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Sing me songs
about Nascar Nation
I don't care about
your beach vacation
I want to hear
about trucks and whisky
Not when Taylor
Swift got frisky

Give me songs
that make me cry
not songs about
a cheating guy
Let me hear
about girls and guns
about going fishing
about having fun

sing me songs of old...
sing me solid gold
songs where tales were told
just sing me songs...my heart can hold.....

Give me songs
about redneck weddings
about lonely highways
and where I'm heading
I don't care
about sand and sunshine
I just need to hear
'bout the life that is  mine

Sing me songs about
Trucks and racing
I don't care about
who's book facing
Let me hear
some Charlie Daniels
going hunting
with Springer spaniels

Sing me songs
that touch my heart
songs I'll sing
when we're apart
I don't care
about fields of flowers
or about your
secret powers

sing me songs of old...
sing me solid gold
songs where tales were told
just sing me songs...my heart can hold.....

Sing me songs
like those long ago
about broken hearts
and tales of woe
Sing me songs
that i'll remember
way past december

sing me songs of old...
sing me solid gold
songs where tales were told
just sing me songs...my heart can hold.....
PairedCastle Nov 2017
November 1 2017
22:23

He listens to the songs that are once mine
He listens to the songs as if they are his
He remembers her as the songs play
He listens to the songs just how they are here to stay
The songs are not meant to be his
The songs are somebody else's and in between
The songs are not made for his benefit
The songs are meant to express the writer's feelings
Two weeks has almost passed
He remembers how they talked in the past
He listens to the same songs
The songs he came to like because of her
He listens to the same songs without even thinking of her
He now does not associate the songs to anyone, especially, her
He now offers the same songs to the new person he knows
She is everything... his dreams, his love, his all
He now thinks of this new person every time the same songs play
This new person, she came to like the songs he makes her listen to everyday
The same songs make him think of his former love, and his present

But never will he associate the same songs to the girl that was sandwiched between his former love and his present

Everything crumbles, he falls, he stumbles
He forgets, recovers, loves again
Ah! That is life talking to him, again and again

He ends the day... listening to the songs he came to like because of the girl that was sandwiched between his former love and the present

Never will he think of this girl. Never will he fall, stumble and crumble because of this girl.

He finally recovers.
and the girl sandwiched between his former love and the present is glad that he recovers.
Background Music: Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers - The Waiting
ryan Aug 2017
Certain songs make me think of you
Soft songs mellow songs angry songs all bring some thoughts
I don't particularly know who you are
but when it comes to music you've taken many shapes
songs i like make me think of you
how you've supported and shaped me in the long time we've known each other
and how coherently you understand me even in my low jumbled life
and how we've grown together and always supported each other no matter the distance and lack of contact we may have endured
songs that make me think of you make me feel good
your songs make me feel like i can do anything if i wanted to
your songs make me feel appreciated and loved
but your songs are a different story
your songs make me think of the things ive done
the things ive blocked out and the things i regret
i dont know where i ever truly stood with you
but your songs make me feel like im back there
your songs make me feel angry and suffocated
like i need to break whatever or hurt whoever is there
in order to truly escape​
your songs make me feel smashed and unworthy and hated
but you my dear friend
your songs make me feel different
so different that the only way i can describe it is 'here'
your songs make me feel grounded and solid
like i am filled with cement but in a good way
like i am alive and like i truly exist and that i am unable to simply float away
your songs have grounded me and given me reason and hope
your songs make me feel renewed and strengthen like i can love and care again
your songs make me feel things all different types
it can only make me wonder what my songs make you feel like
i associate songs with people.
Aa Harvey Sep 2018
Rokkstarr


There's no more love for the music,
I've sang since birth about this world.
Sang those love songs in my youth,
Now your love songs make me hurl.


**** Rock 'n' Roll and the bands you think are great!
**** the police and ******* all!
**** all those people that you hate!
**** Radio 1 and **** the world!


Rock 'n' Roll is dead and gone,
Once Rokkstarr meant something great.
Once we sang these songs with passion,
Once we sang these songs with hate!
Now we stand here on stage like wankers!
So let's all sell out to the man.
He gives us money for writing **** songs;
Now moneys all we understand.


Sell out tours and groupie ******.  
Life is great?  No life’s a bore.
Been here before and it was just the same.
Same old thing again and again.
Know what to expect, no more surprise’s;
No more excitement, no meaningful trophies.


It all means nothing, now we've been here so long;
The **** record label wants another song.
Which must be written, within the month;
We have a release date, so we can sell this stuff,
Before Christmas to the kids, because they’re our target audience;
The music that they want, they can get from their parents.
Because their parents know, that they just can't say "No.",
To a kid that wants something, as much as they will.


Rock 'n' Roll is dead and gone,
Once Rokkstarr meant something great.
Once we sang these songs with passion,
Once we sang these songs with hate!
Now we stand here on stage like wankers!
So let's all sell out to the man.
He gives us money for writing **** songs;
Now moneys all we understand.


To be a Rokkstarr, you'd think would be great.
But the songs you once loved, you begin to hate.
You sing them so much, it becomes a habit;
Until one day you say "That's it! I've had it!"


I'm tired of singing these songs;
The words have lost all their meaning.
I need something new, something I can believe in.
I need music to fall in love with, I need lyrics with a real meaning;
But my hope for all that's Rock, is a memory that's slowly fading.


Soon Rock will die and be gone;
Because new Rock bands come and go.
Soon there will no longer be any hype;
About a band you heard on the radio.


Rock 'n' Roll is dead and gone,
Once Rokkstarr meant something great.
Once we sang these songs with passion,
Once we sang these songs with hate!
Now we stand here on stage like wankers!
So let's all sell out to the man.
He gives us money for writing **** songs;
Now moneys all we understand.


You never know though I could be wrong.
Maybe soon I'll hear a song;
That will move me like 'Bohemian Rhapsody' did.
That will make me appreciate new music.


Here's hoping for the future,
For Rock to come back with a vengeance.
Remember your roots in a jam-packed moshpit?  
Remember the mindless violence?
Remember when you saw your girl through the crowd
And fell in love with her there and then?
That’s love for Rock music at its finest
And believe me it will come again.


Rock 'n' Roll's not dead and gone;
Now Rokkstarr means something great!
Now we sing these songs with passion;
Now sing these songs with hate!
Now we stand here on the stage;
After finding our love for Rock!
So let's all softly bang our heads and GET THE **** UP!


(C)2005 Aa Harvey. All Rights Reserved.
neo May 2014
People are a lot like songs
there are songs that you love the first time but they grow old very fast
and you no longer care to hear them
there are songs that drive you insane,
that seem to be everywhere
and get stuck in your head so easily
no matter how much you want them gone
there are songs you can't get enough of
but you only listen to them when you're sad
because they are not the happiest of songs
there are songs everyone else loves
that you yourself don't enjoy quite as much
and there are songs you love
that no one else cares for
there are songs you feel touching your heart
that you want to learn the words to
but they lose their magic once you know
the words that were hidden
amongst the loud instrumentals
there are songs from long ago
that show up now and then
that you regard fondly and think
back to simpler times
there are songs that make you feel rebellious
ready to overthrow an unjust tyrant
and there are songs that leave you
with a strange sense of purpose
and spark inspiration and hope within you
there are songs with lyrics
profound and wise
and others with lyrics
that do not hold the least bit of sense
I personally hope that you will be a song
that never gets old
that I know each and every word to
I hope you are a song that brings happiness
whenever you come on the radio
and for a moment,
you make me forget everything
and I lose myself in your melody
I hope you are a song that is my first choice
every time I go to karaoke
because you just feel so right
and i hope you are a song
that sounds better to me
the longer I listen
that leaves me thoroughly satisfied
as the last note plays out
and the music fades to silence
(it's really dumb I wrote this when I was barely awake ok)
Deb Jones Dec 2018
I live in a large cabin
In a little valley
The wind whistles
Down this natural funnel
And shakes the trees
All their dying leaves
Rustle and ride the wind
I have 108 oak trees
I counted them once
I live in the foothills
Off the hi-way
Almost a mile down
A hidden road
I wanted to hide
When I first saw this place
It was a buying point
This beautiful valley
Me, a city girl
Over a hill
In a culvert
On my property
Is thousands of coyotes.
They surround my house
At night to sing
Their hello songs
Here we are songs
Mating songs.
Luring songs
Their teaching songs
Their pup songs
Their yipping songs
They come right
Before sunset
And go hide
As the morning
Mists and sun rises
Lightening the morning
I was scared of them at first
Terrified actually
They would come
To my large windows
And the next morning
The windows would be Covered with nose
And paw prints.
But now?
I have done all I can
To let them have
Their own space on my land
While I have mine
The road I live on
The mile long one is called
Coyote Hills
And my property
Is aptly named
Coyote Junction
Now their music
Is hauntingly
Beautiful to me
It’s a yearning sound
And when they
Surround my house
It feels ritualistically
Archaic and full of paganism
I don’t anthropomorphize
Any animals
But I sincerely believe
They all have emotions
Fears, doubts, hungers, needs
After they have sung to me
For eight years
I hear the playful songs
The crying songs
The worry songs
The fear songs
And my heart
Echoes their songs
Well met. Well met
Do you remember days gone by
When car songs ruled the radio
Think about the passing years
Where did these songs all go?
Little Honda, Duece Coupe
I miss my GTO
I miss the beach boy harmony
Where did the car songs go?

The Little Old Lady From Pasadena
My Hot Rod Lincoln...oh
Daddy took my t-bird away
Where did my car songs go?

Way back in the sixties
The car song, it was boss
Where has the music travelled
It's this generations loss

Do you remember days gone by
When car songs ruled the radio
Think about the passing years
Where did these songs all go?
Little Honda, Duece Coupe
I miss my GTO
I miss the beach boy harmony
Where did the car songs go?


Hot Rods, and dune buggies
The cars would go go go
Where are the car songs hiding
Does anybody know?

I miss my barracuda
My "Woody"  was the bomb
There's nothing out there like it
Where has the car song gone?

The music they are playing
Just puts me fast asleep
I need to hear my car song
No more "Rolling In The Deep"

Do you remember days gone by
When car songs ruled the radio
Think about the passing years
Where did these songs all go?
Little Honda, Duece Coupe
I miss my GTO
I miss the beach boy harmony
Where did the car songs go?
Classy J Dec 2019
I hate ******* happy songs.
You know the ones that encourage you to sing along?

I hate those ******* happy songs.
You know the ones that get stuck in your head all day long?

With those repetitive melodies,
That bash the eardrums like a hammer.
Those **** happy songs.
With their optimistic audacity,
That tries to infect me like a cancer.

I just don’t understand?
Talking about sunshine and rainbows.
The type of **** I cannot stand.
When the government is listening to our convo’s in our condo’s.
Selling the info on demand.

I just don’t understand?
Clapping all our hands.
Or dancing like a maniac,
Which makes me think your either high,
Or just plain mad.

I hate ******* happy songs,
You know the ones that encourage you to sing along?

I hate those ******* happy songs.
You know the ones that get stuck in your head all day long?

With those repetitive melodies,
That bash the eardrums like a hammer.
Those **** happy songs.
With their optimistic audacity,
That tries to infect me like a cancer.

I just don’t understand?
They’re not even remotely realistic,
The type of I **** I just can’t stand.
With words that are not only dumb but simplistic.
I can’t tell if they are pacifistic or sadistic?
Torturing me with things I will never have.

I just don’t understand?
Clapping all our hands.
Or dancing like a maniac,
Which makes me think your either high,
Or just plain mad.

I hate ******* happy songs.
You know the ones that encourage you to sing along?

I hate those ******* happy songs.
You know the ones that get stuck in your head all day long?

With those repetitive melodies,
That bash the eardrums like a hammer.
Those **** happy songs.
With their optimistic audacity,
That tries to infect me like a cancer.

Yeah those **** happy songs.
That are way to long.
You know those **** happy songs.
That get wedged up one’s ***,
Like some thong.
You know those **** happy songs.
That the radio puts on repeat all day long.
You know those **** happy songs.
That bounce back and forth in your head like ping pong.
Yeah, I hate those ******* happy songs!
Oh, lord please just end this song!...
Thank, you!
Aa Harvey May 2018
Songs of yesterday.


I sang those songs of love since I was a boy,
Way back before the world could ever bring me down.
Motown lead the way and music was my favourite toy,
Way before I ever knew video like I know it now.


Those songs of love that lit the way;
Those songs of love sang yesterday.
Those songs I will never forget or replace;
Those loving songs of yesterday.


Since I was a child of love,
I tried my best to turn out good.
But my life turned out to be a struggle
And I ended up in a little trouble, I guess.


I did some things I should never have done,
When I was only looking for a little fun.
But I crashed and burned like a dying sun
And landed down in the song for the forgotten.


Those songs of love that lit the way;
Those songs of love sang yesterday.
Those songs I will never forget or replace;
Those loving songs of yesterday.


Come with me and sing my songs;
I only came along to turn you on.
I only came to make you think;
So break out past your lungs and let me hear you sing.


(C)2013 Aa Harvey. All Rights Reserved.
Budding Dirt Nov 2017
"Nyamama owada in e mara ma oingo nyiri duto"-Ongoro Jakarachuonyo.

Busy listening to luo music; What a cool evening of inspiration.

I felt a lot of connection hearing my brothers defining love with such honesty.
   "Nindo otama yawa nindo tama yaye kaparo nyadundo"

The purity of rhythm was soaking my blood . Rhumba is soothing with notable songs like “Elector Nyarkano” by Madanje Perimeter.

Prezda “Igwe” Bandasson
“Nyisuba” one of his best creations. What i love most about Bandasson is that he got unique style and writing skill not like his fellow benga artists; If you like  Ferre Gola, now this the man to listen to.

My evening was going on well with some ohangla likes of ; "Kanungo".

“Kanungo is one of the song that you must have heard wherever you are in this country. Its one of the top songs of both 2014 and 2015 even though it's not my musical taste but Otieno Aloka defines Ohangla in a creative way; The drums are well arranged and composition is just amazing.

That brings me to a funny question who is Emma Jalamo?  He is not old in the game but the guy has come up with a unique Ohangla sound that takes him at par with the rhumba musicians as old fork and young people alike listen to his music with zeal. His new album, “Sherry” is a master piece with hits like “Wivu mbaya”.

Luo music is intelligent entertaining and soothing .

Tony Nyadundo is another seasoned musician who has traveled wide with his Ohangla beat which spread across the country like bush fire. He released hits like "Mapenzi Kizunguzingu".

My playlist couldn't be complete minus The bird aka Osogo Winyo;
he has taken a low profile of late, musically, but he has some of the best Ohangla sounds of this decade.

Musa Juma and Limpopo Band is so common in luo with sweet resonating songs like ; "Aggrey ,Maselina,Lake Victoria" .

It didn't stopped their; i went deep to discover heartbreak sounds likes of "Our Only John Juniour".
John juniour, is one of current trending names in Nyanza due to his sweet voice and romantic writing skills. "Nyoremo and kalisto baba" are well crafted when it comes to composition.

