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sabrina paesler May 2015
I’ve tattooed a line across
the veins of my wrist
and marked a down stroke
for every time
“you can’t wear red lipstick”
made me believe
I never wanted to in the first place.

for every time instead
I’ve stained my lips with cherries
learning how to tie the stems
so I can slip forget-me-knots
to the back of your throat—
do you feel my restriction now?

the razors that fly off my tongue
perk thorns on my skin,
another down stroke on my wrist
will teach me that
you were right,
shyness is a virtue.

no need to speak,
go spend one hundred dollars
and some percent for tax
to cover up,
even though I’m sure your mother told you
that cotton stains.

so make it black.
get your hair stuck
in the zipper of that sundress
and pray as you pull it out
that it will lose its pigmentation
in the process
mark a down stroke
for killing two flowers
for one bouquet.

hold it
close your eyes and throw it back,
I know we shouldn’t be wearing white anyway
but tradition can take a lot out of you
like what you really think—
don’t say **** in public.

instead drag your first impressions
all the way to the altar
and dress in your Sunday best
a flower on your lapel
clear on your lips
a stroke for the neat decline
of the son

I tattooed a line across
the veins of my wrist
and marked a down stroke
for every time
my image
was my fault.
Shofi Ahmed Mar 2017
As wide open as the sea
as resonant as the waves
splashing on the beach.
For a moment or so I was
pondering so full as the sea
what has it left to tally
with as empty as the the beach?
Nat Lipstadt Feb 2015
this is a very important poem to me,
about me, and how Obama slurred my people. and never apologized

<•>

there are mornings when I wake up
in my nativity,
in my born/bred,
these struggling to be happy,
United States,
strangely hebrew-speaking,
Jamaican coffee
morning-thinking,
tallying up
what I am,
who I am,
commanded to be,
on this Earth

the labels that the
outward-looking apply,
the tags,
that you have caused
yourself to be defined,
been staked
to your claim,
in infamy and in fame,
that you have
by action and indeed,

have allow
to be presented
as entries on your
global entry passport,
with visas from the
lows and highs,
places where
your have sinned and saved,
all the acts accumulated,
and those,
in pain,
you have been a witness to

word titles that
tinge and suffuse,
summation of my presentation,
sampler of words
like
father, poet,
American,
even,
a for-real
community organizer,
and of course,
bien sûr,
a
Jew

the quality of all these life's papers,
which I grade myself,
I,
the harshest marker
of all

once a young man,
safely away in college,
under the fresh-air freedom of the
university's in loco parentis,
in the early years
spent quantifying oneself

nearly fifty years ago,
now he,
revealed and recalled
when
his college typed-letter,
lately uncovered amidst his,
recently passed mother's papers

"Don't know what kind of
Jew
I will be, but be assured,
that I will be a
Jew
all my life"

so here I am doing my post-sabbath,
top of the week,
right it down,
qualifying myself,
coffee enraged engaged,
a new Sunday tally

taking all my terms,
reordering,
re-prior-itizing,
what was prior, first,
is no longer

decades decay,
events sway,
simple words change me, stain me

nearing on five decades later,
when this
son of speakers,
son of humanists and 
son of
 writers,
son of proud
Jews
rewrites his list

today I write/substitute,
a new order,
a tag gladly taken,
a marker given,
some what in pride,
some in shame too,
first and foremost,
à la manière d'Lincoln
I am
of, by and for

"a bunch of folks in a deli"

proud member of them
that so identify,
for they are among those
that shall not perish from the Earth

those
happenstance-not,
bunch of folks in a deli,
I claim as
mine own,
as they would
have claimed me

no subtly professed,
a diminishment intended,
and now
an honorific taken,
Medal of Honor provoked and embraced,
proudly inscribed,
visible on my forehead,
in the black ink of mourning,
a Presidential Cain Citation,
a tattoo of letters,
not numbers,
now moves up to
head of the list,
I am
now and forever,
a member of that corps
(appreciate that double entendre)
I am
Je suis
JE JUIF

*"a bunch of folks in a deli"
Just google that phrase

Obama’s slur
1

When lilacs last in the door-yard bloom’d,
And the great star early droop’d in the western sky in the night,
I mourn’d—and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.

O ever-returning spring! trinity sure to me you bring;
Lilac blooming perennial, and drooping star in the west,
And thought of him I love.

2

O powerful, western, fallen star!
O shades of night! O moody, tearful night!
O great star disappear’d! O the black murk that hides the star!
O cruel hands that hold me powerless! O helpless soul of me!
O harsh surrounding cloud, that will not free my soul!

3

In the door-yard fronting an old farm-house, near the white-wash’d palings,
Stands the lilac bush, tall-growing, with heart-shaped leaves of rich green,
With many a pointed blossom, rising, delicate, with the perfume strong I love,
With every leaf a miracle……and from this bush in the door-yard,
With delicate-color’d blossoms, and heart-shaped leaves of rich green,
A sprig, with its flower, I break.

4

In the swamp, in secluded recesses,
A shy and hidden bird is warbling a song.

Solitary, the thrush,
The hermit, withdrawn to himself, avoiding the settlements,
Sings by himself a song.

Song of the bleeding throat!
Death’s outlet song of life—(for well, dear brother, I know
If thou wast not gifted to sing, thou would’st surely die.)

5

Over the breast of the spring, the land, amid cities,
Amid lanes, and through old woods, (where lately the violets peep’d from the ground, spotting the gray debris;)
Amid the grass in the fields each side of the lanes—passing the endless grass;
Passing the yellow-spear’d wheat, every grain from its shroud in the dark-brown fields uprising;
Passing the apple-tree blows of white and pink in the orchards;
Carrying a corpse to where it shall rest in the grave,
Night and day journeys a coffin.

6

Coffin that passes through lanes and streets,
Through day and night, with the great cloud darkening the land,
With the pomp of the inloop’d flags, with the cities draped in black,
With the show of the States themselves, as of crape-veil’d women, standing,
With processions long and winding, and the flambeaus of the night,
With the countless torches lit—with the silent sea of faces, and the unbared heads,
With the waiting depot, the arriving coffin, and the sombre faces,
With dirges through the night, with the thousand voices rising strong and solemn;
With all the mournful voices of the dirges, pour’d around the coffin,
The dim-lit churches and the shuddering organs—Where amid these you journey,
With the tolling, tolling bells’ perpetual clang;
Here! coffin that slowly passes,
I give you my sprig of lilac.

7

(Nor for you, for one, alone;
Blossoms and branches green to coffins all I bring:
For fresh as the morning—thus would I carol a song for you, O sane and sacred death.

All over bouquets of roses,
O death! I cover you over with roses and early lilies;
But mostly and now the lilac that blooms the first,
Copious, I break, I break the sprigs from the bushes;
With loaded arms I come, pouring for you,
For you, and the coffins all of you, O death.)

8

O western orb, sailing the heaven!
Now I know what you must have meant, as a month since we walk’d,
As we walk’d up and down in the dark blue so mystic,
As we walk’d in silence the transparent shadowy night,
As I saw you had something to tell, as you bent to me night after night,
As you droop’d from the sky low down, as if to my side, (while the other stars all look’d on;)
As we wander’d together the solemn night, (for something, I know not what, kept me from sleep;)
As the night advanced, and I saw on the rim of the west, ere you went, how full you were of woe;
As I stood on the rising ground in the breeze, in the cold transparent night,
As I watch’d where you pass’d and was lost in the netherward black of the night,
As my soul, in its trouble, dissatisfied, sank, as where you, sad orb,
Concluded, dropt in the night, and was gone.

9

Sing on, there in the swamp!
O singer bashful and tender! I hear your notes—I hear your call;
I hear—I come presently—I understand you;
But a moment I linger—for the lustrous star has detain’d me;
The star, my departing comrade, holds and detains me.

10

O how shall I warble myself for the dead one there I loved?
And how shall I deck my song for the large sweet soul that has gone?
And what shall my perfume be, for the grave of him I love?

Sea-winds, blown from east and west,
Blown from the eastern sea, and blown from the western sea, till there on the prairies meeting:
These, and with these, and the breath of my chant,
I perfume the grave of him I love.

11

O what shall I hang on the chamber walls?
And what shall the pictures be that I hang on the walls,
To adorn the burial-house of him I love?

Pictures of growing spring, and farms, and homes,
With the Fourth-month eve at sundown, and the gray smoke lucid and bright,
With floods of the yellow gold of the gorgeous, indolent, sinking sun, burning, expanding the air;
With the fresh sweet herbage under foot, and the pale green leaves of the trees prolific;
In the distance the flowing glaze, the breast of the river, with a wind-dapple here and there;
With ranging hills on the banks, with many a line against the sky, and shadows;
And the city at hand, with dwellings so dense, and stacks of chimneys,
And all the scenes of life, and the workshops, and the workmen homeward returning.

12

Lo! body and soul! this land!
Mighty Manhattan, with spires, and the sparkling and hurrying tides, and the ships;
The varied and ample land—the South and the North in the light—Ohio’s shores, and flashing Missouri,
And ever the far-spreading prairies, cover’d with grass and corn.

Lo! the most excellent sun, so calm and haughty;
The violet and purple morn, with just-felt breezes;
The gentle, soft-born, measureless light;
The miracle, spreading, bathing all—the fulfill’d noon;
The coming eve, delicious—the welcome night, and the stars,
Over my cities shining all, enveloping man and land.

13

Sing on! sing on, you gray-brown bird!
Sing from the swamps, the recesses—pour your chant from the bushes;
Limitless out of the dusk, out of the cedars and pines.

Sing on, dearest brother—warble your reedy song;
Loud human song, with voice of uttermost woe.

O liquid, and free, and tender!
O wild and loose to my soul! O wondrous singer!
You only I hear……yet the star holds me, (but will soon depart;)
Yet the lilac, with mastering odor, holds me.

14

Now while I sat in the day, and look’d forth,
In the close of the day, with its light, and the fields of spring, and the farmer preparing his crops,
In the large unconscious scenery of my land, with its lakes and forests,
In the heavenly aerial beauty, (after the perturb’d winds, and the storms;)
Under the arching heavens of the afternoon swift passing, and the voices of children and women,
The many-moving sea-tides,—and I saw the ships how they sail’d,
And the summer approaching with richness, and the fields all busy with labor,
And the infinite separate houses, how they all went on, each with its meals and minutia of daily usages;
And the streets, how their throbbings throbb’d, and the cities pent—lo! then and there,
Falling upon them all, and among them all, enveloping me with the rest,
Appear’d the cloud, appear’d the long black trail;
And I knew Death, its thought, and the sacred knowledge of death.

15

Then with the knowledge of death as walking one side of me,
And the thought of death close-walking the other side of me,
And I in the middle, as with companions, and as holding the hands of companions,
I fled forth to the hiding receiving night, that talks not,
Down to the shores of the water, the path by the swamp in the dimness,
To the solemn shadowy cedars, and ghostly pines so still.

And the singer so shy to the rest receiv’d me;
The gray-brown bird I know, receiv’d us comrades three;
And he sang what seem’d the carol of death, and a verse for him I love.

From deep secluded recesses,
From the fragrant cedars, and the ghostly pines so still,
Came the carol of the bird.

And the charm of the carol rapt me,
As I held, as if by their hands, my comrades in the night;
And the voice of my spirit tallied the song of the bird.

DEATH CAROL.

