

I regret not being as confident in myself as I was two months ago, for my
entire life.
I regret wasting away like smoked cigarettes on street corners.
I regret decaying like it is my job.

I regret that the things I have seen have not been good.
I regret that all signs in my life tell me it is falling apart.
I regret falling apart when I still had something to grab onto.

I regret not having anything to hold onto, now, and dying because of it.
I regret dying, but not because I don't like the idea of it.

I regret not living at night but rather during the day with everyone else.
I regret seeing everyone on a daily basis.
I regret my choice of boyfriends.

I regret what I used to think love is.
I regret not thinking of my parents as teenagers once.
I regret forgetting what my dad's old house looks like.

I regret coming back to the city and tying him to everything.
I regret seeing his face in red and blue and gold lights even though his is
colorless.
I regret wanting to wrap my state in my hand and close it off to newcomers-
but if I did, I'd probably crush it.

I regret wanting to travel because I will never visit the places I talk about.
I regret being a better hopeless romantic than he is, which makes me worse.
I regret being a musician because I need pain in order to do it.

I regret feeling like the main character in each of my favorite movies.
I regret thinking I am special or interesting enough to have a movie made
about me.
I regret writing a book about my life as if it isn't a story that has been heard
a million times before.

I regret believing writing a book would change my life.

I regret changing the way I believe in things. I regret making God a force
that is connected to my pain even though I swear he has nothing to do with it.
I regret thinking He should have nothing to do with me, because I use him
in my writing and possibly risk my chances at Heaven.

I regret that I gamble my relationship with the Afterlife because I think nothing could
be worse than here.
I regret thinking life on Earth is Hell, because the Earth has nothing to do with the hell humans have made it- the hell that I, a human, have made it.
I regret that I have made life on Earth a living Hell for myself.

I regret that I am so good at manufacturing existential crises out of thin air.
I regret that this air feels too thin to breathe in for more than a day.

I regret giving in when I probably shouldn't have, or thinking giving in was
the problem when in reality it is just me being too weak to deal with average,
everyday problems.
I regret that everything feels like the end of the world.
I regret seeing myself as one of the few people who will never experience
marriage because we think we'll lose parts of ourselves if we do, and we have
already sacrificed too much that if we give one more piece away, we'll de-exist.

I regret seeing myself as one or all of the few people because even when I think I am not alone in something, I swear I am truly alone.
I regret feeling alone around him.

I regret merely going through the motions again, instead of living.
I regret not feeling like I'm living, and not living because I'm not feeling like it.

I regret wanting something to change when nothing will.
I regret not knowing if I need to change or not.
I regret disappearing the more I loved.

I regret loving more to try and feel less like I have disappeared.
I regret relying on him loving me to not feel invisible.
I regret having my confidence knocked out in the first few rounds from a
punch that wasn't even all that bad.

I regret feeling in extremes, because he thinks his sister should be like me.
I regret having reasons for why she shouldn't be.

I regret not being myself in light because otherwise people will see too much
of what they don't want to see.
I regret relating to an abuser's music because it is sad enough, but if it wasn't
this sad then I probably wouldn't listen to it.

I regret needing sadness because now that I have it, I won't let it go like I
was let go- like I am let go every single time, and that is probably one of the
reasons I am like this.

I regret being like this.
I regret pretending I am not like this to preserve their innocence, or something
like that.
I regret not even knowing why I do half the things I do.

I regret regretting all of these things that mean nothing to everyone else.
I regret this poem.
V Sep 2012
I don't understand why  it is so difficult now
When before it might not have been easy
but it by far was never this bad
I can't hear the whisper anymore
I don't know if I ever will again
Why can't I wake myself up?
I haven't cried in a long time
I haven't truly expressed any type of emotion
except for anger
in a long time
I don't remember myself anymore
I miss a lot of things
If I knew back then
what I was going to be like now
I would run like hell
and try to change a lot of things
Someone once asked a question
"What are some regrets that you live with?"
This is what I would answer with...
I regret the day that I didn't ride my bike anymore.
I regret the day I started wearing make up.
I regret the day i straightened my hair.
I regret the day I didn't wear my retainers.
I regret the day I stopped playing sports.
I regret the day I stopped swimming.
I regret the day I stopped doing gymnastics.
I regret the day I stopped being a kid.
I regret the day my Grandma died and I realized I knew nothing about her.
I regret the day my Grandpa died and I never got to tell him how much I love him.
I regret the days I took for gran-it when I could talk to my mom face to face
I regret the day that I didn't be a little nicer to my brothers.
I regret the day I didn't live up to being the Youth leader I should have been
I regret the day that I decided I wasn't good enough
I regret the day I couldn't look in the mirror and not hate myself.
I regret the day I boxed up my emotions.
I regret the day that I let society take who I was.
I regret the day where I no longer felt important.
I regret the day that I ran away from everything.
I regret the day that I told myself "there is no turning back"
I regret the day that I lost a friend.
I regret the day where I became angry.
I regret the day where I saw my friends turning and there was nothing I could do.
I regret the day the world fell upon my shoulders.
There are so many regrets.
Far more then just this short list.
I'm in a moment of life
where things never seem to get any better.
There are still the same unsolved problems as yesterday
and life still doesn't get any easier.
The best I can do for now,
Is smile,
and pretend like nothing really matters
Jay Oct 2019
I regret everything.
I regret falling in love.
I regret leaving.
I regret opening up.
I regret hurting so many.
I regret being desperate.
I regret changing.
I regret running away.
I regret staying.
I regret turning away.
I regret meaning everything.
I regret feeling unsafe.
I regret playing games.
I regret loving.
I regret caring.
I regret it all.
Barbod Gif Jan 2015
I reached a conclusion the other day
when I was contemplating
the regret phenomenon :

You don't feel regret for the things you've done,
you feel regret for the things you haven't;
You don't feel regret for the words you've said,
you feel regret for the ones you haven't;
You don't feel regret for the love you've expressed,
you feel regret for the love you haven't;
You don't feel regret for the lips you've kissed,  
you feel regret for the ones you haven't;
You don't feel regret for the hands you've held,  
you feel regret for the hands you haven't;
You don't feel regret for the smiles you've thrown,  
you feel regret for the ones you haven't;
You don't feel regret for the things you've done,  
you feel regret for the things you haven't;
Ariel Nov 2018
I regret ever feeling at all
Maybe I should just stop--
Stop trying
Stop feeling
Just... stop.

I regret ever feeling at all
Maybe I should just end it
Would anyone care?
Would anyone notice?
Maybe I should just stop.

I regret ever feeling at all
Harden my walls, forget my heart
Decide that nothing, no one, is worth my pall
I wish I didn't have to become numb to be okay,
Just to make the pain go away.

I regret ever feeling at all
I want to be strong
But, I should've known all along:
I feel too deeply to be healthy,
Especially when people are involved.

I regret ever feeling at all
Maybe I want to die
Maybe just a line at my wrist
(The X-Acto knife in my drawer would do the trick)
But no, perhaps not (I am not a fan of pain)
Bleeding out takes far too long
I don't think I could take it, anyway.

I regret ever feeling at all
The voices in my head say I'm worthless
No wonder everyone's gone
I can't attract anyone, I'm too broken
The deadness in my eyes belies a dormant predator
Watch out, I'm a hidden monster
I may catch you in my claws before a single word has been spoken
Beware the darkness of a shattered heart,
It will be far too sharp.

I regret ever feeling at all
Maybe this is for the best
Maybe I'll finally learn my lesson
And never have to trust again
I'm blowing this out of proportion
This is so much worse in my head
But you said I should spend time with myself, love,
No matter how many times I wish myself dead.

I regret ever feeling at all
I am so far out of my depth
I don't know what to do, love
I wish you could see this mess from my shoes.
This constant nagging ache, I wish it'd go away.

I regret ever feeling at all
I want to hate you,
To lose the pang in my stomach when you wear bruises on your neck
Your trophies are the cause of my heartbreak
Why can't you just stay away?

I regret ever feeling at all
I wish my friends could stand being around me
But maybe they sense the monster within
Who hungers jealously for that which she cannot have
Who lusts for the flesh of one who does not love her
Who, deep down, wants to hurt everyone who wrongs her.

I regret ever feeling at all
This darkness is so suffocating
Why did I have to, for you of all people, fall?
When you cannot feel the same
When all I get from you is pain
I love you, I hate you, I feel all of the above.

I regret ever feeling at all
This horrible, deadening cold
It seeps through my limbs
All I want is a hand to hold,
Someone to chase the demons away,
Someone who can love me as much as I love you,
Someone who wants to save me from myself,
As much as I do you.

I regret ever feeling at all
Maybe if I disappeared, you'd wonder what you did wrong
Maybe you'd actually call
Would you feel any of my regret?
Would you feel the hurt you cause?
I don't know that, love,
I just know I regret ever feeling at all.
NAsna Mar 2015
seeing your pretty face and your stupid grin, stopping and stuttering
i regret it
being paired up with you on a scene for theater and spending too much time laughing over your silly jokes
i regret it
feeling giddy and childish over the attention and appreciation showed for me
i regret it
feeling happy and embarrassed as you flaunted me in front of your friends
i regret it
feeling young and naive while we got more experienced
i regret it
thinking that i wouldve been with you forever
i regret it
missing you when youre right next to me
i regret it
thinking you were so much cooler than me and i was weird and it was special that you liked me
i regret it
i dont regret getting back in touch with you, starting something new
i dont regret wanting to be with you
i dont regret loving you
i dont regret thinking about changing my future so i can be with you
i dont regret setting boundaries to where i dont get hurt as much everyday
i love you and i will always want to be with you
and i dont want to regret that so dont make me
isaac
Samantha Feb 2018
regret
regret is the most painful feeling
more painful is the regret you feel
for making her hate you
than the hate itself
regret is the moment
when you are thinking:
this is it; the things I have done
have made it come down to this moment
when I want to end everything
everything that could be
all for the mistakes of my past
all my regrets
gone in a moment
the moment that ends it all
when I will not feel regrets
of what I have done
in the past
and I won't have to be afraid
of the future
that I never knew
nor will I feel the regret I have left behind
for ending everything else
all the good that could be
all gone in 1 moment
1 lonely moment
all because you want to leave your regret behind
but you leave everything behind
and everyone
everyone is left behind
to carry the burden of your regrets
and for them to regret your last decision for you
they regret not knowing
not helping
you
what they could have done
is not have helped you not have regrets
but to move past them
so
you may lose all your regret
to make this decision
and end it
but you leave all else behind
ALL ELSE
to regret your last decision
but
if decided not
you won't regret it
and the feeling
of alleviation and relief
of numbness and comfort
combined
into your being
into your mind
is as strong of a feeling
as the regret
that started your pain
the regret
that this time you chose not to create
DO NOT let the last thing
-the last feeling-
you leave behind
on this earth
in this world
be a feeling
of regret
Akta Agarwal May 15
I regret to never open up before anyone 

I regret too be caged in the wall of my own house 

I regret to boxed up my emotions 

I regret doing make up and wearing jwelleries for others 

I regret that to allow others to badmouth me 

I regret too never raised a voice against any misdeed 

I regret that am not that much brave to even do fight for myself 

I regret to let go the culprit who have touched me in a bad way 

I regret for becoming toy in the hands of this so called society 

I regret that I ever agreed to marry a guy who ***** me

I regret that to save the so called reputation of my family I have sold myself 

I regret that not even a one person from my family have ever come to save me 

But I never do regret to have my last breath as a brave warrior 

Who have lastly raised her voice against all the crime 

I have no regret over raising my voice and losing my life 

I have lived all my life with regret 

But am happy I am proud of myself that I am not dying like a coward 

I have fight and dying like a brave warrior
Randy Lee Nov 2017
Here is a list of things I do not regret, despite shame’s hot breathing down my neck;

I don’t regret holding your hand, fingers intertwined and all

I don’t regret Traverse City, my favorite day of all

I don’t regret you on the beach in the twilight, not worried about the sand at all

I don’t regret our too long hugs, in public, your car, my porch, your office, or any place at all

I don’t regret our back rubs, even if the final score has you winning it all

I don’t regret telling you I love you, or you telling me first at all

I don’t regret the sneaky pictures, when you weren’t looking that i stole

I don’t regret the days I held you close, anxiety had its hold

I don’t regret being vulnerable, or sharing my secrets so bold

I don’t regret never kissing you, even if my dreams still tell me i do

I don’t regret falling in love with you..