Another talented artist is ; Wuod Phiby who is also a producer and sound engineer at Barikiwa studio. He's the owner of hit songs like " Cham gi ****'i" and many more.

Makadem is one of the the artist signed to Ketebul music is known worldwide with a brands that precedes him as he is commonly known as the Ohangla man.

We have alot of talented luo artists but let me focus on our own few who are so creative when it comes to fusing . I'm talking of Owiyo ; She is one of the first female artists to fuse the Nyatiti beat with modern fusion and with songs like “Kisumu 100”, she still remains so relevant in the industry that her new song, “wamiel” is doing quite fine.

I've listened to a lot of modern Benga maybe ones played on the radio. I was not well informed that much on old sounds but when i dug the tapes and crates to so called luo "thum gi timbegi".
Abila gi thum machon ; I discovered names like;
1) George Ramogi
George ramogi died but left a name for himself with songs like Affline the Pretty and Wiya Chandore Malit.

2) Ochieng Kabaselleh
When we were growing up we use to hear  songs like," Zainabu,Achi Maria and Dunia mokili".  Kabaselleh and Luna Kidi Band were the voice of love within Nyanza at that time.

3) Okatch Biggie
"Nyathi nyakach atimni ang'o?"
Before his death he sold thousand of copies of the same record. He had countless hit songs like "Okatch pod ngima,Hellena nya kabondo e.t.c".

4) Osito Kale
Osito and Ogina Koko termed to bring some of remarkable songs like "Rapar Angelina" .Asembo born artist is one of luo musician with aggressive thoughts and creativity.

5) Ouma Omore
Many of new generation might not have known him but he got massive Jams like "Atwech Nyaduse" were so common in my parents mouth. He wrote many songs on him like "Perry Odhi Chuth,To Natimi Nade e.t.c".

5) D.O Misiani
The late misiani and Shirati band was and still one of the voices who spoke against corruption in moi regime with songs like "Bim en Bim,Lee tinde mor and Amolo piny Pako Te". Tanzania born Benga star rose to fame with songs like "Auma Lando and Wich Teko Ok Kony".

6) Collela Mazee
I don't have much to say about Collela but lyrics like;
"Kare piny luoro ka aleki nya john" caught my attention. Collela was a great composer with every rhyme and sense falling at their place".

We have thousand artists(some died)who did and still doing music from Nyanza i couldn't mention all even though there are different genres associated with Luo music like Benga , Ohangla, Rhumba, Afro-fusion and the likes, the musicians have always strive to be at the top of the music game. By Luo music, I mean those music sang partly or fully in Dholuo,the music is honest,creative and enjoyable.

I'm blessed to say;This artists have done great with their music and still doing it.

By Quoting The Late Ongala lyrics..."Mziki haina mwenyewe", As long as you can create;
Educative
Entertaining
And melodical changes a persons life don't stop doing it. Music is power. Let's support our own.

   Compiled By Budding Dirt.
Jules May 2017
Songs run through my head
playing on shuffle
sweet melodies
to dark songs of sorrow
songs with the power stick
in a overflowing overemotional mind

songs run through my head
singing all day
and all night
happy songs
sad songs
with the power to change me

songs run through my head
unphased, unaffected by everything
else happening in my brain

When the facts are forgotten
the songs remain
when nothing else is there
the songs stay

The songs save me
Music means so much to me. I don't know what id do without it.
Maria Rodriguez Sep 2014
Songs about Hate, about Hope.
Songs about Love, about Life.
Songs about Heartache.
Songs about Everything.
Songs that make you Laugh
Songs that make you Cry.
Songs to calm your Nerves.
Songs to heal your Aching Heart.
Songs, so many songs.
They are everything.
Giving you another chance to start over.
I'm falling apart,
So I play another song to help me fix my broken heart.
Kimberly Aug 2018
Let me take you on a magical music journey into the Souls of songs, you may get lost, scared, excited, or discover a whole different something, but, that's ok it may be fun.
Let's start with a fun song that makes you want to get up and feel like dancing, you go dance, be free, dance for fun of it. Dance until the songs ends, as the song ends, with the tapping of your foot still tapping to the fun song, as it still plays in your head, that's good, your body, your mind, How does it feel? It feels as if your body is floating, it feels as if your mind is clear, as to nothing can change it, either of them, now that was a fun start.  
Now let's slow it down just a bit, a song that you can still dance to, but you got to like it, and has a little more meaning, you got to listen though, listen closer to the words, there you have it now, you're dancing with more meaning, as to let the song tell your heart to take over your body, now as you feel this, you start to dance as to feel the song, let it go slowly, and finish your dance with heart and smoother step, now you're feeling as if something touch your heart, tug it a bit, Doesn't it feel good? It does, it's like walking, well, still dancing as if you are in the air, hold on to that, Are you lost? Dazed maybe!
If not lets get deep than...
This one might scare you, might take you into whole different world, it scared me at first, but don't worry, now we are going to take a song and slow it way down, a song with so much deeper meaning, one that means something to you, you're going to have to sit down for this one, really clear your mind, open your heart, let your body relax, if you want close your eyes, I like to close mine it's wild. You got it? Now turn that song on, breath... and go. Did I lose you? I hope so! There's a feeling like no other with this song, it's like you're light headed, listen to the words, you're feeling the words, with your heart, you're finally lost in the song, it's talking to you though, just keep listening, to feel it deep within, let it get inside your Soul, your Soul will dance like no other, isn't it great? It's like an ecstasy high, it's a rush of emotions, you don't understand, but you will in time, embrace this moment, you're at one with this song, it's yours, run away and never let it go, lost aren't you? I got lost as well.
It's ok to get lost in songs, it's good for your heart, and Soul, now that you went on this magical musical journey into the Souls of songs with me, now take what you have and enjoy the music with a deeper meaning and feeling, as for me I took all songs in as for I can get lost in any fast, slow, and songs that have deep meanings, to do this, just go back on that journey to Souls of songs, songs are more than dancing, and calling it your song, songs speak more deeply if you just listen with your heart, and Soul, not with your ears or head, so let songs guide you, let the Soul of the song in, You'll be free, Songs are the music path to our Souls...
Alexander  K  Opicho
(Eldoret, Kenya;aopicho@yahoo.com)

songs of freedom in Kenya are paradoxical of themselves
they have become the songs of oppressive tyranny
they are not songs that were sang by freedom fighters
in the tropical forests of aberdares and Mabanga
they are blissful carols of powers that be
mouthed by the state poets in the deadly feats
of political  sycophancy fuelled by cult of betrayal
and espionage, a real substructure of state dictatorship
they are not the true songs of mau mau
that were sang by Kimathi wa miciuri
they are the songs of the top crust of the tribal
and political powers that be in oblivion of
the cultural revolutionaries that countermanded
cultural Darwinism of European imperial gamesters
they are not the songs sang by Elijah Masinde
of Dini Msambwa that spirited up cultural aura
of cultural dignity;which cautioned certainly
an African against the cultural call of the white culturalizer
the African to balk and turn his back
and **** and spit scornfully  at cultural trickster in the colonial ploy
to dance for Dini ya Msambwa in the spirit of war and fires of war
that is to be fought in preservation of democracy and cultural freedom.
Francie Lynch Dec 2015
I can't but think of you
When those old familiar songs air;
As familiar as the friends we shared,
Songs we once grew old to,
That played as you ironed hair.
Tensions grew as the volume raised,
As your parents worried upstairs.
Songs of innocence, songs of experience,
Were on the radio,
And you'd find a station
In Daddy's car
As we drove back to school.
Lyrics I didn't know I knew
After all these years;
No photo could make you
More vivd than now;
Songs that immortalize
Those moments of our youth.
You tanning in the sand,
Transistor craddled in an alabaster hand;
The smell of beach on you.
Lips parted as you whispered words
To the ****** burning in me.
Then you dance close,
Your hair a symphony...
Some songs I hear
Are too much to bear
Beneath a firefly night,
When nothing came between us,
But the notes of songs we liked.
Blake's not the only one to have such songs.
Jon Tobias Jun 2011
I

I sing songs

The voice of God trembling in my belly

The songs were always for you

So much love in these hands

I could hold anything like it were a baby

Even you

I can hold you like a baby

Teary eyed and trembling

Gaze down upon you like the moonlight

Kisses the trees

I can kiss you

While you sleep

Give you chills like gentle insect feet

Make you moan like a memory

I

Have veins pumping so much blood

Into my heart

My heart is so big

It breaks my rib cage sometimes

And despite the pain

I can still hug you like a bear

Groan at the weight of my arms

I used to sing songs

About how my father never loved me

And how my mother never loved me

And now

I sing songs

About how much I love you

And

Don’t get me wrong

Sometimes smoke still billows from my throat

And I choke on the love songs

Sometimes I cough up feathers from

The birds

Beating tornadoes in my chest

And I drown

From the beer that I drink

Before I write these songs

And before I text these songs

Blowin up your phone

I wake up some days

Heart strings still pluckin’ away

Fingerpick still diggin’ into my skin

And sometimes

Because I got words

And maybe some paper

I just sing
Sing me songs I am not familiar with.
Songs of shooting stars and constellations.
Songs that are sung by drunken bellows and songs that can make me dance with the daffodils.
Songs that sound so much like the classic old times where there was enough for everybody and no one was ever greedy.
Songs of unity and appreciation.
Songs of peace and tranquillity.
My ears, they have turned deaf.
They cannot hear all this anymore.
And if you want to sing a song to me today,
please sing me a song I am not familiar with.
robin moyer Oct 2011
Inspired by the movie 'The Songcatcher' and Sheila Kay Adams


A singer sings the ancient songs
and the kinfolk sing along...
and the kinfolk sing along.


They sing old harmonies
passed generations down
from mother to daughter;
their unique mountain sound.
They sing of dying, of love, of the dead,
of long lost loves, of breaking bread.

And these songs harken back
to the lands whence they came
with little more
than their backs and their name.
There are songs for working hard during the day
and songs for thanking, and making your way.

Together they play the ancient songs
and the kinfolk sing along...
and the kin folk sing along.

Stories are told
when their ballads are sung,
and banjos played;
strings plucked or strummed.
They sing of the simple joys of life,
of good times and sad times and endless strife.

Lessons learned and stories golden,
songs of killing, of blood, and pain,
Heard endless times in front porch warmth
Connections strengthened, kinship claimed.
People bred strong as the mountain's roots
Sing their songs, their simple truths.

And all the kinfolk sing along
when the mountain sings the ancient songs...
when the mountain sings the ancient songs.
Ryan Fiore Dec 2013
I hate love songs.
It's just a sappy little tune of someone else's expectations.
I expect certain things for my life
But they'll never be what is written in a song
Love songs are like movies.
People write songs and movies about people living happily after ever.
Well that's completely false.
Because no one lives happily ever after.
We watch these movies and listen to these songs and build up our own expectations
Only to be let down when we realize that this is reality
We think "Oh I want a love like that."
When really, there's no such thing as true love.
Right?
I don't know.
That's kinda how I think of it.
Love songs ****.
Because we latch onto what that person is saying, hoping we're gonna find that someday
But look at how hopeless we are
I'm so hopeless
I don't know what to think about love
There's so many degrees of love
Finding that true person who just happens to know everything about you
And likes it.
And you like all those things about them
But why?
Everybody's all like "love is such an amazing thing."
Like there's no faults in it
Like people don't cheat on each other
And people don't break up with each other for no reason
Like there's no back-stabbing
Like it doesn't ever fall apart because you have the glue to hold it together
But what's the point of love when there's so many faults that come with it
Let's face it
Everybody throws the word "love" around like it's a baseball
"I love you" "I love you too"
Bull.
Because then it ends and it's like "Oh but I thought you were in love?"
I wonder if love lasts forever.
I mean nothing lasts forever
I wonder if you can stay in love with the same person forever
I mean how's that possible?
Don't you get sick of looking at that person?
Don't you ever feel like being with someone else
I don't know. Maybe I'm saying this because I've never experienced love
With anyone special
Just meaningless relationships
From my youth that I knew would never last
Then what was the point of being with that person
Fun?
It ***** to have a hopeless crush that you know will never happen
But maybe it never happens because you DON'T believe
I don't know.
People should find that one person
Everybody has a God given right to find love
They need to find it the right way
People have one night stands with random strangers
How can you honestly make love to someone and feel something called "love" to someone you just met?
Like how?
You shouldn't give yourself to someone you don't know
In my opinion, you shouldn't give yourself to anyone unless you know you're gonna spend the rest of your life with that person
And I'm not just saying that because I'm a Christian
I wasn't planning on giving myself to anyone before I was married, before I found God
Sure, that's a part of it
Because *** before marriage is a sin
But I didn't have an expectation of having *** with anyone before I was married
And the only way to know if you'll spend, "forever", "eternity"
With that person is not when you put the engagement ring on
But the wedding ring
Because an engagement ring means nothing
It's just an announcement that you're planning on a future
It's nothing set in stone
People might say, "Yeah but you can always get divorced."
When I get married, that's not an option.
Because why would I throw something away that I know can hopefully be fixed?
People might say, "How can I not have *** in this relationship?"
It's easy.
Don't.
Love is so fake.
And yet, so real.
I have love songs
But listen to them all the time because I build up that expectation
But let's face it
We don't always get the fairytale we want
I hate love songs for one reason
You expect so much in your future
You're waiting for that prince to come save you
But come on.
That's fake.
I hate love songs.
I hate love movies.
I hate love.
Ahnaf Apr 2019

songs hurt

emotions flood my brain
I can't handle it
I used to not feel this way
songs used to lift my soul

but songs hurt

emotions claw at my brain
I can't do it anymore
I don't know when it happened
songs used to bring peace

but songs hurt

emotions metastasize like cancer
I can't even bear to think of it
I don't know how this happened
songs used to give me life

but songs hurt

and I can listen to them no longer
Allena Iris Dec 2016
Lyrics are things I don't wish
Lyrics gave life, though
Lyrics came from deepest ocean
Lyrics break through crevices
Of rocks
Become so poweful
When reaching the surface

Songs are things I don't wait
Songs gave home, though
Songs come from widest lungs
Songs blow melody
Of nature
Whisper charmingly
Ears to ears

Lyrics are beauty stains to my songs
Like clouds to sky
And songs are good companion to my lyrics
Like ribbon to roses
They both chasing in mind
Serve me rows of houses
Where I sleep in solid peace
I write lyrics and give melody
Thats a song
Sjr1000 Sep 2015
As poets
we listen for the songs
of the singing trees,
There is no road map as to where to go,
Our GPS, it doesn't know,
Goggle maps hasn't gotten there yet,
The internet will tell you what it knows -
Some rehab
some restaurant
some business selling shoes.

It's not on Facebook,
My phone may be smart
but it doesn't know a thing
about the songs of the singing trees.

My Twitter account was attacked by a cat,
I swear I tried to rescue it,
But it tweeted away
as it got jumped over the fence.
The t.v. drones on and on,
HD pictures explode.

Our eyes, tho, are far away from all this,
Our voices, they long to harmonize
with the songs of the eons,
The songs of the singing trees.

