These are apocalyptic poems about possible dark futures for mankind and the planet he depends on for life and sustenance. Are we condemning our children and grandchildren to live underground, like moles, if they live at all?


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?


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.


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.


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


Milestones Toward Oblivion
by Michael R. Burch

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.


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.


by Michael R. Burch

for Trump

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

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 beds 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.


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!


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.


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 around 1974-1975 as a high school sophomore or junior.


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.


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.


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


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.

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.


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,

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.



These are humorous poems “just for the fun of it.”

Door Mouse
by Michael R. Burch

I’m sure it’s not good for my heart—
the way it will jump-start
when the mouse scoots the floor
(I try to kill it with the door,
never fast enough, or
fling a haphazard shoe ...
always too slow too)
in the strangest zig-zaggedy fashion
absurdly inconvenient for mashin’,
till our hearts, each maniacally revvin’,
make us both early candidates for heaven.


The Humpback
by Michael R. Burch

The humpback is a gullet
equipped with snarky fins.
It has a winning smile:
and when it SMILES, it wins
as miles and miles of herring
excite its fearsome grins.
So beware, unwary whalers,
lest you drown, sans feet and shins!


Apologies to España
by Michael R. Burch

the reign
in Trump’s brain
falls mainly as mansplain


No Star
by Michael R. Burch

Trump, you're no "star."
Putin made you an American Czar.
Now, if we continue down this dark path you've chosen,
pretty soon we'll be wearing lederhosen.



tRUMP is the butt of many jokes.—Michael R. Burch

Keywords/Tags: apocalypse, apocalyptic, armageddon, humanity, mankind, future, prophecy, prophetic, light, darkness, nuclear winter, global warming, climate change


Less Heroic Couplets: Word to the Unwise

by Michael R. Burch

I wanted to be good as gold,
but being good, as I’ve been told,
requires something, discipline,
I simply have no interest in!


Villanelle of an Opportunist
by Michael R. Burch

I’m not looking for someone to save.
A gal has to do what a gal has to do:
I’m looking for a man with one foot in the grave.

How many highways to hell must I pave
with intentions imagined, not true?
I’m not looking for someone to save.

Fools praise compassion while weaklings rave,
but a gal has to do what a gal has to do.
I’m looking for a man with one foot in the grave.

Some praise the Lord but the Devil’s my fave
because he has led me to you!
I’m not looking for someone to save.

In the land of the free and the home of the brave,
a gal has to do what a gal has to do.
I’m looking for a man with one foot in the grave.

Every day without meds becomes a close shave
and the razor keeps tempting me too.
I’m not looking for someone to save:
I’m looking for a man with one foot in the grave.


Less Heroic Couplets: Shell Game
by Michael R. Burch

I saw a turtle squirtle!
Before you ask, “How fertile?”
The squirt came from its mouth.
Why do your thoughts fly south?


Helen Keller
saw more than the stellar-
and the televisioned.
—Michael R. Burch


Antsy kids of the world, unite!
You don't like facts, so fight!
Call them all “haters,”
those cool, calm debaters,
then your mommies can tuck you in tight.
—Michael R. Burch


Ireland’s Ire has Landed

The luck of the Irish has failed:
Trump’s landed and cannot be jailed!
From Killarney to Derry
the natives are very
despondent and bombs have been mailed.

Donald Trump has alarmed Country Clare:
the Irish are crying, “Beware!
He won’t pay his tax,
his manners are lax,
and what the hell’s up with his hair?”

The Donald has landed in Doonbeg
(Ireland). Why? For a noon beg:
he’s running real low
on cash, so you know
he’ll fit like a freakin’ square peg.

The luck of the Irish has faltered.
Trump’s there and he cannot be haltered.
From Killarney to Derry
the natives are very
insistent his visa be altered.


Poets laud Justice’s
high principles.
Trump just gropes
her raw genitals.
—Michael R. Burch


Zip It
by Michael R. Burch

Trump pulled a stunt,
wore his pants back-to-front,
and now he’s the butt of bald jokes:
“Is he coming, or going?”
“Eeek! His diaper is showing!”
But it’s all much ado, says Snopes.


