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Animal Poems by Michael R. Burch
Nature Poems by Michael R. Burch




This page contains animal poems and nature poems by Michael R. Burch ...

Limericks

Dot Spotted
by Michael R. Burch

There once was a leopardess, Dot,
who indignantly answered: "I’ll not!
The gents are impressed
with the way that I’m dressed.
I wouldn’t change even one spot."

Stage Craft-y
by Michael R. Burch

There once was a dromedary
who befriended a crafty canary.
Budgie said, "You can’t sing,
but now, here’s the thing—
just think of the tunes you can carry!"

Clyde Lied!
by Michael R. Burch

There once was a mockingbird, Clyde,
who bragged of his prowess, but lied.
To his new wife he sighed,
"When again, gentle bride?"
"Nevermore!" bright-eyed Raven replied.

The Trouble with Elephants: a Word to the Wise
by Michael R. Burch

An elephant never forgets
which is why they don’t make the best pets:
Jumbo may well out-live you,
but he’ll never forgive you,
so you may as well save your regrets!

A much-needed screed against licentious insects
by Michael R. Burch

after and apologies to Robert Schechter

Army ants? ARMY ants?
Yet so undisciplined to not wear pants?
How terribly rude
to wage war in the nude!
We moralists call them SMARMY ants!

Generation Gap
by Michael R. Burch

A quahog clam,
age 405,
said, “Hey, it’s great
to be alive!”

I disagreed,
not feeling nifty,
babe though I am,
just pushing fifty.

Note: A quahog clam found off the coast of Ireland is the longest-lived animal on record, at an estimated age of 405 years.

Lance-Lot
by Michael R. Burch

Preposterous bird!
Inelegant! Absurd!

Until the great & mighty heron
brandishes his fearsome sword.

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.

Kin

by Michael R. Burch

for Richard Moore

1.
Shrill gulls,
how like my thoughts
you, struggling, rise
to distant bliss—
the weightless blue of skies
that are not blue
in any atmosphere,
but closest here ...

2.
You seek an air
so clear,
so rarified
the effort leaves you famished;
earthly tides
soon call you back—
one long, descending glide ...

3.
Disgruntledly you grope dirt shores for orts
you pull like mucous ropes
from shells’ bright forts ...
You eye the teeming world
with nervous darts—
this way and that ...
Contentious, shrewd, you scan—
the sky, in hope,
the earth, distrusting man.

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,
consult the good LORD!”

the wise owl replied
as the tasty snack died.

Does my soul abide in heaven, or hell?
Only the sea gulls in their high, lonely circuits may tell.
― Michael R. Burch, after Glaucus


Don’t ever hug a lobster!
by Michael R. Burch

Don’t ever hug a lobster, if you meet one on the street!
If you hug a lobster to your breast, you're apt to lose a teat!
If you hug a lobster lower down, it’ll snip away your privates!
If you hug a lobster higher up, it’ll leave your cheeks with wide vents!
So don’t ever hug a lobster, if you meet one on the street,
But run away and hope your frenzied feet are very fleet!

This snowy morning:
cries of the crow I despise
(ah, but so beautiful!)
― Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Wild geese pass
leaving the emptiness of heaven
revealed
― Takaha Shugyo, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Cranes
flapping ceaselessly
test the sky's upper limits
― Inahata Teiko, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

American Eagle, Grounded
by Michael R. Burch

Her predatory eye,
the single feral iris,
scans.

Her raptor beak,
all jagged sharp-edged thrust,
juts.

Her hard talon,
clenched in pinched expectation,
waits.

Her clipped wings,
preened against reality,
tremble.

Originally published by The Lyric as "Tremble"

No One
by Michael R. Burch

No One hears the bells tonight;
they tell him something isn’t right.
But No One is not one to rush;
he smiles from beds soft, green and lush
as far away a startled thrush
escapes horned owls in sinking flight.