You and me and Thoreau
sitting by the pond, the river, the ocean,
All day long
in this solitude we know,
Watching the light dissolve,
The moon, it rises too,
While we
together
me and you,
Thoreau too,
Listening so carefully
for the lilting epics
of
the songs of the singing trees.
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!



Labor Pains
by Fadwa Tuqan
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Tonight the wind wafts pollen through ruined fields and homes.
The earth shivers with love, with the agony of giving birth,
while the Invader spreads stories of submission and surrender.

O, Arab Aurora!

Tell the Usurper: childbirth’s a force beyond his ken
because a mother’s wracked body reveals a rent that inaugurates life,
a crack through which light dawns in an instant
as the blood’s rose blooms in the wound.



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

Hamza was one of my hometown’s ordinary men
who did manual labor for bread.

When I saw him recently,
the land still wore its mourning dress in the solemn windless silence
and I felt defeated.

But Hamza-the-unextraordinary said:
“Sister, our land’s throbbing heart never ceases to pound,
and it perseveres, enduring the unendurable, keeping the secrets of mounds and wombs.
This land sprouting cactus spikes and palms also births freedom-fighters.
Thus our land, my sister, is our mother!”

Days passed and Hamza was nowhere to be seen,
but I felt the land’s belly heaving in pain.
At sixty-five Hamza’s a heavy burden on her back.

“Burn down his house!”
some commandant screamed,
“and slap his son in a prison cell!”

As our town’s military ruler later explained
this was necessary for law and order,
that is, an act of love, for peace!

Armed soldiers surrounded Hamza’s house;
the coiled serpent completed its circle.

The bang at his door came with an ultimatum:
“Evacuate, **** it!'
So generous with their time, they said:
“You can have an hour, yes!”

Hamza threw open a window.
Face-to-face with the blazing sun, he yelled defiantly:
“Here in this house I and my children will live and die, for Palestine!”
Hamza's voice echoed over the hemorrhaging silence.

An hour later, with impeccable timing, Hanza’s house came crashing down
as its rooms were blown sky-high and its bricks and mortar burst,
till everything settled, burying a lifetime’s memories of labor, tears, and happier times.

Yesterday I saw Hamza
walking down one of our town’s streets ...
Hamza-the-unextraordinary man who remained as he always was:
unshakable in his determination.



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.



Bittersight
by Michael R. Burch

for Abu al-Ala Al-Ma'arri, an ancient antinatalist poet

To be plagued with sight
in the Land of the Blind,
—to know birth is death
and that Death is kind—
is to be flogged like Eve
(stripped, sentenced and fined)
because evil is “good”
as some “god” has defined.



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
Bhakti Lata Oct 2016
She would
borrow
the words from
whispering winds

She would steal
the tunes from
singing birds
and would
create
a world of
songs around her

Indifferent to
the shackles of time,
unaffected by
the fetters of fate,
she would sing
many songs

Songs of hope
songs of love
songs of joy
songs of freedom
songs of songs

Today

I saw
her wandering free,
free from fetters
shackles and all...

I saw
her singing along
with those birds
from whom she used to
steal her tunes,
and kissing the winds
that used to
lend her their words...

And I heard
the sky whisper
to the earth:
'She has
enchanted
her dreams
into life!'
Jimmy King Jul 2014
I commit to poems the second that I begin writing them,
And here I am committing to this one,
My cursor on the screen
Tap tap tapping like tap-roots across it’s blue-glowing surface.
With every push of every button,
I begin seeing the blue light
As more than it is. I begin seeing it as a poem.
The blue light that illuminated the Never Sink sinkhole
Was not from a screen.
Nor was it from glowworms.
As I write on this screen though, there is that same blue light
With me still. It is
Streaming from the walls of the cavern,
Still massaging the bags of tiredness
That hang beneath my eyelids to remind me
Of where I just was, having *** with my ex-girlfriend,
And of all the places that I was before that: to remind me
Of the blue lights in Never Sink,
The sinkhole that is 120 feet wide and 170 feet deep that I
Climbed out of on a rope and in the dark,
Which was anything but dark—an unlocked lock
Sat in my driveway after I got home

From having *** with my ex-girlfriend tonight,
And there, in that lock, was a comparison to or an analogy for or a metaphor of
My climb out of Never Sink: gradual ascension
And then a moment
Of absolute awe and profundity so unlike any other profundity
That the clarity I felt absolutely throughout my body tonight
Can only really be brought into my mind with full force
Through a comparison and analogy and metaphor
To, for, and of the blue lights
That that temple provided us. Looking into that lock’s
Reflective gleam, I discovered that I felt
The way I’d felt ever since climbing out of Never Sink, which was exactly
How I’d spent the past year or so wanting to feel.

“Bring me,” I said to Duane, who went with me to Never Sink,
“To the hole in the ground
Where the blue light glows; where the glow-worms lightly blaze” and Duane
Said “okay” and he brought me there without
My ever having to say those words. And then,
In the moments after the sun went down we discovered
That the glowworms were not glowworms but
Armillaria mellea, a bioluminescent fungus.
Not glowworms but Armillaria mellea,
Which rose through and across the cave walls, coating the rock
With its skin. The whole pit was covered in that skin—the skin
Of that single individual.
As I methodically climbed out of the sinkhole on my rope, I felt that
Fungus (that individual) extending
Its black shoelace looking taproots into my lungs too,
And into my skin,
Where I was but where
I wasn’t quite yet. Where I was but
Where I couldn’t yet describe to myself without the use of glowworms—
Without the use of made-up and childish sounding words
Like Depropheria, which I wrote a book about but which
I never really understood, and I, the whole concept of which is flawed,
Feel like I could be the plant on Joe’s counter,
Which he said I already am.
Because if my “I” was in all of its molecules and its “I” was in all of my molecules
Then we would both just be exactly what we already were, Joe said, and so
By the very logic I extended in posing the question
I was and am the plant.

I could be Armillaria mellea too
But what am I if I think that I am glowworms? but really
The glowworms are fungus, and while I ****** my ex-girlfriend tonight, falling
Further into the space away from her, I was also
Scraping away at the walls of Never Sink
To see the tiny little hairs that revealed to Duane and I what really was there,
The Armillaria mellea, of course, but how could something so different
(“**** me, Daniel,” she said, “I feel you inside of me, I want you.”
“**** me,” I said
“”
“I feel myself inside of you, I”)
Be the thing that I am? I would never

Stop the car because I saw something shining on my driveway.
And I would never
Open the car door
And step out into the night with the engine running.
Step out into the night to find an
Unlocked lock
Lying there on the pavement while the song that I tried to live all year
Called In the Aeroplane Over the Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel blasts loudly
From my Buick’s speakers. Step out into the night
With that song blaring through my open car door, surely waking
My soon to be empty-nested mother from her sleep behind
That second story window
Right up ahead.

I did those things though—I
Stopped the car because I saw something shining on my driveway, and I
Did those things.
I am glow-worms.
I am, and so
I am the plant on Joe’s counter, and so
I can be a glow-worm.
I can be what I already am without knowing or comprehending that I am it.
I can be the whole universe.
I am the whole universe.
I saw over one hundred salamanders at the bottom of Never Sink.
And I saw four different species of salamanders at the bottom of Never Sink.
And I saw six different species of frogs, and I saw
Three brown rat snakes, which thankfully were not copperheads, but which
Could have been glowworms that were copperheads,
I guess. If you ask Joe, anyway. I’m not sure
I believe it fully
Even though when you strip away sentimental definitions of “I”
It’s pretty **** convincing. He was convincing.

I danced around Joe’s counter (where the plant sat, even then)
In September. At the time,
The counter was quickly becoming Alex’s counter,
Because I was becoming close friends with Alex,
And because Alex was Joe’s little sister, and because
Joe had left for the college he’d drop out of,
And during his hiatus from what he’d wanted to run from
It was just
Alex’s counter. It is Joe’s counter again now,
Because Alex has a dumb boyfriend who she likes to kiss
And doesn’t really like to ****
But who she does **** anyway and as a result
Doesn’t really like spending much time not ******* me anymore.
Anyway, I danced

Around Joe’s counter in September, when it was becoming Alex’s counter,
And I sank songs like In the Aeroplane Over the Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel
With all my new friends. I thought that I
Was living those songs
Because, if my “I” was in the molecules that vibrated when the song played,
And the “I” of those molecules was in me
Then I would be those songs and those songs would be me.
Being the songs wasn’t the same as living the songs, though.
Rising out of Never Sink I saw myself
Reflected in the blue dots of light that Armillaria mellea created.
I saw that I hadn’t been living everything
That I was; I saw that I was the blue dots then, but I also saw
That I didn’t know that the blue dots weren’t glowworms.

When I was dancing
Around Joe’s counter, I didn’t yet know the words
To In the Aeroplane Over the Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel.
But all my new friends were singing those words, and so I
Screamed out barely-syllabic nonsense
With a smile on my face,
Speaking like a baby who recognizes the existence of language
But can’t yet put it into use.

Rising out of Never Sink
The whole cave opened up, as more and more levels of the sinkhole
Were revealed to be stars and galaxies
Of blue fungus to climb through.
Rising out of Never Sink, I held in my hand
The unlocked lock which I would use later
To weight my pocket as I would sit with these bags of tiredness hanging
Writing this poem late at night on the screen illuminated
By the blue lights of Never Sink. To weight my pocket
As I would sit writing this poem, with
***** excreted thirty minutes prior still resting on my ****
Like the name I haven’t yet learned to call her—
Caterina, Caterina, why did she change it? Maria
Was so pretty, why did she change her name, it was
To get away from me, it was to get away from me like
I wanted to get away from her, it was to get away from me it was
Because she always hated the name Maria. And
To grow more confident in herself
She needed to become
Caterina. She needed to rebrand herself like she worked on rebranding
That company’s logo for her senior thesis project in high school
When I first fell in love with her because
Glowworms lit up Never Sink at night.

They were glowworms in Never Sink
Because the glowworms are fungus
And I am the glowworms.

If you ask Joe.

I want to take some time now to describe
Rising out of Never Sink
Without giving any time
To the lock I found in my drive-way this evening, or
To Joe’s counter-top and how I danced around it knowing
That it wasn’t his but that it was him,
Or to the remnants of Maria, Caterina, and I which are all I, and which
Stick to my ***** still. Never Sink is a sinkhole
That is 170 feet deep
And 120 feet wide at its top.

I went spelunking in Alamaba, Georgia, and/or Tennesse last week
Where I never knew which state or time zone I was in,
And where an annoying but charming guy named Glenn
Led me and my best friend through epic places of infinite beauty.
One of those places was Never Sink,
Which is a sinkhole that is
170 feet deep and
120 feet wide at its top. We repelled into Never Sink
Because Glenn wanted to show us the glowworms
(Which were fungus that were glowworms that were
**** it) and because my friend Duane, who is my best friend, who is
A 39 year-old factory worker who worries that he is much older than he is,
Wanted to see the glowworms too.
We found over a hundred salamanders in Never Sink
And Duane and I discovered that it wasn’t glowworms
That illuminated the pit, but Armillaria mellea, which is a fungus, and
It was very cool.
But ascending through Never Sink was more than very cool,
And it was much more than fungus,
Just as the fungus which I took into my body in August (which it
Almost is again now) after the summer music festival was more
Than just fungus. That fungus was more than just fungus because
I took it into my body right after breaking up with Maria-Caterina (who
I can’t not talk about) For Good (which was
The name of a song they sang
At Maria-Caterina’s high school graduation a year ago, after which
We made love (which was what we called it
Because we were cliché and in love
(Which is what we made.)))

It was a spiritual journey through the cosmos,
In Never Sink,
Or at least that’s how it felt,
And when I climbed out of Never Sink’s mouth, I hugged Duane
And he hugged me and we
Thought that it was beautiful.

I am the plant in Joe’s kitchen.
I am glowworms.
Aztec Warrior Feb 2016
LAUNDROMAT SONGS**

"How long shall they **** our prophets as we stand aside and look?”    
             ‑‑ Bob Marley

