The HyperTexts

Libelous Blasphemies of the Lord of Hosts (unless they're true)

heretical poetry by Michael R. Burch

Is there a God? If so, is this God depicted accurately in the Bible? These are unanswerable questions. But there is one thing we know beyond the shadow of a doubt: the "god" the Bible depicts was not loving, wise, compassionate or just. One can easily prove this to oneself. Just take a highlighter, start at the beginning, and highlight everything the biblical god, Jehovah, said and did that you wouldn't say or do yourself, or advise a child to say or do. You will soon have a very colorful Bible! I maintain that my poems are not really blasphemous because such a terrible, malignant Creator surely cannot actually exist. On the other hand, if there is a God who is loving, wise, compassionate and just, the writers of the Bible blasphemed his name from sunup to sundown and have continued to do so for thousands of years, via a book which accuses Jehovah of being a serial murderer of animals and human beings, and of commanding and/or condoning the worst crimes known to mankind: slavery, sex slavery, the stoning to death of children for misdemeanors (a ghastly way to execute anyone, much less a child), infanticide, matricide, ethnic cleansing and genocide. Anyone who tells you Jehovah was loving, wise, compassionate and just has never read the Bible ... or has just never read it honestly. Catholic popes and Protestant pastors are not honest readers of the Bible, if tell you its "god" is good. Just grab a highlighter, start at the beginning, and you'll quickly see that I'm correct. I read the Bible from cover to cover as a boy, then put my conclusion in an epigram:



Bible Libel
by Michael R. Burch

If God
is good,
half the Bible
is libel.



The epigram above was composed sometime between age 11 and 13, or thereabouts. Here are poems I have written since I composed "Bible Libel" as a boy ...



Willy Nilly
by Michael R. Burch

for the Demiurge, aka Yahweh/Jehovah

Isn’t it silly, Willy Nilly?
You made the stallion,
you made the filly,
and now they sleep
in the dark earth, stilly.
Isn’t it silly, Willy Nilly?

Isn’t it silly, Willy Nilly?
You forced them to run
all their days uphilly.
They ran till they dropped—
life’s a pickle, dilly.
Isn’t it silly, Willy Nilly?

Isn’t it silly, Willy Nilly?
They say I should worship you!
Oh, really!
They say I should pray
so you’ll not act illy.
Isn’t it silly, Willy Nilly?



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?



A Child’s Christmas Prayer of Despair for a Hindu Saint
by Michael R. Burch

Santa Claus,
for Christmas, please,
don’t bring me toys, or games, or candy . . .
just . . . Santa, please . . .
I’m on my knees! . . .
please don’t let Jesus torture Gandhi!



gimME that ol’ time religion!
by michael r. burch

fiddle-dee-dum, fiddle-dee-dee,

jesus
loves and understands ME!
safe in his grace, I’LL damn
them to hell—
the
strumpet, the harlot, the wild jezebel,
the
alky, the druggie, all queers short and tall!
let
them drink ashes and wormwood and gall,
’cause fiddle-dee-DUMB, fiddle-dee-WEE
EEEEEEEEEEEEEEee . . .
jesus
loves and understands
ME!




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).



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!”



Practice Makes Perfect

by Michael R. Burch

I have a talent for sleep;
it’s one of my favorite things.
Thus when I sleep, I sleep deep ...
at least till the stupid clock rings.

I frown as I squelch its damn beep,
then fling it aside to resume
my practice for when I’ll sleep deep
in a silent and undisturbed tomb.

Originally published by Light Quarterly



Enough!
by Michael R. Burch

It’s not that I don’t want to die;
I shall be glad to go.
Enough of diabetes pie,
and eating sickly crow!
Enough of win and place and show.
Enough of endless woe!

Enough of suffering and vice!
I’ve said it once;
I’ll say it twice:
I shall be glad to go.

But why the hell should I be nice
when no one asked for my advice?
So grumpily I’ll go ...
although
(most probably) below.



Redefinitions

Faith: falling into the same old claptrap.—Michael R. Burch
Religion: the ties that blind.—Michael R. Burch
Trickle down economics: an especially pungent golden shower.—Michael R. Burch

I call these epigrams "redefinitions." There are more, but these are my three favorites.



Listen
by Michael R. Burch

Listen to me now and heed my voice;
I am a madman, alone, screaming in the wilderness,
but listen now.

Listen to me now, and if I say
that black is black, and white is white, and in between lies gray,
I have no choice.

Does a madman choose his words? They come to him,
the moon’s illuminations, intimations of the wind,
and he must speak.

But listen to me now, and if you hear
the tolling of the judgment bell, and if its tone is clear,
then do not tarry,

but listen, or cut off your ears, for I Am weary.

I believe I wrote the first version of this poem around age 17 or 18.



Less Heroic Couplets: Funding Fundamentals
by Michael R. Burch

"I found out that I was a Christian for revenue only and I could not bear the thought of that, it was so ignoble." — Mark Twain

Making sense from nonsense is quite sensible! Suppose
you’re running low on moolah, need some cash to paint your toes ...
Just invent a new religion; claim it saves lost souls from hell;
have the converts write you checks; take major debit cards as well;
take MasterCard and Visa and good-as-gold Amex;
hell, lend and charge them interest, whether payday loan or flex.
Thus out of perfect nonsense, glittery ores of this great mine,
you’ll earn an easy living and your toes will truly shine!

Originally published by Lighten Up Online



Pagans Protest the Intolerance of Christianity
by Michael R. Burch

“We have a common sky.” — Quintus Aurelius Symmachus (c. 345-402)

We had a common sky
before the Christians came.

We thought there might be gods
but did not know their names.

The common stars above us?
They winked, and would not tell.

Yet now our fellow mortals claim
our questions merit hell!

The cause of our damnation?
They claim they’ve seen the LIGHT ...

but still the stars wink down at us,
as wiser beings might.



lust
by michael r. burch

i was only a child
in a world dark and wild
seeking affection
in eyes mild

and in all my bright dreams
sweet love shimmered, beguiled ...

but the black-robed Priest
who called me the least
of all god’s creation
then spoke for the Beast:

he called my great passion a thing base, defiled!

He condemned me to hell,
the foul Ne’er-Do-Well,
for the sake of the copper
His Pig-Snout could smell
in the purse of my mother,
“the whore jezebel.”

my sweet passions condemned
by degenerate men?
and she so devout
she exclaimed, “yay, aye-men!” ...

together we learned why Religion is hell.



Note to a Chick on a Religious Kick
by Michael R. Burch

Daisy,
when you smile, my life gets sunny;
you make me want to spend my damned money;
but honey,
you can be a bit ... um ... hazy,
perhaps mentally lazy?,
okay, downright crazy,
praying to the Easter Bunny!



Well, Almost
by Michael R. Burch

All Christians say “Never again!”
to the inhumanity of men
(except when the object of phlegm
is a Palestinian).



O, My Redeeming Angel
by Michael R. Burch

O my Redeeming Angel, after we
have fought till death (and soon the night is done) ...
then let us rest awhile, await the sun,
and let us put aside all enmity.

I might have been the “victor”—who can tell?—
so many wounds abound. All out of joint,
my groin, my thigh ... and nothing to anoint
but sunsplit, shattered stone, as pillars hell.

Light, easy flight to heaven, Your return!
How hard, how dark, this path I, limping, walk.
I only ask Your blessing; no more talk!

Withhold Your name, and yet my ears still burn
and so my heart. You asked me, to my shame:
for Jacob—trickster, shyster, sham—’s my name.



To Know You as Mary
by Michael R. Burch

To know you as Mary,
when you spoke her name
and her world was never the same ...
beside the still tomb
where the spring roses bloom.


O, then I would laugh
and be glad that I came,
never minding the chill, the disconsolate rain ...
beside the still tomb
where the spring roses bloom.


I might not think this earth
the sharp focus of pain
if I heard you exclaim—
beside the still tomb
where the spring roses bloom


my most unexpected, unwarranted name!
But you never spoke. Explain?



ur-gent
by Michael R. Burch

if u would be a good father to us all,
revoke the Curse,
extract the Gall;

but if the abuse continues,
look within
into ur Mindless Soulless Emptiness Grim,

& admit ur sin,
heartless jehovah,
slayer of widows and orphans ...

quick, begin!



bible libel (ii)
by Michael R. Burch

ur savior’s a cad
—he’s as bad as his dad—
according to your horrible Bible.

demanding belief
or he’ll bring u to grief?
he’s worse than his horn-sprouting rival!

was the man ever good
before made a “god”?
if so, half your Bible is libel!



stock-home sin-drone
by Michael R. Burch

ur GAUD created this hellish earth;
thus u FANTAsize heaven
(an escape from rebirth).

ur GUAD is a monster,
butt ur RELIGION lied
and called u his frankensteinian bride!

now, like so many others cruelly abused,
u look for salve-a-shun
to the AUTHOR of ur pain’s selfish creation.

cons preach the “TRUE GOSPEL”
and proudly shout it,
but if ur GAUD were good
he would have to doubt it.



un-i-verse-all love
by Michael R. Burch

there is a Gaud, it’s true!
and furthermore, tHeSh(e)It loves u!
unfortunately
the
He
Sh(e)
It
,even more adorably,
loves cancer, aids and leprosy.



One of the Flown
by Michael R. Burch

Forgive me for not having known
you were one of the flown—
flown from the distant haunts
of someone else’s enlightenment,
alighting here to a darkness all your own . . .

I imagine you perched,
pretty warbler, in your starched
dress, before you grew bellicose . . .
singing quaint love’s highest falsetto notes,
brightening the pew of some dilapidated church . . .

But that was before autumn’s
messianic dark hymns . . .
Deepening on the landscape—winter’s inevitable shadows.
Love came too late; hope flocked to bare meadows,
preparing to leave. Then even the thought of life became grim,

thinking of Him . . .
To flee, finally,—that was no whim,
no adventure, but purpose.
I see you now a-wing: pale-eyed, intent, serious:
always, always at the horizon’s broadening rim . . .

How long have you flown now, pretty voyager?
I keep watch from afar: pale lover and voyeur.



A coming day
by Michael R. Burch

for my mother, due to her hellish religion

There will be a day,
a day when the lightning strikes from a rainbowed mist
when it will be too late, too late for me to say
that I found your faith unblessed.

There will be a day,
a day when the storm clouds gather, ominous,
when it will be too late, too late to put away
this darkness that came between us.



what the “Chosen Few” really pray for
by Michael R. Burch

We are ready to be robed in light,
angel-bright

despite
Our intolerance;

ready to enter Heaven and never return
(dark, this sojourn);

ready to worse-ship any gaud
able to deliver Us from this flawed

existence;
We pray with the persistence

of actual saints
to be delivered from all earthly constraints:

just kiss each uplifted Face
with lips of gentlest grace,

cooing the sweetest harmonies
while brutally crushing Our enemies!

ah-Men!



wild wild west-east-north-south-up-down
by Michael R. Burch

each day it resumes—the great struggle for survival.

the fiercer and more perilous the wrath,
the wilder and wickeder the weaponry,
the better the daily odds
(just don’t bet on the long term, or revival).

so ur luvable Gaud decreed, Theo-retically,
if indeed He exists
as ur Bible insists—
the Wildest and the Wickedest of all
with the brightest of creatures in thrall
(unless u
somehow got that bleary
Theo-ry
wrong too).



