The HyperTexts

Michael R. Burch Erotic Poems

These are the best erotic poems and translations of the American poet Michael R. Burch. Most of these poems are naughty or risqué rather than graphic. Erotic poems can come in all shapes, sizes and forms: haiku, tanka, epigrams, couplets, limericks, sonnets, rondels, roundels, villanelles, free verse, etc.



Gleyre Le Coucher de Sappho by Marc-Charles-Gabriel Gleyre



Sappho, fragment 42
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Eros harrows my heart:
wild winds whipping desolate mountains,
uprooting oaks.

I fell in love with this erotic little number many years ago, and ended up translating it myself. Here, Sappho of Lesbos conveys the elemental nature of Eros, the Greek god of sexual love and lust. Our term "erotic" derives from the name Eros, just as our terms "sapphic" and "lesbian" derive from Sappho's name and the name of her island home. Interestingly, Eros was the son of Aphrodite (the goddess of love) and Ares (the god of war)! And in this poem love does sound like a battlefield, to borrow a phrase from Pat Benatar. I believe Sappho is telling us that she can't always control the way she feels, or what happens when she falls in love. Oscar Wilde once said that he could resist everything but temptation. William Blake opined that only people with weak passions can control them. Robert Herrick said that he was "bewitched" by a glimpse of his lover's underwear. Thus, some of the greatest love poets seem to agree that lust is a force beyond our ability to resist!



Sappho, fragment 155
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

A short revealing frock?
It's just my luck
your lips were made to mock!



Negligibles
by Michael R. Burch

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



Warming Her Pearls
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth

Warming her pearls,
her breasts gleam like constellations.
Her belly is a bit rotund ...
she might have stepped out of a Rubens.



The Effects of Memory
by Michael R. Burch

A black ringlet
curls to lie
at the nape of her neck,
glistening with sweat
in the evaporate moonlight ...
This is what I remember

now that I cannot forget.

And tonight,
if I have forgotten her name,
I remember:
rigid wire and white lace
half-impressed in her flesh ...

our soft cries, like regret,

... the enameled white clips
of her bra strap
still inscribe dimpled marks
that my kisses erase ...

now that I have forgotten her face.



Le Balcon (The Balcony)
by Charles Baudelaire
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Paramour of memory, ultimate mistress,
source of all pleasure, my only desire;
how can I forget your ecstatic caresses,
the warmth of your breasts by the roaring fire,
paramour of memory, ultimate mistress?

Each night illumined by the burning coals
we lay together where the rose-fragrance clings—
how soft your breasts, how tender your soul!
Ah, and we said imperishable things,
each night illumined by the burning coals.

How beautiful the sunsets these sultry days,
deep space so profound, beyond life’s brief floods ...
then, when I kissed you, my queen, in a daze,
I thought I breathed the bouquet of your blood
as beautiful as sunsets these sultry days.

Night thickens around us like a wall;
in the deepening darkness our irises meet.
I drink your breath, ah! poisonous yet sweet!,
as with fraternal hands I massage your feet
while night thickens around us like a wall.

I have mastered the sweet but difficult art
of happiness here, with my head in your lap,
finding pure joy in your body, your heart;
because you’re the queen of my present and past
I have mastered love’s sweet but difficult art.

O vows! O perfumes! O infinite kisses!
Can these be reborn from a gulf we can’t sound
as suns reappear, as if heaven misses
their light when they sink into seas dark, profound?
O vows! O perfumes! O infinite kisses!

I have found porn sites and escort services using my Baudelaire translations, so the pros seem to like them!



Les Bijoux (The Jewels)
by Charles Baudelaire
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

My lover nude and knowing my heart's whims
Wore nothing more than a few bright-flashing gems;
Her art was saving men despite their sins—
She ruled like harem girls crowned with diadems!

She danced for me with a gay but mocking air,
My world of stone and metal sparking bright;
I discovered in her the rapture of everything fair—
Nay, an excess of joy where the spirit and flesh unite!

Naked she lay and offered herself to me,
Parting her legs and smiling receptively,
As gentle and yet profound as the rising sea—
Till her surging tide encountered my cliff, abruptly.

A tigress tamed, her eyes met mine, intent ...
Intent on lust, content to purr and please!
Her breath, both languid and lascivious, lent
An odd charm to her metamorphoses.