16

Come, lovely and soothing Death,
Undulate round the world, serenely arriving, arriving,
In the day, in the night, to all, to each,
Sooner or later, delicate Death.

Prais’d be the fathomless universe,
For life and joy, and for objects and knowledge curious;
And for love, sweet love—But praise! praise! praise!
For the sure-enwinding arms of cool-enfolding Death.

Dark Mother, always gliding near, with soft feet,
Have none chanted for thee a chant of fullest welcome?

Then I chant it for thee—I glorify thee above all;
I bring thee a song that when thou must indeed come, come unfalteringly.

Approach, strong Deliveress!
When it is so—when thou hast taken them, I joyously sing the dead,
Lost in the loving, floating ocean of thee,
Laved in the flood of thy bliss, O Death.

From me to thee glad serenades,
Dances for thee I propose, saluting thee—adornments and feastings for thee;
And the sights of the open landscape, and the high-spread sky, are fitting,
And life and the fields, and the huge and thoughtful night.

The night, in silence, under many a star;
The ocean shore, and the husky whispering wave, whose voice I know;
And the soul turning to thee, O vast and well-veil’d Death,
And the body gratefully nestling close to thee.

Over the tree-tops I float thee a song!
Over the rising and sinking waves—over the myriad fields, and the prairies wide;
Over the dense-pack’d cities all, and the teeming wharves and ways,
I float this carol with joy, with joy to thee, O Death!

17

To the tally of my soul,
Loud and strong kept up the gray-brown bird,
With pure, deliberate notes, spreading, filling the night.

Loud in the pines and cedars dim,
Clear in the freshness moist, and the swamp-perfume;
And I with my comrades there in the night.

While my sight that was bound in my eyes unclosed,
As to long panoramas of visions.

18

I saw askant the armies;
And I saw, as in noiseless dreams, hundreds of battle-flags;
Borne through the smoke of the battles, and pierc’d with missiles, I saw them,
And carried hither and yon through the smoke, and torn and ******;
And at last but a few shreds left on the staffs, (and all in silence,)
And the staffs all splinter’d and broken.

I saw battle-corpses, myriads of them,
And the white skeletons of young men—I saw them;
I saw the debris and debris of all the dead soldiers of the war;
But I saw they were not as was thought;
They themselves were fully at rest—they suffer’d not;
The living remain’d and suffer’d—the mother suffer’d,
And the wife and the child, and the musing comrade suffer’d,
And the armies that remain’d suffer’d.

19

Passing the visions, passing the night;
Passing, unloosing the hold of my comrades’ hands;
Passing the song of the hermit bird, and the tallying song of my soul,
(Victorious song, death’s outlet song, yet varying, ever-altering song,
As low and wailing, yet clear the notes, rising and falling, flooding the night,
Sadly sinking and fainting, as warning and warning, and yet again bursting with joy,
Covering the earth, and filling the spread of the heaven,
As that powerful psalm in the night I heard from recesses,)
Passing, I leave thee, lilac with heart-shaped leaves;
I leave thee there in the door-yard, blooming, returning with spring,
I cease from my song for thee;
From my gaze on thee in the west, fronting the west, communing with thee,
O comrade lustrous, with silver face in the night.

20

Yet each I keep, and all, retrievements out of the night;
The song, the wondrous chant of the gray-brown bird,
And the tallying chant, the echo arous’d in my soul,
With the lustrous and drooping star, with the countenance full of woe,
With the lilac tall, and its blossoms of mastering odor;
With the holders holding my hand, nearing the call of the bird,
Comrades mine, and I in the midst, and their memory ever I keep—for the dead I loved so well;
For the sweetest, wisest soul of all my days and lands…and this for his dear sake;
Lilac and star and bird, twined with the chant of my soul,
There in the fragrant pines, and the cedars dusk and dim.
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
Anderson Ritchie Dec 2012
Tally-**, Tally-**!
On our way we shall go!
Merrily, merrily we shall hunt!
Pursuing the fox with hound and mount!

Over brush, under felled tree,
dashing and bolting the fox eludes us.
Round the hills, still running free,
this amber devil can make sudden disappearance.
Reg Feb 2015
You never listen anyway
Might as well just may
Thats unholy
Thats a sin
Add that to the tally marks
Up two-hundred-ten

A heart by former heathen
That girl is so unholy
Thats another sin
Add that to the tally marks
Up two-hundred-'leven

Kiss the perfect men
Thats so holy
Thats no sin
Take away the tally marks
Down two-hundred-ten

Life is just a game, I say
But, another heart he's gone to slay
Thats unholy
Thats a sin
Add that to the tally marks
He's down once again
To the people think they're just so perfect.
Three years have gone by.
A little over one thousand days
And it’s been thirty-six months.
I don’t know why I’m still counting
Each dawn that passes by.
I don't know why you haven’t called
To tell me that you miss me
And that you want me back.
But I do know that slowly the nights add up
And soon it will be forty-eight months
One thousand four hundred sixty days.
It’ll be four years
And I will still be wondering why
We haven’t spoken.
break ups ****
Megan May Jun 2018
His arm already had about ten tick marks on it
He liked them in neat sets of five, like a school child would write them while they’re learning to count
Sometimes he asked for them to be drawings
One tally was green, with a rosebud on the end
One had the texture of a rope you’d find keeping boats tied to the dock
One was just a simple line like all the others, but blue
He would come in roughly every three weeks or so, sometimes more often sometimes less, never on the same day but always around the same time, two pm
Once he’d hit 11 marks, and I had to start a new set, I finally asked him what they were for
I joked that I’d seen Black Panther one too many times to assumed they’d be for anything but lives taken
He looked solemn
And said not taken but lost
He went on to say that he worked for the suicide hotline
And every time someone called in and didn’t make it through
He got another tick mark
He said he wanted to remember them, to show that someone cared about their lives even though they never thought anyone did
The rose was for a girl, fresh out of college, she made it through classes but not through the anxiety that had haunted her for four years
She had called about a week before she departed, saying that the smell of roses was the only thing that was keeping her going
A drought came through, scorching everything
He read in the paper that she’d died not to long after that
It wasn’t always the suicidal ones who called though
Sometimes it was friends, family, concerned people that wanted to help
One time a friend called after a death
Asking about signs they could’ve caught, making sure that nothing like this would happen to someone they loved again, because they would catch it next time
Her friend was found in the family pool
The only thing the girl said was that at least the last thing she saw was the blue of the sky, or the water, or the bottom
Blue was her favorite color
Hence the blue tally mark
The rope he said was a classic
His whole arm could’ve been covered in ropes if he wished
Some of the worst ones he couldn’t bear to remember, didn’t dare ink onto his arm
The sound of the phone crashing to the floor after a gunshot went off in the background, after minutes of pleading look just take they phone they can help you
Some of them gave reasons, others didn’t
They couldn’t live with mistakes they had made or things were getting hard or everything just hurt
He said he’d been working this job for about a year or so now, and that most people don’t last much longer than that
It takes too much of a toll on them, but he said this was nowhere near the burdens his callers were carrying
With that, the next line was done
I didn’t really know what to say, besides to wish him well and that I hoped I never saw him again
He said the same
This was written from a prompt:
You run a tattoo parlor. Every couple of weeks, the same customer comes in, always requesting the same tattoo: an additional tally mark on an ever growing cluster of tally marks.
I took it in this direction.
Mateuš Conrad Feb 2016
.the crows' persistent croak undermines all attempts at man's adventure into universal fame, or one that might distinguish man's composition, from earth, as intended for adam, to air, as intended for odin, to water as intended for poseidon, to fire as intended for the tetragrammaton.

it fails, most of the time,
poetry is scarce,
too much fondness of the abstract,
hence residues of
distracted verse, whimsical,
overburdened pronoun usage -
such likes - complex punctuation
to replace diacritical marks in
france or germany or norway,
poetry doesn't have the impetus,
just doesn't have the impetus to
package fudge, package fudge paragraphs
of fiction, poetry isn't anything
unless it's anti-fiction,
there's no point idealising
how you would fit into a glass stiletto
when it doesn't allow a fitting: cindarella was first
two jealous sisters got their heel
and big toe cut off, you want to encode
that as .pdf or .jpeg?
technophobes ***-standing:
is that enough for a start-up religious cult?!
i'm just wishy washy wondering,
all bets on it taking off - congregation of
en masse suicide seems a fanciful expression,
mind you, i have no excuse.
where there's a middle there ain't no finger,
no message evaluation and furthered to
an execution, the middle has an eroteme:
not exactly erotically thematic, just
a hunch off huh...
so... poetry... it's scarce, tumble **** practice
of a lost joke...
poetry exhibits itself sometimes in tight-tangle prose
of a knausgård - fancy wording a mile apart
would make traffic accidents aplenty,
and it happens... ramble ramble ramble (worded),
then some poetic ecstasy like an unguided tour
of a gallery making you kneel in anti-catholic
gesticulation of a painting by francis bacon...
shouldn't happen, but it did...
so while prose writers are like things infused
with packaged designation of the right
digestion and right diet content of carbohydrates,
poets are like: what sustenance from air?
we ramble sometimes, **** naked i presume,
but we do, and when we do, we draft novels
for other people, we're not into nation building
or writing novels... we're the anorexia of prose...
and that's grand... because it means
that our readers have to be self-involved,
not ready to grasp the rooting of prose diction...
more fused to the open airs
of writings' scarcity...
we need strong readers not numbers...
we need people who are self-involved,
who would spit and kick a copper statue of
the poet represented in a public square with
people of the spoken tongue the real tourists
wondering: who's that?

that aside...
          i went to sleep thinking about chess...
into bed at around 1am
woke up at around 9am...
past two nights? interludes of
perhaps 2 / 3 hours...
    cutting on the alcohol is one thing...
keeping a tally?
proof: co-op sells 1liter labelled bottles
of scotch,
but as it turns out, according to my braille tally?
it's: ⠷⠷ (500ml) + ⠷⠷ (500ml) + ⠷ (250ml)...
they label it as a liter...
but it's actually 1.25liters...
three days later: you get the full picture:
-esque akin to 'and on the third day he rose
again, according to the scriptures...'

good luck to the men and their vanity
projects...
   i will never become as famous as
the man who "invented" stumbled upon
fermentation to produce beer / wine...
distillation to produce whiskey / *****...
dom perignon and albert hofmann
are known now... give it a few centuries later...
****! gone!
       but to overshadow the universal
stability of a woodland pigeon cooing,
a crow croaking, a fox laughing?
   my words are here: yet these examples
retain the future unchanged...
by void, crook, vogue or folly...

so i went to sleep thinking about chess...
there's the king: the point
of the game...
              to topple the king...
get ol' charlie firsty on the chopper...
distract charlie zee 'eck'und
with pseudo-harems and handel...
and fireworks on the thames...
little learning tool offshoot of louis XIV...
the king is just an elevated pawn...
it seems the king only controls the pawns
given his own movement rules...
the queen though?
   she's the bishop and the rook combined,
as she's also the king and pawn, combined...
the knight is the only odd piece
on the whole board...
   why? didn't queens feast their eyes
upon knights of old, at tournaments...
chivalry: the dropped oopsie handerchief moment
when the king wasn't looking?
the knight piece is the only outsider piece
on the board... hence it's ontological
grasshopper routine of jumping
outside the line of pawns and then
jumping back into line...
the king is a king in name only:
it would appear...
  while the most powerful piece on the board
is the queen: since if the king merely
control the pawns:
   at a battlefield a king command pawns
(soldiers)...
  in the background...
the queen will command...
   the bishops, the knights,
   the rooks (houses, castles) -
she's not on the battlefield with with pawns...
and soon knights become judges
and lawyers - merge with the bishops...
i never like playing chess -
but i liked thinking about chess...
  from the perspective of: the queen is
the most powerful piece on the board...

you could even rewrite chess by expanding
the board... so it would look like so:

1. denotes pawn         9. denotes king

2. denotes bishop        6. denotes queen
3. denotes knight        4. denotes rook.