Hellbound
by Michael R. Burch

Mother, it’s dark
and you never did love me
because you put Yahweh and Yeshu
above me.

Did they ever love you
or cling to you? No.
Now Mother, it’s cold
and I fear for my soul.

Mother, they say
you will leave me and go
to some distant “heaven”
I never shall know.

If that’s your choice,
you made it. Not me.
You brought me to life;
will you nail me to the tree?

Christ! Mother, they say
God condemned me to hell.
If the Devil’s your God
then farewell, farewell!

Or if there is Love
in some other dimension,
let’s reconcile there
and forget such cruel detention.



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).



Defenses
by Michael R. Burch

Beyond the silhouettes of trees
stark, naked and defenseless
there stand long rows of sentinels:
these pert white picket fences.

Now whom they guard and how they guard,
the good Lord only knows;
but savages would have to laugh
observing the tidy rows.



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?



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!)



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!”
the wise owl replied
as the tasty snack died.

Originally published by Lighten Up Online and in Potcake Chapbook #7

NOTE: In an attempt to demonstrate that not all couplets are heroic, I have created a series of poems called “Less Heroic Couplets.” I believe even poets should abide by truth-in-advertising laws! And I believe such laws should extend to Creators who claim to be loving, wise, merciful, just, etc., while forcing innocent mice to provide owls with late-night snacks. — Michael R. Burch



u-turn: another way to look at religion
by Michael R. Burch

... u were borne orphaned from Ecstasy
into this lower realm: just one of the inching worms
dreaming of Beatification;
u'd love to make a u-turn back to Divinity, but
having misplaced ur chrysalis,
can only chant magical phrases,
like Circe luring ulysses back into the pigsty ...



In His Kingdom of Corpses
by Michael R. Burch

In His kingdom of corpses,
God has been heard to speak
in many enraged discourses,
high, high from some mountain peak
where He’s lectured man on compassion
while the sparrows around Him fell,
and babes, for His meager ration
of rain, died and went to hell,
unbaptized, for that’s His fashion.

In His kingdom of corpses,
God has been heard to vent
in many obscure discourses
on the need for man to repent,
to admit that he’s a sinner;
give up sex, and riches, and fame;
be disciplined at his dinner
though always he dies the same,
whether fatter or thinner.

In his kingdom of corpses,
God has been heard to speak
in many absurd discourses
of man’s Ego, precipitous Peak!,
while demanding praise and worship,
and the bending of every knee.
And though He sounds like the Devil,
all religious men now agree
He loves them indubitably.



faith(less)
by Michael R. Burch

Those who believed
and Those who misled
lie together at last
in the same narrow bed

and if god loved Them more
for Their strange lack of doubt,
he kept it well hidden
till he snuffed Them out.



no foothold
by Michael R. Burch

there is no hope;
therefore i became invulnerable to love.
now even god cannot move me:
nothing to push or shove,
no foothold.

so let me live out my remaining days in clarity,
mine being the only nativity,
my death the final crucifixion
and apocalypse,

as far as the i can see ...



Everlasting
by Michael R. Burch

Where the wind goes
when the storm dies,
there my spirit lives
though I close my eyes.

Do not weep for me;
I am never far.
Whisper my name
to the last star ...

then let me sleep,
think of me no more.

Still ...

By denying death
its terminal sting,
in my words I remain
everlasting.






You
by Michael R. Burch

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

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

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

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



When I Was Small, I Grew
by Michael R. Burch

When I was small,
God held me in thrall:
Yes, He was my All
but my spirit was crushed.

As I grew older
my passions grew bolder
even as Christ grew colder.
My distraught mother blushed:

what was I thinking,
with feral lust stinking?
If I saw a girl winking
my face, heated, flushed.

“Go see the pastor!”
Mom screamed. A disaster.
I whacked away faster,
hellbound, yet nonplused.

Whips! Chains! Domination!
Sweet, sweet, my Elation!
With each new sensation,
blue blood groinward rushed.

Did God disapprove?
Was Christ not behooved?
At least I was moved
by my hellish lust.



I’ve got Jesus’s face on a wallet insert
by Michael R. Burch

for the Religious Right

I’ve got Jesus’s face on a wallet insert
and "Hell is for Queers" on the back of my shirt.
     And I uphold the Law,
     for Grace has a Flaw:
the Church must have someone to drag through the dirt.

I’ve got ten thousand reasons why Hell must exist,
and you’re at the top of my fast-swelling list!
     You’re nothing like me,
     so God must agree
and slam down the Hammer with His Loving Fist!

For what are the chances that God has a plan
to save everyone: even Boy George and Wham!?
     Eternal fell torture
     in Hell’s pressure scorcher
will separate homo from Man.

