Spring Was Delayed
by Michael R. Burch

Winter came early:
the driving snows,
the delicate frosts
that crystallize

all we forget
or refuse to know,
all we regret
that makes us wise.

Spring was delayed:
the nubile rose,
the tentative sun,
the wind’s soft sighs,

all we omit
or refuse to show,
whatever we shield
behind guarded eyes.

Originally published by Borderless Journal


by Michael R. Burch

I have no words
for winter’s pale splendors
awash in gray twilight,
nor these slow-dripping eaves
renewing their tinkling songs.

Life’s like the failing resistance
of autumn to winter
and plays its low accompaniment,
slipping slowly


by Michael R. Burch

There were skies onyx at night ... moons by day ...
lakes pale as her eyes ... breathless winds
undressing tall elms ... she would say
that we’d loved, but I figured we’d sinned.

Soon impatiens too fiery to stay
sagged; the crocus bells drooped, golden-limned;
things of brightness, rinsed out, ran to gray ...
all the light of that world softly dimmed.

Where our feet were inclined, we would stray;
there were paths where dead weeds stood untrimmed,
distant mountains that loomed in our way,
thunder booming down valleys dark-hymned.

What I found, I found lost in her face
by yielding all my virtue to her grace.

Originally published by Romantics Quarterly as “A Dying Fall”


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

then flutters and drifts on in dark aimless flight.

And yet it returns
to the flame, its delight,
as long as it burns.


A Surfeit of Light
by Michael R. Burch

There was always a surfeit of light in your presence.
You stood distinctly apart, not of the humdrum world—
a chariot of gold in a procession of plywood.

We were all pioneers of the modern expedient race,
raising the ante: Home Depot to Lowe’s.
Yours was an antique grace—Thrace’s or Mesopotamia’s.

We were never quite sure of your silver allure,
of your trillium-and-platinum diadem,
of your utter lack of flatware-like utility.

You told us that night—your wound would not scar.
The black moment passed, then you were no more.
The darker the sky, how much brighter the Star!

The day of your funeral, I ripped out the crown mold.
You were this fool’s gold.


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 far to the lees
as fierce northern gales sever.

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

Published by Borderless Journal (Singapore)


Moore or Less
by Michael R. Burch

for Richard Moore

Less is more —
in a dress, I suppose,
and in intimate clothes
like crotchless hose.

But now Moore is less
due to death’s subtraction
and I must confess:
I hate such redaction!


In this Ordinary Swoon
by Michael R. Burch

In this ordinary swoon
as I pass from life to death,
I feel no heat from the cold, pale moon;
I feel no sympathy for breath.

Who I am and why I came,
I do not know; nor does it matter.
The end of every man’s the same
and every god’s as mad as a hatter.

I do not fear the letting go;
I only fear the clinging on
to hope when there’s no hope, although
I lift my face to the blazing sun

and feel the greater intensity
of the wilder inferno within me.


The evening light is broad and yellow
by Anna Akhmatova
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The evening light is broad and yellow;
it glides in on an April rain.
You arrived years late,
yet I’m glad you came.

Please sit down here, beside me,
receive me with welcoming eyes.
Here is my blue notebook
with my childhood poems inside.

Forgive me if I lived in sorrow,
spent too little time rejoicing in the sun.
Forgive, forgive, me, if I mistook
others for you, when you were the One.


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?

Published by Borderless Journal (Singapore) and SindhuNews (India)


u-turn: another way to look at religion
by michael r. burch

... u were born(e) orphaned from Ecstasy
into this lower realm: just one of the inching worms
dreaming of Beatification;
u’d love to make a u-turn back to Divinity,
but having misplaced ur chrysalis,
can only chant magical phrases,
like Circe luring ulysses back into the pigsty ...


Our Sweet Ecologist
by Michael R. Burch

Our sweet ecologist —
what will she do with the ants
and the cockroaches, bedbugs and lice
when they want to live in her pants?

by michael r. burch

& disarming,
but mostly alarming
since all my resolve

as a sheikh’s
harem girl in the sheets
but my castle’s no longer my own
and my kingdom’s been overthrown!

