Shadows Poem by Michael Burch


Rating: 5.0

by Michael R. Burch

Alone again as evening falls,
I join gaunt shadows and we crawl
up and down my room's dark walls.

Up and down and up and down,
against starlight—strange, mirthless clowns—
we merge, emerge, submerge...then drown.

We drown in shadows starker still,
shadows of the looming hills,
shadows of the souls we spill,

tumbling, to the ground below.
There, caked in grimy, clinging snow,
we flutter feebly, moaning low

for days dreamed once an age ago
when we weren't shadows, but were men...
when we were men, or almost so.

This poem was written either in high school or my first two years of college because it appeared in the 1979 issue of my college literary journal, Homespun.

by Mehmet Akif Ersoy
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Earth's least trace of life cannot be erased;
even when you lie underground, it encompasses you.
So, those of you who anticipate the shadows:
how long will the darkness remember you?

Originally published by The HyperTexts

Herbsttag ('Autumn Day')
by Rainer Maria Rilke
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Lord, it is time. Let the immense summer go.
Lay your long shadows over the sundials
and over the meadows, let the free winds blow.
Command the late fruits to fatten and shine;
O, grant them another Mediterranean hour!
Urge them to completion, and with power
convey final sweetness to the heavy wine.
Who has no house now, never will build one.
Who's alone now, shall continue alone;
he'll wake, read, write long letters to friends,
and pace the tree-lined pathways up and down,
restlessly, as autumn leaves drift and descend.

Originally published by Measure

Ebb Tide
by Michael R. Burch

Massive, gray, these leaden waves
bear their unchanging burden—
the sameness of each day to day

while the wind seems to struggle to say
something half-submerged planks at the mouth of the bay
might nuzzle limp seaweed to understand.

Now collapsing dull waves drain away
from the unenticing land;
shrieking gulls shadow fish through salt spray—
whitish streaks on a fogged silver mirror.

Sizzling lightning impresses its brand.
Unseen fingers scribble something in the wet sand.

Originally published by Southwest Review

by Michael R. Burch

... Among the shadows of the groaning elms,
amid the darkening oaks, we fled ourselves...

... Once there were paths that led to coracles
that clung to piers like loosening barnacles...

... where we cannot return, because we lost
the pebbles and the playthings, and the moss...

... hangs weeping gently downward, maidens' hair
who never were enchanted, and the stairs...

... that led up to the Fortress in the trees
will not support our weight, but on our knees...

... we still might fit inside those splendid hours
of damsels in distress, of rustic towers...

... of voices heard in wolves' tormented howls
that died, and live in dreams' soft, windy vowels...

Originally published by The Chariton Review

Remembering Not to Call
by Michael R. Burch

a villanelle permitting mourning, for my mother, Christine Ena Burch

The hardest thing of all,
after telling her everything,
is remembering not to call.

Now the phone hanging on the wall
will never announce her ring:
the hardest thing of all
for children, however tall.

And the hardest thing this spring
will be remembering not to call
the one who was everything.

That the songbirds will nevermore sing
is the hardest thing of all
for those who once listened, in thrall,
and welcomed the message they bring,
since they won't remember to call.

And the hardest thing this fall
will be a number with no one to ring.

No, the hardest thing of all
is remembering NOT to call.

by Renée Vivien
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

the Amazon smiles above the ruins
while the sun, wearied by its struggles, droops to sleep.
murder's aroma swells Her nostrils;
She exults in blood, death's inscrutable lover.

She loves lovers who intoxicate Her
with their wild agonies and proud demises.
She despises the cloying honey of feminine caresses;
cups empty of horror fail to satisfy Her.

Her desire, falling cruelly on some wan mouth
from which she rips out the unrequited kiss,
awaits ardently lust's supreme spasm,
more beautiful and more terrible than the spasm of love.

NOTE: The French poem has 'coups' and I considered various words - 'cuts, ' 'coups, ' 'coups counted, ' etc. - but I thought because of 'intoxicate' and 'honey' that 'cups' worked best in English.

Keywords/Tags: shadow, shadows, shade, alienation, identity, human, human condition, humanity, dream, dreams, dreaming, dark, darkness

Published as the collection 'Shadows'

Monday, August 19, 2019
Topic(s) of this poem: dreaming,dream,alienation,human,human condition,shade,shadow,shadows,identity,dreams
Rajnish Manga 19 August 2019

gaunt shadows.... Up and down and up and down, we merge, emerge, submerge.............. then drown. Beautiful poem on shadows which sometimes emerge as real men or material. Thanks for sharing. I appreciate this amazing poem more so because it was written by the poet at a very young age. Congrats.

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Manpreet Singh 19 August 2019

We drown in shadows starker still, shadows of the looming hills, shadows of sad selves we spill, fascinating lines. loved the musical quality of your poem. Thank you for sharing.

1 0 Reply
Michael R. Burch 19 August 2019

Thanks for taking the time to comment!

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Jane Campion 19 August 2019

A great lyrical poem should be set to music. To be written so early show your promise. To my favorites.

1 0 Reply
Michael R. Burch 19 August 2019

I have a song that would be perfect for Vince Gill, I think. But I'm too shy to propose it!

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