Year: 
2021

These are early poems I wrote starting as a boy around age eleven, through my teens in high school and my first two years of college, and a few that I wrote in my early twenties.

Clown
by Michael R. Burch
circa age 16

My “friends” often remind me
that I am a sluggard, a fool.
They say that I resemble a clown
and I suppose it is true
that I do.

There’s no need to mince words,
for I know how ugly I am.
And though I always tell myself
that I don’t give a damn,
I do.

How can I say that which I must
—“Embrace me. Shelter me. Be mine”—
when my appearance always
bothers me as much
as it does?

And yet with you I’m sure that I
could live my life and never mind;
just the touch of your lips in the night
could fill my troubled mind
with trust.

Just your presence at my side
could give me all the strength I need;
and your understanding touch
could help my broken heart to heal
a little each day.

But what’s the use? This cannot be
although I wish it so.
My love, you’re far too beautiful
for me to ever have or know
for even a day.

So when you send me upon my way
—a tragic, foolish clown—
you don’t have to struggle to kiss me goodbye.
Don’t give me the runaround.
Just please don’t put me down.

This was a painful poem for me to write, and it’s a painful one to publish so many years later. I believe I wrote this poem around 1974, age 15-16, when I was wrestling with depression.

***

Love Unfolded Like a Flower
by Michael R. Burch
circa age 19

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."

***

Canticle
by Michael R. Burch
circa age 16

Misty morning sunlight hails the dawning of new day;
dreams drift into drowsiness before they fade away.
Dew drops on the green grass echo splendors of  the sun;
the silence lauds a songstress and the skillful song she's sung.
Among the weeping willows the mist clings to the leaves;
and, laughing in the early light among the lemon trees,

there goes a brace of bees.

Dancing in the depthless blue like small, bright bits of steel,
the butterflies flock to the west and wander through dawn's fields.
Above the thoughtless traffic of the world wending their way,
a flock of mallard geese in v's dash onward as they race.
And dozing in the daylight lies a new-born collie pup,
drinking in bright sunlight through small eyes still tightly shut.
And high above the meadows, blazing through the warming air,
a shaft of brilliant sunshine has started something there . . .

it looks like summer.

I distinctly remember writing this poem in Ms. Davenport’s class at Maplewood High School. I had read a canticle somewhere, liked the name and concept, and decided I needed to write one myself. I believe this was in 1974 at age 16, but I could be off by a year. This is another early poem that makes me think I had a good natural ear for meter and rhyme. It’s not a great poem, but the music seems pretty good for a beginner.

***

Childhood's End
by Michael R. Burch
circa age 22

How well I remember
those fiery Septembers:
dry leaves, dying embers of summers aflame
lay trampled before me
and fluttered, imploring
the bright, dancing rain to descend once again.

Now often I’ve thought on
the meaning of autumn,
how the moons those pale mornings enchanted dark clouds
while robins repeated
gay songs sagely heeded
so wisely when winters before they’d flown south.

And still, in remembrance,
I’ve conjured a semblance
of childhood and how the world seemed to me then;
but early this morning,
when, rising and yawning,
my lips brushed your breasts . . . I celebrated its end.

I believe I wrote this poem in my early twenties, probably around 1980. This is another early poem with an usual form.

***

Charlie Hustle
by Michael R. Burch
circa age 19

for Pete Rose

Crouch at the plate,
intensity itself.

Follow the flight
of the streak of white
with avid eyes
and a heartfelt urge
to let it fly.

Sweep the short arc,
feel the crack of a clean hit,
pound the earth
toward first.

Edge into the base path,
eyes relentlessly relentless.

Watch his every movement;
feel his every thought;
forget all save his feet;
see him stretch
toward the plate ...
and fly!

Fly along the basepath
churning up the dirt,
desire in your eyes.

Slide around the outstretched glove,
hear the throaty cry,
"He's safe!"
And lie in a puddle of sunlight
soaking up the cheers.