The Bachelor Spectacular
by Michael R. Burch

One heart? Tossed aside.
The other? A bride’s.
In all his great wisdom, the bachelor decides.

Eeenie, mean-ie, mine-y, mo’,
one gal must stay and one must go.
If she hollers? That’s the show!

No heart can handle such despair!
But hearts get broken, hearts repair.
Next season? The treasoned will rule the air.

Originally published by Light

The Unspectacular Bachelor
by Michael R. Burch

The bachelor is back, he’s black,
and some fair-skinned gals sure want him in the sack!
And, yes, he’s a whole lot smarter
than the previous knights of that peculiar garter.

We can hear the white supremacists stewing:
What the hell are the screenwriters doing?
They know love requires a nice white spark,
and this apprentice is far too dark!

Updated Advice to Amorous Bachelors
by Michael R. Burch

At six-thirty,
feeling flirty,
I put on the hurdy-gurdy ...

But Ms. Purdy,
all alert-y,
kicked me where I’m sore and hurty.

The moral of my story?
To avoid a fate as gory,
flirt with gals a bit more whore-y!

Cut Out the Bachelor Nonsense!
There's a bun in auntie's oven;
now soon you'll have a cousin!
―Michael R. Burch

Time Out
by Michael R. Burch

Time is running out,
no doubt.
Time is running out.

I don’t know what the LORD’s about,
since Time is running out, the Lout!,
and leaving me with gas and gout.

I don’t know what the LORD’s about;
still, it does no good to grouse or pout,
since Time is merely running out,
like quail before a native scout.

’Twill do no good to shout or flout:
Time’s running out,
I have no doubt,
though who knows what the LORD’s about?

No need for faith or even doubt,
since Time is merely running out,
like water from a rusty spout
or mucous from a leaky snout.

Yes, Time is merely running out,
and yet I feel inclined to pout
and truth be told, sometimes to doubt
just what the hell the LORD’s about.

by Michael R. Burch

Ain’t it funny how trendy
becomes so dead-endy?
Lava lamps and bell bottoms
soon became “never bought ‘ems.”
While that teenage tattoo
soon’ll have wrinkles too.

This was my first-ever dabble dactyl, my variation of the double dactyl.

Donald Dabble Dactyl #1
by Michael R. Burch

Ronald McDonald
cursed Donald Trump,
his least favorite clown:

"Why should I try to be
funny as Donald? He
gets all the laughs
claiming upside is down!"

Donald Dabble Dactyls must begin with "Piggledy-Wiggledy" in homage to The Donald's oinkerishness and his 'do. References to clowns, gold-plated toilets and/or diapers are a plus but not required.

Donald Dabble Dactyl #2
by Michael R. Burch

Wond’ringly, blund’ringly
Ronald McDonald
asked, “Who the hell
is this strange orange clown?”

“Why should I try to be
funny as Donnie? He
gets all the laughs
from marks who should frown!”

I see that I violated my prime directive, so "never mind."

Donald Dabble Dactyl #3
by Michael R. Burch

45th president,
or erstwhile manse resident,
perched on a throne

of gold-plated porcelain
matching his orange “tan,”
bombing Iran
from his twittery phone?

by Michael R. Burch, circa age 16

Sleep, old man ...
your day has long since passed.
The endless plains,
cool midnight rains
and changeless ragged cows
alone remain
of what once was.

You cannot know
just how the Change
will rape the windswept plains
that you so loved ...
and so sleep now,
O yes, sleep now ...
before you see just how
the Change will come.

Sleep, old man ...
your dreams are not our dreams.
The Rio Grande,
stark silver sand
and every obscure brand
of steed and cow
are sure to pass away
as you do now.

I believe this poem was written around the same time as “Blue Cowboy,” perhaps on the same day. That was probably sometime around 1974, at age 16 or thereabouts.

Blue Cowboy
by Michael R. Burch, circa age 16

He slumps against the pommel,
a lonely, heartsick boy—
his horse his sole companion,
his gun his only toy
—and bitterly regretting
he ever came so far,
forsaking all home's comforts
to sleep beneath the stars,
he sighs.

