Michael R. Burch

1958
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Best Poems of Michael R. Burch

The Best Poems of Michael R. Burch
The Most Popular Poems of Michael R. Burch



Autumn Conundrum
by Michael R. Burch

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



Piercing the Shell
by Michael R. Burch

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



Childless
by Michael R. Burch

How can she bear her grief?
Mightier than Atlas, she shoulders the weight
of one fallen star.



Styx
by Michael R. Burch, age 16

Black waters,
deep and dark and still . . .
all men have passed this way,
or will.



She bathes in silver
by Michael R. Burch

She bathes in silver,
~~~~~afloat~~~~~
on her reflections ...



The Shrinking Season
by Michael R. Burch

With every wearying year
the weight of the winter grows
and while the schoolgirl outgrows
her clothes,
the widow disappears
in hers.



Moments
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth

There were moments full of promise,
like the petal-scented rainfall of early spring,
when to hold you in my arms and to kiss your willing lips
seemed everything.

There are moments strangely empty
full of pale unearthly twilight—how the cold stars stare!—
when to be without you is a dark enchantment
the night and I share.



The Effects of Memory
by Michael R. Burch

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

now that I cannot forget.

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

our soft cries, like regret,

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

now that I have forgotten her face.



Second Sight
by Michael R. Burch

I never touched you—
that was my mistake.

Deep within,
I still feel the ache.

Can an unformed thing
eternally break?

Now, from a great distance,
I see you again

not as you are now,
but as you were then—

eternally present
and Sovereign.



Violets
by Michael R. Burch

Once, only once,
when the wind flicked your skirt
to an indiscreet height

and you laughed,
abruptly demure,
outblushing shocked violets:

suddenly,
I knew:
everything had changed

and as you braided your hair
into long bluish plaits
the shadows empurpled,

the dragonflies’
last darting feints
dissolving mid-air,

we watched the sun’s long glide
into evening,
knowing and unknowing.

O, how the illusions of love
await us in the commonplace
and rare

then haunt our small remainder of hours.



The Tender Weight of Her Sighs
by Michael R. Burch

The tender weight of her sighs
lies heavily upon my heart;
apart from her, full of doubt,
without her presence to revolve around,
found wanting direction or course,
cursed with the thought of her grief,
believing true love is a myth,
with hope as elusive as tears,
hers and mine, unable to lie,
I sigh ...



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.



Come Down
by Michael R. Burch

for Harold Bloom and the Ivory Towerists

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

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

Come down, O, come down
from the high mountain heather
blown to the lees
as fierce northern gales sever.

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



Almost
by Michael R. Burch

We had—almost—an affair.
You almost ran your fingers through my hair.
I almost kissed the almonds of your toes.
We almost loved,
that’s always how love goes.

You almost contemplated using Nair
and adding henna highlights to your hair,
while I considered plucking you a Rose.
We almost loved,
that’s always how love goes.

I almost found the words to say, “I care.”
We almost kissed, and yet you didn’t dare.
I heard coarse stubble grate against your hose.
We almost loved,
that’s always how love goes.

You almost called me suave and debonair
(perhaps because my chest is pale and bare?).
I almost bought you edible underclothes.
We almost loved,
that’s always how love goes.

I almost asked you where you kept your lair
and if by chance I might seduce you there.
You almost tweezed the redwoods from my nose.
We almost loved,
that’s always how love goes.

We almost danced like Rogers and Astaire
on gliding feet; we almost waltzed on air ...
until I mashed your plain, unpolished toes.
We almost loved,
that’s always how love goes.

I almost was strange Sonny to your Cher.
We almost sat in love’s electric chair
to be enlightninged, till our hearts unfroze.
We almost loved,
that’s always how love goes.



Less Heroic Couplets: Murder Most Fowl!
by Michael R. Burch

“Murder most foul!”
cried the mouse to the owl.

“Friend, I’m no sinner;
you’re merely my dinner.

As you fall on my sword,
take it up with the LORD!”

the wise owl replied
as the tasty snack died.




Less Heroic Couplets: Sweet Tarts
by Michael R. Burch

Love, beautiful but fatal to many bewildered hearts,
commands us to be faithful, then tempts us with sweets and tarts.
(If I were younger, I might mention
you’re such a temptation.)



Anti-Vegan Manifesto
by Michael R. Burch

Let us
avoid lettuce,
sincerely,
and also celery!



Be very careful what you pray for!
by Michael R. Burch

Now that his T’s been depleted
the Saint is upset, feeling cheated.
His once-fiery lust?
Just a chemical bust:
no “devil” cast out or defeated.



Sinking
by Michael R. Burch

for Virginia Woolf

Weigh me down with stones ...
fill all the pockets of my gown ...
I’m going down,
mad as the world
that can’t recover,
to where even mermaids drown.



The Drawer of Mermaids
by Michael R. Burch

This poem is dedicated to Alina Karimova, who was born with severely deformed legs and five fingers missing. Alina loves to draw mermaids and believes her fingers will eventually grow out.

Although I am only four years old,
they say that I have an old soul.
I must have been born long, long ago,
here, where the eerie mountains glow
at night, in the Urals.

A madman named Geiger has cursed these slopes;
now, shut in at night, the emphatic ticking
fills us with dread.
(Still, my momma hopes
that I will soon walk with my new legs.)

It’s not so much legs as the fingers I miss,
drawing the mermaids under the ledges.
(Observing, Papa will kiss me
in all his distracted joy;
but why does he cry?)

And there is a boy
who whispers my name.
Then I am not lame;
for I leap, and I follow.
