Epigrams Poem by Michael Burch

Epigrams



Epigrams by Michael R. Burch



Conformists of a feather
flock together.
—Michael R. Burch

(Winner of the National Poetry Month Couplet Competition)



Epitaph for a Palestinian Child
by Michael R. Burch

I lived as best I could, and then I died.
Be careful where you step: the grave is wide.

(Published by Romantics Quarterly, Poetry Super Highway, Mindful of Poetry, Poets for Humanity, The New Formalist, Angle, Daily Kos, Katutura English, Setu, Genocide Awareness, The Hip Forms, Darfur Awareness Shabbat, Viewing Genocide in Sudan, FreeXpression, Better Than Starbucks, Art Villa, AZquotes and other quote sites; also translated into Czech, Indonesian, Romanian and Turkish)



Childless
by Michael R. Burch

How can she bear her grief?
Mightier than Atlas, she shoulders the weight
of one fallen star.



Stormfront
by Michael R. Burch

Our distance is frightening:
a distance like the abyss between heaven and earth
interrupted by bizarre and terrible lightning.



Laughter's Cry
by Michael R. Burch

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.

(Originally published by Angelwing)



Autumn Conundrum
by Michael R. Burch

It's not that every leaf must finally fall,
it's just that we can never catch them all.

(Originally published by The Neovictorian/Cochlea, this poem has been translated into Russian, Macedonian, Turkish and Romanian)



Piercing the Shell
by Michael R. Burch

If we strip away all the accouterments of war,
perhaps we'll discover what the heart is for.

(Originally published by The Neovictorian/Cochlea, this poem has been translated into Russian, Arabic, Turkish and Macedonian)



Sex Hex
by Michael R. Burch

Love's full of cute paradoxes
and highly acute poxes.

(Published by Asses of Parnassus and Lighten Up Online)



Styx
by Michael R. Burch

Black waters—deep and dark and still.
All men have passed this way, or will.

(Published by The Raintown Review and Blue Unicorn; also translated into Romanian and published by Petru Dimofte. This is one of my early poems, written as a teenager. I believe it was my first or second epigram.)



Fahr an' Ice
by Michael R. Burch

(apologies to Robert Frost and Ogden Nash)

From what I know of death, I'll side with those
who'd like to have a say in how it goes:
just make mine cool, cool rocks (twice drowned in likker) ,
and real fahr off, instead of quicker.



A question that sometimes drives me hazy:
am I or are the others crazy?
—Albert Einstein, poetic interpretation by Michael R. Burch



Lance-Lot
by Michael R. Burch

Preposterous bird!
Inelegant! Absurd!

Until the great & mighty heron
brandishes his fearsome sword.



Herons
by Michael R. Burch

The herons stand,
sentry-like, at attention...
rigid observers of some unknown command.



The Whole of Wit
by Michael R. Burch

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

(Published by Shot Glass Journal)



Nun Fun Undone
by Michael R. Burch

Abbesses'
recesses
are not for excesses!

(Published by Brief Poems)



Less Heroic Couplets: Murder Most Fowl!
by Michael R. Burch

'Murder most foul! '
cried the mouse to the owl.

'Friend, I'm no sinner;
you're merely my dinner.

As you fall on my sword,
take it up with the LORD! '

the wise owl replied
as the tasty snack died.

(Published by Lighten Up Online and in Potcake Chapbook #7)



Thirty
by Michael R. Burch

Thirty crept upon me slowly
with feline caution and a slowly-twitching tail;
patiently she waited for the winds to shift;
now, claws unsheathed, she lies seething to assail
her helpless prey.



Fierce ancient skalds summoned verse from their guts;
today's genteel poets prefer modern ruts.
—Michael R. Burch



Not Elves, Exactly
by Michael R. Burch

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.



Dawn
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth and Laura and all good mothers

Bring your particular strength
to the strange nightmarish fray:
wrap up your cherished ones
in the golden light of day.



Self-ish
by Michael R. Burch

Let's not pretend we 'understand' other elves
as long as we remain mysteries to ourselves.



Negligibles
by Michael R. Burch

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



Negotiables
by Michael R. Burch

Love should be more than the sum of its parts―
of its potions and pills and subterranean arts.



Piecemeal
by Michael R. Burch

And so it begins—the ending.
The narrowing veins, the soft tissues rending.
Your final solution is pending.
(A pale Piggy-Wiggy
will discount your demise as no biggie.)