He thinks about the lover
who awaits his kiss no more
till a tear anoints his lashes,
lit by uncaring stars.
He reaches to his aching breast,
withdraws a golden lock,
and kisses it in silence
as empty as his thoughts
while the wind sighs.

Blue cowboy, ride that lonesome ridge
between the earth and distant stars.
Do not fall; the fiends of hell
would leap to feast upon your heart.

Blue cowboy, sift the burnt-out sand
for a drop of water warm and brown.
Dream of streams like silver seams
even as you gulp it down.

Blue cowboy, sing defiant songs
to hide the weakness in your soul.
Blue cowboy, ride that lonesome ridge
and wish that you were going home
as the stars sigh.

Chixiao (“The Owl”)
by Duke Zhou
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

You've stolen my offspring,
Don't shatter my nest!
When with labors of love
I nurtured my fledglings.

Before the skies darkened
And the dark rains fell,
I gathered mulberry twigs
To thatch my nest,
Yet scoundrels now dare
Impugn my enterprise.

With fingers chafed rough
By the reeds I plucked
And the straw I threshed,
I now write these words,
Too hoarse to speak:
I am homeless!

My wings are withered,
My tail torn away,
My home toppled
And tossed into the rain,
My cry a distressed peep.

The Song of Roland
by Michael R. Burch, circa age 16

"for spring in retreat"

Rain down,
strange murmurous water...
no, summer is not yet nigh.

Cease your complaining,
for May is,
calling December a lie,
still rocking the high white sky.

Sleep now,
summer hours...
too soon your time shall come.

Softly straining,
the raining
spring begs, "Let me run
one more hour beneath the sun,
for soon I shall be gone."

Lie down,
weary Roland,
for summer is not yet nigh.

Remember a pyre
of stars blazing higher
upon night’s immense dark sky
unsettling as her eyes,
unregretful, even as you died...

Lie down,
weary Roland,
for summer is not yet nigh.

I believe I wrote “The Song of Roland” around age 16.

That Not-So-Mellow Fellow, Othello
by Michael R. Burch

Not sure ’bout that fellow, Othello,
was he a “hero” or merely piss yellow?
He killed his poor wife
over a handkerchief!
Thus Iago proved his heart Jello.

Time Out!
by Michael R. Burch

Time is at war with my body!
am i Time’s most diligent hobby?
for there’s never Time out
from my low-t and gout
and my once-brilliant mind has grown stodgy!

Waiting Game
by Michael R. Burch

Nothing much to live for,
yet no good reason to die:
life became
a waiting game...
Rain from a clear blue sky.

Nipples' Ripples
by Michael R. Burch

Men are scared of nipples:
that’s why they can’t be seen.
For if they were,
we’d go to war
as in the days of Troy, I ween.

Untitled Epigrams

Teach me to love:
to fly beyond sterile Mars
to percolating Venus.
—Michael R. Burch

The LIV is LIVid:
livid with blood,
and full of egos larger
than continents.
—Michael R. Burch

Evil is as evil does.
Evil never needs a cause.
Evil loves amoral “laws,”
laughs and licks its blood-red claws
while kids are patched together with gauze.
— Michael R. Burch

Poets laud Justice’s
high principles.
Trump just gropes
her raw genitals.
—Michael R. Burch

That Mella Fella
by Michael R. Burch

John Mella was the longtime editor of Light Quarterly.

There once was a fella
named Mella,
who, if you weren’t funny,
would tell ya.
But he was cool, clever, nice,
gave some splendid advice,
and if you did well,
he would sell ya.

Shakespeare had his patrons and publishers; John Mella was one of my favorites in the early going, along with Jean Mellichamp Milliken of The Lyric.

Chip Off the Block
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy

In the fusion of poetry and drama,
Shakespeare rules! Jeremy’s a ham: a
chip off the block, like his father and mother.
Part poet? Part ham? Better run for cover!
Now he’s Benedick — most comical of lovers!

NOTE: Jeremy’s father is a poet and his mother is an actress; hence the fusion, or confusion, as the case may be.

Keywords/Tags: poem, poetry, winter, spring, snow, frost, rose, sun, eyes, sight, seeing, understanding, wisdom