The HyperTexts

O, Terrible Angel

Love Poems
Elizabeth Harris Burch
(Beth Burch)
Michael R. Burch

These love poems are dedicated to the love of my life: my beautiful, sweet, wonderful, captivating wife, Beth. Elizabeth is a nobleeven a regalname. Beth is also a sweet, gentle, tender, angelic name. They both suit her, because she combines the best attributes of nobilitycourage, loyalty and a strong sense of justicewith a sweet, gentle tenderness. The "terrible" in my title above, and in the first line of the poem below, is "terrible" in the sense of "inspiring or invoking awe."

Beauty! Ah, Terrible Beauty! A deathless Goddess, she startles our eyes! — Homer, translation by Michael R. Burch


O, terrible angel,
bright lover and avenger,
full of whimsical light
and vile anger;
wild stranger,
seeking the solace of night,
or the danger;
pale foreigner,
alien to man, or savior.

Who are you,
seeking consolation and passion
in the same breath,
screaming for pleasure, bereft
of all articles of faith,
finding life
harsher than death?

Grieving angel,
giving more than taking,
how lucky the man
who has found in your love,
this—our reclamation;
fallen wren,
you must strive to fly
though your heart is shaken;
weary pilgrim,
you must not give up
though your feet are aching;
lonely child,
lie here still in my arms;
you must soon be waking.

Be Merciful, O Terrible Angel!

for Beth

Egos are fragile,
psyches break.

Be merciful,
for chrissake!

Tell me I’m handsome,
tell me I’m cool,
that I’m the brightest fish
in this shallow pool

Because Her Heart Is Tender

She scrawled soft words in soap: "Never Forget,"
Dove-white on her car's window, and the wren,
because her heart is tender, might regret
it called the sun to wake her. As I slept,
she heard lost names recounted, one by one.

She wrote in sidewalk chalk: "Never Forget,"
and kept her heart's own counsel. No rain swept
away those words, no tear leaves them undone.

Because her heart is tender with regret,
bruised by razed towers' glass and steel and stone
that shatter on and on and on and on,
she stitches in damp linen: "NEVER FORGET,"
and listens to her heart's emphatic song.

The wren might tilt its head and sing along
because its heart once understood regret
when fledglings fell beyond, beyond, beyond ...
its reach, and still the boot-heeled world strode on.

She writes in adamant: "NEVER FORGET"
because her heart is tender with regret.

Are You the Thief

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?

Because You Came to Me

Because you came to me with sweet compassion
and kissed my furrowed brow and smoothed my hair,
I do not love you after any fashion,
but wildly, in despair.

Because you came to me in my black torment
and kissed me fiercely, blazing like the sun
upon parched desert dunes, till in dawn’s foment
they melt, I am undone.

Because I am undone, you have remade me
as suns bring life, as brilliant rains endow
the earth below with leaves, where you now shade me
and bower me, somehow.

She Gathered Lilacs

She gathered lilacs
and arrayed them in her hair;
tonight, she taught the wind to be free.

She kept her secrets
in a silver locket;
her companions were starlight and mystery.

She danced all night
to the beat of her heart;
with her tears she imbued the sea.

She hid her despair
in a crystal jar,
and never revealed it to me.

She kept her distance
as though it were armor;
gauntlet thorns guard her heart like the rose.

Love!awaken, awaken
to see what you've taken
is still less than the due my heart owes!

Warming Her Pearls

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


There were moments
full of promise,
like the petal-scented rainfall
of early spring,
when to hold you in my arms
and to kiss your willing lips
seemed everything.

There are moments
strangely empty
full of pale unearthly twilight
how the cold stars stare!
when to be without you
is a dark enchantment
the night and I share.

Passionate One

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.


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.

Will there be Starlight

Will there be starlight
while she gathers
and lilac
and sweet-scented heathers?

And will she find flowers,
or will she find thorns
guarding the petals
of roses unborn?

Oh, will there be moonlight
while she gathers
and mussels
and albatross feathers?

And will she find treasure
or will she find pain
at the end of this rainbow
of moonlight on rain?

Love Is Not Love

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!

Kissin’ ’n’ buzzin’

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.

The Quickening

I never meant to love you
when I held you in my arms
promising you sagely
wise, noncommittal charms.

And I never meant to need you
when I touched your tender lips
with kisses that intrigued my own—
such kisses I had never known,
nor a heartbeat in my fingertips!

The One True Poem

Love was not meaningless ...
nor your embrace, nor your kiss.

And though every god proved a phantom,
still you were divine to your last dying atom ...

So that when you are gone
and, yea, not a word remains of this poem,

even so,
We were One.

The Poem of Poems

This is my Poem of Poems, for you.
Every word ineluctably true:
I love you.

Beth Burch turned into a work of art by Lauren McCall.

Valentine Haiku

A leaf brushes my cheek:
a subtle lover’s
gentlest caress.


If I regret
fire in the sunset
exploding on the horizon,
then let me regret loving you.

If I forget
even for a moment
that you are the only one,
then let me forget that the sky is blue.