Liquid Assets
by Michael R. Burch

And so I have loved you, and so I have lost,
accrued disappointment, ledgered its cost,
debited wisdom, credited pain...
My assets remaining are liquid again.



Brief
by Michael R. Burch

Epigram
means cram,
then scram!



To write an epigram, cram.
If you lack wit, scram!
—Michael R. Burch



Fleet Tweet: Apologies to Shakespeare
@mikerburch (Michael R. Burch)

A tweet
by any other name
would be as fleet.



Fleet Tweet II: Further Apologies to Shakespeare
@mikerburch (Michael R. Burch)

Remember, doggonit,
heroic verse crowns the Shakespearean sonnet!
So if you intend to write a couplet,
please do it on the doublet!



Love is either wholly folly,
or fully holy.
—Michael R. Burch



Civility
is the ability
to disagree
freely
but always agreeably.
―Michael R. Burch



Midnight Stairclimber
by Michael R. Burch

Procreation
is at first great sweaty recreation,
then—long, long after the sex dies—
the source of endless exercise.

(Published by Angelwing and Brief Poems)



Love has the value
of gold, if it's true;
if not, of rue.
—Michael R. Burch



Teddy Roosevelt spoke softly and carried a big stick;
Donald Trump speaks loudly and carries a big shtick.
—Michael R. Burch



Nonsense Verse for a Nonsensical White House Resident
by Michael R. Burch

Roses are red,
Daffodils are yellow,
But not half as daffy
As that taffy-colored fellow!



There's no need to rant about Al-Qaeda and ISIS.
The cruelty of 'civilization' suffices:
our ordinary vices.
—Michael R. Burch



Tea Party Madness
by Michael R. Burch

for Connor Kelly

Since we agree,
let's have a nice tea
with our bats in the belfry.



Epigram Translations by Michael R. Burch



Shattered
by Vera Pavlova
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

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



Birdsong
by Rumi
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Birdsong relieves
my deepest griefs:
now I'm just as ecstatic as they,
but with nothing to say!
Please universe,
rehearse
your poetry
through me!

Raise your words, not their volume.
Rain grows flowers, not thunder.
—Rumi, translation by Michael R. Burch

The imbecile constructs cages for everyone he knows,
while the sage
(who has to duck his head whenever the moon glows)
keeps dispensing keys all night long
to the beautiful, rowdy, prison gang.
—Hafiz loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Little sparks ignite great flames.
—Dante, translation by Michael R. Burch

An unbending tree
breaks easily.
—Lao Tzu, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Once fanaticism has gangrened brains
the incurable malady invariably remains.
—Voltaire, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Booksellers laud authors for novel editions
as pimps praise their whores for exotic positions.
—Thomas Campion, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

No wind is favorable to the man who lacks direction.
—Seneca the Younger, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

A man may attempt to burnish pure gold, but who can think to improve on his mother?
—Gandhi, 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

Just as I select a ship when it's time to travel,
or a house when it's time to change residences,
even so I will choose when it's time to depart from life.
—Seneca, speaking about the right to euthanasia in the first century AD, translation by Michael R. Burch

Improve yourself through others' writings, thus attaining more easily what they acquired through great difficulty.
—Socrates, translation by Michael R. Burch

Fools call wisdom foolishness.
―Euripides, translation by Michael R. Burch

One true friend is worth ten thousand kin.
―Euripides, translation by Michael R. Burch

Not to speak one's mind is slavery.
―Euripides, translation by Michael R. Burch

I would rather die standing than kneel, a slave.
―Euripides, translation by Michael R. Burch

Fresh tears are wasted on old griefs.
―Euripides, translation by Michael R. Burch

To live without philosophizing is to close one's eyes and never attempt to open them.—René Descartes, translation by Michael R. Burch



Native American Proverb
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Before you judge
a man for his sins
be sure to trudge
many moons in his moccasins.



Native American Proverb
by Crazy Horse, Oglala Lakota Sioux (circa 1840-1877)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

A man must pursue his Vision
as the eagle explores
the sky's deepest blues.



Native American Proverb
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Let us walk respectfully here
among earth's creatures, great and small,
remembering, our footsteps light,
that one wise God created all.



Native American Prayer
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Help us learn the lessons you have left us here
in every leaf and rock.



Original Prose Epigrams

We cannot change the past, but we can learn from it.―Michael R. Burch

When I was being bullied, I had to learn not to judge myself by the opinions of intolerant morons. Then I felt much better.―Michael R. Burch

Thanks to politicians like George W. Bush, Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann and Donald Trump, we now have a duh-mock-racy.―Michael R. Burch

Wayne Gretzky was pure skill poured into skates.—Michael R. Burch



The Least of These...