I’m glad I’m redeemed, ecstatic you’re not.
Did Christ die for sinners? Perish the thought!
     The "good news" is this:
     soon my Vengeance is His!,
for you’re not the lost sheep He sought.



jesus hates me, this i know
by Michael R. Burch

jesus hates me, this I know,
for Church libel tells me so:
"little ones to him belong"
but if they use their dongs, so long!
    yes, jesus hates me!
    yes, jesus baits me!
    yes, he berates me!
    Church libel tells me so!

jesus fleeces us, i know,
for Religion scams us so:
little ones are brainwashed to
believe god saves the Chosen Few!
    yes, jesus fleeces!
    yes, he deceases
    the bunny and the rhesus
    because he's mad at you!

jesus hates me—christ who died
so i might be crucified:
for if i use my cock or brain,
that will drive the "lord" insane!
    yes, jesus hates me!
    yes, jesus baits me!
    yes, he berates me!
    Church libel tells me so!

jesus hates me, this I know,
for Church libel tells me so:
first fools tell me "look above,"
that christ's the lamb and god's the dove,
but then they sentence me to Hell
for using my big brain too well!
    yes, jesus hates me!
    yes, jesus baits me!
    yes, he berates me!
    Church libel tells me so!



and then i was made whole
by Michael R. Burch

... and then i was made whole,
but not a thing entire,
glued to a perch
in a gilded church,
strung through with a silver wire ...

singing a little of this and of that,
warbling higher and higher:
a thing wholly dead
till I lifted my head
and spat at the Lord and his choir.

I seem to specialize in heretical poems that most editors wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole!



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!
After all, your intentions were ineluctably pure.
And what the hell does THE LORD care about palestinians?
Certainly, Christians were correct about negroes and indians.
Scratch that. You’re one of the Devil’s minions.

The original closing stanza:

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.



Double Cross
by Michael R. Burch

Come to the cross;
contemplate all loss
and how little was gained
by those who remained
uncrucified.



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.)



Unwhole
by Michael R. Burch

What is it that we strive to remember, to regain,
as memory deserts us,
leaving us destitute of even ourselves,
of all but pain?

How can something so essential be forgotten,
if we are more than our bodies?

How can a soul
become so unwhole?



since GOD created u so gullible
how did u conclude HE’s so lovable?
—Michael R. Burch



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?).



evol-u-shun
by Michael R. Burch

does GOD adore the Tyger
while it’s ripping ur lamb apart?

does GOD applaud the Plague
while it’s eating u à la carte?

does GOD admire ur intelligence
while u pray that IT has a heart?

does GOD endorse the Bible
you blue-lighted at k-mart?



Breakings
by Michael R. Burch

I did it out of pity.
I did it out of love.
I did it not to break the heart of a tender, wounded dove.

But gods without compassion
ordained: Frail things must break!
Now what can I do for her shattered psyche’s sake?

I did it not to push.
I did it not to shove.
I did it to assist the flight of indiscriminate Love.

But gods, all mad as hatters,
who legislate in all such matters,
ordained that everything irreplaceable shatters.



I AM
by Michael R. Burch

I am not one of ten billion—I—
sunblackened Icarus, chary fly,
staring at God with a quizzical eye.

I am not one of ten billion, I.

I am not one life has left unsquashed—
scarred as Ulysses, goddess-debauched,
pale glowworm agleam with a tale of panache.

I am not one life has left unsquashed.

I am not one without spots of disease,
laugh lines and tan lines and thick-callused knees
from begging and praying and girls sighing “Please!”

I am not one without spots of disease.

I am not one of ten billion—I—
scion of Daedalus, blackwinged fly
staring at God with a sedulous eye.

I am not one of ten billion, I
AM!

This is another heretical poem. It sort of reverses my childhood poem "Am I."



Finally to Burn
(the Fall and Resurrection of Icarus)
by Michael R. Burch

Athena takes me
sometimes by the hand

and we go levitating
through strange Dreamlands

where Apollo sleeps
in his dark forgetting

and Passion seems
like a wise bloodletting

and all I remember
,upon awaking,

is: to Love sometimes
is like forsaking

one’s Being—to glide
heroically beyond thought,

forsaking the here
for the There and the Not.

*

O, finally to Burn,
gravity beyond escaping!

To plummet is Bliss
when the blisters breaking

rain down red scabs
on the earth’s mudpuddle ...

Feathers and wax
and the watchers huddle ...

Flocculent sheep,
O, and innocent lambs!,

I will rock me to sleep
on the waves’ iambs.

*

To sleep's sweet relief
from Love’s exhausting Dream,

for the Night has Wings
gentler than Moonbeams—

they will flit me to Life
like a huge-eyed Phoenix

fluttering off
to quarry the Sphinx.

*

Riddlemethis,
riddlemethat,

Rynosseross,
throw out the Welcome Mat.

Quixotic, I seek Love
amid the tarnished

rusted-out steel
when to live is varnish.

To Dream—that’s the thing!
Aye, that Genie I’ll rub,

soak by the candle,
aflame in the tub.

*

Riddlemethis,
riddlemethat,

Rynosseross,
throw out the Welcome Mat.

Somewhither, somewhither
aglitter and strange,

we must moult off all knowledge
or perish caged.

*

I am reconciled to Life
somewhere beyond thought—

I’ll Live the Elsewhere,
I’ll Dream of the Naught.

Methinks it no journey;
to tarry’s a waste,

so fatten the oxen;
make a nice baste.

I’m coming, Fool Tom,
we have Somewhere to Go,

though we injure noone,
ourselves wildaglow.


Notes toward an Icarian philosophy of life ...
by Michael R. Burch

If the mind’s and the heart’s quests were ever satisfied,
what would remain, as the goals of life?

If there was only light, with no occluding matter,
if there were only sunny mid-afternoons but no mysterious midnights,
what would become of the dreams of men?

What becomes of man’s vision, apart from terrestrial shadows?

And what of man’s character, formed
in the seething crucible of life and death,
hammered out on the anvil of Fate, by Will?

What becomes of man’s aims in the end,
when the hammer’s anthems at last are stilled?

