LOVE POEMS by Michael R. Burch

LOVE POEMS by Michael R. Burch

A Poem by Michael R. Burch
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Love poems and translations by Michael R. Burch

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LOVE POEMS by Michael R. Burch   

These are love poems by Michael R. Burch: original poems and translations about passion, desire, lust, sex, dating and marriage. On an amusing note, my steamy Baudelaire translations have become popular with the pros ― porn stars and escort services!




Sappho, fragment 42

translation by Michael R. Burch


Eros harrows my heart:
wild winds whipping desolate mountains
uprooting oaks.



Sappho, fragment 155

translation by Michael R. Burch


A short revealing frock?
It's just my luck
your lips were made to mock!




Sappho, fragment 22

loose translation by Michael R. Burch


That enticing girl's clinging dresses
leave me trembling, overcome by happiness,
as once, when I saw the Goddess in my prayers
eclipsing Cyprus.



Negligibles

by Michael R. Burch


Show me your most intimate items of apparel;
begin with the hem of your quicksilver slip ...



Warming Her Pearls
by Michael R. Burch


Warming her pearls,
her breasts gleam like constellations.
Her belly is a bit rotund ...
she might have stepped out of a Rubens.



She bathes in silver
by Michael R. Burch


She bathes in silver,
afloat
on her reflections ...



Are You the Thief
by Michael R. Burch


When I touch you now,
O sweet lover,
full of fire,
melting like ice
in my embrace,

when I part the delicate white lace,
baring pale flesh,
and your face
is so close
that I breathe your breath
and your hair surrounds me like a wreath ...

tell me now,
O sweet, sweet lover,
in good faith:
are you the thief
who has stolen my heart?



The Effects of Memory
by Michael R. Burch


A black ringlet
curls to lie
at the nape of her neck,
glistening with sweat
in the evaporate moonlight ...
This is what I remember

now that I cannot forget.

And tonight,
if I have forgotten her name,
I remember:
rigid wire and white lace
half-impressed in her flesh ...

our soft cries, like regret,

... the enameled white clips
of her bra strap
still inscribe dimpled marks
that my kisses erase ...
now that I have forgotten her face.



Moments
by Michael R. Burch


There were moments full of promise,
like the petal-scented rainfall of early spring,
when to hold you in my arms and to kiss your willing lips
seemed everything.

There are moments strangely empty
full of pale unearthly twilighthow the cold stars stare!

when to be without you is a dark enchantment
the night and I share.



The Communion of Sighs
by Michael R. Burch


There was a moment
without the sound of trumpets or a shining light,
but with only silence and darkness and a cool mist
felt more than seen.
I was eighteen,
my heart pounding wildly within me like a fist.
Expectation hung like a cry in the night,
and your eyes shone like the corona of a comet.

There was an instant . . .
without words, but with a deeper communion,
as clothing first, then inhibitions fell;
liquidly our lips met
feverish, wet
forgotten, the tales of heaven and hell,
in the immediacy of our fumbling union . . .
when the rest of the world became distant.

Then the only light was the moon on the rise,
and the only sound, the communion of sighs.



Righteous
by Michael R. Burch

Come to me tonight
in the twilight, O, and the full moon rising,
spectral and ancient, will mutter a prayer.

Gather your hair
and pin it up, knowing
that I will release it a moment anon.

We are not one,
nor is there a scripture
to sanctify nights you might spend in my arms,

but the swarms
of stars revolving above us
revel tonight, the most ardent of lovers.



Once
by  Michael R. Burch

Once when her kisses were fire incarnate
and left in their imprint bright lipstick, and flame,
when her breath rose and fell over smoldering dunes,
leaving me listlessly sighing her name ...

Once when her breasts were as pale, as beguiling,
as wan rivers of sand shedding heat like a mist,
when her words would at times softly, mildly rebuke me
all the while as her lips did more wildly insist ...

Once when the thought of her echoed and whispered
through vast wastelands of need like a Bedouin chant,
I ached for the touch of her lips with such longing
that I vowed all my former vows to recant ...

Once, only once, something bloomed, of a desiccate seed
this implausible blossom her wild rains of kisses decreed.



For All that I Remembered
by Michael R. Burch

For all that I remembered, I forgot
her name, her face, the reason that we loved ...
and yet I hold her close within my thought.
I feel the burnished weight of auburn hair
that fell across her face, the apricot
clean scent of her shampoo, the way she glowed
so palely in the moonlight, angel-wan.

The memory of her gathers like a flood
and bears me to that night, that only night,
when she and I were one, and if I could ...
I'd reach to her this time and, smiling, brush
the hair out of her eyes, and hold intact
each feature, each impression. Love is such
a threadbare sort of magic, it is gone
before we recognize it. I would crush
my lips to hers to hold their memory,
if not more tightly, less elusively.



Le Balcon (The Balcony)
by Charles Baudelaire
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Paramour of memory, ultimate mistress,
source of all pleasure, my only desire;
how can I forget your ecstatic caresses,
the warmth of your breasts by the roaring fire,
paramour of memory, ultimate mistress?

Each night illumined by the burning coals
we lay together where the rose-fragrance clings
how soft your breasts, how tender your soul!
Ah, and we said imperishable things,
each night illumined by the burning coals.

How beautiful the sunsets these sultry days,
deep space so profound, beyond life’s brief floods ...
then, when I kissed you, my queen, in a daze,
I thought I breathed the bouquet of your blood
as beautiful as sunsets these sultry days.

Night thickens around us like a wall;
in the deepening darkness our irises meet.
I drink your breath, ah! poisonous yet sweet!,
as with fraternal hands I massage your feet
while night thickens around us like a wall.

