These are love poems by Michael R. Burch. Some are poems about love in desert places where Bedouins have learned to do without. The poems include everything from heroic couplets, sonnets and villanelles, to free verse and haiku. 

Sonnet: Once (a confirmed bachelor recants)

for Beth

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 impossible blossom her wild rains of kisses decreed.

Published by The Lyric, Writer’s Journal, Grassroots Poetry, Tucumcari Literary Journal, Unlikely Stories, Poetry Life & Times


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.


Laughter’s Cry
by Michael R. Burch

Because life is a mystery, we laugh
and do not know the half.

Because death is a mystery, we cry
when one is gone, our numbering thrown awry.


Villanelle: Ordinary Love
by Michael R. Burch

Indescribable—our love—and still we say
with eyes averted, turning out the light,
“I love you,” in the ordinary way

and tug the coverlet where once we lay,
all suntanned limbs entangled, shivering, white ...
indescribably in love. Or so we say.

Your hair’s blonde thicket’s thinned and tangle-gray;
you turn your back; you murmur to the night,
“I love you,” in the ordinary way.

Beneath the sheets our hands and feet would stray ...
to warm ourselves
. We do not touch, despite
a love so indescribable. We say

we’re older now, that “love” has had its day.
But that which love once countenanced, delight,
still makes you indescribable. I say,
“I love you,” in the ordinary way.

Published by The Lyric, Romantics Quarterly, Amerikai költok a második (Hungarian translation by István Bagi), Mandrake Poetry Review, Carnelian, Formal Verse, Net Poetry and Art Competition, Famous Poets & Poems, FreeXpression, PW Review, Poetic Voices, Poetry Renewal, Poem Kingdom and Poetry Life & Times; also winner of the 2001 Algernon Charles Swinburne Poetry Award


The Sky Was Turning Blue
for Vicky

Yesterday I saw you
as the snow flurries died,
spent winds becalmed.
When I saw your solemn face
alone in the crowd,
I felt my heart, so long embalmed,
begin to beat aloud.

Was it another winter,
another day like this?
Was it so long ago?
Where you the rose-cheeked girl
who slapped my face, then stole a kiss?
Was the sky this gray with snow,
my heart so all a-whirl?

How is it in one moment
it was twenty years ago,
lost worlds remade anew?
When your eyes met mine, I knew
you felt it too, as though
we heard the robin's song
and the sky was turning blue.


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


by Michael R. Burch

She spoke
and her words
were like a ringing echo dying
or like smoke
rising and drifting
while the earth below is spinning.
She awoke
with a cry
from a dream that had no ending,
without hope
or strength to rise,
into hopelessness descending.
And an ache
in her heart
toward that dream, retreating,
left a wake
of small waves
in circles never completing.

Originally published by Romantics Quarterly


by michael r. burch

we have grown too far apart,
each heart
long numbed by time and pain.

we have grown too far apart;
the DARK
now calls us. why refrain?

we have grown too far apart;
what spark
could ignite our lives again

or persuade us to remain?


Dry Hump
by Michael R. Burch

You came to me as rain breaks on the desert
when every flower springs to life at once.
But joys? Mere wan illusions to the expert:
the Bedouin has learned how not to want.

Published by Shot Glass Journal


Sonnet: 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 joys? Mere wan illusions 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, Dusure Abueaoa (Tokelau), Shabestaneh (Iran), The Eclectic Muse (Canada), Kritya (India), Anthology of Contemporary American Poetry, Freshet,  Captivating Poetry (Anthology), Strange Road, Shot Glass Journal, Better Than Starbucks, The Chained Muse, Famous Poets and Poems, Sonnetto Poesia (Canada) and Poetry Life & Times


Your Pull
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth

You were like sunshine and rain—
begetting rainbows,
full of contradictions, like the intervals
between light and shadow.

That within you which I most opposed
drew me closer still,
as a magnet exerts its relentless pull
on insensate steel.

Originally published by The Lyric

Keywords/Tags: poem, poetry, love, attraction, magnetism, pull, close, closer, closeness


Moon Poem
by Michael R. Burch
after Linda Gregg

I climb the mountain
to inquire of the moon ...
the advantages of loftiness, absence, distance.
Is it true that it feels no pain,
or will she contradict me?

Originally published by Borderless Journal (Singapore)

The apparent contradiction of it/she is intentional, since the speaker doesn’t know if the moon is an inanimate object or can feel pain.


Mingled Air
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth

Ephemeral as breath, still words consume
the substance of our hearts; the very air
that fuels us is subsumed; sometimes the hair
that veils your eyes is lifted and the room

seems hackles-raised: a spring all tension wound
upon a word. At night I feel the care
evaporate—a vapor everywhere
more enervate than sighs: a mournful sound

grown blissful. In the silences between
I hear your heart, forget to breathe, and glow
somehow. And though the words subside, we know
the hearth light and the comfort embers gleam

upon our dreaming consciousness. We share
so much so common: sighs, breath, mingled air.


The Darker Nights
by Michael R. Burch

Nights when I held you,
nights when I saw
the gentlest of spirits,
yet, deeper, a flaw ...

Nights when we settled
and yet never gelled.
Nights when you promised
what you later withheld ...


by Michael R. Burch

for the victims and survivors of 9-11

The world is unsalvageable ...    

but as we lie here
in bed
stricken to the heart by love
despite war’s
flickering images,

sometimes we still touch,

laughing, amazed,
that our flesh
does not despair
of love
as we do,

that our bodies are wise

in ways we refuse
to comprehend,
still insisting we eat,
drink ...
even multiply.

And so we touch ...

touch, and only imagine
ourselves immune:
two among billions

in this night of wished-on stars,

and condolences.