1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
         9 3               (battlefield formation)
      2 4 4 2             (behind the scenes formation)
        3 6    

but the board would have to be expanded from
64 to say... 100 squares... per board...
it's still chess... but with a twist...
it's what real life would look like...
one knight would be faithful to the king
and stand behind his army on the battlefield...
the other knight would be *******
the queen in secret surrounded
by castles and the clergy / the judicial system...
well: so many people have become so good
at the game of chess...
   kasparov vs. deep blue...
         so smart: and yet no imagination.

besides... i had more important things to do
today than remember what i fell asleep with...

1. making the perfect sausage rolls...
the most pristine invention of the english
and how the french fumed when their puff
pastry was "degraded"...
never use meat from sausages...
always minced pork...
and instead of adding carrots...
celery... and who would have thought
that fennel seeds are the secret ingredient...

2. watching india get their *******'
whipped and their ***** put into
a meat grinder by the new zealand side
at the cricket world cup...
**** me the last 5 overs!

3. lamenting the state of cinema...
the pursuit of "being" via distraction
with the end goal of fulfilling "happiness"...
so much for "being" and so much for "happiness"...
take two prime examples...
it only took 8 years to spare all the details
that seperate them...
1958's the inn of the sixth happiness
starring ingrid bergman...
those movies! mmm hmm!
i would gladly take away all the current
heavy editing and metallurgy scaled
CGI for a classical western panoramic view...
no dialogue... just an expansive camera
distance where the characters are dwarfed
by the grander scheme of things:
even if it's just a valley or a field...
cinema dropped the paranoramic
   interlude, resorting for the clausto-****
of heavy editing with multiple cameras
switching backwards and forwards
like watching a game of tennis...
    actually: both genres degraded themselves
dropping the panoramic view at times...
less in sport, more in cinema...
but this is 1958... the 1950s! the glory days of cinema...
fast-forward to 1966... and the film:
ALFIE...
       what's the difference between a lothario
and a ****? a self-employed ******...
or some other weird combition of 'not-a-joke'...
wait a minute... why are the women
so ******* dumb come the mid-1960s in cinema...
while back in 1958: they were so admirable?!
ingrid bergman learned mandarin,
she was ambitious, she was stubborn...
she was bossy...
  come the 1960s we're talking about
    beings without either soul or will
simply orientated at being dumpster *** toys...
i don't even know where the men
did that to them...
           the women in 1950s cinema
gained respected... they were commanding...
or at least decisive in giving
the least expected virtue: generosity
and on top - a sense of fairness -
                             a merit pyramid...
1960s cinema women, "women" are nothing
more than sloppy teenagers...
these women are not women...
1960s cinema doesn't depict women...
it's starting to depict one direction:
  pissy-pants teen girls...
               ******* at the sight of harvey styles
sighing and ****...
        plus... back in the day:
cinema used to be... engaging...
ben-hur? how long? 5 hours?
  gone with the wind? how long? 7 hours?!
cinema like opera: 15 minute interludes,
toilet breaks before the next part went on...
now? a quckie 1.5 hours long CGI ***** fest
of minimal dialogue and the heavy editing
juxtapositions of "angles"...
       people don't watch modern cinema
because it's engaging...
they watch it... because it's... distracting...
pretty bright lights! ooh! aah!
i love the fact that i'm being snarky
           and sarcastic... what else can you be?!
   i don't even think is missed that much
when it comes to the sub-culture of drugs...
psychadellic or otherwise...
i ****** well missed on a decent amount
of cinema...
   and when that happens...
       look at me...
                            what's that phrase...
a bitter old man... aged 33...
bitter doesn't even cut it...
              it's not even a bitterness...
it's an elevated sense of nostalgia...
   for me nostalgia is something i was present
at when it started going to ****...
late 1990s... cartoon network, early internet...
etc.,
              1990s date night movie quality
requiring adults to employ babysitters...
i was there...
1950s cinema? yeah: i wish i was nostalgic
about that... but i wasn't there...
hence the technical observations...
and how, objectively: movies were...
oh god so much better.
KM Hanslik Jul 2018
Your fingernails give away the debris you've collected
I've known you for a while but it feels like longer
feels like sunsets under my tongue
blue bruises behind my eyes
every skip of the needle brings back our old skins &
the hush-hush type of self worth,
keeping pens full of red ink so we can
play the demon in this one instead
of closing the door, we don't wanna gossip
at the edge of the room like strangers,
we wanna be in the center
and your fingerprints look a lot like mine sometimes, especially when we laugh and cry together
especially when you fall asleep and I watch
for soft signs of openmouthed breathing that signal
we are in deeper than we thought.

I can't stand the way you look at yourself though, sometimes I wanna
run away from everyone here
sometimes I wanna just up and leave it all
in a shallow grave where it belongs,
but the moments are softer when you slip my name onto your cotton tongue,
and I don't punch out a pattern for my self loathing quite as quickly when
we tally up our thread counts and what time we have left
together.

Inevitably, I still paint my teeth black,
because words about my future never felt right coming from my pink and purple mouth
but your lips could twist anything up into a lot of sense,
I could kiss you and **** time forever
in parking lots and on the edges of stained mattresses
I didn't ever want a home until I thought of hanging up your colors to dry
keep them here in the niches or
scrawled onto notepads I keep beside my bed,
put down your demon scripts and ask me in the morning
if it takes a while for seeds to grow,
I'll tell you to keep a can of water nearby
and to make sure it's somewhere sunny
I know there's something foreign growing in me and it's
bigger than I've ever been,
but I think maybe you know and
it's bigger than both of us, maybe
you know and
you've been doing some growing, too.
Miguel Jul 2018
In time we stand still forgetting the memories
That burden the frontier with poison and tragedy
Lest we forget that the deed had been signed
By prospectors and cowboys who’ve long since died
Aiming a loaded shell towards eradication
An idea that precedes psychopathy in terms of petition
Yet ponders so freely to children so willing to point them the barrel and fire such rounds

I urgently take the bounty for the hunting of the buffalo
Using their skulls for declination, a sturdy stronghold
Yet deep in heart I realize that it spawns back to devils
That pay only to spoil their countless fruits of survival
The cause paints our flag a brilliant blue
The blood breeds red and helps assimilate too
From their ponytails, against remorse, I could yank off their heads
And perhaps repay the herd of bison for their dead

We danced mountain songs naked under pale blue moonlight
Imitating their gestures in the style of caricature
The stars glistening, reflecting in pools of gory mucus
The rotting carcasses that attract forest vultures
Which we willingly hunt and devour without hesitance

A rack of scalps hung from the duster, cloth sodden with their fluids
Marking migration patterns on various maps to follow and stalk with
Here we sing to the villages of which we’ve burned down
Hoping that God, in His grace, could forgive such savage hounds
The calls of doves forfeit an olive branch
Which I gleefully wave just as they have
My own Trojan horse stitched together with leather
That wasn’t dried enough, and now radiates a stench that reminds us of their innards

I’ve slaughtered and mangled all over this place
Made worse by their stories of which I desecrate
Publishing such influent texts that examine the earlier beds
Of which they rose, so little prose, such daft fools with stone age tools
Crops yield only ******* food made for the feeding of the poor
Discarding the rest of them as bait or our personal ******

“I weep for the white hand that cared there for me!
To wrap me in blankets and help me to feed
The weak child in infancy cooing so sweet
Not knowing they’d have him killed in his sleep”
Annihilation fits best at the source, this genocide funded by the Master of Greater Deed and Good
The weary dead, the weary live, the weary now stay in places we couldn’t stand to be in

A gift that gives only twice, an upstart arch that cradles this land so warmly, inspiring us to embrace our homes
The promise of freedom which notions an equality we could find only in remembrance of scattered bones
The lawmen there, they never repent, they’ve lived all their lives and they never forget of their deeds, which secretly brings a perverse enjoyment none other recieve
Unless you count rapists and murderous men which tally their targets and hold out the heavy heads of victims in satchels and bags
A shame we now see them as monuments honored so swiftly, decorated with golden plaques
Please leave some flowers in the mass grave I was buried in, somewhere in Arizona, it wouldn’t hurt to sense the illusion of fresh air
A torso of tooth and rib and a dried clump of hair
Look down on your works, ye lowly, and despair!
Revolute Jay Aug 2012
It’s true. There are things I always rethink over.
I want to talk about this life, and the numbered corners
We back into, as each one before becomes a blur
I need to find those escaped outlawed words
Those thoughts that are dreams that are life I never said
Or ever read
In the newspapers full of despair & odes to the dead

Here I am, again. Scratching my head..
Solitary confinement in the tip of my pen
I hope I can hear the rain on a tin roof again.
I want to rescue each petal of this tired rose
Been told they hate getting wet, maybe they should close
Perhaps that’s a tangent better left to the prose..

I want to discuss the melody the earth plays as it spins
One day the clocks will melt, and time then will win
I want to pick these roses, struck by a thorn or two
I’ll rescue the weakest and give them all to you

I want to speak for every part of me.
Pronouncing the syllables of my arms through my neck
Feeling that same stutter I can’t ever forget
Or enunciating the words of America
It sounds like the inflection of grief
She’ll lead you to where hearts now lay limp
As all of her feels the pain in her feet
Composed of beings accepting defeat

But I can tell you about my motherland, or the hardness of her hands
As she struggles at the top, or the bottom of the can
Can do little more without much help to survive
First world problems? How about just keeping this life.

It’s ok if you’re lost. Go ahead, misunderstand.
Don’t tell us to work harder, poverty wasn’t planned

America, my other parent, imposed many countries
But Nicaragua is in tune with my heartbeat.
Now, how many secret wars are we fighting?
Like you’re ******* Genesis, the beginning of country
Well this is not why God himself sent me.

The great immigrations to one, emigrate with frustration
Looking for a better life, not just land; a nation.
We’ve graduated, far past the burning of witches
Although love may have been present, it was absent in ditches
Dug for the masses all over the world
Tell me the numbers don’t make your toes curl.

Like the owned. the bedraggled one in the line
Each of us in some way forever confined
To the cuffs of dark pigment or hair
The accent that these tongues flick out in the air,

I wanted to talk about the sky at jet-packed speeds
The broken men and that mystery
The wonder hiding on the other side of the reef
Or how certain dogs are not dogs, but a four legged beast
We put our ideas on those who can’t even speak
Judging and pointing deflecting our peak
Of feeling internally smaller and weak.

I want to talk about the man who hit on me last week
And the secrets that I have no real reason to keep
Perhaps tally up the hours and days without sleep
Or the relative meanings of victory or defeat.

I want to talk about the boy who was shot next to me
And the eyes on the girl who got away this past week
And now these heart valves have sprung a leak

There’s a reason I passed that spelling test in 4th grade
It’s a pact that me and some other nerd made
This test for some homework was the almost real trade
But then I studied anyways, suddenly was afraid
To be a real cheater at such a young age
So I waited until I was tired and baked
To cheat off of Tee Kay in the 8th grade.