Saturday morning,
the scene's the same
round and round
suds and foam,
round and round
energetic flashes of life
play, giggle and roam.
"Can I have a quarter
to play video games?
Hey mom, can I get a
soda and some chips?"
~~~~~
It's always bedlam,
even at 3 am,
always the same
neighborhood faces
some smiling, others
wrinkled like
clothes with a stain problem.
Clothes and lives
sharing destinies.
***** clothes, old and worn,
*****, hard driven lives.
Both, beat and torn,
both trying to get clean
fresh from this
bone weariness
reflected like patched knees,
lost buttons,
mismatched  sox
or  those brown  streaked ******,  
reflecting our brown stained lives.
~~~~~
Round and round go the clothes.
Round and round so goes our lives
that no matter what we do
seems always in need of mending.
Round and round
women, kids
and clothes in tow.
Men, if  there,
in the background,
begrudgingly,
but always  fighting for control.
~~~~~
Sometimes though the  juke wails
joyful music prevails
causing feet to tap
and lips to smile.
Maybe some Miles
or hip hop Coup
announce a new rinse cycle.
Some young'un dropped the  coin
but you can see
all are keeping time
with  these way out songs.
Finally,  eyes  reveal hidden,
no more suppressed,
revelry,
clothes  are folded musically.
The kid knows his tunes,
out jumps a "classic";
"Redemption Songs".
Marley at his best
conscious style, a request.
"Won't you help me  sing
these  songs of freedom.
Redemption songs.
They're all I ever had
redemption songs."
~~~~~
You can see it in
lint filled air swirling,
eyes  gleaming,
kids screaming;
you can taste the hope
and dreams.
A  joyous hunger
of patched  jeans,
men and women sway
in unison. For 3 minutes, 25 seconds,
on this very early morn,
the possibilities of relations
rinsed  clean
of men and women
folding clothes
smelling fresh,
wishing for a better way.
~~~~~
It is only a glimpse
this Saturday morning.
A round and round
scene
that holds promise
as old, worn clothes
wash,
spin,
dry
and leave refreshed,
clean.
On this morn
a few eyes, alert
wishful,
leave singing;
"Redemption songs,
they're  all  I ever  had,
these  songs  of  freedom."

~~redzone 5.22.99~~
(posted by Aztec Warrior writing as redzone)
This is a poem I wrote a while ago. I thought it was a different kind of Valentine's Day card. I hope you enjoy. The music is Bob Marley's "Redemption Songs"
https://youtu.be/QrY9eHkXTa4
Kimi Sanchez Dec 2018
i am not a curated list of
the top songs,
the best songs,
critically-acclaimed songs,
picked with so much care
too much care
the others cease to matter
i am the songs
known and niched
borne out of an artist's dream
i exist so they could dance
in the kitchen at 3 am
i might not expand the world
in which i live
but i will persist
in careless dancers
dancers like me
the dancers after us
to my boy scouts, to 7 more years. kamsahamnida.
drizzt Mar 2014
There are songs about love
And songs about it's loss.
A wise man once said
“Music is there for when words fail us.”
When our emotions clash and rage and burn
Or simply flutter about
In Beautiful Chaos.

But what to do with doubt?
There are no songs about lacking.
Stepping each step, knowing that irrationality
Hides in every corner.
You are worried for yourself.
You ask yourself "Will I?"
You ask yourself "Why Not?"
You ask yourself all,
But answer none.

Our minds are funny that way.
We can have full knowledge that we worry
About things that are pointless.
Things so unlikely that the morbid hilarity of our consideration
Of the possibilities of such things
Should be enough to stop us from believing them.

There are songs about love,
And songs about it's loss.
A wise man once said
“Music is there for when words fail us.”
But I lack burning emotions.
And thus I lack music.
And naught but words remain.

There are songs about love,
And songs about it's loss.
But there are no songs of
The worry of
Never finding it.
I'm rather good at getting my brain to stop being irrational.
...
At least that's what I tell myself.
LD Goodwin Feb 2013
Most every night at the Stowaway Bar,
you can catch the old lounge lizard singer.
With his head full of rhythm and rhyme,
and his fake books full of songs,
he plays his blue guitar
and dreams about a young girl.

He fell in love with the wonderful girl
when she strolled into the bar.
And as he played his new guitar
she told him he was a great singer,
and she loved his beautiful songs
that would reel and ramble and rhyme.

And with every prophetic rhyme
he would sing to the lovely young girl
all of his best love songs,
as if there were no one else in the bar,
except her, the smoke, and the singer,
and the sound of his new guitar.  

But every night when he was through, he'd pack up his guitar
and put away his rhythm and rhyme,
and for awhile he was not that love song singer.
He'd looked around the smoky room for the girl
but she was nowhere in the bar
and all he had left were his tears and his love songs.

She said she loved his songs,
and the way he would play his guitar.
But now the smoke filled up the bar,
and he was out of rhyme.
For he had lost the beautiful girl
who wanted only the singer.

But he was only the singer,
and he was only the songs.
Although he missed the girl
Every night he would tune his blue guitar
and open his sad heart full of rhyme
and fill up the Stowaway Bar 
  
  And the old lounge lizard singer plays his blue guitar
singing prophetic songs that reel and ramble and rhyme
to a young girl who sits alone at the bar.
Harrogate, TN February 2013
Inspired by the many years I played the Stowaway Lounge in Ft. Walton Beach , FL.  Also a poem here on HP "Breaking Mirrors"  by somethingweknewwasours ....check it out!
Daphne Jun 2016
Month one gave me the butterflies
Love songs were relevant
Soft words were exchanged, not cowardly lies
I was petrified to lose you.

Month two was more comfortable.
Love songs were a hit or miss
We spoke with only loving voices
I was petrified to lose you.

Month three, I became fully comfortable, you became distracted
Love songs were my favorite, but they were your enemy
I spoke with loving voices, you didn't speak at all
I was skeptical

Month four, I was aware of everything
Love songs were just songs
We only talked over text
I knew what was going to happen

Month five, I was just arm candy so you didn't look like a loser
Love songs made me sick
I talked, you lied
I didn't face the facts

Month six, I let you go
Love songs were never sang or played
I deleted your number
I'm confused without you

Month seven, you came back with a "You Up?" text
I only played sad songs
I looked at my phone with sorrow
You broke me

Love is a slippery *****, isn't it?
Five months, that's all
You showed me love
And you showed me heartbreak
Should I thank you for that?
~~~
When the beautiful mingles
    With more beautiful
      Makes a fair of flowers
         Brings soul to life
    Nature infuses into creation of new dances
  Then I just want to sink beneath love
 More to more!

When all the spots are removed
  You draw dreams on eyes
     Mind deserves the New Day
       Would be lost out of bounds
   Far too far
More to more!

After the end of the obscure
  Southern wind flows through the windows
    Life grows again
      The new songs
         Rocking-
      The new tunes drive
    So far away-
More to more!

When you exist at the edge
   Of my thoughts
     Your smile
       Plays flute -
         Obsession-
           Tiger by the tail-
         Moving-
     So far away-
  More to more!