Her limbs, her loins, her abdomen, her thighs,
Oiled alabaster, sinuous as a swan,
Writhed pale before my calm clairvoyant eyes;
Like clustered grapes her breasts and belly shone.

Skilled in more spells than evil imps can muster,
To break the peace which had possessed my heart,
She flashed her crystal rocks’ hypnotic luster
Till my quietude was shattered, blown apart.

Her waist awrithe, her breasts enormously
Out-thrust, and yet ... and yet, somehow, still coy ...
As if stout haunches of Antiope
Had been grafted to a boy ...

The room grew dark, the lamp had flickered out.
Mute firelight, alone, lit each glowing stud;
Each time the fire sighed, as if in doubt,
It steeped her pale, rouged flesh in pools of blood.



The Communion of Sighs
by Michael R. Burch

There was a moment
  without the sound of trumpets or a shining light,
    but with only silence and darkness and a cool mist
      felt more than seen.
      I was eighteen,
    my heart pounding wildly within me like a fist.
  Expectation hung like a cry in the night,
and your eyes shone like the corona of a comet.

There was an instant . . .
  without words, but with a deeper communion,
    as clothing first, then inhibitions fell;
      liquidly our lips met
      —feverish, wet—
    forgotten, the tales of heaven and hell,
  in the immediacy of our fumbling union . . .
when the rest of the world became distant.

Then the only light was the moon on the rise,
and the only sound, the communion of sighs.

This is one of my early poems but I can’t remember exactly when I wrote it. Due to the romantic style, I believe it was probably written during my first two years in college, making me 18 or 19 at the time.



The Receiving of the Flower
excerpt from a Mayan love poem
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Let us sing overflowing with joy
as we observe the Receiving of the Flower.
The lovely maidens beam;
their hearts leap in their breasts.
Why?

Because they will soon yield their virginity to the men they love!



The Deflowering
excerpt from a Mayan love poem
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Remove your clothes;
let down your hair;
become as naked as the day you were born—
virgins!



Prelude to Lovemaking
excerpt from a Mayan love poem
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Lay out your most beautiful clothes,
maidens!
The day of happiness has arrived!

Grab your combs, detangle your hair,
adorn your earlobes with gaudy pendants.
Dress in white as becomes maidens ...

Then go, give your lovers the happiness of your laughter!
And all the village will rejoice with you,
for the day of happiness has arrived!



The Flower-Strewn Pool
excerpt from a Mayan love poem
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

You have arrived at last in the woods
where no one can see what you do
at the flower-strewn pool ...
Remove your clothes,
unbraid your hair,
become as you were
when you first arrived here
naked and shameless
virgins, maidens!



The Tally
by Hafiz
an extremely loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Lovers
don't reveal
all
their Secrets ...

under the covers
they
may
count each other's Moles
(that reside
and hide
in shy regions
by forbidden holes),

then keep final tally
strictly from Aunt Sally!



Millay Has Her Way with a Vassar Professor
by Michael R. Burch

After a night of hard drinking and spreading her legs,
Millay hits the dorm, where the Vassar don begs:
“Please act more chastely, more discretely, more seemly!”
(His name, let’s assume, was, er . . . Percival Queemly.)

“Expel me! Expel me!”—She flashes her eyes.
“Oh! Please! No! I couldn’t! That wouldn’t be wise,
for a great banished Shelley would tarnish my name . . .
Eek! My game will be lame if I can’t milque your fame!”

“Continue to live here—carouse as you please!”
the beleaguered don sighs as he sags to his knees.
Millay grinds her crotch half an inch from his nose:
“I can live in your hellhole, strange man, I suppose ...
but the price is your firstborn, whom I’ll sacrifice to Moloch.”
(Which explains what became of pale Percy’s son, Enoch.)



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?



Righteous
by Michael R. Burch

Come to me tonight
in the twilight, O, and the full moon rising,
spectral and ancient, will mutter a prayer.

Gather your hair
and pin it up, knowing
that I will release it a moment anon.

We are not one,
nor is there a scripture
to sanctify nights you might spend in my arms,

but the swarms
of stars revolving above us
revel tonight, the most ardent of lovers.


Sappho, fragment 50
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Eros, the limb-shatterer,
rattles me,
an irresistible
constrictor.



Sappho, fragment 22
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

That enticing girl's clinging dresses
leave me trembling, overcome by happiness,
as once, when I once saw the Goddess
in my prayers―eclipsing Cyprus.



