Year: 
2021

“Milestones Toward Oblivion” and the other poems here are poems about the Apocalypse, also known as Armageddon, the End Times, the Last Days, the Day of Judgement, the Final Countdown, the Final Battle, the Final Battleground, the Cataclysm, the Catastrophe, Nuclear Holocaust, Nuclear Winter, MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction), etc.

Milestones Toward Oblivion
by Michael R. Burch

“A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”
—Ronald Reagan

A milestone here leans heavily
against a gaunt, golemic tree.
These words are chiseled thereupon:
"One mile and then Oblivion."

Swift larks that once swooped down to feed
on groping slugs, such insects breed
within their radiant flesh and bones ...
they did not heed the milestones.

Another marker lies ahead,
the only tombstone to the dead
whose eyeless sockets read thereon:
"Alas, behold Oblivion."

Once here the sun shone fierce and fair;
now night eternal shrouds the air
while winter, never-ending, moans
and drifts among the milestones.

This road is neither long nor wide . . .
men gleam in death on either side.
Not long ago, they pondered on
milestones toward Oblivion.

***

The Vision of the Overseer’s Right Hand
by Michael R. Burch

“Dust to dust...”

I stumbled, aghast,
into a valley of dust and bone
where all men become,
at last, the same color...

There a skeletal figure
groped through blonde sand
for a rigid right hand
lost long, long ago...

A hand now more white
than he had wielded before.
But he paused there, unsure,
for he could not tell

without the whip’s frenetic hiss
which savage white hand was his.

Originally published by Poetry Porch

***

Man Retreats into Savagery
by Michael R. Burch

What I ache to say is beyond saying―
no words for the horror
of not loving enough,
like a mummy half-wrapped in its moldering casements
holding a lily aloft.

No, there are no words for the horror
as an arctic wind howls through the teetering floes
and the cold freezes down to my clawed hairy toes...

What use to me, now, if the stars appear?

As I moan
the moon finds me,
fangs goring the deer.

***

Davenport Tomorrow

by Michael R. Burch

Davenport tomorrow...
all the trees stand stark-naked in the sun.

Now it is always summer
and the bees buzz in cesspools,
adapted to a new life.

There are no flowers,
but the weeds, being hardier,
have survived.

The small town has become
a city of millions;
there is no longer a sea,
only a huge sewer,
but the children don't mind.

They still study
rocks and stars,
but biology is a forgotten science...
after all, what is life?

Davenport tomorrow...
all the children murmur through vein-streaked gills
whispered wonders of long-ago.

Burn
by Michael R. Burch

for Trump

Sunbathe,
ozone baby,
till your parched skin cracks
in the white-hot flash
of radiation.

Incantation
from your pale parched lips
shall not avail;
you made this hell.
Now burn.

This was one of my early poems, written around age 19. I dedicated the poem to Trump after he pulled the United States out of the Paris climate change accords.

Evil, the Rat
by Michael R. Burch

for Trump

Evil lives in a hole like a rat
and sleeps in its feces,
fearing the cat.

At night it furtively creeps
through the house
while the cat sleeps.

It eats old excrement and gnaws
on steaming dung
and it will pause

between odd bites to sniff through the scat,
twitching and trembling,
for a scent of the cat...

Evil, the rat.

No One
by Michael R. Burch

No One hears the bells tonight;
they tell him something isn’t right.
But No One is not one to rush;
he smiles on a bed soft, green and lush
as far away a startled thrush
flees from horned owls in sinking flight.

No One hears the cannon’s roar
and muses that its voice means war
comes knocking on men’s doors tonight.
He sleeps outside in awed delight
beneath the enigmatic stars
and shivers in their cooling light.

No One knows the world will end,
that he’ll be lonely, without friend
or foe to conquer. All will be
once more, celestial harmony.
He’ll miss men’s voices, now and then,
but worlds can be remade again.

Bikini
by Michael R. Burch

Undersea, by the shale and the coral forming,
by the shell’s pale rose and the pearl’s bright eye,
through the sea’s green bed of lank seaweed worming
like tangled hair where cold currents rise...
something lurks where the riptides sigh,
something old, and odd, and wise.

Something old when the world was forming
now lifts its beak, its snail-blind eye,
and, with tentacles like Medusa's squirming,
it feels the cloud blot out the skies'...
then shudders, settles with a sigh,
understanding man’s demise.

Lay Down Your Arms
by Michael R. Burch

Lay down your arms; come, sleep in the sand.
The battle is over and night is at hand.
Our voyage has ended; there's nowhere to go...
the earth is a cinder still faintly aglow.

Lay down your pamphlets; let's bicker no more.
Instead, let us sleep here on this ravaged shore.
The sea is still boiling; the air is wan, thin...
lay down your pamphlets; now no one will “win.”

Lay down your hymnals; abandon all song.
If God was to save us, He waited too long.
A new world emerges, but this world is through...
so lay down your hymnals, or write something new.

Styx
by Michael R. Burch

Black waters,
deep and dark and still...
all men have passed this way,
or will.