When the tunes
  More tunes
    Make the rhythm -  
      Very tone of voices- how delight!
         Moving-dancing graphically on vine
      Dark light- lighting
   Songs follow Songs -
  Lifelong soul
More to more!!

~~~
FIRST DAY

1.
Who wanted me
to go to Chicago
on January 6th?
I did!

The night before,
20 below zero
Fahrenheit
with the wind chill;
as the blizzard of 99
lay in mountains
of blackening snow.

I packed two coats,
two suits,
three sweaters,
multiple sets of long johns
and heavy white socks
for a two-day stay.

I left from Newark.
**** the denseness,
it confounds!

The 2nd City to whom?
2nd ain’t bad.
It’s pretty good.
If you consider
Peking and Prague,
Tokyo and Togo,
Manchester and Moscow,
Port Au Prince and Paris,
Athens and Amsterdam,
Buenos Aries and Johannesburg;
that’s pretty good.

What’s going on here today?
It’s friggin frozen.
To the bone!

But Chi Town is still cool.
Buddy Guy’s is open.
Bartenders mixing drinks,
cabbies jamming on their breaks,
honey dew waitresses serving sugar,
buildings swerving,
fire tongued preachers are preaching
and the farmers are measuring the moon.

The lake,
unlike Ontario
is in the midst of freezing.
Bones of ice
threaten to gel
into a solid mass
over the expanse
of the Michigan Lake.
If this keeps up,
you can walk
clear to Toronto
on a silver carpet.

Along the shore
the ice is permanent.
It’s the first big frost
of winter
after a long
Indian Summer.

Thank God
I caught a cab.
Outside I hear
The Hawk
nippin hard.
It’ll get your ear,
finger or toe.
Bite you on the nose too
if you ain’t careful.

Thank God,
I’m not walking
the Wabash tonight;
but if you do cover up,
wear layers.

Chicago,
could this be
Sandburg’s City?

I’m overwhelmed
and this is my tenth time here.

It’s almost better,
sometimes it is better,
a lot of times it is better
and denser then New York.

Ask any Bull’s fan.
I’m a Knickerbocker.
Yes Nueva York,
a city that has placed last
in the standings
for many years.
Except the last two.
Yanks are # 1!

But Chicago
is a dynasty,
as big as
Sammy Sosa’s heart,
rich and wide
as Michael Jordan’s grin.

Middle of a country,
center of a continent,
smack dab in the mean
of a hemisphere,
vortex to a world,
Chicago!

Kansas City,
Nashville,
St. Louis,
Detroit,
Cleveland,
Pittsburgh,
Denver,
New Orleans,
Dallas,
Cairo,
Singapore,
Auckland,
Baghdad,
Mexico City
and Montreal
salute her.



2.
Cities,
A collection of vanities?
Engineered complex utilitarianism?
The need for community a social necessity?
Ego one with the mass?
Civilization’s latest *******?
Chicago is more then that.

Jefferson’s yeoman farmer
is long gone
but this capitol
of the Great Plains
is still democratic.

The citizen’s of this city
would vote daily,
if they could.

Chicago,
Sandburg’s Chicago,
Could it be?

The namesake river
segments the city,
canals of commerce,
all perpendicular,
is rife throughout,
still guiding barges
to the Mississippi
and St. Laurence.

Now also
tourist attractions
for a cafe society.

Chicago is really jazzy,
swanky clubs,
big steaks,
juices and drinks.

You get the best
coffee from Seattle
and the finest teas
from China.

Great restaurants
serve liquid jazz
al la carte.

Jazz Jazz Jazz
All they serve is Jazz
Rock me steady
Keep the beat
Keep it flowin
Feel the heat!

Jazz Jazz Jazz
All they is, is Jazz
Fast cars will take ya
To the show
Round bout midnight
Where’d the time go?

Flows into the Mississippi,
the mother of America’s rivers,
an empires aorta.

Great Lakes wonder of water.
Niagara Falls
still her heart gushes forth.

Buffalo connected to this holy heart.
Finger Lakes and Adirondacks
are part of this watershed,
all the way down to the
Delaware and Chesapeake.

Sandburg’s Chicago?
Oh my my,
the wonder of him.
Who captured the imagination
of the wonders of rivers.

Down stream other holy cities
from the Mississippi delta
all mapped by him.

Its mouth our Dixie Trumpet
guarded by righteous Cajun brethren.

Midwest?
Midwest from where?
It’s north of Caracas and Los Angeles,
east of Fairbanks,
west of Dublin
and south of not much.

Him,
who spoke of honest men
and loving women.
Working men and mothers
bearing citizens to build a nation.
The New World’s
precocious adolescent
caught in a stream
of endless and exciting change,
much pain and sacrifice,
dedication and loss,
pride and tribulations.

From him we know
all the people’s faces.
All their stories are told.
Never defeating the
idea of Chicago.

Sandburg had the courage to say
what was in the heart of the people, who:

Defeated the Indians,
Mapped the terrain,
Aided slavers,
Fought a terrible civil war,
Hoisted the barges,
Grew the food,
Whacked the wheat,
Sang the songs,
Fought many wars of conquest,
Cleared the land,
Erected the bridges,
Trapped the game,
Netted the fish,
Mined the coal,
Forged the steel,
Laid the tracks,
Fired the tenders,
Cut the stone,
Mixed the mortar,
Plumbed the line,
And laid the bricks
Of this nation of cities!

Pardon the Marlboro Man shtick.
It’s a poor expostulation of
crass commercial symbolism.

Like I said, I’m a
Devil Fan from Jersey
and Madison Avenue
has done its work on me.

It’s a strange alchemy
that changes
a proud Nation of Blackhawks
into a merchandising bonanza
of hometown hockey shirts,
making the native seem alien,
and the interloper at home chillin out,
warming his feet atop a block of ice,
guzzling Old Style
with clicker in hand.

Give him his beer
and other diversions.
If he bowls with his buddy’s
on Tuesday night
I hope he bowls
a perfect game.

He’s earned it.
He works hard.
Hard work and faith
built this city.

And it’s not just the faith
that fills the cities
thousand churches,
temples and
mosques on the Sabbath.

3.
There is faith in everything in Chicago!

An alcoholic broker named Bill
lives the Twelve Steps
to banish fear and loathing
for one more day.
Bill believes in sobriety.

A tug captain named Moe
waits for the spring thaw
so he can get the barges up to Duluth.
Moe believes in the seasons.

A farmer named Tom
hopes he has reaped the last
of many bitter harvests.
Tom believes in a new start.

A homeless man named Earl
wills himself a cot and a hot
at the local shelter.
Earl believes in deliverance.

A Pullman porter
named George
works overtime
to get his first born
through medical school.
George believes in opportunity.

A folk singer named Woody
sings about his
countrymen inheritance
and implores them to take it.
Woody believes in people.

A Wobbly named Joe
organizes fellow steelworkers
to fight for a workers paradise
here on earth.
Joe believes in ideals.

A bookkeeper named Edith
is certain she’ll see the Cubs
win the World Series
in her lifetime.
Edith believes in miracles.

An electrician named ****
saves money
to bring his family over from Gdansk.
**** believes in America.

A banker named Leah
knows Ditka will return
and lead the Bears
to another Super Bowl.
Leah believes in nostalgia.

A cantor named Samuel
prays for another 20 years
so he can properly train
his Temple’s replacement.

Samuel believes in tradition.
A high school girl named Sally
refuses to get an abortion.
She knows she carries
something special within her.
Sally believes in life.

A city worker named Mazie
ceaselessly prays
for her incarcerated son
doing 10 years at Cook.
Mazie believes in redemption.

A jazzer named Bix
helps to invent a new art form
out of the mist.
Bix believes in creativity.

An architect named Frank
restores the Rookery.
Frank believes in space.

A soldier named Ike
fights wars for democracy.
Ike believes in peace.

A Rabbi named Jesse
sermonizes on Moses.
Jesse believes in liberation.

Somewhere in Chicago
a kid still believes in Shoeless Joe.
The kid believes in
the integrity of the game.

An Imam named Louis
is busy building a nation
within a nation.
Louis believes in
self-determination.

A teacher named Heidi
gives all she has to her students.
She has great expectations for them all.
Heidi believes in the future.

4.
Does Chicago have a future?

This city,
full of cowboys
and wildcatters
is predicated
on a future!

Bang, bang
Shoot em up
Stake the claim
It’s your terrain
Drill the hole
Strike it rich
Top it off
You’re the boss
Take a chance
Watch it wane
Try again
Heavenly gains

Chicago
city of futures
is a Holy Mecca
to all day traders.

Their skin is gray,
hair disheveled,
loud ties and
funny coats,
thumb through
slips of paper
held by nail
chewed hands.
Selling promises
with no derivative value
for out of the money calls
and in the money puts.
Strike is not a labor action
in this city of unionists,
but a speculators mark,
a capitalist wish,
a hedgers bet,
a public debt
and a farmers
fair return.

Indexes for everything.
Quantitative models
that could burst a kazoo.

You know the measure
of everything in Chicago.
But is it truly objective?
Have mathematics banished
subjective intentions,
routing it in fair practice
of market efficiencies,
a kind of scientific absolution?

I heard that there
is a dispute brewing
over the amount of snowfall
that fell on the 1st.

The mayor’s office,
using the official city ruler
measured 22”
of snow on the ground.

The National Weather Service
says it cannot detect more
then 17” of snow.

The mayor thinks
he’ll catch less heat
for the trains that don’t run
the buses that don’t arrive
and the schools that stand empty
with the addition of 5”.

The analysts say
it’s all about capturing liquidity.

Liquidity,
can you place a great lake
into an eyedropper?

Its 20 below
and all liquid things
are solid masses
or a gooey viscosity at best.

Water is frozen everywhere.
But Chi town is still liquid,
flowing faster
then the digital blips
flashing on the walls
of the CBOT.

Dreams
are never frozen in Chicago.
The exchanges trade
without missing a beat.

Trading wet dreams,
the crystallized vapor
of an IPO
pledging a billion points
of Internet access
or raiding the public treasuries
of a central bank’s
huge stores of gold
with currency swaps.

Using the tools
of butterfly spreads
and candlesticks
to achieve the goal.

Short the Russell
or buy the Dow,
go long the
CAC and DAX.
Are you trading in euro’s?
You better be
or soon will.
I know
you’re Chicago,
you’ll trade anything.
WEBS,
Spiders,
and Leaps
are traded here,
along with sweet crude,
North Sea Brent,
plywood and T-Bill futures;
and most importantly
the commodities,
the loam
that formed this city
of broad shoulders.

What about our wheat?
Still whacking and
breadbasket to the world.

Oil,
an important fossil fuel
denominated in
good ole greenbacks.

Porkbellies,
not just hogwash
on the Wabash,
but bacon, eggs
and flapjacks
are on the menu
of every diner in Jersey
as the “All American.”

Cotton,
our contribution
to the Golden Triangle,
once the global currency
used to enrich a
gentlemen class
of cultured
southern slavers,
now Tommy Hilfiger’s
preferred fabric.

I think he sends it
to Bangkok where
child slaves
spin it into
gold lame'.

Sorghum,
I think its hardy.

Soybeans,
the new age substitute
for hamburger
goes great with tofu lasagna.

Corn,
ADM creates ethanol,
they want us to drive cleaner cars.

Cattle,
once driven into this city’s
bloodhouses for slaughter,
now ground into
a billion Big Macs
every year.

When does a seed
become a commodity?
When does a commodity
become a future?
When does a future expire?

You can find the answers
to these questions in Chicago
and find a fortune in a hole in the floor.

Look down into the pits.
Hear the screams of anguish
and profitable delights.

Frenzied men
swarming like a mass
of epileptic ants
atop the worlds largest sugar cube
auger the worlds free markets.

The scene is
more chaotic then
100 Haymarket Square Riots
multiplied by 100
1968 Democratic Conventions.

Amidst inverted anthills,
they scurry forth and to
in distinguished
black and red coats.

Fighting each other
as counterparties
to a life and death transaction.

This is an efficient market
that crosses the globe.

Oil from the Sultan of Brunei,
Yen from the land of Hitachi,
Long Bonds from the Fed,
nickel from Quebec,
platinum and palladium
from Siberia,
FTSE’s from London
and crewel cane from Havana
circle these pits.

Tijuana,
Shanghai
and Istanbul's
best traders
are only half as good
as the average trader in Chicago.

Chicago,
this hog butcher to the world,
specializes in packaging and distribution.

Men in blood soaked smocks,
still count the heads
entering the gates of the city.

Their handiwork
is sent out on barges
and rail lines as frozen packages
of futures
waiting for delivery
to an anonymous counterparty
half a world away.

This nation’s hub
has grown into the
premier purveyor
to the world;
along all the rivers,
highways,
railways
and estuaries
it’s tentacles reach.

5.
Sandburg’s Chicago,
is a city of the world’s people.

Many striver rows compose
its many neighborhoods.

Nordic stoicism,
Eastern European orthodoxy
and Afro-American
calypso vibrations
are three of many cords
strumming the strings
of Chicago.

Sandburg’s Chicago,
if you wrote forever
you would only scratch its surface.

People wait for trains
to enter the city from O’Hare.
Frozen tears
lock their eyes
onto distant skyscrapers,
solid chunks
of snot blocks their nose
and green icicles of slime
crust mustaches.
They fight to breathe.

Sandburg’s Chicago
is The Land of Lincoln,
Savior of the Union,
protector of the Republic.
Sent armies
of sons and daughters,
barges, boxcars,
gunboats, foodstuffs,
cannon and shot
to raze the south
and stamp out succession.

Old Abe’s biography
are still unknown volumes to me.
I must see and read the great words.
You can never learn enough;
but I’ve been to Washington
and seen the man’s memorial.
The Free World’s 8th wonder,
guarded by General Grant,
who still keeps an eye on Richmond
and a hand on his sword.

Through this American winter
Abe ponders.
The vista he surveys is dire and tragic.

Our sitting President
impeached
for lying about a *******.

Party partisans
in the senate are sworn and seated.
Our Chief Justice,
adorned with golden bars
will adjudicate the proceedings.
It is the perfect counterpoint
to an ageless Abe thinking
with malice toward none
and charity towards all,
will heal the wounds
of the nation.

Abe our granite angel,
Chicago goes on,
The Union is strong!


SECOND DAY

1.
Out my window
the sun has risen.

According to
the local forecast
its minus 9
going up to
6 today.

The lake,
a golden pillow of clouds
is frozen in time.

I marvel
at the ancients ones
resourcefulness
and how
they mastered
these extreme elements.

Past, present and future
has no meaning
in the Citadel
of the Prairie today.

I set my watch
to Central Standard Time.

Stepping into
the hotel lobby
the concierge
with oil smooth hair,
perfect tie
and English lilt
impeccably asks,
“Do you know where you are going Sir?
Can I give you a map?”

He hands me one of Chicago.
I see he recently had his nails done.
He paints a green line
along Whacker Drive and says,
“turn on Jackson, LaSalle, Wabash or Madison
and you’ll get to where you want to go.”
A walk of 14 or 15 blocks from Streeterville-
(I start at The Chicago White House.
They call it that because Hillary Rodham
stays here when she’s in town.
Its’ also alleged that Stedman
eats his breakfast here
but Opra
has never been seen
on the premises.
I wonder how I gained entry
into this place of elite’s?)
-down into the center of The Loop.

Stepping out of the hotel,
The Doorman
sporting the epaulets of a colonel
on his corporate winter coat
and furry Cossack hat
swaddling his round black face
accosts me.

The skin of his face
is flaking from
the subzero windburn.

He asks me
with a gapped toothy grin,
“Can I get you a cab?”
“No I think I’ll walk,” I answer.
“Good woolen hat,
thick gloves you should be alright.”
He winks and lets me pass.

I step outside.
The Windy City
flings stabbing cold spears
flying on wings of 30-mph gusts.
My outside hardens.
I can feel the freeze
deepen
into my internalness.
I can’t be sure
but inside
my heart still feels warm.
For how long
I cannot say.

I commence
my walk
among the spires
of this great city,
the vertical leaps
that anchor the great lake,
holding its place
against the historic
frigid assault.

The buildings’ sway,
modulating to the blows
of natures wicked blasts.

It’s a hard imposition
on a city and its people.

The gloves,
skullcap,
long underwear,
sweater,
jacket
and overcoat
not enough
to keep the cold
from penetrating
the person.

Like discerning
the layers of this city,
even many layers,
still not enough
to understand
the depth of meaning
of the heart
of this heartland city.

Sandburg knew the city well.
Set amidst groves of suburbs
that extend outward in every direction.
Concentric circles
surround the city.
After the burbs come farms,
Great Plains, and mountains.
Appalachians and Rockies
are but mere molehills
in the city’s back yard.
It’s terra firma
stops only at the sea.
Pt. Barrow to the Horn,
many capes extended.

On the periphery
its appendages,
its extremities,
its outward extremes.
All connected by the idea,
blown by the incessant wind
of this great nation.
The Windy City’s message
is sent to the world’s four corners.
It is a message of power.
English the worlds
common language
is spoken here,
along with Ebonics,
Espanol,
Mandarin,
Czech,
Russian,
Korean,
Arabic,
Hindi­,
German,
French,
electronics,
steel,
cars,
cartoons,
rap,
sports­,
movies,
capital,
wheat
and more.

Always more.
Much much more
in Chicago.

2.
Sandburg
spoke all the dialects.

He heard them all,
he understood
with great precision
to the finest tolerances
of a lathe workers micrometer.

Sandburg understood
what it meant to laugh
and be happy.

He understood
the working mans day,
the learned treatises
of university chairs,
the endless tomes
of the city’s
great libraries,
the lost languages
of the ancient ones,
the secret codes
of abstract art,
the impact of architecture,
the street dialects and idioms
of everymans expression of life.

All fighting for life,
trying to build a life,
a new life
in this modern world.

Walking across
the Michigan Avenue Bridge
I see the Wrigley Building
is neatly carved,
catty cornered on the plaza.

I wonder if Old Man Wrigley
watched his barges
loaded with spearmint
and double-mint
move out onto the lake
from one of those Gothic windows
perched high above the street.

Would he open a window
and shout to the men below
to quit slaking and work harder
or would he
between the snapping sound
he made with his mouth
full of his chewing gum
offer them tickets
to a ballgame at Wrigley Field
that afternoon?

Would the men below
be able to understand
the man communing
from such a great height?

I listen to a man
and woman conversing.
They are one step behind me
as we meander along Wacker Drive.

"You are in Chicago now.”
The man states with profundity.
“If I let you go
you will soon find your level
in this city.
Do you know what I mean?”

No I don’t.
I think to myself.
What level are you I wonder?
Are you perched atop
the transmission spire
of the Hancock Tower?

I wouldn’t think so
or your ears would melt
from the windburn.

I’m thinking.
Is she a kept woman?
She is majestically clothed
in fur hat and coat.
In animal pelts
not trapped like her,
but slaughtered
from farms
I’m sure.

What level
is he speaking of?

Many levels
are evident in this city;
many layers of cobbled stone,
Pennsylvania iron,
Hoosier Granite
and vertical drops.

I wonder
if I detect
condensation
in his voice?

What is
his intention?
Is it a warning
of a broken affair?
A pending pink slip?
Advise to an addict
refusing to adhere
to a recovery regimen?

What is his level anyway?
Is he so high and mighty,
Higher and mightier
then this great city
which we are all a part of,
which we all helped to build,
which we all need
in order to keep this nation
the thriving democratic
empire it is?

This seditious talk!

3.
The Loop’s El
still courses through
the main thoroughfares of the city.

People are transported
above the din of the street,
looking down
on the common pedestrians
like me.

Super CEO’s
populating the upper floors
of Romanesque,
Greek Revivalist,
New Bauhaus,
Art Deco
and Post Nouveau
Neo-Modern
Avant-Garde towers
are too far up
to see me
shivering on the street.

The cars, busses,
trains and trucks
are all covered
with the film
of rock salt.

Salt covers
my bootless feet
and smudges
my cloths as well.

The salt,
the primal element
of the earth
covers everything
in Chicago.

It is the true level
of this city.

The layer
beneath
all layers,
on which
everything
rests,
is built,
grows,
thrives
then dies.
To be
returned again
to the lower
layers
where it can
take root
again
and grow
out onto
the great plains.

Splashing
the nation,
anointing
its people
with its
blessing.

A blessing,
Chicago?

All rivers
