Year: 
2021

These are love poems by Michael R. Burch. Some are poems about love in desert places where Bedouins have learned to do without. The poems include everything from heroic couplets, sonnets and villanelles, to free verse and haiku. 

Sonnet: Once (a confirmed bachelor recants)

for Beth

Once when her kisses were fire incarnate
and left in their imprint bright lipstick, and flame,
when her breath rose and fell over smoldering dunes,
leaving me listlessly sighing her name ...

Once when her breasts were as pale, as beguiling,
as wan rivers of sand shedding heat like a mist,
when her words would at times softly, mildly rebuke me
all the while as her lips did more wildly insist ...

Once when the thought of her echoed and whispered
through vast wastelands of need like a Bedouin chant,
I ached for the touch of her lips with such longing
that I vowed all my former vows to recant ...

Once, only once, something bloomed, of a desiccate seed—
this impossible blossom her wild rains of kisses decreed.

Published by The Lyric, Writer’s Journal, Grassroots Poetry, Tucumcari Literary Journal, Unlikely Stories, Poetry Life & Times

***

Less Heroic Couplets: Negotiables
by Michael R. Burch

Love should be more than the sum of its parts—
of its potions and pills and subterranean arts.

***

Villanelle: Ordinary Love
by Michael R. Burch

Indescribable—our love—and still we say
with eyes averted, turning out the light,
“I love you,” in the ordinary way

and tug the coverlet where once we lay,
all suntanned limbs entangled, shivering, white ...
indescribably in love. Or so we say.

Your hair’s blonde thicket’s thinned and tangle-gray;
you turn your back; you murmur to the night,
“I love you,” in the ordinary way.

Beneath the sheets our hands and feet would stray ...
to warm ourselves
. We do not touch, despite
a love so indescribable. We say

we’re older now, that “love” has had its day.
But that which love once countenanced, delight,
still makes you indescribable. I say,
“I love you,” in the ordinary way.

Published by The Lyric, Romantics Quarterly, Amerikai költok a második (Hungarian translation by István Bagi), Mandrake Poetry Review, Carnelian, Formal Verse, Net Poetry and Art Competition, Famous Poets & Poems, FreeXpression, PW Review, Poetic Voices, Poetry Renewal, Poem Kingdom and Poetry Life & Times; also winner of the 2001 Algernon Charles Swinburne Poetry Award

***

Circe
by Michael R. Burch

She spoke
and her words
were like a ringing echo dying
or like smoke
rising and drifting
while the earth below is spinning.
She awoke
with a cry
from a dream that had no ending,
without hope
or strength to rise,
into hopelessness descending.
And an ache
in her heart
toward that dream, retreating,
left a wake
of small waves
in circles never completing.

Originally published by Romantics Quarterly

***

Dry Hump
by Michael R. Burch

You came to me as rain breaks on the desert
when every flower springs to life at once.
But joys? Mere wan illusions to the expert:
the Bedouin has learned how not to want.

Published by Shot Glass Journal

***

Sonnet: Water and Gold
by Michael R. Burch

You came to me as rain breaks on the desert
when every flower springs to life at once.
But joys? Mere wan illusions to the expert:
the Bedouin has learned how not to want.

You came to me as riches to a miser
when all is gold, or so his heart believes,
until he dies much thinner and much wiser,
his gleaming bones hauled off by chortling thieves.

You gave your heart too soon, too dear, too vastly;
I could not take it in; it was too much.
I pledged to meet your price, but promised rashly.
I died of thirst, of your bright Midas touch.

I dreamed you gave me water of your lips,
then sealed my tomb with golden hieroglyphs.

Published by The Lyric, Black Medina, Dusure Abueaoa (Tokelau), Shabestaneh (Iran), The Eclectic Muse (Canada), Kritya (India), Anthology of Contemporary American Poetry, Freshet,  Captivating Poetry (Anthology), Strange Road, Shot Glass Journal, Better Than Starbucks, The Chained Muse, Famous Poets and Poems, Sonnetto Poesia (Canada) and Poetry Life & Times

***

Your Pull
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth

You were like sunshine and rain—
begetting rainbows,
full of contradictions, like the intervals
between light and shadow.

That within you which I most opposed
drew me closer still,
as a magnet exerts its relentless pull
on insensate steel.

Originally published by The Lyric

Keywords/Tags: poem, poetry, love, attraction, magnetism, pull, close, closer, closeness

***

Paradoxical Ode to Antinatalism
by Michael R. Burch

A stay on love
would end death’s hateful sway,
someday.