Limerick-Ode to a Much-Eaten Ass
by Michael R. Burch

There wonst wus a president, Trump,
whose greatest ass (et) wus his rump.
It was padded ’n’ shiny,
that great orange hiney,
but to drain it we’d need a sump pump!


On the Horns of a Dilemma (I)
by Michael R. Burch

Love has become preposterous
for the over-endowed rhinoceros:
when he meets the right miss
how the hell can he kiss
when his horn deforms her esophagus?

On the Horns of a Dilemma (II)
by Michael R. Burch

Love has become preposterous
for the over-endowed rhinoceros:
when he meets the right miss
how the hell can he kiss
when his horn is so horny it lofts her thus?

On the Horns of a Dilemma (III)
by Michael R. Burch

A wino rhino said, “I know!
I have a horn I cannot blow!
And so,
I’ll watch the lovely spigot flow!

The Horns of a Dilemma Solved, if not Solvent
by Michael R. Burch

A wine-addled rhino debated
the prospect of living unmated
due to the cruel scorn
gals showed for his horn,
but then lost it to poachers, sedated.


A Possible Explanation for the Madness of March Hares
by Michael R. Burch

March hares,
Spring’s a tease, a flirt!

This is yet another late freeze alert.
Better comfort your babies;
the weather has rabies.


Voice of (T)reason
by Michael R. Burch

Love is the highest, the greatest, the grandest!
Love has us all and our lovers in thrall!

Love, but don’t fall.

Love is the coolest, the truest, the Yule-est!
Love is sage Andrew’s Marvell-ous ball!

Love, but don’t fall.

Love is the sweetest, the deepest, the fleetest!
Yes, that’s the problem – a pall over all.

Love, but don’t fall.


Final Ballad of the Unhappy Camper
by Michael R. Burch

I’m low on jizz,
lost my fizz,
out of biz.

Flabby and horny,
morose and mourny,
gals’re scorny.

Friggin’ Low T Hell!
Unable to swell!
"More sleep"? Do tell!


Less Heroic Couplets: Weird Beard
by Michael R. Burch

for and after Richard Thomas Moore

C’mon, admit—love’s truly weird:
why does a vagina need a beard?

Should making love produce foul poxes?
What can we make of such paradoxes?

And having made love, what the hell's the point
of ending up with a sore, limp joint?

Who invented love, which we all pursue
like rats in a maze after sniffing glue?


This is my randy version of a classic limerick originally published by Arthur Henry Reginald Buller in Punch on Dec. 19, 1923.

An incestuous physicist, Bright,
made love at speeds faster than light.
She had sex one day
in her relative way,
then came on the previous night!

There was a young porn star of Ghent
whose get-up just got up and went.
Too sleepy for sex,
her fans became ex-
subscribers, and no checks were sent.
—Michael R. Burch

Fair Elle was an eely lover
who squiggled beneath the covers ...
She was hard to pin down!
When I did it, she’d frown,
then wouldn’t do none of my druthers!

There once was a camel who loved to hump.
Please get your crude minds out of their slump!
He loved to give rides on his huge, lordly lump!
—Michael R. Burch

I wanted to live like a sheik, in a harem.
But I live like a monk without gals ’cause I scare ’em.
—Michael R. Burch


Mouldy Oldie, or, Septuagenarian Ode to Cheese Mould
by Michael R. Burch

I’m getting old
and battling mould —
it’s growing on my cheese!

My phone’s on hold
to report the mould —
my life is not a breeze!

I pray and pray,
"Send help my way —
good Lord, I’m on my knees!"

