Year: 
2021

These are epigrams by Michael R. Burch, on subjects such as hearts, heartaches, love, dreams, the grave, the dead and death.

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.

Published by Lighten Up Online and in Potcake Chapbook #7

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Grave Oversight I
by Michael R. Burch

The dead are always with us,
and yet they are naught!

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Grave Oversight II
by Michael R. Burch

for Jim Dunlap, who winked and suggested “not”

The dead are either naught
or naughty, being so sought!

***

Grasses wilt:
the braking locomotive
grinds to a halt
—Yamaguchi Seishi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

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Less Heroic Couplets: Negotiables
by Michael R. Burch

Love should be more than the sum of its parts—
of its potions and pills and subterranean arts.

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Less Heroic Couplets: Mate Check
by Michael R. Burch

Love is an ache hearts willingly secure
then break the bank to cure.

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Less Heroic Couplets: Word to the Unwise
by Michael R. Burch

I wanted to be good as gold,
but being good, as I’ve been told,
requires something, discipline,
I simply have no interest in!

***

Incompatibles
by Michael R. Burch

Reason’s
treason!
cries the Heart.

Love’s
insane,
replies the Brain.

Originally published by Light

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A man may attempt to burnish pure gold, but who can think to improve on his mother? —Mahatma Gandhi, translation by Michael R. Burch

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To know what we do know, and to know what we don't, is true knowledge.—Confucius, sometimes incorrectly attributed to Nicolaus Copernicus, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

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Where our senses fail,
reason must prevail.
—Galileo Galilei, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

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Nothing enables authority like silence.—Leonardo da Vinci, translation by Michael R. Burch

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Blinding ignorance misleads us. Myopic mortals, open your eyes!—Leonardo da Vinci, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

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Once we have flown, we will forever walk the earth with our eyes turned heavenward, for there we were and there we will always long to return.—Leonardo da Vinci, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

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The great achievers rarely relaxed and let things happen to them. They set out and kick-started whatever happened.—Leonardo da Vinci, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

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The greatest deceptions spring from men’s own opinions.—Leonardo da Vinci, translation by Michael R. Burch

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It is easier to oppose evil from the beginning than at the end.—Leonardo da Vinci, translation by Michael R. Burch

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There are three classes of people: Those who see by themselves. Those who see only when they are shown. Those who refuse to see.—Leonardo da Vinci, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

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Small minds continue to shrink, but those whose hearts are firm and whose consciences endorse their conduct, will persevere until death.—Leonardo da Vinci, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

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I am impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowledge is not enough; we must apply ourselves. Wanting and being willing are insufficient; we must act.—Leonardo da Vinci, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

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Time is sufficient for anyone who uses it wisely.—Leonardo da Vinci, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

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Where the spirit does not aid and abet the hand there is no art.—Leonardo da Vinci, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

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Necessity is the mistress of mother nature's inventions.—Leonardo da Vinci, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

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Nature has no effect without cause, no invention without necessity.—Leonardo da Vinci, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

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A Passing Observation about Thinking Outside the Box
by Michael R. Burch

William Blake had no public, and yet he’s still read.
His critics are dead.

***

Me?
Whee!
(I stole this poem
From Muhammad Ali.)
—Michael R. Burch

***

Apologies to España
by Michael R. Burch aka "The Loyal Opposition"

the reign
in Trump’s brain
falls mainly as mansplain

***

Farewell to Faith I
by Michael R. Burch

What we want is relief
from life’s grief and despair:
what we want’s not “belief”
but just not to be there.

***

Farewell to Faith II
by Michael R. Burch

Confronted by the awesome thought of death,
to never suffer, and be free of grief,
we wonder: What’s the use of drawing breath?
Why seek relief
from the bible’s Thief,
who ripped off Eve then offered her a leaf?

***

Eerie Dearie
by Michael R. Burch

A trembling young auditor, white
as a sheet, like a ghost in the night,
saw his dreams, his career
in a poof!, disappear,
and then, strangely Enronic, his wife.