I have mastered the sweet but difficult art
of happiness here, with my head in your lap,
finding pure joy in your body, your heart;
because you’re the queen of my present and past
I have mastered love’s sweet but difficult art.

O vows! O perfumes! O infinite kisses!
Can these be reborn from a gulf we can’t sound
as suns reappear, as if heaven misses
their light when they sink into seas dark, profound?
O vows! O perfumes! O infinite kisses!

My translation of Le Balcon has become popular with porn sites, escort services and dating sites. The pros seem to like it!



Les Bijoux (The Jewels)
by Charles Baudelaire
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

My lover nude and knowing my heart's whims
Wore nothing more than a few bright-flashing gems;
Her art was saving men despite their sins
She ruled like harem girls crowned with diadems!

She danced for me with a gay but mocking air,
My world of stone and metal sparking bright;
I discovered in her the rapture of everything fair
Nay, an excess of joy where the spirit and flesh unite!

Naked she lay and offered herself to me,
Parting her legs and smiling receptively,
As gentle and yet profound as the rising sea
Till her surging tide encountered my cliff, abruptly.

A tigress tamed, her eyes met mine, intent ...
Intent on lust, content to purr and please!
Her breath, both languid and lascivious, lent
An odd charm to her metamorphoses.

Her limbs, her loins, her abdomen, her thighs,
Oiled alabaster, sinuous as a swan,
Writhed pale before my calm clairvoyant eyes;
Like clustered grapes her breasts and belly shone.

Skilled in more spells than evil imps can muster,
To break the peace which had possessed my heart,
She flashed her crystal rocks’ hypnotic luster
Till my quietude was shattered, blown apart.

Her waist awrithe, her breasts enormously
Out-thrust, and yet ... and yet, somehow, still coy ...
As if stout haunches of Antiope
Had been grafted to a boy ...

The room grew dark, the lamp had flickered out.
Mute firelight, alone, lit each glowing stud;
Each time the fire sighed, as if in doubt,
It steeped her pale, rouged flesh in pools of blood.



What Goes Around, Comes
by Michael R. Burch

This is a poem about loss
so why do you toss your dark hair
unaccountably glowing?

How can you be sure of my heart
when it’s beyond my own knowing?

Or is it love’s pheromones you trust,
my eyes magnetized by your bust
and the mysterious alchemies of lust?


Now I am truly lost!



Passionate One
by Michael R. Burch

Love of my life,
light of my morning
arise, brightly dawning,
for you are my sun.

Give me of heaven
both manna and leaven―
desirous Presence,
Passionate One.

Manna is "heavenly bread" and leaven is what we use to make earthly bread rise. So this poem is saying that one's lover offers the best of heaven and earth.



Second Sight
by Michael R. Burch

I never touched you
that was my mistake.

Deep within,
I still feel the ache.

Can an unformed thing
eternally break?

Now, from a great distance,
I see you again

not as you are now,
but as you were then

eternally present
and Sovereign.



After the Deluge
by Michael R. Burch

She was kinder than light
to an up-reaching flower
and sweeter than rain
to the bees in their bower
where anemones blush
at the affections they shower,
and love’s shocking power.

She shocked me to life,
but soon left me to wither.
I was listless without her,
nor could I be with her.
I fell under the spell
of her absence’s power.
in that calamitous hour.

Like blithe showers that fled
repealing spring’s sweetness;
like suns’ warming rays sped
away, with such fleetness ...
she has taken my heart
alas, our completeness!
I now wilt in pale beams
of her occult remembrance.



Love Has a Southern Flavor
by Michael R. Burch

Love has a Southern flavor: honeydew,
ripe cantaloupe, the honeysuckle’s spout
we tilt to basking faces to breathe out
the ordinary, and inhale perfume ...

Love’s Dixieland-rambunctious: tangled vines,
wild clematis, the gold-brocaded leaves
that will not keep their order in the trees,
unmentionables that peek from dancing lines ...

Love cannot be contained, like Southern nights:
the constellations’ dying mysteries,
the fireflies that hum to light, each tree’s
resplendent autumn cape, a genteel sight ...

Love also is as wild, as sprawling-sweet,
as decadent as the wet leaves at our feet.



Violets
by Michael R. Burch

Once, only once,
when the wind flicked your skirt
to an indiscrete height

and you laughed,
abruptly demure,
outblushing shocked violets:

suddenly,

I knew:
everything had changed

and as you braided your hair
into long bluish plaits
the shadows empurpled,

the dragonflies’
last darting feints
dissolving mid-air,

we watched the sun’s long glide
into evening,
knowing and unknowing.

O, how the illusions of love
await us in the commonplace
and rare

then haunt our small remainder of hours.



Smoke
by Michael R. Burch

The hazy, smoke-filled skies of summer I remember well;
farewell was on my mind, and the thoughts that I can't tell
rang bells within (the din was in) my mind, and I can't say
if what we had was good or bad, or where it is today.
The endless days of summer's haze I still recall today;
she spoke and smoky skies stood still as summer slipped away ...



How Long the Night
(anonymous Old English Lyric, circa early 13th century AD)
translation by Michael R. Burch

It is pleasant, indeed, while the summer lasts
with the mild pheasants' song ...
but now I feel the northern wind's blast
its severe weather strong.
Alas! Alas! This night seems so long!
And I, because of my momentous wrong
now grieve, mourn and fast.



Shattered
by Vera Pavlova
translation by Michael R. Burch

I shattered your heart;
now I limp through the shards
barefoot.



Snapshots
by Michael R. Burch

Here I scrawl extravagant rainbows.
And there you go, skipping your way to school.
And here we are, drifting apart
like untethered balloons.