I wanted to talk about the wonders of our skies
We see breathtaking birds and flutterbys take flight
Or how about the negative connotation with night
Instead of endless wonder, it’s dark, dead and trite.
Only letting the positive notions be awarded to light.

I want to talk about the things we all know
Like when someone asks you “what did he say?” at the same time as you
Following the first line in the show

Or

Wait, I forgot what I came into this room for.
I am now in my phonebook, what now?
--Swinging door.
Falling and yelling about what was left on the floor
Forgot that fearless child with instinct to explore.

And of course what about Fidel, the betrayal, conclusion
All in all, that epic Cuban Revolution
Or how we are scared to research the real scale of pollution
Settling for ignorance, unwritten, accepted solution
(I’m not a tree hugger, I’m a writer arranging each word just to lose them.)

How about what lies from sea to shining sea
And the immigrating souls giving testimony
To those who do, and will never know me
Each sea runs through the other
Like the veins in your body
And we all sadly add to our planet earth rotting

I wanted to talk about the first moment a hand brushed my cheek
My muscles finally gave in, tense to shameless defeat
The ridiculousness of the odd days in a week
Or how every sound in my almost mute world goes to the same beat
And the hook is brought to you by the bird’s tactful beak
And the beautiful colors the sunset uses to light up the streets

I want to spill each morsel of knowledge I’ve stolen, and the little that was free
And that I’ve learned from those before the ones that came before me
Being all of natures beautiful things.
Yes, did a bell mentally ring?
If you are alive, then you are one and more of all these
Even more beautiful with those scrapes on your knees
Standing with blood down your leg forgetting the dirt and disease
Carried away with the breeze through the trees

I can tell you those unspoken unwritten words from lost poetry
But that would be like asking you in the theater to scream
At that alien’s awkwardly shiny green screen moon beam

But maybe you should go out and growatree
Johnny the Appleseed Infantry
Or something to remember the free.

Discovery: Victory is only for the relentless
Walk up to a great oak, give thanks; we are rootless
Master ignoring those who labeled you useless
You decide what you are, and there’s no need to prove this

The heart that is mine beats with the rest that are beating
Trying to prevent a few scars and stitches from bleeding
Past error and self is no new acquaintance we’re meeting
Enjoy this life on a stage, I promise good seating

Fighting to clench onto every painful recollection
Every past hopeless pothole of the moments of rejection
Letting go is the key; allow me to mention
Freedom was, is never any man’s invention.
I’ll talk about the concept of our intentions
Hopefully you have good mental retention
There is one truth, and for some no redemption

I’ll give you one more line of ADHD poetry
I can put it short, and maybe even soerty
Some say  farfetched, or insurrectionary
Holding life’s weight at times sans what was necessary
Wide eyes at my inner strength, each arm is tearing
Felt each torn ligament swollen and flaring

Yesterday someone used the word evolutionary

I always write 'I am' before 'revolutionary.'
Copyright © Jimena Zavaleta 2012
Kyle Kulseth Mar 2013
Under
Cloudy skies in a serpentine Springtime
I'll cast dice in the alleys I know

I'll take time and I'll tally the faces
and store 'em in my pockets
          'til the Autumn unrolls

Wait, now, for the doc's diagnosis
Take my place by his cabinet of potions.
The room's hot, now, and so is my bowl of stew
I'm only out as long as it takes me to eat

Hedge my bets? No, let it ride...

In this vacant space each night...

Until I'm cured.

          Across town
Footprints of a girl I met once
Forget names, but remember a face

She counts steps--the ink on the pages runs--
She always goes for walks
          and reads books in the rain.

She knows clowns, she hangs out with assassins
Skin's real tough, but she's always laughing
Today's cold, now, but she's bundled up so tight--
Besides, she only ever ******* laughs at the snow.

And when the season laughs right back...

I'll hide my face, she'll change her tack...

Until it's right.

          And these sidewalks
          might be onto something...
Megan Grace Jan 2014
I
have
written
one
hundred
twenty-
seven
poems
about
you.
Please
­let
me
go.
soft spoken intro

The tree,
With its lights,
***** and tinsel,
Garland, excitement,
Of these nights,
The mistletoe and a star…
Ornaments,
See the candy canes,
Icicles,
And a door wreath,
On a cold,
Snowy Christmas Eve!  

Toys of Elvin-creation gleam, faces of the children they smile and beam, pitter-patter sounds of feet stomp -ing; it’s a cold snowy Christmas Eve!

A night of magic you won’t believe; it’s a cold snowy Christmas Eve!

Santa Claus and Christmas-time, sing a-long with our cheery rhyme, nothing ever feels so fine; it’s a cold snowy Christmas Eve!

A night of magic you won’t believe; it’s a cold snowy Christmas Eve!

Spicy scent of pumpkin pies, hear the reindeer when his sleigh arrives, toting presents that jolly guy; it’s a cold snowy Christmas Eve!

A night of magic you won’t believe; it’s a cold snowy Christmas Eve!

Santa, St. Nick, Sinterklaas, around the whole world in one night -no pause, and a childhood feeling that’ll never be lost; it’s a cold snowy Christmas Eve!

A night of magic you won’t believe; it’s a cold snowy Christmas Eve!
Tally-**! Jolly-fun! The night ain’t over till Santa’s done; a night of magic you won’t believe, it’s a cold snowy Christmas Eve!

It’s a cold snowy Christmas Eve!

A cold snowy Christmas Eve!
Hell with Manu! Manu go to hell!
The wrath of your interpretation,
Put us under an inhuman subjugation.

You turned a group,
Dictators of a merciless culture,
Transformed us worse,
Than a scavenging vulture.

You gifted us the psychology of the worst slaves,
And robbed our culture, worship and God,
Who is there to get us out from these graves?

For centuries till now continue our struggle,
We are forced to live with worst strangles
In the poisonous jungle,

We the humans treated much worse,
Than dogs insects and poo eating pig,
Our scars wounds and blows,
Still remain untouchable and big.

Poisonous **** declared the crops untouchable,
Proclaimed itself the most unconquerable,
Less than a second it takes,
To **** the poisonous weeds with a cutter,
Throw them into the useless gutter.

Landlords, who rule the land and hill,
Put the lives of untouchable crops to a standstill,
Multiplied the existence of poisonous ****,
At the expense of the healthy crop seed.

Our journey in the doors of
Movements, struggle and legal
Was quite a win,
That proved out to be absolutely lethal.

We won successfully in the battle of right,
Till the end of the topmost administrative fight,
We lost to erase your caste ridden thought,
That is useless rigid and tight.

With your caste names,
You remind and hurt us, with useless exhibition
In hearts, we created die hard flames,
To take up the long term ambitions,
And get us out from these addicted inhibitions.

From mother's womb to a cemetery,
We have a same human life,
But when it comes to temple sanctum,
You **** us with a political double edged knife.

We built the temples,
You played a gamble and created troubles,
Pushed us to convert,
Got our identities to subvert.

World belongs to everyone,
Our life does not hold value.

Nature belongs to everyone,
We do not have access to water by Vedas virtue.

God is equal to everyone,
But we are restricted entry, as an oppressed queue.

There is no use to argue,
Of course it is untrue,
Let's put ourselves to the rescue.

What's next? What's next?
Let's create a new humanity societal text,
Let's create for ourselves new religions,
Let's begin to reach out to the next generation,
Work with them to build new revolution.

Let's create a new religion,
In nooks and corners, all areas, rural and urban,
That treats humans as humans,
And give life to the humanity slogan.

Change the rules! Yeah change the rules!
Throw into gutters all these useless fools,
For human lives, there can be nothing to tally,
Human life remains invaluable and holy

Being human is my true breed,
Crows and cuckoo belong to our creed,
Mountains and sea belong to our human group
Be proud, you will belong to this peaceful troop.

Let us get up, where we fell
And put this curse to the hell.
India suffers from the world's toughest disease named caste and untouchability. When we rewind through the history, we can understand that Manu’s interpretation of Veda, as Manu dharma created the evil ground for castes to hit its foundation strong. The person from the oppressed and suppressed class sings the poem. In the midst of the poem, the poisonous weeds are those inflicted with caste ridden superior thinking. Landlords are the rulers of the land or present politicians in India. Healthy crops are the oppressed class. Till today the pain of those in the oppressed classes had been unremoved. Caste ridden superior thinking is a psychological thought instilled through generations. From drinking water to honor killings, caste has taken its never reached big form. It's time we respond to it and work towards creating a world without any discrimination. I dedicate this poem to all caste warriors in India like Dr B.R Ambedkar, Bharathiyar, and Periyar, Jyotibhai phoole, vallalaar, vaikundar, and Rettamalai srinivasan and ayoddhidhasa pandith. It's time we reach out to the next generations and first teach them to treat humans as humans. It's time India wakes up to this human crisis.
And who shall care for that o'er which you weep
Or share the burden of this world's foredoom
Seen starkly? Behold, a haunting specter creeps
Among the binding fates spun on life's loom.
You’ll wake them not to that great misery
Which emptiness of pride has reckless wove
But pluck the web for loss and trembling
Of idols in the soul for which they strove.
Put off your glossy youth and early oaths
Devout nativity; raise up your cup
To ***** Lethe and thunder with the strokes
Of fury, treading out the ripened sup!
They will not bear to flay their sacred cows
But shades of death endure and prostrate bow.

Ages in their veins, more raging, whirl
As titanic potentials’ dreadful might
Turns girl to boy, conversely boy to girl
Unlimbing reason for unreason's fright.
That once gone right, here deftly ventures left
As self-conception staggers to its doom
Bursting the bonds of day and night, distressed
With desperate grasping measures, late and soon.
So set on generation's awesome curve
Of ageless heart and mind, how shall they bear
The die they cast at first when madly swerved
Into contesting congresses of care?
Dividing parts, dissolving in the same
The common wealth, no part the whole maintains.

Boast of the times and gilded privilege
Are these pretended guardians of State
Whose politics of power have sought to bank
Their future 'gainst dissenting arguments.
With rhetoric to foist a brave new age
They come as chaos mages on the brink
Of all disposing will, all ends betrayed
To serve their corporations’ nod and wink.
Auctioning the world, their goods are sold
Commercially with avaricious might
That sanctions lust, in quest of pyrite gold
And pirate earnings, staked upon deceit.
At last, the men of mock integrity
Luring the world to covert slavery!

Hurrah, the master men and lords of time-
From time brought forth, they are the world's latest
Whose overweening strut is in the best
Of culminating age, the mind refined!
Now to and fro they go, their lists increased
With every tally; line for line computes
Their beads of enterprise, the while relieved
Of tribulation, fate of hapless dupes.
Learning is theirs, precepts are theirs to bend;
Lawyers, clerics, politicians rest
Upon this pillar; they can split or mend
The finest lines; no guile their thoughts distress.
Step by step they round the universe
And finite lies to infinite converse!

What pride of theirs that strains for fleeting fame
Seeking to wrest from time the wasting plaque
Of recognition, host to every hack
That postures on the stage of the obscene!
Pretending worth, their practiced scripts dispose
In mocking light an empty dignity
While darkening intents; witless disclosed
On lips and brow their self-important glee.
As if full-wrought by truth's heroic wing
Their pride aspires; on vain conceits they soar
Up through the mist while private songs they sing
In self-made praise for deeds of phantom lore.
From belfries of the schools, in broken flight
They shriek away, hell's banshees of the night!