But truth be told,
it’s oversold —
that’s it, I’m done with cheese!


by Michael R. Burch

& astound,
the whole earth ’round,
even if mostly

I wrote the poem above after discovering an article about the aptly-named Wonderwerk Cave in an ancient (March 2016) falling-apart issue of *Discover* that I rescued from my car. The cave in question lies in South Africa’s Northern Cape province, around 300 miles southwest of the “Cradle of Civilization.” Artifacts discovered in the Wonderwerk Cave appear to be even more ancient than the Cradle’s. According to the article, “The density of stone artifacts in the region is staggering.” The use of fire may now date back as far as 1.8 million years.


The Procrastinator’s Creed
by Michael R. Burch

It’s always, “Tomorrow, I’ll do it.”
Work? I eschew it.
I never collect money I’ve loaned
and the rest of this poem’s been postponed.


by Michael R. Burch

When man is gone
won’t the sun still rise?

Will anyone care
that he isn’t there?

Will the porpoises
lack purpose,

the marigolds

Will the doves and the deer
weep bitter tears?

Or will life continue,
glad to be off his menu?


That Mella Fella
by Michael R. Burch

for John Mella, former editor of LIGHT

There once was a fella
named Mella,
who, if you weren’t funny,
would tell ya.

But he was cool, clever, nice,
gave some splendid advice,
and if you were good,
he would sell ya.


One for the Thumb!
by Michael R. Burch

Counting rings, the counters come,
marching to the same sad drum:

“Your GOAT has two, but ours has four!”

“Our GOAT has six, and six is more!”

“One for the thumb! Our GOAT’s the best!”

But Robert Horry’s not impressed.

Jim Loscutoff is trying on
the mantle of the GOAT, anon.

Frank Ramsey laughs himself to tears:
since he won seven in just nine years.

Tom Heinsohn, K.C. Jones, Satch Sanders
and Hondo all have eight, ring ganders.

Sam Jones has rings to fill both hands
(that’s ten for all math-challenged fans),
won in twelve years, as truth demands.

Meanwhile, the only GOAT we know,
Bill Russell, has one ... for the toe!


Mating Calls, or, Purdy Please!
by Michael R. Burch

Nine-thirty? Feeling flirty (and, indeed, a trifle dirty),
I decided to ring prudish Eleanor Purdy ...
When I rang her to bang her,
it seems my words stang her!
She hung up the phone, so I banged off, alone.

Still dreaming to hold something skirty,
I once again rang our reclusive Miss Purdy.
She sounded unhappy,
called me “daffy” and “sappy,”
and that was before the gal heard me!

It was early A.M., ’bout two-thirty,
when I enquired again with the regal Miss Purdy.
With a voice full of hate,
she thundered, “It’s LATE!”
Was I, perhaps, over-wordy?

At 3:42, I was feeling blue,
and so I dialed up Miss You-Know-Who,
thinking to bed her
and quite possibly wed her,
but she summoned the cops; now my bail is due!

It was probably close to four-thirty
the last time I called the miserly Purdy.
Although I’m her boarder,
the restraining order
freezes all assets of that virginity hoarder!

It was nearly twelve-thirty
when, in need of something skirty,
I rang up (to bang up) the reclusive Miss Purty ...
She hung up the phone
so I banged off, alone.


Hot Cross Buns
by Michael R. Burch

Lexi, Lexi, Lexi,
so lovely and perplexy,
please meet me for a meal
spicy and Tex-Mexy.

Done with hot fried fritters,
bend over, show your knickers;
then, as your ass cheeks redden,
ignore the public snickers.


New Year’s Dissolution
by Michael R. Burch

The year draws to a close ...
Who knows
where the hell the time goes?

I’m up to my nose
in ill-fitting clothes!

They canceled my shows!
My corns grow in rows!

And yet I’ll survive ...
Perhaps ... I suppose ...

So let’s ring the New Year in
with tonic and gin
and greet the foolish Babe
with an even-more-foolish grin!


Her Whirlwind Life
by Michael R. Burch

for Tallulah Bankhead

“Never slow down
or someone’ll catch up.
Virgins are boring,
give me a slut.”

“Male or female,
it really don’t matter.
Life is too short
to live it in a halter.”