What you
do
to
the refugee
you
do
unto
Me!
—Jesus Christ, translation/paraphrase by Michael R. Burch



Multiplication, Tabled
or Procreation Inflation
by Michael R. Burch

for the Religious Right

'Be fruitful and multiply'—
great advice, for a fruitfly!
But for women and men,
simple Simons, say, 'WHEN! '



Saving Graces, for the Religious Right
by Michael R. Burch

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

(Published by Shot Glass Journal and Poem Today)



Redefinitions

Faith: falling into the same old claptrap.—Michael R. Burch
Religion: the ties that blind.—Michael R. Burch
Baseball: lots of spittin' mixed with some hittin'.—Michael R. Burch
Love: a temporary insanity curable by marriage.—Michael R. Burch
Insuresurrection: The dead are always with us, and yet they are naught! —Michael R. Burch
Trickle down economics: an especially pungent golden shower.—Michael R. Burch



The Church Gets the Burch Rod

Bible Libel
by Michael R. Burch

If God
is good
half the Bible
is libel.

Religion is the opiate of the people.―Karl Marx
Religion is the dopiate of the sheeple.―Michael R. Burch

How can the Bible be 'infallible' when from Genesis to Revelation slavery is commanded and condoned, but never condemned? —Michael R. Burch

I have my doubts about your God and his 'love':
If one screams below, what the hell is 'Above'?
—Michael R. Burch

If God has the cattle on a thousand hills,
why does he need my tithes to pay his bills?
—Michael R. Burch

The best tonic for other people's bad ideas is to think for oneself.—Michael R. Burch

Hell hath no fury like a fundamentalist whose God condemned him for having 'impure thoughts.'—Michael R. Burch

Religion is the difficult process of choosing the least malevolent invisible friends.—Michael R. Burch

Religion is the opiate of the people.—Karl Marx
Religion is the dopiate of the sheeple.—Michael R. Burch

An ideal that cannot be realized is, in the end, just wishful thinking.—Michael R. Burch

God and his 'profits' could never agree
on any gospel acceptable to an intelligent flea.
—Michael R. Burch

To fall an inch short of infinity is to fall infinitely short.—Michael R. Burch

Most Christians make God seem like the Devil. Atheists and agnostics at least give him the 'benefit of the doubt.'—Michael R. Burch

Hell has been hellishly overdone.
Why blame such horrors on God's only Son
when Jehovah and his prophets never mentioned it once?
—Michael R. Burch

(Bible scholars agree: the word 'hell' has been removed from the Old Testaments of the more accurate modern Bible translations. And the few New Testament verses that mention 'hell' are obvious mistranslations.)



Clodhoppers
by Michael R. Burch

If you trust the Christian 'god'
you're—like Adumb—a clod.




If every witty thing that's said were true,
Oscar Wilde, the world would worship You!
—Michael R. Burch



Questionable Credentials
by Michael R. Burch

Poet? Critic? Dilettante?
Do you know what's good, or do you merely flaunt?

(Published by Asses of Parnassus, the first poem in the April 2017 issue)



Dry Hump
by Michael R. Burch

You came to me as rain breaks on the desert
when every flower springs to life at once,
but joy is an illusion to the expert:
the Bedouin has learned how not to want.



Lines in Favor of Female Muses
by Michael R. Burch

I guess Asses of Parnassus are okay...
But those Lasses of Parnassus? My! Olé!

(Published by Asses of Parnassus)



Meal Deal
by Michael R. Burch

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



Long Division
by Michael R. Burch as Kim Cherub

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



i o u
by mrb

i might have said it
but i didn't

u might have noticed
but u wouldn't

we might have been us
but we couldn't

u might respond
but probably shouldn't




Mate Check
by Michael R. Burch

Love is an ache hearts willingly secure
then break the bank to cure.



Incompatibles
by Michael R. Burch

Reason's treason!
cries the Heart.

Love's insane,
replies the Brain.

(Originally published by Light)




Death is the ultimate finality
and banality
of reality.
—Michael R. Burch



Stage Fright
by Michael R. Burch

To be or not to be?
In the end Hamlet
opted for naught.



Grave Oversight I
by Michael R. Burch

The dead are always with us,
and yet they are naught!



Grave Oversight II
by Michael R. Burch

for Jim Dunlap, who winked and suggested 'not'

The dead are either naught
or naughty, being so sought!



Feathered Fiends
by Michael R. Burch

Fascists of a feather
flock together.



The First Complete Musical Composition

Shine, while you live;
blaze beyond grief,
for life is brief
and Time, a thief.
—Michael R. Burch, after Seikilos of Euterpes

The so-called Seikilos Epitaph is the oldest known surviving complete musical composition which includes musical notation. It is believed to date to the first or second century AD. The epitaph appears to be signed "Seikilos of Euterpes" or dedicated "Seikilos to Euterpe." Euterpe was the ancient Greek Muse of music.



Why the Kid Gloves Came Off
by Michael R. Burch

for Lemuel Ibbotson

It's hard to be a man of taste
in such a waste:
hence the lambaste.



Housman was right...
by Michael R. Burch

It's true that life's not much to lose,
so why not hang out on a cloud?
It's just the bon voyage is hard
and the objections loud.



Descent
by Michael R. Burch

I have listened to the rain all this morning
and it has a certain gravity,
as if it knows its destination,
perhaps even its particular destiny.
I do not believe mine is to be uplifted,
although I, too, may be flung precipitously
and from a great height.



Reading between the lines
by Michael R. Burch

Who could have read so much, as we?
Having the time, but not the inclination,
TV has become our philosophy,
sheer boredom, our recreation.



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!



Imperfect Perfection
by Michael R. Burch

You're too perfect for words—
a problem for a poet.



Expert Advice
by Michael R. Burch

Your breasts are perfect for your lithe, slender body.
Please stop making false comparisons your hobby!



Biblical Knowledge or 'Knowing Coming and Going'
by Michael R. Burch

The wisest man the world has ever seen
had fourscore concubines and threescore queens?
This gives us pause, and so we venture hence—
he 'knew' them, wisely, in the wider sense.



Snap Shots
by Michael R. Burch

Our daughters must be celibate,
die virgins. We triangulate
their early paths to heaven (for
the martyrs they'll soon conjugate) .

We like to hook a little tail.
We hope there's decent ass in jail.
Don't fool with us; our bombs are smart!
(We'll send the plans, ASAP, e-mail.)

The soul is all that matters; why
hoard gold if it offends the eye?
A pension plan? Don't make us laugh!
We have your plan for sainthood. (Die.)



I sampled honeysuckle
and it made my taste buds buckle.
—Michael R. Burch



State of the Art
by Michael R. Burch

A poet may work from sun to sun,
but his editor's work is never done.

The editor's work is never done.
The critic adjusts his cummerbund.

While the critic adjusts his cummerbund,
the audience exits to mingle and slum.

As the audience exits to mingle and slum,
the anthologist rules, a pale jury of one.



'Lu Zhai' ('Deer Park')
by Wang Wei (699-759)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Uninhabited hills...
except that now and again the silence is broken
by something like the sound of distant voices
as the sun's sinking rays illuminate lichens...

Wang Wei (699-759) was a Chinese poet, musician, painter, and politician during the Tang dynasty. He had 29 poems included in the 18th-century anthology Three Hundred Tang Poems. 'Lu Zhai' ('Deer Park') is one of his best-known poems.



Prose Epigrams

We cannot change the past, but we can learn from it.—Michael R. Burch

When I was being bullied, I had to learn not to judge myself by the opinions of intolerant morons. Then I felt much better.—Michael R. Burch

Justice may be blind, but does she have to be deaf too? —Michael R. Burch

There is nothing at all supreme, nor anything remotely just, about Clarence Thomas.—Michael R. Burch

How can we predict the future, when tomorrow is as uncertain as Trump's next tweet? —Michael R. Burch

Poetry moves the heart as well as the reason.—Michael R. Burch

Poetry is the art of finding the right word at the right time.—Michael R. Burch



Less Heroic Couplets: Miss Bliss
by Michael R. Burch

Domestic 'bliss'?
Best to swing and miss!



Less Heroic Couplets: Then and Now
by Michael R. Burch

BEFORE: Thanks to Brexit, our lives will be plush! ...
AFTER: Crap, we're going broke! What the hell is the rush?



Less Heroic Couplets: Dear Pleader
by Michael R. Burch

Is our Dear Pleader, as he claims, heroic?
I prefer my presidents a bit more stoic.



Less Heroic Couplets: Less than Impressed
by Michael R. Burch

for T. M., regarding certain dispensers of lukewarm air

Their volume's impressive, it's true...
but somehow it all seems 'much ado.'