Originally published by The Raintown Review

Charon 2001
by Michael R. Burch

I, too, have stood―paralyzed at the helm
watching onrushing, inevitable disaster.
I too have felt sweat (or ecstatic tears) plaster
damp hair to my eyes, as a slug’s dense film
becomes mucous-insulate. Always, thereafter
living in darkness, bright things overwhelm.

Originally published by The Neovictorian/Cochlea

Beast 666
by Michael R. Burch

“... what rough beast... slouches toward Bethlehem to be born?”―W. B. Yeats

Brutality is a cross
wooden, blood-stained,
gas hissing, sibilant,
lungs gilled, deveined,
red flecks on a streaked glass pane,
jeers jubilant,
mocking.

Brutality is shocking―
tiny orifices torn
by cruel adult lust,
the fetus unborn
tossed in a dust-
bin. The scarred skull shorn,
nails bloodied, tortured,
an old wound sutured
over, never healed.

Brutality, all its faces revealed,
is legion:
Death March, Trail of Tears, Inquisition...
always the same.
The Beast of the godless and of man’s “religion”
slouching toward Jerusalem:
horned, crowned, gibbering, drooling, insane.

Shock and Awe
by Michael R. Burch

With megatons of “wonder,”
we make our godhead clear:
Death. Destruction. Fear.

The world’s heart ripped asunder,
its dying pulse we hear:
Death. Destruction. Fear.

Strange Trinity! We ponder
this God we hold so dear:
Death. Destruction. Fear.

The vulture and the condor
proclaim: The feast is near!―
Death. Destruction. Fear.

Soon He will plow us under;
the Anti-Christ is here:
Death. Destruction. Fear.

We love to hear Him thunder!
With Shock and Awe, appear!―
Death. Destruction. Fear.

For God can never blunder;
we know He holds US dear:
Death. Destruction. Fear.

First They Came for the Muslims
by Michael R. Burch

after Martin Niemöller

First they came for the Muslims
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Muslim.

Then they came for the homosexuals
and I did not speak out
because I was not a homosexual.

Then they came for the feminists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a feminist.

Now when will they come for me
because I was too busy and too apathetic
to defend my sisters and brothers?

Published in Amnesty International’s Words That Burn anthology, Borderless Journal (India), The Hindu (India), Matters India, New Age Bangladesh, Convivium Journal, PressReader (India) and Kracktivist (India)

This poem returns an astounding 819, 000 Google results for the eleventh line. That’s a lot of cutting and pasting!

It is indeed an honor to have one of my poems published by such an outstanding organization as Amnesty International―one of the world's finest. Not only is the cause good―a stated goal is to teach students about human rights through poetry―but so far the poetry published seems quite good to me.

What Immense Silence
by Michael R. Burch

What immense silence
comforts those who kneel here
beneath these vaulted ceilings
cavernous and vast?

What luminescence stained
by patchwork panels of bright glass
illuminates drained faces
as the crouching gargoyles leer?

What brings them here―
pale, tearful congregations,
knowing all Hope is past,
faithfully, year upon year?

Or could they be right? Perhaps
Love is, implausibly, near
and I alone have not seen It...
But, if so, still, I must ask:

why is it God that they fear?

Published in The Bible of Hell

Where We Dwell
by Michael R. Burch

Night within me.
Never morning.
Stars uncounted.
Shadows forming.
Wind arising
where we dwell
reaches Heaven,
reeks of Hell.

Published in The Bible of Hell

the Horror
by Michael R. Burch

the Horror lurks inside our closets
the Horror hides beneath our beds
the Horror hisses ancient curses
the Horror whispers in our heads

the Horror tells us Death is coming
the Horror tells us there’s no hope
the Horror tells us “life” is futile
the Horror beckons, “there’s the Rope!”

Deliver Us...
by Michael R. Burch

The night is dark and scary―
under your bed, or upon it.

That blazing light might be a star...
or maybe the Final Comet.

But two things are sure: your mother’s love
and your puppy’s kisses, doggonit!

Belfry
by Michael R. Burch

There are things we surrender
to the attic gloom:
they haunt us at night
with shrill, querulous voices.

There are choices we made
yet did not pursue,
behind windows we shuttered
then failed to remember.

There are canisters sealed
that we cannot reopen,
and others long broken
that nothing can heal.

There are things we conceal
that our anger dismembered,
gray leathery faces
the rafters reveal.

Liar
by Michael R. Burch

Chiller than a winter day,
quieter than the murmur of the sea in her dreams,
eyes softer than the diaphanous spray
of mist-shrouded streams,
you fill my dying thoughts.

In moments drugged with sleep
I have heard your earnest voice
leaving me no choice
save heed your hushed demands
and meet you in the sands
of an ageless arctic world.

There I kiss your lifeless lips
as we quiver in the shoals
of a sea that, endless, rolls
to meet the shattered shore.
Wild waves weep, "Nevermore,"
as you bend to stroke my hair.

That land is harsh and drear,
and that sea is bleak and wild;
only your lips are mild
as you kiss my weary eyes,
whispering lovely lies
of what awaits us there

in a land so stark and bare,
beyond all hope... and care.