These timely wise, entranced of mind, decree-
Hear all you simple what we shall disclose
Which craft of our discernment is repose
Of wealth in understanding mastery.
A gift to all, these rich-invested beings
Pretending to resolve profundities
Decoct the world with learned fluency
Of torture ways, all gnostic knots untied.
A flair for comedy, their gelded self
Mounts every snorting bore of certainty
Then armchair resting, pants to yet indulge
Another ******* idol’s reckless scheme.
Some stowaways upon the open seas
And polished sextants of academe!

Here is their derogation, born from creeds
Of judgment in self-righteous confidence
That proves for nothing to the innocent
But swamps life's refugees with cruel conceit.
With ages they have built the edifice
Of dogma; every pit and lion’s maw
Is their contraption, set in consciousness
Of the condemning letter of their laws.
Cunning serpents, masquerading doves
They fashion argument, more vicious wrought
With rationales to blacklist those who strove
To flee their institutions’ heinous plot.
Enamored with a fascist benefit
The systems of the world they implement!

Fanatic men, how bold they tempt the fates
That meet to each the fruits of brutish will
Redoubled, which they’ve spent in kind to date
Upon their brothers, sisters…other self.
They make an estimation, rule the span
Between men; lord over equity
With zero tolerance and brazen hand
To smash upon their consanguinity.
Such is the wicked priesthood’s confidence
In its own judgment, ever owning not
The wrong condemned in others, deep dispensed
To every heart, from roots of life begot.
More wretched they, and haunted with the shame
Of hypocrites, bedeviled by the same!

O law of learning, sum of thinkers' best
Now magnified, ensconced upon the power
Of natal worth and privileged social dower;
Once ruled by you, the Earth pleads for redress.
No scruple sought, no reservation found
To staunch against your certifying will
Which point of iron stylus now furrows
The world at large as object for the ****.
So cart away your pleading victim, mired
In ****** wallows of concupiscence
And grace deny, self-dubbed the doubtless squire-
Errant usurper of the human quest.
How dignified, the rake of your ambition
That promises continual division!
MY FROG MASTERS

How thoughtful were the rainfalls
To water our gardens and flowers
The flowers spread wide garments
To celebrate their terminal beauty

The joyful frogs occupied my pond
To orchestrate their vocal prowess
They taught me to take blind leaps
Like lightning bouncing in the skies

Squatted, stretched, beeped down
I was a millstone on the pond floor
My slippery pond mates wondered
How soft I was in the maritime arts

Mortally rescued in a muddy mood
The clouds sent in rescuing showers
To confirm my firm loss to the frogs
Like a grain of salt cast into the seas


673. MONEY BAGS IN THEIR BODY BAGS

The money bags shopping for their body bags
Waggled through the makeshift supermarkets

Their ancestral homes they plotted modernity
Like the general gathering fine forces together

To the villages they made to return with pride
Like pregnant elephants caught up in the mud

Their desolate villages are deep and sickening
Glowing flamingly in the crucibles of local gins

The dusty and gravy pathways are like furnace
Burning the leather off from their frozen souls

Traditional birth attendants cut off their cords
And zipped the money bags in their body bags

674. A GLORIOUS DAY

The new day spoke powerfully
Like a war making superpower
And his voice roared forcefully
Like the skies forced to shower

The sunrays came dynamically
Like love responding to silence
Beauty crawled in submissively
Like the mixed arts and science

One eagle soared energetically
Like lions feuding in the colony
Far clouds relocated peacefully
Like souls betrayed to harmony

The breeze sighed thoughtfully
Like horses galloping on the lea
Inspiration unfolded thankfully
Crowns monuments with a pea

675.  THE FOG BANK

The sun had gone to pay our bill in the fog bank
The world foggily crawled into the strong rooms
Darkness demonstrated her strong mindfulness
Provided for the strong gale with lurking shrieks

The black paint billers snowballed to our dreams
With the bill of exchange for wild sunny excesses
Ghostly bats emerged with the bill of indictment
In demonstration of our acrophobic dispositions

We packaged the sunrays for our folk memories
To reassure the day of our eternal followerships
We cherish our follow-throughs in our dark beat
To usher the sunlight out of the hollow fog bank

676. THE PROTRACTED INTERNECINE FEUD

These things had happened before we were born
Like sulphur deep into our fresh hearts they burn
Now we stumble on the bumpy terrains in horror
Like one frightened by ghosts in a standing mirror

The internecine feud has razed our men of valour
With their carcasses dumped in their cold parlour
Our community cattle graze in the barren pasture
Like the unrepentant sinners awaiting the rapture

For our plight the once glorious sky is grown pale
Like the ***** fetching territorial waters with pail
The storms have rolled off the catalogues for rain
All our efforts to mop up the mess end up in vain



677. THE AREA LEADERS

They cracked coconuts on the heads for the crown
And embraced our days with their castaway pollen
Sadness and sorrow have dyed our garment brown
With the strongest song sung when night has fallen

These are the blinding dusts from our barn’s grains
They breed cunning serpents in the soft pasturages
They are failed cargoes on our broad societal trains
They dedicate our common committee to outrages

Now our days seek deliverance from their tentacles
Like the colourful fields immersed in gloomy beauty
They play our eyeballs with the stenciled spectacles
With our consciences to sight and found us off duty

To rescue us the colossal clouds were born gadarene
Our communal life was willed to pageants of gaieties
Then moonlight stories held us for a larger gathering
Now all the objects we sight dress up like cold deities

678. THE LAST DESCENDANTS

The rapacious thunderstorms ***** the skies for their tears
The hot embers were born to glow mourning the late forest
The moon crawled out of the blue like a great grandmother
Cuddling her descendants wrapped up in her ancient shawls

The wild waves were weird weavers weaving withering wails
The captioned wigs gyrated on stunning shoes upon auctions
The little creatures crouched in primeval baskets of the night
To gnaw at the generational tubers in the creative farmlands

The dazzling specimens of dentitions relaxed in water basins
Like bright red artistic architectures on potent ocean boards
Golden hearts glow in the threatening prisms of the furnace
As beautiful sunset defines her beauties in her nightly corset

It had been a sweet pill for the past descendants to swallow
Depending on the colonial masters for loaves, lore and lures
Our creativity had been packaged in their mortal depravities
Like the tranquil days resting sorrowfully upon the dark oars

The centenarian thunders downgraded our minute whispers
We had been kept upon our toes by the eternally sworn foes
At last our worthy artworks have worn their wormy catwalks
The refreshed dawns greet our easting days in their greenery



679. VICTIMS IN THE VALLEY

The victims in the dark rally
Caged, dried and browning
Therein their meanings tally
With waves born drowning

In the depth of a cold valley
Horrible nobles are cultures
Like pilgrims in the dark alley
Willed to ravenous vultures

The victims all robed in tears
With hearts like potter’s clay
For pains they have no fears
Only mimed games they play

For victory awaits the victims
Alien to a blind mimed game
Glorious are eternal rhythms
For death Christ died to tame

680. THE GIANT SCARS

These are our giant threatening scars
Engraved on our demonstrative heads
Our sympathies crawled on superstars
Weeping for us on their moonlit beds

They threatened us with nasal sounds
Like thunderclouds seasoned to burst
For us their galleries are out of bounds
Behind the iron bars plagued with rust

Our patience passed their wildest tests
Like the lions roaring in the thick jungle
On the heart of the Lord our faith rests
Like numbers posted on the right angle

681.  A LADY

In a lady’s handbag
Is her hidden hunchback
Stuffed with her heart ache
For the pains relieving groom

In a lady’s tender smile
Is hidden miles of similitude
Marked with the zebra crossings
For the ever winning marathoner

In a tender lady’s heart
Is hidden her cowboy’s hat
Soaring within the white clouds
To soothe the earth with the latter rains

682. BRING BACK OUR GIRLS

Bring back our homesick girls
Their vacant cradles are bleeding
Bring back our innocent girls
On the chariots of fire descending

Bring back our suckling girls
Their feeding bottles are weeping
Bring back our infant girls
Their mothers’ ******* are heavy

Bring back our harmless girls
The united universe is thundering
Bring back our dewy girls
In the sharp sun rising in the skies

Bring back our beautiful girls
Like light plucked from darkness
Bring back our glorious girls
Aboard the shore-bound waves

Bring back our worthy girls
On their fresh faces our lights seek to glow
Bring back our living girls
Our fountains of joy are bubbling to burst

For our returned girls the skies shall bear
Roaring rivers, singing seas, chiming clouds
With gongs and songs, pianos and praises
Dulcet dulcimers and documentable dances
With healthy hymns and eloquent embraces
All nations shall into a common cathedral flow

683. ****** GENEOLOGIES

They electrify their demonic high tables with old fears
Only their ****** genealogies are bookmarked to reign
The sight of their portables whetted our eyes to tears
We are reinforced by the clouds born to the later rain

Our skins have renovated the sickening cattle wagons
With our dreams flying upon huge smokes in the skies
Beneath their tables we abridge their creaking jargons
Upon their floors with our generational landmark tiles

The dew drops dropped like old crops upon our brows
To soften the veils falling to the flaming edged swords
The flaming hearted sword of the penetrating sunrays
Born to pluck us alive from our hotly bandaged bruises

684. LET US SPEAK UP

The light is climbing downstairs
And danger is sprouting abroad
Our feet are listening for a word
Let us speak up lest they go deaf

The light is melted on the glades
And terror grazing our eyelashes
Our feet are listening for a word
Let us speak up lest they go deaf

The light is late and lately buried
The mourners are on danger list
Our feet are listening for a word
Let us speak up lest they go deaf

The light has divorced the grave
Her grave clothes are dew dyed
Our feet are listening for a word
Let us speak up lest they go deaf

Silence is a forgotten tombstone
Lost in the din of cold morticians
Our feet are listening for a word
Let us speak up lest they go deaf

685.  THE SUN

The sun smiles on all prescriptively
Like the waves spreading on shores
The green grass glows descriptively
Like the full moon upon dark sores

The sun is a tailor fixing the buttons
Preparing the sky for incoming stars
Like the weaverbird weaving cottons
To conceal the day’s damnable scars

The sun is a marker on diurnal pages
Tall grace he bestows on the flowers
The sun retains his graces for all ages
Bees and butterflies are his followers

Our common laughter is endangered
When sun bows down in big setbacks
All mortals have the starlets fingered
When the night comes on drawbacks

686. UNTIL HERE

(For Lou Lenart and his team)

Their floods came seeking Jewish bloods
Like streams they roared for our dreams
They emerged as columns of soldier ants
Like whirlwinds they zoomed towards us

Until here we were crumbs for the reptiles
Until here we were like airborne cloudlets
But here the sudden change unveiled to us
From here the elusive victory embraced us

With skeletal jets we fought like bold lions
Soared like eagles and spoke like thunders
We conquered columns of invading armies
The bleeding armies turned back and blank

From here we turned from victims to victors
From here enemies’ defeat our greatest feat
Upon this memorable bridge it all happened
Victories leapt upon our pool like joyful frogs

687.  JOY UNLIMITED

The fledging sun offers its rays
And the rays offer golden trays
For our joy a platform to spray
Rowdy paratroops like thunder
To scoop roses from pure oasis

Our joy is ripe upon celebrations
Our celebrations with decorations
Decorations with documentations
Documentations for all generations
Generations in our joyful habitations