A stay on love
would thus be love,
I say.

Be true to love
and thus end death’s
fell sway!

***

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)

On an amusing note, a reviewer was praising my poetry to the skies – blush-worthy stuff – but when he got to this poem he said that I was “only human” after all and sounded like a Victorian! Of course there is a lot of bad Victorian poetry, just as there is a lot of bad poetry in any era, and especially ours, but I like to think this is “good Victorian” if that is its genre.

***

Child of 9-11
by Michael R. Burch

a poem for Christina-Taylor Green, who was born on September 11, 2001 and died at the age of nine, shot to death ...

Child of 9-11, beloved,
I bring this lily, lay it down
here at your feet, and eiderdown,
and all soft things, for your gentle spirit.
I bring this psalm—I hope you hear it.

Much love I bring—I lay it down
here by your form, which is not you,
but what you left this shellshocked world
to help us learn what we must do
to save another child like you.

Child of 9-11, I know
you are not here, but watch afar
from distant stars, where angels rue
the evil things some mortals do.
I also watch; I also rue.

And so I make this pledge and vow:
though I may weep, I will not rest
nor will my pen fail heaven’s test
till guns and wars and hate are banned
from every shore, from every land.

Child of 9-11, I grieve
your gentle life, cut short. Bereaved,
what can I do, but pledge my life
to saving lives like yours? Belief
in your sweet worth has led me here ...

I give my all: my pen, this tear,
this lily and this eiderdown,
and all soft things my heart can bear;
I bring them to your final bier,
and leave them with my promise, here.

Published by The Flea, The Lyric (also the first featured poem on The Lyric’s website for the Winter 2011 issue), Copia Posterous, Angle (Australia), Better Than Starbucks, Elizabeth’s Ramblings, A Long Story Short, Poet’s Corner, Troubles of the World, The Eclectic Muse (Canada), FreeXpression (Australia), Elephant Journal, Legacy.com and Fullosia Press

***

To Have Loved
by Michael R. Burch

Helen, bright accompaniment,
accouterment of war as sure as all
the polished swords of princes groomed to lie
in mausoleums all eternity ...

The price of love is not so high
as never to have loved once in the dark
beyond foreseeing. Now, as dawn gleams pale
upon small wind-fanned waves, amid white sails ...

Now all that war entails becomes as small,
as though receding. Paris in your arms
was never yours, nor were you his at all.
And should gods call

in numberless strange voices, should you hear,
still what would be the difference? Men must die
to be remembered. Fame, the shrillest cry,
leaves all the world dismembered.

Hold him, lie,
tell many pleasant tales of lips and thighs;
enthrall him with your sweetness, till the pall
and ash lie cold upon him.

Is this all? You saw fear in his eyes, and now they dim
with fear’s remembrance. Love, the fiercest cry,
becomes gasped sighs in his once-gallant hymn
of dreamed “salvation.” Still, you do not care

because you have this moment, and no man
can touch you as he can, and when he’s gone
there will be other men to look upon
your beauty, and have done.

Smile—woebegone, pale, haggard. Will the tales
paint this—your final portrait? Can the stars
find any strange alignments, Zodiacs,
to spell, or unspell, what held beauty lacks?

Published by The Raintown Review, Triplopia, The Electic Muse (Canada), The Chained Muse, Borderless Journal, The Pennsylvania Review, and in a YouTube recital by David B. Gosselin

***

In My Imagined Book
by Charles d’Orleans (c. 1394-1465)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

In my imagined Book
my heart endeavored to explain
its history of grief, and pain,
illuminated by the tears
that welled to blur those well-loved years
of former happiness's gains,
in my imagined Book.

Alas, where should the reader look
beyond these drops of sweat, their stains,
all the effort & pain it took
& which I recorded night and day
in my imagined Book?

Dedens mon Livre de Pensee,
J'ay trouvé escripvant mon cueur
La vraye histoire de douleur
De larmes toute enluminee,
En deffassant la tresamée
Ymage de plaisant doulceur,
Dedens mon Livre de Pensee.

Hélas! ou l'a mon cueur trouvee?
Les grosses gouttes de sueur
Lui saillent, de peinne et labeur
Qu'il y prent, et nuit et journee,
Dedens mon Livre de Pensee.

Keywords/Tags: love, love poems, romance, desire, passion, kiss, kisses, lips, heart, hearts, dream, dreams

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