Sappho, fragment 10
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I lust!
I crave!
Fuck me!



Sweet Rose of Virtue
by William Dunbar
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Sweet rose of virtue and of gentleness,
delightful lily of youthful wantonness,
richest in bounty and in beauty clear
and in every virtue that is held most dear―
except only that you are merciless.

Into your garden, today, I followed you;
there I saw flowers of freshest hue,
both white and red, delightful to see,
and wholesome herbs, waving resplendently―
yet everywhere, no odor but bitter rue.

I fear that March with his last arctic blast
has slain my fair rose of pallid and gentle cast,
whose piteous death does my heart such pain
that, if I could, I would compose her roots again―
so comforting her bowering leaves have been.



Burn, Ovid
by Michael R. Burch

“Burn Ovid”—Austin Clarke

Sunday School,
Faith Free Will Baptist, 1973:
I sat imaging watery folds
of pale silk encircling her waist.
Explicit sex was the day’s “hot” topic
(how breathlessly I imagined hers)
as she taught us the perils of lust
fraught with inhibition.

I found her unaccountably beautiful,
rolling implausible nouns off the edge of her tongue:
adultery, fornication, masturbation, sodomy.
Acts made suddenly plausible by the faint blush
of her unrouged cheeks,
by her pale lips
accented only by a slight quiver,
a trepidation.

What did those lustrous folds foretell
of our uncommon desire?
Why did she cross and uncross her legs
lovely and long in their taupe sheaths?
Why did her breasts rise pointedly,
as if indicating a direction?

“Come unto me,
(unto me),”
together, we sang,

cheek to breast,
lips on lips,
devout, afire,

my hands
up her skirt,
her pants at her knees:

all night long,
all night long,
in the heavenly choir.

This poem is set at Faith Christian Academy, which I attended for a year during the ninth grade, in 1972-1973. While the poem definitely had its genesis there, I believe I revised it more than once and didn't finish it till 2001, nearly 28 years later, according to my notes on the poem. Another poem, "Sex 101," was also written about my experiences at FCA that year.



Sex 101
by Michael R. Burch

That day the late spring heat
steamed through the windows of a Crayola-yellow schoolbus
crawling its way up the backwards slopes
of Nowheresville, North Carolina ...

Where we sat exhausted
from the day’s skulldrudgery
and the unexpected waves of muggy,
summer-like humidity ...

Giggly first graders sat two abreast
behind senior high students
sprouting their first sparse beards,
their implausible bosoms, their stranger affections ...

The most unlikely coupling—

Lambert, 18, the only college prospect
on the varsity basketball team,
the proverbial talldarkhandsome
swashbuckling cocksman, grinning ...

Beside him, Wanda, 13,
bespectacled, in her primproper attire
and pigtails, staring up at him,
fawneyed, disbelieving ...

And as the bus filled with the improbable musk of her,
as she twitched impaled on his finger
like a dead frog jarred to life by electrodes,
I knew ...

that love is a forlorn enterprise,
that I would never understand it.

This companion poem to "Burn, Ovid" is also set at Faith Christian Academy, in 1972-1973.



Redolence
by Michael R. Burch

Now darkness ponds upon the violet hills;
cicadas sing; the tall elms gently sway;
and night bends near, a deepening shade of gray;
the bass concerto of a bullfrog fills
what silence there once was; globed searchlights play.

Green hanging ferns adorn dark window sills,
all drooping fronds, awaiting morning’s flares;
mosquitoes whine; the lissome moth again
flits like a veiled oud-dancer, and endures
the fumblings of night’s enervate gray rain.

And now the pact of night is made complete;
the air is fresh and cool, washed of the grime
of the city’s ashen breath; and, for a time,
the fragrance of her clings, obscure and sweet.

Published by The Eclectic Muse  and The Best of the Eclectic Muse 1989-2003



Duet, Minor Key
by Michael R. Burch

Without the drama of cymbals
or the fanfare and snares of drums,
I present my case
stripped of its fine veneer:
Behold, thy instrument.

Play, for the night is long.



An Ancient Egyptian Love Lyric (circa 1085-570 BC)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Is there anything sweeter than these hours of love,
when we’re together, and my heart races?
For what is better than embracing and fondling
when you visit me and we surrender to delights?