(G’amma brings a wiseman who says

our infirmities are ours, not God’s,
that someday a beautiful Child
will return from the stars,
and then my new fingers will grow
if only I trust Him; and so

I am preparing to meet Him, to go,
should He care to receive me.)



Snapshots
by Michael R. Burch

Here I scrawl extravagant rainbows.
And there you go, skipping your way to school.
And here we are, drifting apart
like untethered balloons.

Here I am, creating "art,"
chanting in shadows,
pale as the crinoline moon,
ignoring your face.

There you go,
in diaphanous lace,
making another man’s heart swoon.
Suddenly, unthinkably, here he is,
taking my place.



Squall
by Michael R. Burch

There, in that sunny arbor,
in the aureate light
filtering through the waxy leaves
of a stunted banana tree,

I felt the sudden monsoon of your wrath,
the clattery implosions
and copper-bright bursts
of the bottoms of pots and pans.

I saw your swollen goddess’s belly
wobble and heave
in pregnant indignation,
turned tail, and ran.



The Watch
by Michael R. Burch

Moonlight spills down vacant sills,
illuminates an empty bed.
Dreams lie in crates. One hand creates
wan silver circles, left unread
by its companion—unmoved now
by anything that lies ahead.

I watch the minutes test the limits
of ornamental movement here,
where once another hand would hover.
Each circuit—incomplete. So dear,
so precious, so precise, the touch
of hands that wait, yet ask so much.



If You Come to San Miguel
by Michael R. Burch

If you come to San Miguel
before the orchids fall,
we might stroll through lengthening shadows
those deserted streets
where love first bloomed ...

You might buy the same cheap musk
from that mud-spattered stall
where with furtive eyes the vendor
watched his fragrant wares
perfume your breasts ...

Where lean men mend tattered nets,
disgruntled sea gulls chide;
we might find that cafetucho
where through grimy panes
sunset implodes ...

Where tall cranes spin canvassed loads,
the strange anhingas glide.
Green brine laps splintered moorings,
rusted iron chains grind,
weighed and anchored in the past,

held fast by luminescent tides ...
Should you come to San Miguel?
Let love decide.



Warming Her Pearls
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth

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



Caveat Spender
by Michael R. Burch

It’s better not to speculate
"continually" on who is great.
Though relentless awe’s
a Célèbre Cause,
please reserve some time for the contemplation
of the perils of
EXAGGERATION.



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.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



The Peripheries of Love
by Michael R. Burch

Through waning afternoons we glide
the watery peripheries of love.
A silence, a quietude falls.

Above us—the sagging pavilions of clouds.
Below us—rough pebbles slowly worn smooth
grate in the gentle turbulence
of yesterday’s forgotten rains.

Later, the moon like a virgin
lifts her stricken white face
and the waters rise
toward some unfathomable shore.

We sway gently in the wake
of what stirs beneath us,
yet leaves us unmoved ...
curiously motionless,

as though twilight might blur
the effects of proximity and distance,
as though love might be near—

as near
as a single cupped tear of resilient dew
or a long-awaited face.



Villanelle: The Divide
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

The sea was not salt the first tide ...
imploring her, ebbing: Abide, abide.

The silver fish flash there, the manatees gray.

The moon, a pale beacon across the Divide,
has taught us to seek Love's concealed side:
the dark face of longing, the poets say.

The sea was not salt the first tide ...
the moon a pale beacon across the Divide.



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.



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?



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
pricks her to motion, again and again.



Goddess
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

Centuries later, I understand:
she whispered—“I Am.”



Once
by Michael R. Burch

Once when her kisses were fire incarnate
and left in their imprint bright lipstick, and flame,
when her breath rose and fell over smoldering dunes,
leaving me listlessly sighing her name ...

Once when her breasts were as pale, as beguiling,
as wan rivers of sand shedding heat like a mist,
when her words would at times softly, mildly rebuke me
all the while as her lips did more wildly insist ...

Once when the thought of her echoed and whispered
through vast wastelands of need like a Bedouin chant,
I ached for the touch of her lips with such longing
that I vowed all my former vows to recant ...

Once, only once, something bloomed, of a desiccate seed—
this implausible blossom her wild rains of kisses decreed.



Passionate One
by Michael R. Burch

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.



What Goes Around, Comes
by Michael R. Burch

This is a poem about loss
so why do you toss your dark hair—
unaccountably glowing?

How can you be sure of my heart
when it’s beyond my own knowing?

Or is it love’s pheromones you trust,
my eyes magnetized by your bust
and the mysterious alchemies of lust?

Now I am truly lost!



Are You the Thief
by Michael R. Burch

When I touch you now,
O sweet lover,
full of fire,
melting like ice
in my embrace,

when I part the delicate white lace,
baring pale flesh,
and your face
is so close
that I breathe your breath
and your hair surrounds me like a wreath ...

tell me now,
O sweet, sweet lover,
in good faith:
are you the thief
who has stolen my heart?



don’t forget ...
by Michael R. Burch

don’t forget to remember
that Space is curved
(like your Heart)
and that even Light is bent
by your Gravity.



The Stake
by Michael R. Burch

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



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.
Hence, lead me back tonight
through bright waterfalls of light
to where we shine as one.



Improve yourself by others' writings, attaining freely what they purchased at the expense of experience. — Socrates, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch
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