If man should confront his terrible Creator,
capture him, hogtie him, hold his horny feet to the fire,
roast him on the spit as yet another blasphemous heretic
whose faith is suspect, derelict ...
torture a confession from him,
get him to admit, “I did it! ...

what then?

Once man has taken revenge
on the Frankenstein who created him
and has justly crucified the One True Monster, the Creator ...

what then?

Or, if revenge is not possible,
if the appearance of matter was merely a random accident,
or a group illusion (and thus a conspiracy, perhaps of dunces, us among them),
or if the Creator lies eternally beyond the reach of justice ...

what then?

Perhaps there’s nothing left but for man to perfect his character,
to fly as high as his wings will take him toward unreachable suns,
to gamble everything on some unfathomable dream, like Icarus,
then fall to earth, to perish, undone ...

or perhaps not, if the mystics are right
about the true nature of darkness and light.

Is there a source of knowledge beyond faith,
a revelation of heaven, of the Triumph of Love?

The Hebrew prophets seemed to think so,
and Paul, although he saw through a glass darkly,
and Julian of Norwich, who heard the voice of God say,
“All shall be well,
and all manner of things shall be well ...”

Does hope spring eternal in the human breast,
or does it just blindly grope?



Icarus Bickerous
by Michael R. Burch

for the Religious Right

Like Icarus, waxen wings melting,
white tail-feathers fall, bystanders pelting.

They look up amazed
and seem rather dazed—

was it heaven’s or hell’s furious smelting

that fashioned such vulturish wings?
And why are they singed?—

the higher you “rise,” the more halting?



Alien
by Michael R. Burch

for J. S. S., a "Christian" poet

On a lonely outpost on Mars
the astronaut practices “speech”
as alien to primates below
as mute stars winking high, out of reach.

And his words fall as bright and as chill
as ice crystals on Kilimanjaro —
far colder than Jesus’s words
over the “fortunate” sparrow.

And I understand how gentle Emily
felt, when all comfort had flown,
gazing into those inhuman eyes,
feeling zero at the bone.

Oh, how can I grok his arctic thought?
For if he is human, I am not.



Crescendo Against Heaven
by Michael R. Burch

As curiously formal as the rose,
the imperious Word grows
until it sheds red-gilded leaves:
then heaven grieves
love’s tiny pool of crimson recrimination
against God, its contention
of the price of salvation.

These industrious trees,
endlessly losing and re-losing their leaves,
finally unleashing themselves from earth, lashing
themselves to bits, washing
themselves free
of all but the final ignominy
of death, become
at last: fast planks of our coffins, dumb.

Together now, rude coffins, crosses,
death-cursed but bright vermilion roses,
bodies, stumps, tears, words: conspire
together with a nearby spire
to raise their Accusation Dire ...
to scream, complain, to point out these
and other Dark Anomalies.

God always silent, ever afar,
distant as Bethlehem’s retrograde star,
we point out now, in resignation:
You asked too much of man’s beleaguered nation,
gave too much strength to his Enemy,
as though to prove Your Self greater than He,
at our expense, and so men die
(whose accusations vex the sky)
yet hope, somehow, that You are good ...
just, O greatest of Poets!, misunderstood.



Advice for Evangelicals
by Michael R. Burch

“... so let your light shine before men ...”

Consider the example of the woodland anemone:
she preaches no sermons but — immaculate — shines,
and rivals the angels in bright innocence and purity —
the sweetest of divines.

And no one has heard her engage in hypocrisy
since the beginning of time — an oracle so mute,
so profound in her silence and exemplary poise
she makes lessons moot.

So consider the example of the saintly anemone
and if you’d convince us Christ really exists,
then let him be just as sweet, just as guileless
and equally as gracious to bless.



Heaven Bent
by Michael R. Burch

This life is hell; it can get no worse.
Summon the coroner, the casket, the hearse!
I’m upwardly mobile; this one thing I know:
I can only go up; I’m already below!



Beast 666
by Michael R. Burch

“... what rough beast ... slouches toward Bethlehem to be born?”—W. B. Yeats

Brutality is a cross
wooden, blood-stained,
gas hissing, sibilant,
lungs gilled, deveined,
red flecks on a streaked glass pane,
jeers jubilant,
mocking.

Brutality is shocking—
tiny orifices torn
by cruel adult lust,
the fetus unborn
tossed in a dust-
bin. The scarred skull shorn,
nails bloodied, tortured,
an old wound sutured
over, never healed.

Brutality, all its faces revealed,
is legion:
Death March, Trail of Tears, Inquisition . . .
always the same.
The Beast of the godless and of man’s “religion”
slouching toward Jerusalem:
horned, crowned, gibbering, drooling, insane.



Shock and Awe
by Michael R. Burch

With megatons of “wonder,”
we make our godhead clear:
Death. Destruction. Fear.

The world’s heart ripped asunder,
its dying pulse we hear:
Death. Destruction. Fear.

Strange Trinity! We ponder
this God we hold so dear:
Death. Destruction. Fear.

The vulture and the condor
proclaim: The feast is near!
Death. Destruction. Fear.

Soon He will plow us under;
the Anti-Christ is here:
Death. Destruction. Fear.

We love to hear Him thunder!
With Shock and Awe, appear!—
Death. Destruction. Fear.

For God can never blunder;
we know He holds US dear:
Death. Destruction. Fear.



Lay Down Your Arms
by Michael R. Burch

Lay down your arms; come, sleep in the sand.
The battle is over and night is at hand.
Our voyage has ended; there's nowhere to go . . .
the earth is a cinder still faintly aglow.

