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When descends on the Atlantic
    The gigantic
Storm-wind of the equinox,
Landward in his wrath he scourges
    The toiling surges,
Laden with seaweed from the rocks:

From Bermuda’s reefs; from edges
    Of sunken ledges,
In some far-off, bright Azore;
From Bahama, and the dashing,
    Silver-flashing
Surges of San Salvador;

From the tumbling surf, that buries
    The Orkneyan skerries,
Answering the hoarse Hebrides;
And from wrecks of ships, and drifting
    Spars, uplifting
On the desolate, rainy seas;—

Ever drifting, drifting, drifting
    On the shifting
Currents of the restless main;
Till in sheltered coves, and reaches
    Of sandy beaches,
All have found repose again.

So when storms of wild emotion
    Strike the ocean
Of the poet’s soul, erelong
From each cave and rocky fastness,
    In its vastness,
Floats some fragment of a song:

From the far-off isles enchanted,
    Heaven has planted
With the golden fruit of Truth;
From the flashing surf, whose vision
    Gleams Elysian
In the tropic clime of Youth;

From the strong Will, and the Endeavor
    That forever
Wrestle with the tides of Fate;
From the wreck of Hopes far-scattered,
    Tempest-shattered,
Floating waste and desolate;—

Ever drifting, drifting, drifting
    On the shifting
Currents of the restless heart;
Till at length in books recorded,
    They, like hoarded
Household words, no more depart.
ohellobeautiful Aug 2018
if my heart is an ocean
then my waves are stuck on you
with your words as thick as seaweed
that keep surfacing as i pursue

and as my tide gets high
i feel you find a place to hide
in the depths of all i’ve grown
you are swept away to find a home

but as my tide falls low
your truth comes out from down below
exposing heaviness you left in me
where i find sight to clearly see

that letting go of what could be
is how i finally set me free
Carina Sep 2018
Trapped in a cage with golden bars of light
Of ancient habit and direful duties;
Below the water crashed into the bight,
The whispering waves baiting with beauties.

But her shadow lurked around the coast,
Dashing her to the beach like drifting wood.
Preventing her from what she wanted the most
To reach new shores from where she stood.

She wanted to travel and sail the open sea
Beyond the shingle, seaweed and shells
Closer to the horizon where the birds flew free
Or to the arenaceous ground in diving bells.

And coming back to where she started
She found her seaside changed since she has parted.
Or did the widening horizon change her perceiving?
For returning was not the same as never leaving.
Dedicated to all those wandering souls who like to seek new horizons, who love travelling and experiencing the world with all its wonderful facets.
Alexander Klein Oct 2013
I

In eras weird with old mythology,
As if asleep the fabled country lay:
Her wave-like hills and faerie forests dense,
Her thorny brambles budding curling claws,
And ivy circling all the woodsey way --
The far swan's cry came soft and woke them not.
Forlorn, that selfsame call upon the gates
Did break; those gates of Britain's long-lost keep.
She too slept fast, the weary weathered stones
Of fairest Caerleon. O pulsing stream,
Thou vein of life in woods a-slumber, Usk!
Alone are you in knowing castle's face,
From years of timeless burbling at her feet.
What tales are told by water over stone?
What lark or wren can sing of sadness come?
Aye, answers are the beach-wet sand, yet hark!
Rejoicings spilled, proud hails, from Caerleon:
They cheered the ****-frost's melting with the Spring;
The holy Gwyl Fair y Canhwyllau
Had come at last, in foliage of dawn.

Within, their goblets sailed, wassailed, and crashed
Like growling Jove, their boasts and toasts like wine --
They drank it spiced and over-strong. Indeed,
Some stretched exaggerations: 'twas Sir Bors,
That spotless sheet, who tried to contradict.
He quoted purifying texts and spurned
The wine that nature raised and crafted sweet.
Yet "Loosen up!" uproared the host to him.
"The time has come to celebrate," said Kay,
Beloved knight, step-brother to the King,
"Aloft thy wine, below thy gills! Drink! Laugh!
Your stomach is a falsehood-spewing fool,
It must be drowned for you to feel a lord.
I speak a sooth, you need wine's fleeting bliss!
Know thee that man's tomorrows bleed him dry:
A wade through death and depths as sure as pain
That shall tomorrow light your brow. Laugh! Drink!"
Bold cheering spread with Kay's advice, though yet
To no surprise Bors turned aside the drink,
Unblemished bore, so celebrates alone.
Weep not for him, for soon he'll find a cup
More suited to his strange of chaste and grace.
And none to waste: his share was drunk by all.

Engaged in feast Owain ap Urien,
Engaged in tale now Bedwyr and Kay,
And Lancelot made eyes at Gwenevere.
It was a feast of great success and joy
As fitting of the season's robust gleam,
Yet two there were with shallow-rooted smiles.
Prince Mordred one, though ever-somber he:
Accursed spawn with bone in place of heart
And dreaded incantations for his blood;
His brooding perched like crow on him. Alas:
The other joy-bled man had beard aflame,
A bear-skin drape, and crystal eyes, the Lord
He was of Caerleon and Mordred both.
'Twas not the gleam in lover's gaze that vexed
Though it was seen; he had no heart in him
To chain his Queen as if in dungeon steel,
For Arthur lived believing to be fair
Was paramount, to even paramour.
It wreaked its toll, yet caused small grief this day.
Not even serpent son gave cause to mourn
That greater was than missing nephew's spot
Among the feast. His chair was naked bare
Returned though he should be from faerie quest.
At Calan Gaeaf they expected him
When winter storms had racked their shoddy hall,
Yet since, the months had rolled to Gwyl Fair
The milder season come, but not his kin.
The image of his maiméd corpse did taunt
And haunt the agéd mind of Arthur, King,
His phantom nephew slain anon by knight
That of no flesh was made. In year that died
This green-mailed knight arrived a guest and called
Infernal challenge. Trick it seemed to them
And trick it was, for subsequent the blow,
This seaweed knight did lift his severed head
And from dead lips he cried "Well struck! Now come,
Fulfill me of my game. The year to come
Shall see thee in my home, and as agreed
My turn 'twil be to answer with my axe."

So rapt in recollecting, Arthur missed
The growing clamor that beset his hall.
His ******* cleared the grief from him with taunt,
To bring him into grief. "What say thee, Dad,"
Dripped venom from his mouth, "No love for us?
Your hail we called, but disapprove your eyes.
Methinks that far away thou seest a dream
That visits oft the elderly: a place
Thou knewst when in thy prime, with love
Now filled to burst. Yet fear us not, away!
To land of youth far more beloved than we
Whose happiness with thine own heart is twined."
"My fellow, soft!" the King began, distressed,
Yet Lancelot rose to his feet and spake
"Blackguard is he who mocks our Lord to face!
Thou palest hide, thou Mordred, sit thee down!
This sniveling craven knight should be replaced."
A sounding of the table met his speech,
Again was hailed his toast, and Arthur glad,
Though burdened to his breaking point, and sad.

"Blackguard is he who mocks our Lord to face,"
Had spake his bravest champion and friend
With no regard to Blackguard wrapped in stealth.
See how his roughspun fingers coil in hers
And how some sweetened whisper 'scapes her lips?
The beams of color-stainéd light slip down
To play upon their blissful sin almost
As if King Arthur's King approved on high.
Sovereignty is ruthless, Arthur thought,
Well-wishings of my God grow ever-faint.
I must believe in good though I am ill,
Just as I find my countrymen displeased
Though I did calculate my every breath
To see that it did stand with God's own will
To help my common people from their murk.
I fear I am not what I wished to be,
And now my only solace peaceful death.
If up to me, I'd wish it in my bed.

What horn's blare? Hark! King Arthur roused from thought.
Court gatekeeper Glewlwyd Gafaelfawr,
Dressed plain in brown, took down the horn from lips
And loud as elk called to the hall "Have cheer!
Sirs, drink another beer and wreath your brow
With springtime blooms, for lost knight fair is found!"
Old Arthur trusted not his feeble ears,
But came a hush and Lancelot confirmed:
"What **," he boomed, "our brother has returned!
'Tis grey Gawaine, aye, Gwalchmai! Drink his hail!"
The uproar was enourmous: "Gwalchmai! Cheers!"
Was like to wake the sleeping wilderness
That hung suspended in the myth and mist.

II

Astonishment had come like breaking wave
Upon the thirsty sands of monarch's face
So long consigned to reap the low-tide's grief.
When Arthur's ursine hand clenched round his cup
And hailed his nephew's presence with a roar
Long lost to hibernation's hoary spell,
The hearts that beat in armor under him
Did swell to find their lord with cheer at last;
The toast they drank so hearty as to give
Sweet Dionysus pause against excess.
Though only two there were who did not drink,
And one of these were Bors, a sadness fell
Once more as tangible as any wrong
That chose to haunt a hall. 'Twas Gwalchmai grey,
The conqueror now home from quest to rest
Who would not lift his eyes to meet the King's.

"Has cheer so fled from you? Your life remains!
What black has inked you in?" the King did ask,
And silence overtook the hall to hear.
How strongly then did Gwalchmai wish to leave,
To blend once more his form to root or branch
Or soaring river. Wind, the songbird's muse,
Had been his fast companion on the road,
For known to him were many things. He was,
They say, some god that stalked the minds of man
In young enchanted places of the world
Though all his magic helped him not at court:
His shyness was a leaf obscured by rain.
Yet even gods of silence know to speak
When words of pain encircle heavy hearts.
He let them fly, birds in the sky, he said
"I failed. My quest was long and arduous,
The seasons changed while I in heather lost,
The moon its phases shed as fen-frogs called,
I floated through the endless cloying mist
That flows, a ghostly sea wrapped round our isle.
The path had nearly drowned me when I found
The chapel green enough to spell my doom.
When entered I, methought "It cannot be!"
So kind and courteous a host met me
That would have been disgrace to call him green.
He feasted me, and warmed my wounded bones,
Yet I betrayed him in the end; I failed.
I stayed his guest, and friend, and swore to him
That for his hospitality I'd share
Each thing I won while underneath his roof.
And all was well -- I'd rest, he'd hunt -- until
His wife played hearts with me. I did refuse,
But by her final trick was tempted and --
So lost all knightly honor and renoun.
Her lusts I spurned three times, but on the third
She offered me that which my heart desired,
Instead of love she begged me take her boon:
A silken girdle sewn with charms, and green,
Deceit I should have seen. She said the spells
Would keep me safe from harm and spare my life...
When on my rugged journey all I'd feared
Was twisting face of death that loomed so near.
I could not help myself, it seemed so tame,
Yet when the time had come I could not share
That gift, or else expose the husband's wife.
Beneath my armor tied when left that place,
My secret wore me down upon the bog.
It seemed the mist grew thicker, wind grew swift,
I now know under spell was I, but then
It seemed some vengence coming to a head.
My tale grows long, and past the point am I.
The Green Knight and my host were one in fraud:
An airy insect's dream. His "wife," a witch,
Had formed him out of acrid moorland soil:
Homunculus to carry out her scheme.
The blow he owed me carried little force,
Though still this scratch is plain upon my nape.
And so you see my folly plain as oak:
For though I kept the life I feared to lose
My lie grows in me like a cancer bloom
That in the span of time shall **** me sure.
I failed; I'm gone; to revelry return."
The silence, vast again, gripped all the knights
And king too dry to cry, who drowned his heart.

III

"Is there some madness come to roost herein?
Thy folly is ridiculous," said Kay.
"I valued mine own life past honor's flame,
A sin of selfishness, and blame, and wrong.
What of the world, if all would act as such?"
A weeping noise he made, but choked it back
And turned to leave in shame, and might have done
Had not the stout Sir Kay gripped Gwalchmai's arm.
He raised it in the air and shouted thus:
"Percieve our stunning champion stands nigh!
Though of a frail ennobled heart, we know
Thou art absolved. This trinket given free
To aid in quest I wager was for thee.
And as for sacred broken vows, this man --
You said yourself -- was conjured from a bug.
You owe him no alleigance Gwalchmai, sit!
This serious you need to be for wine:
Come sit with brothers now! We drink to thee!"
"Dispel the failure all you can, it stays
As weighty on my brain. It was a sign
To signify the kind of soul I am,
To me it showed my grimy ills and plain
Did tell my shaping, shape, and shape-to-be."
King Arthur to this nephew spake: "My child,
Is there no antidote to questing's woes?
What has become of jousts and silver swords?"
The anguish in the old man's eyes so keen
To those who knew him. Gwalchmai did reply
"Your majesty, there's not a grief can ****
My bird-like love of questing through the trees,
For only questing can redeem my shape."
"Then let us have this quest!" cried Kay beside
Him at the table, deep in drink he swore.
"Come with me, brother-knight, to clear thy mood!
You do you wrong blaspheming at yourself."
The wine was quaffed by Gwalchmai, yet he said
"I first shall stay, I need to rest my ills."
"Your ills are that which keep you ill, good knight.
I bid you come and we shall quest as birds
Who savor springtime berries in the mist."
"I shall not go, I seek my quietude."
"In sunlight you and I must bask. Comply,
Or else I challenge you by burnished blade."
All eyes on Gwalchmai, under pressure cracked
Into a grin and downed his kykeon.
"In stubborness persisting, Kay, you've won,
A river such as I could not keep stead
Against a boulder. When shall we away?
When come the summer blossoms, fair and red?
Or else not til the saps have lost their leaves?
Departure yours to choose, my brother-knight."
Kay beat upon the table and their ears
When called triumphantly "This very day,
This very hour! To help those who need aid
On holy days shall surely fix your heart.
No time to wallow in the swamp that's gone,
We now away, to break our swords with day!"
"You mock me or you heard me not, Sir Kay,
I wish not to away, I wish to rest!"
The fairest Guenevere, like silver bells,
Chimed in "You must forgive your heart's despair,
Or emanations of its guilt will plague
Your mind. I have a lunar garden if
You wish to sit in soothing calm and think."
"My queen is holy," Gwalchmai spoke in grace,
But Kay had cut him off with "Hear her not!
She will ensorce your mind to not explore,
To sit and think and mold with lunacy;
Beneath the sun we'll tred. It's known on quests
I favor Bedwyr, 'tis true, yet you
My fairest Gwalchmai, keep your wits -- and arms --
Two things in need of we shall be.
I mean you no offense, dear Bedwyr,
But I and Gwalchmai share a severed soul
And shall succeed; two sides of selfsame coin.
So come my cousin grey, to right our wrongs
We must away, to break our swords and say
'My heart is glad I did not stay at home!'
Consume your drink! We go," he trumpet-called.
Thus Gwalchmai was convinced, and so was forced
To nod politely to his Queen and stand,
Declaring to the court "I shall away,
This gloomy mood is dried beneath the sun
Though dearly do I wish some lunar grace
To lose myself in mysteries anew.
To bear this flesh is weighty, yet I've found
The strain to be rewarding in its way.
Think nothing of my former woes, they've passed
Like summer storm or wisp of misty cloud."
The hall at large did drink his hail, and then
Did thrice more drink for quest to which they went.
And Mordred scowled and drank the foulest wine
For his monsoon and fog would last his life.

So summoned then Glewlwyd Gafaelfawr
To hearken unto birds, as was his gift.
He said to all, "I shall now call my friends
And see what worthy tales of quests they bring!"
"There may be naught on Gwyl Fair," said Bors,
"A holy day, all wove with peace. Nor Gods
Nor men would stir their strife this day of days."
"We all shall see," the gatekeeper replied.
Beside his King upon the dais came
And played a serenade upon his horn
That rang throughout the keep and lands beyond.
A time did pass with no response recieved --
Slain silent was the raptness of the court --
But then through open pain in stainéd glass
A thrush did bob and weave in melody,
On finger of the Queen he briefly perched
Before he flit away upon the air.
His song so sweet, but then - what fright! No more!
A hawk had entered, just the same, and swooped,
And now the thrush was silent in his claws.
The cabinet of augers all took note
And sketched their calculations into books,
Though none, in this, more wise than Gafaelfawr
To whom the hawk said "Hail, you man of rank
Who speaks the tongue of wing-in-air. Now hark!
'Twas not in hunger slew this thrush, but fear
That what I have to tell might go unheard.
My family, we roost near Cornwall's sea
And late, the noises off the coast grew strange
As if some evil kraken raged at love.
My chicks; my wife and I; we're simple hawks.
We eat and some of us are eaten, yet
Beware the thing that slouched from out the waves.
His shape is something like a boar, but huge,
He dwarfs his kin, and hill, and oak,
This hall is large, yet he'd be stuck inside.
He does not eat what he has killed, instead
He smears the bloodied flesh on stones and trees,
What man could face a fear that bears this face?
If you could hear the rutting squeals he makes!
I swear this sooth by wind and waving plumes:
You men who craft with metal, hark!
Destroy the beast!" And then he flew away
Still calling after him "Destroy the beast!"

