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Best Poems Written by Michael Burch

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Epigrams

Epigrams
by Michael R. Burch

To write an epigram, cram.
If you lack wit, scram!

Conformists of a feather
flock together.

If every witty thing that’s said was true,
Oscar Wilde, the world would worship You!

Love has the value
of gold, if it’s true;
if not, of rue.

Fierce ancient skalds summoned verse from their guts;
today’s genteel poets prefer modern ruts.

There’s no need to rant about Al-Qaeda and ISIS.
The cruelty of “civilization” suffices:
our ordinary vices. 

Lance-Lot

Preposterous bird!
Inelegant! Absurd!
Until the great & mighty heron
brandishes his fearsome sword.

Nun Fun Undone

Abbesses’
recesses
are not for excesses!

Saving Graces
(for the Religious Right)

Life’s saving graces are love, pleasure, laughter
(wisdom, it seems, is for the Hereafter).

The Whole of Wit

If brevity is the soul of wit
then brevity and levity 
are the whole of it.

Laughter’s Cry

Because life is a mystery, we laugh
and do not know the half.
Because death is a mystery, we cry
when one is gone, our numbering thrown awry.

Not Elves, Exactly

Something there is that likes a wall,
that likes it spiked and likes it tall,
that likes its pikes’ sharp rows of teeth
and doesn’t mind its victims’ grief
(wherever they come from, far or wide)
as long as they fall on the other side.

Long Division

All things become one
Through death’s long division
And perfect precision. 

Meal Deal

Love is a splendid ideal
(at least till it costs us a meal). 

Self-ish

Let’s not pretend we “understand” other elves
As long as we remain mysteries to ourselves.

Translations

Little sparks may ignite great flames.—Dante, translation by Michael R. Burch
Raise your words, not their volume. Rain grows flowers, not thunder.—Rumi, translation by Michael R. Burch
Once fanaticism has gangrened brains the malady is usually incurable.—Voltaire, translation by Michael R. Burch
Hypocrisy may deceive the most perceptive adult, but the dullest child recognizes and is revolted by it, however ingeniously disguised.—Leo Tolstoy, translation by Michael R. Burch

Bible Libel

If God
is good,
half the Bible
is libel.

Multiplication, Tabled
(for the Religious Right)

“Be fruitful and multiply”?
Great advice, for a fruitfly!
But for women and men,
simple Simons, say, “WHEN!”


Copyright © Michael Burch | Year Posted 2019



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Pablo Neruda translations

I love you only because I love you
by Pablo Neruda
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

I love you only because I love you;
I am torn between loving and not loving you,
Between apathy and desire.
My heart vacillates between ice and fire.

I love you only because you’re the one I love;
I hate you deeply, but hatred
Bends me all the more toward you, so that the measure of my variableness
Is that I do not see you, but love you blindly.

Perhaps January’s frigid light will consume my heart with its cruel rays,
robbing me of any hope of peace.

In this tragic plot, I am the one who dies,
Love’s only victim,
And I will die of love because I love you,
Because I love you, my Love, in fire and blood.

***

Love Sonnet XVII
by Pablo Neruda
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

I do not love you like coral or topaz,
or the blazing hearth’s incandescent white flame:
I love you as obscure things are loved in the dark,
secretly, in shadows, unnamed.

I love you like shrubs that refuse to bloom
while pregnant with the radiance of mysterious flowers;
now thanks to your love an earthy fragrance
lives dimly in my body’s odors.

I love you without knowing how, when, why or where;
I love you forthrightly, without complications or care:
I love you this way because I know no other.

Here, where “I” no longer exists, nor “you” ...
so close that your hand on my chest is my own,
so close that your eyes close gently on my dreams.

Copyright © Michael Burch | Year Posted 2019

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thanksgiving prayer of the parasites

thanksgiving prayer of the parasites
by Michael R. Burch 
 
GODD is great;
GODD is good;
let us thank HIM
for our food.
by HIS hand
we all are fed;
give us now
our daily dead:
 
ah-men!
 
(p.s.,
most gracious
& salacious
HEAVENLY LORD,
we thank YOU in advance for
meals galore
of loverly gore:
of precious
delicious
sumptuous
scrumptious
human flesh!)
 
Originally published by Setu

Copyright © Michael Burch | Year Posted 2019

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pretty pickle

pretty pickle
by Michael R. Burch
 
u’d blaspheme if u could
because ur God’s no good,
but of course u cant:
ur a lowly ant
(or so u were told by a Hierophant).