I don’t regret it, no..

The only thing I do regret, is hurting you just so
Michael R Burch Sep 2020
Regret
by Michael R. Burch

Regret,
a bitter
ache to bear . . .

once starlight
languished
in your hair . . .

a shining there
as brief
as rare.

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

unleash
the torrent
of your hair . . .

and show me
once again―
how rare.

Published by The HyperTexts and The Chained Muse



White Goddess
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, A-Poem-A-Day and in a YouTube video by Aurora G. with the titles "Ghost, " "White Goddess" and "White in the Shadows."



The Stake
by Michael R. Burch

Love, the heart bets,
if not without regrets,
will still prove, in the end,
worth the light we expend
mining the dark
for an exquisite heart.

Originally published by The Lyric



If
by Michael R. Burch

If I regret
fire in the sunset
exploding on the horizon,
then let me regret loving you.

If I forget
even for a moment
that you are the only one,
then let me forget that the sky is blue.

If I should yearn
in a season of discontentment
for the vagabond light of a companionless moon,
let dawn remind me that you are my sun.

If I should burn―one moment less brightly,
one instant less true―
then with wild scorching kisses,
inflame me, inflame me, inflame me anew.



The Effects of Memory
by Michael R. Burch

A black ringlet
curls to lie
at the nape of her neck,
glistening with sweat
in the evaporate moonlight ...
This is what I remember

now that I cannot forget.

And tonight,
if I have forgotten her name,
I remember:
rigid wire and white lace
half-impressed in her flesh ...

our soft cries, like regret,

... the enameled white clips
of her bra strap
still inscribe dimpled marks
that my kisses erase ...

now that I have forgotten her face.

Published by Poetry Magazine, La luce che non muore (Italy), Kritya (India), The Eclectic Muse (Canada), Carnelian, Triplopia, Net Poetry and Art Competition, Strange Road, Inspirational Stories, and Centrifugal Eye



Villanelle: Because Her Heart Is Tender
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth

She scrawled soft words in soap: "Never Forget,"
Dove-white on her car's window, and the wren,
because her heart is tender, might regret
it called the sun to wake her. As I slept,
she heard lost names recounted, one by one.

She wrote in sidewalk chalk: "Never Forget,"
and kept her heart's own counsel. No rain swept
away those words, no tear leaves them undone.

Because her heart is tender with regret,
bruised by razed towers' glass and steel and stone
that shatter on and on and on and on,
she stitches in wet linen: "NEVER FORGET,"
and listens to her heart's emphatic song.

The wren might tilt its head and sing along
because its heart once understood regret
when fledglings fell beyond, beyond, beyond ...
its reach, and still the boot-heeled world strode on.

She writes in adamant: "NEVER FORGET"
because her heart is tender with regret.

Published by Neovictorian/Cochlea, The Villanelle, The Eclectic Muse, Nietzsche Twilight, Nutty Stories (South Africa), Poetry Renewal Magazine and Other Voices International



Lucifer, to the Enola Gay
by Michael R. Burch

Go then,
and give them my meaning
so that their teeming
streets
become my city.

Bring back a pretty
flower—
a chrysanthemum,
perhaps, to bloom
if but an hour,
within a certain room
of mine
where
the sun does not rise or fall,
and the moon,
although it is content to shine,
helps nothing at all.

There,
if I hear the wistful call
of their voices
regretting choices
made
or perhaps not made
in time,
I can look back upon it and recall,
in all
its pale forms sublime,
still
Death will never be holy again.

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



Absence
by Michael R. Burch

Christ, how I miss you!,
though your parting kiss is still warm on my lips.

Now the floor is not strewn with your stockings and slips
and the dishes are all stacked away.

You left me today ...
and each word left unspoken now whispers regrets.



Having Touched You
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

suspended in memory
like a flower in crystal
so that eternity

is but an hour, and fall
is no longer a season
but a state of mind.

I have no reason
to wait; the wind
does not pause for remembrance

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

Forget we were utterly
happy a day.
That day was my lifetime.

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

the sunshine that gave me life.
I took root and I grew.
Now the touch of death is like a terrible knife,

and yet I can bear it,
having touched you.

I wrote this poem as a teenager after watching "The Boy in the Plastic Bubble"



Circe
by Michael R. Burch

She spoke
and her words
were like a ringing echo dying
or like smoke
rising and drifting
while the earth below is spinning.
She awoke
with a cry
from a dream that had no ending,
without hope
or strength to rise,
into hopelessness descending.
And an ache
in her heart
toward that dream, retreating,
left a wake
of small waves
in circles never completing.

Originally published by Romantics Quarterly



Annual
by Michael R. Burch

Silence
steals upon a house
where one sits alone
in the shadow of the itinerant letterbox,
watching the disconnected telephone
collecting dust ...
hearing the desiccate whispers of voices’
dry flutters,—
moths’ wings
brittle as cellophane ...
Curled here,
reading the yellowing volumes of loss
by the front porch light
in the groaning swing . . .
through thin adhesive gloss
I caress your face.



Come!
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

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



Flight
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

This is a poem that I believe I wrote as a high school sophomore.



Every Man Has a Dream
by Michael R. Burch

Every man has a dream that he cannot quite touch ...
a dream of contentment, of soft, starlit rain,
of a breeze in the evening that, rising again,
reminds him of something that cannot have been,
and he calls this dream love.

And each man has a dream that he fears to let live,
for he knows: to succumb is to throw away all.
So he curses, denies it and locks it within
the cells of his heart and he calls it a sin,
this madness, this love.

But each man in his living falls prey to his dreams,
and he struggles, but so he ensures that he falls,
and he finds in the end that he cannot deny
the joy that he feels or the tears that he cries
in the darkness of night for this light he calls love.



Sea Dreams
by Michael R. Burch

I.
In timeless days
I've crossed the waves
of seaways seldom seen.
By the last low light of evening
the breakers that careen
then dive back to the deep
have rocked my ship to sleep,
and so I've known the peace
of a soul at last at ease
there where Time's waters run
in concert with the sun.
With restless waves
I've watched the days’
slow movements, as they hum
their antediluvian songs.
Sometimes I've sung along,
my voice as soft and low
as the sea's, while evening slowed
to waver at the dim
mysterious moonlit rim
of dreams no man has known.
In thoughtless flight,
I've scaled the heights
and soared a scudding breeze
over endless arcing seas
of waves ten miles high.
I've sheared the sable skies
on wings as soft as sighs
and stormed the sun-pricked pitch
of sunset’s scarlet-stitched,
ebullient dark demise.
I've climbed the sun-cleft clouds
ten thousand leagues or more
above the windswept shores
of seas no man has sailed
— great seas as grand as hell's,
shores littered with the shells
of men's "immortal" souls —
and I've warred with dark sea-holes
whose open mouths implored
their depths to be explored.
And I've grown and grown and grown
till I thought myself the king
of every silver thing . . .
But sometimes late at night
when the sorrowing wavelets sing
sad songs of other times,
I taste the windborne rime
of a well-remembered day
on the whipping ocean spray,
and I bow my head to pray . . .

II.
It's been a long, hard day;
sometimes I think I work too hard.
Tonight I'd like to take a walk
down by the sea —
down by those salty waves
brined with the scent of Infinity,
down by that rocky shore,
down by those cliffs that I used to climb
when the wind was **** with a taste of lime
and every dream was a sailor's dream.
Then small waves broke light,
all frothy and white,
over the reefs in the ramblings of night,
and the pounding sea
—a mariner’s dream—
was bound to stir a boy's delight
to such a pitch
that he couldn't desist,
but was bound to splash through the surf in the light
of ten thousand stars, all shining so bright.
Christ, those nights were fine,
like a well-aged wine,
yet more scalding than fire
with the marrow’s desire.
Then desire was a fire
burning wildly within my bones,
fiercer by far than the frantic foam . . .
and every wish was a moan.
Oh, for those days to come again!
Oh, for a sea and sailing men!
Oh, for a little time!
It's almost nine
and I must be back home by ten,
and then . . . what then?
I have less than an hour to stroll this beach,
less than an hour old dreams to reach . . .
And then, what then?
Tonight I'd like to play old games—
games that I used to play
with the somber, sinking waves.
When their wraithlike fists would reach for me,
I'd dance between them gleefully,
mocking their witless craze
—their eager, unchecked craze—
to batter me to death
with spray as light as breath.
Oh, tonight I'd like to sing old songs—
songs of the haunting moon
drawing the tides away,
songs of those sultry days
when the sun beat down
till it cracked the ground
and the sea gulls screamed
in their agony
to touch the cooling clouds.
The distant cooling clouds.
Then the sun shone bright
with a different light
over different lands,
and I was always a pirate in flight.
Oh, tonight I'd like to dream old dreams,
if only for a while,
and walk perhaps a mile
along this windswept shore,
a mile, perhaps, or more,
remembering those days,
safe in the soothing spray
of the thousand sparkling streams
that rush into this sea.
I like to slumber in the caves
of a sailor's dark sea-dreams . . .
oh yes, I'd love to dream,
to dream
and dream
and dream.

“Sea Dreams” is one of my longer and more ambitious early poems, along with the full version of “Jessamyn’s Song.” To the best of my recollection, I wrote “Sea Dreams” around age 18, circa 1976-1977.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Reclamation
an original poem by Michael R. Burch

after Robert Graves, with a nod to Mary Shelley

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

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

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

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

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

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

Need is reborn; love dies.



Everlasting
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

then let me sleep,
think of me no more.

Still ...

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

Keywords/Tags: Epic of Gilgamesh, epic, epical, orient occident, oriental, ancient, ancestors, ancestry, primal
Mr Zeal Oct 2014
Regrets... Mmm yea I got some.
Sense were talking about them do you mind if I told you some?

I regret for leaving,
I regret for staying there..
I regret for leaving mommy,
I regret for staying with you bobby.
I regret for the distance,
I regret for being to close.
I regret for going outside in the cold just to shoot bball that night when my whole family went to go watch a movie.
I regret for putting you up so far that when you hurt me it crumbled the years between us.
I regret for kissing him,
I regret for kidding her.
Now my demons throw rocks at me no matter what the size is.
I regret for not listening,
I regret for well...listening.
Being hard head in both places
Selfishness and offended is the worst when it comes to hearing.

But one thing I don't regret is everyone of them being in my life .. I love you.
M Jun 2013
I regret little,
For I know regret is a
Useless emotion.

It causes pain to
Sear you in the heart, and that's
Unnecessary.

I regret little,
Aside from only hurting you
In the way I did.

I regret how long
It took me to understand,
To react to your pain.

I regret that I
Killed hope and patience, your faith
In love and people.

I'd bag all of your
Pain up and carry it on
My own, if I could.

I regret hurting
An undeserving victim,
I regret that most.

My regret will not
Compensate for how much you
Feel now, and I'm sorry.

I regret that my
Apologies have no truth
To you anymore.

I didn't see that
You were what I wanted, and
That you were lovely.

I only regret not
Being able to see what
Was in front of me.
Broken Arpeggio Jul 2017
I regret remaining so small
I regret being removed from it all

I regret the crippling fear
I regret wishing to disappear

I regret my deafening silence
I regret not showing more defiance

I regret giving you so much power
I regret the way I would cower

I regret believing your lies
I regret those blurred family ties

I regret the bridges you burned
I regret leaving the ashes unturned

In a way, my regrets always kept you near
Instead of severing the relationship when it became clear
That you no longer cared
Then again, you never really did
It was merely the wishful thinking
Of your broken hearted kid
The past can give a reason for penance and shapes who you are. However, it does not need to define you...
Benji James May 2017
VERSE ONE
Can’t seem to forget,
everywhere that I went wrong
Trying to keep all these emotions pushed down.
It seems I’m reminiscing of you now
Try to stay strong every day
Try not to let these thoughts
get the better of me
These days, All I can do
is look at you from a distance
and I feel the hurt in you
Every time you look my way
There is so much I want to say
Just wish I could find the courage to speak
All of these words, held here in my mind

PRE CHORUS
Hands are shaking
All these doubtful thoughts
build up within me
Can’t even look you in the eyes
without pain growing more inside
Every mistake that I made
Is something I wish I could change
Night after night, day after day,
I wish things hadn’t of ended this way

CHORUS
You’re my biggest regret
There’s a whole lot of things
I wish I never did,
There’s a whole lot of words
I wish I never said
You’re my biggest regret
All of this I’ll never forget
Tried to forgive me
for all that I did
but it’s just something
I’ll never be able to live with
You’re my biggest regret
I’ll never forget, No I’ll never forget

VERSE TWO
I’ve always had a gift
for making a mess
And after I was done
that’s all that was left.
I’m trying to make amends
Always try to be
The best person I can be
Always try to see
the brighter side of life
Can’t seem to find
A way out this time
Consumed by late night thoughts of you
Reminding myself, Everywhere I went wrong
What could have been
Guess we’ll never know
Now we’ll never see
Just what we could have been

PRE CHORUS
Hands are shaking
All these doubtful thoughts
build up within me
Can’t even look you in the eyes
without pain growing more inside
Every mistake that I made
Is something I wish I could change
Night after night, day after day,
I wish things hadn’t of ended this way

CHORUS
You’re my biggest regret
There’s a whole lot of things
I wish I never did,
There’s a whole lot of words
I wish I never said
You’re my biggest regret
All of this I’ll never forget
Tried to forgive me
for all that I did
but it’s just something
I’ll never be able to live with
You’re my biggest regret
I’ll never forget, No I’ll never forget

VERSE THREE
One day, I hope you’ll see
just what you meant to me
maybe next time around
I might just get it right
Still looking for answers in the stars above
still trying to understand this love
Still stuck on you girl
Always running through my mind
Maybe I can find that inner peace
Deep inside of me
Maybe one day, I’ll heal all this hurt
Until then I'm trapped within conscience lines
Reminding myself of all the times
I failed you, yeah let you down
never let that rest,
Of all the mistakes I’ve made
Yours were the best
I’ll never let that rest

PRE CHORUS
Hands are shaking
All these doubtful thoughts
build up within me
Can’t even look you in the eyes
without pain growing more inside
Every mistake that I made
Is something I wish I could change
Night after night, day after day,
I wish things hadn’t of ended this way

You’re my biggest regret
There’s a whole lot of things
I wish I never did,
There’s a whole lot of words
I wish I never said
You’re my biggest regret
All of this I’ll never forget
Tried to forgive me
for all that I did
but it’s just something
I’ll never be able to live with
You’re my biggest regret
I’ll never forget, No I’ll never forget

©2017 Written By Benji James
Today, I woke up with regrets,
but no, don’t get me wrong.
I never regret meeting you,
a hectic mid-afternoon at the field.
I never regret the days we spent,
your arms held us close.
I never regret holding your hand,
fingers intertwined at all.
I never regret the intimacy,
your touch leaves marks.
I never regret it, no.
But I do regret
holding on to chances, I thought I got something to look forward to.
I regret being certain, I assumed
this entire book could be written.
I regret giving myself
but has only left me torn asunder.
I regret letting this happen,
I should have been wiser.
I regret not holding enough.
I regret not doing enough.
I regret not being enough.
Today, I woke up with regrets,
but no, I’m not blaming you.
After all, there’s no one to blame to but my expectations.
You did nothing wrong, baby
It’s my fault,
I broke my own heart.
Thomas Aug 2016
I regret nothing,
Nothing being everything,
I regret that I don't understand,
I regret standing,
I regret crying in front of you,
I regret telling you the truth,
I regret lying,
I regret being me,
I regret having this disease in my head,
I regret having thoughts,
I regret feeling the way I do...

I regret nothing other than living.
It's a poem
Echoes Of A Mind Mar 2016
Do I regret
That I let you in?
No,
I don't regret
That it was you
Who I let in.
But I regret everything
Which we have now become...

I don't regret the act done
While being afected by feelings.
Feelings which I never knew,
Before I meet you.
But I do regret actions,
Which I have done
Because you hurt me...

Because just as much
As I care about you
Just as much does it hurt me now
To see you.
I would prefer
Not to be near you
Because it hurts
When I am...

I regret the words I said in anger,
While I was being
In a hurt state of mind
Where I only knew one way
To let it all out...

I deeply regret
So many things
To write about them all
Would take forever.
But the only thing,
Which I don't regret
Is
That I let you in...
English version of the poem "fortryder jeg"
Michael R Burch Feb 2020
When Pigs Fly
by Michael R. Burch

On the Trail of Tears,
my Cherokee brothers,
why hang your heads?
Why shame your mothers?
Laugh wildly instead!
We will soon be dead.

When we lie in our graves,
let the white-eyes take
the woodlands we loved
for the *** and the rake.
It is better to die
than to live out a lie
in so narrow a sty.

In October 1838 the Cherokees began to walk the "Trail of Tears." Most of them made the thousand mile journey west to Oklahoma on foot. An estimated 4,000 people, or a quarter of the tribe, died en route. The soldiers "escorting" the Cherokees at bayonet point refused permission for the dead to be buried, threatening to shoot anyone who disobeyed. So the living were forced to carry the corpses of the dead until camp was made for the night. Years after the Cherokees had been rounded up and driven down the Trail of Tears, John G. Burnett reflected on what he and his fellow soldiers had done, saying, "Schoolchildren of today do not know that we are living on lands that were taken from a helpless race at the bayonet point, to satisfy the white man's greed... ****** is ****** and somebody must answer, somebody must explain the streams of blood that flowed in the Indian country... Somebody must explain the four thousand silent graves that mark the trail of the Cherokees to their exile." Keywords/Tags: Cherokee, Native American, Trail of Tears, Ethnic Cleansing, Genocide, ******, Evil, Death, March, Death March, Infanticide, Matricide, Racism, Racist, Discrimination, Violence, Fascism, White Supremacists, Horror, Terror, Terrorism, Greed, Gluttony, Avarice, Lust, ****, mrbpig, mrbpigs



Cherokee Prayer
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

As I walk life's trails
imperiled by the raging wind and rain,
grant, O Great Spirit,
that yet I may always
walk like a man.

This prayer makes me think of Native Americans walking the Trail of Tears with far more courage and dignity than their “civilized” abusers.



Native American Prayer
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Help us learn the lessons you have left us
in every leaf and rock.



Native American Travelers' Blessing
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Let us walk together here
among earth's creatures great and small,
remembering, our footsteps light,
that one wise God created all.



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

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



Cherokee Travelers' Blessing I
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I will extract the thorns from your feet.
For yet a little while, we will walk life's sunlit paths together.
I will love you like my own brother, my own blood.
When you are disconsolate, I will wipe the tears from your eyes.
And when you are too sad to live, I will put your aching heart to rest.

Published by Better Than Starbucks and Cherokee Native Americans



Cherokee Travelers' Blessing II
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Happily may you walk
in the paths of the Rainbow.
                  Oh,
and may it always be beautiful before you,
beautiful behind you,
beautiful below you,
beautiful above you,
and beautiful all around you
where in Perfection beauty is finished.

Published by Better Than Starbucks



Cherokee Travelers' Blessing III
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

May Heaven’s warming winds blow gently there,
where you reside,
and may the Great Spirit bless all those you love,
this side of the farthest tide.
And wherever you go,
whether the journey is fast or slow,
may your moccasins leave many cunning footprints in the snow.
And when you look over your shoulder, may you always find the Rainbow.

Published by Better Than Starbucks



Warrior's Confession
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Oh my love, how fair you are—
far brighter than the fairest star!



Cherokee Proverb
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Before you judge
a man for his sins
be sure to trudge
many moons in his moccasins.



Cherokee Prayer
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

As I walk life's trails
imperiled by the raging wind and rain,
grant, O Great Spirit,
that yet I may always
walk like a man.

When I think of this prayer, I think of Native Americans walking the Trail of Tears.



The Receiving of the Flower
excerpt from a Mayan love poem
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Let us sing overflowing with joy
as we observe the Receiving of the Flower.
The lovely maidens beam;
their hearts leap in their *******.

Why?

Because they will soon yield their virginity to the men they love!



The Deflowering
excerpt from a Mayan love poem
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Remove your clothes;
let down your hair;
become as naked as the day you were born—

virgins!



Prelude to *******
excerpt from a Mayan love poem
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Lay out your most beautiful clothes,
maidens!
The day of happiness has arrived!

Grab your combs, detangle your hair,
adorn your earlobes with gaudy pendants.
Dress in white as becomes maidens ...

Then go, give your lovers the happiness of your laughter!
And all the village will rejoice with you,
for the day of happiness has arrived!



The Flower-Strewn Pool
excerpt from a Mayan love poem
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

You have arrived at last in the woods
where no one can see what you do
at the flower-strewn pool ...
Remove your clothes,
unbraid your hair,
become as you were
when you first arrived here
naked and shameless,
virgins, maidens!



Native American Proverbs

The soul would see no Rainbows if not for the eyes’ tears.
—loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

A woman’s highest calling is to help her man unite with the Source.
A man’s highest calling is to help his woman walk the earth unharmed.
—loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced.
Live your life so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice.
—White Elk, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



Earthbound
an original poem by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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



Years after the Cherokees had been rounded up and driven down the Trail of Tears, John G. Burnett reflected on what he and his fellow soldiers had done, saying, "Schoolchildren of today do not know that we are living on lands that were taken from a helpless race at the bayonet point, to satisfy the white man's greed ... ****** is ****** and somebody must answer, somebody must explain the streams of blood that flowed in the Indian country ... Somebody must explain the four thousand silent graves that mark the trail of the Cherokees to their exile."

In the same year, 1830, that Stonewall Jackson consigned Native Americans to the ash-heap of history, Georgia Governor George Gilmer said, "Treaties are expedients by which ignorant, intractable, and savage people are induced ... to yield up what civilized people have the right to possess." By "civilized" he apparently meant people willing to brutally dispossess and **** women and children in order to derive economic benefits for themselves.

These nights bring dreams of Cherokee shamans
whose names are bright verbs and impacted dark nouns,
whose memories are indictments of my pallid flesh . . .
and I hear, as from a great distance,
the cries tortured from their guileless lips, proclaiming
the nature of my mutation.
―Michael R. Burch, from "Mongrel Dreams" (my family is part Cherokee, English and Scottish)

After Jackson was re-elected with an overwhelming majority in 1832, he strenuously pursued his policy of removing Native Americans, even refusing to accept a Supreme Court ruling which invalidated Georgia's planned annexation of Cherokee land. But in the double-dealing logic of the white supremacists, they had to make the illegal resettlement of the Indians appear to be "legal," so a small group of Cherokees were persuaded to sign the "Treaty of New Echota," which swapped Cherokee land for land in the Oklahoma territory. The Cherokee ringleaders of this infamous plot were later assassinated as traitors. (****** was similarly obsessed with the "legalities" of the **** Holocaust; isn't it strange how mass murderers of women and children can seek to justify their crimes?)

Native Americans understood the "circle of life" better than their white oppressors ...