If you reach to caress my thigh,
I will offer you my breast also —
it’s soft; it won't jab you or thrust you away!

Will you leave me because you’re hungry?
Are you ruled by your belly?
Will you leave me because you need something to wear?
I have chests full of fine linen!
Will you leave me because you’re thirsty?
Here, suck my breasts! They’re full to overflowing, and all for you!

I glory in the hours of our embracings;
my joy is incalculable!

The thrill of your love spreads through my body
like honey in water,
like a drug mixed with spices,
like wine mingled with water.

Oh, that you would speed to see your sister
like a stallion in heat, like a bull to his heifer!
For the heavens have granted us love like flames igniting straw,
desire like the falcon’s free-falling frenzy!



A Courtesan's Love Lyric
by Veronica Franco
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

My rewards will be commensurate with your gifts
if only you give me the one that lifts
me laughing ...

And though it costs you nothing,
still it is of immense value to me.

Your reward will be
not just to fly
but to soar, so high
that your joys vastly exceed your desires.

And my beauty, to which your heart aspires
and which you never tire of praising,
I will employ for the raising
of your spirits. Then, lying sweetly at your side,
I will shower you with all the delights of a bride,
which I have more expertly learned.

Then you who so fervently burned
will at last rest, fully content,
fallen even more deeply in love, spent
at my comfortable bosom.

When I am in bed with a man I blossom,
becoming completely free
with the man who loves and enjoys me.



Once
by Michael R. Burch

Once when her kisses were fire incarnate
and left in their imprint bright lipstick, and flame,
when her breath rose and fell over smoldering dunes,
leaving me listlessly sighing her name ...

Once when her breasts were as pale, as beguiling,
as wan rivers of sand shedding heat like a mist,
when her words would at times softly, mildly rebuke me
all the while as her lips did more wildly insist ...

Once when the thought of her echoed and whispered
through vast wastelands of need like a Bedouin chant,
I ached for the touch of her lips with such longing
that I vowed all my former vows to recant ...

Once, only once, something bloomed, of a desiccate seed—
this implausible blossom her wild rains of kisses decreed.



What Goes Around, Comes
by Michael R. Burch

This is a poem about loss
so why do you toss your dark hair—
unaccountably glowing?

How can you be sure of my heart
when it’s beyond my own knowing?

Or is it love’s pheromones you trust,
my eyes magnetized by your bust
and the mysterious alchemies of lust?

Now I am truly lost!



Chloe
by Michael R. Burch

There were skies onyx at night ... moons by day ...
lakes pale as her eyes ... breathless winds
undressing tall elms; ... she would say
that we loved, but I figured we’d sinned.

Soon impatiens too fiery to stay
sagged; the crocus bells drooped, golden-limned;
things of brightness, rinsed out, ran to gray ...
all the light of that world softly dimmed.

Where our feet were inclined, we would stray;
there were paths where dead weeds stood untrimmed,
distant mountains that loomed in our way,
thunder booming down valleys dark-hymned.

What I found, I found lost in her face
while yielding all my virtue to her grace.



Let Me Give Her Diamonds
by Michael R. Burch

Let me give her diamonds
for my heart's
sharp edges.

Let me give her roses
for my soul's
thorn.

Let me give her solace
for my words
of treason.

Let the flowering of love
outlast a winter
season.

Let me give her books
for all my lack
of reason.

Let me give her candles
for my lack
of fire.

Let me kindle incense,
for our hearts
require

the breath-fanned
flaming perfume
of desire.



Floating
by Michael R. Burch

Memories flood the sand’s unfolding scroll;
they pour in with the long, cursive tides of night.

Memories of revenant blue eyes and wild lips
moist and frantic against my own.

Memories of ghostly white limbs . . .
of soft sighs
heard once again in the surf’s strangled moans.

We meet in the scarred, fissured caves of old dreams,
green waves of algae billowing about you,
becoming your hair.

Suspended there,
where pale sunset discolors the sea,
I see all that you are
and all that you have become to me.

Your love is a sea,
and I am its trawler—
harbored in dreams,
I ride out night’s storms.

Unanchored, I drift through the hours before morning,
dreaming the solace of your warm breasts,
pondering your riddles, savoring the feel
of the explosions of your hot, saline breath.