688. ANOTER RAINING DAY

The dark clouds are wandering river basins
Spiral bounded by breakable outer casings
The rivers and the seas display empty cups
For the swift blessings descending the tops

The rains come as defense troops’ missiles
And the drowning lands look like imbeciles
Now we are groaning in the watered claws
With the liberated scales marking our flaws

The retreating clouds crawl away in a belch
Dumping the missing cargoes on the beach
The winds bow in a state of shock in a cord
Praying and fasting for a visit from the Lord

689. GRANDMOTHER

Grandmother, please wake and get up
The sky is quarreling with her husband
Soon they will spill their freezing sweat
On our bodies for us to catch dead cold

Grandmother, please sneeze not louder
The sky and her husband are quarreling
Soon they will send old floods like gales
To sweep mankind away from the world

Grandmother, you are everything I have
My moon, my sun and my morning stars
Provoke not the couples with your cough
Lest they refill their greasily wraths again

Grandmother, the big reptiles have come
With their lethal grandchildren following
They are laced with secret burial shrouds
With sympathetic tears tearing their eyes

Grandmother, I kiss you a shaky goodbye
With broken pains roaring within my soul
Grandmother, where are your groundnuts
To conduct my solo heart as you sing away

690.  A NIGHT WALK THROUGH THE FOREST

Lured away on an alluring dream by fables
I trudged along the grassy paths with fears
Upon my steps spilling the prevailing dews
The shadows bowed their heads in silence
Like the soul issued with a death sentence

The night crawlers emerged above boards
Throwing light upon contrary communities
In their hearts and eyes were painful tears
Crawling down their exaggerated eye *****
Like a handbag filled with rotten cosmetics

The shadows were bold animators’ shelves
Stage managing the horror motion pictures
In the ghostly commodities I met wild hosts
Lifeworks evaporated from my fresh breath
Like foreign tragedies in common comedies

The sorrowful shadows cast away their veils
Like the candles letting go of the weird wax
Sadly I sat in the sack for conflicting fetuses
Another sun appeared like a serial divorcee
Counting the testicles of another naked day

691.  SUBJECTIVE SUBJECTS

The sad sun descended upon her haunting melodies
Reeling from mysterious layers for electoral riggings
To harden the flowerbed for flower girls born tender
Disenfranchised voters came weeping in barren polls
Dressing the blank nest for the fat electoral parodies
With the mourners the faulty bells they came ringing
Like the angry water castigating a ****** port fender
And the smokes climbed upon their wide aerial poles
Arching over the emptied shelves with liberal singing
They subjected their subjective subjects to all objects
Auntie Hosebag Feb 2011
“Those who do not want to imitate anything,
produce nothing”.  Salvador Dali -- Dali on Dali

Dreamrise.

The sliced steep slopes of those cliffs could be anywhere--say, Yosemite--buttered by
the same sun, not battered by these calm seas, or bothered
by melting timepieces draped about the landscape.

Why does the artist’s head melt, deconstruct, feather into foreground loam— teeth, tongue,
lips fading nearly without notice, nose pillowed on his own ear?

Is there a reason a single housefly struggles against sky-blue stickiness--imperiled heroine
awaiting the locomotive crush of the sweeping minute hand--or why the bottom
of her golden prison melts in the sepia heat, its silver sisters hung limp
from a branch long dead, or laid carefully
as a blanket over the sleeping
focal face?

What of the copper watch, alone in original form, though a cluster of ants spews from its center
in lieu of hands?

The artist provides no answer, perhaps presuming the question sufficient.

That dead tree—
the only thing vertical, unless you stand beneath the cliffs;
the only thing anchored, unless you allow the cliffs;
the only thing obviously dead, unless those buttered cliffs are someone’s skin—
that tree is Watcher and Scribe, the Presence of the World, and at its base
a face is embedded, of some Bosch-spawned horror, gaze trained beyond
borders, back to the Middle Ages, or maybe on its own shadow.

Straight lines are few enough to count.  The horizon is one, or four, depending on how you tally.
Plain plank painted every hue of blue on the canvas numbers ten—again, depending—could be seven.
And the platform: four, or six?  Are these tricks of the eye or the mind—or math?  By the magic
of perfect draughtsmanship it works out to just the right number.

Note the placement of pebbles—gold right, gray left—for each side of the brain, he dreams; for balance,
for focus, for scale and distortion, placed with precision to escape first notice, the better to manipulate
mind and eye to see what isn’t there:
                                                          ­          the dark,
                                                           ­                          the void,
                                                           ­                                          this universe collapsing,
                                             ­                                                                 ­                                     howling open emptiness,
no stars, no cliffs, no clocks
wormhole of sleep which draws all from there to here,
bloated, belligerent Babylon of black consumes the bottom corner, far removed from ants,
beckoning the dreamer homeward--or Hellward?

In every direction lies fear or fulfillment,
each boundary spreads wide to possibility,
from this static domain where no breeze exists
to mar the surface of an ocean
so vast.
Another ekphrasis piece, this on Dali's *Persistence of Memory*.  Yeah, the one with the melting watches.  That one.
Nat Lipstadt Sep 2013
The TSA won't let me fly
It seems when airplane-jailed,
My muse sneaks aboard
Without paying for a seat.

Another airplane poem like 30B,
From a long ago flight,
Found dusty, in the poetry sewing box


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

with every breathe he tithes
a packet of whispered wishes,
a blended osmosis of
past and future scenes,
reviewed, previewed,
moments in time,
actual and dreamed

some received,
airborne plucked,
in his chest stored,
prepared for future
takeoffs and landings,
for ultimate insertion
in both
your recesses
and
your abscesses

some native,
combobulated, containerized
packets of seconds,
of joyous moments,
bytes of historical
hugs n' kisses,
as a child
to a child
from a child

those are vanilla frosted,
residual payments for the
good done and given,  
forwarded with all clear signals,
to his loved ones,
now resent, to you,
fellow travelers and sojourners,
intersectors of our peculiar
coded dots and dashes

thirty five thousand feet high,
composure lost,
he swoons as
Bocelli's voce del silenzio
releases tears so sweet,
which are by nature,
gravitated and transformed
into snowflakes to decorate
the Sierra Nevada's
breasted peaks and valleys,
over which his physical notion
is at rest, yet in motion,
within a Delta flying ship

Yet his fevered chest
beats rough,
for every flight seems
a time warp interlude,
a forced reflecting rhyme,
not of his choosing,
a lawful, thoughtful, imprisonment

having donated to you
his best, the remainders,
the man tallies, recalls:

ancient slights, scaled heights,
requiems for his forefathers
scored by cantorial choirs,
liberation struggle weariness,
offers taken and refused,
aces in the hole that proved
insufficient to save his soul.

goal line stands made,
onslaughts refused,
true lies and false truths,
moist lips and monster tears,
occasional A's and calcu-hell-us,
hand me downs received,
help me ups got n' given,
buildings pricked by airplanes,
death wishes granted
and nothing thereby gained,
children, found and lost,
mine, yours, ours...

The sums, always the sums!

engine noises and pilfered winds
are dulled and semi-silenced,
yet the silvered chamber prison
resonates from end to end
as each ledgered memory,
each packet of the
hidden whispered poems
he does NOT choose to send,
dents the man,
leaving claw marks,
screaming pay attention to me,
as if they were the priorities
of a six year old child,
refusing to be ignored

he does,
attention, he does pay,  
allowing rocking guitar heroes
to overtake weeping violinists,
just as newer transgressions
surfeit even his
most really *****,
ancient sins

No matter how he counts,
unable to master the additions,
no matter how many times
counts are initiated,
taken and retaken,
the tally's net net is
concluded, numbered
"forsaken"

his life's W-2 is black n' blue,
deductions falsely enumerate
and thereby underestimate
dues he has paid summarily,
earnings, distorted,
taxes paid never enough,
to satisfy the justice scales,
so wearily he
cries and enunciates,

The sums, always the sums!

THEN COMES HIS SHOUT OUT,
at his most vulnerable,
when a thin veneer of alumina
separates him,
from a fall inglorious
to an end most gorious,
a rapping beat moderne
insists that he go all out,
disallowing no
airy fairy poetry
to disguise that:

If the integers are false,
the entries of a life lived,
are sucker lies
black eyed flies
toxic shockers
that bust open
stinko lockers
where the B.S.
mocking stories
are kept

don't look close
at his documents
they ain't exactly
heaven sent
and the government men
be back on his track
their aviator shades
protect them from
burning light of the
man's furnace
where he burns their liens,
and the agent's ear pieces
drown out his screams of

The sums, always the sums!

God bless you,
keep and recall those packets of
whispered wishes, good tithes,
that the man bequeaths,
gift baskets of
expresso essentials
with God's love delivered

Tho his words,
amateurish and unvarnished,
silly and pompous,
nonetheless, they are the
return on his investments,
his yearnings for your happiness
are the savings accumulated,
though meager jewels are they,
they are ad valorem,
mixed into his confused murmurings

here then,
are his summings up,
what he wills you,,
the tally finale
the best wisdom is
found on coffee cups
at 2:47am.

Dance
Love
Sing
Live

to which he respectfully amends with a
Write.
(See banner photo)
See Nat Lipstadt
Juggling Thoughts Re Proximity, in Seat 30B
Mateuš Conrad May 2017
.i can hardly feel nostalgic, when youtube was what it was, i could waste a good liter of whiskey and stay up all night trapped in the labyrinth of the most superior - ingenious algorithm, a personalised algorithm that was pure a.i.: it would learn from you, in the suggested feed, it always learned from what you like a priori and it would suggested a thesaurus interpretation, those were the fun odd days, a man could immerse himself in foraging for new music as well as butchering a liter of whiskey... lately my exploration days on the platform became nothing of human concerns, more a rat in a maze, even the drinking became dreaded labour of: "boredom"... some things had to change... what was the point of wasting a liter of whiskey per night on a screen that became as unshakeable as a mountain... so now, instead of wasting 20 quid a night on a bottle... half a liter will give me the lullaby effect... in terms of drinking that half a liter of whiskey: considering i will not enjoy using the internet as much... never mind the view count: i know that some written has a lower view count and that if it has a view count it builds up slowly... after all i am a modern contemporary... there's so much tolstoy to get through! the tally... but i will not allow myself the brahmi tally system, it's too complicated for my liking... and i can't write the european ||||(/) into html for some reason... let alone the chinese (正) version... i had to invent my own tally system - the braille tally:

