Year: 
2021

These are early poems of mine, written beginning around age eleven as a boy, then through my high school and college years ...

The Leveler
by Michael R. Burch

The nature of Nature
is bitter survival
from Winter’s bleak fury
till Spring’s brief revival.

The weak implore Fate;
bold men ravish, dishevel her ...
till both are cut down
by mere ticks of the Leveler.

Published by The Lyric, The Aurorean, Tucumcari Literary Review, Romantics Quarterly and in a YouTube video by Asma Masooma. I believe I wrote this poem around age 20, in 1978 or thereabouts.

***

Moon Lake
by Michael R. Burch

Starlit recorder of summer nights,
what magic spell bewitches you?
They say that all lovers love first in the dark . . .
Is it true?
Is it true?
Is it true?

Uncanny seer of all that appears
and all that has appeared . . .
what sights have you seen,
what dreams have you dreamed,
what rhetoric have you heard?

Is love an oration or is it a word?
Have you heard?
Have you heard?
Have you heard?

Published by Romantics Quarterly and set to music by David Hamilton and performed by the Australian choir Choralation

***

Tomb Lake
by Michael R. Burch

Go down to the valley
where mockingbirds cry,
alone, ever lonely . . .
yes, go down to die.

And dream in your dying
you never shall wake.
Go down to the valley;
go down to Tomb Lake.

Tomb Lake is a cauldron
of souls such as yours —
mad souls without meaning,
frail souls without force.

Tomb Lake is a graveyard
reserved for the dead.
They lie in her shallows
and sleep in her bed.

"Tomb Lake" is a companion poem to "Moon Lake" written around age 18.

***

Leave Taking (I)
by Michael R. Burch

Brilliant leaves abandon
battered limbs
to waltz upon ecstatic winds
until they die.

But the barren and embittered trees,
lament the frolic of the leaves
and curse the bleak
November sky.

Now, as I watch the leaves'
high flight
before the fading autumn light,
I think that, perhaps, at last I may

have learned what it means to say
goodbye.

Published by The Lyric, Mindful of Poetry, Silver Stork Magazine and There is Something in the Autumn (anthology)

This poem started out as a stanza in a much longer poem, "Jessamyn's Song," which dates to around age 14 or 15, or perhaps a bit later. But I worked on the poem several times over the years until it was largely finished in 1978. I am sure of the completion date because that year the poem was included in my first poetry submission manuscript for a chapbook contest, during my sophomore year in college.

***

In the Whispering Night
by Michael R. Burch

for George King

In the whispering night, when the stars bend low
till the hills ignite to a shining flame,
when a shower of meteors streaks the sky
as the lilies sigh in their beds, for shame,
we must steal our souls, as they once were stolen,
and gather our vigor, and all our intent.
We must heave our husks into some raging ocean
and laugh as they shatter, and never repent.
We must dance in the darkness as stars dance before us,
soar, Soar! through the night on a butterfly's breeze:
blown high, upward-yearning, twin spirits returning
to the heights of awareness from which we were seized.

Published by Songs of Innocence, Romantics Quarterly, Poetry Life & Times and The Chained Muse

George King was one of my college English professors, and the one who encouraged me the most. He said that I was one of the two most talented student poets he’d instructed, but I like to think that he underestimated me!

***

In the Whispering Night (II)

for George King

In the whispering night, when the stars bend low
till the hills ignite to a shining flame,
when a shower of meteors streaks the sky,
and the lilies sigh in their beds, for shame,
we must steal our souls, as they once were stolen,
and gather our vigor, and all our intent.
We must heave our husks into some savage ocean
and laugh as they shatter, and never repent.
We must dance in the darkness as stars dance before us,
soar, Soar! through the night on a butterfly's breeze,
blown high, upward yearning,
twin spirits returning
to the world of resplendence from which we were seized.

In the whispering night, when the mockingbird calls
while denuded vines barely cling to stone walls,
as the red-rocked rivers rush on to the sea,
like a bright Goddess calling
a meteor falling
may flare like desire through skeletal trees.

If you look to the east, you will see a reminder
of days that broke warmer and nights that fell kinder;
but you and I were not meant for this life,
a life of illusions
and painful delusions:
a life without meaning—unless it is life.

So turn from the east and look to the west,
to the stars—argent fire ablaze at God's breast—
but there you'll find nothing but dreams of lost days:
days lost forever,
departed, and never,
oh never, oh never shall they be regained.

So turn from those heavens—night’s pale host of stars—
to these scarred pitted mountains, these wild grotesque tors
which—looming in darkness—obscure lustrous seas.
We are men, we must sing
till enchanted vales ring;
we are men; though we wither, our spirits soar free.

***

Love Unfolded Like a Flower
by Michael R. Burch

for Christy

Love unfolded
like a flower;
Pale petals pinked and blushed to see the sky.
I came to know you
and to trust you
in moments lost to springtime slipping by.

Then love burst outward,
leaping skyward,
and untamed blossoms danced against the wind.
All I wanted
was to hold you;
though passion tempted once, we never sinned.

Now love's gay petals
fade and wither,
and winter beckons, whispering a lie.
We were friends,
but friendships end . . .
yes, friendships end and even roses die.

This is a love poem I wrote in my late teens for a girl I had a serious crush on. The poem was originally titled "Christy."

Keywords/Tags: early, early poems, juvenilia, child, childhood, boy, boyhood, teen, teenage, teenager, student, high school, college, love, roses, flower, petals, unfolding, blossoms, spring, passion, desire, lust, sin, winter, fade, wither, wind, gay, pink, pinked, blushed, friendships, die, death

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