And I rise sometimes
from the tropical darkness
to gaze once again out over the sea . . .
You watch in the moonlight
that brushes the water;

bright waves throw back your reflection at me.

This is one of my more surreal poems, as the sea and lover become one. I believe I wrote this one at age 19. It has been published by Penny Dreadful, Romantics Quarterly, Boston Poetry Magazine and Poetry Life & Times. The poem may have had a different title when it was originally published, but it escapes me . . . ah, yes, "Entanglements."



Nevermore!
by Michael R. Burch

Nevermore! O, nevermore
shall the haunts of the sea—
the swollen tide pools
and the dark, deserted shore—
mark her passing again.

And the salivating sea
shall never kiss her lips
nor caress her breasts and hips
as she dreamt it did before,
once, lost within the uproar.

The waves will never rape her,
nor take her at their leisure;
the sea gulls shall not have her,
nor could she give them pleasure . . .
She sleeps forevermore.

She sleeps forevermore,
a virgin save to me
and her other lover,
who lurks now, safely smothered
by the restless, surging sea.

And, yes, they sleep together,
but never in that way!
For the sea has stripped and shorn
the one I once adored,
and washed her flesh away.

He does not stroke her honey hair,
for she is bald, bald to the bone!
And how it fills my heart with glee
to hear them sometimes cursing me
out of the depths of the demon sea . . .

their skeletal love—impossibility!

This is one of my Poe-like creations, written around age 19. I think the poem has an interesting ending, since the male skeleton is missing an important "member."



Psycho Analysis

by Michael R. Burch

This is not what I need . . .
analysis,
paralysis,
as though I were a seed
to be planted,
supported
with a stick and some string
until I emerge.
Your words
are not water. I need something
more nourishing,
like cherishing,
something essential, like love
so that when I climb
out of the lime
and the mulch. When I shove
myself up
from the muck . . .
we can fuck.

Originally published by Unlikely Stories



The Secret of Her Clothes
by Michael R. Burch

The secret of her clothes
is that they whisper a little mysteriously
of things unseen

in the language of nylon and cotton,
so that when she walks
to her amorous drawers

to rummage among the embroidered hearts
and rumors of pastel slips
for a white wisp of Victorian lace,

the delicate rustle of fabric on fabric,
the slightest whisper of telltale static,
electrifies me.

Published by Erosha, Velvet Avalanche (Anthology) and Poetry Life & Times



Retro
by Michael R. Burch

Now, once again,
love’s a redundant pleasure,
as we laugh
at my childish fumblings
through the acres of your dress,
past your wily-wired brassiere,
through your panties’ pink billows
of thrill-piqued frills ...

Till I lay once again—panting redfaced
at your gayest lack of resistance,
and, later, at your milktongued
mewlings in the dark ...

When you were virginal,
sweet as eucalyptus,
we did not understand
the miracle of repentance,
and I took for granted
your obsessive distance ...

But now I am happily unbuttoning
that chaste dress,
unhitching that firm-latched bra,
tugging at those parachute-like panties—
the ones you would have gladly forgotten
had I not bought them in this year’s size.

Originally published by Erosha



Step Into Starlight
by Michael R. Burch

Step into starlight,
lovely and wild,
lonely and longing,
a woman, a child . . .

Throw back drawn curtains,
enter the night,
dream of his kiss
as a comet ignites . . .

Then fall to your knees
in a wind-fumbled cloud
and shudder to hear
oak hocks groaning aloud.

Flee down the dark path
to where the snaking vine bends
and withers and writhes
as winter descends . . .

And learn that each season
ends one vanished day,
that each pregnant moon holds
no spent tides in its sway . . .

For, as suns seek horizons—
boys fall, men decline.
As the grape sags with its burden,
remember—the wine!

I believe I wrote the original version of this poem in my early twenties, circa 1978-1979.



Unfoldings, for Vicki
by Michael R. Burch

Time unfolds . . .
Your lips were roses.
. . . petals open, shyly clustering . . .
I had dreams
of other seasons.
. . . ten thousand colors quiver, blossoming.

Night and day . . .
Dreams burned within me.
. . . flowers part themselves, and then they close . . .
You were lovely;
I was lonely.
. . . a virgin yields herself, but no one knows.

Now time goes on . . .
I have not seen you.
. . . within ringed whorls, secrets are exchanged . . .
A fire rages;
no one sees it
.
. . . a blossom spreads its flutes to catch the rain.