           ⠁ ⠃ ⠇ ⠧ ⠷ (⠿)
           1  2  3   4  5  (6)
           a  b  l   v  à  (é)

    it's quiet a sobering experience...
                     only yesterday i drank about 250ml
and pretended to be asleep for six hours,
got up so refreshed that i started to decorate the kitchen
and made the most badass tagiatelli meatball sauce...
the trick was... onions garlic and two fresh chillies
fried first... a teaspoon of chilli powder
a teaspoon of paprika fried first,
   chicken stock added, then some tomato puree...
let that thicken...
meanwhile make the meatballs...
the breadcrumbs should be made into a paste
by adding milk... the meat fused with the breadcrumbs,
salt, pepper and italian herbs:
oregano, thyme, rosemary, basil etc. fried
and left to the side...
    a can of chopped tomato, worcestershire sauce...
some sugar... salt / pepper to taste...
then the meatballs would go in...
            the old youtube: explorer-tube is
not coming back...
        and... quiet frankly?
           exploring these alt. media outlets is a bit
of a headache...
what good is gab.ai to me,
                                         when i never used twitter?!
whatever this current: "culture war" is...
                  it's not worth fighting...
                             at this point videos gain
the traction of "count"...
         but then the "count" becomes diffused into
stupid comment sections where people need
the obligation to shout and pass the queue with
raised elbows...
                            repossession - a synthwave  music
mix...
                tomorrow i'll finish decorating the kitchen,
save myself another 10 quid...
try to find about 3 hours of sleep...
                     and i'll look back at the years
from 2008 through to 2016 as a glorious period
in internet history that has:
   unfortunately died and how the future generations
will never experience what i've experienced
when it came to an a.i. music shop assistant...
   so they say: a.i. will take away many professions...
by the looks of it...
   the first a.i. job for an a.i., as a music store curator...
the first a.i. music shop assistant?
fired... out of a job...
            it's strange...
                            oh but not so very strange...
a.i. to steal the jobs of humans...
    looks like humans hit first...
   and stole a.i.'s first job prospects,
on a site like youtube...
                     and what a fine job this a.i. did...
i never knew so much alt. music existed...
      well i did and i didn't: that's up for debate...
in translation? if you buy a vinyl copy
of a record... you still get a code to a site that lets
you download the mp3 copy...
so the best of both worlds...
                                a vinyl... and mp3s...
but bye bye wasting away every night on a site
that turned against its a.i. music shop assistant...
here's to sobering up...
                    by gradations...
       after all: one decent "poem" a glorious night
is enough to five spewed like venom spat from
                                                                      an u.z.i.


even i become remotely "o.c.d." when it comes down to
the english sway of notation.
                 i'm talking a basic arithmetic,
a basic arithmetic of notation in english, or quiete simply
english notation.
                         i deem         "    "       to denote:
                        a quote, of a quote - as in: third party
resources being cited.
                                            what i'd definitely be satisfied
with as deeming a quote, would be a    '          '      
                                                         encapsulation;
but the way english speakers denote a quote a quote
by using "         "     encapsulation? to me that's arithmetically
unsound...  or to use a blunt knife expression: simply wrong.
first of all             " = ditto
                 perhaps the english are unfamiliar with
continental standards of linguistic coding, but  " = ditto,
but of course         ditto ≠ quote...
                               " ≠ quote,
so why would you utilise the ditto symbol to imply, quote?
            it doesn't matter if it's either side of said words,
the symbol is not a quote-based symbol to be used...
   '        '       is; yep, two *******... now who's feeling creepy?
" = /as above/
        where no 2nd or 3rd party sources are cited / quoted -
at best the     "     "   encapsulation can only mean one thing,
and one thing only: ambiguity:
                        a bit like saying - a friend of a friend, said
that he once ordered k.f.c., and in it he found
        a k.f.m. (kentucky fried mouse)...
                                                but that's about it.
the ditto mark implies                               paraphrase,
you're basically rewording something,
                                  borrowing from the already stated
     in the above, given script, of your own original output.
so you see, i don't know how "      " encapsulation can denote
a quote, if the basic arithmetic states,    ' + ' = ",
                         and by the time someone supposedly quotes,
the notation of supposed citation will morph into  "'       "'
                       type of enclosure.
Had I the choice to tally greatest bards,
To limn their portraits, stately, beautiful, and emulate at will,
Homer with all his wars and warriors—Hector, Achilles, Ajax,
Or Shakespeare’s woe-entangled Hamlet, Lear, Othello—Tennyson’s
        fair ladies,
Meter or wit the best, or choice conceit to wield in perfect rhyme,
        delight of singers;
These, these, O sea, all these I’d gladly barter,
Would you the undulation of one wave, its trick to me transfer,
Or breathe one breath of yours upon my verse,
And leave its odor there.
Cierra Hope Jan 2017
I counted the number of times
you weren't there for me
in tally marks on my wrist.
Heh! Walk her round. Heave, ah, heave her short again!
Over, ****** her over, there, and hold her on the pawl.
Loose all sail, and brace your yards aback and full—
Ready jib to pay her off and heave short all!
  Well, ah, fare you well; we can stay no more with you, my love—
   Down, set down your liquor and your girl from off your knee;
         For the wind has come to say:
         “You must take me while you may,
      If you’d go to Mother Carey
      (Walk her down to Mother Carey!),
   Oh, we’re bound to Mother Carey where she feeds her chicks at sea!”

Heh! Walk her round. Break, ah, break it out o’ that!
Break our starboard-bower out, apeak, awash, and clear!
Port—port she casts, with the harbour-mud beneath her foot,
And that’s the last o’ bottom we shall see this year!
  Well, ah, fare you well, for we’ve got to take her out again—
   Take her out in ballast, riding light and cargo-free.
      And it’s time to clear and quit
      When the hawser grips the bitt,
   So we’ll pay you with the foresheet and a promise from the sea!

Heh! Tally on. Aft and walk away with her!
Handsome to the cathead, now; O tally on the fall!
Stop, seize and fish, and easy on the davit-guy.
Up, well up the fluke of her, and inboard haul!
  Well, ah, fare you well, for the Channel wind’s took hold of us,
   Choking down our voices as we ****** the gaskets free.
      And it’s blowing up for night,
      And she’s dropping light on light,
   And she’s snorting under bonnets for a breath of open sea,

Wheel, full and by; but she’ll smell her road alone to-night.
Sick she is and harbour-sick—Oh, sick to clear the land!
Roll down to Brest with the old Red Ensign over us—
Carry on and thrash her out with all she’ll stand!
  Well, ah, fare you well, and it’s Ushant slams the door on us,
   Whirling like a windmill through the ***** scud to lee:
         Till the last, last flicker goes
         From the tumbling water-rows,
      And we’re off to Mother Carey
      (Walk her down to Mother Carey!),
   Oh, we’re bound for Mother Carey where she feeds her chicks at sea!
life nomadic Jan 2013
A moment is never singular, exactly;
nothing on This Earth lasts, obviously.
Yet People still search to locate a focal point,
identify the axis, ground the spar tree.
Molecules have been examined down to Music;
infinite harmonies taking perceived shape,
Each element ever-changing as our senses are tuned.
Particles are waves of color, our own hand turning the kaleidoscope.

But our mind's-eye has been clouded;
Selfish fear of inconvenience escalating,
leading us all to the cliff of catastrophe.
Inching feet-forward hover over black air;  the void right there.
Regretful feet-backward discover lost ground,  toes grasped by gravity into falling gravel.
Stilled to painful awareness, but at least to finally see

Ancient Sequoia,
giants rooted in misty epochs,
wizened moss-covered faces sleepily meditating
under their own constellations turning.
We hated their shadows, felled them for the void, stole their place in the heartbroken sun.
Our vain history in tiny arrows obscures their rings of years like graffiti.
But in the hushed forest remaining, sheltering treasured few seedlings 6 inches tall,
One breath in lasts a season; one breath out purifies the years
with timeless patience for you as well.

There's no need to hurry;
wishes already happened when they are dreamed.
time was measured to distract.


A Humpback Whale arrives to calve in sanctuary’s dawn.
Still water, then her nose appearing,
then her monumental presence rising like a building;
then her entire whaleness levitating on her tail for a moment in our thin world.
Only faithful joy has that kind of power.
Then arching to fly,
and slamming, bursting, the surface for the generations to hear and feel.
She fills an ocean with her soul, a year with one song.
She is alive today, escaping slaughter
After swimming through the blood of her family spilled by our grandfather's harpoons,
Even with all the seas poisoned and starving,
Swim in the echoes of her call; she loves completely.


Keep no tally from the intangible past,
forgiving is possible.


Swimming Penguins
Birds evolved to fly in ocean.
Wings to flippers, feet stepping clumsily from water.
Yet eggs must still nest, their babies still breathe.
Safety is the very precipice of existence, on bitter ice at 60 below,
Sheltering their young clustered from blistering winds,
fasting from sustenance,
While heaven’s glorious Aurora flame silently over their winter dreams.

Extremes reveal the Sacred, but we’re confused.
Fear mistakenly chained with control; but both dissipate with acceptance.


A Serotinous Pine there,
Where winter snows soak into thirsty soil but relentless summer sun bakes motionless
Every plant a tinder held close to conflagration,
in a season's Russian roulette of forest fire.
This pine seals precious seed away from every spring’s promise,
lest burning destroys every one.
Only searing heat during torched consumption triggers the last gentle act,
At the knife’s edge of death itself,
opening cones of seeds.
Fluttering down to new life on the other side of time.
Tiny bright green amid black ashes.

This apocalypse was our contrivance, but so is the word.
Beginning of the End or End of the beginning, all the same.


So what then are we, on This Earth?
Cerebral Creatures, Storytelling Animals,
Minds created to sense spiritual constructs.
Living is the method of our creation,
Sheltering each other from inherited trials
With contrived joys and sufferings distracting each other
From the abyss both sides:
Soul freezing fearful cold of the Empty Void and consuming fire of Electric Chaos.

In the End, our sacrificing gift,  greater than ourselves,
for our children,
is God.
.
.
I already wrote this in two parts, but I've been working on and revising them to bring them together better.
.
Copyright © 2012 Anna Honda. All Rights Reserved.
False Poets Oct 2017
The Talmud Teaches...
With respect to his son, a father is obligated to circumcise him, to redeem him [if he is a firstborn], to teach him Torah, to marry him off, and to teach him a craft...he is also

obligated to teach him to swim...(Kiddushin 29a)


lay awake when the house is silent,
doing maths furiously in the head,
sleeping can be keeping while doing my calculus,
knowing in advance a conclusion comes coined
in only two colors, black or red

the question simple, did I meet my obligations?

and your read the passage for the umpteenth time,
and the same thought interferes as always,
should the order not be reversed,
the first thing to be fulfilled,


teach them to swim

based on experience life arrives in sequential, repeating waves,
purposed to drown the weak with no pretending that waters,
salt or sweet matters, so first order is business ought be survival preparation and


teach them to swim

if they can swim, stay afloat, then they can then comprehend
the glory of distinguishing right over wrong,
get their priorities straight, that saving others,
especially those you placed on the starting line of life,
is the first principle and overplants anything else when you


teach them to swim

my eyes see the tally, why, they are red! could it be lack of sleep?