No One hears the cannon’s roar
and muses that its voice means war
comes knocking on men’s doors tonight.
He sleeps outside in awed delight
beneath the enigmatic stars
and shivers in their cooling light.

No One knows the world will end,
that he’ll be lonely, without friend
or foe to conquer. All will be
once more, celestial harmony.
He’ll miss men’s voices, now and then,
but worlds can be remade again.



Dog Daze: Poems for and about Man's Best Friend

Dog Daze
by Michael R. Burch

Sweet Oz is a soulful snuggler;
he really is one of the best.
Sometimes in bed
he snuggles my head,
though he mostly just plops on my chest.

I think Oz was made to love
from the first ray of light to the dark,
but his great love for me
is exceeded (oh gee!)
by his Truly Great Passion: to Bark.

Xander the Joyous
by Michael R. Burch

Xander the Joyous
came here to prove:
Love can be playful!
Love can have moves!

Now Xander the Joyous
bounds around heaven,
waiting for him mommies,
one of the SEVEN —

the Seven Great Saints
of the Great Canine Race
who evangelize Love
throughout all Time and Space.

                        Amen

Oz is the Boss!
by Michael R. Burch

Oz is the boss!
Because? Because ...
Because of the wonderful things he does!

He barks like a tyrant
for treats and a hydrant;
his voice far more regal
than mere greyhound or beagle;
his serfs must obey him
or his yipping will slay them!

Oz is the boss!
Because? Because ...
Because of the wonderful things he does!

Epitaph for a Lambkin
by Michael R. Burch

for Melody, the prettiest, sweetest and fluffiest dog ever

Now that Melody has been laid to rest
Angels will know what it means to be blessed.

                                                Amen

Excoriation of a Treat Slave
by Michael R. Burch

I am his Highness’s dog at Kew.
Pray tell me, sir, whose dog are you?
—Alexander Pope

We practice our fierce Yapping,
for when the treat slaves come
they’ll grant Us our desire.
(They really are that dumb!)

They’ll never catch Us napping —
our Ears pricked, keen and sharp.
When they step into Our parlor,
We’ll leap awake, and Bark.

But one is rather doltish;
he doesn’t understand
the meaning of Our savage,
imperial, wild Command.

The others are quite docile
and bow to Us on cue.
We think the dull one wrote a poem
about some Dog from Kew

who never grasped Our secret,
whose mind stayed think, and dark.
It’s a question of obedience
conveyed by a Lordly Bark.

But as for playing fetch,
well, that’s another matter.
We think the dullard’s also
as mad as any hatter

and doesn’t grasp his duty
to fling Us slobbery balls
which We’d return to him, mincingly,
here in Our royal halls.

Bed Head, or, the Ballad of
Beth and her Fur Babies
by Michael R. Burch

When Beth and her babies
prepare for “good night”
sweet rituals of kisses
and cuddles commence.

First Wickett, the eldest,
whose mane has grown light
with the wisdom of age
and advanced senescence
is tucked in, “just right.”

Then Mary, the mother,
is smothered with kisses
in a way that befits
such an angelic missus.

Then Melody, lambkin,
and sweet, soulful Oz
and cute, clever Xander
all clap their clipped paws
and follow sweet Beth
to their high nightly roost
where they’ll sleep on her head
(or, perhaps, her caboose).

Wickett
by Michael R. Burch

Wickett, sweet Ewok,
Wickett, old Soul,
Wicket, brave Warrior,
though no longer whole . . .

You gave us your All.
You gave us your Best.
You taught us to Love,
like all of the Blessed

Angels and Saints
of good human stock.
You barked the Great Bark.
You walked the True Walk.

Now Wickett, dear Child
and incorrigible Duffer,
we commend you to God
that you no longer suffer.

May you dash through the Stars
like the Wickett of old
and never feel hunger
and never know cold

and be reunited
with all our Good Tribe —
with Harmony and Paw-Paw
and Mary beside.

Go now with our Love
as the great Choir sings
that Wickett, our Wickett,
has at last earned his Wings!

The Resting Place
by Michael R. Burch

for Harmony

Sleep, then, child;
you were dearly loved.

Sleep, and remember
her well-loved face,

strong arms that would lift you,
soft hands that would move

with love’s infinite grace,
such tender caresses!

*

When autumn came early,
you could not stay.

Now, wherever you wander,
the wildflowers bloom

and love is eternal.
Her heart’s great room

is your resting place.

*

Await by the door
her remembered step,

her arms’ warm embraces,
that gathered you in.

Sleep, child, and remember.
Love need not regret

its moment of weakness,
for that is its strength,

And when you awaken,
she will be there,

smiling,
at the Rainbow Bridge.

Lady’s Favor: the Noble Ballad of Sir Dog and the Butterfly
by Michael R. Burch

Sir was such a gallant man!
When he saw his Lady cry
and beg him to send her a Butterfly,
what else could he do, but comply?

From heaven, he found a Monarch
regal and able to defy
north winds and a chilly sky;
now Sir has his wings and can fly!

When our gallant little dog Sir was unable to live any longer, my wife Beth asked him send her a sign, in the form of a butterfly, that Sir and her mother were reunited and together in heaven. It was cold weather, in the thirties. We rarely see Monarch butterflies in our area, even in the warmer months. But after Sir had been put to sleep, to spare him any further suffering, Beth found a Monarch butterfly in our back yard. It appeared to be lifeless, but she brought it inside, breathed on it, and it returned to life. The Monarch lived with us for another five days, with Beth feeding it fruit juice and Gatorade on a Scrubbie that it could crawl on like a flower. Beth is convinced that Sir sent her the message she had requested.

Solo’s Watch
by Michael R. Burch

Solo was a stray
who found a safe place to stay
with a warm and loving band,
safe at last from whatever cruel hand
made him flinch in his dreams.

Now he wanders the clear-running streams
that converge at the Rainbow’s End
and the Bridge where kind Angels attend
to all souls who are ready to ascend.

And always he looks for those
who hugged him and held him close,
who kissed him and called him dear
and gave him a home free of fear,
to welcome them to his home, here.

Haiku and Epigrams

The butterfly
perfuming its wings
fans the orchid
Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

An ancient pond,
the frog leaps:
the silver plop and gurgle of water
― Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

honeybee
by Michael R. Burch

love was a little treble thing—
prone to sing
and sometimes to sting

Untitled

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

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.

Kin
by Michael R. Burch

O pale, austere moon,
haughty beauty ...

what do we know of love,
or duty?

Kissin’ ’n’ buzzin’
by Michael R. Burch

Kissin’ ’n’ buzzin’ the bees rise
in a dizzy circle of two.
Oh, when I’m with you,
I feel like kissin’ ’n’ buzzin’ too.

Nature Poems (sometimes involving and/or reflecting Human Nature)

Reflex
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy

Some intuition of her despair
for her lost brood,
as though a lost fragment of song
torn from her flat breast,
touched me there . . .

I felt, unable to hear
through the bright glass,
the being within her melt
as her unseemly tirade
left a feather or two
adrift on the wind-ruffled air.

Where she will go,
how we all err,
why we all fear
for the lives of our children,
I cannot pretend to know.

But, O!,
how the unappeased glare
of omnivorous sun
over crimson-flecked snow
makes me wish you were here.

Happily Never After (the Second Curse of the Horny Toad)
by Michael R. Burch

He did not think of love of Her at all
frog-plangent nights, as moons engoldened roads
through crumbling stonewalled provinces, where toads
(nee princes) ruled in chinks and grew so small
at last to be invisible. He smiled
(the fables erred so curiously), and thought
bemusedly of being reconciled
to human flesh, because his heart was not
incapable of love, but, being cursed
a second time, could only love a toad’s . . .
and listened as inflated frogs rehearsed
cheekbulging tales of anguish from green moats . . .
and thought of her soft croak, her skin fine-warted,
his anemic flesh, and how true love was thwarted.