Less Heroic Couplets: Poetry I
by Michael R. Burch

Poetry is the heart's caged rhythm,
the soul's frantic tappings at the panes of mortality.



Less Heroic Couplets: Poetry II
by Michael R. Burch

Poetry is the trapped soul's frantic tappings
at the panes of mortality.



Less Heroic Couplets: Seesaw
by Michael R. Burch

A poem is the mind teetering between fact and fiction,
momentarily elevated.



Less Heroic Couplets: Passions
by Michael R. Burch

Passions are the heart's qualms,
the soul's squalls, the brain's storms.



Muse/Goddess
by Michael R. Burch

'What will you conceive in me? '?
I asked her. But she
only smiled.

'Naked, I bore your child
when the wolf wind howled,
when the cold moon scowled...
naked, and gladly.'

'What will become of me? '
I asked her, as she
absently stroked my hand.

Centuries later, I understand;
she whispered, 'I Am.'



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?



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.



we did not Dye in vain!
by Michael R. Burch

from 'songs of the sea snails'

though i'm just a slimy crawler,
my lineage is proud:
my forebears gave their lives
(oh, let the trumps blare loud!)
so purple-mantled Royals
might stand out in a crowd.

i salute you, fellow loyals,
who labor without scruple
as your incomes fall
while deficits quadruple
to swaddle unjust Lords
in bright imperial purple!

In ancient times the purple dye produced from the secretions of purpura mollusks, or sea snails, was called 'Tyrian purple' and 'royal purple' or 'imperial purple.' It was greatly prized in antiquity, and was very expensive. Thus, purple-dyed fabrics became status symbols and laws often prevented commoners from possessing them. The production of Tyrian purple was tightly controlled in Byzantium, where a child born to the reigning emperor was literally 'born to the purple' because the imperial birthing apartment was walled in porphyry, a purple-hued rock, and draped with purple silks. Royal babies were swaddled in purple; we know this because the iconodules, who disagreed with the emperor Constantine about the veneration of images, accused him of defecating on his imperial purple swaddling clothes!



Anyte Epigrams

Stranger, rest your weary legs beneath the elms;
hear how coolly the breeze murmurs through their branches;
then take a bracing draught from the mountain-fed fountain;
for this is welcome shade from the burning sun.
—Anyte, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Here I stand, Hermes, in the crossroads
by the windswept elms near the breezy beach,
providing rest to sunburned travelers,
and cold and brisk is my fountain's abundance.
—Anyte, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Sit here, quietly shaded by the luxuriant foliage,
and drink cool water from the sprightly spring,
so that your weary breast, panting with summer's labors,
may take rest from the blazing sun.
—Anyte, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

This is the grove of Cypris,
for it is fair for her to look out over the land to the bright deep,
that she may make the sailors' voyages happy,
as the sea trembles, observing her brilliant image.
—Anyte, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



Nossis Epigrams

There is nothing sweeter than love.
All other delights are secondary.
Thus, I spit out even honey.
This is what Gnossis says:
Whom Aphrodite does not love,
Is bereft of her roses.
—Nossis, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Most revered Hera, the oft-descending from heaven,
behold your Lacinian shrine fragrant with incense
and receive the linen robe your noble child Nossis,
daughter of Theophilis and Cleocha, has woven for you.
—Nossis, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Stranger, if you sail to Mitylene, my homeland of beautiful dances,
to indulge in the most exquisite graces of Sappho,
remember I also was loved by the Muses, who bore me and reared me there.
My name, never forget it! , is Nossis. Now go!
—Nossis, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Pass me with ringing laughter, then award me
a friendly word: I am Rinthon, scion of Syracuse,
a small nightingale of the Muses; from their tragedies
I was able to pluck an ivy, unique, for my own use.
—Nossis, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



Excerpts from 'Distaff'
by Erinna
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

… the moon rising …
… leaves falling …
… waves lapping a windswept shore …

… and our childish games, Baucis, do you remember? ...

... Leaping from white horses,
running on reckless feet through the great courtyard.
'You're it! ' I cried, ‘You're the Tortoise now! '
But when your turn came to pursue your pursuers,
you darted beyond the courtyard,
dashed out deep into the waves,
splashing far beyond us …

… My poor Baucis, these tears I now weep are your warm memorial,
these traces of embers still smoldering in my heart
for our silly amusements, now that you lie ash …

… Do you remember how, as girls,
we played at weddings with our dolls,
pretending to be brides in our innocent beds? ...