I am smiling when I am lying,
teach them to swim always first,
but not enough, one must do it well, well,
and even then, better, 
as all else will, from the well, follow, when you


teach them to swim

3:10am

~~~
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talmud
Ask the Channel to his Promised Heart's Best
And Glad you shared his Spirit with your Song
Closer, then keep your Cherries fresh with Zest
So both can Savour each Flavours for long
How Fair you took his Living Supplement
Where these Vitamins need your Fresh Support
But Remind him; Of Minerals and Nourishment
Are what is Needed for his Best Report
Then the Grandfather whose Wise Hands will tell,
Strike the Gong to when their Wrapped Hands hold fast
But knowing his Flute which charms your Bell,
His Pickfold Numbers win your Lots at last.
Tally him Softly; And he makes you Proud
To harvest Best Fruits whilst singing out loud.
#livwrightyay #benjdaley
Olivia Kent Mar 2014
Typically British, rather insane.
English men do walk on water.
Ha ha, jolly hockey sticks, snooty noses up in the air.
A game of jolly cricket, in the middle of the sea.
Just an annual event; as  tide resides and holds up a bank.
Supporting stumps and a scoreboard.
The water got scared and bailed out.
A gang of weird cricketers stroll across the Solent.
In between the smiling waves.
A quick match indeed, for after the sea recedes, the tide creeps in, the pitch is gone.
Jolly funny posh folk, trot home for a scone and a bubbly fizz as stags and hens, they head off to the shore.
In their cruisers of pleasure, hey **, off they go!
As when the tide is in they cannot walk on water.
To hold posh debate on the final score.
To muse of experience just left at sea.
Guess no groundsman needed and pitch never weeded.
(c) Livvi
Yes it's true annually they hold a cricket match in the middle of a sandbank. Not far from my home ! English eccentricity eh x
Xander Duncan Dec 2014
Let’s get something straight
I’m not
Or at least, that’s a situation in question
But that’s not what I’m here for, you see
The acronym LGBT has a terrific little tail that everyone tends to trip over
And the conversations that transpire when I attempt to try the closet door
Leave me frequently swept under the rug
Maybe I’m just a little lost in translation
But they should know that identity is not orientation
And it can be tricky to articulate, so I don’t mind the extra explanation
But I’m telling you there’s a tipping point where you can’t expect me to take it
To tally up the talks I’ve had tearing apart the phrase
“So, genderfluid is like another word for bisexual, then, right?”
Because there’s already this his-and-hers internal tug-of-war
So tying in other types of ignorance just gets tiring at times
And trying again and trying again and again to get the point across
Leads me down a tangled train of thought that runs off the tracks in unclear tangents
Because conversations transition without the intended amendments
Because these transcripts would transcend the usual transfer of data
Into transgressions and obsessions with more than I’m able to
Confirm or confer without temperamental reactions
Feeling entirely translucent overlooking their infractions
Wondering why more words aren’t composed in a way that allows them
To be transposed to neutrality or at least farther from
Specific definitions testing how gendered things can get
Wondering why I don’t make any sense yet
[Breathe]
Let me be perfectly queer
The acronym LGBT has a tetrad attraction detailing at least part of this
Just a trifle of understanding if you’re looking to comprehend it
And if you don’t care to learn then don’t bother to ask
But take some time from your day and I’ll try to make it fast
Go ahead and interrogate, I don’t mind all that much
Whatever trips your trigger, as long as it’s not pointed at us
I can’t speak on behalf of every transgender teen
But if you don’t know a word, I can tell you what I mean
I can text you a trillion terms to absorb
Or trim down the lesson to the basics if you’re bored
But don’t tell me that pronouns are a hassle to learn
When they catch in the throats of those just waiting their turn
To stop hiding their tears and be treated the same
Teaching one person at a time until the world hears their true name
Don’t expect trophies, but I’ll give you my thanks
Don’t tease us about the clothes that make our spines and souls ache
I want to wear this letter T like a cross from my neck
Saying the prefix trans- means across and I like it like that
Traversing the spectrums and binaries all mixed
Transcontinental, transatlantic, transfixed
By the beauty in boys and the glamour in girls
But mostly the neithers and boths in this world
Don’t tell me it’s a transient, temporary tale
Or that I’m totally enamored with getting off the most followed trail
I’m taking back traumas and tense muscles and taunts
Until tentative trespassers give us what we want
A presence, a voice, and all human rights
It shouldn’t be a privilege to feel safe at night
Don’t tiptoe around troubles, just stand with us here
Add a voice until we trumpet our triumphs and cheers
Take my hand, hear my voice
Listen, learn something new
Because LGBT has a cross and
Cross my heart
I’m with you
Martin Narrod Apr 2014
Not an amulet, an off white vertebrae; bone.
Brass wire, a loop at one end.
It bends as to make sure this will fit.

A gauge that measures mesmerization,
And we both must get along, but
Not because we're not tough enough:
Most of us aren't soft right yet.

So many stiffs, folly after folly.
The whole carful of loose cadavers,
Dangling, their feet hang with wet snow
And carnage,

Not even musk deer pop up,
They've all gone. Roosting in a parabol,
With X's sprayed to their groins.
Burning pop couples

Doing it like laboratory mice. Capybaras
Hiss, my own burnt blood is also
Flocculating.

Turn the cup upside down and
See the fire's balmy lachrymal opaque
Moss while it does not drip.

This is the story of man you asked me about;
Devoid of a muzzle, fur onto his chest; coarse
Hair in a garland.

It is the God of a tool that buzzes into the night.
A plateau for this most sensible study.
We feel another coming.

And when you awoke, your larval tongue
My eye mush, a song of verse and melancholy.
This half list of greatness, a tally we both wish to see.
Dark n Beautiful Oct 2016
The weirdest sound came from my own voice
I telling him that I was afraid of the water, his teasing voice
Made the sound of the waves rush to shore

And there I was terrify, with the fear of drowning
While trying to be the brave female goddess  
My long wet hair looks flawless at the moment in time
And there we were enjoying the four level of happiness on that day.
  That was the day when we forget about the worldly things that enslaves us with guilt:

Him and me we made a breakthrough, his genuine smile
and I with my nervous laugh
Our persona shine brighter than any lost diamond in the white sand

we were upbeat, like any other loving couple on the island
as the relaxing sound of the waves electrify us into peaceful pebbles

We made love with our eyes; we tally up the score with our hearts
We officially went from being friends to lovers.
Jenn Coke Feb 2016
Its length is known as “one year” by realists,
Also referred to as “anniversary” by idealists,
But “four seasons” is how I would like to call it
As with the passing of time I learn him bit by bit.

We met in front of Record Hall
On a rainy night and boy did I fall
For this one man named Timothy
Who approached me differently.

We first found each other online
But he was unlike the other swine
Looking for a body and easy ***,
Trying to buy me with their checks.

Plus, he did not follow the ordinary formula
Like “coffee sometime?” which is just so blah;
Rather, he proved that he had read my profile
Attentively, so I imagined he must not be vile.

He did not mention or imply anything ******,
So I started to credit him some trust accrual;
He opened us up by relating to my stories
And spoke smoothly with sarcastic ease.

I fell for his chivalry and charm
As well as his unstinted smarm,
His passion for engines and parts,
Never giving up until it all starts.

He won me over with his corny memes,
Matching weirdness, and future schemes;
His unfaltering boldness and fearlessness,
Manliness, and, in due course, closeness.

A spontaneous boy who does puzzles with me,
A romantic gentleman who invites me to the sea,
A free-spirited dude who is a spirits connoisseur,
An audacious chap who is a cooking amateur –

He has a nerdy side as he likes to figure things out.
He has a masculine side as he enjoys working out.
He has a brave side as he goes off-roading in his Jeep.
He has a sweet side as he pulls me closer in his sleep.

He slyly squeezes out my personal info
From myself and makes me go “Woah,”
As he discreetly plans adventurous trips
Which makes me want to ****** his lips.  

He is not afraid or disinclined to reveal his worries.
He is not abashed to update me on his **** stories.
He was not nervous about exposing his cover letter.
He was not anxious about taking me to his mother.

Weight? He does not ask me to gain any or lose.
Change? He needs not fix or loosen my screws.
He takes me as I am, not as a mechanical robot.
He finds sufficiency in all that I do and have got.

He does not care that I wear makeup or look like a dude.
He does not complain that I take long to finish my food.
He disregards that I do not adhere to societal standards.
He discounts that I occasionally think and act backwards.

He makes me relax and loosen up in his presence;
He emits a homely atmosphere and is my defense.  
Hell, we even start doing ***** lovey-dovey acts
Such as calling each other’s names in several packs.

He uses his witty senses to title my works,
Which, to other people, may stir up smirks,
But he does not give two ***** about them;
As long as we represent to each other, a gem.

We are compatible and agree in many manners;
We are avid Android users, not iOS supporters,
We take pleasure in dallying under the covers,
We enjoy mysteries and psychological thrillers.

We follow a handful of seasonal anime together
And we tend to swiftly marathon them altogether.
We even have our own convenient organization
In times when we watch anime together in elation.

He asks, “wanna watch” when there is an update
And picks a title; I agree and say “ready” and wait;
He says “go,” I thumb him, we watch simultaneously;
Then, whoever finishes first sends a thumb amiably.

He tries to pass time with me after work so demanding
So he sometimes falls asleep and leaves me hanging.
However, he impresses me in still choosing to be dutiful
All the while exhibiting humanness, which is beautiful.

I am pleased that we have similar likes and interests,
Glad that both tally with “real love will stand any tests,”
Blessed that both are open to expressing affection,
Thankful that we are looking in the same direction.

Even apart, I admire his strong patience,
Extending over many hours and nations!
Oh, I almost forgot – he is also tall and fit;
The more I think, he has it all – you name it!

The list of what I love about him keeps growing,
With things to cherish constantly overflowing;
I cannot expect more or imagine anyone better,
So I find myself dedicating to him this love letter.

Gosh, how I miss our sessions of wine and cheese,
Cinematic baths and interlacing, candlelit bodies,
Our woolgathering moaning and perspiring mess,
Many nameless moments and silent togetherness!

April 6, 2015, on OkCupid, he gave me a look;
April 11, 2015, he “friended” me on Facebook;
April 15, 2015, he suggested meeting up to study;
April 18, 2015, he dated me and became cuddly.

All this from last year… one year forward, today,
We are still together and have not gone astray –
As long-term and long-distance partners, we are
In the hardest, yet happiest, relationship by far!
I miss him, my other half, my home, very dearly.
I am thankful for his being, loving, and waiting for me.
Lucky Queue Nov 2012
In the dark of night, in the middle of a storm
A dish falls, shatters
A shriek tears the relative silence
Pale pink blood blossoms in the water
While rich red blood wells up in the hand
Tears falling like a blinding waterfall
Stabs and throbs of aching stinging searing pain
Blood and pain and tears fill the mind
A flash of white tissue beneath the torrents of red
Panting sobs and hyperventilation
Panicking as victim is rushed to the ER
Mother tries to comfort daughter with story of healed,
Previously lacerated toes
Two words blurted between gasps of pain: NOT HELPING
Arrive to an empty lobby, excepting a nurse and receptionist
Focus on nothing, only the hand
The possible tendon torn, the skin shredded, the blood spilt
Dishtowel now soaking red irony fluid instead of clear soapy
The story repeated 6, 7, 8 times
A nurse asks if I smoke or drink
A radiologist asks if there is any chance for pregnancy
And for a moment I am shocked out of my pain into pondering
The corruption of the modern generations,
Such that I am asked these questions
Any friend of mine would quickly tell that
No, I'm not that kind of teenager... but how many are?
Then I am whisked from the x-ray room
Off for stitches, they say my tendon is cut
That I need stitches
The fingers no longer gush, but that triviality is soon remedied
A doctor probes the wound for shards
Nurse flushes it clean with chlorohexadine
Both renew the flow
Doctor returns, stitches both fingers and chats away
Grand tally of five stitches, a splint, blankets of guaze,
And a roll of medical tape
Prescriptions for pain meds and antibiotics, both given
A scoffing glance, but instructions are followed
Forbidden from any activity with the right hand by my mother
I struggle even to write, simple chores soon a nuisance
First time the splint and stitches are gone,
Doctor number two declares my hand usable
First time the little finger bends, the half healed skin splits
So all for a plate, a hand was rendered more useless
Finally getting around to dealing with my hand injury... also very frustrated by how long it's taking to heal, so this became a bit of a rant...

— The End —