The court at large had heard the warbling hawk
But did not know the tongue, so only watched
Glewlwyd's unease upon his face
Until with stiff and rasping voice relayed
The content of the predatory news.
Unease began to show among the knights,
For many there recalled a beast so shaped
And all the blood and guile he took to drown
The first time. Arthur, grim, forbade Sir Kay
And Gwalchmai face these perils by themselves,
But recommended regiment of steel
To bolster ranks against the fearsome boar.
"I know this foe from days of old," he said,
His years of rule etched rough across his face,
"And so do most of you, though many gone
And this monstrosity not even slain."
But Gwalchmai said "'Twas hard indeed to win
Those relics that he bore. Remember I
That Trwyth was the name he chose, and we
Shall best him fair. Though not for trinkets now,
But with the zeal of mother guarding young:
This foe, Twrch Trwyth shall not raze the land
Nor wage a war against some peaceful ilk
While rounded table can beco
Azurel Oct 2018
Soft melodies of the deep sea echo
Moonlight dances on my pretty scales
And icy bubbles whirl under my vest
Through my slippery hair
And down into my lungs to clear the way for overflowing foam
Laughter splashes behind my lips as my anticipation rises
Waiting for a night of twisted fairy-tales and uncalled for surprises.

Shimmering bodies swarm in spirals
Grinding in unison with the waves crashing at the surface
We're anxious for overflowing foam and hidden treasures
Purple light pierces the dark like shards of crystals
Casting a ghostly shade on bulbous faces
Pressure rises as each wave surges
Whirlpools of hot breath suffocate our gills
But the sidelines are shallow
And stragglers float motionless

Hair like seaweed at the nape of his neck
Unbuttoned linen soaked and dripping
Her hollow eyes glow green
Like the jelly orbs of a fish under florescent lights
She’s pressed against a boy who has hooks for fins
Searching for the parts that are edible
Tender, Scale-less, Slippery
Nothing wrong with being the catch of the day
Right?

Bubbles rise and pop as the last melodies drown
Schools of us are begging for shiny hooks and bad decisions
A handsome boy has been smiling all the while
He’s caught in a fisherman’s net
Craving salty lips and the spell to make him a man
But fisherman don't care for little mermaids
With hearts like sea glass and no hidden treasures to steal

Sweaty fins splash and cheer
The fishbowl shatters
Sea glass spills out onto sand
We squirm and flop onto land
Gasping without air to breathe
As our mouths and ***** thoughts dry in the sun
Leaving behind fresh meat without mouths to feed.

Rainbow confetti was stuck in the grooves of my scales
Wet clothes left on the floor of a steamy bathroom
Gasping and moaning into tile
With the face of a handsome stranger
Because this meat shouldn't go to waste
And I'm drunken with desperation
For overflowing foam, jewels, and shiny hooks
But I'm just another fish in the sea
Tumbling in the waves with my rainbow confetti scales.
A school dance
Suzanne takes you down to her place near the river
You can hear the boats go by
You can spend the night beside her
And you know that she's half crazy
But that's why you want to be there
And she feeds you tea and oranges
That come all the way from China
And just when you mean to tell her
That you have no love to give her
Then she gets you on her wavelength
And she lets the river answer
That you've always been her lover
And you want to travel with her
And you want to travel blind
And you know that she will trust you
For you've touched her perfect body with your mind.
And Jesus was a sailor
When he walked upon the water
And he spent a long time watching
From his lonely wooden tower
And when he knew for certain
Only drowning men could see him
He said "All men will be sailors then
Until the sea shall free them"
But he himself was broken
Long before the sky would open
Forsaken, almost human
He sank beneath your wisdom like a stone
And you want to travel with him
And you want to travel blind
And you think maybe you'll trust him
For he's touched your perfect body with his mind.
Now Suzanne takes your hand
And she leads you to the river
She is wearing rags and feathers
From Salvation Army counters
And the sun pours down like honey
On our lady of the harbour
And she shows you where to look
Among the garbage and the flowers
There are heroes in the seaweed
There are children in the morning
They are leaning out for love
And they will lean that way forever
While Suzanne holds the mirror
And you want to travel with her
And you want to travel blind
And you know that you can trust her
For she's touched your perfect body with her mind.
You are the daughter of the sea, oregano's first cousin.
Swimmer, your body is pure as the water;
cook, your blood is quick as the soil.
Everything you do is full of flowers, rich with the earth.

Your eyes go out toward the water, and the waves rise;
your hands go out to the earth and the seeds swell;
you know the deep essence of water and the earth,
conjoined in you like a formula for clay.

Naiad: cut your body into turquoise pieces,
they will bloom resurrected in the kitchen.
This is how you become everything that lives.

And so at last, you sleep, in the circle of my arms
that push back the shadows so that you can rest--
vegetables, seaweed, herbs: the foam of your dreams.
Diverseman2020 Feb 2010
Stricken with a disease at sea
One antidote can't cure
Fallen
Upon this cold wooden deck
Shivering
As the ship faces strong winds
Knowing my time on earth will end
Barricaded away from the crew
No one will talk for months
After I'm gone
Has my soul been called upon by rough sea?
A light is opening near
Blurring my vision
My breath thins
Gasping
Once lived a transcendental life
But poisoned by seaweed
Slowly falling into a slumped
That will not awaken me
Leonard Sine Jun 2014
In a past life she was a mermaid.
Her eyes seaweed green;
bright watery globes,
flecks of aquamarine.

Bones made of coral,
and skin from wet sands.
She devoured lost sailors
and made treasure their hands.

She rolled with the waves
of the great Celtic Sea,
and pulled with the undertow
‘round County Kerry.

I know this quite well,
‘cause in my past life
I was a drunk Irishman --
she was my wife.
allissa robbins Aug 2014
Sometimes you say
I have oceans in my eyes.
Not once have I thought
That so.

My eyes are thin
And grey;
They are no "silver lining".

The green that lines them
Is not seaweed,
But the mold of a past
Mess.

You have told me my eyes
Are reflective.
But they simply harbor the
Colors of lonely skies
And mismatched loves.

You have described beauty
And freedom
Within my irises.


But I can't see them
Unless there's a layer
Of glass between.

I don't see the oceans.
she is outspoken and bold
bold like the sun
bolder than an army of boulders
falling from a hillside
she is an avalanche
when there is nowhere left to run
she is despised by some
and others wish to fill her
with some old fashioned whisky
i am sanctified by her ways
and returned to my former glory
as this poem has tasted far better days
she is a morning glory
her eyes are like the petals of a flower
she is the Wordsworth of the decade
a wordsmith dancing in her own decay

i am essentially a target
a lost projectile in the arrow's path
she has coaxed me back to sanity
with her sardonic gestures
and her sarcastic use of wit
i am a nitwit she said
so i laugh and pick the flowers from her hair
slowly and soporifically
i am seaweed adrift in her bonnet
sandpaper scattered along the shoreline
remove the blind spectacles
and eat the lines i’ve written
a poem is just a candle anyway
to spray the eyes of infinity with lightning
mars is retrograde regardless
so i’ll just sit here and pretend
that i’m not too much of a target for her beauty
SG Holter Oct 2016
A fish in flight; a queen diving
Free, slender and one with the
Streaming hands that caress

While she slides through the
Ocean's nerves and lips and fingertips,
Being the truth; that

This mother of two gentle kings
Is water-based and carries tears
Enough to drown the world

For them. Has cried her pillows
Warm for them,
A mama bear to any fear that

Might wish any harm on them.
She swims in seas in Neverland,
And dreams of feeling strong

Again.
I recognize that song, my friend.
So be where you belong, my friend:

Keep the ocean in your heart,
And when the skies within are
Dark, just

Close your eyes and jump right in,
Feel the salt against your skin.
Taste the water, stroke the

Seaweed; feel its
Calmness seep
Within.
For M., my sweet, strong friend since forever.
Sora Jun 2013
Let it roll in
The tide will be rising
Watching the waves
Caught in a trance

Higher and higher
We climb
The moon is within our grasps
Our dreams will finally be safe

We take shelter
Hiding ourselves from the lamp in the solar system
Wishing to shine as bright as that sun
Knowing what could've been

Hang onto me as you slide
Sinking deeper into the mud
Fence posts buckling from the unstable ground
Wishing to be a post, changing but standing still tall

Hug me while we watch our dreams slip out of sight up on the hillside
Walk with me as the sun steals our shelter
Dive down with me as the tide rises and the waves take us down
Kiss me when we go down in the mud
Because I'd never try and escape from the mud if you were by my side.
We'll be laying in a forest of kelp.
Through the branches of seaweed, I found you.
We climb higher and higher.
Dive deeper, deeper.
Watch longer and longer.
Hide more and more.
Slide quicker, quicker.
As Mother Natures rolls around us.
Nothing but good memories to treasure for tomorrow.
Lyn-Purcell Aug 2018
~ ⚘ ⚪ ⚘ ~
I am taken from Yunann to the
coastal Province of Fujian, where
boats sail fair as fishermen fish. I
land by a pond with waters cascading
down boulders and rocks as old as
time itself.

~ ⚘ ⚪ ⚘ ~
But even though there are trimmed
and hale blades of green, there is a
single flora, the corona of the water
Not the chrysanthemum with its svelte,
curling petals of the gelid transition
from the crimson leaves of autumn
kissed by the rathe winters.

~ ⚘ ⚪ ⚘ ~
Instead it is a single fuchsia lotus
bud,a pristine and graceful soul
unperturbed by murked waters.
As I get a closer look, the lotus
open slowly into full bloom and
with it, the golden essence -
ethereal, a star that throbs like
a heaven's dream, and it appears -
the phoenix.

~ ⚘ ⚪ ⚘ ~
Its plumage a brilliant shade of
red-gold, and wings and long tail
beset by iridescent streaks and jewels.
Slim-legged, clawed feet of a deep azure
and eyes, such a blight blue-green.
Looking to the sky, it releases such
a melodious cry and a star falls
a throbbing silver-white. It glides
to my hands and it is revealed,
another glorious Pearl Moon.

~ ⚘ ⚪ ⚘ ~
With a peck of its beak, the Moon
cracks once more and my nose is
besieged by leaf pellets scented o'er
and o'er with fresh jasmine blossoms.
Seaweed green with licks of marigold
and shaped after the Phoenix's hot
eye.

~ ⚘ ⚪ ⚘ ~
Unlike the Dragon's Pu'erh pearls,
this aroma is dainty in its sweet floral
with a kiss of green; I can taste the sugar!
Velveteen on my tongue! A brew worthy
of chosen Kings and Queens. I notice that
the light of the Phoenix begins to fade.
As our eyes meet, it cries once more, a
sweet and happy cry born of Elysia,
before it fades away in gust of wind.

~ ⚘ ⚪ ⚘ ~
The lotus petals fall off and float,
becoming soft rose-kissed boats;
the leaves have yellowed, browned
and wilted. All that remains is a
dry stamens but I see that the
ovaries are beginning to
flourish...

~ ⚘ ⚪ ⚘ ~
'Ahh,' my eyes now open, dazed,
'The Phoenix Eye pearls. Such a
fine golden liquor you will become!'
Anihana smiles, 'Indeed, My Lady.'
'I assume the final batch is its twin
sister?'
'Yes, My Lady. Jasmine, Green and
Lily pearls.' Anihana places the
burr-oak caddy down to grab the
caddy maple-wood.

~ ⚘ ⚪ ⚘ ~
'Each pearl, all laboured with love,' I
coo. 'Such fresh tender herbs rolled into
blessed pearls that are either fermented
or sit with it's blossoming flowers for
many days and nights. Cover the Pu'erh
and the Jasmine Lily. I wish to be cleansed
by the Phoenix Eyes.'
'Yes, Sweet Queen.'
~ ⚘ ⚪ ⚘ ~
Part five of my Jasmine Pearls free verse!
Enjoy! ^-^
Lyn ***
Deb Jones Oct 2017
I carried you for almost 7 months.
A small person in
My small 14 year old body.  
I loved you with passion and fire.
I would whisper songs to you
Because I was not allowed to sing.
I would hold pillows as practice.  
To holding you.
I would read to you in a whisper
Because he was illiterate.
And was jealous I knew how to read.  
I lost you in a bathtub.  
It was the place I crawled to when
I saw the blood.
We didn't have a phone
I couldn't call anyone.
I cried for my mother
As I clawed at the porcelain.  
I screamed to God
As I clawed at my swollen stomach.
The blood flowed.
I watched it pool at the drain.  
Light at first, watery
Growing darker by the minute
Then begin to flow heavier.
The pressure to push was immense.
I wasn't even knowledgeable enough
To know my ******* would be in the way.
Until I felt your head inside them
I tore them off.  
And you slipped out
Like a little eel.
You were perfect.
I held you and threw my head back
And looked at the spotted
Rain damaged ceiling.
When I delivered the placenta
I thought my insides were falling out.
I knew before you even came into the
World that you would never see it.
You had stopped moving 5 hours before.
My little girl child.
Who was killed.  
Stomped out of me by her
Own 19 year old father.
Because I refused to iron a shirt for him
To go out on a "Date"

He came home the next morning.
Still high.
I had wrapped you in one of the two
Baby blankets I had.
After I washed both of us in the tub.
Where I marveled at the beauty of you.
All of your tiny fingers.
All of your tiny toes.
The way your legs were a froggy pose.
The roundness of your tummy.
The softness of your palm
Which is where I whispered
I love you over and over again.
I sobbed how sorry I was
Over and over again too.
As I cradled you naked
In my arms.
In that old bathtub

I begged him to bury you.
He refused and left for work.
Ran really. He ran out the door.  
I didn't know it was ******,
I didn't know it was illegal.
So I buried you like I would
A beloved pet.
In my favorite purse.
With you in a diaper
Swaddled tightly in that baby blanket.
Under a tall palm tree.  
Away from the scorched side
That I had burned the month before.
I only had boys after you.
I think you would have
(Loved life) Loved them.
You are only 10 months older
Than your oldest brother.
I still have your baby book
All the notes I wrote for you.
I stopped writing in that book
The day before I had you.
There are no words to say
Nothing that could've been writ
That I haven't said a million times
In my mind and heart daily.
Mine were the only arms that ever held you
Mine were the only eyes that seen you
I will carry you with me every day of my life

I hate ceramic Cherubs.
They remind me too much of you.
You never had a chance to live.
You didn't have a proper death
Beneath the rain stained ceiling
In that ramshackle shack.



I have lost 2 babies. One was stomped out of me at 7 months. One that I miscarried.  

I personally would not have an abortion but I feel that every woman has the right to choose. I will never judge.

I have seen too many women have spontaneous abortions. One memorable one is a 13 year old who delivered a baby at approximately 20 weeks. I intubated and used a resuscitation bag between her legs because the baby was only half delivered. The umbilical cord was wrapped around the child's waist. She didn't survive.

The fetus starts developing the heart, spinal cord, kidneys etc... at about 5 weeks, at 6 weeks the heart starts beating, the baby can have hiccups, **** on their hand and grow fingernails.

I feel very sad that some women don't carry to term. I have had a lot of patients with Down syndrome. They are filled with happy love. And give the most loving hugs. But most also need lifetime care. (Unless extremely high functioning) who will love and protect them after the mother is gone? These are valid thoughts we women have. Not just about the wellbeing of the young baby but the adult child.

I have also supported women who via ultrasounds/sonography find that the baby has Anencephaly. This is not such a rare thing as people think. No brain or the skull is open. The prognosis for a baby like that is typically less than a day after they are born. Some women want to carry to term just to hold their baby. Some women choose to abort.

My sister had a Anencephalic baby. She found out at almost 6 months. She was injected with seaweed to widen the ****** and to absorb the moisture in the ******. Basically killing the baby with salt and suffocation. Then the baby was removed in pieces. I did not tell her the details of what was happening to her body. She would have been traumatized more. And honestly? She wouldn't have wanted to know.

I think the majority of women that choose abortions mourn their child. Your body is  forced into thinking it had a baby. And most women go through a period of postpartum feelings including depression.

I worked for years in NICU. A neonatal intensive care. Some babies were born at 1 pound or less. The thing about working with pediatrics, neonate in particular, is that you see some horrific births. Chromosome anomalies that don't survive to even childhood. And the traumatized parents are heartrending.

Sorry for writing a book. I feel passionate about this subject. I will stop here
I was married at 14. A choice my mother made to emancipate me from the courts as a foster child.
Ted Scheck Nov 2014
You would think that
Light is always bright,
Shining, Luminescent,
Searing, burning, illuminating,
Perpetual dawn rolling across
Earth's lopsided expanses.
You would think.