Huntress
by Michael R. Burch

after Baudelaire

Lynx-eyed, cat-like and cruel, you creep
across a crevice dropping deep
into a dark and doomed domain.
Your claws are sheathed. You smile, insane.
Rain falls upon your path, and pain
pours down. Your paws are pierced. You pause
and heed the oft-lamented laws
which bid you not begin again
till night returns. You wail like wind,
the sighing of a soul for sin,
and give up hunting for a heart.
Till sunset falls again, depart,
though hate and hunger urge you—"On!"
Heed, hearts, your hope—the break of dawn.

Originally published by Sonnetto Poesia

Lady’s Favor
by Michael R. Burch

May
spring
fling
her riotous petals
devil-
may-care
into the air,
ignoring the lethal
nettles
and may
May
cry gleeful-
ly Hooray!
as the abundance
settles,
till a sudden June
swoon
leave us out of tune,
torn,
when the last rose is left
inconsolably bereft,
rudely shorn
of every device but its thorn.

Originally published by The Lyric

Salat Days
by Michael R. Burch

Dedicated to the memory of my grandfather, Paul Ray Burch, Sr.

I remember how my grandfather used to pick poke salat ...
though first, usually, he’d stretch back in the front porch swing,
dangling his long thin legs, watching the sweat bees drone,
talking about poke salat—
how easy it was to find if you knew where to look for it ...
standing in dew-damp clumps by the side of a road, shockingly green,
straddling fence posts, overflowing small ditches,
crowding out the less-hardy nettles.

“Nobody knows that it’s there, lad, or that it’s fit tuh eat
with some bacon drippin’s or lard.”


“Don’t eat the berries. You see—the berry’s no good.
And you’d hav’ta wash the leaves a good long time.”


“I’d boil it twice, less’n I wus in a hurry.
Lawd, it’s tough to eat, chile, if you boil it jest wonst.”


He seldom was hurried; I can see him still ...
silently mowing his yard at eighty-eight,
stooped, but with a tall man’s angular gray grace.

Sometimes he’d pause to watch me running across the yard,
trampling his beans,
dislodging the shoots of his tomato plants.

He never grew flowers; I never laughed at his jokes about The Depression.

Years later I found the proper name—“pokeweed”—while perusing a dictionary.
Surprised, I asked why anyone would eat a weed.
I still can hear his laconic reply ...
“Well, chile, s’m’times them times wus hard.”

Pan
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 Sonnet Scroll

Leaf Fall
by Michael R. Burch

Whatever winds encountered soon resolved
to swirling fragments, till chaotic heaps
of leaves lay pulsing by the backyard wall.
In lieu of rakes, our fingers sorted each
dry leaf into its place and built a high,
soft bastion against earth's gravitron—
a patchwork quilt, a trampoline, a bright
impediment to fling ourselves upon.

And nothing in our laughter as we fell
into those leaves was like the autumn's cry
of also falling. Nothing meant to die
could be so bright as we, so colorful—
clad in our plaids, oblivious to pain
we'd feel today, should we leaf-fall again.

Originally published by The Neovictorian/Cochlea

The Folly of Wisdom
by Michael R. Burch

She is wise in the way that children are wise,
looking at me with such knowing, grave eyes
I must bend down to her to understand.
But she only smiles, and takes my hand.

We are walking somewhere that her feet know to go,
so I smile, and I follow ...

And the years are dark creatures concealed in bright leaves
that flutter above us, and what she believes—
I can almost remember—goes something like this:
the prince is a horned toad, awaiting her kiss.

She wiggles and giggles, and all will be well
if only we find him! The woodpecker’s knell
as he hammers the coffin of some dying tree
that once was a fortress to someone like me

rings wildly above us. Some things that we know
we are meant to forget. Life is a bloodletting, maple-syrup-slow.