Seasons flow . . .
A dream is dying.
. . . within parched clusters, life is taking form . . .
You were honest;
I was angry.
. . . petals fling themselves before the storm.

Time is slowing . . .
I am older.
. . . blossoms wither, closing one last time . . .
I'd love to see you
and to touch you.
. . . a flower crumbles, crinkling—worn and dry.

Time contracts . . .
I cannot touch you.
. . . a solitary flower cries for warmth . . .
Life goes on as
dreams lose meaning
.
. . . the seeds are scattered, lost within a storm.

I wrote this poem for my first college girlfriend. I intensely wanted to be with her best friend, who was dating my best friend at the time. When I finally got my chance with my best friend's girlfriend, I was so drunk, I couldn't seize the opportunity. Meanwhile, when my girlfriend was so drunk she offered me the opportunity I had always wanted, I felt compelled to be a gentleman. So it was all very strange, as if the Fates had ordained that none of us should end up being together. It was a very sad, confused time . . . a time when longings threatened to overwhelm us, and yet a strange sort of honor seemed to win the day, although none of us really meant to act with honor. Perhaps we were all saving ourselves for other people we hadn't yet met, or perhaps hormones and alcohol have completely different agendas . . .



Winter
by Michael R. Burch

The rose of love’s bright promise
lies torn by her own thorn;
her scent was sweet
but at her feet
the pallid aphids mourn.

The lilac of devotion
has felt the winter hoar
and shed her dress;
companionless,
she shivers—nude, forlorn.

Published by Songs of Innocence, The Aurorean and Contemporary Rhyme



Morgause’s Song
by Michael R. Burch

Before he was my brother,
he was my lover,
though certainly not the best.

I found no joy
in that addled boy,
nor he at my breast.

Why him? Why him?
The years grow dim.
Now it’s harder and harder to say ...

Perhaps girls and boys
are the god’s toys
when the skies are gray.

Published by Celtic Twilight



Your Pull
by Michael R. Burch

You were like sunshine and rain—
begetting rainbows,
full of contradictions, like the intervals
between light and shadow.

That within you which I most opposed
drew me closer still,
as a magnet exerts its unyielding pull
on insensate steel.



Love Is Not Love
by Michael R. Burch

Love is not love that never looked
within itself and questioned all,
curled up like a zygote in a ball,
throbbed, sobbed and shook.

(Or went on a binge at a nearby mall,
then would not cook.)

Love is not love that never winced,
then smiled, convinced
that soar’s the prerequisite of fall.

When all
its wounds and scars have been saline-rinsed,
where does Love find the wherewithal
to try again,
endeavor, when

all that it knows
is: O, because!



Ince St. Child
by Michael R. Burch

When she was a child
     in a dark forest of fear,
          imagination cast its strange light
               into secret places,
               scattering traces
           of illumination so bright,
     years later, she could still find them there,
their light undefiled.

When she was young,
     the shafted light of her dreams
          shone on her uplifted face
               as she prayed . . .
               though she strayed
          into a night fallen like woven lace
     shrouding the forest of screams,
her faith led her home.

Now she is old
     and the light that was flame
          is a slow-dying ember . . .
               what she felt then
               she would explain;
          she would if she could only remember
     that forest of shame,
faith beaten like gold.

This was an unusual poem, and it took me some time to figure out who the old woman was. She was a victim of childhood incest, hence the title I eventually came up with.



Virginal
by Michael R. Burch

For an hour
every wildflower
beseeches her,
"To thy breast,
Elizabeth."

But she is mine;
her lips divine
and her breasts and hair
are mine alone.

Let the wildflowers moan.




Smoke
by Michael R. Burch

The hazy, smoke-filled skies of summer I remember well;
farewell was on my mind, and the thoughts that I can't tell
rang bells within (the din was in) my mind, and I can't say
if what we had was good or bad, or where it is today.
The endless days of summer's haze I still recall today;
she spoke and smoky skies stood still as summer slipped away . . .