When we sit in the Circle of the People,
we must be responsible because all Creation is related
and the suffering of one is the suffering of all
and the joy of one is the joy of all
and whatever we do affects everything in the universe.
—"Lakota Instructions for Living" by White Buffalo Calf Woman, translated by Michael R. Burch



Veiled
by Michael R. Burch

She has belief
without comprehension
and in her crutchwork shack
she is
much like us . . .

tamping the bread
into edible forms,
regarding her children
at play
with something akin to relief . . .

ignoring the towers ablaze
in the distance
because they are not revelations
but things of glass,
easily shattered . . .

and if you were to ask her,
she might say:
sometimes God visits his wrath
upon an impious nation
for its leaders’ sins,

and we might agree:
seeing her mutilations.

Published by Poetry Super Highway and Modern War Poems.



Ali’s Song
by Michael R. Burch

They say that gold don’t tarnish. It ain’t so.
They say it has a wild, unearthly glow.
A man can be more beautiful, more wild.
I flung their medal to the river, child.
I flung their medal to the river, child.

They hung their coin around my neck; they made
my name a bridle, “called a ***** a *****.”
They say their gold is pure. I say defiled.
I flung their slave’s name to the river, child.
I flung their slave’s name to the river, child.

Ain’t got no quarrel with no Viet Cong
that never called me ******, did me wrong.
A man can’t be lukewarm, ’cause God hates mild.
I flung their notice to the river, child.
I flung their notice to the river, child.

They said, “Now here’s your bullet and your gun,
and there’s your cell: we’re waiting, you choose one.”
At first I groaned aloud, but then I smiled.
I gave their “future” to the river, child.
I gave their “future” to the river, child.

My face reflected up, dark bronze like gold,
a coin God stamped in His own image―BOLD.
My blood boiled like that river―strange and wild.
I died to hate in that dark river, child,
Come, be reborn in this bright river, child.

Originally published by Black Medina

Note: Cassius Clay, who converted to Islam and changed his “slave name” to Muhammad Ali, said that he threw his Olympic boxing gold medal into the Ohio River. Confirming his account, the medal was recovered by Robert Bradbury and his wife Pattie in 2014 during the Annual Ohio River Sweep, and the Ali family paid them $200,000 to regain possession of the medal. When drafted during the Vietnamese War, Ali refused to serve, reputedly saying: “I ain't got no quarrel with those Viet Cong; no Vietnamese ever called me a ******.” The notice mentioned in my poem is Ali's draft notice, which metaphorically gets tossed into the river along with his slave name. I was told through the grapevine that this poem appeared in Farsi in an Iranian publication called Bashgah. ―Michael R. Burch



evol-u-shun
by Michael R. Burch

does GOD adore the Tyger
while it’s ripping ur lamb apart?

does GOD applaud the Plague
while it’s eating u à la carte?

does GOD admire ur intelligence
while u pray that IT has a heart?

does GOD endorse the Bible
you blue-lighted at k-mart?



Enheduanna, the daughter of the famous King Saragon the Great of Akkad, is the first ancient writer whose name remains known today. She appears to be the first named poet in human history and the first known author of prayers and hymns. Enheduanna, who lived circa 2285-2250 BCE, is also one of the first women we know by name.

Lament to the Spirit of War
by Enheduanna
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

You hack down everything you see, War God!

Rising on fearsome wings
you rush to destroy the land,
descending like a raging storm,
howling like a hurricane,
screaming like a tempest,
thundering, raging, ranting, drumming,
whiplashing whirlwinds!

Men falter at your approaching footsteps.

Tortured dirges scream
on your lyre of despair.

Like a fiery Salamander you poison the land:
growling over the earth like thunder,
vegetation collapsing before you,
blood gushing down a mountainside.

Spirit of hatred, greed and vengeance!

******* of heaven and earth!

Your ferocious fire consumes our land.

Whipping your stallion
with furious commands,
you decide our fate.

You triumph over all human rites and prayers.

Who can explain your tirade,
why you go on so?



Temple Hymn 15
to the Gishbanda Temple of Ningishzida
by Enheduanna
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Most ancient and terrible shrine,
set deep in the mountain,
dark like a mother's womb...

Dark shrine,
like a mother's wounded breast,
blood-red and terrifying...

Though approaching through a safe-seeming field,
our hair stands on end as we near you!

Gishbanda,
like a neck-stock,
like a fine-eyed fish net,
like a foot-shackled prisoner's manacles...
your ramparts are massive,
like a trap!

But once we’re inside,
as the sun rises,
you yield widespread abundance!

Your prince
is the pure-handed priest of Inanna, heaven's Holy One,
Lord Ningishzida!

Oh, see how his thick, lustrous hair
cascades down his back!

Oh Gishbanda,
he has built this beautiful temple to house your radiance!
He has placed his throne upon your dais!



The Exaltation of Inanna: Opening Lines and Excerpts
by Enheduanna, the daughter of Sargon I of Akkad and the high priestess of the Goddess Inanna
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Lady of all divine powers!
Lady of the resplendent light!
Righteous Lady adorned in heavenly radiance!

Beloved Lady of An and Uraš!
Hierodule of An, sun-adorned and bejeweled!
Heaven’s Mistress with the holy diadem,
Who loves the beautiful headdress befitting the office of her own high priestess!

Powerful Mistress, seizer of the seven divine powers!
My Heavenly Lady, guardian of the seven divine powers!
You have seized the seven divine powers!
You hold the divine powers in your hand!
You have gathered together the seven divine powers!
You have clasped the divine powers to your breast!

You have flooded the valleys with venom, like a viper;
all vegetation vanishes when you thunder like Iškur!
You have caused the mountains to flood the valleys!
When you roar like that, nothing on earth can withstand you!

Like a flood descending on floodplains, O Powerful One, you will teach foreigners to fear Inanna!

You have given wings to the storm, O Beloved of Enlil!
The storms do your bidding, blasting the unbelievers!

Foreign cities cower at the chaos You cause!
Entire countries cower in dread of Your deadly South Wind!
Men cower before you in their anguished implications,
raising their pitiful outcries,
weeping and wailing, beseeching Your benevolence with many wild lamentations!

But in the van of battle, everything falls before You, O Mighty Queen!

My Queen,
You are all-conquering, all-devouring!
You continue Your attacks like relentless storms!
You howl louder than the howling storms!
You thunder louder than Iškur!
You moan louder than the mournful winds!
Your feet never tire from trampling Your enemies!
You produce much wailing on the lyres of lamentations!

My Queen,
all the Anunna, the mightiest Gods,
fled before Your approach like fluttering bats!
They could not stand in Your awesome Presence
nor behold Your awesome Visage!

Who can soothe Your infuriated heart?
Your baleful heart is beyond being soothed!

Uncontrollable Wild Cow, elder daughter of Sin,
O Majestic Queen, greater than An,
who has ever paid You enough homage?

O Life-Giving Goddess, possessor of all powers,
Inanna the Exalted!

Merciful, Live-Giving Mother!
Inanna, the Radiant of Heart!
I have exalted You in accordance with Your power!
I have bowed before You in my holy garb,
I the En, I Enheduanna!

Carrying my masab-basket, I once entered and uttered my joyous chants ...

But now I no longer dwell in Your sanctuary.
The sun rose and scorched me.
Night fell and the South Wind overwhelmed me.
My laughter was stilled and my honey-sweet voice grew strident.
My joy became dust.

O Sin, King of Heaven, how bitter my fate!

To An, I declared: An will deliver me!
I declared it to An: He will deliver me!

But now the kingship of heaven has been seized by Inanna,
at Whose feet the floodplains lie.

Inanna the Exalted,
who has made me tremble together with all Ur!

Stay Her anger, or let Her heart be soothed by my supplications!
I, Enheduanna will offer my supplications to Inanna,
my tears flowing like sweet intoxicants!
Yes, I will proffer my tears and my prayers to the Holy Inanna,
I will greet Her in peace ...

O My Queen, I have exalted You,
Who alone are worthy to be exalted!
O My Queen, Beloved of An,
I have laid out Your daises,
set fire to the coals,
conducted the rites,
prepared Your nuptial chamber.
Now may Your heart embrace me!

These are my innovations,
O Mighty Queen, that I made for You!
What I composed for You by the dark of night,
The cantor will chant by day.

Now Inanna’s heart has been restored,
and the day became favorable to Her.
Clothed in beauty, radiant with joy,
she carried herself like the elegant moonlight.

Now to the Noble Hierodule,
to the Wrecker of foreign lands
presented by An with the seven divine powers,
and to my Queen garbed in the radiance of heaven ...

O Inanna, praise!



The Exaltation of Inanna: Opening Lines, an Excerpt
Nin-me-šara by Enheduanna
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Lady of all divine powers,
Lady of the all-resplendent light,
Righteous Lady clothed in heavenly radiance,
Beloved Lady of An and Uraš,
Mistress of heaven with the holy diadem,
Who loves the beautiful headdress befitting the office of her high priestess,
Powerful Mistress who has seized all seven divine powers,
My lady, you are the guardian of the seven divine powers!
You have seized the divine powers,
You hold the divine powers in your hand,
You have gathered up the divine powers,
You have clasped the divine powers to your breast!
Like a dragon you have spewed venom on foreign lands that know you not!
When you roar like Iškur at the earth, nothing can withstand you!
Like a flood descending on alien lands, O Powerful One of heaven and earth, you will teach them to fear Inanna!



Temple Hymn 7: an Excerpt
to the Kesh Temple of Ninhursag
by Enheduanna
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

O, high-situated Kesh,
form-shifting summit,
inspiring fear like a venomous viper!

O, Lady of the Mountains,
Ninhursag’s house was constructed on a terrifying site!

O, Kesh, like holy Aratta: your womb dark and deep,
your walls high-towering and imposing!

O, great lion of the wildlands stalking the high plains!...



Temple Hymn 17: an Excerpt
to the Badtibira Temple of Dumuzi
by Enheduanna
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

O, house of jeweled lapis illuminating the radiant bed
in the peace-inducing palace of our Lady of the Steppe!



Temple Hymn 22: an Excerpt
to the Sirara Temple of Nanshe
by Enheduanna
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

O, house, you wild cow!
Made to conjure signs of the Divine!
You arise, beautiful to behold,
bedecked for your Mistress!



Temple Hymn 26: an Excerpt
to the Zabalam Temple of Inanna
by Enheduanna
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

O house illuminated by beams of bright light,
dressed in shimmering stone jewels,
awakening the world to awe!



Temple Hymn 42: an Excerpt
to the Eresh Temple of Nisaba
by Enheduanna
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

O, house of brilliant stars
bright with lapis stones,
you illuminate all lands!

...

The person who put this tablet together
is Enheduanna.
My king: something never created before,
did she not give birth to it?



Update of "A Litany in Time of Plague"
by Michael R. Burch

THE PLAGUE has come again
To darken lives of men
and women, girls and boys;
Death proves their bodies toys
Too frail to even cry.
I am sick, I must die.
Lord, have mercy on us!

Tycoons, what use is wealth?
You cannot buy good health!
Physicians cannot heal
Themselves, to Death must kneel.
Nuns’ prayers mount to the sky.
I am sick, I must die.
Lord, have mercy on us!

Beauty’s brightest flower?
Devoured in an hour.
Kings, Queens and Presidents
Are fearful residents
Of manors boarded high.
I am sick, I must die.
Lord, have mercy on us!

We have no means to save
Our children from the grave.
Though cure-alls line our shelves,
We cannot save ourselves.
"Come, come!" the sad bells cry.
I am sick, I must die.
Lord, have mercy on us!

NOTE: This poem is meant to capture the understandable fear and dismay the Plague caused in the Middle Ages, and which the coronavirus has caused in the 21st century. We are better equipped to deal with this modern plague, thanks to advances in science, medicine and sanitation. We do not have to succumb to fear, but it would be wise to have a healthy respect for the nasty bug and heed the advice of medical experts.--MRB



Regret
by Michael R. Burch

Regret,
a bitter
ache to bear . . .

once starlight
languished
in your hair . . .

a shining there
as brief
as rare.