... How sometimes I was your mother,
allotting wool to the weaver-women,
calling for you to unreel the thread? ...

… Do you remember our terror of the monster Mormo
with her huge ears, her forever-flapping tongue,
her four slithering feet, her shape-shifting face? ...

... Until you mother called for us to help with the salted meat...

... But when you mounted your husband's bed,
dearest Baucis, you forgot your mothers' warnings!
Aphrodite made your heart forgetful...

... Desire becomes oblivion...

... Now I lament your loss, my dearest friend.
I can't bear to think of that dark crypt.
I can't bring myself to leave the house.
I refuse to profane your corpse with my tearless eyes.
I refuse to cut my hair, but how can I mourn with my hair unbound?
I blush with shame at the thought of you! …

... But in this dark house, O my dearest Baucis,
My deep grief is ripping me apart.
Wretched Erinna! Only nineteen,
I moan like an ancient crone, eying this strange distaff...

O Hymen! ... O Hymenaeus! ...
Alas, my poor Baucis!



On a Betrothed Girl
by Erinna
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I sing of Baucis the bride.
Observing her tear-stained crypt
say this to Death who dwells underground:
'Thou art envious, O Death! '

Her vivid monument tells passers-by
of the bitter misfortune of Baucis —
how her father-in-law burned the poor girl on a pyre
lit by bright torches meant to light her marriage train home.
While thou, O Hymenaeus, transformed her harmonious bridal song into a chorus of wailing dirges.

Hymen! O Hymenaeus!



Yasna 28, Verse 6
by Zarathustra (Zoroaster)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Lead us to pure thought and truth
by your sacred word and long-enduring assistance,
O, eternal Giver of the gifts of righteousness.

O, wise Lord, grant us spiritual strength and joy;
help us overcome our enemies' enmity!

Translator's Note: The Gathas consist of 17 hymns believed to have been composed by Zoroaster, also known as Zarathustra, Zarathushtra Spitama or Ashu Zarathushtra.



You
by Michael R. Burch

For forty years You have not spoken to me;
I heard the dull hollow echo of silence
as though strange communion between us.

For forty years You would not open to me;
You remained closed, hard and tense,
like a clenched fist.

For forty years You have not broken me
with Your alien ways, prevarications and distance.
Like a child dismissed,

I have watched You prey upon the hope in me,
knowing 'mercy' is chance
and 'heaven'—a list.



The Wonder Boys
by Michael R. Burch

(for Leslie Mellichamp, the late editor of The Lyric,
who was a friend and mentor to many poets, and
a fine poet in his own right)

The stars were always there, too-bright cliches:
scintillant truths the jaded world outgrew
as baffled poets winged keyed kites, amazed,
in dream of shocks that suddenly came true...

but came almost as static: background noise,
a song out of the cosmos no one hears,
or cares to hear. The poets, starstruck boys,
lay tuned in to their kite strings, saucer-eared.

They thought to feel the lightning's brilliant sparks
electrify their nerves, their brains; the smoke
of words poured from their overheated hearts.
The kite string, knotted, made a nifty rope...

You will not find them here; they blew away
in tumbling flight beyond nights' stars. They clung
by fingertips to satellites. They strayed
too far to remain mortal. Elfin, young,

their words are with us still. Devout and fey,
they wink at us whenever skies are gray.



The Singer
by Michael R. Burch

for Leslie Mellichamp

The sun that swoons at dusk
and seems a vanished grace
breaks over distant shores
as a child's uplifted face
takes up a song like yours.
We listen, and embrace
its warmth with dawning trust.



Dawn, to the Singer
by Michael R. Burch

for Leslie Mellichamp

'O singer, sing to me—
I know the world's awry—
I know how piteously
the hungry children cry.'

We hear you even now—
your voice is with us yet.
Your song did not desert us,
nor can our hearts forget.

'But I bleed warm and near,
And come another dawn
The world will still be here
When home and hearth are gone.'

Although the world seems colder,
your words will warm it yet.
Lie untroubled, still its compass
and guiding instrument.



The Greatest of These...
by Michael R. Burch

The hands that held me tremble.
The arms that lifted
fall.
Angelic flesh, now parchment,
is held together with gauze.

But her undimmed eyes still embrace me;
there infinity can be found.
I can almost believe such love
will reach me, underground.

Published as the collection 'Epigrams'

Friday, July 12, 2019
Topic(s) of this poem: tweet,humorous,humor,wit,lyric,epitaph,tweets,short,light poetry
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