Light and Darkness
Were once perfectly melded-
Minded-
Molded together, in the
Time before time,
In the cusp of God's hands
Pressing together and
Held apart in infinite
Pressure and density and love.
They were one yet separate,
Filling the mindless firmament between
The Left and Right Hand of God,
Before He created Earth.

You know the Beginning:
When the Heavens came into
Being
(So that the minds
Of men and women could
Acknowledge their existence)
And then the Earth was
Created

God moved His hands
(And Spoke through Them)
The earth, formless, void:
The Light in God's Hands
Marveled at the Living Light,
The Source of all things
Whom the light had dreamed about,
In its cupola that it thought to be
Infinite, but was somehow, beyond;
God, it seemed, had more,
A Higher Purpose for The Light

And The Darkness, seeing his
Brother distracted and occupied,
And uncomprehending the why
And how of God’s Light and
The Light (his brother?) standing
Close, so close, in perfect
Conversation, and why?
Why was not The Darkness a
Part of His Conversation?

Darkness, in the infinitesimal moments
After Creation had begun,
Turned his back on God and
Saw what was beneath him.
He
Streaked blackly down to the new
Thing God had made simply
By Speaking.

“What is The Darkness doing,
God?”
The Light asked, confused
For the first time.
“I don’t understand.”
God spoke, a gentle,
Soothing whisper.
LOOK FOR YOURSELF,
LIGHT.
And The Light looked,
Shining the barest part of
Himself down, so that
The Darkness could see.

The Darkness saw itself
Hovering over the waters.
The round globe that
God created was covered,
Filled with something
Mysterious and liquid
And like itself, Dark,
Deep, and brooding.

Dark and Void
Were now one.
Away from the Presence
Of God.
The Darkness had never
Flown, or streaked, or
Zipped like lightning before.
And Darkness saw that it was
GOOD.

Now Darkness was doing it.
Darkness was all OVER this
Planet-thing. Darkness had
The WHOLE
THING COVERED.
And Darkness saw that it
Wasn't moving. It had never
Been so big, so
EXPANSIVE before.
It circled the entire planet,
A giant ring of Itself,
For thousands and thousands
Of miles. Looking at the deep
Dark wet stuff,
Darkness saw its face
For the first time.
Not GOOD, Darkness thought
To Himself.
GREAT.
But before The Darkness
Could get a longer
(And much more detailed)
Look, becoming more and more
Connected with the Void…

Four of God's Words
Split the whole of existence
In TWO

'LET THERE BE LIGHT'

The Light of Creation
Exploded outward and
Simultaneously
Imploded inward
Scalding Darkness' eyeballs black
And God took The Darkness
In His Hand and Threw
Him to the other side
Of Earth,
12 hours
And 12,500 miles away.

God favored the "Light"
And called it "Good"
Darkness wanted to hear that
Spoken about himself.
But God further divided
And delineated them
By changing their natures.

The Light, now powered by a nearby
***** Yellow Star
Almost a hundred million
Miles away
(So as to not cook or
Freeze them to death)
God explained cryptically
Who is THEM
(The Light wondered)
There are OTHERS
Besides God?
And us?

But when God was doing His
Business, and it involved you,
YOU PAID ATTENTION

SOL IS EARTH’S STAR
YOU ARE NOW A SOURCE
OF LIFE. YOU WILL RULE
THE FACE OF THE PLANET
HALF OF AN EARTH DAY.
And God's Pure Light
Was now intimately linked with,
Among other things, the creatures
That God was even now filling the
Seas and the Land.
The Light’s new name was
"Day"

The Darkness changed simply
By God Willing It.
The Darkness liked his new name,
Closer to Light's old one
(Night)
And Night thought he might be
Happier, after all, since
God placed so much
MORE of him, far, far out
In the Heavens, in the
Unfathomably
(Though fathomable to him)
Empty spaces between the
Stars that gave birth to
Day every single itself.

But God punished The Darkness
For being Prideful, and marveling
At the beauty of his face
So God banished The Darkness
To reside alongside, and
Even, with, the Void
Who had been cast down
An Eternity before, waiting,
Waiting for just such a planet
To come along, so that Void
Could rule the air
(Like a Prince,
Deposed to his
New kingdom).

The Dark had never before
Felt something so different,
So ‘Off-Natured’ from God
Almighty.
Night was afraid, so Night
Kept his head down and
Out of sight and
Did his job.
The Light shone through
A tiny yellow orb, and
This light bathed the planet
In a veil of brightness.
Night was only one
Aspect of The Darkness, like
A Cousin created to do a
Very specific job, which
Left The Darkness to explore
Earth and the Surrounding
Heavens.

The Light had other aspects,
A nickname, if you will:
“Daylight” and
Daylight, in spite of
All he could see
(But Daylight praised God for this,
And knew God was the Source of All Things)
And all the creatures and
The Man and The Woman
Saw,
Daylight missed his brother,
The Dark.
But the Stars would only shine
Him in the Way God Intended,
And not a little brighter more.
So Daylight did his job, too.

One itself, as Day again
Chased Night away
(Always on Night's heels,
But never EVER catching him!)
Day was shining on a patch
Of water that seemed familiar.
But the water was, well,
Watery, and diffuse, and it
Slowed down Light's usually
Terminal Velocity, and bent and
Diffracted and distracted his
Straight-line nature. Light asked
God to tell Night he was sorry.

YOU’VE A VOICE
YOURSELF, DAY.
TELL NIGHT YOURSELF.

Thank You, Light of Heaven,
Day said, feeling the Star
Sol going into a brief and
Exciting supernova,
A thin yet ultimately powerful
Ray of Sol’s tremendous
Energy shining down
On that little familiar patch
Of water.

Day shouldered its
Way through thick clumps of
Seaweed (now dead) and down,
Ever down,
Deeper than any light had
Ever penetrated the Dark
Ocean.
Down, the light went, down,
To its breaking point,
Where Daylight was barely
Discernible as itself.
It got to the place
Where He ended,
And his brother began.
With its last photon of energy,
Daylight gave itself to
His long-lost Twin.
"I'm sorry, Dark"
A patch of exceptionally black
Darkness wobbled a nod.
(Me too, Light)
It seemed to say.
"I miss you, brother,” sobbed
The Light.
And God have Light his request,
Allowing him to shine just
A little more brightly,
And the Light gave of himself
To his Brother Darkness.
“God, may I please
Keep this little light
Of mine
To remind me of
My Brother Daylight?

Dark was no longer so very
Lonely
As God put a bit of
Himself
In the strange, strange
Creatures who lived with
And in total
Darkness.
And the Dark
Loved those creatures
So much so that when
You
(Or I)
Capture a Dark
Creature,
It cannot,
Will not
Survive the Light
On the Surface
Of the Ocean
Grace Mar 2014
Decisions
Eanie meanie minie mo
one can not decide like so
your past is gone, let it go
eanie meanie minie mo

We think they were childish games to play
yet it tells our future each and every day

Its a 50-50 shot
you could go ether way
But there is no turning back

One step in the wrong direction and you are done for
Because the key was thrown into the ocean that could only open the locked door behind you

Like hot lava
A playground game
If you stumble off the side and landed in that hot firey pit of lava you were done for

That ocean where the key was thrown into has turned into a nasty green
The waves and seaweed churning under the dark stormy sky
This is not a message in a bottle but more of a lost man at sea

Every stepping stone could result in a broken heart
A bruise
A forgotten friend

One wrong decision could cause a prodigy to die

Like ******
His Mother almost got an abortion
Her family told her over and over to just go through with the pregnancy
She probably tossed that decision back and forth in her mind
But her family won the match

If she had decided to go against her family I wonder where society would be today

Would there be dozens of Einsteins?
A million Madonnas?
Would there be a cure for all the cancers?
For the common cold?

Every judgement is a puzzle piece
Every step you take back or turn in the unexpected direction is another step towards your fate

Everything matters
If you had gotten one more gallon of milk you wouldn't have run out so you wouldn't have gone to the store and meet your best friend there so you wouldn't be going to that Zumba class

Then you wouldn't have met five of you new best friends and your husband

All of that for a jug of milk
S’io credesse che mia risposta fosse
        A persona che mai tornasse al mondo
        Questa fiamma staria senza più scosse.
        Ma perciocchè giammai di questo fondo
        Non tornò vivo alcun, s’i'odo il vero,
        Senza tema d’infamia ti rispondo.

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherised upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question…
Oh, do not ask, ‘What is it?’
Let us go and make our visit.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window panes;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to ****** and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, ‘Do I dare?’ and, ‘Do I dare?’
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair—
(They will say: ‘How his hair is growing thin!’)
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—
(They will say: ‘But how his arms and legs are thin!’)
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all—
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
  So how should I presume?

And I have known the eyes already, known them all—
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the ****-ends of my days and ways?
  And how should I presume?

And I have known the arms already, known them all—
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
(But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!)
Is it perfume from a dress
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
  And should I then presume?
  And how should I begin?

     . . . . .

Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows? …

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

     . . . . .

And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep … tired … or it malingers,
Stretched on on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in
     upon a platter,
I am no prophet—and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
To say: ‘I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all’—
If one, settling a pillow by her head,
  Should say: ‘That is not what I meant at all;
  That is not it, at all.’

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail
     along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
  ‘That is not it at all,
  That is not what I meant, at all.’

     . . . . .

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.
Anastasia Webb Apr 2014
Slippery tentacles swirl,
overlapping each other
in eagerness,
engulfing,
embracing,
the others.

To be mindless
clay thoughts
clumping, and
separating
with the tide.

Slimy, as seaweed
but smoother, and yet
bumpier
as well.

Slipping, sliding,
simple thoughts of
embrace,
simple arms of the
octopus.
niamh Jun 2015
Perfumed air carries
The scent of the nearby sea
Dry salty seaweed
Nick Moser Aug 2015
Dead fish do not move.
They lay there,
Dead.

Dead fish do not breathe,
They lay there,
Dead.

Dead fish do not speak.
They lay there,
Dead.

But the dead fish do wander.
They wander around fish heaven,
Or fish hell.

Dead fish's minds, lasting longer than their physical bodies do,
Explore crevices of the universe that people aren't even familiar with.
Well, at least not people from Earth.

Dead fish not only wander, but they do this thing that sounds like wander and is spelled like wander but is called "wonder."
Their minds forever wonder about things.
Like seaweed, ah the good ol' days of eating seaweed.

Or maybe dead fish wonder about what life is like now that they are gone.
They might wonder if it's raining, or if it's sunny.
But they're fish, so what the hell matters if it's raining or sunny?

You see, dead fish also do this thing.
It sounds much like wander and wonder but it's different.
The thing is "nothing."

Well, I assume "nothing" would sound like the words "wander" and "wonder" to a dead fish.

Considering dead fish can do nothing.
They just lay there,
Dead.

But we are not dead fish.
We are alive people, well at least some of us.
We can do things.

Like ride a rollercoaster, or eat a sandwich.
We can watch televisions shows probably longer than most other human beings can.
We can write poetry books that only five and a half people will read.

(One of those hits home for this author.)

We can go out and live lives livelier than those dead fish.
We can live for those dead fish.
We can wander and wonder and do nothing all at the same time.

We are all given life to live and lives to breathe life into.
Alive humans and dead fish.
At one point in time, we all have the opportunity to be someone who does something maybe even with somebody.

Alive humans and dead fish.
Dead humans and alive fish.
Alive humans and alive fish.
Dead human and dead fish.

Creatures have beautiful and blank canvases on which they can spill beautiful masterpieces on.
Or even blank masterpieces.

It just depends on who you're asking to paint you a picture.
An alive human, or a dead fish.

Both have some type of story to tell.
Never written something like this before. Please, enjoy.
Rip Lazybones Feb 2012
Oh little girl, lost at sea
Won't you please come back to me
Everyday I search the shore for prints made to fit your feet
Everynight my heart emits a warm, loving glow to lead you across the cold, salty deep
Hopelessly I sit, letting my tears douse the fire of the sand
Beautiful brown eyed girl, how long must I wait for you to come take my hand
I am beginning to think you forgot about your lunar eyed mate
No matter, I shall wait happily on the bay, until my funeral date
mygreatestescape Apr 2018
there once was a king,
with eyes like the sea,
pondering time beneath
an age old tree,
looking into a river,
checking the pilings
of his straight white teeth,

and upon this river,
with his wallowings
and tea,
there came a voice,
so soft and pristine,
"are you lost, oh master of the land?"

that at first glance he
took,
a beautiful reflection,
submerged in the brook,

"Oh why yes I am!"

he said,
with stars in his eyes,
and a blush for the books,

and he told the reflection
of his castles and his
wealth,
the will to die,
and the catalysts of
good health,
the drudgery and the liers,
the beauty of its spires!

and the reflection spoke softly,
it spoke of desire,
and it moved
as one,
laughing,
making fun,
greedily drinking words
for the gin of the sun,

"my home -too- is a beauty,
oh you would love it my dear!"

said the reflection,
with eyes so clear,
and it spoke of the darkness,
the bleakness too,
the ruined ships,
and the deep inky blue,

and the king's fear grew,
with his hand on his chin,
such long reaching corals,
and jellyfish too,
dimmed the desire to
submerge into such
bluish hues,

but the two lovers,
how tragic!
for how could they
say,
three words that belonged
to the shadows of yesterday?
and how could they unite
the sea and the land,
and prove their love in
the eyes of god's man?

One was all air,
and the other water,
a sacrificial stone,
and sheep for the slaughter,

"Oh love, such beauty, with eyes
so fair, the owner of my heart,
for you I will sacrifice air!"


and the reflection smiled back,
"of that you you must swear."

So the king in the shade,
caressed each grassy blade,
and  planned
and planned,
how to unite
the sea and the land,

and finally the king
sat up in horray,
for he would be the victor
of this fine day,
so he took down
a fine willow
and built a boat,
so his love,
his life would
forever be close
to his grand castle,
and its green
curtained tassels,

but the king had
an uncle,
as bony as could be,
who lusted for the throne,
found the king
sitting next to the sea,
and the king was drowned
before he could moan,
  there
             he bobbed,
and  the king   died
alone,


there once was a king,
who lays under the sea,
with blank blank
eyes,
and a throat full
of seaweed,
yellowing skin,
as fair as could be,
reaching out
for the world,
through the
abyss of the deep.
My grandpa always told me this 'fairytale', gave me nightmares for years to come.
ohellobeautiful Nov 2017
every
single thought
you brew begins in
me and ends with you
these empty beds that home our
sleep, do not fill with lonely sheets
for when i toss and turn in dreams
i somehow feel you there with me
your Soul is clothing that i wear
i feel your gazing everywhere
even from across the seas
i say "bless you" as you sneeze
my cuts & bruises line your knees
my hollow heart skips to your beat
but some days it feels off pace
for such reasons i can't say
is it your sadness that i trace?
when it goes dark i see your face
i think i blink for you to breathe
i know that it is not just me who
feels this heaviness i bleed
i still spit out the sand in me
it's from my heart i left at sea
my waves of love fill with
seaweed... i'm caught in
you; come sink
with me
Grahame Jun 2014
THE BANSHEE*

Late at night, whilst lying in bed,
two sisters hear a sound of dread.
Mixed in with the beating hail,
is the dreaded Banshee’s wail.

The storm is directly overhead,
and the thunder so loud, no word is said
Because the sisters cannot hear
anything spoken, even shouted in ear.

However, over the storm’s great row,
they hear the Banshee even now,
Howling around the chimney top,
Oh, will that screaming never stop?

Fiona and Caitlín look at each other,
with fingers in ears, the noise to smother.
The Banshee, a dire harbinger of death,
is wailing louder with every breath.

Who will die in that house tonight?
It really doesn’t seem to be right.
Only the two girls live there now,
for either to die would be a blow.

Eventually, after a couple of hours,
the storm decreases to merely showers.
Quieter now calls the Banshee,
it seems to pleading, “Please help me!”

Fiona and Caitlín become afraid.
Why is the Banshee begging for aid?
It only cries, a death to foretell,
is it predicting its own death as well?

Finally the storm blows out,
and Fiona and Caitlín think about
The Banshee, is it still around?
Then they hear a moaning sound.

It abates, then rises again,
like some creature suffering pain.
The two sisters decide they should
try to help if they could.

With dawn’s approach it is getting light,
and so the sisters think they might
Go outside and try to see
if they can find the groaning Banshee.

The sisters live on a little croft,
in a cottage that’s got a goodly loft
With a sloping ceiling overhead,
in which they’d placed a double bed.