Copyright © Michael Burch | Year Posted 2019

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What Would Santa Claus Say

What Would Santa Claus Say
by Michael R. Burch
 
What would Santa Claus say,
I wonder,
about Jesus returning
to Kill and Plunder?
 
For he’ll likely return
on Christmas Day
to blow the bad
little boys away!
 
When He flashes like lightning
across the skies
and many a homosexual
dies,
 
when the harlots and heretics
are ripped asunder,
what will the Easter Bunny think,
I wonder?

NOTE: The biblical book of Revelation says that Jesus will murder children himself for their mother's sins, in the letters to the Churches. But he won't stop there, according to the writer of Revelation, because after all the earth's creatures have sung the praises of God, a third of them will be destroyed in acts of bloody carnage, along with a third of human beings. That's trillions of animals and billions of people. I can't believe the compassionate Jesus of the gospels, who had table fellowship with prostitutes and refused to stone an adulteress, is going to suddenly start murdering their children and become the greatest serial murderer of all time. And how can the man who taught us to put aside religious differences to practice compassion in the Parable of the Good Samaritan not follow his own advice? Jesus reserved all his sternest criticism for hypocrites, so wouldn't he have to live up to his own teaching?

Copyright © Michael Burch | Year Posted 2019



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An Obscenity Trial

An Obscenity Trial
by Michael R. Burch
 
The defendant was a poet held in many iron restraints
against whom several critics cited numerous complaints.
They accused him of trying to reach the "common crowd,"
and they said his poems incited recitals far too loud.
 
The prosecutor alleged himself most stylish and best-dressed;
it seems he’d never lost a case, nor really once been pressed.
He was known far and wide for intensely hating clarity;
twelve dilettantes at once declared the defendant another fatality.
 
The judge was an intellectual well-known for his great mind,
though not for being merciful, honest, sane or kind.
Clerics called him the "Hanging Judge" and the critics were his kin.
Bystanders said, "They'll crucify him!" The public was not let in.
 
The prosecutor began his case
by spitting in the poet's face,
knowing the trial would be a farce.
"It is obscene,"
he screamed,
"to expose the naked heart!"
The recorder (bewildered Society)
greeted this statement with applause.
 
"This man is no poet.
Just look: his Hallmark shows it.
Why, see, he utilizes rhyme, symmetry and grammar!
He speaks without a stammer!
His sense of rhythm is too fine!
He does not use recondite words
or conjure ancient Latin verbs.
This man is an imposter!
I ask that his sentence be
the almost perceptible indignity
of removal from the Post-Modernistic roster."
The jury left in tears of joy, literally sequestered.
 
The defendant sighed in mild despair,
"Please, let me answer to my peers."
But how His Honor giggled then,
seeing no poets were let in.
 
Later, the clashing symbols of their pronouncements drove him mad
and he admitted both rhyme and reason were bad.

***
 
A well-known poet criticized this poem for being "journalistic." But then the poem is written from the point of view of a journalist who's covering the trial of a poet. The poem was completed by the end of my sophomore year in college.

Copyright © Michael Burch | Year Posted 2020

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Of Tetley's and V-2's

Of Tetley’s and V-2's
(or, “Why Not to Bomb the Brits”)
by Michael R. Burch

The English are very hospitable,
but tea-less, alas, they grow pitiable ...
or pitiless, rather,
and quite in a lather!
O bother, they're more than formidable.

Copyright © Michael Burch | Year Posted 2019

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Sudden Shower

Sudden Shower
by Michael R. Burch

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

This is a poem you’re welcome to share, if you like it, as long as you credit me as the author. It could be a nice “rainy day” poem, pardon the pun, for that special someone. “Why is it raining? Because the heavens saw your beauty and wept for joy!” The poem is similar in form to a haiku but that was accidental; it came to me in my sleep or as I was just waking up.

Copyright © Michael Burch | Year Posted 2019

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Nonbeliever

Nonbeliever
by Michael R. Burch writing as Kim Cherub

She smiled a thin-lipped smile
(What do men know of love?)
then rolled her eyes toward heaven
(Or that Chauvinist above?).

Copyright © Michael Burch | Year Posted 2019

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For All That I Remembered

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.

Published by The Raintown Review, The Eclectic Muse, Kritya, Gostinaya (in a Russian translation by Yelena Dubrovin), Boston Poetry Magazine, Freshet, Jewish Letter (Russia), Poetry Life & Times, Sonnetto Poesia, Trinacria, The New Formalist, Pennsylvania Review

Copyright © Michael Burch | Year Posted 2019

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