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Juvenilia: Early Poems IV
Juvenilia: Early Poems IV I wrote this around age 17. Bible Libel by Michael R. Burch If God is good half the Bible is libel. I read the Bible from cover to cover at age eleven, ten chapters per day, at the suggestion of my parents. I came up with this epigram to express my conclusions, sometime between ages 11 to 13. 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. 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... I wrote this poem around age 14. Elegy for a little girl, lost by Michael R. Burch ...qui laetificat juventutem meam... She was the joy of my youth, and now she is gone ...requiescat in pace... May she rest in peace ...amen... Amen. Written around age 17. Something by Michael R. Burch Something inescapable is lost— lost like a pale vapor curling up into shafts of moonlight, vanishing in a gust of wind toward an expanse of stars immeasurable and void. Something uncapturable is gone— gone with the spent leaves and illuminations of autumn, scattered into a haze with the faint rustle of parched grass and remembrance. Something unforgettable is past— blown from a glimmer into nothingness, or less, which finality has swept into a corner, where it lies in dust and cobwebs and silence. This was the first poem that I wrote that didn't rhyme. I believe I wrote it around age 18-19. Observance by Michael R. Burch Here the hills are old and rolling carefully in their old age; on the horizon youthful mountains bathe themselves in windblown fountains... By dying leaves and falling raindrops, I have traced time's starts and stops, and I have known the years to pass almost unnoticed, whispering through treetops... For here the valleys fill with sunlight to the brim, then empty again, and it seems that only I notice how the years flood out, and in... This is an early poem that made me feel like a real poet. I remember writing it in the break room of the McDonald's where I worked as a high school student, around age 17. 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 wrote it around age 18. 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. Written around age 18-19. El Dorado by Michael R. Burch It's a fine town, a fine town, though its alleys recede into shadow; it's a very fine town for those who are searching for an El Dorado. Because the lighting is poor and the streets are bare and the welfare line is long, there must be something of value somewhere to keep us hanging on to our El Dorado. Though the children are skinny, their parents are fat from years of gorging on bleached white bread, yet neither will leave because all believe in the vague things that are said of El Dorado. The young men with the outlandish hairstyles who saunter in and out of the turnstiles with a song on their lips and an aimless shuffle, scuffing their shoes, avoiding the bustle, certainly feel no need to join the crowd of those who work to earn their bread; they must know that the rainbow's end conceals a pot of gold near El Dorado. And the painted “actress” who roams the streets, smiling at every man she meets, must smile because, after years of running, no man can match her in cruelty or cunning. She must see the satire of “defeats” and “triumphs” on the ambivalent streets of El Dorado. Yes, it's a fine town, a very fine town for those who can leave when they tire of chasing after rainbows and dreams and living on nothing but fire. But for those of us who cling to our dreams and cannot let them go, like the sad-eyed ladies who wander the streets and the junkies high on snow, the dream has become a reality —the reality of hope that grew too strong not to linger on— and so this is our home. We chew the apple, spit it out, then eat it "just once more." For this is the big, big apple, though it is rotten to the core, and we are its worm in the night when we squirm in our El Dorado. I believe I wrote the first version during my “Romantic phase” around age 16 or perhaps a bit later, circa 1974. This poem was definitely written in my teens because it appears in a poetry contest folder that I put together and submitted during my sophomore year in college.
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