We are not lovers of irony,

who imagine ourselves
beyond the redemption
of tears
because we have salvaged
so few
for ourselves ...

and so we laugh
at our predicament,
fumbling for the ointment.

Keywords/tags: 911, war, survival, survivors, recovery, love, lovemaking, sex, tears, redemption, bodies, flesh, touch, caresses



Paradoxical Ode to Antinatalism
by Michael R. Burch

A stay on love
would end death’s hateful sway,

A stay on love
would thus be love,
I say.

Be true to love
and thus end death’s
fell sway!


Roses for a Lover, Idealized
by Michael R. Burch

When you have become to me
as roses bloom, in memory,
exquisite, each sharp thorn forgot,
will I recall—yours made me bleed?

When winter makes me think of you—
whorls petrified in frozen dew,
bright promises blithe spring forsook,
will I recall your words—barbed, cruel?

Published by The Lyric, Trinacria, Better Than Starbucks, La Luce Che Non Moure (Italy), Glass Facets of Poetry, The Chained Muse, Setu (India)

On an amusing note, a reviewer was praising my poetry to the skies – blush-worthy stuff – but when he got to this poem he said that I was “only human” after all and sounded like a Victorian! Of course there is a lot of bad Victorian poetry, just as there is a lot of bad poetry in any era, and especially ours, but I like to think this is “good Victorian” if that is its genre.


Child of 9-11
by Michael R. Burch

a poem for Christina-Taylor Green, who was born on September 11, 2001 and died at the age of nine, shot to death ...

Child of 9-11, beloved,
I bring this lily, lay it down
here at your feet, and eiderdown,
and all soft things, for your gentle spirit.
I bring this psalm—I hope you hear it.

Much love I bring—I lay it down
here by your form, which is not you,
but what you left this shellshocked world
to help us learn what we must do
to save another child like you.

Child of 9-11, I know
you are not here, but watch afar
from distant stars, where angels rue
the evil things some mortals do.
I also watch; I also rue.

And so I make this pledge and vow:
though I may weep, I will not rest
nor will my pen fail heaven’s test
till guns and wars and hate are banned
from every shore, from every land.

Child of 9-11, I grieve
your gentle life, cut short. Bereaved,
what can I do, but pledge my life
to saving lives like yours? Belief
in your sweet worth has led me here ...

I give my all: my pen, this tear,
this lily and this eiderdown,
and all soft things my heart can bear;
I bring them to your final bier,
and leave them with my promise, here.

Published by The Flea, The Lyric (also the first featured poem on The Lyric’s website for the Winter 2011 issue), Copia Posterous, Angle (Australia), Better Than Starbucks, Elizabeth’s Ramblings, A Long Story Short, Poet’s Corner, Troubles of the World, The Eclectic Muse (Canada), FreeXpression (Australia), Elephant Journal, and Fullosia Press


To Have Loved
by Michael R. Burch

Helen, bright accompaniment,
accouterment of war as sure as all
the polished swords of princes groomed to lie
in mausoleums all eternity ...

The price of love is not so high
as never to have loved once in the dark
beyond foreseeing. Now, as dawn gleams pale
upon small wind-fanned waves, amid white sails ...

Now all that war entails becomes as small,
as though receding. Paris in your arms
was never yours, nor were you his at all.
And should gods call

in numberless strange voices, should you hear,
still what would be the difference? Men must die
to be remembered. Fame, the shrillest cry,
leaves all the world dismembered.

Hold him, lie,
tell many pleasant tales of lips and thighs;
enthrall him with your sweetness, till the pall
and ash lie cold upon him.

Is this all? You saw fear in his eyes, and now they dim
with fear’s remembrance. Love, the fiercest cry,
becomes gasped sighs in his once-gallant hymn
of dreamed “salvation.” Still, you do not care

because you have this moment, and no man
can touch you as he can, and when he’s gone
there will be other men to look upon
your beauty, and have done.

Smile—woebegone, pale, haggard. Will the tales
paint this—your final portrait? Can the stars
find any strange alignments, Zodiacs,
to spell, or unspell, what held beauty lacks?

Published by The Raintown Review, Triplopia, The Electic Muse (Canada), The Chained Muse, Borderless Journal, The Pennsylvania Review, and in a YouTube recital by David B. Gosselin


how many Nights
by michael r. burch

how many Nights we laughed to see the sun
go down
because the Night was made for reckless fun.

...Your golden crown,
Your skin so soft, so smooth, and lightly downed...

how many nights i wept glad tears to hold
You tight against the years.

...Your eyes so bold,
Your hair spun gold,
and all the pleasures Your soft flesh foretold...

how many Nights i did not dare to dream
You were so real...
now all that i have left here is to feel
in dreams surreal
Time is the Nightmare God before whom men kneel.

and how few Nights, i reckoned, in the end,
we were allowed to gather, less to spend.


In My Imagined Book
by Charles d’Orleans (c. 1394-1465)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

In my imagined Book
my heart endeavored to explain
its history of grief, and pain,
illuminated by the tears
that welled to blur those well-loved years
of former happiness's gains,
in my imagined Book.

Alas, where should the reader look
beyond these drops of sweat, their stains,
all the effort & pain it took
& which I recorded night and day
in my imagined Book?

Dedens mon Livre de Pensee,
J'ay trouvé escripvant mon cueur
La vraye histoire de douleur
De larmes toute enluminee,
En deffassant la tresamée
Ymage de plaisant doulceur,
Dedens mon Livre de Pensee.

Hélas! ou l'a mon cueur trouvee?
Les grosses gouttes de sueur
Lui saillent, de peinne et labeur
Qu'il y prent, et nuit et journee,
Dedens mon Livre de Pensee.

Keywords/Tags: love, love poems, romance, desire, passion, kiss, kisses, lips, heart, hearts, dream, dreams