Here I am, creating "art,"
chanting in shadows,
pale as the crinoline moon,
ignoring your face.

There you go,
in diaphanous lace,
making another man’s heart swoon.
Suddenly, unthinkably, here he is,

taking my place.



Elemental
by Michael R. Burch

There is within her a welling forth
of love unfathomable.
She is not comfortable
with the thought of merely loving:
but she must give all.

At night, she heeds the storm's calamitous call;
nay, longs for it. Why?
O, if a man understood, he might understand her.
But that never would do!
Darling, as you embrace the storm,

so I embrace elemental you.



If
by Michael R. Burch

If I regret
fire in the sunset
exploding on the horizon,
then let me regret loving you.

If I forget
even for a moment
that you are the only one,
then let me forget that the sky is blue.

If I should yearn
in a season of discontentment
for the vagabond light of a companionless moon,
let dawn remind me that you are my sun.

If I should burnone moment less brightly,

one instant less true
then with wild scorching kisses,
inflame me, inflame me, inflame me anew.



Because You Came to Me
by Michael R. Burch

Because you came to me with sweet compassion
and kissed my furrowed brow and smoothed my hair,
I do not love you after any fashion,
but wildly, in despair.

Because you came to me in my black torment
and kissed me fiercely, blazing like the sun
upon parched desert dunes, till in dawn’s foment
they melt, I am undone.

Because I am undone, you have remade me
as suns bring life, as brilliant rains endow
the earth below with leaves, where you now shade me
and bower me, somehow.



Stay With Me Tonight
by Michael R. Burch

Stay with me tonight;
be gentle with me as the leaves are gentle
falling to the earth.
And whisper, O my love,
how that every bright thing, though scattered afar,
retains yet its worth.

Stay with me tonight;
be as a petal long-awaited blooming in my hand.
Lift your face to mine
and touch me with your lips
till I feel the warm benevolence of your breath’s
heady fragrance like wine.

That which we had
when pale and waning as the dying moon at dawn,
outshone the sun.
And so lead me back tonight
through bright waterfalls of light
to where we shine as one.



Insurrection
by Michael R. Burch

She has become as the nightlistening

for rumors of dawnwhile the dew, glistening,

reminds me of her, and the wind, whistling,
lashes my cheeks with its soft chastening.

She has become as the lightsflickering

in the distancetill memories old and troubling

rise up again and demand remembering ...
like peasants rebelling against a mad king.



Medusa
by Michael R. Burch

Friends, beware
of her iniquitous hair
long, ravenblack & melancholy.

Many suitors drowned there
lost, unaware
of the length & extent of their folly.



Daredevil
by Michael R. Burch

There are days that I believe
(and nights that I deny)
love is not mutilation.

Daredevil, dry your eyes.


There are tightropes leaps bereave
taut wires strumming high
brief songs, infatuations.

Daredevil, dry your eyes.


There were cannon shots’ soirees,
hearts barricaded, wise . . .
and then . . . annihilation.

Daredevil, dry your eyes.


There were nights our hearts conceived
dawns’ indiscriminate sighs.
To dream was our consolation.

Daredevil, dry your eyes.


There were acrobatic leaves
that tumbled down to lie
at our feet, bright trepidations.

Daredevil, dry your eyes.


There were hearts carved into trees
tall stakes where you and I
left childhood’s salt libations . . .

Daredevil, dry your eyes.


Where once you scraped your knees;
love later bruised your thighs.
Death numbs all, our sedation.

Daredevil, dry your eyes.



Duet, Minor Key
by Michael R. Burch


Without the drama of cymbals
or the fanfare and snares of drums,
I present my case
stripped of its fine veneer:
Behold, thy instrument.


Play, for the night is long.



honeybee
by Michael R. Burch

love was a little treble thing
prone to sing
and (sometimes) to sting



don’t forget ...
by Michael R. Burch

don’t forget to remember
that Space is curved
(like your Heart)
and that even Light is bent
by your Gravity.

The opening lines were inspired by a famous love poem by e. e. cummings. I have dedicated this poem to my wife Beth, but you're welcome to dedicate it to the light-bending person of your choice, as long as you credit me as the author.



Sudden Shower
by Michael R. Burch

The day’s eyes were blue
until you appeared
and they wept at your beauty.



She Was Very Strange, and Beautiful
by Michael R. Burch

She was very strange, and beautiful,
like a violet mist enshrouding hills
before night falls
when the hoot owl calls
and the cricket trills
and the envapored moon hangs low and full.

She was very strange, in a pleasant way,
as the hummingbird
flies madly still,
so I drank my fill
of her every word.
What she knew of love, she demurred to say.

She was meant to leave, as the wind must blow,
as the sun must set,
as the rain must fall.
Though she gave her all,
I had nothing left . . .
yet I smiled, bereft, in her receding glow.



Isolde's Song
by Michael R. Burch

Through our long years of dreaming to be one
we grew toward an enigmatic light
that gently warmed our tendrils. Was it sun?
We had no eyes to tell; we loved despite
the lack of all sensationall but one:

we felt the night's deep chill, the air so bright
at dawn we quivered limply, overcome.

To touch was all we knew, and how to bask.
We knew to touch; we grew to touch; we felt
spring's urgency, midsummer's heat, fall's lash,
wild winter's ice and thaw and fervent melt.
We felt returning light and could not ask
its meaning, or if something was withheld
more glorious. To touch seemed life's great task.

At last the petal of me learned: unfold.
And you were there, surrounding me. We touched.
The curious golden pollens! Ah, we touched,
and learned to cling and, finally, to hold.



Myth
by Michael R. Burch

Here the recalcitrant wind
sighs with grievance and remorse
over fields of wayward gorse
and thistle-throttled lanes.

And she is the myth of the scythed wheat
hewn and sighing, complete,
waiting, lain in a low sheaf
full of faith, full of grief.

Here the immaculate dawn
requires belief of the leafed earth
and she is the myth of the mown grain
golden and humble in all its weary worth.



Heat Lightening
by Michael R. Burch

Each night beneath the elms, we never knew
which lights beyond dark hills might stall, advance,
then lurch into strange headbeams tilted up
like searchlights seeking contact in the distance . . .

Quiescent unions . . . thoughts of bliss, of hope . . .
long-dreamt appearances of wished-on stars . . .
like childhood’s long-occluded, nebulous
slow drift of half-formed visions . . . slip and bra . . .

Wan moonlight traced your features, perilous,
in danger of extinction, should your hair
fall softly on my eyes, or should a kiss
cause them to close, or should my fingers dare

to leave off childhood for some new design
of whiter lace, of flesh incarnadine.



Redolence
by Michael R. Burch

Now darkness ponds upon the violet hills;
cicadas sing; the tall elms gently sway;
and night bends near, a deepening shade of gray;
the bass concerto of a bullfrog fills
what silence there once was; globed searchlights play.

Green hanging ferns adorn dark window sills,
all drooping fronds, awaiting morning’s flares;
mosquitoes whine; the lissome moth again
flits like a veiled oud-dancer, and endures
the fumblings of night’s enervate gray rain.

And now the pact of night is made complete;
the air is fresh and cool, washed of the grime
of the city’s ashen breath; and, for a time,
the fragrance of her clings, obscure and sweet.



A Surfeit of Light
by Michael R. Burch

There was always a surfeit of light in your presence.
You stood distinctly apart, not of the humdrum world
a chariot of gold in a procession of plywood.

We were all pioneers of the modern expedient race,
raising the ante: Home Depot to Lowe’s.
Yours was an antique graceThrace’s or Mesopotamia’s.


We were never quite sure of your silver allure,
of your trillium-and-platinum diadem,
of your utter lack of flatware-like utility.

You told us that nightyour wound would not scar.

The black moment passed, then you were no more.
The darker the sky, how much brighter the Star!

The day of your funeral, I ripped out the crown mold.
You were this fool’s gold.



Desdemona
by Michael R. Burch

Though you possessed the moon and stars,
you are bound to fate and wed to chance.
Your lips deny they crave a kiss;
your feet deny they ache to dance.
Your heart imagines wild romance.

Though you cupped fire in your hands
and molded incandescent forms,
you are barren now, andspent of flame

the ashes that remain are borne
toward the sun upon a storm.

You, who demanded more, have less,
your heart within its cells of sighs
held fast by chains of misery,
confined till death for peddling lies
imprisonment your sense denies.

You, who collected hearts like leaves
and pressed each once within your book,
forgot. Nonewinsome, bright or rare

not one was worth a second look.
My heart, as others, you forsook.

But I, though I loved you from afar
through silent dawns, and gathered rue
from gardens where your footsteps left
cold paths among the asters, knew
each moonless night the nettles grew

and strangled hope, where love dies too.



Unfoldings
by Michael R. Burch

for Vicki

Time unfolds ...
Your lips were roses.
... petals open, shyly clustering ...
I had dreams
of other seasons.

... ten thousand colors quiver, blossoming.

Night and day ...
Dreams burned within me.
... flowers part themselves, and then they close ...
You were lovely;
I was lonely.

... a virgin yields herself, but no one knows.

Now time goes on ...
I have not seen you.
... within ringed whorls, secrets are exchanged ...
A fire rages;
no one sees it.

... a blossom spreads its flutes to catch the rain.

Seasons flow ...
A dream is dying.
... within parched clusters, life is taking form ...
You were honest;
I was angry.

... petals fling themselves before the storm.

Time is slowing ...
I am older.
... blossoms wither, closing one last time ...
I'd love to see you
and to touch you.

... a flower crumbles, crinkling, worn and dry.

Time contracts ...
I cannot touch you.
... a solitary flower cries for warmth ...
Life goes on as
dreams lose meaning.

... the seeds are scattered, lost within a storm.



Chloe
by Michael R. Burch

There were skies onyx at night ... moons by day ...
lakes pale as her eyes ... breathless winds
undressing tall elms; ... she would say
that we loved, but I figured we’d sinned.

Soon impatiens too fiery to stay
sagged; the crocus bells drooped, golden-limned;
things of brightness, rinsed out, ran to gray ...
all the light of that world softly dimmed.

Where our feet were inclined, we would stray;
there were paths where dead weeds stood untrimmed,
distant mountains that loomed in our way,
thunder booming down valleys dark-hymned.

What I found, I found lost in her face
while yielding all my virtue to her grace.



If You Come to San Miguel
by Michael R. Burch

If you come to San Miguel
before the orchids fall,
we might stroll through lengthening shadows
those deserted streets
where love first bloomed ...

You might buy the same cheap musk
from that mud-spattered stall
where with furtive eyes the vendor
watched his fragrant wares
perfume your breasts ...

Where lean men mend tattered nets,
disgruntled sea gulls chide;
we might find that cafetucho
where through grimy panes
sunset implodes ...

Where tall cranes spin canvassed loads,
the strange anhingas glide.
Green brine laps splintered moorings,
rusted iron chains grind,
weighed and anchored in the past,

held fast by luminescent tides ...
Should you come to San Miguel?
Let love decide.



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:
for whatever is left, we are unable to discern.

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



The Sky Was Turning Blue
by Michael R. Burch

Yesterday I saw you
as the snow flurries died,
spent winds becalmed.
When I saw your solemn face
alone in the crowd,
I felt my heart, so long embalmed,
begin to beat aloud.

Was it another winter,
another day like this?
Was it so long ago?
Where you the rose-cheeked girl
who slapped my face, then stole a kiss?
Was the sky this gray with snow,
my heart so all a-whirl?

How is it in one moment
it was twenty years ago,
lost worlds remade anew?
When your eyes met mine, I knew
you felt it too, as though
we heard the robin's song
and the sky was turning blue.



Roses for a Lover, Idealized
by Michael R. Burch

When you have become to me
as roses bloom, in memory,
exquisite, each sharp thorn forgot,
will I recallyours made me bleed?


When winter makes me think of you
whorls petrified in frozen dew,
bright promises blithe spring forsook,
will I recall your wordsbarbed, cruel?




Nothing Returns
by Michael R. Burch

A wave implodes,
impaled upon
impassive rocks . . .

this evening
the thunder of the sea
is a wild music filling my ear . . .

you are leaving
and the ungrieving
winds demur:

telling me
that nothing returns
as it was before,

here where you have left no mark
upon this dark
Heraclitean shore.



First and Last
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth


You are the last arcane rose
of my aching,
my longing,
or the first yellowed leaves
vagrant spirals of gold
forming huddled bright sheaves;
you are passion forsaking
dark skies, as though sunsets no winds might enclose.

And still in my arms
you are gentle and fragrant
demesne of my vigor,
spent rigor,
lost power,
fallen musculature of youth,
leaves clinging and hanging,
nameless joys of my youth to this last lingering hour.



Your Pull
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth


You were like sunshine and rain
begetting rainbows,
full of contradictions, like the intervals
between light and shadow.

That within you which I most opposed
drew me closer still,
as a magnet exerts its unyielding pull
on insensate steel.



Love Is Not Love
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth


Love is not love that never looked
within itself and questioned all,
curled up like a zygote in a ball,
throbbed, sobbed and shook.

(Or went on a binge at a nearby mall,
then would not cook.)

Love is not love that never winced,
then smiled, convinced
that soar’s the prerequisite of fall.

When all
its wounds and scars have been saline-rinsed,
where does Love find the wherewithal
to try again,
endeavor, when

all that it knows
is: O, because!



Psycho Analysis
by Michael R. Burch

This is not what I need . . .
analysis,
paralysis,
as though I were a seed
to be planted,
supported
with a stick and some string
until I emerge.
Your words
are not water. I need something
more nourishing,
like cherishing,
something essential, like love
so that when I climb
out of the lime
and the mulch. When I shove
myself up
from the muck . . .
we can f**k.



The Stake
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth


Love, the heart bets,
if not without regrets,
will still prove, in the end,
worth the light we expend
mining the dark
for an exquisite heart.



The One and Only
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth


If anyone ever loved me,
It was you.

If anyone ever cared
beyond mere things declared;
if anyone ever knew ...
My darling, it was you.

If anyone ever touched
my beating heart as it flew,
it was you,
and only you.




The One True Poem
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth


Love was not meaningless ...
nor your embrace, nor your kiss.

And though every god proved a phantom,
still you were divine to your last dying atom ...

So that when you are gone
and, yea, not a word remains of this poem,

even so,
We were One.



The Poem of Poems
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth


This is my Poem of Poems, for you.
Every word ineluctably true:
I love you.



Final Lullaby
by Michael R. Burch

for my mother, Christine Ena Burch


Sleep peacefullyfor now your suffering’s over.


Sleep peacefullyimmune to all distress,

like pebbles unaware of raging waves.

Sleep peacefullylike fields of fragrant clover

unmoved by any motion of the wind.

Sleep peacefullylike clouds untouched by earthquakes.


Sleep peacefullylike stars that never blink

and have no thoughts at all, nor need to think.

Sleep peacefullyin your eternal vault,

immaculate, past perfect, without fault.




These are poems I wrote in my early teens on the themes of play, playing, playmates, vacations, etc.


Playmates

by Michael R. Burch


WHEN you were my playmate and I was yours,

we spent endless hours with simple toys,

and the sorrows and cares of our indentured days

were uncomprehended... far, far away...

for the temptations and trials we had yet to face

were lost in the shadows of an unventured maze.


Then simple pleasures were easy to find

and if they cost us a little, we didn't mind;

for even a penny in a pocket back then

was one penny too many, a penny to spend.


Then feelings were feelings and love was just love,

not a strange, complex mystery to be understood;

while "sin" and "damnation" meant little to us,

since forbidden cookies were our only lusts!


Then we never worried about what we had,

and we were both surewhat was good, what was bad.

And we sometimes quarreled, but we didn't hate;

we seldom gave thought to the uncertainties of fate.


Hell, we seldom thought about the next day,

when tomorrow seemed hiddenadventures away.

Though sometimes we dreamed of adventures past,

and wondered, at times, why things couldn't last.


Still, we never worried about getting by,

and we didn't know that we were to die...

when we spent endless hours with simple toys,

and I was your playmate, and we were boys.


This is probably the poem that "made" me, because my high school English teacher called it "beautiful" and I took that to mean I was surely the Second Coming of Percy Bysshe Shelley! "Playmates" is the second poem I remember writing; I believe I was around 13 or 14 at the time.




Playthings

by Michael R. Burch 


a sequel to “Playmates”


There was a time, as though a long-forgotten dream remembered,

when you and I were playmates and the days were long;

then we were pirates stealing plaits of daisies

from trembling maidens fearing men so strong . . .


Our world was like an unplucked Rose unfolding,

and you and I were busy, then, as bees;

the nectar that we drank, it made us giddy;

each petal within reach seemed ours to seize . . .


But you were more the doer, I the dreamer,

so I wrote poems and dreamed a noble cause;

while you were linking logs, I met old Merlin

and took a dizzy ride to faery Oz . . .


But then you put aside all "silly" playthings;

with sunburned hands you built, from bricks and stone,

tall buildings, then a life, and then you married.

Now my fantasies, again, are all my own.


This is a companion poem to “Playmates,” the second poem I remember writing, around age 13 or 14. However, I believe “Playthings” was written several years later, in my late teens, around 1977. According to my notes, I revised the poem in 1991, then again in 2020.




hey pete

by Michael R. Burch


for Pete Rose


hey pete,

it's baseball season

and the sun ascends the sky,

encouraging a schoolboy's dreams

of winter whizzing by;

go out, go out and catch it,

put it in a jar,

set it on a shelf

and then you'll be a Superstar.


This is another of my boyhood poems about play and playing. When I was a boy, Pete Rose was my favorite baseball player; this poem is not a slam at him, but rather an ironic jab at the term "superstar."




Have I been too long at the fair?

by Michael R. Burch


Have I been too long at the fair?

The summer has faded,

the leaves have turned brown;

the Ferris wheel teeters ...

not up, yet not down.

Have I been too long at the fair?


This is one of my earliest poems, written around age 15 when we were living with my grandfather in his house on Chilton Street, within walking distance of the Nashville fairgrounds. I remember walking to the fairgrounds, stopping at a Dairy Queen along the way, and swimming at a public pool. But I believe the Ferris wheel only operated during the state fair. So my “educated guess” is that this poem was written during the 1973 state fair, or shortly thereafter. I remember watching people hanging suspended in mid-air, waiting for carnies to deposit them safely on terra firma again.




Ironic Vacation

by Michael R. Burch


Salzburg.

Seeing Mozart’s baby grand piano.

Standing in the presence of sheer incalculable genius.

Grabbing my childish pen to write a poem & challenge the Immortals.

Next stop, the catacombs!


This is a poem I wrote about a vacation my family took to Salzburg when I was a boy, age 11 or perhaps a bit older. But I wrote the poem much later in life: around 50 years later, in 2020.




Of course the ultimate form of play is love ...




An Illusion

by Michael R. Burch


The sky was as hushed as the breath of a bee

and the world was bathed in shades of palest gold

when I awoke.


She came to me with the sound of falling leaves

and the scent of new-mown grass;

I held out my arms to her and she passed


into oblivion ...


This little dream-poem appeared in my high school literary journal, the Lantern, so I was no older than 18 when I wrote it, probably younger. I will guess around age 16. This one feels like one of my very early Romantic effusions.




Smoke

by Michael R. Burch


The hazy, smoke-filled skies of summer I remember well;

farewell was on my mind, and the thoughts that I can't tell

rang bells within (the din was in) my mind, and I can't say

if what we had was good or bad, or where it is today.

The endless days of summer's haze I still recall today;

she spoke and smoky skies stood still as summer slipped away ...


This poem appeared in my high school journal, the Lantern, in 1976. It also appeared in my college literary journal, Homespun, in 1977. It has also been published by The Eclectic Muse (Canada), Fullosia Press and Better Than Starbucks, and translated into Romanian and published by Petru Dimofte. I had The Summer of '42 in mind when I wrote the poem. Ironically, I didn't see the movie until many years later, but something about its advertisement touched me. Am I the only poet who wrote a love poem for Jennifer O'Neil after seeing her fleeting image in a blurb? At least in that respect, I may be unique! In any case, the movie came out in 1971 or 1972, so I was probably around 14 when I wrote the poem. I think it's interesting that I was able to write a "rhyme rich" poem at such a young age. In six lines the poem has 26 rhymes and near rhymes: smoke-spoke-smoky, well-farewell-tell-bells-still-recall-still, summer-remember-summer-summer, within-din-in, say-today-days-haze-today-away, had-good-bad.




Myth

by Michael R. Burch


Here the recalcitrant wind

sighs with grievance and remorse

over fields of wayward gorse

and thistle-throttled lanes.


And she is the myth of the scythed wheat

hewn and sighing, complete,

waiting, lain in a low sheaf

full of faith, full of grief.


Here the immaculate dawn

requires belief of the leafed earth

and she is the myth of the mown grain

golden and humble in all its weary worth.


I believe I wrote the first version of this poem toward the end of my senior year of high school, around age 18 in late 1976, but it could have been written later. To my recollection this is my only poem directly influenced by the “sprung rhythm” of Dylan Thomas (moreso than that of Gerard Manley Hopkins). But I was not happy with the fourth line and put the poem aside until 1998, when I revised it. But I was still not happy with the fourth line, so I put it aside and revised it again in 2020, nearly half a century after originally writing the poem!




The Communion of Sighs

by Michael R. Burch


There was a moment

  without the sound of trumpets or a shining light,

    but with only silence and darkness and a cool mist

      felt more than seen.

      I was eighteen,

    my heart pounding wildly within me like a fist.

  Expectation hung like a cry in the night,

and your eyes shone like the corona of a comet.


There was an instant ...

  without words, but with a deeper communion,

    as clothing first, then inhibitions fell;

      liquidly our lips met

      feverish, wet

    forgotten, the tales of heaven and hell,

  in the immediacy of our fumbling union ...

when the rest of the world became distant.


Then the only light was the moon on the rise,

and the only sound, the communion of sighs.


This is one of my early poems but I can’t remember exactly when I wrote it. Due to the romantic style, I believe it was probably written during my first two years in college, making me 18 or 19 at the time.




Infinity

by Michael R. Burch


Have you tasted the bitterness of tears of despair?

Have you watched the sun sink through such pale, balmless air

that your heart sought its shell like a crab on a beach,

then scuttled inside to be safe, out of reach?


Might I lift you tonight from earth’s wreckage and damage

on these waves gently rising to pay the moon homage?

Or better, perhaps, let me say that I, too,

have dreamed of infinity ... windswept and blue.


This is one of the first poems that made me feel like a "real" poet. I remember reading the poem and asking myself, "Did I really write that?" Many years later, I'm still glad that I wrote it, and it still makes me feel like a real poet. This is another poem that was longer and got "pared down" to its best lines. I believe I wrote it around 1976, at age 18.




Will There Be Starlight

by Michael R. Burch


for Beth


Will there be starlight

tonight

while she gathers

damask

and lilac

and sweet-scented heathers?


And will she find flowers,

or will she find thorns

guarding the petals

of roses unborn?


Will there be starlight

tonight

while she gathers

seashells

and mussels

and albatross feathers?


And will she find treasure

or will she find pain

at the end of this rainbow

of moonlight on rain?


If I remember correctly, I wrote the first version of this poem toward the end of my senior year in high school, circa 1976 around age 18, then forgot about it for fifteen years until I met my future wife Beth and she reminded me of the poem’s mysterious enchantress. I dedicated the poem to her on September 21, 1991, the same day I wrote "Seasons, for Beth." Since then "Will There Be Starlight" has been published by The Chained Muse, Famous Poets and Poems, Grassroots Poetry, Inspirational Stories, Jenion, Poetry Webring, Starlight Archives, TALESetc, The Word (UK) and Writ in Water. A composer has also informed me that he intends to set the lyrics to music. There should also be a spoken-word version performed by David B. Gosselin someday soon.




Childhood's End

by Michael R. Burch


How well I remember

those fiery Septembers:

dry leaves, dying embers of summers aflame

lay trampled before me

and fluttered, imploring

the bright, dancing rain to descend once again.


Now often I’ve thought on

the meaning of autumn,

how the moons those pale mornings enchanted dark clouds

while robins repeated

gay songs they had heeded

so wisely when winters before they’d flown south.


And still, in remembrance,

I’ve conjured a semblance

of childhood and how the world seemed to me then;

but early this morning,

when, rising and yawning,

my lips brushed your breasts . . . I celebrated its end.


I believe I wrote this poem in my early twenties, no later than 1982, but probably around 1980. This is another early poem with an usual form.





Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller

#2 - Love Poetry

She says an epigram’s too terse
to reveal her tender heart in verse ...
but really, darling, ain’t the thrill
of a kiss much shorter still?
―from “Xenia” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

#5 - Criticism

Why don’t I openly criticize the man? Because he’s a friend;
thus I reproach him in silence, as I do my own heart.
―from “Xenia” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

#11 - Holiness

What is holiest? This heart-felt love
binding spirits together, now and forever.
―from “Xenia” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

#12 - Love versus Desire

You love what you have, and desire what you lack
because a rich nature expands, while a poor one retracts.
―from “Xenia” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

#19 - Nymph and Satyr

As shy as the trembling doe your horn frightens from the woods,
she flees the huntsman, fainting, uncertain of love.
―from “Xenia” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

#20 - Desire

What stirs the virgin’s heaving breasts to sighs?
What causes your bold gaze to brim with tears?
―from “Xenia” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

#23 - The Apex I

Everywhere women yield to men, but only at the apex
do the manliest men surrender to femininity.
―from “Xenia” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

#24 - The Apex II

What do we mean by the highest? The crystalline clarity of triumph
as it shines from the brow of a woman, from the brow of a goddess.
―from “Xenia” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

#25 -Human Life

Young sailors brave the sea beneath ten thousand sails
while old men drift ashore on any bark that avails.
―from “Xenia” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

#35 - Dead Ahead

What’s the hardest thing of all to do?
To see clearly with your own eyes what’s ahead of you.
―from “Xenia” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

#36 - Unexpected Consequence

Friends, before you utter the deepest, starkest truth, please pause,
because straight away people will blame you for its cause.
―from “Xenia” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

#41 - Earth vs. Heaven

By doing good, you nurture humanity;
but by creating beauty, you scatter the seeds of divinity.
―from “Xenia” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



The Tender Weight of Her Sighs

by Michael R. Burch

The tender weight of her sighs
lies heavily upon my heart;
apart from her, full of doubt,
without her presence to revolve around,
found wanting direction or course,
cursed with the thought of her grief,
believing true love is a myth,
with hope as elusive as tears,
hers and mine, unable to lie,
I sigh ...

This poem has an unusual rhyme scheme, with the last word of each line rhyming with the first word of the next line. The final line is a “closing couplet” in which both words rhyme with the last word of the preceding line. I believe I invented this nonce form and will dub it the "End-First Curtal Sonnet."



Fountainhead
by Michael R. Burch

I did not delight in love so much
as in a kiss like linnets' wings,
the flutterings of a pulse so soft
the heart remembers, as it sings:
to bathe there was its transport, brushed
by marble lips, or porcelain,
one liquid kiss, one cool outburst
from pale rosettes. What did it mean ...

to float awhirl on minute tides
within the compass of your eyes,
to feel your alabaster bust
grow cold within? Ecstatic sighs
seem hisses now; your eyes, serene,
reflect the sun's pale tourmaline.




Orpheus
by Michael R. Burch

for and after William Blake

I.

