These are early poems I write as a boy starting around age elven, then as a teenager in high school and during my first two years of college.
by Michael R. Burch
You fear me?
You fear me not ...
I am not the driving force
in your silly, arrogant false choices:
For shooting me unarmed
For dancing across juxtaposed walkways
For spitting, farting, jeering and otherwise animalistic behaviors
Wetting in your pants fear.
You are not afraid of me
and therefore hating me,
daring only a moment to love me
and then running away,
keeping me out of your schools,
barring me from little social clubs
and campfire circles.
Translation of Petrarch's Rima, Sonnet 134
I FIND no peace, and all my war is done;
I fear and hope; I burn and freeze like ice;
I fly above the wind, yet can I not arise;
And nought I have, and all the world I seize on;
That looseth nor locketh holdeth me in prison
And holdeth me not, yet can I 'scape nowise;
Nor letteth me live nor die at my device, [by my own choice]
And yet of death it giveth none occasion.
Withouten eyen, I see; and without tongue I plain; [lament]
I desire to perish, and yet I ask health;
Tz'u No. 1
To the tune "Courtyard Filled with Fragrance"
Fragrant grass beside the pond
green shade over the hall
a clear cold comes through
the window curtains
crescent moon beyond the golden bars
and a flute sounds
as if someone were coming
but alone on my mat with a cup
gazing sadly into nothingness
I want to call back
the blackberry flowers
that have fallen
though pear blossoms remain
for in that distant year
I came to love their fresh fragrance
scenting my sleeve
Two Wishes XI
In the silence of the night Death descended from God toward the earth. He hovered above a city and pierced the dwellings with his eyes. He say the spirits floating on wings of dreams, and the people who were surrendered to the Slumber.
When the moon fell below the horizon and the city became black, Death walked silently among the houses -- careful to touch nothing -- until he reached a palace. He entered through the bolted gates undisturbed, and stood by the rich man's bed; and as Death touched his forehead, the sleeper's eyes opened, showing great fright.
Two on the Terrace
Warm waves of lavish moonlight
The Capitol enfold,
As if a richer noon light
Bathed its white walls with gold.
The great bronze Freedom shining,
Her crest in ether shrining,
Peers eastward as divining
The new day from the old.
Mark the mild planet pouring
Her splendor o'er the ground;
See the white obelisk soaring
To pierce the blue profound.
Beneath the still heavens beaming,
The lighted town lies gleaming,
In guarded slumber dreaming-
A world without a sound.
Two centuries' winter storms have lashed the changing sands of Falmouth's shore,
Deep-voiced, the winds, swift winged, wild, have echoed there the ocean's roar.
But though the north-east gale unleashed, rage-blind with power, relentless beat,
The sturdy light-house sheds its beam on waves churned white beneath the sleet.
And still when cold and fear are past, and fields are sweet with spring-time showers,
Mystic, the gray age-silent hills breathe out their souls in fair mayflowers.
Dogs have a sense beyond our ken -
At least my little Trixie had:
Tail-wagging when I laughed, and when
I sighed, eyes luminously sad.
And if I planned to go away,
She'd know, oh, days and days before:
Aye, dogs I think are sometimes fey,
They seem to sense our fate in store.
Now take the case of old Tome Low;
With flowers each week he'd call on me.
Dear Trixie used to love him so,
With joyous jump upon his knee.
Yet when he wandered in one day,
Her hair grew sudden stark with dread;
I would not wish thee other than thou art;
I love thee, love, so well in every part,
That had I power to change thee
In form or face or mind,
I could not find
The heart to re-arrange thee.
For we were made to suit each other, sweet,
Apart, uneven, but when join'd, complete,
With powers and failings matching
In each as strictly well
As in some shell
The sharp teeth interlatching.
And so I would not have thee change, for fear
The valves might ope and gape a little, dear.
Through the shine, through the rain
We have shared the day’s load;
To the old march again
We have tramped the long road;
We have laughed, we have cried,
And we’ve tossed the King’s crown;
We have fought, we have died,
And we’ve trod the day down.
So it’s lift the old song
Ere the night flies again,
Where the road leads along
Through the shine, through the rain.
Long ago, far away,
Came a sign from the skies;
And we feared then to pray
For the new sun to rise: