Year: 
2021

These are early poems of mine, written in my teens during high school and my first two years of college, with a few poems perhaps a bit later. 

Nevermore!
by Michael R. Burch

Nevermore! O, nevermore!     
shall the haunts of the sea
—the swollen tide pools
and the dark, deserted shore—
mark her passing again.

And the salivating sea
shall never kiss her lips
nor caress her breasts and hips,
as she dreamt it did before,
once, lost within the uproar.

The waves will never rape her,
nor take her at their leisure;
the sea gulls shall not claim her,
nor could she give them pleasure ...
She sleeps, forevermore!

She sleeps forevermore,
a virgin save to me
and her other lover,
who lurks now, safely smothered
by the restless, surging sea.

And, yes, they sleep together,
but never in that way ...
For the sea has stripped and shorn
the one I once adored,
and washed her flesh away.

He does not stroke her honey hair,
for she is bald, bald to the bone!
And how it fills my heart with glee
to hear them sometimes cursing me
out of the depths of the demon sea ...

their skeletal love—impossibility!

Published by Romantics Quarterly and Penny Dreadful

***

Poet to poet
by Michael R. Burch

I have a dream
...pebbles in a sparkling sand...
of wondrous things.

I see children
...variations of the same man...
playing together.

Black and yellow, red and white,
... stone and flesh, a host of colors...
together at last.

I see a time
...each small child another's cousin...
when freedom shall ring.

I hear a song
...sweeter than the sea sings...
of many voices.

I hear a jubilation
... respect and love are the gifts we must bring...
shaking the land.

I have a message,
...sea shells echo, the melody rings...
the message of God.

I have a dream
...all pebbles are merely smooth fragments of stone...
of many things.

I live in hope
...all children are merely small fragments of One...
that this dream shall come true.

I have a dream!
... but when you're gone, won't the dream have to end?...
Oh, no, not as long as you dream my dream too!

Here, hold out your hand, let's make it come true.
... i can feel it begin...
Lovers and dreamers are poets too.
...poets are lovers and dreamers too...

Published by Borderless Journal (Singapore) and Love Poems and Poets

I wrote this poem as a teenager under the spell of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, which for me is also a compelling poem.

***

This poem became my first official rejection by a literary journal ...

Reflections on the Loss of Vision
by Michael R. Burch

The sparrow that cries from the shelter of an ancient oak tree and the squirrels
that dash in delight through the treetops as the first snow glistens and swirls,
remind me so much of my childhood and how the world seemed to me then,
    that it seems if I tried
    and just closed my eyes,
I could once again be nine or ten.

The rabbits that hide in the bushes where the snowflakes collect as they fall,
hunch there, I know, in the fast-piling snow, yet now I can't see them at all.
For time slowly weakened my vision; while the patterns seem almost as clear,
    some things that I saw
    when I was a boy,
are lost to me now in my “advancing” years.

The chipmunk who seeks out his burrow and the geese now preparing to leave
are there as they were, and yet they are not; and if it seems childish to grieve,
still, who would condemn a blind man for bemoaning the vision he lost?
    Well, in a small way,
    through the passage of days,
I have learned some of his loss.

As a keen-eyed young lad I endeavored to see things most adults could not—
the camouflaged nests of the hoot owls, the woodpecker’s favorite haunts.
But now I no longer can find them, nor understand how I once could,
    and it seems such a waste
    of those far-sighted days,
to end up near blind in this wood.

I believe I wrote the first version of this poem around age 19 or 20. I put it aside for many years and didn’t finish it until 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic. This is one of my more Robert-Frost-like poems and perhaps not a bad one for the age at which it was written.

***

Sanctuary at Dawn
by Michael R. Burch

I have walked these thirteen miles
just to stand outside your door.
The rain has dogged my footsteps
for thirteen miles, for thirty years,
through the monsoon seasons ...
and now my tears
have all been washed away.

Through thirteen miles of rain I slogged,
I stumbled and I climbed
rainslickened slopes
that led me home
to the hope that I might find
a life I lived before.

The door is wet; my cheeks are wet,
but not with rain or tears ...
as I knock I sweat
and the raining seems
the rhythm of the years.

Now you stand outlined in the doorway
—a man as large as I left—
and with bated breath
I take a step
into the accusing light.

Your eyes are grayer
than I remembered;
your hair is grayer, too.
As the red rust runs
down the dripping drains,
our voices exclaim—

"My father!"
"My son!"

“Sanctuary at Dawn” appeared in my first poetry chapbook manuscript, so it was written either in high school or during my first two years of college: age 18 is an educated guess.

***

It's Halloween!
by Michael R. Burch

If evening falls
on graveyard walls
far softer than a sigh;
if shadows fly
moon-sickled skies,
while children toss their heads
uneasy in their beds,
beware the witch's eye!

If goblins loom
within the gloom
till playful pups grow terse;
if birds give up their verse
to comfort chicks they nurse,
while children dream weird dreams
of ugly, wiggly things,
beware the serpent's curse!

If spirits scream
in haunted dreams
while ancient sibyls rise
to plague nightmarish skies
one night without disguise,
while children toss about
uneasy, full of doubt,
beware the Devil's lies . . .

it's Halloween!

Keywords/Tags: early, early poem, juvenilia, child, childhood, boy, boyhood, teen, teenage, teenager, student, high school, college

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