Lay down your pamphlets; let's bicker no more.
Instead, let us sleep here on this ravaged shore.
The sea is still boiling; the air is wan, thin . . .
lay down your pamphlets; now no one will “win.”

Lay down your hymnals; abandon all song.
If God was to save us, He waited too long.
A new world emerges, but this world is through . . .
so lay down your hymnals, or write something new.



What Immense Silence
by Michael R. Burch

What immense silence
comforts those who kneel here
beneath these vaulted ceilings
cavernous and vast?

What luminescence stained
by patchwork panels of bright glass
illuminates drained faces
as the crouching gargoyles leer?

What brings them here—
pale, tearful congregations,
knowing all Hope is past,
faithfully, year upon year?

Or could they be right? Perhaps
Love is, implausibly, near
and I alone have not seen It . . .
But, if so, still, I must ask:

why is it God that they fear?

Published in The Bible of Hell



Where We Dwell
by Michael R. Burch

Night within me.
   Never morning.
     Stars uncounted.
       Shadows forming.
       Wind arising
     where we dwell
   reaches Heaven,
reeks of Hell.

Published in The Bible of Hell



Intimations
by Michael R. Burch

Let mercy surround us
with a sweet persistence.

Let love propound to us
that life is infinitely more than existence.

Published by Katrina Anthology



Altared Spots

The mother leopard buries her cub,
then cries three nights for his bones to rise
clad in new flesh, to celebrate the sunrise.

Good mother leopard, pensive thought
and fiercest love’s wild insurrection
yield no certainty of a resurrection.

Man’s tried them both, has added tears,
chants, dances, drugs, séances, tombs’
white alabaster prayer-rooms, wombs

where dead men’s frozen genes convene ...
there is no answer—death is death.
So bury your son, and save your breath.

Or emulate earth’s “highest species”—
write a few strange poems and odd treatises.



Flight
by Michael R. Burch

Poetry captures
less than reality
the spirit of things

being the language
not of the lordly falcon
but of the dove with broken wings

whose heavenward flight
though brutally interrupted
is ever towards the light.

Published by Katrina Anthology



Winter Night
by Michael R. Burch

Who will be damned,
who embalmed
for all eternity?

The night weighs heavy on me—
leaden, sullen, cold.
O, but my thoughts are light,

like the weightless windblown snow.

Published by Nisqually Delta Review



Tonight, Let’s Remember
by Michael R. Burch

July 7, 2007 (7-7-7)

Tonight, let’s remember the fond ways
our fingers engendered new methods to praise
the gray at my temples, your thinning hair.
Tonight, let’s remember, and let us draw near ...

Tonight, let’s remember, as mortals do,
how cutely we chortled when work was through,
society sated, all gods put to rest,
and you in my arms, and I at your breast ...

Tonight, let’s remember how daring, how free
the Madeira made us, recumbently.
Our inhibitions?—we laid them to rest.
Earth, heaven or hell—we knew we were blessed.

Tonight, let’s remember the dwindling days
we’ve spent here together—the sun’s rays
spending their power beyond somber hills.
Soon we’ll rest together; there’ll be no more bills.

Tonight, let’s remember: we’ve paid all our dues,
we’ve suffered our sorrows, we’ve learned how to lose.
What’s left now to take, only God can tell.
Be with me in heaven, or “bliss” will be hell!

I do not want God; I want to see you
free from all sorrow, your labor through,
a song on your tongue, a smile on your lips,
sweet, sultry and vagrant, a child at your hips,
laughing and beaming and ready to frolic
in a world free from cancer and gout and colic.
For you were courageous, and kind, and true.
There must be a heaven for someone like you.



I, Lazarus
by Michael R. Burch

I, Lazarus, without a heart,
devoid of blood and spiritless,
lay in the darkness, meritless:
my corpse—a thing cold, dead, apart.

But then I thought I heard—a Voice,
a Voice that called me from afar.
And so I stood and laughed, bizarre:
a thing embalmed, made to rejoice!

I ran ungainly-legged to see
who spoke my name, and then I knew
him by the light. His name is True,
and now he is the life in me!

I never died again! Believe!
(Oops! Seems it was a brief reprieve.)



To Know You as Mary
by Michael R. Burch

To know You as Mary,
when You spoke her name
and her world was never the same ...
beside the still tomb
where the spring roses bloom.


O, then I would laugh
and be glad that I came,
never minding the chill, the disconsolate rain ...
beside the still tomb
where the spring roses bloom.


I might not think this earth
the sharp focus of pain
if I heard You exclaim—
beside the still tomb
where the spring roses bloom


my most unexpected, unwarranted name!
But you never spoke. Explain?



Peers
by Michael R. Burch

These thoughts are alien, as through green slime
smeared on some lab tech’s brilliant slide, I grope,
positioning my bright oscilloscope
for better vantage, though I cannot see,
but only peer, as small things disappear—
these quanta strange as men, as passing queer.

And you, Great Scientist, are you the One,
or just an intern, necktie half undone,
white sleeves rolled up, thick documents in hand
(dense manuals you don’t quite understand),
exposing me, perhaps, to too much Light?
Or do I escape your notice, quick and bright?

Perhaps we wield the same dull Instrument
(and yet the Thesis will be Eloquent!).

Published by The Neovictorian/Cochlea



Habeas Corpus
by Michael R. Burch

from “Songs of the Antinatalist”

I have the results of your DNA analysis.
If you want to have children, this may induce paralysis.
I wish I had good news, but how can I lie?
Any offspring you have are guaranteed to die.
It wouldn’t be fair—I’m sure you’ll agree—
to sentence kids to death, so I’ll waive my fee.