This is one of my early poems, written as a high school sophomore or junior.

Polish
by Michael R. Burch

Your fingers end in talons―
the ones you trim to hide
the predator inside.

Ten thousand creatures sacrificed;
but really, what’s the loss?
Apply a splash of gloss.

You picked the perfect color
to mirror nature’s law:
red, like tooth and claw.

Is there any Light left?
by Michael R. Burch

Is there any light left?
Must we die bereft
of love and a reason for being?
Blind and unseeing,
rejecting and fleeing
our humanity, goat-hooved and cleft?

Is there any light left?
Must we die bereft
of love and a reason for living?
Blind, unforgiving,
unworthy of heaven
or this planet red, reeking and reft?

NOTE: While “hoofed” is the more common spelling, I preferred “hooved” for this poem. Perhaps because of the contrast created by “love” and “hooved.”

Modern Appetite
by Michael R. Burch

It grumbled low, insisting it would feast
on blood and flesh, etcetera, at least
three times a day. With soft lubricious grease

and pale salacious oils, it would ease
its way through life. Each day―an aperitif.
Each night―a frothy bromide, for relief.

It lived on TV fare, wore pinafores,
slurped sugar-coated gumballs, gobbled S’mores.
When gas ensued, it burped and farted. ’Course,

it thought aloud, my wife will leave me. Yours
is not so damn particular. Divorce
is certainly a settlement, toujours!

A Tums a day will keep the shrink away,
recalcify old bones, keep gas at bay.
If Simon says, etcetera, Mother, may

I have my hit of calcium today?

Imperfect Sonnet
by Michael R. Burch

A word before the light is doused: the night
is something wriggling through an unclean mind,
as rats creep through a tenement. And loss
is written cheaply with the moon’s cracked gloss
like lipstick through the infinite, to show
love’s pale yet sordid imprint on us. Go.

We have not learned love yet, except to cleave.
I saw the moon rise once... but to believe...
was of another century... and now...
I have the urge to love, but not the strength.

Despair, once stretched out to its utmost length,
lies couched in squalor, watching as the screen
reveals "love's" damaged images: its dreams...
and masturbating limply, screams and screams.

Originally published by Sonnet Scroll

Stump
by Michael R. Burch

This used to be a poplar, oak or elm...
we forget the names of trees, but still its helm,
green-plumed, like some Greek warrior’s, nobly fringed,
with blossoms almond-white, but verdant-tinged,
this massive helm... this massive, nodding head
here contemplated life, and now is dead...

Perhaps it saw its future, furrow-browed,
and flung its limbs about, dejectedly.
Perhaps it only dreamed as, cloud by cloud,
the sun plod through the sky. Heroically,
perhaps it stood against the mindless plots
of concrete that replaced each flowered bed.
Perhaps it heard thick loggers draw odd lots
and could not flee, and so could only dread...

The last of all its kind? They left its stump
with timeworn strange inscriptions no one reads
(because a language lost is just a bump
impeding someone’s progress at mall speeds).
We leveled all such “speed bumps” long ago
just as our quainter cousins leveled trees.
Shall we, too, be consumed by what we know?
Once gods were merely warriors; august trees
were merely twigs, and man the least divine...
mere fables now, dust, compost, turpentine.

They Take Their Shape
by Michael R. Burch

“We will not forget moments of silence and days of mourning...”―George W. Bush

We will not forget...
the moments of silence and the days of mourning,
the bells that swung from leaden-shadowed vents
to copper bursts above “hush!”-chastened children
who saw the sun break free (abandonment
to run and laugh forsaken for the moment),
still flashing grins they could not quite repent...

Nor should they―anguish triumphs just an instant;
this every child accepts; the nymphet weaves;
transformed, the grotesque adult-thing emerges:
damp-winged, huge-eyed, to find the sun deceives...

But children know; they spin limpwinged in darkness
cocooned in hope―the shriveled chrysalis
that paralyzes time. Suspended, dreaming,
they do not fall, but grow toward what is,
then grope about to find which transformation
might best endure the light or dark. “Survive”
becomes the whispered mantra of a pupa’s
awakening... till What takes shape and flies
shrieks, parroting Our own shrill, restive cries.

Originally published by The HyperTexts

Veiled
by Michael R. Burch

She has belief
without comprehension
and in her crutchwork shack
she is
much like us...

tamping the bread
into edible forms,
regarding her children
at play
with something akin to relief...

ignoring the towers ablaze
in the distance
because they are not revelations
but things of glass,
easily shattered...

and if you were to ask her,
she might say―
sometimes God visits his wrath
upon an impious nation
for its leaders’ sins,

and we might agree:
seeing her mutilations.

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: Apocalypse, Apocalyptic Poems, Prophecy, Prophetic Poems, Proclamation, Future, Futuristic, Broken Future, Vision, Visionary, Omen, Omens, Sign, Signs, Earth, Mother Earth, Climate Change, Global Warming, Environment, Extinction

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