A few outbuildings dotted around,
a meagre crop grows in the ground.
A pig, some sheep and one milk-cow.
that has sustained them both ere now.

A donkey, more a pet than use,
and fattening for Christmas, one grey goose.
A flock of hens and one old duck,
the sisters haven’t had much luck.

The cottage, a mere but-and-ben,
the but, a parlour, the ben, a kitchen.
This hovel is heated by one hearth,
and chinks in the walls are stopped with earth.

The roof is only thatched with turf,
there’s a constant background noise of surf,
And though their homestead looks forlorn,
they have lived there since they were born.

The croft is quite close to the sea,
and seaweed, obtainable for free,
Is often collected by the sisters,
carried in buckets which gives them blisters.

They use it to fertilise their crop,
and work all day until ready to drop.
Their father had been lost at sea,
their mother, heartbroken, soon after died she.

The sisters dress and go outside,
to find the Banshee where’er it may hide.
They can no longer hear its moan,
and wonder if by now it’s flown.

They slowly walk around to try,
the importunate Banshee to spy.
It isn’t now on the roof at all,
it is lying huddled by the wall.

No longer seeming a creature of dread,
only a shivering person, nearly dead.
The sisters kneel down by her side,
they cannot just let her there bide.

“What can we to to help?” asks Fi.
“Nothing, please just let me die.”
“Not an option,” then declares Cait,
“I’ll fetch a blanket, you two wait.”

The Banshee turns her face away,
“I thought to be gone ere break of day.
I was flying across your croft
when the lightning struck down from aloft.”

“I’ve never been hit like that before,
I couldn’t then fly any more.
I tumbled down from out of the sky
in terrible pain. I thought I’d die.”

“And in my agony I screamed out,
not knowing you would hear me shout.
I am not here, your deaths to foretell,
I would for you that fear dispel.”

Then Caitlín does soon return,
Fiona says, “Our help she’d spurn.”
“Oh no she shan't,” Caitlín said,
“we’ll just to carry her to bed.”

To the girls the Banshee appears light,
extremely pale, albino white.
She hardly seems to have any weight,
and looks as though she rarely ate.

On her shoulders two white wings,
tiny little vestigial things.
Her only clothes, a vestment white,
ripped to shreds by the storm in the night.

Cait carefully lays the blanket down flat,
and they place the Banshee onto that.
Then lifting the blanket between them both,
they carry her in, though the Banshee’s loath.

They go into the but, through the ben,
noticing as they do so, when
The Banshee is shaken around,
she bites her lip hard to prevent any sound.

They lay the Banshee down on their settle,
realising she is full of mettle.
She obviously is still in great pain,
though will not show it, that is plain.

Fiona back into the kitchen goes,
intending to heat up some brose.
Caitlín with the Banshee does stay,
determined to help as best she may.

Beneath the Banshee’s head she lays
a pillow then to the Banshee says,
“You should get out of your wet clothes,
you could catch you death from wearing those.”

Caitlín realised as soon as she spoke,
to the Banshee that would be no joke.
“I’m sorry if I’ve offended you,
that’s the last thing I would want to do.”

“It is just that when *we
were wet,
these words from our mother we would get.”
The Banshee replies, “I don’t mind,
I know you’re trying to be kind.”

“And there’s something you should know,
no-one’s seen my body ere now.
However, although shy I may be,
I will try to let you undress me.”

Fiona at that moment comes in,
carrying on a tray of tin,
A bowl of brose with slices of bread,
then seeming surprised, to her sister said,

“Haven’t you yet the wight undressed
and warmed her up to help her rest?
If she stays in that dress, cold and wet,
she might catch her death from cold, yet!”

The Banshee and Caitlín glance at each other,
and then both snirt, which they try to smother
By each pretending to need to cough
while Fiona snaps, “Let’s get them off.”

Fiona places the tray on a table,
then kindly says, “I think I’ll be able,
If you sit up, to remove your gown,”
then worries, hearing the Banshee groan.

“I’m sorry, I am still in pain,
it came on when I moved again
As the result of having to cough.
Please do your best to get my robe off.”

Caitlín sits by the Banshee’s side,
and across her back her arm does slide.
She helps the Banshee to sit up straight,
who winces and then smiles at Cait.

Fiona manages to ease the robe down
to the Banshee’s waist then gives a frown.
“No wonder so much pain you’ve had,
the lightning seems to have burnt you bad.”

The Banshee’s skin is bleeding and raw,
the robe stuck in places making it sore.
Caitlín asks, “Why didn’t you say?
You don’t need to suffer this way.”

The Banshee begs, “Please don’t be mad,
until now my life’s been bad.
You’re the first mortals I have known,
until now I’ve been alone.”

Overcome with emotion, she cries,
the tears, in rivulets, fall from her eyes.
Caitlín hugs her close to her breast,
saying, “Soon you will be able to rest.”

“Fi, get some scissors and cut her robe free,
then bring some Aloe Vera to me.
I’ll use the sap to coat each wound,
and with strips of cloth they can be bound.”

So Fiona with scissors cuts the cloth,
while the Banshee closes her eyes, both
To avoid watching the scissors being used,
and not see the cloth to her body fused.

After cutting through as much cloth as she may,
Fiona picks the pieces away.
And then Caitlín does tenderly use,
to soothe the wounds, Aloe juice.

Fiona cuts the Banshee’s dress
into strips, which, more or less,
Provide enough cloth, the wounds to cover,
which they hope will soon heal over.

Fiona then goes to the bedroom to get,
to cover the Banshee, a dry blanket.
Caitlín stays sitting with her on the settle,
hoping the Banshee’ll soon be in fine fettle.

The blanket warms her up a treat,
then the sisters help the Banshee to eat.
Caitlín supports the Banshee’s head,
while Fiona feeds her brose and bread.

They leave her sleeping on the settee,
and go to the kitchen to brew some tea,
Then sitting down, they discuss what to do,
it’s new to them, they haven’t a clue.

Cait says, “I thought her a creature of myth,
a fable, though mentioned long sith.”
Fiona remarks, “And I thought as well,
she only appeared, a death to foretell.”

“This, she has said, is not why she’s here,
and also her life’s bad, so I fear
If we don’t help her to try to mend,
she might think her own life to end.”

At that the sisters feel so sad,
how can the Banshee’s life be so bad?
Since she’s a poor creature in so much need,
they’ll try to help and not ask for meed.

Into the parlour they quietly peep,
the Banshee still seems to be asleep.
So Fiona and Caitlín each start on a chore,
Fi feeds the hens, Cait goes to the shore.

On the beach Cait harvests seaweed,
collecting only as much as they need,
Then carries it back to the croft, up the lane,
trying to ignore, caused by blisters, the pain.

Cait leaves the buckets and enters the ben,
and sees the Banshee is awake, then
She goes to her and sitting down,
asks, “Why’ve you always been on your own?”

The Banshee replies, “That’s just how it is.
There’s never been a time ywis,
That I’ve ever met another like me.
Mayhap I’m the only one to be.”

At that the Banshee seems so sad,
and continues, “And what else is bad
Is that I feel Death draw near
to mortals. That’s the time I fear.”

“I cannot stop that ‘sergeant fell,’
however, I feel his pull too well.
I feel so sad at what he does,
and try to help by being close.”

“That is why when he is present,
I always try not to be absent.
I give warning as best I might,
by screaming loudly in the night.”

“People hear me and suppose,
I am there, a life to foreclose.
Then I feel the awful hate,
which from the mortals does emanate.”

Caitlín then goes back outside,
leaving the Banshee safe inside.
Fiona and Cait continue the work
that they must do and should not shirk.

Fiona finally milks the cow,
and hoping the Banshee’s feeling less low,
Pours some warm milk into a cup,
and carries it in for the Banshee to sup.

The Banshee wakes as Fiona comes in,
Fi says to her, giving a grin,
“I can’t believe you’re really here,
I must say, you are quite a dear!”

The Banshee gratefully takes the cup,
and with Fi’s help drinks the milk up.
Then back down on the couch she does lie,
and Fiona, embarrassed, again sees her cry.

Fiona sits down by her side,
while the Banshee tries, her face to hide.
Fiona, silent, her hand does hold,
noticing it’s very cold.

She strokes the Banshee’s silvery hair,
and waits for the tears to disappear.
The Banshee, eventually, does her eyes dry,
and then gives out a heartfelt sigh.

“I am so happy here with you,
without you I’d not know what to do.
Please forgive my moody tears,
I haven’t cried like this for years.”

“The first time was when I experienced Death.
I was drawn to a blasted heath,
Where a woman had a babe, stillborn,
and was gazing at it so forlorn.”

“She’d been constuprated in a wood,
by a man who’d left as soon as he could.
She was overcome with shame,
she hadn’t even known his name.”

“The babe was born before its time,
the ground was cold and hard with rime.
The woman did not even have
a ***** to dig the baby’s grave.”

“She opened the clothes across her chest,
and wrapped it tightly to her breast,
Then untied the cincture from her waist,
moving slowly not in haste.”

“When, going to a nearby tree,
not knowing I was there to see,
Around a branch she did it thread,
and hanged herself. She soon was dead.”

“Death knew what there would occur,
and therefore, to lay claim to her,
Had gone to the heath to watch her die,
and I’d been drawn, by Death, nearby.”

“I could feel the woman’s pain.
It came in waves again and again.
I didn’t know what it did mean,
and in my anguish I did keen.”

“My voice grew louder, I did scream,
Death looked at me and it did seem
At that moment, in pity, said,
‘She really is now better off dead.’”

They then hear the back door open
as Caitlín enters into the ben.
She shuts it close and locks it tight,
as she comes inside for the night.

“The animals are safely put away,
and now it’s time to hit the hay.
I’ll make supper and a *** of tea,
then it’s off to bed for me.”

Fiona says, “I’ll give you a hand.”
Then slowly stretches and up does stand.
She goes with Cait to make the tea,
leaving behind the poor Banshee.

Fiona tells Cait of the Banshee’s plight,
though they cannot think how to make it right.
They place three bowls and cups on a tray,
and back to the parlour make their way.

The Banshee sits up, with her feet on the ground,
it seems as though some strength she’s found.
She takes a bowl and says, “I suppose
it’s another delicious helping of brose.”

She beams at the sisters, who feel a glow
deep inside them slowly grow.
They realise that perhaps this is how
the Banshee is able, her feelings to show.

The Banshee asks, “Will it be all right
if I go outside for a stroll tonight?
I’ll only take a turn round the croft,
I will not try to fly aloft.”

“I am a denizen of the night,
which is why I thought I might
Have a walk by the light of the moon.
I promise I will be back soon.”
  
Round the Banshee’s waist Cait ties some rope
so that the blanket will not ope,
Then walks with her across the floor,
to help her get to the back door.
  
Caitlín unlocks it and opens it out,
though, for the Banshee, has some doubt.
Suppose the effort is too great?
She can only watch and wait.

Meanwhile Fi does the washing up,
and then she shouts, “I’m going up
To make our bed, don’t be late!”
Caitlín replies, “All right, don’t wait.”

Fiona goes to the top of the stair,
she makes up the bed then brushes her hair.
She quickly undresses and gets into bed,
and on the pillow rests her head.

Caitlín’s still standing at the door,
she’s not anxious any more.
The Banshee seems to be doing fine,
walking slowly in the bright moonshine.

As she walks she seems to get stronger,
so Caitlín, waiting for her for longer
Than she’d thought that she might do,
steps outside to have a walk too.

She takes the Banshee by the hand,
For a time they slowly walk round and
Then the Banshee asks to stop,
to rest before she’s likely to drop.

Still on her feet the Banshee sways,
and seems to be in a sort of daze.
So Caitlín holds her in her arms tight,
and thus they stand in the bright moonlight.

Hugging the Banshee close to her breast,
she’s aware of her nearness to their guest.
Caitlín feels her heart start to pound,
and in some confusion stands stilly and stound.

Then she pulls herself together,
at the same time wondering whether
She has experienced her first love,
or if this feeling false will prove.

So fragile and helpless the Banshee appears,
Caitlín can’t help but be moved to tears.
She lifts her up, and carries her inside,
and places her onto the sofa to bide.

Caitlín then stumbles up the stairs,
Fiona is shocked to see her in tears,
And asks her if she is all right,
and if anything’s happened out there in the night.

Caitlín, crying, lies down on the bed,
then Fiona, on her *****, pillows Caits head.
She gently wipes Caitlín’s tears away,
and waits to hear what she might say.

Caitlín then cuddles up to Fi,
saying, “Thank you for looking after me.
Really, I am quite all right,
nothing bad happened out there in the night.”

“It’s just that the Banshee is still frail,
she appeared to be getting a little more hale,
And then she seemed to become weak again,
so I carried her in, on the sofa she’s lain.”

Cait then stands and doffs her dress,
and gets into bed, still feeling a mess.
Fiona holds Cait as to sleep they go,
and they stay like that the whole night through.

Fiona and Caitlín wake up together,
and happily smile at one another.
It’s the start of a brand new day
which they’ll face together, come what may.

Fiona dresses and downstairs goes she,
into the kitchen to make some tea.
Caitlín shortly comes down too,
entering the parlour, the Banshee to view.

The Banshee wakes as Caitlín goes in,
still looking pale and painfully thin.
Caitlín sits on the sofa with care,
saying, “Last night you gave me quite a scare.”

“You seemed to get stronger in the moonlight,
so I thought everything was going all right.
Then I feared that you might fall down,
and so I carried you back here on my own.”

The Banshee responded, “I’m ever so sorry.
I didn’t mean to cause you worry.
I also felt I was getting str
Mokomboso Dec 2014
When I was younger
My whole world was mermaids
Every hour of every day
Seaweed braided hair and scales  
I'm gliding through the house
In slow motion, waving my arms about
Under the sea as long as I'm aware
Even now when I swim I transport myself
To blue tropical seas in which my childhood dreams
Let themselves flow free
I was a mermaid growing up
It taught me how to swim
Out of the need to be what I mimed
In the bath every evening
Self taught in my teens, better late than never
My only inspiration for fitness
The mermaid, my own self portrait
Re-imagined
I WANT A SWIMMABLE TAIL SO BAAAAAAD
K G Jul 2016
The stairs to my quest
They are gratingly lined
With tall black cypress trees
With wings of seaweed
Which throw their shadows across
Thats all left for
The slippery eminent steps
William Crowe II Sep 2014
On a plateau
        by the seashore
sits a naked goddess,

a dryad or a naiad--
       she laments a soft
song of mechanical

love. Bathing in the
        quiet night, the
light, the

diamond-bright
        stillness. She looks
at me with sad eyes.

On a conch-shell loveboat
        together we sail
through snaky canals

of the heart.
        Cool, lapping
water drips

from her long
        seaweed hair as she
sings for me--

we go beneath
        the sea &
look up at

intangible starfish
        that mirror
the stars of the

surface.
nivek Jun 2015
You come to me
air and sea
with a shell
held to the ear
Ah! I live within reach
of the tide
and the wind
Wearing seaweed
in my hair
and sand between my toes.
Michael R Burch Mar 2020
Modern Charon
by Michael R. Burch

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

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



Davenport Tomorrow
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

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

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

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



Burn
by Michael R. Burch

for Trump

Sunbathe,
ozone baby,
till your parched skin cracks
in the white-hot flash
of radiation.

Incantation
from your pale parched lips
shall not avail;
you made this hell.
Now burn.



Bikini
by Michael R. Burch

Undersea, by the shale and the coral forming,
by the shell’s pale rose and the pearl’s bright eye,
through the sea’s green bed of lank seaweed worming
like tangled hair where cold currents rise ...
something lurks where the riptides sigh,
something old, and odd, and wise.

Something old when the world was forming
now lifts its beak, its snail-blind eye,
and, with tentacles like Medusa's squirming,
it feels the cloud blot out the skies' ...
then shudders, settles with a sigh,
understanding man’s demise.



This poem has over 800,000 Google results for the eleventh line. That's a lot of cutting and pasting!

First They Came for the Muslims
by Michael R. Burch

after Martin Niemoller

First they came for the Muslims
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Muslim.

Then they came for the homosexuals
and I did not speak out
because I was not a homosexual.

Then they came for the feminists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a feminist.

Now when will they come for me
because I was too busy and too apathetic
to defend my sisters and brothers?

Published in Amnesty International’s Words That Burn anthology, and by Borderless Journal (India), The Hindu (India), Matters India, New Age Bangladesh, Convivium Journal, PressReader (India) and Kracktivist (India)

It is indeed an honor to have one of my poems published by an outstanding organization like Amnesty International. A stated goal for the "Words That Burn" anthology is to teach students about human rights through poetry.