Originally published by Romantics Quarterly

For a Sandy Hook Child, with Butterflies
by Michael R. Burch

Where does the butterfly go
when lightning rails,
when thunder howls,
when hailstones scream,
when winter scowls,
when nights compound dark frosts with snow ...
Where does the butterfly go?

Where does the rose hide its bloom
when night descends oblique and chill
beyond the capacity of moonlight to fill?
When the only relief's a banked fire's glow,
where does the butterfly go?

And where shall the spirit flee
when life is harsh, too harsh to face,
and hope is lost without a trace?
Oh, when the light of life runs low,
where does the butterfly go?

Reflections on the Loss of Vision
by Michael R. Burch

The sparrow that cries from the shelter of an ancient oak tree and the squirrels
that dash in delight through the treetops as the first snow glistens and swirls,
remind me so much of my childhood and how the world seemed to me then,
that it seems if I tried
and just closed my eyes,
I could once again be nine or ten.

The rabbits that hide in the bushes where the snowflakes collect as they fall,
hunch there, I know, in the fast-piling snow, yet now I can't see them at all.
For time slowly weakened my vision; while the patterns seem almost as clear,
some things that I saw
when I was a boy,
are lost to me now in my "advancing" years.

The chipmunk who seeks out his burrow and the geese now preparing to leave
are there as they were, and yet they are not; and if it seems childish to grieve,
still, who would condemn a blind man for bemoaning the vision he lost?
Well, in a small way,
through the passage of days,
I have learned some of his loss.

As a keen-eyed young lad I endeavored to see things most adults could not—
the camouflaged nests of the hoot owls, the woodpecker’s favorite haunts.
But now I no longer can find them, nor understand how I once could,
and it seems such a waste
of those far-sighted days,
to end up near blind in this wood.

NOTE: I believe I wrote the first version of this poem around 1978 at age 19 or 20. I put it aside for many years and didn’t finish it until 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic. This is one of my more Robert-Frost-like poems and perhaps not a bad one for the age at which it was written.


Frail Envelope of Flesh
by Michael R. Burch

for the mothers and children of the Holocaust and Gaza

Frail envelope of flesh,
lying cold on the surgeon’s table
with anguished eyes
like your mother’s eyes
and a heartbeat weak, unstable ...

Frail crucible of dust,
brief flower come to this—
your tiny hand
in your mother’s hand
for a last bewildered kiss ...

Brief mayfly of a child,
to live two artless years!
Now your mother’s lips
seal up your lips
from the Deluge of her tears ...

Children
by Michael R. Burch

There was a moment
suspended in time like a swelling drop of dew about to fall,
impendent, pregnant with possibility ...

when we might have made ...
anything,
anything we dreamed,
almost anything at all,
coalescing dreams into reality.

Oh, the love we might have fashioned
out of a fine mist and the nightly sparkle of the cosmos
and the rhythms of evening!

But we were young,
and what might have been is now a dark abyss of loss
and what is left is not worth saving.

But, oh, you were lovely,
child of the wild moonlight, attendant tides and doting stars,
and for a day,

what little we partook
of all that lay before us seemed so much,
and passion but a force
with which to play.

Instruction
by Michael R. Burch

Toss this poem aside
to the filigreed and prettified tide
of sunset.

Strike my name,
and still it is all the same.
The onset

of night is in the despairing skies;
each hut shuts its bright bewildered eyes.
The wind sighs

and my heart sighs with her—
my only companion, O Lovely Drifter!
Still, men are not wise.

The moon appears; the arms of the wind lift her,
pooling the light of her silver portent,
while men, impatient,

are beings of hurried and harried despair.
Now willows entangle their fragrant hair.
Men sleep.

Cornsilk tassels the moonbright air.
Deep is the sea; the stars are fair.
I reap.

For an expanded bio, circum vitae and career timeline of the author, please click here: Michael R. Burch Expanded Bio.

Michael R. Burch Related Pages: Early Poems, Rejection Slips, Epigrams and Quotes, Free Love Poems by Michael R. Burch, Romantic Poems by Michael R. Burch

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