Dust (II)
by Michael R. Burch

We are dust
and to dust we must
return ...
but why, then,
life’s pointless sojourn?



dark matter(s)
by Michael R. Burch

for and after William Blake

the matter is dark, despairful, alarming:
ur Creator is hardly prince charming!

yes, ur “Great I Am”
created blake’s lamb

but He also created the tyger ...
and what about trump and rod steiger?

NOTE: Rod Steiger is best known for his portrayals of weirdos, oddballs, mobsters, bandits, serial killers, and fascists like Mussolini and Napoleon.



Gethsemane in Every Breath
by Michael R. Burch

LORD, we have lost our way, and now
we have mislaid love—earth’s fairest rose.
We forgot hope’s song—the way it goes.
Help us reclaim their gifts, somehow.

LORD, we have wondered long and far
in search of Bethlehem’s retrograde star.
Now in night’s dead cold grasp, we gasp:
our lives one long-drawn rattling rasp

of misspent breath ... before we drown.
LORD, help us through this spiral down
because we faint, and do not see
above or beyond despair’s trajectory.

Remember that You, too, once held
imperiled life within your hands
as hope withdrew ... that where You knelt
—a stranger in a stranger land—
the chalice glinted cold afar
and red with blood as hellfire.

Did heaven ever seem so far?

Remember—we are as You were,
but all our lives, from birth to death—
Gethsemane in every breath.

NOTE: I no longer believe in Jesus as “god” or “savior” but on the chance that he still exists in some other dimension, I will side with A. E. Housman in reminding him to use whatever powers he has for good, and not for the dark purposes of the religion that bears his name.



A Possible Argument for Mercy
by Michael R. Burch

Did heaven ever seem so far?
Remember–we are as You were,
but all our lives, from birth to death—
Gethsemane in every breath.



Birthday Poem to Myself
by Michael R. Burch

LORD, be no longer this Distant Presence,

Star-Afar, Righteous-Anonymous,
but come! Come live among us;

come dwell again,
happy child among men—

men rejoicing to have known you
in the familiar manger’s cool

sweet light scent of unburdened hay.
Teach us again to be light that way,

with a chorus of angelic songs lessoned above.
Be to us again that sweet birth of Love

in the only way men can truly understand.
Do not frown darkening down upon an unrighteous land

planning fierce Retributions we require, and deserve,
but remember the child you were; believe

in the child I was, alike to you in innocence
a little while, all sweetness, and helpless without pretense.

Let us be little children again, magical in your sight.
Grant me this boon! Is it not my birthright—

just to know you, as you truly were, and are?
Come, be my friend. Help me understand and regain Hope’s long-departed star!



Learning to Fly
by Michael R. Burch

We are learning to fly
every day . . .

learning to fly—
away, away . . .

O, love is not in the ephemeral flight,
but love, Love! is our destination—

graced land of eternal sunrise, radiant beyond night!
Let us bear one another up in our vast migration.



The Gardener’s Roses
by Michael R. Burch

Mary Magdalene, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, “Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.”

I too have come to the cave;
within: strange, half-glimpsed forms
and ghostly paradigms of things.
Here, nothing warms

this lightening moment of the dawn,
pale tendrils spreading east.
And I, of all who followed Him,
by far the least . . .

The women take no note of me;
I do not recognize
the men in white, the gardener,
these unfamiliar skies . . .

Faint scent of roses, then—a touch!
I turn, and I see: You.
"My Lord, why do You tarry here:
Another waits, Whose love is true?"

"Although My Father waits, and bliss;
though angels call—ecstatic crew!—
I gathered roses for a Friend.
I waited here, for You."



Kingdom Freedom
by Michael R. Burch

LORD, grant me a rare sweet spirit of forgiveness.
Let me have none of the lividness
of religious outrage.

LORD, let me not be over-worried
about the lack of “morality” around me.
Surround me,

not with law’s restrictive cage,
but with Your spirit, freer than the wind,
so that to breathe is to have freest life,

and not to fly to You, my only sin.



Cædmon’s Face
by Michael R. Burch

At the monastery of Whitby,
on a day when the sun sank through the sea,
and the gulls shrieked wildly, jubilant, free,

while the wind and Time blew all around,
I paced that dusk-enamored ground
and thought I heard the steps resound

of Carroll, Stoker and good Bede
who walked here too, their spirits freed
—perhaps by God, perhaps by need—

to write, and with each line, remember
the glorious light of Cædmon’s ember:
scorched tongues of flame words still engender.

*

He wrote here in an English tongue,
a language so unlike our own,
unlike—as father unto son.

But when at last a child is grown.
his heritage is made well-known:
his father’s face becomes his own.

*
He wrote here of the Middle-Earth,
the Maker’s might, man’s lowly birth,
of every thing that God gave worth

suspended under heaven’s roof.
He forged with simple words His truth
and nine lines left remain the proof:

his face was Poetry’s, from youth.



Listen
by Immanuel A. Michael (an alias of Michael R. Burch)

1.
Listen to me now
and heed my voice;
I am a madman, alone,
screaming in the wilderness,
but listen now.

Listen to me now, and if I say
that black is black
and white is white
and in between lies gray,
I have no choice.

A madman does not choose his words;
they come to him:
the moon’s illuminations,
intimations of the wind,
and he must speak.

But listen to me now,
and if you hear
the tolling of the judgment bell,
and if its tone is clear,
then do not tarry,
but listen,
or cut off your ears,
for I Am weary.

I desire mercy, not sacrifice.