Warming Her Pearls
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth

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



Safe Harbor
by Michael R. Burch

for Kevin N. Roberts

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

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

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

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

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



Distances
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

Originally published by The Poetry Porch/Sonnet Scroll



Fascination with Light
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

a soft blur.

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

and flutters and drifts on in dark aimless flight.

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

Originally published by The HyperTexts



Kin
by Michael R. Burch

O pale, austere moon,
haughty beauty ...

what do we know of love,
or duty?



Water and Gold
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

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

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



escape!!!
by michael r. burch

for anaïs vionet

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



Leave Taking
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

have learned what it means to say—
goodbye.

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



Passionate One
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth

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

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



Stay With Me Tonight
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

Originally published by The Lyric



bachelorhoodwinked
by Michael R. Burch

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

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



chrysalis
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

and yet You must love Your Self



Self Reflection
by Michael R. Burch

(for anyone struggling with self-image)

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

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



War is Obsolete
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

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

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

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



In My House
by Michael R. Burch

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

Manifest Destiny?

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

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

I feel my tongue
stilting accordingly.

We were wrong;
brother, forgive me.

Published by Black Medina



Shock
by Michael R. Burch

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

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



In Praise of Meter
by Michael R. Burch

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

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



Completing the Pattern
by Michael R. Burch

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



The Communion of Sighs
by Michael R. Burch

There was a moment
without the sound of trumpets or a shining light,
but with only silence and darkness and a cool mist
felt more than seen.
I was eighteen,
my heart pounding wildly within me like a fist.
Expectation hung like a cry in the night,
and your eyes shone like the corona of a comet.

There was an instant . . .
without words, but with a deeper communion,
as clothing first, then inhibitions fell;
liquidly our lips met
—feverish, wet—
forgotten, the tales of heaven and hell,
in the immediacy of our fumbling union . . .
when the rest of the world became distant.

Then the only light was the moon on the rise,
and the only sound, the communion of sighs.

Published by Grassroots Poetry and Poetry Webring



The Harvest of Roses
by Michael R. Burch

for Harvey Stanbrough

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

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

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



White in the Shadows
by Michael R. Burch

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

tell Regret it is not so rare.

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

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



The Octopi Jars
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

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

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



The Children of Gaza

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



Epitaph for a Child of Gaza
by Michael R. Burch

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



Frail Envelope of Flesh
by Michael R. Burch

for the mothers and children of Gaza

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

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

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



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

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

Where does the butterfly go?

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

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



I Pray Tonight
by Michael R. Burch

for the children of Gaza and their mothers

I pray tonight
the starry Light
might
surround you.

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

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



Something
by Michael R. Burch

for the mothers and children of Gaza

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

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

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



Mother’s Smile
by Michael R. Burch

for the mothers of Gaza and their children

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

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

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

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



Such Tenderness
by Michael R. Burch

for the mothers of Gaza

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

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

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

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



who, US?
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

“who’s to blame?”



My nightmare ...

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



I, too, have a dream ...

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



Suffer the Little Children
by Nakba

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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



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

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

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

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



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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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



Autumn Conundrum
by Michael R. Burch

for the mothers and children of Gaza

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



Piercing the Shell

for the mothers and children of Gaza

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



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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

the lost gold of vanished stars.

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



Habeas Corpus
by Michael R. Burch

from “Songs of the Antinatalist”

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



In His Kingdom of Corpses
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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



Uyghur Poetry Translations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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



Free Fall to Liftoff
by Michael R. Burch

for my father, Paul Ray Burch, Jr.

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



The One True Poem
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

even so,
We were One.



The Poem of Poems
by Michael R. Burch

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



Peace Prayer
by Michael R. Burch

Be calm.
Be still.
Be silent, content.

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

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

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

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



Sometimes the Dead
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

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

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



What the Poet Sees
by Michael R. Burch

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

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



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

Athena takes me
sometimes by the hand

and we go levitating
through strange Dreamlands

where Apollo sleeps
in his dark forgetting

and Passion seems
like a wise bloodletting

and all I remember
,upon awaking,

is: to Love sometimes
is like forsaking

one’s Being―to glide
heroically beyond thought,

forsaking the here
for the There and the Not.



O, finally to Burn,
gravity beyond escaping!

To plummet is Bliss
when the blisters breaking

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

Feathers and wax
and the watchers huddle ...

Flocculent sheep,
O, and innocent lambs!,

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



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

for the Night has Wings
gentler than moonbeams―

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

fluttering off
to quarry the Sphinx.



Riddlemethis,
riddlemethat,

Rynosseross,
throw out the Welcome Mat.

Quixotic, I seek Love
amid the tarnished

rusted-out steel
when to live is varnish.

To Dream―that’s the thing!
Aye, that Genie I’ll rub,

soak by the candle,
aflame in the tub.



Riddlemethis,
riddlemethat,

Rynosseross,
throw out the Welcome Mat.

Somewhither, somewhither
aglitter and strange,

we must moult off all knowledge
or perish caged.

*

I am reconciled to Life
somewhere beyond thought―

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

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

so fatten the oxen;
make a nice baste.

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

though we injure noone,
ourselves wildaglow.

Published by The Lyric and The Ekphrastic Review



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Each Color a Scar
by Michael R. Burch

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

She did not speak,
but her intention
was clear,

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

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

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

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



Ultimate Sunset
by Michael R. Burch

for my father, Paul Ray Burch, Jr.

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



Free Fall
by Michael R. Burch

for my father, Paul Ray Burch, Jr.

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



Sanctuary at Dawn
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

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

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

"My father!"
"My son!"

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



All Things Galore
by Michael R. Burch

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

Grandfather,
now in your gray presence
you are

somehow more near

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

wish

that ululate soft phrase,
that hopeful phrase!

and everywhere above, each hopeful star

gleamed down

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

and taught me heaven, omen, meteor . . .



Attend Upon Them Still
by Michael R. Burch

for my grandparents George and Ena Hurt

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

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

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

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

make them complete.



The Composition of Shadows
by Michael R. Burch

for poets who write late at night

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

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

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

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

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



First Steps
by Michael R. Burch

for Caitlin Shea Murphy

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

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

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

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



brrExit
by Michael R. Burch

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

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



Vacuum
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

that once intrigued us so.

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

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



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

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

What is their brazen goal?

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



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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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



Charles d'Orleans translations of Rondels/Roundels/Rondeaux

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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



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

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



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

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

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



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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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



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

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

The sky was too gentle, too blue;
The sea, far too windswept and green.
Yet I always imagined―or knew―
I’d again feel your spleen.

Now I'm tired of the glossy waxed holly,
Of the shimmering boxwood too,
Of the meadowland’s endless folly,
When all things, alas, lead to you!



In the Whispering Night
by Michael R. Burch

for George King

In the whispering night, when the stars bend low
till the hills ignite to a shining flame,
when a shower of meteors streaks the sky
while the lilies sigh in their beds, for shame,
we must steal our souls, as they once were stolen,
and gather our vigor, and all our intent.
We must heave our bodies to some famished ocean
and laugh as they vanish, and never repent.
We must dance in the darkness as stars dance before us,
soar, Soar! through the night on a butterfly's breeze ...
blown high, upward-yearning, twin spirits returning
to the heights of awareness from which we were seized.



Dispensing Keys
by Hafiz aka Hafez
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The imbecile
constructs cages
for everyone he knows,
while the sage
(who has to duck his head
whenever the moon glows)
keeps dispensing keys
all night long
to the beautiful, rowdy,
prison gang.



Infectious!
by Hafiz aka Hafez
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I became infected with happiness tonight
as I wandered idly, singing in the starlight.
Now I'm wonderfully contagious ...
so kiss me!



The Tally
by Hafiz aka Hafez
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Lovers
don't reveal
all
their Secrets;
under the covers
they
may
count each other's Moles
(that reside
and hide
in the shy regions
by forbidden holes),
then keep the final tally
strictly
from Aunt Sally!

This is admittedly a VERY loose translation of the original Hafiz poem!



Mirror
by Kajal Ahmad, a Kurdish poet
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

My era's obscuring mirror
shattered
because it magnified the small
and made the great seem insignificant.
Dictators and monsters filled its contours.
Now when I breathe
its jagged shards pierce my heart
and instead of sweat
I exude glass.



The Lonely Earth
by Kajal Ahmad
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The pale celestial bodies
never bid her “Good morning!”
nor do the creative stars
kiss her.
Earth, where so many tender persuasions and roses lie interred,
might expire for the lack of a glance, or an odor.
She’s a lonely dusty orb,
so very lonely!, as she observes the moon's patchwork attire
knowing the sun's an imposter
who sears with rays he has stolen for himself
and who looks down on the moon and earth like lodgers.



Kurds are Birds
by Kajal Ahmad
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Per the latest scientific classification, Kurds
now belong to a species of bird!
This is why,
traveling across the torn, fraying pages of history,
they are nomads recognized by their caravans.
Yes, Kurds are birds! And,
even worse, when
there’s nowhere left to nest, no refuge from their pain,
they turn to the illusion of traveling again
between the warm and arctic sectors of their homeland.
So I don’t think it strange Kurds can fly but not land.
They wander from region to region
never realizing their dreams
of settling,
of forming a colony, of nesting.
No, they never settle down long enough
to visit Rumi and inquire about his health,
or to bow down deeply in the gust-
stirred dust,
like Nali.



Birdsong
by Rumi
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Birdsong relieves
my deepest griefs:
now I'm just as ecstatic as they,
but with nothing to say!
Please universe,
rehearse
your poetry
through me!



After the Deluge
by Michael R. Burch

She was kinder than light
to an up-reaching flower
and sweeter than rain
to the bees in their bower
where anemones blush
at the affections they shower,
and love’s shocking power.

She shocked me to life,
but soon left me to wither.
I was listless without her,
nor could I be with her.
I fell under the spell
of her absence’s power.
in that calamitous hour.

Like blithe showers that fled
repealing spring’s sweetness;
like suns’ warming rays sped
away, with such fleetness ...
she has taken my heart—
alas, our completeness!
I now wilt in pale beams
of her occult remembrance.



grave request
by michael r. burch

come to ur doom
in Tombstone;

the stars stark and chill
over Boot Hill

care nothing for ur desire;

still,

imagine they wish u no ill,
that u burn with the same antique fire;

for there’s nothing to life but the thrill
of living until u expire;

so come, spend ur last hardearned bill
on Tombstone.



Defenses
by Michael R. Burch

Beyond the silhouettes of trees
stark, naked and defenseless
there stand long rows of sentinels:
these pert white picket fences.

Now whom they guard and how they guard,
the good Lord only knows;
but savages would have to laugh
observing the tidy rows.



Pool's Prince Charming
by Michael R. Burch

(this is my tribute poem, written on the behalf of his fellow pool sharks, for the legendary Saint Louie Louie Roberts)

Louie, Louie, Prince of Pool,
making all the ladies drool ...
Take the “nuts”? I'd be a fool!
Louie, Louie, Prince of Pool.

Louie, Louie, pretty as Elvis,
owner of (ahem) a similar pelvis ...
Compared to you, the books will shelve us.
Louie, Louie, pretty as Elvis.

Louie, Louie, fearless gambler,
ladies' man and constant rambler,
but such a sweet, loquacious ambler!
Louie, Louie, fearless gambler.

Louie, Louie, angelic, chthonic,
pool's charming hero, but tragic, Byronic,
winning the Open drinking gin and tonic?
Louie, Louie, angelic, chthonic.



The Aery Faery Princess
by Michael R. Burch

for Keira

There once was a princess lighter than fluff
made of such gossamer stuff—
the down of a thistle, butterflies’ wings,
the faintest high note the hummingbird sings,
moonbeams on garlands, strands of bright hair ...
I think she’s just you when you’re floating on air!



pretty pickle
by Michael R. Burch

u’d blaspheme if u could
because ur God’s no good,
but of course u cant:
ur just a lowly ant
(or so u were told by a Hierophant).



and then i was made whole
by Michael R. Burch

... and then i was made whole,
but not a thing entire,
glued to a perch
in a gilded church,
strung through with a silver wire ...

singing a little of this and of that,
warbling higher and higher:
a thing wholly dead
till I lifted my head
and spat at the Lord and his choir.



Album
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

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



Because You Came to Me
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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



Beckoning
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

I believe I wrote the first version of this poem around age 18, wasn't happy with it, put it aside, then revised it six years later.



Besieged
by Michael R. Burch

Life—the disintegration of the flesh
before the fitful elevation of the soul
upon improbable wings?

Life—is this all we know,
the travail one bright season brings? ...

Now the fruit hangs,
impendent, pregnant with death,
as the hurricane builds and flings
its white columns and banners of snow

and the rout begins.



****** or Heroine?
by Michael R. Burch

(for mothers battling addiction)

serve the Addiction;
worship the Beast;
feed the foul Pythons
your flesh, their fair feast ...

or rise up, resist
the huge many-headed hydra;
for the sake of your Loved Ones
decapitate medusa.



Loose Knit
by Michael R. Burch

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

And if her hand jerks and twitches in puppet-like fits,
she tells herself
reality is not as threadbare as it seems ...
that a little more darning may gather loose seams.

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



I Have Labored Sore
anonymous medieval lyric (circa the fifteenth century)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I have labored sore / and suffered death,
so now I rest / and catch my breath.
But I shall come / and call right soon
heaven and earth / and hell to doom.
Then all shall know / both devil and man
just who I was / and what I am.

NOTE: This poem has a pronounced caesura (pause) in the middle of each line: a hallmark of Old English poetry. While this poem is closer to Middle English, it preserves the older tradition. I have represented the caesura with a slash.



A Lyke-Wake Dirge
anonymous medieval lyric (circa the sixteenth century)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The Lie-Awake Dirge is "the night watch kept over a corpse."

This one night, this one night,
every night and all;
fire and sleet and candlelight,
and Christ receive thy soul.

When from this earthly life you pass
every night and all,
to confront your past you must come at last,
and Christ receive thy soul.

If you ever donated socks and shoes,
every night and all,
sit right down and put pull yours on,
and Christ receive thy soul.

But if you never helped your brother,
every night and all,
walk barefoot through the flames of hell,
and Christ receive thy soul.

If ever you shared your food and drink,
every night and all,
the fire will never make you shrink,
and Christ receive thy soul.

But if you never helped your brother,
every night and all,
walk starving through the black abyss,
and Christ receive thy soul.

This one night, this one night,
every night and all;
fire and sleet and candlelight,
and Christ receive thy soul.



This World's Joy
(anonymous Middle English lyric, circa early 14th century AD)
loose translation/interpretation 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.



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.



Adam Lay Ybounden
(anonymous Medieval English lyric, circa early 15th century AD)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Adam lay bound, bound in a bond;
Four thousand winters, he thought, were not too long.
And all was for an apple, an apple that he took,
As clerics now find written in their book.
But had the apple not been taken, or had it never been,
We'd never have had our Lady, heaven's queen and matron.
So blesséd be the time the apple was taken thus;
Therefore we sing, "God is gracious! "

The poem has also been rendered as "Adam lay i-bounden" and "Adam lay i-bowndyn."



Excerpt from "Ubi Sunt Qui Ante Nos Fuerunt? "
anonymous Middle English poem, circa 1275
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Where are the men who came before us,
who led hounds and hawks to the hunt,
who commanded fields and woods?
Where are the elegant ladies in their boudoirs
who braided gold through their hair
and had such fair complexions?

Once eating and drinking made their hearts glad;
they enjoyed their games;
men bowed before them;
they bore themselves loftily...
But then, in an eye's twinkling,
their hearts were forlorn.

Where are their laughter and their songs,
the trains of their dresses,
the arrogance of their entrances and exits,
their hawks and their hounds?
All their joy is departed;
their "well" has come to "oh, well"
and to many dark days...



Westron Wynde
(anonymous Middle English lyric, found in a partbook circa 1530 AD, but perhaps written much earlier)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Western wind, when will you blow,
bringing the drizzling rain?
Christ, that my love were in my arms,
and I in my bed again!

NOTE: The original poem has "the smalle rayne down can rayne" which suggests a drizzle or mist, either of which would suggest a dismal day.



Pity Mary
(anonymous Middle English lyric, circa early 13th century AD)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Now the sun passes under the wood:
I rue, Mary, thy face: fair, good.
Now the sun passes under the tree:
I rue, Mary, thy son and thee.

In the poem above, note how "wood" and "tree" invoke the cross while "sun" and "son" seem to invoke each other. Sun-day is also Son-day, to Christians. The anonymous poet who wrote the poem above may have been been punning the words "sun" and "son." The poem is also known as "Now Goeth Sun Under Wood" and "Now Go'th Sun Under Wood."



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!