Many a sun
and many a moon
I walked the earth
and whistled a tune.

I did not whistle
as I worked:
the whistle was my work.
I shirked

nothing I saw

and made a rhyme
to children at play
and hard time.

II.

Among the prisoners
I saw
the leaden manacles
of Law,

the heavy ball and chain,
the quirt.
And yet I whistled
at my work.

III.

Among the children’s
daisy faces
and in the women’s
frowsy laces,

I saw redemption,
and I smiled.
Satanic millers,
unbeguiled,

were swayed by neither girl,
nor child,
nor any God of Love.
Yet mild

I whistled at my work,
and Song
broke out,
ere long.



Rant: The Elite
by Michael R. Burch

When I heard Harold Bloom unsurprisingly say:
Poetry is necessarily difficult. It is our elitist art ...
I felt a small suspicious thrill. After all, sweetheart,
isn’t this who we are? Aren’t we obviously better,
and certainly fairer and taller, than they are?

Though once I found Ezra Pound
perhaps a smidgen too profound,
perhaps a bit over-fond of Benito
and the advantages of fascism
to be taken ad finem, like high tea
with a pure white spot of intellectualism
and an artificial sweetener, calorie-free.

I know! I know! Politics has nothing to do with art
And it tempts us so to be elite, to stand apart ...
but somehow the word just doesn’t ring true,
echoing effetely awaythe distance from me to you.


Of course, politics has nothing to do with art,
but sometimes art has everything to do with becoming elite,
with climbing the cultural ladder, with being able to meet
someone more Exalted than you, who can demonstrate how to fart
so that everyone below claims one’s odor is sweet.
You had to be there! We were falling apart
with gratitude! We saw him! We wept at his feet!
Though someone will always be far, far above you, clouding your air,
gazing down at you with a look of wondering despair.




Starting from Scratch with Ol’ Scratch
by Michael R. Burch

for the Religious Right


Love, with a small, fatalistic sigh
went to the ovens. Please don’t bother to cry.
You could have saved her, but you were all tied up
complaining about the Jews to Reichmeister Grupp.

Scratch that. You were born after World War II.
You had something more important to do:
while the children of the Nakba were perishing in Gaza
with the complicity of your government, you had a noble cause (a
religious tract against homosexual marriage
and various things gods and evangelists disparage.)

Jesus will grok you? Ah, yes, I’m quite sure
that your intentions were good and ineluctably pure.
After all, what the hell does he care about Palestinians?
Certainly, Christians were right about serfs, slaves and Indians.
Scratch that. You’re one of the Devil’s minions.



fog
by michael r. burch

ur just a bit of fluff
drifting out over the ocean,
unleashing an atom of rain,
causing a minor commotion,
for which u expect awesome GODS
to pay u SUPREME DEVOTION!
... but ur just a smidgen of mist
unlikely to be missed ...
where did u get the notion?



The First Valentine

Charles d’Orleans (1394-1465), a French royal, the grandchild of Charles V, and the Duke of Orleans, has been credited with writing the first Valentine card, in the form of a poem for his wife. Charles wrote the poem in 1415 at age 21, in the first year of his captivity while being held prisoner in the Tower of London after having been captured by the British at the Battle of Agincourt. 

My Very Gentle Valentine
by Charles d’Orleans (c. 1394-1465)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

My very gentle Valentine,
Alas, for me you were born too soon,
As I was born too late for you!
May God forgive my jailer
Who has kept me from you this entire year.
I am sick without your love, my dear,
My very gentle Valentine. 


fog
by Michael R. Burch

ur just a bit of fluff
drifting out over the ocean,
unleashing an atom of rain,
causing a minor commotion,
for which u expect awesome GODS
to pay u SUPREME DEVOTION!
... but ur just a smidgen of mist
unlikely to be missed ...
where did u get the notion?



To a Daughter More Precious than Gems
by Otomo no Sakanoue no Iratsume (c. 700-750), a Japanese poet
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Heaven's cold dew has fallen
and thus another season arrives.
Oh, my child living so far away,
do you pine for me as I do for you?

I have trusted my jewel to the gem-guard;
now there's nothing to do, my pillow,
but for the two of us to sleep together!

I cherished you, my darling,
as the Sea God his treasury's pearls.
But you are pledged to your husband
(such is the way of the world)
and torn from me like a blossom.

I left you for faraway Koshi;
since then your lovely eyebrows
curving like distant waves
ever linger in my eyes.

My heart is as unsteady as a rocking boat;
besieged by such longing I weaken with age
and come close to breaking.

If I could have prophesied such longing,
I would have stayed with you,
gazing on you constantly
as into a shining mirror.

I gaze out over the fields of Tadaka
seeing the cranes that cry there incessantly:
such is my longing for you.

Oh my child,
who loved me so helplessly
like bird hovering over shallow river rapids!

Dear child, my daughter, who stood
sadly pensive by the gate,
even though I was leaving for a friendly estate,
I think of you day and night
and my body has become thin,
my sleeves tear-stained with weeping.

If I must long for you so wretchedly,
how can I remain these many months
here at this dismal old farm?

Because you ache for me so intently,
your sad thoughts all confused
like the disheveled tangles of your morning hair,
I see you, dear child, in my dreams.



Published as the collection "Love Poems by Michael R. Burch"

Keywords/Tags: love, Eros, erotic, erotica, passion, desire, lust, sex, dating, marriage, romance, romantic, romanticism

© 2021 Michael R. Burch


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Added on December 19, 2020
Last Updated on February 22, 2021
Tags: love, Eros, erotic, erotica, passion, desire, lust, sex, dating, marriage, romance, romantic, romanticism