Year: 
2021

These are poems about blood roses. The rose is a symbol of love and tendernesss, but it is also the color of blood …

Frantisek “Franta” Bass was a Jewish boy born in Brno, Czechoslovakia in 1930. When he was 11, his family was deported by the Nazis to Terezin, where the SS had created a hybrid Ghetto/Concentration Camp just north of Prague (it was also known as Theresienstadt). Franta lived there under terrible conditions for three years. He was then sent to Auschwitz, where on October 28th, 1944, he was murdered at age 14.

The Garden
by Franta Bass
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

A small garden,
so fragrant and full of roses!
The path the little boy takes
is guarded by thorns.

A small boy, a sweet boy,
growing like those budding blossoms!
But when the blossoms have bloomed,
the boy will be no more.

Published by Poetry in the Raw, Holocaust Poems by Children, Tokyo Rabbi, Jewish Community of Japan and the Georgia Department of Education

***

Crescendo Against Heaven
by Michael R. Burch

As curiously formal as the rose,
the imperious Word grows
until it sheds red-gilded leaves:
then heaven grieves
love’s tiny pool of crimson recrimination
against God, its contention
of the price of salvation.

These industrious trees,
endlessly losing and re-losing their leaves,
finally unleashing themselves from earth, lashing
themselves to bits, washing
themselves free
of all but the final ignominy
of death, become
at last: fast planks of our coffins, dumb.  

Together now, rude coffins, crosses,
death-cursed but bright vermilion roses,
bodies, stumps, tears, words: conspire
together with a nearby spire
to raise their Accusation Dire ...
to scream, complain, to point out these
and other Dark Anomalies.

God always silent, ever afar,
distant as Bethlehem’s retrograde star,
we point out now, in resignation:   
You asked too much of man’s beleaguered nation,
gave too much strength to his Enemy,
as though to prove Your Self greater than He,
at our expense, and so men die
(whose accusations vex the sky)
yet hope, somehow, that You are good ...
just, O greatest of Poets!, misunderstood.

Published by The NeoVictorian/Cochlea, Poetry Life & Times and The Eclectic Muse (Canada)

***

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)

***

Auschwitz Rose
by Michael R. Burch

There is a Rose at Auschwitz, in the briar,
a rose like Sharon’s, lovely as her name.
The world forgot her, and is not the same.
I still love her and enlist this sacred fire
to keep her memory’s exalted flame
unmolested by the thistles and the nettles.

On Auschwitz now the reddening sunset settles ...
They sleep alike—diminutive and tall,
the innocent, the “surgeons.” Sleeping, all.

Red oxides of her blood, bright crimson petals,
if accidents of coloration, gall
my heart no less. Amid thick weeds and muck
there lies a rose man’s crackling lightning struck:
the only Rose I ever longed to pluck.
Soon I’ll bed there and bid the world “Good Luck.”

Originally published by The Neovictorian/Cochlea, then by Voices Israel, Other Voices International, Verse Weekly, Black Medina, ArtVilla, Poetry Renewal Magazine, Mindful of Poetry, The Eclectic Muse (Canada), Promosaik (Germany), Famous Poets & Poems, The Wandering Hermit, FreeXpression (Australia), Poetry Super Highway, Inspirational Stories, Poetry Life & Times, Sonnetto Poesia (Canada), Trinacria, Pennsylvania Review, Poems About, Litera (UK), Yahoo Buzz, Got Poetry and de Volkskrant Blog (Dutch newspaper)

***

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.

Published by The Raintown Review and Mindful of Poetry

***

Lady’s Favor
by Michael R. Burch

May
spring
fling
her riotous petals
devil-
may-care
into the air,
ignoring the lethal
nettles
and may
May
cry gleeful-
ly Hooray!
as the abundance
settles,
till a sudden June
swoon
leave us out of tune,
torn,
when the last rose is left
inconsolably bereft,
rudely shorn
of every device but her thorn.

Published by The Lyric, The New Lyre, Poem Today, Deviant Art and Suravejiliz (Tokelau)

***

A Vain Word
by Michael R. Burch

Oleanders at dawn preen extravagant whorls
as I read in leaves’ Sanskrit brief moments remaining
till sunset implodes, till the moon strands grey pearls
under moss-stubbled oaks, full of whispers, complaining
to the darkening autumn, how swiftly life goes—
as I fled before love ... Now, through leaves trodden black,
shivering, I wander as winter’s first throes
of cool listless snow drench my cheeks, back and neck.

I discerned in one season all eternities of grief,
the specter of death sprawled out under the rose,
the last consequence of faith in the flight of one leaf,
the incontinence of age, as life’s bright torrent slows.

O, where are you now?—I was timid, absurd.
I would find comfort again in a vain word.

Published by Chrysanthemum and Tucumcari Literary Review

***

Mending
by Michael R. Burch

for the survivors of 9-11 and their families

I am besieged with kindnesses;
sometimes I laugh,
delighted for a moment,
then resume
the more seemly occupation of my craft.

I do not taste the candies;
the perfume
of roses is uplifted
in a draft
that vanishes into the ceiling’s fans

that spin like old propellers
till the room
is full of ghostly bits of yarn . . .
My task
is not to knit,

but not to end too soon.

Published by Poetry SuperHighway and Poetry Life & Times

***

Winter
by Michael R. Burch

The rose of love’s bright promise
lies torn by her own thorn;
her scent was sweet
but at her feet
the pallid aphids mourn.

The lilac of devotion
has felt the winter hoar
and shed her dress;
companionless,
she shivers—nude, forlorn.