If I am Syrian, what of it?
Stranger, we all dwell in one world, not its portals.
The same original Chaos gave birth to all mortals.
—Meleager, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Love, how can I call on you:
does Desire dwell with the dead?
Cupid, that bold boy, never bowed his head
to wail.
—Meleager, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Cupid, I swear,
your quiver holds only empty air:
for all your winged arrows, set free,
are now lodged in me.
—Meleager, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

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

Cupid, the cuddly baby
safe in his mother's lap,
chucking the dice one day,
gambled my heart away.
—Meleager, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I lie defeated. Set your foot on my neck. Checkmate.
I recognize you by your weight;
yes, and by the gods, you’re a load to bear.
I am also well aware
of your fiery darts.
But if you seek to ignite human hearts,
******* with your tinders;
mine’s already in cinders.
—Meleager, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

When I see Theron everything’s revealed.
When he’s gone all’s concealed.
—Meleager, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

When I see Theron everything’s defined;
When he’s gone I’m blind.
—Meleager, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

When I see Theron my eyes bug out;
When he’s gone even sight is in doubt.
—Meleager, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Mother-Earth, to all men dear,
Aesigenes was never a burden to you,
so please rest lightly on him here.
—Meleager, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Meleager dedicates this lamp to you, dear Cypris, as a plaything,
since it has been initiated into the mysteries of your nocturnal ceremonies.
—Meleager, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I know you lied, because these ringlets
still dripping scented essences
betray your wantonness.
These also betray you—
your eyes sagging with the lack of sleep,
stray tendrils of your unchaste hair escaping its garlands,
your limbs uncoordinated by the wine.
Away, trollop, they summon you—
the reveling lyre and the clattering castanets rattled by lewd fingers!
—Meleager, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Moon and Stars,
lighting the way for lovers,
and Night,
and you, my mournful Mandolin, my ***** companion ...
when will we see her, the little wanton one, lying awake and moaning to her lamp?
Or does she embrace some other companion?
Then let me hang conciliatory garlands on her door,
wilted by my tears,
and let me inscribe thereupon these words:
"For you, Cypris,
the one to whom you revealed the mysteries of your revels,
Meleager,
offers these spoiled tokens of his love."
—Meleager, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Silence!
They must have carried her off!
Who could be so barbaric,
to act with such violence,
to wage war against Love himself?
Quick, prepare the torches!
But wait!
A footfall, Heliodora's!
Get back in my *****, heart!
—Meleager, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Tears, the last gifts of my love,
I send drenching down to you, Heliodora.
Here on your puddling tomb I pour them out—
soul-wrenching tears
in memory of affliction and affection.
Piteously, so piteously Meleager mourns you,
you still so precious, so dear to him in death,
paying vain tributes to Acheron.
Alas! Alas! Where is my beautiful one,
my heart's desire?
Death has taken her from me, has robbed me of her,
and the lustrous blossom lies trampled in dust.
But Earth-Mother, nurturer of us all ...
Mother, I beseech you, hold her gently to your *****,
the one we all bewail.
—Meleager, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



You ask me why I've sent you no new verses?
There might be reverses.
―Martial, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

You ask me to recite my poems to you?
I know how you'll "recite" them, if I do.
―Martial, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

NOTE: The irascible Martial is suggesting that if he shares his poems, they will be plagiarized.

You ask me why I choose to live elsewhere?
You're not there.
―Martial, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

You ask me why I love the fresh country air?
You're not befouling it there.
―Martial, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

You never wrote a poem,
yet criticize mine?
Stop abusing me or write something fine
of your own!
―Martial, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

He starts everything but finishes nothing;
thus I suspect there's no end to his stuffing.
―Martial, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

NOTE: Martial concluded his epigram with a variation of the f-word; please substitute it if you prefer it.

You alone own prime land, dandy!
Gold, money, the finest porcelain―you alone!
The best wines of the most famous vintages―you alone!
Discrimination and wit―you alone!
You have it all―who can deny that you alone are set for life?
But everyone has had your wife―she is never alone!
―Martial, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

You dine in great magnificence
while offering guests a pittance.
Sextus, did you invite
friends to dinner tonight
to impress us with your enormous appetite?
―Martial, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

To you, my departed parents, dear mother and father,
I commend my little lost angel, Erotion, love’s daughter.
She fell a mere six days short of outliving her sixth frigid winter.
Protect her now, I pray, should the chilling dark shades appear;
muzzle hell’s three-headed hound, less her heart be dismayed!
Lead her to romp in some sunny Elysian glade,
her devoted patrons. Watch her play childish games
as she excitedly babbles and lisps my name.
Let no hard turf smother her softening bones; and do
rest lightly upon her, earth, she was surely no burden to you!
―Martial, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



Alien Nation
by Michael R. Burch

for a Christian poet who believes in “hell”

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

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

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

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



Burn, Ovid
by Michael R. Burch

“Burn Ovid”—Austin Clarke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This poem is set at Faith Christian Academy, which I attended for a year during the ninth grade, in 1972-1973. While the poem definitely had its genesis there, I believe I revised it more than once and didn't finish it till 2001, nearly 28 years later, according to my notes on the poem. Another poem, "*** 101," was also written about my experiences at FCA that year.



*** 101
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

The most unlikely coupling—

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

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

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

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

This companion poem to "Burn, Ovid" is also set at Faith Christian Academy, in 1972-1973.



honeybee
by michael r. burch

love was a little treble thing—
prone to sing
and (sometimes) to sting



honeydew
by michael r. burch

i sampled honeysuckle
and it made my taste buds buckle!



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

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



Huntress
Michael R. Burch

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



Ibykos Fragment 286 (III)
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Come spring, the grand
apple trees stand
watered by a gushing river
where the maidens’ uncut flowers shiver
and the blossoming grape vine swells
in the gathering shadows.

Unfortunately
for me
Eros never rests
but like a Thracian tempest
ablaze with lightning
emanates from Aphrodite;

the results are frightening—
black,
bleak,
astonishing,
violently jolting me from my soles
to my soul.

Originally published by The Chained Muse



Ince St. Child
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

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



Lullaby
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy

Cherubic laugh; sly, impish grin;
Angelic face; wild chimp within.

It does not matter; sleep awhile
As soft mirth tickles forth a smile.

Gray moths will hum a lullaby
Of feathery wings, then you and I

Will wake together, by and by.

Life’s not long; those days are best
Spent snuggled to a loving breast.

The earth will wait; a sun-filled sky
Will bronze lean muscle, by and by.

Soon you will sing, and I will sigh,
But sleep here, now, for you and I

Know nothing but this lullaby.



Kin
by Michael R. Burch

O pale, austere moon,
haughty beauty ...

what do we know of love,
or duty?



Kindred
by Michael R. Burch

Rise, pale disastrous moon!
What is love, but a heightened effect
of time, light and distance?

Did you burn once,
before you became
so remote, so detached,

so coldly, inhumanly lustrous,
before you were able to assume
the very pallor of love itself?

What is the dawn now, to you or to me?

We are as one,
out of favor with the sun.

We would exhume
the white corpse of love
for a last dance,

and yet we will not.
We will let her be,
let her abide,

for she is nothing now,
to you
or to me.



Reflections
by Michael R. Burch

I am her mirror.
I say she is kind,
lovely, breathtaking.
She screams that I’m blind.

I show her her beauty,
her brilliance and compassion.
She refuses to believe me,
for that’s the latest fashion.

She storms and she rages;
she dissolves into tears
while envious Angels
are, by God, her only Peers.



Excerpts from “Travels with Einstein”
by Michael R. Burch

for Trump

I went to Berlin to learn wisdom
from Adolph. The wild spittle flew
as he screamed at me, with great conviction:
“Please despise me! I look like a Jew!”

So I flew off to ’Nam to learn wisdom
from tall Yankees who cursed “yellow” foes.
“If we lose this small square,” they informed me,
earth’s nations will fall, dominoes!”

I then sat at Christ’s feet to learn wisdom,
but his Book, from its genesis to close,
said: “Men can enslave their own brothers!”
(I soon noticed he lacked any clothes.)

So I traveled to bright Tel Aviv
where great scholars with lofty IQs
informed me that (since I’m an Arab)
I’m unfit to lick dirt from their shoes.

At last, done with learning, I stumbled
to a well where the waters seemed sweet:
the mirage of American “justice.”
There I wept a real sea, in defeat.

Originally published by Café Dissensus



Remembrance
by Michael R. Burch

Remembrance like a river rises;
the rain of recollection falls;
frail memories, like vines, entangled,
cling to Time's collapsing walls.

The past is like a distant mist,
the future like a far-off haze,
the present half-distinct an hour
before it blurs with unseen days.



Resurrecting Passion
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

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

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

Published in Songs of Innocence and The Chained Muse.



Currents
by Michael R. Burch

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

Originally published by The Lyric



Righteous
by Michael R. Burch

Come to me tonight
in the twilight, O, and the full moon rising,
spectral and ancient, will mutter a prayer.

Gather your hair
and pin it up, knowing
that I will release it a moment anon.

We are not one,
nor is there a scripture
to sanctify nights you might spend in my arms,

but the swarms
of bright stars revolving above us
revel tonight, the most ardent of lovers.

Published by Writer’s Gazette, Tucumcari Literary Review and The Chained Muse



R.I.P.
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

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

Originally published by Romantics Quarterly



The Shape of Mourning
by Michael R. Burch

The shape of mourning
is an oiled creel
shining with unuse,

the bolt of cold steel
on a locker
shielding memory,

the monthly penance
of flowers,
the annual wake,

the face in the photograph
no longer dissolving under scrutiny,
becoming a keepsake,

the useless mower
lying forgotten
in weeds,

rings and crosses and
all the paraphernalia
the soul no longer needs.



Tillage
by Michael R. Burch

What stirs within me
is no great welling
straining to flood forth,
but an emptiness
waiting to be filled.

I am not an orchard
ready to be harvested,
but a field
rough and barren
waiting to be tilled.



For All That I Remembered
by Michael R. Burch

For all that I remembered, I forgot
her name, her face, the reason that we loved ...
and yet I hold her close within my thought.
I feel the burnished weight of auburn hair
that fell across her face, the apricot
clean scent of her shampoo, the way she glowed
so palely in the moonlight, angel-wan.

The memory of her gathers like a flood
and bears me to that night, that only night,
when she and I were one, and if I could ...
I'd reach to her this time and, smiling, brush
the hair out of her eyes, and hold intact
each feature, each impression. Love is such
a threadbare sort of magic, it is gone
before we recognize it. I would crush
my lips to hers to hold their memory,
if not more tightly, less elusively.

Originally published by The Raintown Review



Hearthside
by Michael R. Burch

“When you are old and grey and full of sleep...” ― W. B. Yeats

For all that we professed of love, we knew
this night would come, that we would bend alone
to tend wan fires’ dimming bars―the moan
of wind cruel as the Trumpet, gelid dew
an eerie presence on encrusted logs
we hoard like jewels, embrittled so ourselves.

The books that line these close, familiar shelves
loom down like dreary chaperones. Wild dogs,
too old for mates, cringe furtive in the park,
as, toothless now, I frame this parchment kiss.

I do not know the words for easy bliss
and so my shriveled fingers clutch this stark,
long-unenamored pen and will it: Move.
I loved you more than words, so let words prove.

This sonnet is written from the perspective of the great Irish poet William Butler Yeats in his loose translation or interpretation of the Pierre de Ronsard sonnet “When You Are Old.” The aging Yeats thinks of his Muse and the love of his life, the fiery Irish revolutionary Maude Gonne. As he seeks to warm himself by a fire conjured from ice-encrusted logs, he imagines her doing the same. Although Yeats had insisted that he wasn’t happy without Gonne, she said otherwise: “Oh yes, you are, because you make beautiful poetry out of what you call your unhappiness and are happy in that. Marriage would be such a dull affair. Poets should never marry. The world should thank me for not marrying you!”



I Know The Truth
by Marina Tsvetaeva
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

I know the truth―abandon lesser truths!

There's no need for anyone living to struggle!
See? Evening falls, night quickly descends!
So why the useless disputes―generals, poets, lovers?

The wind is calming now; the earth is bathed in dew;
the stars' infernos will soon freeze in the heavens.
And soon we'll sleep together, under the earth,
we who never gave each other a moment's rest above it.



I Know The Truth (Alternate Ending)
by Marina Tsvetaeva
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I know the truth―abandon lesser truths!

There's no need for anyone living to struggle!
See? Evening falls, night quickly descends!
So why the useless disputes―generals, poets, lovers?

The wind caresses the grasses; the earth gleams, damp with dew;
the stars' infernos will soon freeze in the heavens.
And soon we'll lie together under the earth,
we who were never united above it.



Poems about Moscow
by Marina Tsvetaeva
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

5
Above the city Saint Peter once remanded to hell
now rolls the delirious thunder of the bells.

As the thundering high tide eventually reverses,
so, too, the woman who once bore your curses.

To you, O Great Peter, and you, O Great Tsar, I kneel!
And yet the bells above me continually peal.

And while they keep ringing out of the pure blue sky,
Moscow's eminence is something I can't deny ...

though sixteen hundred churches, nearby and afar,
all gaily laugh at the hubris of the Tsars.

8
Moscow, what a vast
uncouth hostel of a home!
In Russia all are homeless
so all to you must come.

A knife stuck in each boot-top,
each back with its shameful brand,
we heard you from far away.
You called us: here we stand.

Because you branded us criminals
for every known kind of ill,
we seek the all-compassionate Saint,
the haloed one who heals.

And there behind that narrow door
where the uncouth rabble pour,
we seek the red-gold radiant heart
of Iver, who loved the poor.

Now, as "Halleluiah" floods
bright fields that blaze to the west,
O sacred Russian soil,
I kneel here to kiss your breast!



Insomnia
by Marina Tsvetaeva
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

2
In my enormous city it is night
as from my house I step beyond the light;
some people think I'm daughter, mistress, wife ...
but I am like the blackest thought of night.

July's wind sweeps a way for me to stray
toward soft music faintly blowing, somewhere.
The wind may blow until bright dawn, new day,
but will my heart in its rib-cage really care?

Black poplars brushing windows filled with light ...
strange leaves in hand ... faint music from distant towers ...
retracing my steps, there's nobody lagging behind ...
This shadow called me? There's nobody here to find.

The lights are like golden beads on invisible threads ...
the taste of dark night in my mouth is a bitter leaf ...
O, free me from shackles of being myself by day!
Friends, please understand: I'm only a dreamlike belief.



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

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

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



This gypsy passion of parting!
by Marina Tsvetaeva
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

This gypsy passion of parting!
We meet, and are ready for flight!
I rest my dazed head in my hands,
and think, staring into the night ...

that no one, perusing our letters,
will ever understand the real depth
of just how sacrilegious we were,
which is to say we had faith,

in ourselves.



The Appointment
by Marina Tsvetaeva
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I will be late for the appointed meeting.
When I arrive, my hair will be gray,
because I abused spring.
And your expectations were much too high!

I shall feel the effects of the bitter mercury for years.
(Ophelia tasted, but didn't spit out, the rue.)
I will trudge across mountains and deserts,
trampling souls and hands without flinching,

living on, as the earth continues
with blood in every thicket and creek.
But always Ophelia's pallid face will peer out
from between the grasses bordering each stream.

She took a swig of passion, only to fill her mouth
with silt. Like a shaft of light on metal,
I set my sights on you, highly. Much too high
in the sky, where I have appointed my dust its burial.



Rails
by Marina Tsvetaeva
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The railway bed's steel-blue parallel tracks
are ruled out, neatly as musical staves.

Over them, people are transported
like possessed Pushkin creatures
whose song has been silenced.
See them: arriving, departing?

And yet they still linger,
the note of their pain remaining ...
always rising higher than love, as the poles freeze
to the embankment, like Lot's wife transformed to salt, forever.

Despair has arranged my fate
as someone arranges a wedding;
then, like a voiceless Sappho
I must weep like a pain-wracked seamstress

with the mute lament of a marsh heron!
Then the departing train
will hoot above the sleepers
as its wheels slice them to ribbons.

In my eye the colors blur
to a glowing but meaningless red.
All young women, at times,
are tempted by such a bed!



Every Poem is a Child of Love
by Marina Tsvetaeva
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Every poem is a child of love,
A destitute ******* chick
A fledgling blown down from the heights above―
Left of its nest? Not a stick.
Each heart has its gulf and its bridge.
Each heart has its blessings and griefs.
Who is the father? A liege?
Maybe a liege, or a thief.



Villanelle: Hangovers
by Michael R. Burch

We forget that, before we were born,
our parents had “lives” of their own,
ran drunk in the streets, or half-******.