Fortune named Enron "America's Most Innovative Company" for six consecutive years, but the company went bankrupt and vanished after its accounting practices were determined to be fraudulent.

***

Less Heroic Couplets: Fahr an’ Ice
by Michael R. Burch

with abject apologies to Robert Frost and Ogden Nash

From what I know of death, I’ll side with those
who’d like to have a say in how it goes:
just make mine cool, cool rocks (twice drowned in likker),
and real fahr off, instead of quicker.

***

Snap Shots
by Michael R. Burch

Our daughters must be celibate,
die virgins. We triangulate
their early paths to heaven (for
the martyrs they’ll soon conjugate).

We like to hook a little tail.
We hope there’s decent ass in jail.
Don’t fool with us; our bombs are smart!
(We’ll send the plans, ASAP, e-mail.)

The soul is all that matters; why
hoard gold if it offends the eye?
A pension plan? Don’t make us laugh!
We have your plan for sainthood. (Die.)

The second stanza is a punning reference to the Tailhook scandal, in which US Navy and Marine aviation officers were alleged to have sexually assaulted up to 83 women and seven men.

***

Gore-dom Boredom
by Michael R. Burch

There once was a candidate, Gore,
whose campaign had become quite a bore.
“He’s much too stiff,”
sighed his publicist,
“but not like his predecessor!”

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Why the Kid Gloves Came Off
by Michael R. Burch

for Lemuel Ibbotson

It's hard to be a man of taste
in such a waste:
hence the lambaste.

***

Housman was right ...
by Michael R. Burch

It’s true that life’s not much to lose,
so why not hang out on a cloud?
It’s just the bon voyage is hard
and the objections loud.

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Critical Mass
by Michael R. Burch

I have listened to the rain all this evening
and it has a certain gravity,
as if it knows its destination,
perhaps even its particular destiny.
I doubt mine is to be uplifted,
although I, too, may be flung precipitously
and from a great height.

"Gravity" and "particular destiny" are puns, since rain droplets are seeded by minute particles of dust adrift in the atmosphere and they fall due to gravity when they reach "critical mass." The title is also a pun, since the poem is skeptical about heaven-lauding Masses, etc.

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Reading between the lines
by Michael R. Burch

Who could have read so much, as we?
Having the time, but not the inclination,
TV has become our philosophy,
sheer boredom, our recreation.

***

Less Heroic Couplets: Dark Cloud, Silver Lining
from “Love in the Time of the Coronavirus”
by Michael R. Burch

Every corona has a silver lining:
I’m too far away to hear your whining,
and despite my stormy demeanor,
my hands have never been cleaner!

***

Orpheus, or, William Blake's Whistle
by Michael R. Burch

for and after William Blake

I.
Many a sun
and many a moon
I walked the earth
and whistled a tune.

I did not whistle
as I worked:
the whistle was my work.
I shirked

nothing I saw
and made a rhyme
to children at play
and hard time.

II.
Among the prisoners
I saw
the leaden manacles
of Law,

the heavy ball and chain,
the quirt.
And yet I whistled
at my work.

III.
Among the children’s
daisy faces
and in the women’s
frowsy laces,

I saw redemption,
and I smiled.
Satanic millers,
unbeguiled,

were swayed by neither girl,
nor child,
nor any God of Love.
Yet mild

I whistled at my work,
and Song
broke out,
ere long.

***

A Passing Observation about Thinking Outside the Box
by Michael R. Burch

William Blake had no public, and yet he’s still read.
His critics are dead.

***

The Difference
by Michael R. Burch

The chimneysweeps
will weep
for Blake,
who wrote his poems
for their dear sake.

The critics clap,
polite, for you.
Another poem
for poets,
Whooo!

***

Ah! Sunflower
by Michael R. Burch

for and after William Blake

O little yellow flower
like a star ...
how beautiful,
how wonderful
we are!