This poem appeared in my high school journal, the Lantern, in 1976. It also appeared in my college literary journal, Homespun, in 1977. I had The Summer of '42 in mind when I wrote it. Ironically, I didn't see the movie until many years later, but something about its advertisement touched me. Am I the only poet who wrote a love poem for Jennifer O'Neil after seeing her fleeting image in a blurb? At least in that respect, I may be unique! In any case, the movie came out in 1971 or 1972, so I was probably around 14 when I wrote the poem. I think it's interesting that I was able to write a "rhyme rich" poem at such a young age. In six lines the poem has 26 rhymes and near rhymes: smoke-spoke-smoky, well-farewell-tell-bells-still-recall-still, summer-remember-summer-summer, within-din-in, say-today-days-haze-today-away, had-good-bad.



Violets
by Michael R. Burch

Once, only once,
when the wind flicked your skirt
to an indiscreet height

and you laughed,
abruptly demure,
outblushing shocked violets:

suddenly,
I knew:
everything had changed

and as you braided your hair
into long bluish plaits
the shadows empurpled,

the dragonflies’
last darting feints
dissolving mid-air,

we watched the sun’s long glide
into evening,
knowing and unknowing.

O, how the illusions of love
await us in the commonplace
and rare

then haunt our small remainder of hours.

Originally published by Romantics Quarterly



Ordinary Love
by Michael R. Burch

Indescribable—our love—and still we say
with eyes averted, turning out the light,
"I love you," in the ordinary way

and tug the coverlet where once we lay,
all suntanned limbs entangled
, shivering, white ...
indescribably in love. Or so we say.

Your hair's blonde thicket now is tangle-gray;
you turn your back; you murmur to the night,
"I love you," in the ordinary way.

Beneath the sheets our hands and feet would stray
to warm ourselves.
 We do not touch despite
a love so indescribable. We say

we're older now, that "love" has had its day.
But that which Love once countenanced, delight,
still makes you indescribable. I say,
"I love you," in the ordinary way.

Winner of the 2001 Algernon Charles Swinburne poetry contest; originally published by Romantics Quarterly and nominated for the Pushcart Prize



For All that I Remembered
by Michael R. Burch

For all that I remembered, I forgot
her name, her face, the reason that we loved ...
and yet I hold her close within my thought.
I feel the burnished weight of auburn hair
that fell across her face, the apricot
clean scent of her shampoo, the way she glowed
so palely in the moonlight, angel-wan.

The memory of her gathers like a flood
and bears me to that night, that only night,
when she and I were one, and if I could ...
I'd reach to her this time and, smiling, brush
the hair out of her eyes, and hold intact
each feature, each impression. Love is such
a threadbare sort of magic, it is gone
before we recognize it. I would crush
my lips to hers to hold their memory,
if not more tightly, less elusively.

Originally published by The Raintown Review



Moon Lake
by Michael R. Burch

Starlit recorder of summer nights,
what magic spell bewitches you?
They say that all lovers love first in the dark . . .
Is it true?
    Is it true?
        Is it true?

Starry-eyed seer of all that appears
and all that has appeared—
What sights have you seen?
What dreams have you dreamed?
What rhetoric have you heard?

Is love an oration,
or is it a word?
Have you heard?
     Have you heard?
         Have you heard?

I believe I wrote this poem in my late teens. I think the questions are interesting. Do all lovers love first in the dark? Is love an oration, or is it a word?



Passionate One
by Michael R. Burch

Love of my life,
light of my morning
arise, brightly dawning,
for you are my sun.
Give me of heaven
both manna and leaven―
desirous Presence,
Passionate One.



Naughty Limericks


Shotgun Bedding
by Michael R. Burch

A pedestrian pediatrician
set out on a dangerous mission;
though his child bride, Lolita,
was a sweet senorita,
her pa’s shotgun cut off his emissions.

There was a lewd whore from Nantucket
who intended to pee in a bucket;
but being a man
she missed the damn can
and her rattled johns fled, crying: "Fuck it!"
—variation on a classic limerick by Michael R. Burch

Here are three "linked" Nantucket limericks of mine:

There was a coarse whore of Nantucket
whose bush needed someone to pluck it
’cause it looked like a chimp’s
and her johns were limp gimps
who refused to touch, suck it or fuck it.

So that coarse, canny whore of Nantucket,
once muff-shaved, decided to shuck it
—that thick, wiry pelt
that smelled like wet felt—
and made it a toupee for Luckett.

Now Luckett, once bald as an eagle,
like Samson stands handsome and regal
with hair to his ass
that smells like his lass,
but still comes when she calls, like a beagle.
—a triple limerick 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.
Michael R. Burch

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