These are villanelles by Michael R. Burch.
Remembering Not to Call
by Michael R. Burch
a villanelle permitting mourning, for my mother, Christine Ena Burch
The hardest thing of all,
after telling her everything,
is remembering not to call.
Now the phone hanging on the wall
will never announce her ring:
the hardest thing of all
for children, however tall.
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?
i like to dress for an imaginary girl
(we will meet each other soon) by putting on
a silk tie with subtle Chinese birds
she may be picturing me in her mirror
as she applies exactly the necessary line
of mascara to lengthen her lashes and darken
whatever begins as a mystery ends as a
blind, the nuances so well known
that birds chirp violently at their mirror images
but the pools
as they are revealed in the sunlight of
every accidental nod of the eyes remain
calm as a mirror in which there is no
Awake, awake, ye Nations, now the Lord of Hosts goes by!
Sing ye His praise, O happy souls, who smile beneath the sky!
Join in the song, O martyr'd ones, where'er ye droop and die!
The Lord goes marching on!
'Mid tramp and clangour of the winds and clash of clouds that meet,
He passeth on His way and treads the Lost beneath His feet;
His legions are the winged Storms that follow fast and fleet
Their Master marching on!
From battlefield to battlefield He wends in royal array,
A Lark's Flight
Between the dawn and the dark,
Loud and clear,
That all may hear,
Sings the Lark.
Beyond the low black line
Of trees the dawn peeps red, —
Clouds blow woolly and fine
In the ether overhead,
Out of the air is shaken
A fresh and glistening dew,
And the City begins to awaken
And tremble thro' and thro';
See! (while thro' street and lane
The people pour again,
And lane and alley and street
Grow hoarse to a sound of feet,)
Here and there
A human Shape comes, dark
Ad Carissimam Amicam
Now that a Hand creeps out across the heavenly blue
Putting the lights of Heaven out sadly one by one,
What dream beneath the moon, what hope beneath the sun
Shall our poor souls pursue?
Startled amid the feast we look around and lo!
The Word of Doom that flames along Life's palace walls—
The music dies away—the last musicians go—
(Bards with their golden harps, gods in their robes of snow)
And the dread Silence falls!
What is the word we read in wonder and despair?
Two Blind Men
Two blind men met. Said one: "This earth
Has been a blackout from my birth.
Through darkness I have groped my way,
Forlorn, unknowing night from day.
But you - though War destroyed your sight,
Still have your memories of Light,
And to allay your present pain
Can live your golden youth again."
Then said the second: "Aye, it's true,
It must seem magical to you
To know the shape of things that are,
A women's lips, a rose, a star.
But therein lies the hell of it;
Better my eyes had never lit
You talk of riders on the flat, of nerve and pluck and pace --
Not one in fifty has the nerve to ride a steeplechase.
It's right enough, while horses pull and take their faces strong,
To rush a flier to the front and bring the field along;
Bur what about the last half-mile, with horses blown and beat --
When every jump means all you know to keep him on his feet.
When any slip means sudden death -- with wife and child to keep --
It needs some nerve to draw the whip and flog him at the leap --
Tz'u No. 10 Exile
To the tune of "Bodhisattva Aliens"
Soft breezes, mild sunshine,
spring is still young.
The sudden change of the light
brightened my spirit.
But upon awakening from slumber,
I felt the chill air;
The plum flower withered in my hair.
Where can I call my native land?
Forget - I cannot, except in wine
when I drown my care.
Incense was lighted when I went to sleep;
Though the embers are now cold,
the warmth of wine still burns on.
Two Years Ago
The light of other days burns dim,
And in the shade is cast,
You'll own I'm right, if you will just
Look back upon the past;
It's glories all are faded,
And each of you must know
That times ain't what they used to be
About two years ago.
Bendigo, you know, my lads,
Was just then in its prime,
And those who happened to be here
Had a most glorious time;
But now its sadly altered,
And things are precious slow,
And times ain't what they used to be
About two years ago.