come here.

All things
found its way here
through the canals
and back bays
of the world’s
greatest lakes.

All roads,
rails and
air routes
begin and
end here.

Mrs. O’Leary’s cow
got a *** rap.
It did not start the fire,
we did.

We lit the torch
that flamed
the city to cinders.
From a pile of ash
Chicago rose again.

Forever Chicago!
Forever the lamp
that burns bright
on a Great Lake’s
western shore!

Chicago
the beacon
sends the
message to the world
with its windy blasts,
on chugging barges,
clapping trains,
flying tandems,
T1 circuits
and roaring jets.

Sandburg knew
a Chicago
I will never know.

He knew
the rhythm of life
the people walked to.
The tools they used,
the dreams they dreamed
the songs they sang,
the things they built,
the things they loved,
the pains that hurt,
the motives that grew,
the actions that destroyed
the prayers they prayed,
the food they ate
their moments of death.

Sandburg knew
the layers of the city
to the depths
and windy heights
I cannot fathom.

The Blues
came to this city,
on the wing
of a chirping bird,
on the taps
of a rickety train,
on the blast
of an angry sax
rushing on the wind,
on the Westend blitz
of Pop's brash coronet,
on the tink of
a twinkling piano
on a paddle-wheel boat
and on the strings
of a lonely man’s guitar.

Walk into the clubs,
tenements,
row houses,
speakeasies
and you’ll hear the Blues
whispered like
a quiet prayer.

Tidewater Blues
from Virginia,
Delta Blues
from the lower
Mississippi,
Boogie Woogie
from Appalachia,
Texas Blues
from some Lone Star,
Big Band Blues
from Kansas City,
Blues from
Beal Street,
Jelly Roll’s Blues
from the Latin Quarter.

Hell even Chicago
got its own brand
of Blues.

Its all here.
It ended up here
and was sent away
on the winds of westerly blows
to the ear of an eager world
on strong jet streams
of simple melodies
and hard truths.

A broad
shouldered woman,
a single mother stands
on the street
with three crying babes.
Their cloths
are covered
in salt.
She pleads
for a break,
praying
for a new start.
Poor and
under-clothed
against the torrent
of frigid weather
she begs for help.
Her blond hair
and ****** features
suggests her
Scandinavian heritage.
I wonder if
she is related to Sandburg
as I walk past
her on the street.
Her feet
are bleeding
through her
canvass sneakers.
Her babes mouths
are zipped shut
with frozen drivel
and mucous.

The Blues live
on in Chicago.

The Blues
will forever live in her.
As I turn the corner
to walk the Miracle Mile
I see her engulfed
in a funnel cloud of salt,
snow and bits
of white paper,
swirling around her
and her children
in an angry
unforgiving
maelstrom.

The family
begins to
dissolve
like a snail
sprinkled with salt;
and a mother
and her children
just disappear
into the pavement
at the corner
of Dearborn,
in Chicago.

Music:

Robert Johnson
Sweet Home Chicago


jbm
Chicago
1/7/99
Added today to commemorate the birthday of Carl Sandburg
Aa Harvey May 2018
All those love songs.


What is the point?  
Get to the point of all of this.
This love that I have to give, I cannot give,
Because nobody wants it.
It holds me back like a world on my back;
At last I think I can just relax
And then it all comes crashing down…
I am flattened into the ground,
Forever falling,
Forever falling,
Forever falling further now.


Now I see a light shining up from beneath,
But it is just a place to be.
Just to exist.
Just to be left waiting, in purgatory,
Leaves me contemplating, forwards or backwards,
There is no difference.
I am inclined to never try again,
But then my stupid heart kicks in with its two cents,
For what it’s worth…


I feel so worthless and helpless, when I think about her.
Her beautiful mind is what I hoped to find,
But all I ever get in this life is lie after lie
And I am denied, so I lie down to cry or sing,
Those sweet songs of misery.


Those love songs that go on and on,
About how she will be loved…
But I have cottoned on;
They are just plain wrong!
All those love songs,
She will never hear me sing…
All those songs.


(C)2017 Aa Harvey. All Rights Reserved.
Michael R Burch Sep 2020
Urdu Poetry: English Translations



You will never comprehend me:
I pour out my feelings; you only read the words!
―original poet unknown, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



Tears are colorless―thank God!―
otherwise my pillow might betray my heart.
―original poet unknown, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



Near Sainthood
by Mirza Ghalib
loose translation/interpretation by Kanu V. Prajapati and Michael R. Burch

On the subject of mystic philosophy, Ghalib,
your words might have struck us as deeply profound ...
Hell, we might have pronounced you a saint,
if only we hadn't found
you drunk
as a skunk!

There are more English translations of poems by Mirza Ghalib later on this page.



Every Once in a While
by Amjad Islam Amjad
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Every once in a while,
immersed in these muggy nights
when all earth’s voices seem to have fallen
into the bruised-purple silence of half-sleep,
I awaken from a wonderful dream
to see through the veil that drifts between us
that you too are companionless and wide awake.



First Rendezvous
by Amjad Islam Amjad
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

This story of the earth
is as old as the universe,
as old as the birth
of the first day and night.

This story of the sky
is included in the words we casually uttered,
you and I,
and yet it remains incomplete, till the end of sight.

This earth and all the scenes it contains
remain witnesses to the moment
when you first held my hand
as we watched the world unfolding, together.

This world
became the focus
for the first rendezvous
between us.



Impossible and Improbable Visions
by Amjad Islam Amjad
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Eyes interpret visions,
rainbow auras waver;
similar scenes appear
different to individual eyes,
as innumerable oases
coexist in one desert
or a single thought acquires
countless shapes.



I Have to Find My Lost Star
by Amjad Islam Amjad
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Searching the emptiest of skies
overflowing with innumerable stars,
I have to find the one
that belongs
to me.

...

Gazing at galaxies beyond galaxies,
all glorious with evolving wonder,
I ponder her name,
finding no sign to remember.

...

Lost things, they say,
are sometimes found
in the same accumulations of dust
where they once vanished.

I have to find the lost star
that belongs to me.



Withered Roses
by Allama Iqbal
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

What words of mine can describe you,
desire of the nightingale's heart?
The morning breeze was your nativity,
the afternoon garden, a tray of perfumes.

My tears welled up like dew,
till in my abandoned heart your rune grew,
this dream-emblem of love:
this spray of withered roses.

There are more English translations of poems by Allama Iqbal later on this page.



Last Night
by Faiz Ahmed Faiz
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Last night, your memory stole into my heart―
as spring sweeps uninvited into barren gardens,
as morning breezes reinvigorate dormant deserts,
as a patient suddenly feels better, for no apparent reason ...

There are more English translations of poems by Faiz Ahmed Faiz later on this page.



Intimacy
by Rahat Indori
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I held the Sun, Stars and Moon at a distance
till the time your hands touched mine.
Now I am not a feather to be easily detached:
instruct the hurricanes and tornados to observe their limits!

There are more English translations of poems by Rahat Indori later on this page.



Strange Currents
by Amir Khusrow
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

O Khusrow, the river of love
creates strange currents—
the one who would surface invariably drowns,
while the one who submerges, survives.

There are more English translations of poems by Amir Khusrow later on this page.



The Eager Traveler
by Ahmad Faraz
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Even in the torture chamber, I was the lucky one;
when each lottery was over, unaccountably I had won.

And even the mightiest rivers found accessible refuge in me;
though I was called an arid desert, I turned out to be the sea.

And how sweetly I remember you—oh, my wild, delectable love!—
as the purest white blossoms bloom, on talented branches above.

And while I’m half-convinced that folks adore me in this town,
still, all the hands I kissed held knives and tried to shake me down.

You lost the battle, my coward friend, my craven enemy,
when, to victimize my lonely soul, you sent a despoiling army.

Lost in the wastelands of vast love, I was an eager traveler,
like a breeze in search of your fragrance, a vagabond explorer.

There are more English translations of poems by Ahmad Faraz later on this page.



The Condition of My Heart
by Munir Niazi
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

It is not necessary for anyone else to get excited:
The condition of my heart is not the condition of hers.
But were we to receive any sort of good news, Munir,
How spectacular compared to earth's mundane sunsets!

There are more English translations of poems by Munir Niazi later on this page.



Failures
by Nida Fazli
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I was unable to relate
the state
of my heart to her,
while she failed to infer
the nuances
of my silences.



Apni Marzi se
by Nida Fazli Shayari
translated by Mandakini Bhattacherya and Michael R. Burch

This journey was not of my making;
As the winds blow, I’m blown along ...
Time and dust are my ancient companions;
Who knows where I’m bound or belong?

There are more English translations of poems by Nida Fazli later on this page.



My Apologies, Sona
by Gulzar
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

My apologies, Sona,
if traversing my verse's terrain
in these torrential rains
inconvenienced you.

The monsoons are unseasonal here.

My poems' pitfalls are sometimes sodden.
Water often overflows these ditches.
If you stumble and fall here, you run the risk
of spraining an ankle.

My apologies, however,
if you were inconvenienced
because my dismal verse lacks light,
or because my threshold's stones
interfered as you passed.

I have often cracked toenails against them!

As for the streetlamp at the intersection,
it remains unlit ... endlessly indecisive.

If you were inconvenienced,
you have my heartfelt apologies!

There are more English translations of poems by Gulzar later on this page.



Come As You Are
by Rabindranath Tagore
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Come as you are, forget appearances!
Is your hair untamable, your part uneven, your bodice unfastened? Never mind.
Come as you are, forget appearances!

Skip with quicksilver steps across the grass.
If your feet glisten with dew, if your anklets slip, if your beaded necklace slides off? Never mind.
Skip with quicksilver steps across the grass.

Do you see the clouds enveloping the sky?
Flocks of cranes erupt from the riverbank, fitful gusts ruffle the fields, anxious cattle tremble in their stalls.
Do you see the clouds enveloping the sky?

You loiter in vain over your toilet lamp; it flickers and dies in the wind.
Who will care that your eyelids have not been painted with lamp-black, when your pupils are darker than thunderstorms?
You loiter in vain over your toilet lamp; it flickers and dies in the wind.

Come as you are, forget appearances!
If the wreath lies unwoven, who cares? If the bracelet is unfastened, let it fall. The sky grows dark; it is late.
Come as you are, forget appearances!



Unfit Gifts
by Rabindranath Tagore
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

At sunrise, I cast my nets into the sea,
dredging up the strangest and most beautiful objects from the depths ...
some radiant like smiles, some glittering like tears, others flushed like brides’ cheeks.
When I returned, staggering under their weight, my love was relaxing in her garden, idly tearing leaves from flowers.
Hesitant, I placed all I had produced at her feet, silently awaiting her verdict.
She glanced down disdainfully, then pouted: "What are these bizarre things? I have no use for them!"
I bowed my head, humiliated, and thought:
"Truly, I did not contend for them; I did not purchase them in the marketplace; they are unfit gifts for her!"
That night I flung them, one by one, into the street, like refuse.
The next morning travelers came, picked them up and carted them off to exotic countries.



The Seashore Gathering
by Rabindranath Tagore
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

On the seashores of endless worlds, earth's children converge.
The infinite sky is motionless, the restless waters boisterous.
On the seashores of endless worlds earth's children gather to dance with joyous cries and pirouettes.
They build sand castles and play with hollow shells.
They weave boats out of withered leaves and laughingly float them out over the vast deep.
Earth's children play gaily on the seashores of endless worlds.
They do not know, yet, how to cast nets or swim.
Divers fish for pearls and merchants sail their ships, while earth's children skip, gather pebbles and scatter them again.
They are unaware of hidden treasures, nor do they know how to cast nets, yet.
The sea surges with laughter, smiling palely on the seashore.
Death-dealing waves sing the children meaningless songs, like a mother lullabying her baby's cradle.
The sea plays with the children, smiling palely on the seashore.
On the seashores of endless worlds earth's children meet.
Tempests roam pathless skies, ships lie wrecked in uncharted waters, death wanders abroad, and still the children play.
On the seashores of endless worlds there is a great gathering of earth's children.



This Dog
by Rabindranath Tagore
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Each morning this dog,
who has become quite attached to me,
sits silently at my feet
until, gently caressing his head,
I acknowledge his company.

This simple recognition gives my companion such joy
he shudders with sheer delight.

Among all languageless creatures
he alone has seen through man entire—
has seen beyond what is good or bad in him
to such a depth he can lay down his life
for the sake of love alone.

Now it is he who shows me the way
through this unfathomable world throbbing with life.

When I see his deep devotion,
his offer of his whole being,
I fail to comprehend ...

How, through sheer instinct,
has he discovered whatever it is that he knows?

With his anxious piteous looks
he cannot communicate his understanding
and yet somehow has succeeded in conveying to me
out of the entire creation
the true loveworthiness of man.



Being
by Momin Khan Momin
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

You are so close to me
that no one else ever can be.

NOTE: There is a legend that the great Urdu poet Mirza Ghalib offered all his diwan (poetry collections) in exchange for this one sher (couplet) by Momin Khan Momin. Does the couplet mean "be as close" or "be, at all"? Does it mean "You are with me in a way that no one else can ever be?" Or does it mean that no one else can ever exist as truly as one's true love? Or does this sher contain an infinite number of elusive meanings, like love itself?



Being (II)
by Momin Khan Momin
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

You alone are with me when I am alone.
You are beside me when I am beside myself.
You are as close to me as everyone else is afar.
You are so close to me that no one else ever can be.



Perhaps
by Momin Khan Momin
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The cohesiveness between us, you may remember or perhaps not.
Our solemn oaths of faithfulness, you may remember, or perhaps forgot.
If something happened that was not to your liking,
the shrinking away that produces silence, you may remember, or perhaps not.
Listen, the sagas of so many years, the promises you made amid time's onslaught,
which you now fail to mention, you may remember or perhaps not.
These new resentments, those often rehashed complaints,
these lighthearted and displeasing stories, you may remember, or perhaps forgot.
Some seasons ago we shared love and desire, we shared joy ...
That we once were dear friends, you may have perhaps forgot.
Now if we come together, by fate or by chance, to express old loyalties ...
Our every shared breath, all our sighs and regrets, you may remember, or perhaps not.



What Happened to Them?
by Nasir Kazmi
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Those who came ashore, what happened to them?
Those who sailed away, what happened to them?

Those who were coming at dawn, when dawn never arrived ...
Those caravans en route, what happened to them?

Those I awaited each night on moonless paths,
Who were meant to light beacons, what happened to them?

Who are these strangers surrounding me now?
All my lost friends and allies, what happened to them?

Those who built these blazing buildings, what happened to them?
Those who were meant to uplift us, what happened to them?

NOTE: This poignant poem was written about the 1947 partition of India into two nations: India and Pakistan. I take the following poem to be about the aftermath of the division.



Climate Change
by Nasir Kazmi
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The songs of our silenced lips are different.
The expressions of our regretful hearts are different.

In milder climes our grief was more tolerable,
But the burdens we bear now are different.

O, walkers of awareness's road, keep your watch!
The obstacles strewn on this stony path are different.

We neither fear separation, nor desire union;
The anxieties of my rebellious heart are different.

In the first leaf-fall only flowers fluttered from twigs;
This year the omens of autumn are different.

This world lacks the depth to understand my heartache;
Please endow me with melodies, for my cry is different!

One disconcerting glance bared my being;
Now in barren fields my visions are different.

No more troops, nor flags. Neither money, nor fame.
The marks of the monarchs on this land are different.

Men are not martyred for their beloveds these days.
The youths of my youth were so very different!



Nasir Kazmi Couplets

When I was a child learning to write
my first scribblings were your name.
―Nasir Kazmi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

When my feet lost the path
where was your hand?
―Nasir Kazmi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Everything I found is yours;
everything I lost is also yours.
―Nasir Kazmi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



Memory
by Faiz Ahmed Faiz, as performed by Iqbal Bano
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

In the wastelands of solitude, my love,
the echoes of your voice quiver,
the mirages of your lips waver.

In the deserts of alienation,
out of the expanses of distance and isolation's debris
the fragrant jasmines and roses of your presence delicately blossom.

Now from somewhere nearby,
the warmth of your breath rises,
smoldering forth an exotic perfume―gently, languorously.

Now far-off, across the distant horizon,
drop by shimmering drop,
fall the glistening dews of your beguiling glances.

With such tenderness and affection—oh my love!—
your memory has touched my heart's cheek so that it now seems
the sun of separation has set; the night of blessed union has arrived.



Speak!
by Faiz Ahmed Faiz
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Speak, if your lips are free.
Speak, if your tongue is still your own.
While your body is still upright,
Speak if your life is still your own.



Tonight
by Faiz Ahmed Faiz
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Do not strike the melancholy chord tonight! Days smoldering
with pain in the end produce only listless ashes ...
and who the hell knows what the future may bring?
Last night’s long lost, tomorrow's horizon’s a wavering mirage.
And how can we know if we’ll see another dawn?
Life is nothing, unless together we make it ring!
Tonight we are love gods! Sing!

Do not strike the melancholy chord tonight!
Don’t harp constantly on human suffering!
Stop complaining; let Fate conduct her song!
Give no thought to the future, seize now, this precious thing!
Shed no more tears for temperate seasons departed!
All sighs of the brokenhearted soon weakly dissipate ... stop dithering!
Oh, do not strike the same flat chord again! Sing!



When Autumn Came
by Faiz Ahmed Faiz
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

So it was that autumn came to flay the trees,
to strip them ****,
to rudely abase their slender dark bodies.

Fall fell in vengeance on the dying leaves,
flung them down to the floor of the forest
where anyone could trample them to mush
undeterred by their sighs of protest.

The birds that herald spring
were exiled from their songs—
the notes ripped from their sweet throats,
they plummeted to the earth below, undone
even before the hunter strung his bow.

Please, gods of May, have mercy!
Bless these disintegrating corpses
with the passion of your resurrection;
allow their veins to pulse with blood again.

Let at least one tree remain green.
Let one bird sing.



Last Night (II)
by Faiz Ahmed Faiz
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Last night, your lost memory returned ...
as spring steals silently into barren gardens,
as cool breezes stir desert sands,
as an ailing man suddenly feels better, for no apparent reason ...

There are more English translations of poems by Faiz Ahmed Faiz later on this page.



Ghazal
by Mirza Ghalib
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Not the blossomings of songs nor the adornments of music:
I am the voice of my own heart breaking.

You toy with your long, dark curls
while I remain captive to my dark, pensive thoughts.

We congratulate ourselves that we two are different
but this weakness has burdened us both with inchoate grief.

Now you are here, and I find myself bowing—
as if sadness is a blessing, and longing a sacrament.

I am a fragment of sound rebounding;
you are the walls impounding my echoes.



The Mistake
by Mirza Ghalib
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

All your life, O Ghalib,
You kept repeating the same mistake:
Your face was *****
But you were obsessed with cleaning the mirror!



Inquiry
by Mirza Ghalib
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The miracle of your absence
is that I found myself endlessly searching for you.



It's Only My Heart!
by Mirza Ghalib
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

It’s only my heart, not unfeeling stone,
so why be dismayed when it throbs with pain?
It was made to suffer ten thousand darts;
why let one more torment impede us?

There are more English translations of poems by Mirza Ghalib later on this page.



Couplets
by Jaun Elia
loose translations by Michael R. Burch

I am strange—so strange
that I self-destructed and don't regret it.
―Jaun Elia, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The wound is deep—companions, friends—embrace me!
What, did you not even bother to stay?
―Jaun Elia, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

My nature is so strange
that today I felt relieved when you didn't arrive.
―Jaun Elia, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Night and day I awaited myself;
now you return me to myself.
―Jaun Elia, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Greeting me this cordially,
have you so easily erased my memory?
―Jaun Elia, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Your lips have provided thousands of answers;
so what is the point of complaining now?
―Jaun Elia, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Perhaps I haven't fallen in love with anyone,
but at least I convinced them!
―Jaun Elia, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The city of mystics has become bizarre:
everyone is wary of majesty, have you heard?
―Jaun Elia, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Did you just say "Love is eternal"?
Is this the end of us?
―Jaun Elia, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

You are drawing very close to me!
Have you decided to leave?
―Jaun Elia, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



Intimacy
by Rahat Indori
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I held the Sun, Stars and Moon at a distance
till the time your hands touched mine.
Now I am not a feather to be easily detached:
instruct the hurricanes and tornados to observe their limits!



The Mad Moon
by Rahat Indori
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Stars have a habit of showing off,
but the mad moon sojourns in darkness.



Body Language
by Rahat Indori
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Your body’s figures are written in cursive!
How will I read you? Hand me the book!



Insatiable
by Rahat Indori
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

This mighty ocean, so deep and vast!
If it sates my thirst, how long can it last?



Honor
by Rahat Indori
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Achievements may fade but the name remains strong;
walls may buckle but the roof stays on.
On a pile of corpses a child stands alone
and declares that his family still lives on!



Dust in the Wind
by Rahat Indori
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

This is how I introduce myself to questioners:
Pick up a handful of dust, then blow ...



Dissembler
by Rahat Indori
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

In your eyes this, in your heart that, on your lips something else?
If this is how you are, impress someone else!



Rumor (M)ill
by Rahat Indori
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I heard rumors my health was bad; still
it was prying people who made me ill.



The Vortex
by Rahat Indori
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I am the river whose rapids form a vortex;
You were wise to avoid my banks.



Homebound
by Rahat Indori
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

If people fear what they meet at every turn,
why do they ever leave the house?



Becoming One
by Amir Khusrow
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I have become you, as you have become me;
I am your body, you my Essence.
Now no one can ever say
that you are someone else,
or that I am anything less than your Presence!



I Am a Pagan
by Amir Khusrow
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I am a pagan disciple of love: I need no creeds.
My every vein has become taut, like a tuned wire.
I do not need the Brahman's girdle.
Leave my bedside, ignorant physician!
The only cure for love is the sight of the patient's beloved:
there is no other medicine he needs!
If our boat lacks a pilot, let there be none:
we have god in our midst: we do not fear the sea!
The people say Khusrow worships idols:
True! True! But he does not need other people's approval;
he does not need the world's.

(My translation above was informed by a translation of Dr. Hadi Hasan.)



Amir Khusrow’s elegy for his mother
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Wherever you shook the dust from your feet
is my relic of paradise!



Paradise
by Amir Khusrow
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

If there is an earthly paradise,
It's here! It's here! It's here!



Mystery
by Munir Niazi
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

She was a mystery:
Her lips were parched ...
but her eyes were two unfathomable oceans.



I continued delaying ...
by Munir Niazi
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I continued delaying ...
the words I should speak
the promises I should keep
the one I should dial
despite her cruel denial

I continued delaying ...
the shoulder I must offer
the hand I must proffer
the untraveled lanes
we may not see again

I continued delaying ...
long strolls through the seasons
for my own selfish reasons
the remembrances of lovers
to erase thoughts of others

I continued delaying ...
to save someone dear
from eternities unclear
to make her aware
of our reality here

I continued delaying ...



Couplets
by Mir Taqi Mir
loose translations by Michael R. Burch

Sharpen the barbs of every thorn, O lunatic desert!
Perhaps another hobbler, limping by on blistered feet, follows me!
―Mir Taqi Mir, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

My life is a bubble,
this world an illusion.
―Mir Taqi Mir, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Selflessness has gotten me nowhere:
I neglected myself far too long.
―Mir Taqi Mir, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I know now that I know nothing,
and it only took me a lifetime to learn!
―Mir Taqi Mir, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Love's just beginning, so why do you whine?
Why not wait and watch how things unwind!
―Mir Taqi Mir, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



Come!
by Gulzar
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Come, let us construct night
over the monumental edifice of silence.
Come, let us clothe ourselves in the winding sheets of darkness,
where we'll ignite our bodies' incandescent wax.
As the midnight dew dances its delicate ballet,
let us not disclose the slightest whispers of our breath!
Lost in night's mists,
let us lie immersed in love's fragrance,
absorbing our bodies' musky aromas!
Let us rise like rustling spirits ...



Old Habits Die Hard
by Gulzar
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The habit of breathing
is an odd tradition.
Why struggle so to keep on living?
The body shudders,
the eyes veil,
yet the feet somehow keep moving.
Why this journey, this restless, relentless flowing?
For how many weeks, months, years, centuries
shall we struggle to keep on living, keep on living?
Habits are such strange things, such hard things to break!



Inconclusive
by Gulzar
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

A body lies on a white bed—
dead, abandoned,
a forsaken corpse they forgot to bury.
They concluded its death was not their concern.
I hope they return and recognize me,
then bury me so I can breathe.



Wasted
by Faiz Ahmed Faiz
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

You have noticed her forehead, her cheeks, her lips ...
In whose imagination I have lost everything.



Countless
by Faiz Ahmed Faiz
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I recounted the world's countless griefs
by recounting your image countless times.



Do Not Ask
by Faiz Ahmed Faiz
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Do not ask, my love, for the love that we shared before:
You existed, I told myself, so existence shone.
For a moment the only light that I knew, alone,
was yours; worldly griefs remained dark, distant, afar.

Spring shone, as revealed in your face, but what did I know?
Beyond your bright eyes, what delights could the sad world hold?
Had I won you, cruel Fate would have ceded, no longer bold.
Yet all this was not to be, though I wished it so.

The world knows sorrows beyond love’s brief dreams betrayed,
and pleasures beyond all sweet, idle ideals of romance:
the dread dark spell of countless centuries and chance
is woven with silk and satin and gold brocade.

Bodies are sold everywhere for a pittance—it’s true!
Besmeared with dirt and bathed in bright oceans of blood,
Crawling from infested ovens, a gory cud.
My gaze returns to you: what else can I do?

Your beauty haunts me still, and will to the last.
But the world is burdened by sorrows beyond those of love,
By pleasures beyond romance.
So please do not demand a love that is over, and past.



O God!
by Qateel Shifai
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Torture my heart, O God!
If you so desire, leave me a madman, O God!

Have I asked for the moon and stars?
Enlighten my heart and give my eyes sight, O God!

We have all seen this disk called the sun,
Now give us a real dawn, O God!

Either relieve our pains here on this earth
Or make my heart granite, O God!



Hereafter
by Qateel Shifai
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Since we met and parted, how can we sleep hereafter?
Lost in each others' remembrance, must we not weep hereafter?

Deluges of our tears will keep us awake all night:
Our eyelashes strung with strands of pearls, hereafter!

Thoughts of our separation will sear our grieving hearts
Unless we immerse them in the cooling moonlight, hereafter!

If the storm also deceives us, crying Qateel!,
We will scuttle our boats near forsaken shores, hereafter.



Picnic
by Parveen Shakir
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

My friends laugh elsewhere on the beach
while I sit here, alone, counting the waves,
writing and rewriting your name in the sand ...



Confession
by Parveen Shakir
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Your image overwhelmed my vision.
As the long nights passed, I became obsessed with your visage.
Then came the moment when I quietly placed my lips to your picture ...



Rain
by Parveen Shakir
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Why shiver alone in the rain, maiden?
Embrace the one in whose warming love your body and mind would be drenched!
There are no rains higher than the rains of Love,
after which the bright rainbows of separation will glow with the mysteries of hues.



My Body's Moods
by Parveen Shakir
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I long for the day when you'll be obsessed with me,
when, forgetting the world, you'll miss me with a passion
and stop complaining about my reticence!
Then I may forget all other transactions and liabilities
to realize my world in your arms,
letting my body's moods guide me.
In that moment beyond boundaries and limitations
as we defy the conventions of veil and turban,
let's try our luck and steal a taste of the forbidden fruit!



Moon
by Parveen Shakir
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

All of us passengers,
we share the same fate.
And yet I'm alone here on earth,
and she alone there in the sky!



Vanity
by Parveen Shakir
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

His world is so simple, so very different from mine.
So distinct—his dreams and desires.
He speaks rarely.
This morning he wrote: "I saw some lovely flowers and thought of you."
Ha! I know my aging face is no orchid ...
but how I wish I could believe whatever he says, however momentarily!



Come
by Ahmad Faraz
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Come, even with anguish, even to torture my heart;
Come, even if only to abandon me to torment again.

Come, if not for our past commerce,
Then to faithfully fulfill the ancient barbaric rituals.

Who else can recite the reasons for our separation?
Come, despite your reluctance, to continue the litanies, the ceremony.

Respect, even if only a little, the depth of my love for you;
Come, someday, to offer me consolation as well.

Too long you have deprived me of the pathos of longing;
Come again, my love, if only to make me weep.

Till now, my heart still suffers some slight expectation;
So come, ***** out even the last flickering torch of hope!



I Cannot Remember
by Ahmad Faraz
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I once was a poet too (you gave life to my words), but now I cannot remember
Since I have forgotten you (my love!), my art too I cannot remember

Yesterday consulting my heart, I learned
that your hair, lips, mouth, I cannot remember

In the city of the intellect insanity is silence
But now your sweet, spontaneous voice, its fluidity, I cannot remember

Once I was unfamiliar with wrecking ***** and ruins
But now the cultivation of gardens, I cannot remember

Now everyone shops at the store selling arrows and quivers
But neglects his own body, the client he cannot remember

Since time has brought me to a desert of such arid forgetfulness
Even your name may perish; I cannot remember

In this narrow state of being, lacking a country,
even the abandonment of my fellow countrymen, I cannot remember



The Infidel
by Mirza Ghalib
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Ten thousand desires: each one worth dying for ...
So many fulfilled, and yet still I yearn for more!

Being in love, for me there was no difference between living and dying ...
and so I lived each dying breath watching you, my lovely Infidel, sighing                       afar.



Ghazal
by Mirza Ghalib
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Life becomes even more complicated
when a man can’t think like a man ...

What irrationality makes me so dependent on her
that I rush off an hour early, then get annoyed when she's "late"?

My lover is so striking! She demands to be seen.
The mirror reflects only her image, yet still dazzles and confounds my eyes.

Love’s stings have left me the deep scar of happiness
while she hovers above me, illuminated.

She promised not to torment me, but only after I was mortally wounded.
How easily she “repents,” my lovely slayer!



Ghazal
by Mirza Ghalib
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

It’s time for the world to hear Ghalib again!
May these words and their shadows like doors remain open.

Tonight the watery mirror of stars appears
while night-blooming flowers gather where beauty rests.

She who knows my desire is speaking,
or at least her lips have recently moved me.

Why is grief the fundamental element of night
when blindness falls as the distant stars rise?

Tell me, how can I be happy, vast oceans from home
when mail from my beloved lies here, so recently opened?



Abstinence?
by Mirza Ghalib
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Let me get drunk in the mosque,
Or show me the place where God abstains!



Step Carefully!
by Mirza Ghalib
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Step carefully Ghalib―this world is merciless!
Here people will "adore" you to win your respect ... or your downfall.



Bleedings
by Mirza Ghalib
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Love requires patience but lust is relentless;
what colors must my heart bleed before it expires?

There are more English translations of poems by Mirza Ghalib later on this page.



No Explanation! (I)
by Ahmad Faraz
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Please don't ask me how deeply it hurt!
Her sun shone so bright, even the shadows were burning!



No Explanation! (II)
by Ahmad Faraz
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Please don't ask me how it happened!
She didn't bind me, nor did I free myself.



Alone
by Ahmad Faraz
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Why are you sad that she goes on alone, Faraz?
After all, you said yourself that she was unique!



Separation
by Ahmad Faraz
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Faraz, if it were easy to be apart,
would Angels have to separate body from soul?



Time
by Ahmad Faraz
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

What if my face has more wrinkles than yours?
I am merely well-worn by Time!



Miraji Epigrams

I'm obsessed with this thought:
does God possess mercy?
―Miraji, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Come, see this dance, the immaculate dance of the devadasi!
―Miraji, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



Excerpts from “Going, Going ...”
by Miraji
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Each unfolding vista,
each companion’s kindnesses,
every woman’s subtle sorceries,
everything that transiently lies within our power
quickly dissolves
and we are left with only a cupped flame, flickering ...
Should we call that “passion”?

The moon scrapes the horizon
and who can measure a star’s breadth?

The time allotted a life, if we calculate it,
is really only a fleeting breath ...



1.
Echoes of an ancient prophecy:
after my life has come and gone,
perhaps someone
hearing my voice drifting
on the breeze of some future spring
will chase after my songs
like dandelions.
—Miraji, translation by Michael R. Burch

2.
Echoes of an ancient prophecy:
after my life has come and gone,
perhaps someone
hearing my voice drifting
through some distant future spring
will pluck my songs
like dandelions.
—Miraji, translation by Michael R. Burch

3.
Echoes of an ancient prophecy:
when my life has come and gone,
and when I’m dead and done,
perhaps someone
hearing me sing
in a distant spring
will echo my songs
the whole world over.
—Miraji, translation by Michael R. Burch

If I understand things correctly, Miraji wrote the lines above after translating a verse by Sappho in which she said that her poems would be remembered in the future. I suspect both poets and both prophecies were correct!




Every Day and in Every Direction
by Nida Fazli
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Everywhere and in every direction we see innumerable people:
each man a victim of his own loneliness, reticence and silences.
From dawn to dusk men carry enormous burdens:
all preparing graves for their soon-to-be corpses.
Each day a man lives, the same day he dies.
Each new day requires the same old patience.
In every direction there are roads for him to roam,