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

unleash
the torrent
of your hair . . .

and show me
once again―
how rare.

Published by The HyperTexts and The Chained Muse



The Stake
by Michael R. Burch

Love, the heart bets,
if not without regrets,
will still prove, in the end,
worth the light we expend
mining the dark
for an exquisite heart.

Originally published by The Lyric



If
by Michael R. Burch

If I regret
fire in the sunset
exploding on the horizon,
then let me regret loving you.

If I forget
even for a moment
that you are the only one,
then let me forget that the sky is blue.

If I should yearn
in a season of discontentment
for the vagabond light of a companionless moon,
let dawn remind me that you are my sun.

If I should burn―one moment less brightly,
one instant less true―
then with wild scorching kisses,
inflame me, inflame me, inflame me anew.

Originally published by The HyperTexts



The Effects of Memory
by Michael R. Burch

A black ringlet
curls to lie
at the nape of her neck,
glistening with sweat
in the evaporate moonlight ...
This is what I remember

now that I cannot forget.

And tonight,
if I have forgotten her name,
I remember:
rigid wire and white lace
half-impressed in her flesh ...

our soft cries, like regret,

... the enameled white clips
of her bra strap
still inscribe dimpled marks
that my kisses erase ...

now that I have forgotten her face.



Villanelle: Because Her Heart Is Tender
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth

She scrawled soft words in soap: "Never Forget,"
Dove-white on her car's window, and the wren,
because her heart is tender, might regret
it called the sun to wake her. As I slept,
she heard lost names recounted, one by one.

She wrote in sidewalk chalk: "Never Forget,"
and kept her heart's own counsel. No rain swept
away those words, no tear leaves them undone.

Because her heart is tender with regret,
bruised by razed towers' glass and steel and stone
that shatter on and on and on and on,
she stitches in wet linen: "NEVER FORGET,"
and listens to her heart's emphatic song.

The wren might tilt its head and sing along
because its heart once understood regret
when fledglings fell beyond, beyond, beyond ...
its reach, and still the boot-heeled world strode on.

She writes in adamant: "NEVER FORGET"
because her heart is tender with regret.



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.



Turkish Poetry Translations

Attilâ İlhan (1925-2005) was a Turkish poet, translator, novelist, screenwriter, editor, journalist, essayist, reviewer, socialist and intellectual.

Ben Sana Mecburum: “You are indispensable”
by Attila Ilhan
translation by Nurgül Yayman and Michael R. Burch

You are indispensable; how can you not know
that you’re like nails riveting my brain?
I see your eyes as ever-expanding dimensions.
You are indispensable; how can you not know
that I burn within, at the thought of you?

Trees prepare themselves for autumn;
can this city be our lost Istanbul?
Now clouds disintegrate in the darkness
as the street lights flicker
and the streets reek with rain.
You are indispensable, and yet you are absent ...

Love sometimes seems akin to terror:
a man tires suddenly at nightfall,
of living enslaved to the razor at his neck.
Sometimes he wrings his hands,
expunging other lives from his existence.
Sometimes whichever door he knocks
echoes back only heartache.

A screechy phonograph is playing in Fatih ...
a song about some Friday long ago.
I stop to listen from a vacant corner,
longing to bring you an untouched sky,
but time disintegrates in my hands.
Whatever I do, wherever I go,
you are indispensable, and yet you are absent ...

Are you the blue child of June?
Ah, no one knows you―no one knows!
Your deserted eyes are like distant freighters ...

Perhaps you are boarding in Yesilköy?
Are you drenched there, shivering with the rain
that leaves you blind, beset, broken,
with wind-disheveled hair?

Whenever I think of life
seated at the wolves’ table,
shameless, yet without soiling our hands ...
Yes, whenever I think of life,
I begin with your name, defying the silence,
and your secret tides surge within me
making this voyage inevitable.
You are indispensable; how can you not know?



Fragments
by Attila Ilhan
loose English translations/interpretations by Michael R. Burch

The night is a cloudy-feathered owl,
its quills like fine-spun glass.

It gazes out the window,
perched on my right shoulder,
its wings outspread and huge.

If the encroaching darkness seems devastating at first glance,
the sovereign of everything,
its reach infinite ...

Still somewhere within a kernel of light glows secretly
creating an enlightened forest of dialectics.

In September’s waning days one thinks wanly of the arrival of fall
like a ship appearing on the horizon with untrimmed, tattered sails;
for some unfathomable reason fall is the time to consider one’s own demise―
the body smothered by yellowed leaves like a corpse rotting in a ghoulish photograph ...

Bitter words
crack like whips
snapping across prison yards ...

Then there are words like pomegranate trees in bloom,
words like the sun igniting the sea beyond mountainous horizons,
flashing like mysterious knives ...

Such words are the burning roses of an infinite imagination;
they are born and they die with the flutterings of butterflies;
we carry those words in our hearts like pregnant shotguns until the day we expire,
martyred for the words we were prepared to die for ...

What I wrote and what you understood? Curious and curiouser!



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!



Sessiz Gemi (“Silent Ship”)

by Yahya Kemal Beyatli
loose translation by Nurgül Yayman and Michael R. Burch

for the refugees

The time to weigh anchor has come;
a ship departing harbor slips quietly out into the unknown,
cruising noiselessly, its occupants already ghosts.
No flourished handkerchiefs acknowledge their departure;
the landlocked mourners stand nurturing their grief,
scanning the bleak horizon, their eyes blurring ...
Poor souls! Desperate hearts! But this is hardly the last ship departing!
There is always more pain to unload in this sorrowful life!
The hesitations of lovers and their belovèds are futile,
for they cannot know where the vanished are bound.
Many hopes must be quenched by the distant waves,
since years must pass, and no one returns from this journey.



Full Moon
by Yahya Kemal Beyatli
loose translation by Nurgül Yayman and Michael R. Burch

You are so lovely
the full moon just might
delight
in your rising,
as curious
and bright,
to vanquish night.

But what can a mortal man do,
dear,
but hope?
I’ll ponder your mysteries
and (hmmmm) try to
cope.

We both know
you have every right to say no.



The Music of the Snow
by Yahya Kemal Beyatli
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

This melody of a night lasting longer than a thousand years!
This music of the snow supposed to last for thousand years!

Sorrowful as the prayers of a secluded monastery,
It rises from a choir of a hundred voices!

As the *****’s harmonies resound profoundly,
I share the sufferings of Slavic grief.

My mind drifts far from this city, this era,
To the old records of Tanburi Cemil Bey.

Now I’m suddenly overjoyed as once again I hear,
With the ears of my heart, the purest sounds of Istanbul!

Thoughts of the snow and darkness depart me;
I keep them at bay all night with my dreams!

Translator’s notes: “Slavic grief” because Beyatli wrote this poem while in Warsaw, serving as Turkey’s ambassador to Poland, in 1927. Tanburi Cemil Bey was a Turkish composer.



Thinking of you
by Nazim Hikmet
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Thinking of you is beautiful, hopeful―
like listening to the most beautiful songs
sung by the earth's most beautiful voices.
But hope is insufficient for me now;
I don't want to listen to songs.
I want to sing love into birth.



I love you
by Nazim Hikmet
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I love you―
like dipping bread into salt and eating;
like waking at night with a raging fever
and thirstily lapping up water, my mouth to the silver tap;
like unwrapping the unwieldy box the postman delivers,
unable to guess what's inside,
feeling fluttery, happy, doubtful.
I love you―
like flying over the sea the first time
as something stirs within me
while the sky softly darkens over Istanbul.
I love you―
as men thank God gratefully for life.



Sparrow
by Nazim Hikmet
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Little sparrow,
perched on the clothesline,
do you regard me with pity?
Even so, I will watch you
soar away through the white spring leaves.



The Divan of the Lover

the oldest extant Turkish poem
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

All the universe as one great sign is shown:
God revealed in his creative acts unknown.
Who sees or understands them, jinn or men?
Such works lie far beyond mere mortals’ ken.
Nor can man’s mind or reason reach that strand,
Nor mortal tongue name Him who rules that land.
Since He chose nothingness with life to vest,
who dares to trouble God with worms’ behests?
For eighteen thousand worlds, lain end to end,
Do not with Him one atom's worth transcend!



Fragment
by Prince Jem
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Behold! The torrent, dashing against the rocks, flails wildly.
The entire vast realm of Space and Being oppresses my soul idly.
Through bitterness of grief and woe the sky has rent its morning robe.
Look! See how in its eastern palace, the sun is a ****** globe!
The clouds of heaven rain bright tears on the distant mountain peaks.
Oh, hear how the deeply wounded thunder slowly, mournfully speaks!



An Ecstasy of Fumbling
by Michael R. Burch

The poets believe
everything resolves to metaphor—
a distillation,
a vapor
beyond filtration,
though perhaps not quite as volatile as before.

The poets conceive
of death in the trenches
as the price of art,
not war,
fumbling with their masque-like
dissertations
to describe the Hollywood-like gore

as something beyond belief,
abstracting concrete bunkers to Achaemenid bas-relief.



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



The Leveler
by Michael R. Burch

The nature of Nature
is bitter survival
from Winter’s bleak fury
till Spring’s brief revival.

The weak implore Fate;
bold men ravish, dishevel her . . .
till both are cut down
by mere ticks of the Leveler.

I believe I wrote this poem around age 20, in 1978 or thereabouts. It has since been published in The Lyric, Tucumcari Literary Review, Romantics Quarterly and The Aurorean.



The Echoless Green
by Michael R. Burch

for and after William Blake

At dawn, laughter rang
on the echoing green
as children at play
greeted the day.

At noon, smiles were seen
on the echoing green
as, children no more,
many fine vows they swore.

By twilight, their cries
had subsided to sighs.

Now night reigns supreme
on the echoless green.



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 "When Pigs Fly"
misty Jul 2017
i do not regret what i have done
i do not regret the monster i have become

i do not regret pulling tears out of their eyes
i do not regret feeling butterflies when i lie