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blake take
by michael r. burch

we became ashamed of our bodies;
we became ashamed of sweet sex;
we became ashamed of the LORD
with each terrible CURSE and HEX;
we became ashamed of the planet
(it’s such a slovenly hovel);
and we came to see, in the end,
that we really agreed with the devil.

***

dark matter(s)
by Michael R. Burch

for and after William Blake

the matter is dark, despairful, alarming:
ur Creator is hardly prince charming!

yes, ur “Great I Am”
created blake’s lamb

but He also created the tyger ...
and what about trump and rod steiger?

Rod Steiger is best known for his portrayals of weirdos, oddballs, mobsters, bandits, serial killers, and fascists like Mussolini and Napoleon.

***

The Echoless Green
by Michael R. Burch

for and after William Blake

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

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

By twilight, their cries
had subsided to sighs.

Now night reigns supreme
on the echoless green.

***

evol-u-shun
by michael r. burch

for and after william blake

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

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

does GOD admire ur brains
while ur claimng IT has a heart?

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

In the segmented title “evol” is “love” spelled backwards. The title questions whether you/we have been shunned by a "God of Love" and/or by evolution. William Blake’s poem “The Tyger” questions the nature of a Creator who brings innocent lambs and savage tigers into the same world. Keywords/Tags: god, love, evolution, coronavirus, plague, tyger, tiger, lamb, predator, prey, brains, heart, bible, K-Mart, blue light special

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Mongrel Dreams (II)
by Michael R. Burch

for Thomas Rain Crowe

I squat in my Cherokee lodge, this crude wooden hutch of dry branches and leaf-thatch
as the embers smolder and burn,
hearing always the distant tom-toms of your rain dance.

I relax in my rustic shack on the heroned shores of Gwynedd,
slandering the English in the amulet gleam of the North Atlantic,
hearing your troubadour’s songs, remembering Dylan.

I stand in my rough woolen kilt in the tall highland heather
feeling the freezing winds through the trees leaning sideways,
hearing your bagpipes’ lament, dreaming of Burns.

I slave in my drab English hovel, tabulating rents
while dreaming of Blake and burning your poems like incense.

I abide in my pale mongrel flesh, writing in Nashville
as the thunderbolts flash and the spring rains spill,
till the quill gently bleeds and the white page fills,
dreaming of Whitman, calling you brother.

***

beMused
by Michael R. Burch

Perhaps at three
you'll come to tea,
to have a cuppa here?

You'll just stop in
to sip dry gin?
I only have a beer.

To name the “greats”:
Pope, Dryden, mates?
The whole world knows their names.

Discuss the “songs”
of Emerson?
But these are children's games.

Give me rhythms
wild as Dylan’s!
Give me Bobbie Burns!

Give me Psalms,
or Hopkins’ poems,
Hart Crane’s, if he returns!

Or Langston railing!
Blake assailing!
Few others I desire.

Or go away,
yes, leave today:
your tepid poets tire.

***

I Learned Too Late
by Michael R. Burch

“Show, don’t tell!”

I learned too late that poetry has rules,
although they may be rules for greater fools.

In any case, by dodging rules and schools,
I avoided useless duels.

I learned too late that sentiment is bad—
that Blake and Keats and Plath had all been had.

In any case, by following my heart,
I learned to walk apart.

I learned too late that “telling” is a crime.
Did Shakespeare know? Is Milton doing time?

In any case, by telling, I admit:
I think such rules are shit.

***

tyger, lamb, free love, etc.
by michael r. burch

for and after william blake

the tiger’s a ferocious slayer.
     he has no say in it.
hence, ur Creator’s a shit.

the lamb led to the slaughter
     extends her neck to the block and bit.
she has no say in it.

so don’t be a nitwit:
     drink, carouse and revel!
why obey the Devil?

Keywords/Tags: epigram, epigrams, epitaph, epitaphs, hearts, heartaches, love, dreams, the grave, the dead, death

Author of original: 
Leonardo da Vinci
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