but in every direction, men victimize men.
Every day a man dies many deaths only to resurrect from his ashes.
Each new day presents new challenges.
Life's destiny is not fixed, but a series of journeys:
thus, till his last breath, a man remains restless.



Couplets
by Nida Fazli
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

It was my fate to entangle and sink myself
because I am a boat and my ocean lies within.
―Nida Fazli, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

You were impossible to forget once you were gone:
hell, I remembered you most when I tried to forget you!
―Nida Fazli, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Don't squander these pearls:
such baubles may ornament sleepless nights!
―Nida Fazli, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The world is like a deck of cards on a gambling table:
some of us are bound to loose while others cash in.
―Nida Fazli, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

There is a proper protocol for everything in this world:
when visiting gardens never force butterflies to vacate their flowers!
―Nida Fazli, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Since I lack the courage to commit suicide,
I have elected to bother people with my life a bit longer.
―Nida Fazli, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



Changing Seasons
by Noshi Gillani
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Each changing season
reveals something
concealed by her fears:
an escape route from this island
illuminated by her tears.



Dust
by Bahadur Shah Zafar or Muztar Khairabadi
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Unable to light anyone's eye
or to comfort anyone's heart ...
I am nothing but a handful of dust.



Piercings
by Firaq Gorakhpuri
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

No one ever belonged to anyone else for a lifetime.
We cannot own another's soul.
The beauty we see and the love we feel are only illusions.
All my life I tried to save myself from the piercings of your eyes ...
But I failed and the daggers ripped right through me.



Salvation
Mohammad Ibrahim Zauq
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Anxious and fatigued, I consider the salvation of death ...
But if there is no peace in the grave,
where can I go to be saved?



Child of the Century
by Abdellatif Laâbi (a Moroccan poet)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I’m a child of this dreary century, a child who never grew up.
Doubts that ignited my tongue singed my wings.
I learned to walk, then I unlearned progress.
I grew weary of oases and camels infatuated with ruins.
My head inclined East only to occupy the middle of the road
as I awaited the insane caravans.



Nostalgia
by Abdulla Pashew (a Kurdish poet)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

How I desire the heavens!
Each solitary star lights the way to a tryst.

How I desire the sky!
Standing alone, remote, the sky is as vast as any ocean.

How I desire love's heavenly scent!
When each enticing blossom releases its essence.



Oblivion
by Al-Saddiq Al-Raddi (an African poet who writes in Arabic)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Discard your pen
before you start reading;
consider the ink,
how it encompasses bleeding.

Learn from the horizon
through eyes' narrowed slits
the limitations of vision
and hands' treacherous writs.

Do not blame me,
nor indeed anyone,
if you expire before
your reading is done.



In Medias Res
by Shaad Azimabadi
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

When I heard the story of my life recounted,
I caught only the middle of the tale.
I remain unaware of the beginning or end.



Debt Relief
by Piyush Mishra
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

We save Sundays for our loved ones ...
all other days we slave to repay debts.



Reoccurrence
by Amrita Bharati (a Hindi poet)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

It was a woman's heart speaking,
that had been speaking for eons ...

It was a woman's heart silenced,
that had been silenced for centuries ...

And between them loomed a mountain
that a man or a rat gnawed at, even in times of amity ...
gnawing at the screaming voice,
at the silent tongue,
from the primeval day.



Don't Approach Me
by Arif Farhad
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Don't approach me here by the river of time
where I flop like a fish in a net!



Intoxicants
by Amrut Ghayal (a Gujarati poet)
translation by Kanu V. Prajapati and Michael R. Burch

O, my contrary mind!
You're such a fool, afraid to drink the fruit of the vine!
But show me anything universe-designed
that doesn't intoxicate, like wine.



I’m like a commodity being priced in the market-place:
every eye ogles me like a buyer’s.
—Majrooh Sultanpuri, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

If you insist, I’ll continue playing my songs,
forever piping the flute of my heart.
—Majrooh Sultanpuri, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The moon has risen once again, yet you are not here.
My heart is a blazing pyre; what do I do?
—Majrooh Sultanpuri, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



Drunk on Love
by Mirza Ghalib
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Drunk on love, I made her my God.
She quickly informed me that God belongs to no man!

Exiles
by Mirza Ghalib
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Often we have heard of Adam's banishment from Eden,
but with far greater humiliation, I abandon your garden.

To Whom Shall I Complain?
by Mirza Ghalib
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

To whom shall I complain when I am denied Good Fortune in acceptable measure?
Dementedly, I demanded Death, but was denied even that dubious pleasure!



Ghazal
by Mirza Ghalib
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

You should have stayed a little longer;
you left all alone, so why not linger?

We’ll meet again, you said, some day similar to this one,
as if such days can ever recur, not vanish!

You left our house as the moon abandons night's skies,
as the evening light abandons its earlier surmise.

You hated me: a wife abnormally distant, unknown;
you left me before your children were grown.

Only fools ask why old Ghalib still clings to breath
when his fate is to live desiring death.



How strange has life become:
Our evenings drag out, yet our years keep flashing by!
―original poet unknown, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



Life Advice
by Allama Iqbal
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

This passive nature will not allow you to survive;
If you want to live, raise a storm!



O, Colorful Rose!
by Allama Iqbal
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

You are not troubled with solving enigmas
O, beautiful Rose! nor do you have sublime feelings in your heart

Though you ornament the assembly, still you flower apart
(In life's assembly I am not permitted such comforts)

In my garden I am the complete orchestra of longing
While your life is devoid of love's passionate warmth

To pluck you from the branch is not my custom
(I am not blinded by mere appearances)

O, colorful rose this hand is not your tormentor
(I am no callous flower picker!)

I am no intern to analyze you with scientific eyes
Like a lover, I see you with nightingales' eyes

Despite your innumerable tongues, you have chosen silence
What secrets, O Rose, lie concealed in your *****?

Like me you're a leaf from the garden of Ñër
Far from the garden I am, far from the garden we both are

You are content, but I am a scattered fragrance
Pierced by the sword of love in my quest

This turmoil within me might be a means of fulfillment
This torment, a source of illumination

My frailty might be the beginning of strength
My envy might mirror the cup of divination

My constant vigil is a world-illuminating candle
And teaches this steed, the human intellect, to gallop



Bright Rose
by Allama Iqbal
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

You cannot loosen the heart's knot;
perhaps you have no heart,
no share in the chaos

of this garden, where I yearn (for what?)
but harvest no roses.
Of what use to me is wisdom?

Having abandoned the garden,
you are at peace, while I remain anxious,
disconsolate in my terror.

Perhaps Jamshid's empty cup
foretold the future, but may wine
never satisfy my mouth,

till I find you in the mirror.

Jamshid's empty cup: Jamshid saw the reflection of future events in a wine cup.



Coal to Diamond
Allama Iqbal, after Nietzsche
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

My flesh is so vile, I am less than dust
while your brilliance out-blazes the mirror's heart.
My darkness defiles the chafing-dish
before my cremation; a miner's boot
tramples my cranium; I'm covered with ashes.

Do you know my life's bleak essence?
Condensations of smoke, black clouds stillborn
from a single spark; while in feature and nature
starlike, your every facet's a splendor—
gleam of the King's crown, the scepter's jewel.

"Please, friend, be wise," the diamond replied,
"assume a gemlike dignity! Carbon must harden,
to fill one's ***** with radiance. Burn
because you are soft. Banish fear and grief.
Be hard as stone, be diamond."



Firefly
by Allama Iqbal
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

A candle among roses
In the evening garden
A shooting star
A flash of the moon's gown
A spark of the sun's hem
In syncopated eclipse

Emissary of day
In night's dark kingdom
Unseen at home
Lucid in exile
Opposite of the moth,
The firefly is light



The Age of Infancy
by Allama Iqbal
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The earth and sky remained unknown to me
The expanse of my mother's ***** was my only world

Her every movement communicated life's pleasures to me
Yet my own voice conveyed only meaningless words

During infancy's pain, if someone made me cry
The clank of the door chain would comfort me

Oh! How I stared at the moon those long, lonely hours,
Regarding its silent journey through broken clouds

I would ask repeatedly about its mountains and plains
Only to be surprised by some prudent lie

My eye was devoted to seeing, my lips to speech
My heart was inquisitiveness personified



Fiction
by Allama Iqbal
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

"Why didn't you make me immortal?"
Beauty asked God, perplexed.

God, vexed,
replied: "The world is a fiction fashioned from emptiness.

You were born bright, ever-changing:
true beauty is transient, estranging."

The moon picked up their discord
and beamed it on to the morning star

who informed dawn's clouds of her dark secret.
The dew overheard it all, formed a tear

and drenched the shivering rose petals
(now survived by the hardier nettles).


Destiny
by Allama Iqbal
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Isn't it futile to complain about God's will,
When you are your own destiny?



Excerpts from "The Tulip of Sinai"
by Allama Iqbal
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

1

My heart is bright, from burning inwardly.
My eyes weep blood, for all the world to see.
Am I the fool, or is it only he
Who calls all Love mere wild insanity!

3

Love grants the garden gentle gusts of May.
Love teaches the meadow flowers to be gay.
Love rockets bright rays deep into the sea
So that fishes' schools can find their way.

4

Love reckons the price of eagles cheap.
Love surrenders pheasants to the falcons’ steep
Murderous dives. Our offended hearts weep
till suddenly, out of ambush, Love leaps!

5

Love provides the tulip petals’ hue.
Love stirs the bitter spirit’s rue.
And, could you cleave this clod of carrion clay,
You would behold Love’s bloodshed too.

7

A spent scent in a garden: men expire.
I know not what I seek, no, nor require.
But whether I am satisfied, or starved,
Still here I burn: a martyr to desire.

13

How long, my heart, will you be like the moth,
Infatuated with a bit of cloth
Or winking flame? Just once, my foolish heart,
Be fully consumed in yourself, or else depart.



Excerpts from "Cordoba"
by Allama Iqbāl
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I

Linker of day and night,
Creator of events,
Foundation of life and death,
Two-toned silken thread,
Weaver of possibilities,
Suggester of future prospects ...

Linker of day and night,
sitting in judgment over us,
determining our worth
whenever we're lacking ...

Death, man's destiny.
Death, my destiny.
Is there any other reality?

The pulse of an age,
caught between day and night
as all human works vanish,
as black and white blur,
annihilation, our end

II

And yet in this form:
hints of Eternity,
of the splendor of Love ...

Love, life's foundation!
Death has no power over Love!

Love, the tide, the greater torrent,
Love, the nameless eons,
Love, Gabriel's breath,
Love, God's Prophet,
Love, the Word of God,
Love, the radiant rose,
Love, the transcendent wine,
Love, the royal goblet,
Love, life's music,
Love, life's passion,
Love, desire's inferno.

III

O, Mosque of Cordoba,
born of Love with no prior existence,
nor color nor mortar nor stone,
nor lyre nor song nor sermon ...

O, man's passionate creation!
As a drop of blood turns
cold stone into beating hearts,
so the heart fills with joy,
illumination and melody.

You brighten my heart;
my song wells up in my breast!
You lead a man's heart
Into God's loving presence!

But man's passionate love
for God is man's alone:
you ignite a man's desire,
although his sight is finite,
to seek the Infinite.

His heart's more expansive than the sky!
So what if God's desires rule?
He doesn't ordain man's pain!

I am an Oriental infidel:
witness the fervor
of my heart's prayers,
of these blessings on my lips.

Love, my lyre!
Love, my song!
My every bone singing
"God is God!"

IV

You witness man's worth.
Your glory reflects his.
Your stone columns soar.
Your palms freshen Syrian sands.
Sinai's rooftops gleam.
Gabriel enobles the minaret.

Muslims can never despair
standing in the place of the Prophets,
their horizons infinite
as the Tigris, Danube and Nile surge through their veins.

Cup-bearers and stallion-riders,
warriors of Love
armored with swords of Love, crying:
"There is no god but God!"

V

You reveal man's destiny:
his days' ardor,
his nights' dissolution,
his submission to God's will.

So it is with believers:
a man prospers according to his deeds.

He is both clay and fire,
Divinely seared within
and free to inhabit both worlds,
whether small in ambition
or with immense purposes.

Pure-hearted whether in war or peace.

God's compass eternally revolves
around a man's faith
because this world is illusion
and the man of faith is reason's horizon,
Love's firstfruits,
The fire of the ingathering,
Heaven's passion.



Keywords/Tags: Urdu, translation, love poetry, desire, passion, longing, romance, romantic, God, heaven, mrburdu
A pixie marching band took their show on the road.
17 tiny horn players and a drummer
with a button for a snare.
Across the water they walked,
regimented in three lines,
playing "Has The Day So Quickly Ended" to the rhythm of water splashing
on finely cobbled pixie shoes.
Tireless they moved forward
across an entire ocean
seeking comfort and solitude of Icelandic shores.
Unnoticed by the many captains of the many ships they slipped by, their music nothing more than crickets chirping or the ringing in their ears.

It was a long journey and they never stopped playing once.
Seven hundred and seventy-six songs in their repertoire
they played each one at least twice as days turned to night
and the cycle would need to be repeated
Every pixie musician in the band had every one of those songs memorized
you could call the tune
at any time
day or night
he would pick up his pixie instrument and play it note perfect.
Not a single mistake.

Legendary songs of pixie lore, like "Call The Wild Dogs to Anglicize", "Too Many Curtains" and "Fill Your Cup With Salty Seltzer".
Popular pixie songs all pixies knew, like "Bertha You're a Hard Act to Follow", "Dropped My Horn in the Bay of Pigs", "Livestock", "Ain't No One Answerin' the Phone" and "Drop Yer Pillow, Samuel".
Sacred pixie songs celebrated their common faith in the one true God, like "God, There Ain't No Other God", "Our God Sails the Seven Seas" and "God Help the Fool Who Fools His God".
Pixie drinking songs, "Bottoms Up", "Can You Hear the Weeping Warm Beer?", "1-2-3 Let's All Get Drunk", "Pixie Drinking Song" and "Hustle That Swill".

A lot of songs.
A lot of moods.
A lot of reasons to go  home to Iceland,
as if they needed any besides the food.

The pixie band was pushing three-quarters of the marching journey across the ocean
when Big Jim Pixie turned around and scolded Billy Joe the trombone player.

"Bill, you clumsy *******!" barked Big Jim. "You just about hit me in the back of the head with that ******* trombone slide! Do I have to tell you what I'm going to do to you if you actually graze me with that spit-drippin' thang?"

Billy Joe, typically soft spoken, was not having any of this.

"It was a flying fish that whisked up 'gainst the side of yer noggin, not my slide. If I was of a mind to bean you with this here slide you'd be rubbing the back of your head right now and you'd be so shook up you wouldn't even know it was me that done it."

"You sure do talk tough now, don't ye?" asked Big Jim, reluctantly realizing that it could well have been a flying fish but not yet willing to let the trombone player off the hook. "Don't make me turn around cuz if I do you are going to be in the market for a new trombone."

"That's a well may be, Jim-Jim, but the hand that holds the pen that signs the check that pays for it is going to be yours. Let that stand as a natural fact."

If there's one thing in the world Big Jim didn't like being called
it was Jim-Jim.
Billy Joe was always calling him Jim-Jim because he knew it bugged him.
The pixies in the company had all used variations on his name when referring to him in the past  
Jimbo Johnson,
Johnny Jimson,
Little Jim Big Jim,
Jimmy Jolson,
George Jimson,
Son James the Ham Chef,
Carl Jim Has Been,
King James Version Abridged,
James Wainright Teller,
Jim the Traitor,
Jim the Christ Killer,
Jim the Destroyer of the World,
Jim the Enemy of the Known Universe  
each one of these appellations rankled him but none so thoroughly as the simple
Jim Jim
that Billy Joe would call him.

"I ain't payin' a ******* cent, trombone player."

"Then you ain't breakin' my trombone, Jimmy Jack Jehosaphath."

"Don't test me, you may have to arrest me."

"I'll bring you a file so you can get out of jail, Jim Jim".

"Well that's mighty white of you, pixie. Now what are you gonna do if that spit valve was leakin' and you got some of your nasty ebola saliva on the back of m'neck? You gonna come visit me in the hospital?"

"I might. But then again I might just wait and come visit your grave when they put you down."

"Joe, if we weren't still marchin' I swear to almighty God I would turn around and beat you so bad they'll be countin' a man short when we finally get home."

"Jim Jim, them's fightin' words but you ain't never fought nothing no tougher than the urge to **** in public. You ain't gonna do no permanent damage to me nor my trombone here. So why don't you put your money where your mouth is or keep that mouth shut?"

Big Jim turned around
hit Little Joe hard square between the eyes.
He heard and felt bone crack.

Joe looked stunned.
He'd never call that mean ******* Jim Jim again.
No,
never again
because he hit the water hard and sank down as the band marched right over him,
most not even noticing.

Jim looked for as long as he could then turned around and proceeded to march the rest of the way to Iceland.

"Don't call me Jim Jim," he said, speaking only to himself.

Then he heard a voice in the back of his head.
It was loud enough to be heard over the
music
and
the waves
and
the ocean breeze.

It was HIS voice,
but he had no control over it whatsoever.

"Jim Jim."

"Jim Jim."

"Jim Jim."

...and so it was Big Jim, whose trumpet playing had practically defined the style of this particular pixie band, lost his mind, eventually taking up residence in a Reykjavik sanitarium screaming every night, keeping up the attendants and making things worse.

"Little Joe Jangly Hops! Come here you ******* I got a lollipop for ya."

"Joe Joe Deathgrip Toenail! I'm gonna light your mama on fire!"

"Little Joe Clamfry, somebody took a **** in your bed!"

On and on he went until the people in the kitchen stopped giving him bananas. Then he stopped for awhile.

But only for awhile.

— The End —