i do not regret entertaining my powers
i do not regret loving my darkest hours

i do not regret all the sins in which i have showered
i regret not having brought you any flowers
i miss you and i love you and i am sorry if i ever hurt you
No! It's all your fault
You're the one who put me in this situation
I was once a good boy
Obeying all your orders
Doing whatever it takes to be right
Giving all my efforts to be mere perfect
That's what you wanted
And I did all of that
Now that I failed
To pursue your dreams for me
Is it still my fault?
I've done my part
You're the one who did nothing
You're the one who shaped me into this
I have no such things to explain
For once I want to be who I really am
I regret that time when you gave birth to me
That you were assigned to be my parents
I regret that I let you rule me
I regret that I let you do all of these
I regret this feeling of forgiving you
I regret this feeling that I made a mistake
I regret that I regret everything that we used to have with
I regret to admit that I still love you no matter what
Chris Chavez Dec 2015
There are too many things I regret telling you, darling. I regret telling you about how when I was little I nearly died in the accident that totaled my parents' Jetta. I regret mentioning that I felt like your Halloween costume was more important to you than I was. I regret that you let me convince you to help you clean your ******* room so I could feel important. I regret every tear I've made you shed and your pain is carved into my brittle bones so I know just how much I've hurt you. Honestly, I've started to realize how much of a miracle it is that you haven't changed your mind about loving a broken and battered shell of a human being wearing a smiling mask that comes off so slowly it peels away what's left of my pale, flaking skin. I'm surprised you're still interested in my thinning body and tattered soul. My name falling from your lips in ecstasy still sounds so foreign, like hearing a language you never even knew existed. You look at me like I hang the moon in your night sky, making me feel unworthy of the way you treat me, not like a broken toy but rather an ancient heirloom to be treasured and mended. I find myself tossing and turning at night wondering and worrying and whittling away at the fragile self confidence I build when I'm with you and I ******* regret. I regret not opening up and I regret the indisputable fact you could do so much better than me. There are still so many things I regret and letting you read this is one of them but these are all things you need to know and my heart is still in pieces beneath our feet. Yes, there will always be things I regret, but loving you will never be one of them.
Not gonna lie, I'm considering recording this one.
Bec Mar 2014
Sometimes I wonder if my first mistake in loving you was getting to actually know you.
Know you like the back of my hand,
And then realizing just now,
That there is the tiniest freckle in that wrinkly area between my thumb and pointer finger
And I have been alive and barely breathing for 14 years but I never noticed that speck.
Or if my first mistake in loving you was
Introducing you to my friends as the boy I was talking to at 4 am on school nights
And the boy that I had just promised I was "done with" 2 days ago
At Elizabeth's house because I saw you kissing Karly behind the bleachers on Thursday.
But right now, I am standing in front of 20 somewhat people,
Questioning if my first mistake in loving you was
Watching you **** me 1 month into our strenuous relationship,
I don't mean the *** was bad,
I'm just saying it wasn't the best either,
And that you probably could've done better.
Or maybe you couldn't have,
Your ***** was a bit small.
I'm just explaining that I think if I had loved you correctly,
Then the *** wouldn't have made me question if no actually means no
And whether or not the height of my skirt made your ***** decide that it was getting through My lace ******* one way or another that night.
I'm not telling you that I regret it, because I don't.
I don't regret things.
I don't regret things.
I don't regret things.
But I do regret you,
And I do regret walking out of the house in that mini leather skirt despite my mother's Objections,
Even though I should be free to walk around my city wearing whatever ******* clothes I want To,
Without worrying over whether or not I'm asking to be ***** at
Dickpoint.
So the question is if I really didn't love you,
Which at this point of the poem,
I don't I think I ever did,
Then who made the first mistake in our relationship?
And boy, you better take the blame for it this time,
Because I am an angel.
And I will not claim this loss as a loss,
But in fact as a win,
Because I deserve better than this.
I deserve better than regret.
I deserve better than ****.
I deserve better than you.
I deserve better than your *****.
I deserve better than your uncomfortable hands.
grace snoddy Dec 2017
regret.
i regret letting you in.

love will always start with illusion.
and i fell in love with
the mirage you displayed.
i told myself that
the person i fell in love with
was still there.
that is why i stuck around

for so long.

for so long i believed that you still loved me
as much as the sun loved the sky.
even when you said you didn’t,
even when your voice didn’t feel like

home.

home was late night conversations.
home was your laugh ringing in my ears.
but what was once the house we loved in,
it is now dominated by ghosts.

it has been 8 months.
i still

regret.
i regret letting you in.
Richard K Sep 2014
I don't regret the way I breathed in your heart,
Or the way you gently held my hand in the dark.

I don't regret how it felt that morning, glowing with summers heat,
When we met in secret to feel our hearts beat.

That was the last time it felt real, and no I don't regret,
I just hope no matter where we are, that we don't forget.

You told me you wanted to kiss me,
As the river rushed and my flesh was no longer frozen,
My heart skipped and ran as I finally felt chosen.

But our lips never met and I don't regret,
How you told me that evening you were scared and you weren't ready yet.

I know what that meant, and I don't have some false hope,
But I won't regret and I don't have to cope.

You told me that you loved me,
But just as a friend.
Hey darling I understand, we don't have to pretend.

Maybe it wasn't meant to be,
But I loved every moment that I spent with you,
I know how you feel, I was scared out of my mind too.

I don't regret the way we awkwardly flirted,
Or the way it feels foolish looking back, your words bluntly blurted.

Honest and raw was our code of conduct,
I am messy and bleeding, who am I to instruct?

But regret? No, not for a moment.
I only hope that I still mean the world to you,
Just know that you mean the world to me too.
This seems too specific, but what the hell.
Maytin Paige Jul 2014
I regret everything.
I regret my decision to stay in sports,
give it one last shot to live out my dreams.
I regret twisting my knee.
I regret tearing my ACL and meniscus.
I regret having surgery.
Because if I could go back now and change it all from the beginning,
I wouldn't be here.
Stuck laying in my bed for at least two weeks
with my my leg sensitive and in pain.
Nothing to do but sleep and watch movies all day long.
I regret giving my life away for these three months
to make my knee heal.
I regret everything
because
I just want my life back.
Michael R Burch Oct 2020
Villanelle: The Divide
by Michael R. Burch

The sea was not salt the first tide...
was man born to sorrow that first day,
with the moon―a pale beacon across the Divide,
the brighter for longing, an object denied―
the tug at his heart's pink, bourgeoning clay?

The sea was not salt the first tide...
but grew bitter, bitter―man's torrents supplied.
The bride of their longing―forever astray,
her shield a cold beacon across the Divide,
flashing pale signals: Decide. Decide.
Choose me, or His Brightness, I will not stay.

The sea was not salt the first tide...
imploring her, ebbing: Abide, abide.
The silver fish flash there, the manatees gray.

The moon, a pale beacon across the Divide,
has taught us to seek Love's concealed side:
the dark face of longing, the poets say.
The sea was not salt the first tide...
the moon a pale beacon across the Divide.

"The Divide" is essentially a formal villanelle despite the non-formal line breaks.



Villanelle: Ordinary Love
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

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

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

"Ordinary Love" was the winner of the 2001 Algernon Charles Swinburne poetry contest. It was originally published by Romantics Quarterly and nominated by the journal for the Pushcart Prize. It is missing a tercet but seemed complete enough without it.―MRB



Villanelle: Because Her Heart Is Tender
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth

She scrawled soft words in soap: "Never Forget,"
Dove-white on her car's window, and the wren,
because her heart is tender, might regret
it called the sun to wake her. As I slept,
she heard lost names recounted, one by one.

She wrote in sidewalk chalk: "Never Forget,"
and kept her heart's own counsel. No rain swept
away those words, no tear leaves them undone.

Because her heart is tender with regret,
bruised by razed towers' glass and steel and stone
that shatter on and on and on and on,
she stitches in wet linen: "NEVER FORGET,"
and listens to her heart's emphatic song.

The wren might tilt its head and sing along
because its heart once understood regret
when fledglings fell beyond, beyond, beyond...
its reach, and still the boot-heeled world strode on.

She writes in adamant: "NEVER FORGET"
because her heart is tender with regret.



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).



Villanelle Sequence: Clandestine But Gentle
by Michael R. Burch

Variations on the villanelle. A play in four acts. The heroine wears a trench coat and her every action drips nonchalance. The “hero” is pallid, nerdish and nervous. But more than anything, he is palpably desperate with longing. Props are optional, but a streetlamp, a glowing cigarette and lots of eerie shadows should suffice.

I.

Clandestine but gentle, wrapped in night,
she eavesdropped on morose codes of my heart.
She was the secret agent of delight.

The blue spurt of her match, our signal light,
announced her presence in the shadowed court:
clandestine but gentle, cloaked in night.

Her cigarette was waved, a casual sleight,
to bid me “Come!” or tell me to depart.
She was the secret agent of delight,

like Ingrid Bergman in a trench coat, white
as death, and yet more fair and pale (but short
with me, whenever I grew wan with fright!).

II.

Clandestine but gentle, veiled in night,
she was the secret agent of delight;
she coaxed the tumblers in some cryptic rite

to make me spill my spirit.
Lovely ****!
Clandestine but gentle, veiled in night

―she waited till my tongue, untied, sang bright
but damning strange confessions in the dark...

III.

She was the secret agent of delight;
so I became her paramour. Tonight
I await her in my exile, worlds apart...

IV.

For clandestine but gentle, wrapped in night,
she is the secret agent of delight.



Villanelle: Hang Together, or Separately
by Michael R. Burch

“The first shall be last, and the last first.”

Be careful whom you don’t befriend
When hyenas mark their prey:
The odds will get even in the end.

Some “deplorables” may yet ascend
And since all dogs must have their day,
Be careful whom you don’t befriend.

When pallid elitists condescend
What does the Good Book say?
The odds will get even in the end.

Since the LORD advised us to attend
To each other along the way,
Be careful whom you don’t befriend.

But He was deserted. Friends, comprehend!
Though revilers mock and flay,
The odds will get even in the end.

Now infidels have loot to spend:
As ****** as Judas’s that day.
Be careful whom you don’t befriend:
The odds will get even in the end.

NOTE: This poem portrays a certain worldview. The poet does not share it and suspects from reading the gospels that the “real” Jesus would have sided with the infidel refugees, not Trump and his ilk.



Villanelle: The Sad Refrain
by Michael R. Burch

O, let us not repeat the sad refrain
that Christ is cruel because some innocent dies.
No, pain is good, for character comes from pain!

There’d be no growth without the hammering rain
that tests each petal’s worth. Omnipotent skies
peal, “Let us not repeat the sad refrain,

but separate burnt chaff from bountiful grain.
According to God’s plan, the weakling dies
and pain is good, for character comes from pain!

A God who’s perfect cannot bear the blame
of flawed creations, just because one dies!
So let us not repeat the sad refrain

or think to shame or stain His awesome name!
Let lightning strike the devious source of lies
that pain is bad, for character comes from pain!
Oh, let us not repeat the sad refrain!



Rondels, Roundels and Rondeaux are poetic forms with refrains that are related to the Villanelle.



Rondel: Merciles Beaute ("Merciless Beauty")
by Geoffrey Chaucer
loose translation/interpretation Michael R. Burch

Your eyes slay me suddenly;
their beauty I cannot sustain,
they wound me so, through my heart keen.

Unless your words heal me hastily,
my heart's wound will remain green;
for your eyes slay me suddenly;
their beauty I cannot sustain.

By all truth, I tell you faithfully
that you are of life and death my queen;
for at my death this truth shall be seen:
your eyes slay me suddenly;
their beauty I cannot sustain,
they wound me so, through my heart keen.



Rondel: Rejection
by Geoffrey Chaucer
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Your beauty from your heart has so erased
Pity, that it’s useless to complain;
For Pride now holds your mercy by a chain.

I'm guiltless, yet my sentence has been cast.
I tell you truly, needless now to feign,―
Your beauty from your heart has so erased
Pity, that it’s useless to complain.

Alas, that Nature in your face compassed
Such beauty, that no man may hope attain
To mercy, though he perish from the pain;
Your beauty from your heart has so erased
Pity, that it’s useless to complain;
For Pride now holds your mercy by a chain.



Rondel: Escape
by Geoffrey Chaucer
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Since I’m escaped from Love and yet still fat,
I never plan to be in his prison lean;
Since I am free, I count it not a bean.

He may question me and counter this and that;
I care not: I will answer just as I mean.
Since I’m escaped from Love and yet still fat,
I never plan to be in his prison lean.

Love strikes me from his roster, short and flat,
And he is struck from my books, just as clean,
Forevermore; there is no other mean.
Since I’m escaped from Love and yet still fat,
I never plan to be in his prison lean;
Since I am free, I count it not a bean.



Rondel: Your Smiling Mouth
by Charles d'Orleans (c. 1394-1465)
loose translation/interpretation/moderniz  ation 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!



Oft in My Thought
by Charles d'Orleans (c. 1394-1465)
loose translation/interpretation/moderniz  ation 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.



If
by Michael R. Burch

If I regret
fire in the sunset
exploding on the horizon,
then let me regret loving you.

If I forget
even for a moment
that you are the only one,
then let me forget that the sky is blue.

If I should yearn
in a season of discontentment
for the vagabond light of a companionless moon,
let dawn remind me that you are my sun.

If I should burn―one moment less brightly,
one instant less true―
then with wild scorching kisses,
inflame me, inflame me, inflame me anew.



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.



I AM!
by Michael R. Burch

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

I am not one of ten billion, I.