Published by Songs of Innocence, The Aurorean and Contemporary Rhyme

***

First and Last
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth, after Pablo Neruda

You are the last arcane rose
of my aching,
my longing,
or the first yellowed leaves’
vagrant spirals of gold
forming huddled bright sheaves;
you are passion forsaking
dark skies, as though sunsets no winds might enclose.

And still in my arms
you are gentle and fragrant—
demesne of my vigor,
spent rigor,
lost power,
fallen musculature of youth,
leaves clinging and hanging,
nameless joys of my youth to this last lingering hour.

Published by Tucumcari Literary Review and Poetry Life & Times

***

Escape!!
by Michael R. Burch

for Anaïs Vionet

You are too beautiful,
    too innocent,
        too inherently lovely
             to merely reflect the sun’s splendor ...

too full of irrepressible candor
    to remain silent,
        too delicately fawnlike
             for a world so violent ...

Come, my beautiful Bambi
    and I will protect you ...
        but of course you have already been lured away
            by the dew-laden roses ...

Published by The HyperTexts

***

The Gardener’s Roses
by Michael R. Burch

Mary Magdalene, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, “Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.”

I too have come to the cave;
within: strange, half-glimpsed forms
and ghostly paradigms of things.
Here, nothing warms
 
this lightening moment of the dawn,
pale tendrils spreading east.
And I, of all who followed Him,
by far the least . . .

The women take no note of me;
I do not recognize
the men in white, the gardener,
these unfamiliar skies . . .

Faint scent of roses, then—a touch!
I turn, and I see: You.
My Lord, why do You tarry here:
Another waits, Whose love is true?

Although My Father waits, and bliss;
though angels call—ecstatic crew!—
I gathered roses for a Friend.
I waited here, for You.  

Published by The CommonPlace, The Journals, Somewhere Along The Beaten Path, Museum of Learning, The Eclectic Muse (Canada), Borderless Journal, FreeXpression (Australia)

***

Because She Craved the Very Best
by Michael R. Burch

Because she craved the very best,
he took her East, he took her West;
he took her where there were no wars
and brought her bright bouquets of stars ...

The blush and fragrances of roses,
the hush an evening sky imposes,
moonbeams pale and garlands rare,
and golden combs to match her hair ...

A nightingale to sing all night,
white wings, to let her soul take flight ...
She stabbed him with a poisoned sting
and as he lay there dying,
she screamed, "I wanted everything!"
and started crying.

Published by Lone Stars

***

Our English Rose
by Michael R. Burch

for Christine Ena Burch

The rose is—   
the ornament of the earth,
the glory of nature,
the archetype of the flowers,
the blush of the meadows,
a lightning flash of beauty.

This is my translation of a Sappho epigram.

***

To Know You as Mary
by Michael R. Burch

To know you as Mary,
when you spoke her name
and her world was never the same ...
beside the still tomb
where the spring roses bloom.

O, then I would laugh
and be glad that I came,
never minding the chill, the disconsolate rain ...
beside the still tomb
where the spring roses bloom.

I might not think this earth
the sharp focus of pain
if I heard you exclaim—
beside the still tomb
where the spring roses bloom

my most unexpected, unwarranted name!
But you never spoke. Explain?

Originally published by The Journals

***

The Trouble with Poets
by Michael R. Burch

This morning the neighborhood girls were helping their mothers with chores, but one odd little girl went out picking roses by herself, looking very small and lonely.

Suddenly the odd one refused to pick roses anymore because it occurred to her that being plucked might “hurt” them. Now she just sits beside the bushes, rocking gently back and forth, weeping and consoling the vegetation!

Now she’s lost all interest in nature, which she finds “appalling.” She dresses in black “like Rilke” and murmurs that she prefers the “roses of the imagination”! Intermittently she mumbles something about being “pricked in conscience” and being “pricked to death.” What on earth can she mean? Does she plan to have sex until she dies?

For chrissake, now she’s locked herself in her room and refuses to come out until she “conjures” the “perfect rose of the imagination”! We haven’t seen her for days. Her only communications are texts punctuated liberally with dashes. They appear to be badly-rhymed poems. She signs them “starving artist” in lower-case. What on earth can she mean? Is she anorexic, or bulimic, or is this just another phase she’ll outgrow?

***

Sweet Rose of Virtue

by William Dunbar (c. 1460-1530)
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Sweet rose of virtue and of gentleness,
delightful lily of youthful wantonness,
richest in bounty and in beauty clear
and in every virtue men hold most dear,
except only that you are merciless.

Into your garden, today, I followed you;
there I found flowers of freshest hue,
both white and red, delightful to see,
and wholesome herbs, waving resplendently,
yet nowhere, one leaf nor petal of rue.

I fear that March with his last arctic blast
has slain my fair rose and left her downcast;
whose piteous death does my heart such pain
that I long to plant love’s root again—
so comforting her bowering leaves have been.

Published by Poet’s Corner, A Long Story Short, Poetry Magnum Opus, StoryMirror (top 20 sonnets of all time), PoemAnalysis (top 10 romantic poems of all time),Varying Blasts (best romantic love poems), Acamedsia-Cinquième, Vajhu, The Asian Age (circulation one million), Sri Lanka Guardian, Lezenswaard (Belgium), PoetBay, Poemist, Timeless Poetry, Lyrics Translate, A Winter Fairytale, Orange Turtle, and turned into a YouTube video by Sarah Ahmed of the Livingstone Sonnet Project, and into a rap/singing YouTube video by Jenna Thiel and Jake Owens

Bookmarks/Tags: rose, blood rose, blood, garden, thorn, thorns, blossom, blossoms, petals, leaves, love, tenderness

Author of original: 
Franta Bass
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