A Texas Leaguer dropping
to the left-field side of center
sends you on your way back home.

Take the turn past third
with fervor in your eyes
and a fever in your step,
the game just strides away ...
take them all and then
slide your patented head-first slide
across the guarded plate.

Pause in the dust of your desires,
loving the feel of the scalding sun
and the roar of the crowd.

Shake your head and tip your cap
toward the clouds.

Slap the dirt
from your grass-stained shirt
and head toward the clubhouse ...
just doing your job,
but loving it
because it is your life.

This was one of my early attempts at free verse, written around age 19.

***

Cowpoke
by Michael R. Burch
circa age 15

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 around 1974, at age 15-16 or thereabouts.

***

Dance With Me
by Michael R. Burch
circa age 18

Dance with me
to the fiddles’ plaintive harmonies.
Enchantingly,
each highstrung string,
each yearning key,
each a thread within the threnody,
whispers "Waltz!" 
then sets us free
to wander, dancing aimlessly.

Let us kiss
beneath the stars
as we slowly meet ...
we'll part
laughing gaily as we go
to measure love’s arpeggios.

Yes, dance with me,
enticingly;
press your lips to mine,
then flee.

The night is young,
the stars are wild;
embrace me now,
my sweet, beguiled,
and dance with me.

The curtains are drawn,
the stage is set
—patterned all in grey and jet—
where couples in such darkness met
—careless airy silhouettes—
to try love's timeless pirouettes.

They, too, spun across the lawn
to die in shadowy dark verdant.

But dance with me.

Sweet Merrilee,
don't cry, I see
the ironies of all the years
within the moonlight on your tears,
and every virgin has her fears ...

So laugh with me
unheedingly;
love's gaiety is not for those
who fail to heed the music`s flow,
but it is ours.

Now fade away
like summer rain,
then pirouette ...
the dance of stars
that waltz among night's meteors
must be the dance we dance tonight.

Then come again—
like winter wind.

Your slender body as you sway
belies the ripeness of your age,
for a woman's body burns tonight
beneath your gown of virgin white—
a woman's breasts now rise and fall
in answer to an ancient call,
and a woman's hips—soft, yet full—
now gently at your garments pull.

So dance with me,
sweet Merrilee ...
the music bids us,
"Waltz!"

Don't flee;
let us kiss
beneath the stars.
Love's passing pains will leave no scars
as we whirl beneath false moons
and heed the fiddle’s plaintive tunes ...

Oh, Merrilee,
the curtains are drawn,
the stage is set,
we, too, are stars beyond night's depths.
So dance with me.

I distinctly remember writing this poem my freshman year in college, circa 1976-1977, after meeting George King, who taught the creative writing classes there. I would have been 18 when I started the poem, but it didn’t always cooperate and I seem to remember working on it the following year as well.

***

Dance With Me (II)
by Michael R. Burch
circa age 18

While the music plays
remembrance strays
toward a grander time . . .

Let's dance.

Shadows rising, mute and grey,
obscure those fervent yesterdays
of youth and gay romance,
but time is slipping by, and now
those days just don't seem real, somehow . . .

Why don't we dance?

This music is a memory,
for it's of another time . . .
a slower, stranger time.

We danced—remember how we danced?—
uncaring, merry, wild and free.
Remember how you danced with me?

Cheek to cheek and breast to breast,
your nipples hard against my chest,
we danced
and danced
  and danced.

We cannot dance that way again,
for the years have borne away the flame
and left us only ashes,
but think of all those dances,

and dance with me.

I believe I wrote this poem around the same time as the original “Dance With Me,” this time from the perspective of the lovers many years later. So this poem would have been written sometime between 1976 and 1977, around age 18-19.

***

Intimations
by Michael R. Burch

Let mercy surround us
with a sweet persistence.

Let love propound to us
that life is infinitely more than existence.

Published by Katrina Anthology

Keywords/Tags: early, early poems, juvenile, juvenalia, child, childhood, boy, boyhood, student, high school, college

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