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

I am not one life has left unsquashed.

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

I am not one without spots of disease.

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

I am not one of ten billion, I
AM!



This World's Joy
(anonymous Middle English lyric)
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Winter awakens all my care
as leafless trees grow bare.
For now my sighs are fraught
whenever it enters my thought:
regarding this world's joy,
how everything comes to naught.



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

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



How Long the Night
anonymous Middle English lyric, circa early 13th century AD
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

It is pleasant, indeed, while the summer lasts
with the mild pheasants' song...
but now I feel the northern wind's blast,
its severe weather strong.
Alas! Alas! This night seems so long!
And I, because of my momentous wrong
now grieve, mourn and fast.



Fowles in the Frith
anonymous Middle English lyric, circa 13th-14th century AD
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The fowls in the forest,
the fishes in the flood
and I must go mad:
such sorrow I've had
for beasts of bone and blood!



I am of Ireland
anonymous Medieval Irish lyric, circa 13th-14th century AD
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I am of Ireland,
and of the holy realm of Ireland.
Gentlefolk, I pray thee:
for the sake of saintly charity,
come dance with me
in Ireland!



Whan the turuf is thy tour
(anonymous Middle English lyric, circa the 13th century AD)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

1.
When the turf is your tower
and the pit is your bower,
your pale white skin and throat
shall be sullen worms’ to note.
What help to you, then,
was all your worldly hope?

2.
When the turf is your tower
and the grave is your bower,
your pale white throat and skin
worm-eaten from within...
what hope of my help then?


Ech day me comëth tydinges thre
anonymous Middle English lyric, circa the 13th to 14th century AD
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Each day I’m plagued by three doles,
These gargantuan weights on my soul:
First, that I must somehow exit this fen.
Second, that I cannot know when.
And yet it’s the third that torments me so,
Because I don't know where the hell I will go!



Ich have y-don al myn youth
anonymous Middle English lyric, circa the 13th to 14th century AD
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I have done it all my youth:
Often, often, and often!
I have loved long and yearned zealously...
And oh what grief it has brought me!



I Sing of a Maiden
anonymous Medieval English Lyric, circa early 15th century AD
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I sing of a maiden
That is matchless.
The King of all Kings
For her son she chose.
He came also as still
To his mother's breast
As April dew
Falling on the grass.
He came also as still
To his mother's bower
As April dew
Falling on the flower.
He came also as still
To where his mother lay
As April dew
Falling on the spray.
Mother and maiden?
Never one, but she!
Well may such a lady
God's mother be!



Regret
by Michael R. Burch

Regret,
a bitter
ache to bear...

once starlight
languished
in your hair...

a shining there
as brief
as rare.

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

unleash
the torrent
of your hair...

and show me
once again―
how rare.



Enigma
by Michael R. Burch

O, terrible angel,
bright lover and avenger,
full of whimsical light
and vile anger;
wild stranger,
seeking the solace of night,
or the danger;
pale foreigner,
alien to man, or savior...

Who are you,
seeking consolation and passion
in the same breath,
screaming for pleasure, bereft
of all articles of faith,
finding life
harsher than death?

Grieving angel,
giving more than taking,
how lucky the man
who has found in your love,
this, our reclamation;

fallen wren,
you must strive to fly
though your heart is shaken;

weary pilgrim,
you must not give up
though your feet are aching;

lonely child,
lie here still in my arms;
you must soon be waking.



The Effects of Memory
by Michael R. Burch

A black ringlet
curls to lie
at the nape of her neck,
glistening with sweat
in the evaporate moonlight...
This is what I remember

now that I cannot forget.

And tonight,
if I have forgotten her name,
I remember:
rigid wire and white lace
half-impressed in her flesh...

our soft cries, like regret,

... the enameled white clips
of her bra strap
still inscribe dimpled marks
that my kisses erase...

now that I have forgotten her face.



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 "Villanelles"

Keywords/Tags: villanelle, refrain, repetition, chorus, rhyme, sea, tide, moon, heart, love, rondel, roundel, rondeau, poetic form, poetics, poetic expression, Chaucer, Orleans, love, art, beauty, mercy, merciless, words, heart, hearts, pity, pride, prison, mrbvill, mrbrondel
Sudharshan Nov 2017
I am writing you this ,
The girl with regrets,

My heart is filled with regrets too, and the biggest regret of my life is how we consumed each other. Once upon a time, we tasted love and cupcakes, but now we are just the fumes of a cigarette. We inhaled each other’s loneliness so much and so often that we became addicted to it, and we fell down like ashes. It’s a little ironic to see how I did not appreciate what I had until my ignorant heart reminded me with fits of pain.

And the rawness of this regret is so intimidating. The moment before you reach the tipping point and break is horrifying. It takes the breaths out of your lungs, rips your mouth apart and plunges the words that were once left unspoken inside your tongue. Press regret between your teeth for too long and you cannot look yourself into the mirror anymore.

Don’t hate yourself for the mistakes you made. Regret often turns into hatred, I know—love losing its presence from your heart, and ever so silently, a poison of unwanted, unasked questions make you its prisoner. Once, a prisoner of love. Now, of questions and regrets. Love turns quiet, a humming voice taking its last breath and you step further away from the stars that you once held so dearly, so closely, fading into a night where the sun never rises.

The curtains to openness have been drawn and you stand behind it, away from everyone, too scared to step out and too worried about letting the audience applaud for your bravery. The audience, you suppose is empty who will not understand the regrets. But believe me, somewhere in that audience, there is someone who'd understand your regret and wants to reach out to you.

To let you know, the right things in life involve regret. And a choice without the doubt of a regret is a choice that will not be remembered.
And, you get used to the choices, after all.

And the crumpled note has made me say this all.
Andrew Parker Apr 2014
(Not really a poem, but I wanted to share).

Wynn’s Quarter-life Manifesto
4/27/2014 at 12:25am (post midnight)

First Section – Regrets:  These are things to learn from in the future.
. I regret expecting myself to understand the deeper meaning behind all of life’s recent transitions.
. I regret not spending more time appreciating nature without technology.
. I regret putting awful unhealthy foods into my body too often.
. I regret obsessing over the way my body looks too often instead of listening to how it feels.
. I regret abandoning most of my volunteer work and attending less social activism events.
. I regret getting an industrial ear piercing.
. I regret taking it out within just a few months, even more.
. I regret not overcoming my fear of driving entirely yet, but it is in progress.
. I regret spending so much money on late night drinking at bars trying to meet strangers, instead of spending it doing more fun things with friends.

Second Section – Reliefs:  These are things to celebrate I have done.
. I am relieved I let love walk out of the door, not once, but twice - I can wait until the time is right.
. I am relieved I was accepted to law school and a PhD program with great scholarships to boot.
. I am relieved my family honestly tries to embrace things which make me different or less relate-able to.
. I am relieved I have accepted that *** can be an ordinary thing and should not be feared.
. I am relieved that I choose to value it regardless and still maintain some of my old-fashioned values.
. I am relieved that it took me 22 years on this planet to become slightly jaded – longer than most.
. I am relieved I am capable of change and adapting to difficulties, even if those changes confuse me.

Third Section – Reality: These are things I need to be more realistic and grounded about.
. Life goes on no matter how lonely you get or how much you want to be in a relationship.
. If I want to achieve difficult goals, they require a few things in addition to harder effort, including more sleep, effective stress-coping strategies, positive empowerment, and breaks – remembering to laugh.
. Communication requires listening and so in order to be a better friend it is important to listen more.
. Don’t be that person who always complains.  A lot of people are really jealous of you for their reasons.
. Say hello to people, even strangers, and smile – how they’re feeling today is important.
. Not everything is about you.

Fourth Section – Relish:  These are things to sincerely appreciate.
. Relish friendships, please – they can come and go so appreciate them for what they’re worth.
. Relish relish, ketchup, mustard, mayo, and even the horseradish – variety is a great thing.
. Relish a calm night by yourself finding new music.
. Relish when you discover interesting things about yourself you’d yet to learn.
. Relish material things you own like a bed, more than one pillow or a tv maybe, a closet with clothes.
. Relish being born as who you were.
. Relish having become who you are today.
. Relish your willingness and opportunity to work towards who you want to be.
Danni Jan 2014
Every time I think of you,
I see the word ‘Regret.’

It is written over the memories,
the ones I wish were never made.

These memories I dread
are the ones I have of you.

Oh, how I regret you.
How I regret ever being with you.

I regret even knowing you.
I wish I never met you.

I have so many regrets
just because of you.

I sit in the car, think of it,
and fill myself with dread.

I regret you,
and everything about you,
everything you represent.

Every time I think of you,
I see the word ‘Regret.”
Michael R Burch Oct 2020
Rondels, Roundels and Rondeaux

These are poetic forms similar to villanelles, with refrains (repeated lines) and sometimes double refrains.



Rondel: Merciles Beaute ("Merciless Beauty")
by Geoffrey Chaucer
loose translation/interpretation Michael R. Burch

Your eyes slay me suddenly;
their beauty I cannot sustain,
they wound me so, through my heart keen.

Unless your words heal me hastily,
my heart's wound will remain green;
for your eyes slay me suddenly;
their beauty I cannot sustain.

By all truth, I tell you faithfully
that you are of life and death my queen;
for at my death this truth shall be seen:
your eyes slay me suddenly;
their beauty I cannot sustain,
they wound me so, through my heart keen.



Rondel: Rejection
by Geoffrey Chaucer
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Your beauty from your heart has so erased
Pity, that it’s useless to complain;
For Pride now holds your mercy by a chain.

I'm guiltless, yet my sentence has been cast.
I tell you truly, needless now to feign,―
Your beauty from your heart has so erased
Pity, that it’s useless to complain.

Alas, that Nature in your face compassed
Such beauty, that no man may hope attain
To mercy, though he perish from the pain;
Your beauty from your heart has so erased
Pity, that it’s useless to complain;
For Pride now holds your mercy by a chain.



Rondel: Escape
by Geoffrey Chaucer
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Since I’m escaped from Love and yet still fat,
I never plan to be in his prison lean;
Since I am free, I count it not a bean.

He may question me and counter this and that;
I care not: I will answer just as I mean.
Since I’m escaped from Love and yet still fat,
I never plan to be in his prison lean.

Love strikes me from his roster, short and flat,
And he is struck from my books, just as clean,
Forevermore; there is no other mean.
Since I’m escaped from Love and yet still fat,
I never plan to be in his prison lean;
Since I am free, I count it not a bean.



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



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



Villanelle: The Divide
by Michael R. Burch

The sea was not salt the first tide ...
was man born to sorrow that first day,
with the moon―a pale beacon across the Divide,
the brighter for longing, an object denied―
the tug at his heart's pink, bourgeoning clay?

The sea was not salt the first tide ...
but grew bitter, bitter―man's torrents supplied.
The bride of their longing―forever astray,
her shield a cold beacon across the Divide,
flashing pale signals: Decide. Decide.
Choose me, or His Brightness, I will not stay.

The sea was not salt the first tide ...
imploring her, ebbing: Abide, abide.
The silver fish flash there, the manatees gray.

The moon, a pale beacon across the Divide,
has taught us to seek Love's concealed side:
the dark face of longing, the poets say.
The sea was not salt the first tide ...
the moon a pale beacon across the Divide.

"The Divide" is essentially a formal villanelle despite the non-formal line breaks.



Villanelle: Ordinary Love
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

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

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

"Ordinary Love" was the winner of the 2001 Algernon Charles Swinburne poetry contest. It was originally published by Romantics Quarterly and nominated by the journal for the Pushcart Prize. It is missing a tercet but seemed complete enough without it.―MRB



Villanelle: Because Her Heart Is Tender
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth

She scrawled soft words in soap: "Never Forget,"
Dove-white on her car's window, and the wren,
because her heart is tender, might regret
it called the sun to wake her. As I slept,
she heard lost names recounted, one by one.