Yes, our parents had lives of their own
until we were born; then, undone,
they were buying their parents gravestones

and finding gray hairs of their own
(because we were born lacking some
of their curious habits, but soon

would certainly get them). Half-******,
we watched them dig graves of their own.
Their lives would be over too soon

for their curious habits to bloom
in us (though our children were born
nine months from that night on the town

when, punch-drunk in the streets or half-******,
we first proved we had lives of our own).



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

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



Haunted
by Michael R. Burch

Now I am here
and thoughts of my past mistakes are my brethren.
I am withering
and the sweetness of your memory is like a tear.

Go, if you will,
for the ache in my heart is its hollowness
and the flaw in my soul is its shallowness;
there is nothing to fill.

Take what you can;
I have nothing left.
And when you are gone, I will be bereft,
the husk of a man.

Or stay here awhile.
My heart cannot bear the night, or these dreams.
Your face is a ghost, though paler, it seems
when you smile.

Published by Romantics Quarterly



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

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

This is one of my earliest poems, written around age 15 when we were living with my grandfather in his house on Chilton Street, within walking distance of the Nashville fairgrounds. I remember walking to the fairgrounds, stopping at a Dairy Queen along the way, and swimming at a public pool. But I believe the Ferris wheel only operated during the state fair. So my “educated guess” is that this poem was written during the 1973 state fair, or shortly thereafter. I remember watching people hanging suspended in mid-air, waiting for carnies to deposit them safely on terra firma again.



Her Preference
by Michael R. Burch

Not for her the pale incandescence of dreams,
the warm glow of imagination,
the hushed whispers of possibility,
or frail, blossoming hope.

No, she prefers the anguish and screams
of bitter condemnation,
the hissing of hostility,
damnation's rope.



hey pete
by Michael R. Burch

for Pete Rose

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

When I was a boy, Pete Rose was my favorite baseball player; this poem is not a slam at him, but rather an ironic jab at the term "superstar."



Nevermore!
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

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

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

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

their skeletal love―impossibility!

This is one of my Poe-like creations, written around age 19. I think the poem has an interesting ending, since the male skeleton is missing an important "member."



Mehmet Akif Ersoy: Modern English Translations of Turkish Poems

Mehmet Âkif Ersoy (1873-1936) was a Turkish poet, author, writer, academic, member of parliament, and the composer of the Turkish National Anthem.



Snapshot
by Mehmet Akif Ersoy
loose English translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Earth’s least trace of life cannot be erased;
even when you lie underground, it encompasses you.
So, those of you who anticipate the shadows,
how long will the darkness remember you?



Zulmü Alkislayamam
"I Can’t Applaud Tyranny"
by Mehmet Akif Ersoy
loose English translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I can't condone cruelty; I will never applaud the oppressor;
Yet I can't renounce the past for the sake of deluded newcomers.
When someone curses my ancestors, I want to strangle them,
Even if you don’t.
But while I harbor my elders,
I refuse to praise their injustices.
Above all, I will never glorify evil, by calling injustice “justice.”
From the day of my birth, I've loved freedom;
The golden tulip never deceived me.
If I am nonviolent, does that make me a docile sheep?
The blade may slice, but my neck resists!
When I see someone else's wound, I suffer a great hardship;
To end it, I'll be whipped, I'll be beaten.
I can't say, “Never mind, just forget it!” I'll mind,
I'll crush, I'll be crushed, I'll uphold justice.
I'm the foe of the oppressor, the friend of the oppressed.
What the hell do you mean, with your backwardness?



Çanakkale Sehitlerine
"For the Çanakkale Martyrs"
by Mehmet Akif Ersoy
loose English translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Was there ever anything like the Bosphorus war?―
The earth’s mightiest armies pressing Marmara,
Forcing entry between her mountain passes
To a triangle of land besieged by countless vessels.
Oh, what dishonorable assemblages!
Who are these Europeans, come as rapists?
Who, these braying hyenas, released from their reeking cages?
Why do the Old World, the New World, and all the nations of men
now storm her beaches? Is it Armageddon? Truly, the whole world rages!
Seven nations marching in unison!
Australia goose-stepping with Canada!
Different faces, languages, skin tones!
Everything so different, but the mindless bludgeons!
Some warriors Hindu, some African, some nameless, unknown!
This disgraceful invasion, baser than the Black Death!
Ah, the 20th century, so noble in its own estimation,
But all its favored ones nothing but a parade of worthless wretches!
For months now Turkish soldiers have been vomited up
Like stomachs’ retched contents regarded with shame.
If the masks had not been torn away, the faces would still be admired,
But the ***** called civilization is far from blameless.
Now the ****** demand the destruction of the doomed
And thus bring destruction down on their own heads.
Lightning severs horizons!
Earthquakes regurgitate the bodies of the dead!
Bombs’ thunderbolts explode brains,
rupture the ******* of brave soldiers.
Underground tunnels writhe like hell
Full of the bodies of burn victims.
The sky rains down death, the earth swallows the living.
A terrible blizzard heaves men violently into the air.
Heads, eyes, torsos, legs, arms, chins, fingers, hands, feet...
Body parts rain down everywhere.
Coward hands encased in armor callously scatter
Floods of thunderbolts, torrents of fire.
Men’s chests gape open,
Beneath the high, circling vulture-like packs of the air.
Cannonballs fly as frequently as bullets
Yet the heroic army laughs at the hail.
Who needs steel fortresses? Who fears the enemy?
How can the shield of faith not prevail?
What power can make religious men bow down to their oppressors
When their stronghold is established by God?
The mountains and the rocks are the bodies of martyrs!...
For the sake of a crescent, oh God, many suns set, undone!
Dear soldier, who fell for the sake of this land,
How great you are, your blood saves the Muslims!
Only the lions of Bedr rival your glory!
Who then can dig the grave wide enough to hold you. and your story?
If we try to consign you to history, you will not fit!
No book can contain the eras you shook!
Only eternities can encompass you!...
Oh martyr, son of the martyr, do not ask me about the grave:
The prophet awaits you now, his arms flung wide open, to save!



W. S. Rendra translations

Willibrordus Surendra Broto Rendra (1935-2009), better known as W. S. Rendra or simply Rendra, was an Indonesian dramatist and poet. He said, “I learned meditation and the disciplines of the traditional Javanese poet from my mother, who was a palace dancer. The idea of the Javanese poet is to be a guardian of the spirit of the nation.” The press gave him the nickname Burung Merak (“The Peacock”) for his flamboyant poetry readings and stage performances.

SONNET
by W. S. Rendra
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Best wishes for an impending deflowering.

Yes, I understand: you will never be mine.
I am resigned to my undeserved fate.
I contemplate
irrational numbers―complex & undefined.

And yet I wish love might ... ameliorate ...
such negative numbers, dark and unsigned.
But at least I can’t be held responsible
for disappointing you. No cause to elate.
Still, I am resigned to my undeserved fate.
The gods have spoken. I can relate.

How can this be, when all it makes no sense?
I was born too soon―such was my fate.
You must choose another, not half of who I AM.
Be happy with him when you consummate.

THE WORLD'S FIRST FACE
by W. S. Rendra
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Illuminated by the pale moonlight
the groom carries his bride
up the hill―
both of them naked,
both consisting of nothing but themselves.

As in all beginnings
the world is naked,
empty, free of deception,
dark with unspoken explanations―
a silence that extends
to the limits of time.

Then comes light,
life, the animals and man.

As in all beginnings
everything is naked,
empty, open.

They're both young,
yet both have already come a long way,
passing through the illusions of brilliant dawns,
of skies illuminated by hope,
of rivers intimating contentment.

They have experienced the sun's warmth,
drenched in each other's sweat.

Here, standing by barren reefs,
they watch evening fall
bringing strange dreams
to a bed arrayed with resplendent coral necklaces.

They lift their heads to view
trillions of stars arrayed in the sky.
The universe is their inheritance:
stars upon stars upon stars,
more than could ever be extinguished.

Illuminated by the pale moonlight
the groom carries his bride
up the hill―
both of them naked,
to recreate the world's first face.

Keywords/Tags: Rendra, Indonesian, Javanese, translation, love, fate, god, gods, goddess, groom, bride, world, time, life, sun, hill, hills, moon, moonlight, stars, life, animals?, international, travel, voyage, wedding, relationship, mrbtran



Shadows
by Michael R. Burch

Alone again as evening falls,
I join gaunt shadows and we crawl
up and down my room's dark walls.

Up and down and up and down,
against starlight―strange, mirthless clowns―
we merge, emerge, submerge . . . then drown.

We drown in shadows starker still,
shadows of the somber hills,
shadows of sad selves we spill,

tumbling, to the ground below.
There, caked in grimy, clinging snow,
we flutter feebly, moaning low

for days dreamed once an age ago
when we weren't shadows, but were men . . .
when we were men, or almost so.



Recursion
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

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



THE RUIN
an Old English/Anglo-Saxon poem
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

well-hewn was this wall-stone, till Wyrdes wrecked it
and the Colossus sagged inward ...

broad battlements broken;
the Builders' work battered;

the high ramparts toppled;
tall towers collapsed;

the great roof-beams shattered;
gates groaning, agape ...

mortar mottled and marred by scarring ****-frosts ...
the Giants’ dauntless strongholds decaying with age ...

shattered, the shieldwalls,
the turrets in tatters ...

where now are those mighty Masons, those Wielders and Wrights,
those Samson-like Stonesmiths?

the grasp of the earth, the firm grip of the ground
holds fast those fearless Fathers
men might have forgotten
except that this slow-rotting siege-wall still stands
after countless generations!

for always this edifice, grey-lichened, blood-stained,
stands facing fierce storms with their wild-whipping winds
because those master Builders bound its wall-base together
so cunningly with iron!

it outlasted mighty kings and their claims!

how high rose those regal rooftops!
how kingly their castle-keeps!
how homely their homesteads!
how boisterous their bath-houses and their merry mead-halls!
how heavenward flew their high-flung pinnacles!
how tremendous the tumult of those famous War-Wagers ...
till mighty Fate overturned it all, and with it, them.

then the wide walls fell;
then the bulwarks were broken;
then the dark days of disease descended ...

as death swept the battlements of brave Brawlers;
as their palaces became waste places;
as ruin rained down on their grand Acropolis;
as their great cities and castles collapsed
while those who might have rebuilt them lay gelded in the ground:
those marvelous Men, those mighty master Builders!

therefore these once-decorous courts court decay;
therefore these once-lofty gates gape open;
therefore these roofs' curved arches lie stripped of their shingles;
therefore these streets have sunk into ruin and corroded rubble ...

when in times past light-hearted Titans flushed with wine
strode strutting in gleaming armor, adorned with splendid ladies’ favors,
through this brilliant city of the audacious famous Builders
to compete for bright treasure: gold, silver, amber, gemstones.

here the cobblestoned courts clattered;
here the streams gushed forth their abundant waters;
here the baths steamed, hot at their fiery hearts;
here this wondrous wall embraced it all, with its broad *****.

... that was spacious ...



Victor Hugo "Love Stronger Than Time"
loose translation/interpretation by Michael Burch

Since I first set my lips to your full cup,
Since my pallid face first nested in your hands,
Since I sensed your soul and every bloom lit up—
Till those rare perfumes were lost to deepening sands;

Since I was once allowed those pleasures deep—
To hear your heart speak mysteries, divine;
Since I have seen you smile, have watched you weep,
Your lips pressed to my lips, your eyes on mine;

Since I have sensed above my thoughts the gleam
Of a ray, a single ray, of your bright star
(If sometimes veiled), and felt light falling stream,
Like one rose petal plucked from high, afar;

I now can say to time's swift-changing hours:
Pass, pass upon your way, for you grow old;
Flee to the dark abyss with your drear flowers,
but one unmarred within my heart I hold.

Your flapping wings may jar but cannot spill
The cup fulfilled of love, from which I drink;
My heart has fires your frosts can never chill,
My soul more love to fly than you can sink.



Lines for My Ascension
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



The Quickening
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth

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

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



Ah! Sunflower
by Michael R. Burch

after William Blake

O little yellow flower
like a star...
how beautiful,
how wonderful
we are!



Published as the collection "Modern Charon"

Keywords/Tags: Charon, Styx, death, ferry, boat, ship, captain, steering, helm, wheel, rudder, shipwreck, disaster, night, darkness, 911, 9-11, mrbch
Ashlee Reyes May 2016
2 days
Of internal despair,
My lungs seemed to
Have forgotten what it is
To breathe.

My body isn't mine anymore,
I'm stuck in it,
My mind racing with thoughts
Of the night you tried
To make me yours.

Never have I been able to
Truly overwhelm
Over songs that narrate
Stories I never thought
I'd have to tell.

My bed never felt so empty,
I've never felt so hopeless
Over humanity.

So when I sit and see
The horizon,
It's as if the waves
Wash away the lies within.
When the below temperature water
Washes over my feet,
It's in those few seconds
That I begin to feel like me.

Me.

The one who kept hope
Despite her father's constant "no."
The one with veins profound in color
And in the words that seep out of them.

My second day of
Internal despair,
And as I waked upon pink sea **** so rare,
I inhaled salt water...
And for the first time in days,
My lungs remember air.
kicking and screaming,
she fought
the seaweed that swathed
her limbs in emerald wraps,
but each shout was muted
by the water
polluted
with a thick muck
stained by even
blacker souls
who too thrashed
in that seaweed



it was only
when she'd lost
all hope and desire
to escape the
leafy grips
that the murky bottom
swallowed up
the tangled seaweed
like a serpent's tongue



in those moments,
through bleary eyes
she saw her
worth
wash away
with the angry swells
and she understood -
she reclaimed
her limbs and ascended
upward to salvage
her soul once more
for now
she was weightless.
Andrew M Bell Feb 2015
I do not remember my father as a demonstrative man,

but, hobbled though he was by a pre-war psyche,

we never doubted the depth of his affection for us.

His love of nature shaped our own perceptions of life

and his love of sport showed us the path of true competition,

that the essence is not to better others but to better oneself.

He transfused the ocean into us so thoroughly

that we will go to our graves with salt on our lips.


At all the painful pinnacles of growing

my father was there like a crampon you know will not fail you.

A towering lighthouse in his hat and dark suit

as he led me through the convent gate on my first day

and gently cut me adrift in the cruel seas of education

where the nuns patrolled the playground like killer whales

in search of seals.


He went ahead to each new town to make things ready for us

when I started boarding school he let me go in confidence

he bailed me out of scrapes with the law,

he was as certain as the mountain of his beloved Taranaki

and as solid as the beams of a whare runanga.


When I returned from overseas

my father and I found a space in our lives

where we could really get to know each other.

Through a winter that sparkled

he led me on odysseys into his soul

through the walkways, forests, rivers and coastline

of the city of his birth

which will, one day, witness his death.


If I were allowed only one memory of my father

it would be this: seaweed expeditions.

The northeast winds blew a bounty for his garden

onto the reefs around Belt Road

and at low tide we descended with our gumboots and sacks

to gather the fleshy harvest with its nitrogen-rich pods.

He had a system.

We heaped the seaweed on a number of high, dry rocks

then bagged from first to Iast to allow time for the seawater

to drain and the burden to be lessened.

I watched him as he moved around and about as deliberately

as a crab,

gathering the morsels,

bending to scoop the necklaces from the sea,

the sun's purple fire in the white, white, white of his hair.

He had seaweed in plenty at home,

it was the experience he craved.
Copyright Andrew M. Bell. The poet would like to acknowledge WA Ink (an anthology) in whose pages this poem first appeared.

For international readers, a "whare runanga" is a Maori meeting house.
Nigel Morgan Nov 2013
Think of an imagined orchestra. But there is no resonance hereabouts, so the imagination gives next to nothing for your efforts, and even in surround-sound there’s so little to reflect the dimensions of the space your walking inhabits. Sea hardly counts, having its constant companionship with wind, and sand hills absorb the footfall. A shout dies here before the breath has left the lungs.

Listen, there is a vague twittering of wading birds flocked far out on the sand. The sea rolls and breaks a rhythmic swell into surf. There’s a little wind to rustle the ammophila and only the slight undefined noise of our bodies moving in this strip between land and sea. Nowhere here can sound be enclosed except within the self. There’s a kind of breathing going on, and much like our own, it has to be listened for with a keen attention.

There is such a confusion of shapes making detail difficult to gather in, even to focus upon, and to attempt an imagined orchestration – impossible. We’ll have to wait for the camera’s catch, its cargo to be brought to the back-lit screen. Once there it seems hardly a glimmer of what we thought we saw, what we ‘snapped’ in an instant. It’s too detached, too flat. So thankfully you sketch, and I feel the pen draw shapes into your fingers and their moving, willing hand. On your sketchbook’s page the image breathes and lives.