2.
Listen to me now: I had a Vision.
An elevated train derailed, and Fell.
It was the Church brought low, almost to Hell.
And I alone survived, who dream of Mercy:
the Heretic, who speaks behind the Veil.

3.
Listen to me now: I saw an airplane
fall from the sky. And why should I explain?
The Visions are the same. It is my Heresy
that I survive, because I sing of Mercy,
while elevated "saints" go down in flames.

4.
Listen to me now: I saw in Nashville
how those who "soar" will plummet—Fame in flames!—
and fall on those below, as if to kill them.
The lowly, saved, will understand their names.

5.
Listen to me now: I heard another
say, "That which died shall Resurrect and Live."
An angel with a Rose bestowing Mercy!
What can it mean, but that my Visions give
fair warning to the world that God wants Mercy.
My Heresy is that we must forgive!

6.
Listen to me now: she heard god calling—
O, who will love me, who will be my friend?
Does he want Perfect Saints, the whitewashed Purists,
who frown down on their "brothers," without end?

7.
Listen to me now: you are not perfect,
and your "wise counsel" helps no one at all:
unless it’s sweetened with the sweetest Mercy,
it’s pure astringent antiseptic gall.

8.
Listen to me now, and learn this lesson:
If God wants mercy, why dig at the speck
in your brother’s eye, when even now the Beam,
your lack of mercy, spares, no, neither neck,
becomes the Hangman’s Millstone. We’re all children,
all little ones! Be patient with the fleck!

9.
Listen to me now: for the Announcer
explained that wars have given Presidents
the precedents to soon assume all Power.
Vote, citizens, or be mere residents!

10.
O, listen to me now: I saw the Warheads
stored safely underground, except for One.
A red-haired woman with a bright complexion
seduced the guard. Translucent blouse, red thong,
white bra – these were her fearsome antique weapons.
I saw the Skull and Crossbones! Heed my Song!

11.
O, listen to me now, and hear my Gospel:
three verses of such sweet simplicity!
God is Light: in Him there is no darkness.
In Christ, no condemnation: Liberty!
God want no Sacrifice, but only Mercy.
O, who could ask for sweeter Heresy?

12.
Theology? I swear that I disdain it!
If Love can be explained, why then explain it!
If Love can’t be explained why, then, should God,
if God is Love? Nor hell nor cattle prod
is needed, if God’s good, and God’s supreme.
Ask, children, what "re-ligion" truly means:
"return to bondage!" Heed the bondsman’s screams!

13.
Heed, children, which Theologies you dream
when Hellish Nightmares wake you, when you Scream
for comfort, but no comforter is there.
Which Voices do you heed, which Crosses bear?
If god is light, whence do Dark Visions come
which leave the Taste of Venom on your Tongue,
with which you Damn your brother for one Sin
you do not share, ten thousand underskin
like Itching Worms that Squirm and Vilely Hiss:
"Your brother’s sin will keep him from god’s bliss,
but You are safe because god favors You!"
If God is Love, how can this voice be true?

14.
For God is not a favorer of men.
Amen. Amen. Amen. Amen. Amen.



Is there any Light left?
by Michael R. Burch

Is there any light left?
Must we die bereft
of love and a reason for being?
Blind and unseeing,
rejecting and fleeing
our humanity, goat-hooved and cleft?

Is there any light left?
Must we die bereft
of love and a reason for living?
Blind, unforgiving,
unworthy of heaven
or this planet red, reeking and reft?

NOTE: While “hoofed” is the more common spelling, I preferred “hooved” for this poem. Perhaps because of the contrast created by “love” and “hooved.”



Modern Dreams
by Michael R. Burch

after David B. Gosselin

I dreamed that God was good, but then I woke
and all his goodness vanished—poof!
like smoke.

I dreamed his Word was good, but then I heard
commandments evil, awful, weird,
absurd.

I dreamed of Heaven where cruel Angels flew
above my head and screamed, the Chosen Few,
“We’re not like you!”

I dreamed of Hell below, where prostitutes
adored by Jesus played on lovely lutes
“True Love Commutes.”

I dreamed of Earth then woke to hear a Gong’s
repellent echoes in Religion’s song
of right gone wrong.



Prayer for a Merciful, Compassionate, etc., God to Murder His Creations Quickly & Painlessly, Rather than Slowly & Painfully
by Michael R. Burch

Lord, kill me fast and please do it quickly!
Please don’t leave me gassed, archaic and sickly!
Why render me mean, rude, wrinkly and prickly?
Lord, why procrastinate?

Lord, we all know you’re an expert killer!
Please, don’t leave me aging like Phyllis Diller!
Why torture me like some poor sap in a thriller?
God, grant me a gentler fate!

Lord, we all know you’re an expert at murder
like Abram—the wild-eyed demonic goat-herder
who’d slit his son’s throat without thought at your order.
Lord, why procrastinate?

Lord, we all know you’re a terrible sinner!
What did dull Japheth eat for his 300th dinner
after a year on the ark, growing thinner and thinner?
God, grant me a gentler fate!

Dear Lord, did the lion and tiger compete
for the last of the lambkin’s sweet, tender meat?
How did Noah preserve his fast-rotting wheat?
God, grant me a gentler fate!

Lord, why not be a merciful Prelate?
Do you really want me to detest, loathe and hate
the Father, the Son and their Ghostly Mate?
Lord, why procrastinate?



Star Crossed
by Michael R. Burch

Remember—
night is not like day;
the stars are closer than they seem ...
now, bending near, they seem to say
the morning sun was merely a dream
ember.



Related Pages: Heretical Poetry, Antinatalist Poetry, Poems about Icarus by Michael R. Burch

The HyperTexts