She wrote in sidewalk chalk: "Never Forget,"
and kept her heart's own counsel. No rain swept
away those words, no tear leaves them undone.

Because her heart is tender with regret,
bruised by razed towers' glass and steel and stone
that shatter on and on and on and on,
she stitches in wet linen: "NEVER FORGET,"
and listens to her heart's emphatic song.

The wren might tilt its head and sing along
because its heart once understood regret
when fledglings fell beyond, beyond, beyond ...
its reach, and still the boot-heeled world strode on.

She writes in adamant: "NEVER FORGET"
because her heart is tender with regret.



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).



Villanelle Sequence: Clandestine But Gentle
by Michael R. Burch

Variations on the villanelle. A play in four acts. The heroine wears a trench coat and her every action drips nonchalance. The “hero” is pallid, nerdish and nervous. But more than anything, he is palpably desperate with longing. Props are optional, but a streetlamp, a glowing cigarette and lots of eerie shadows should suffice.

I.

Clandestine but gentle, wrapped in night,
she eavesdropped on morose codes of my heart.
She was the secret agent of delight.

The blue spurt of her match, our signal light,
announced her presence in the shadowed court:
clandestine but gentle, cloaked in night.

Her cigarette was waved, a casual sleight,
to bid me “Come!” or tell me to depart.
She was the secret agent of delight,

like Ingrid Bergman in a trench coat, white
as death, and yet more fair and pale (but short
with me, whenever I grew wan with fright!).

II.

Clandestine but gentle, veiled in night,
she was the secret agent of delight;
she coaxed the tumblers in some cryptic rite

to make me spill my spirit.
Lovely ****!
Clandestine but gentle, veiled in night

―she waited till my tongue, untied, sang bright
but damning strange confessions in the dark . . .

III.

She was the secret agent of delight;
so I became her paramour. Tonight
I await her in my exile, worlds apart . . .

IV.

For clandestine but gentle, wrapped in night,
she is the secret agent of delight.



Villanelle: Hang Together, or Separately
by Michael R. Burch

“The first shall be last, and the last first.”

Be careful whom you don’t befriend
When hyenas mark their prey:
The odds will get even in the end.

Some “deplorables” may yet ascend
And since all dogs must have their day,
Be careful whom you don’t befriend.

When pallid elitists condescend
What does the Good Book say?
The odds will get even in the end.

Since the LORD advised us to attend
To each other along the way,
Be careful whom you don’t befriend.

But He was deserted. Friends, comprehend!
Though revilers mock and flay,
The odds will get even in the end.

Now infidels have loot to spend:
As ****** as Judas’s that day.
Be careful whom you don’t befriend:
The odds will get even in the end.

NOTE: This poem portrays a certain worldview. The poet does not share it and suspects from reading the gospels that the “real” Jesus would have sided with the infidel refugees, not Trump and his ilk.



Villanelle: The Sad Refrain
by Michael R. Burch

O, let us not repeat the sad refrain
that Christ is cruel because some innocent dies.
No, pain is good, for character comes from pain!

There’d be no growth without the hammering rain
that tests each petal’s worth. Omnipotent skies
peal, “Let us not repeat the sad refrain,

but separate burnt chaff from bountiful grain.
According to God’s plan, the weakling dies
and pain is good, for character comes from pain!

A God who’s perfect cannot bear the blame
of flawed creations, just because one dies!
So let us not repeat the sad refrain

or think to shame or stain His awesome name!
Let lightning strike the devious source of lies
that pain is bad, for character comes from pain!
Oh, let us not repeat the sad refrain!

NOTE: An eternal hell cannot be justified. Nothing can be learned from eternal suffering except that the creation of life was the ultimate act of evil. The creator of an eternal hell would be infinitely cruel and should never have created any creature that might possibly end up there. That so many Christians do not understand this suggests they lack the knowledge of good and evil and were rooked by their "god" in the Garden of Eden or have been bamboozled by heartless and mindless theologians.



If
by Michael R. Burch

If I regret
fire in the sunset
exploding on the horizon,
then let me regret loving you.

If I forget
even for a moment
that you are the only one,
then let me forget that the sky is blue.

If I should yearn
in a season of discontentment
for the vagabond light of a companionless moon,
let dawn remind me that you are my sun.

If I should burn―one moment less brightly,
one instant less true―
then with wild scorching kisses,
inflame me, inflame me, inflame me anew.

Originally published by The HyperTexts



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.



I AM!
by Michael R. Burch

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

I am not one of ten billion, I.

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

I am not one life has left unsquashed.

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

I am not one without spots of disease.

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

I am not one of ten billion, I
AM!



This World's Joy
(anonymous Middle English lyric)
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Winter awakens all my care
as leafless trees grow bare.
For now my sighs are fraught
whenever it enters my thought:
regarding this world's joy,
how everything comes to naught.



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

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

I was touched by this Latin prayer, which I discovered in a novel I read as a teenager. I later decided to incorporate it into a poem. From what I now understand, “ad deum qui laetificat juventutem meam” means “to the God who gives joy to my youth,” but I am sticking with my original interpretation: a lament for a little girl at her funeral. The phrase can be traced back to Saint Jerome's translation of Psalm 42 in the Vulgate Latin Bible (circa 385 AD).



How Long the Night
anonymous Middle English lyric, circa early 13th century AD
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

It is pleasant, indeed, while the summer lasts
with the mild pheasants' song ...
but now I feel the northern wind's blast,
its severe weather strong.
Alas! Alas! This night seems so long!
And I, because of my momentous wrong
now grieve, mourn and fast.



Fowles in the Frith
anonymous Middle English lyric, circa 13th-14th century AD
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The fowls in the forest,
the fishes in the flood
and I must go mad:
such sorrow I've had
for beasts of bone and blood!

Sounds like an early animal rights activist! The use of "and" is intriguing ... is the poet saying that his walks in the wood drive him mad because he is also a "beast of bone and blood," facing a similar fate?



I am of Ireland
anonymous Medieval Irish lyric, circa 13th-14th century AD
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I am of Ireland,
and of the holy realm of Ireland.
Gentlefolk, I pray thee:
for the sake of saintly charity,
come dance with me
in Ireland!



Whan the turuf is thy tour
(anonymous Middle English lyric, circa the 13th century AD)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

1.
When the turf is your tower
and the pit is your bower,
your pale white skin and throat
shall be sullen worms’ to note.
What help to you, then,
was all your worldly hope?

2.
When the turf is your tower
and the grave is your bower,
your pale white throat and skin
worm-eaten from within ...
what hope of my help then?

NOTE: The second translation leans more to the "lover's complaint" and carpe diem genres, with the poet pointing out to his prospective lover that by denying him her favors she make take her virtue to the grave where worms will end her virginity in macabre fashion. This poem may be an ancient precursor of poems like Andrew Marvell's "To His Coy Mistress."



Ech day me comëth tydinges thre
anonymous Middle English lyric, circa the 13th to 14th century AD
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Each day I’m plagued by three doles,
These gargantuan weights on my soul:
First, that I must somehow exit this fen.
Second, that I cannot know when.
And yet it’s the third that torments me so,
Because I don't know where the hell I will go!



Ich have y-don al myn youth
anonymous Middle English lyric, circa the 13th to 14th century AD
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I have done it all my youth:
Often, often, and often!
I have loved long and yearned zealously ...
And oh what grief it has brought me!



I Sing of a Maiden
anonymous Medieval English Lyric, circa early 15th century AD
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I sing of a maiden
That is matchless.
The King of all Kings
For her son she chose.
He came also as still
To his mother's breast
As April dew
Falling on the grass.
He came also as still
To his mother's bower
As April dew
Falling on the flower.
He came also as still
To where his mother lay
As April dew
Falling on the spray.
Mother and maiden?
Never one, but she!
Well may such a lady
God's mother be!



Regret
by Michael R. Burch

Regret,
a bitter
ache to bear . . .

once starlight
languished
in your hair . . .

a shining there
as brief
as rare.

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

unleash
the torrent
of your hair . . .

and show me
once again―
how rare.

Published by The HyperTexts and The Chained Muse



Enigma
by Michael R. Burch

O, terrible angel,
bright lover and avenger,
full of whimsical light
and vile anger;
wild stranger,
seeking the solace of night,
or the danger;
pale foreigner,
alien to man, or savior ...

Who are you,
seeking consolation and passion
in the same breath,
screaming for pleasure, bereft
of all articles of faith,
finding life
harsher than death?

Grieving angel,
giving more than taking,
how lucky the man
who has found in your love,
this, our reclamation;

fallen wren,
you must strive to fly
though your heart is shaken;

weary pilgrim,
you must not give up
though your feet are aching;

lonely child,
lie here still in my arms;
you must soon be waking.



Floating
by Michael R. Burch

Memories flood the sand’s unfolding scroll;
they pour in with the long, cursive tides of night.

Memories of revenant blue eyes and wild lips
moist and frantic against my own.

Memories of ghostly white limbs ...
of soft sighs
heard once again in the surf’s strangled moans.

We meet in the scarred, fissured caves of old dreams,
green waves of algae billowing about you,
becoming your hair.

Suspended there,
where pale sunset discolors the sea,
I see all that you are
and all that you have become to me.

Your love is a sea,
and I am its trawler ...
harbored in dreams,
I ride out night’s storms.

Unanchored, I drift through the hours before morning,
dreaming the solace of your warm *******,
pondering your riddles, savoring the feel
of the explosions of your hot, saline breath.

And I rise sometimes
from the tropical darkness
to gaze once again out over the sea ...
You watch in the moonlight
that brushes the water;

bright waves throw back your reflection at me.

This is one of my more surreal poems, as the sea and lover become one. I believe I wrote this one at age 19. It has been published by Penny Dreadful, Romantics Quarterly, Boston Poetry Magazine and Poetry Life & Times. The poem may have had a different title when it was originally published, but it escapes me ... ah, yes, "Entanglements."



Sonnet: 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



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 in Writer’s Gazette and Tucumcari Literary Review



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



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.



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.



The Stake
by Michael R. Burch

Love, the heart bets,
if not without regrets,
will still prove, in the end,
worth the light we expend
mining the dark
for an exquisite heart.

Originally published by The Lyric



The Effects of Memory
by Michael R. Burch

A black ringlet
curls to lie
at the nape of her neck,
glistening with sweat
in the evaporate moonlight ...
This is what I remember

now that I cannot forget.

And tonight,
if I have forgotten her name,
I remember:
rigid wire and white lace
half-impressed in her flesh ...

our soft cries, like regret,

... the enameled white clips
of her bra strap
still inscribe dimpled marks
that my kisses erase ...

now that I have forgotten her face.



in-flight convergence
by michael r. burch

serene, almost angelic,
the lights of the city ――― extend ―――

over lumbering behemoths
shrilly screeching displeasure;
they say
that nothing is certain,
that nothing man dreams or ordains
long endures his command

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

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

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

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



Absence
by Michael R. Burch

Christ, how I miss you!,
though your parting kiss is still warm on my lips.

Now the floor is not strewn with your stockings and slips
and the dishes are all stacked away.

You left me today ...
and each word left unspoken now whispers regrets.



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 "Rondels"

Keywords/Tags: rondel, roundel, rondeau, villanelle, refrain, repetition, poetic form, poetics, poetic expression, Chaucer, Orleans, love, art, beauty, mercy, merciless, words, heart, hearts, pity, pride, prison
Lydia Aug 2014
You told me that you regret being together
And I feel like I should regret it, too
But I don't know how to regret loving you.
I don't know how to regret loving the look of your name in pen
Or the mornings when I woke up to you
Or the days you would stay up till midnight to talk to me when I got home from school
Everyday that I stared at my cellphone waiting for you to reply
Because I just couldn't wait for you to reply
How do I regret loving you?
Even on your bad nights
And I can't believe you're gone
How can I regret you?
I loved you.
Please comment :)

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