Year: 
2022

These are poems about the passage of time, aging, mortality and death. 

The Shrinking Season
by Michael R. Burch

With every wearying year
the weight of the winter grows
and while the schoolgirl outgrows
her clothes,
the widow disappears
in hers.

Published by Angle, Poem Today (featured poem), Heartfelt Death Poems, Girls and Goblins and Madly Jane

***

Distances
by Michael R. Burch

Moonbeams on water —
the reflected light
of a halcyon star
now drowning in night ...
So your memories are.

Footprints on beaches
now flooding with water;
the small, broken ribcage
of some primitive slaughter ...
So near, yet so far.

Published by The Poetry Porch/Sonnet Scroll and The New Lyre (the first poem in the first issue)

***

no foothold
by michael r. burch

there is no hope;
therefore i became invulnerable to love.
now even god cannot move me:
nothing to push or shove,
no foothold.

so let me live out my remaining days in clarity,
mine being the only nativity,
my death the final crucifixion
and apocalypse,

as far as the i can see ...

***

Vacuum
by Michael R. Burch

Over hushed quadrants
forever landlocked in snow,
time’s senseless winds blow ...

leaving odd relics of lives half-revealed,
if still mostly concealed ...
such are the things we are unable to know

that once intrigued us so.

Come then, let us quickly repent
of whatever truths we’d once determined to learn
but lost in these drifts at each unexpected turn.

There’s nothing left of us here; it’s time to go.

***

briefling
by michael r. burch

manishatched,hopsintotheMix,
cavorts,hassex(quick!,spawnanewBrood!);
then,likeamayfly,he’ssuddenlygone:
plantfood

NOTE: Here “briefling” is a dimunutive of “brief” and also a pun on “brief fling.”

***

Duet
by Michael R. Burch

If love is just an impulse meant to bring
two tiny hearts together, skittering
like hamsters from their Quonsets late at night
in search of lust’s productive exercise . . .

If love is the mutation of some gene
made radiant—an accident of bliss
played out by two small actors on a screen
of silver mesh, who never even kiss . . .

If love is evolution, nature’s way
of sorting out its DNA in pairs,
of matching, mating, sculpting flesh’s clay . . .
why does my wrinkled hamster climb his stairs

to set his wheel revolving, then descend
and stagger off . . . to make hers fly again?

Published by Bewildering Stories and The HyperTexts

***

Incommunicado
by Michael R. Burch

All I need to know of life I learned
in the slap of a moment,
as my outward eye turned
toward a gauntlet of overhanging lights
which coldly burned, hissing—

"There is no way back! . . ."

As the ironic bright blood
trickled down my face,
I watched strange albino creatures twisting
my flesh into tight knots of separation
all the while tediously insisting—

“He's doing just fine!"

***

Besieged
by Michael R. Burch

Life—the disintegration of the flesh
before the fitful elevation of the soul
upon improbable wings?

Life—is this all we know,
the travail one bright season brings? ...

Now the fruit hangs,
impendent, pregnant with death,
as the hurricane builds and flings
its white columns and banners of snow

and the rout begins.

***

Leave Taking (II)
by Michael R. Burch

Although the earth renews itself, and spring
is lovelier for all the rot of fall,
I think of yellow leaves that cling and hang
by fingertips to life, let go . . . and all
men see is one bright instance of departure,
the flame that, at least height, warms nothing. I,

have never liked to think the ants that march here
will deem them useless, grimly tramping by,
and so I gather leaves’ dry hopeless brilliance,
to feel their prickly edges, like my own,
to understand their incurled worn resilience—
youth’s tenderness long, callously, outgrown.

I even feel the pleasure of their sting,
the stab of life. I do not think —at all—
to be renewed, as earth is every spring.
I do not hope words cluster where they fall.
I only hope one leaf, wild-spiraling,
illuminates the void, till glad hearts sing.

It's not that every leaf must finally fall ...
it's just that we can never catch them all.

Originally published by Silver Stork

***

Consequence
by Michael R. Burch

They are fresh-faced,
not innocent, but perhaps not yet jaded,
oblivious to time and death,
of each counted breath
in the pendulum’s sway
falling unheeded.

They are bright, undissuaded
by foreign tongues,
by sepulchers empty and waiting,
by sarcophagi of ancient kings,
by proclamations,
by rituals of scalpels and rings.

They are sworn, they are fated
to misadventure and grief;
but they revel in life
till the sun falls, receding
into silent halls
to torrents of inconsequential tears . . .

. . . to brief tragedies of tears
when they consider this: No one else sees.
But I know.
We all know.
We all know the consequence
of being so young.

***

Cycles
by Michael R. Burch

I see his eyes caress my daughter’s breasts
through her thin cotton dress,
and how an indiscreet strap of her white bra
holds his bald fingers
in fumbling mammalian awe . . .

And I remember long cycles into the bruised dusk
of a distant park,
hot blushes,
wild, disembodied rushes of blood,
portentous intrusions of lips, tongues and fingers . . .

and now in him the memory of me lingers
like something thought rancid,
proved rotten.
I see Another again—hard, staring, and silent—
though long-ago forgotten . . .

And I remember conjectures of panty lines,
brief flashes of white down bleacher stairs,
coarse patches of hair glimpsed in bathroom mirrors,
all the odd, questioning stares . . .

Yes, I remember it all now,
and I shoo them away,
willing them not to play too long or too hard
in the back yard—
with a long, ineffectual stare

that years from now, he may suddenly remember.

***

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.

***

Day, and Night
by Michael R. Burch

The moon exposes syphilitic craters
and, veiled by ghostly willows, palely looms,
while we who rise each day to grind a living
dream each scented night of such perfumes
as drew us to the window, to the moonlight,
when all the earth was steeped in cobalt blue—
an eerie vase of achromatic flowers
bled silver by pale starlight, losing hue.

The night begins her waltz to waiting sunrise—
adagio, the music she now hears,
while we who in the sunlight slave for succor,
dreaming, seek communion with the spheres.
And all around the night is in crescendo,
and everywhere the stars’ bright legions form,
and here we hear the sweet incriminations
of lovers we had once to keep us warm.

And also here we find, like bled carnations,
red lips that whitened, kisses drawn to lies,
that touched us once with fierce incantations
and taught us love was prettier than wise.

Keywords/Tags: Keywords/Tags: winter, time, age, aging, mortality, death, loss, snow, ice, brief, fling, man, hatched, hops, mix, sex, spawn, brood, mayfly, plant food, consequence, youth, children, teenagers, innocent, unjaded, time, death, fated, tragedies, tears, grief, sun, night, nightfall, youth, puberty, teenagers, sex, lust, desire, daughter, father, chastity, virginity, abstinence

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