You can’t sketch music this way because the mark made buries itself in a network that seems to defy with its complexity any image set before you. Time’s like that. You end up with a long low pitch, pulsating; a grumbling sound rich in sliding harmonics. You see, landscape does not beget melody or even structure and form, only tiny, pebbled pockets of random sound. Here, there is no belonging of music. Only the built space can adequately house music’s home. We might ****** a few seconds of the sea’s turn and wash, a bird’s cry, the rub and clatter of boot on stone, and later bring it back to a timeline of digital audio and be ‘musical’ with it, or not.

Where we hold music to landscape is something we are told just happens to be so; it is the interpretation’s (and the interpreter’s) will and whim. It is an illusion. The Lark Ascends in a Norfolk field. We hear, but rarely see, this almost stationary bird high in the morning air. We can only imagine the lark’s eye view, but we know the story, the poem, the context, so our imagination learns to supply the rest.

What is taken then to be taken back? On this November beach, on this mild, windless afternoon,. Am I collecting, preparing, and easing the mind, un-complicating mental space, or unravelling past thoughts and former plans? I can then imagine sitting at a table, a table before a window, a window before a garden, and beyond the garden (through the window) there’s a distant vista of the sea where the sun glistens (it is early morning), and there too in the bright sky remains a vestige of a night’s drama of clouds. But today we shall not put music to picture from a camera’s contents, from any flat and lifeless image.

Instead there seem to be present thoughts alive in this ancient coastline, abandoned here the necessary industry of living, the once ceaseless business of daily life. Instead of the hand to mouth existence governed by the herring, the course strip farming below the castle, the herds of dark cattle, the possible pigs, some wandering sheep, seabirds and their eggs for the ***, the gathering of seaweed, the foraging for fuel: there is a closing down for winter because the visitors are few. We need the rest they say, to regroup, paint the ceilings, freshen up the shop, strengthen the fences, have time away from the relentlessness of accommodating and being accommodating. Only the smell of smoking the herring remains from the distant past – but now such kippering is for Fortnums.

We step out across and down and up the coastal strip: an afternoon and its following morning;  a few miles walking, nothing serious, but moving here and there, taking it in, as much as we can. We fill ourselves to the brim with what’s here and now. The past is never far away: in just living memory there was a subsistence life of the herring fishers and the itinerant fisher folk who followed the herring from Aberdeen to Plymouth. Now there are empty holiday lets, retirement properties and most who live here service the visitors. Prime cattle graze, birds are reserved, caravans park next to a floodlit hotel and its gourmet restaurant. There’s even a poet here somewhere - sitting on a rock like a siren with a lovely smile.

Colours: dull greens now, wind-washed-out browns, out and above the sea confusions of grey and black stone, floating skeins of orange sands and the haunting, restless skies. Far distant into the west hills are sculpted by low-flying clouds resting in the mild air. Wind turbines step out across the middle distance, but today their sails are stationary. As the bay curves a settlement of wooden huts, painted chalets then the grey steep roofed houses of stone, grey and hard against the sea.

Does music come out of all this? What appears? What sounds? What is sounding in me? There is nothing stationary here to hang on to because even on this mild day there is constant change. Look up, around, adjust the viewpoint. There’s another highlight from the sky’s palette reflecting in the estuary water, always too various and complex to remember.

Music comes out of nothing but what you build it upon. It holds the potential for going beyond arrangements of notes. Pieces become buildings, layers in thought. My only landscape music to date begins with a formal processional, a march, and a gradually broadening out of tonality the close-knit chromatic to the open-eared pentatonic. There’s a steady stream of pitches that do not repeat or recur or return on themselves, as so much music needs to do to appease our memory.

In this landscape there seem only sharp points of dissonance. I hear lonely, disembodied pitches, uncomfortable sounds that are pinned to the past. The land, its topography as a score grasping the exterior, lies in multi-dimensional space, sound in being, a joining of points where there is no correlation. There’s a map and directions and a flow of time: it starts here and ends there, and so little remains for the memory.

Yet, this location remains. We walked it and saw it fortunately for a brief time in an uninhabited state. We were alone with it. We looked at this land as it meets the sea, and I saw it as a map on which to place complexes of sound, intensities even,. But how to meet the musical utterance that claims connection? It is a layering of complexes between silences, between the steady step, the stop and view. There is perhaps a hierarchy of landscape objects: the curve of the bay, the sandhills’ sweep, the layerings of sand, and in the pools and channels of this slight river that divides this beach flocks of birds.

Music is such an intense structure, so bound together, invested with proportions so exact and yet weighed down by tone, the sounding, vibrating string, the column of air broken by the valve and key, the attack and release of the hammered string. But there is also the voice, and voices are able to sound and carry their own resonance . . .

. . . and he realised that was where these long drawn out thoughts, this short diary of reflection, had been leading. He would sit quietly in contemplation of it all and work towards a web of words. He would let their rhythms and sounds come together in a map, as a map of their precious, shared time moving between the land and the sea, the sea and the land.
andy fardell Nov 2011
Have you seen a wookey yet ?? I saw one yesterday
he gaited round some pebbles and never looked my way
could see what he was after cos seaweed is their food
its such a prized possesion to take it would be rude

they forage on the beach all day to seek it to be rich
to own a piece of seaweed is an honour ..
be sure a wookey style
the only thing that keeps them worried is us
and dare I say??

Their name is only whispered here...
no not loud at all
Cheddar George's ..from the black sand
a shiver to the core
they are a breed of wookey's that no one can decide
to fear them is to be aware they have a darkened side

Now wookeys live in peace they say and rarely do collide
however storms were brewing here a wookeys seaweed pride
i'll tell you more as i find out am sure to keep in touch
and as they say in wookey hole
go have a happy wookey day !!!
JJ Hutton Jul 2013
The first time a man ever pointed a gun at me and asked me to love him was at Granny's Kitchen in Greensboro, North Carolina.

The waitress, a soft spoken white woman with her hair pulled back in a bun, had just dropped off my plates --- a simple mix of scrambled eggs, two pieces of greasy bacon, and a short stack of pancakes. Now, no matter how cheap, I always feel like I'm cutting loose at breakfast places for the sheer abundance of plates. While I'm sure the eggs and bacon could have shared real estate, each component had its own china.

The waitress lingered at my table, her fingers fidgeting with straws in her apron. I made eye contact. Well, my eyes contacted hers; she was staring at my lips.

Sure I can't get you something to drink? she asked.

This was approximately the tenth time she'd made sure. She was uncomfortable that I had supplied my own beverage -- a Big Gulp. But even more than that, she was uncomfortable by the deep red stain taking over my lips. Contents of the Big Gulp: merlot, boxed.

(That is an unnecessary detail. I've only written it so I never do it again.)

Before Greg hopped up on a table and announced to the restaurant, If I could have your attention, my name is Greg and this will only take a second, blah, blah blah, I poured a copious amount of syrup on my pancakes. Then I moved the bacon to my pancake plate. In my experience, very little in this life is better than syrup on bacon.

I shut my eyes for that first bite, just like the commercials. The syrup dribbled a bit onto my beard, and when I opened my eyes, I discovered it had also landed on my shirt. I grabbed a napkin. Heard a chair slide backwards. I started with my beard, peering around the diner, making sure no one saw. I think I heard someone gasp. But I was busy, working that napkin then against my shirt. Jesus, I thought. My grandma, who's got a splash of the Parkinson's, could eat with more grace.

If I could have your attention, my name is Greg and this will only take a second, a very official voice boomed behind me.

I turned around to see if I recognized him as one of those cuffed jean-sporting, wild plaid-loving NPR hosts. He wasn't one of those. He was a sunburn with mop hair in a black tank top and hemmed jean shorts. He did, however, have a cleft chin. That's actually worth noting. Don't see a lot of them these days.

I know you guys are busy, he said. I know that like me, you guys are probably broke as hell. I mean no offense Granny's, I love this place, but it ain't exactly four stars. Or three. Anyway, all I want from each of you is five dollars. If you ain't got five, give me four. Ain't got four, three. And so on.

He started with the stringy Japanese couple on the west side of the restaurant. Nobody really seemed scared, not the freckled brat in canvas sneakers, not the liver-spotted gentleman with a copy of that day's paper.

My old friend Jerome used to say that white folks are the only romantic criminals. He tacked it up to that whole Bonnie and Clyde crap. Greg, it seemed, was privy to that information, too. He smiled and thanked each person as he robbed them of a few presidents. The victims, smiling back, seemed to be thinking of their names tagged at the end of some newspaper dialogue. A few even gave more than he asked.

Here, take fifteen. Times will get better.

Aren't you just a charmer.

It was all very moving.

So he gets to me, and of course, I don't have any cash. I carry a debit and an arsenal of credit cards like a normal American. I don't know how he made it to me before running into this particular problem.

No, I don't have one of those iPhone card swipers, he said. Well, you gotta give me something.

I offered a gift card to Harold's Clothes for Men, it had like two bucks on it, but he wasn't interested.

What's your name?

Henry.

How much do you weigh?

Enough to keep me prohibited from most amusement park rides.

I like you, Henry. Well, let me ask you something. Have you ever loved a man? he asked, pointing his smudgy revolver just past my ear.

I shook my head no.

Me neither. I've always been curious, though. You been curious?

There was a time when I was thirteen -- Blake Hinton was changing after basketball practice -- and I remember thinking, that is an incredible chest. These lines just sprawled from his sternum, lines leading to these almond *******, and I specifically remember wanting to eat them like, well, almonds. But that hardly counts as curious. So, I said, No.

To which Greg responded: Get curious, boy. You're coming with me.


In the spirit of honesty, I was in a bit of a haze before Greg made me climb into his beat up Cavalier. Not just from the Big Gulp brimmed with merlot, no, I hadn't slept in two days prior to the whole gun-in-face incident. Reason being, I was, as Greg would say, broke as hell, and the rent was due. I stayed up both nights conspiring (and drinking). So, really I was pretty thrilled to be kidnapped away from the whole situation.

I had visions. I guess from the lack of sleep. Maybe they weren't visions, maybe just dreams, or fever dreams, I don't know. All I know is I blinked, and we were in the Appalachians. And there was a grey longbeard in the backseat rattling on and on about how change is easy, movement is easy; it's that whole nesting thing that takes courage and strength, blah, blah, blah. I told him to be quiet. Greg told me to get some sleep. I blinked.

We were in a karaoke bar in Madison, Tennessee. There was a gin and tonic in front of me. I took a drink. There was a water with lime in front of me.

Greg asked, Where did you go?

I told him, your dreams, trying to be cute. He turned and asked the bartender for a Yeager bomb. Reaching for the server in -- granted -- an overly dramatic gesture, I said, Make it two. We made it three. We made it four. Seven. Then some vague, but perfect number, because my head rang right. The words came right. And I was a journalist, asking Greg all the right questions.

I'm not a criminal, he said.

I was just bored, man, he said.

You see, I was in a rut, he said. Last month I put up a personal on Craigslist. I know, it's pretty ******* desperate. I've read the kind **** people put on there. But mine was different. I just wanted some time with my ex-wife. Some couch ***, you know? We hadn't done it on a couch since I dropped out of college, and I hadn't even really thought about it until a couple weeks after the divorce. Then it was all I could think about.

A black woman, whose teeth glowed under the black light, began singing "Wild Horses." Then he read my mind, I think.

Yeah, she answered it. Did our thing on her sofa. It was nice and all, and like all nice things, you just want more, but she said I couldn't have no more, this was a fluke, a one-time, or no, a one-off thing, she said. Had to relocate, so that's why I did that whole thing at Granny's.

You ever get it on a couch? he asked.

No, I said. I've see a bra though --- two actually.

He took that as a joke, which was good.

Though wild horses couldn't drag me away, a gasoline horse could.


He handed me a courtesy breath mint after I finished throwing up. The Nashville skyline looks perfect, he said. Especially at night.

My stomach was gravel in a washing machine. Masculine love. At gunpoint, I had agreed to indulge it. I was going to make love to a man -- not just a man -- a criminal. Not something to write about on a postcard.

Mr. Winters, my esteemed landlord,
Apologies about the rent. Got kidnapped by a *******, and I'm presently banging and being banged by him in Music City, USA.


I blinked.

We laid on opposite ends of the queen-sized mattress.

I always liked Super 8s, Greg said. I don't see the point in spending so much on a hotel. A bed is a bed.

And I tried to be funny with something about the confidentiality of dark bedsheets, but it fell flat.

Greg cried. I love my ex-wife, he said.

Can I help?

Will you hold me? he asked.

The air conditioner kicked on in the already freezing room.

I'm sorry. You don't have to, he said.

I scooted against him. He smelled pleasant in a family-vacation-kind-of-way, like a fresh pretzel covered in salt. I put my arm under his neck. He buried his face into my shoulder. I blinked.


The front end of his Cavalier was held together with copper wire and coat hangers. It was a two-door. Both doors dented from, according to Greg, hit-and-runs. It had a Vermont plate on the back. It was red. I mention all of this to say: if we kept moving, we were bound to get pulled over.

In the parking lot of 3B's Breakfast, Burgers And Beer, Greg asked me to retrieve his revolver from the glove compartment. You kinda have to uppercut it, he said. And I did.

I don't want to do it again, but we have to. I'm not staying put, not until I hit the ocean. But don't worry, I'm not going to hurt anyone.

He showed me the revolver. No bullets. I nodded, in approval, I guess.


The second time a man ever pointed a gun at me and asked me to love him was at 3B's Breakfast, Burgers And Beer in Bellevue, Tennessee. Of course, it was the same man, Greg, but the circumstances were a little different.

I went with two orders of biscuits and gravy --- or B & G as my dear friend Chance affectionately calls it. Four bites in and I'd yet to hit biscuit. For a moment, I wanted to tell Greg, C'mon man, ***** the ocean. Tennessee does gravy the way God intended. Nobody would find us in this suburb. We could be sharecroppers. Do they still have sharecroppers?

Do you like fresh corn? I asked. It was the first crop that came to mind.

Greg didn't answer. I noticed his plate of hash browns and eggs -- sunny-side up -- were untouched. You okay?

He was, he said, trying to get in the zone, that's all.

Alright.

Our waitress looked like a poster child for ******'s Youth. She couldn't have been much more than sixteen. She had blonde -- almost white -- hair. Her eyes changed color with the intensity and direction of light, a gradient between seaweed and dark ocean blue. She appeared to be an amish girl gone defective, and I was about to inquire into that very supposition when Greg stood on the table, and said, If I could have your attention, my name is Greg and this will only take a second.

Tennessee is not North Carolina. In North Carolina, they got a healthy aversion to firearms. In Tennessee, however, once a babe can walk, the *******'s got a BB gun and an endless supply of empty soda cans for target practice. I say that, to say this: when Greg stood on the table, so did three other men. Their three guns pointed right at him.

Lower that gun, brother. You ain't gettin' any money out of us.

Hate to shoot you in front of your boyfriend.

Coffee spilled and ran off the tray our waitress held. She shook so hard, it wasn't clear how many women she was.

Greg's cleft chin centered on one gunman, than the other, than the other.

Just drop the gun, *******.

We don't want to ruin no one's breakfast.

Fellas, I said, he doesn't have any bullets in his gun. We need a little money that's all.

That ****** is just trying to protect him.

I'm calling the cops, a purple-haired old woman yelped from under her table. Silverware clanged against the floor. Then the buzz of a fly. Then the pop of fries drowning in grease. Then the bell chimed as some idiot walked inside.

Greg's arm was shaky as he pointed the gun at me. Do you love me? he asked.

I blinked.

And I was at 3B's in Bellevue, Tennessee.

I blinked.

And I was at 3B's in Bellevue, Tennessee.

I blinked.

And I was at 3B's in Bellevue, Tennessee.

I put my arms up. Slid my chair back a ways. Stepped on the chair, then unto the table.

Do you love me? Greg asked.

His breath smelled like last night's alcohol and that morning's coffee. He was a child, a sunburnt child with a cap gun. He wasn't going to hurt anyone.

I put my hand on top of the revolver and lowered it. He crumpled, as if I were scolding him. They still pointed their guns at us. But for the first time in my life, I felt secured, tethered to a space.

I lifted Greg's chin up with my index finger. Covered his eyes with the palm of my hand. And I kissed him. I kissed him, keeping my eyes closed tight.
Liz Apr 2014
The lantern bunting
Is looped between the street
Lamps against the sea
It is gorgeous
When you walk among them
And see
The dusk
When horizons
of ultramarine and seaweed
collide with cantaloupe and dusty red and honey .

— The End —