If I should yearn
in a season of discontentment
for the vagabond light of a companionless moon,
let dawn remind me that you are my sun.

If I should burn—one moment less brightly,
one instant less true—
then with wild scorching kisses,
inflame me, inflame me, inflame me anew.

Let Me Give Her Diamonds

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

Let me give her roses
for my soul's

Let me give her solace
for my words
of treason.

Let the flowering of love
outlast a winter

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

the breath-fanned
flaming perfume
of desire.

She Spoke

She spoke
and her words
were like a ringing echo dying
or like smoke
rising and drifting
while the earth below is spinning.

She awoke
with a cry
from a dream that had no ending,
without hope
or strength to rise,
into hopelessness descending.

And an ache
in her heart
toward that dream, retreating,
left a wake
of small waves
in circles never completing.

Virginal, for Elizabeth

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

But she is mine;
her lips divine
and her breasts and hair
are mine alone.
Let the wildflowers moan.

the last defense of Love

... if all the parables of Love
fell mute, and every sermon too,
and every hymn and votive psalm
proved insufficient to the task
of proving Love might yet be true
in such a cruel, uncaring world ...
the last defense of Love, my Love,
the gods might offer, would be You.


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.

At Once

Though she was fair,
though she sent me the epistle of her love at once
and inscribed therein love's antique prayer,
I did not love her at once.

Though she would dare
pain's pale, clinging shadows, to approach me at once,
the dark, haggard keeper of the lair,
I did not love her at once.

Though she would share
the all of her being, to heal me at once,
yet more than her touch I was unable to bear.
I did not love her at once.

And yet she would care,
and pour out her essence ...
and yet—there was more!
I awoke from long darkness
and yet—she was there.
I loved her the longer;
I loved her the more
because I did not love her at once.

Gravity and Brilliance

Night, and the earth
careers through the Void ...
Life is created.
Life is destroyed.
Those gone before us
observe from faint stars.
God keeps his silence.
Old edicts lose force.
Only your love
remains steadfast and true—
your gravity and brilliance
warm, center, renew.

Give and Take

Give her the stars and she’ll ask for the moon's
cryptic rune.
Give her the moon and she’ll bargain for the sun
come late autumn.
But tell her you need her when the icicles splinter
and she’ll gladly give you all her dear warmth
every winter.

Your Gift

Counsel, console.
This is your gift.

Calm, kiss and encourage.
Tenderly lift
each world-wounded heart
from its near-fatal dart.

Wise, mend every rift.

Bid pain, "Depart!"
Help friends' healing to start.
Keep every reason to grieve
for your own untaught heart.

Every Man Has a Dream

Every man has a dream that he cannot quite touch ...
a dream of contentment, of soft, starlit rain,
of a breeze in the evening that, rising again,
reminds him of something that cannot have been,
and he calls this dream love.

And each man has a dream that he fears to let live,
for he knows: to succumb is to throw away all.
So he curses, denies it and locks it within
the cells of his heart and he calls it a sin,
this madness, this love.

But each man in his living falls prey to his dreams,
and he struggles, but so he ensures that he falls,
and he finds in the end that he cannot deny
the joy that he feels or the tears that he cries
in the darkness of night for this light he calls love.


I want tears to form again
in the shriveled glands of these eyes
dried all these long years
by too much heated knowing.

I want tears to course down
these parched cheeks,
to star these cracked lips
like an improbable dew

in the heart of a desert.
I want words to burble up
like happiness, like the thought of love,
like the overwhelming, shimmering thought of you

to a nomad who
has only known drought.

It’s Not Too Late

It’s not too late to sing of love, to sing
of beauty, though the moonless night obscures
each thing of sprawling loveliness that clings
to life in nettled darkness, and endures.

It’s not too late to think of dawn, to think
of brightness on the water, of your face
unguarded at the moment planets sink
beneath some dim horizon, into Space.

It’s not too soon to dream of night, to dream
of sleeping to your breasts’ soft pantomime
of earth’s own breathing sleep, of hills that climb
and dip, and taste of lilac and jasmine.


Entirely, as spring consumes the snow,
the thought of you consumes me: I am found
in rivulets, dissolved to what I know
of former winters’ passions. Underground,
perhaps one slender icicle remains
of what I was before, in some dark cave—
a stalactite, long calcified, now drains
to sodden pools, whose milky liquid laves
the colder rock, thus washing something clean
that never saw the light, that never knew
the crust could break above, that light could stream:
so luminous,
                       so bright,
                                         so beautiful ...
I lie revealed, and so I stand transformed,
and all because you smiled on me, and warmed.


The night is full of stars—which ones exist?
A trillion years from now, perhaps we’ll know.
For now, I hold your wan hands to my lips,
your living hands—warm, capable and slow ...
so slow to feel this reckless night in me,
this moon in ceaseless orbit I became,
compelled by wilder gravity to flee
night’s universe of suns, for one pale flame ...
for one pale flame that seemed to signify
the Zodiac of all, the meaning of
love’s wandering flight past aimlessness. To lie
in dawning recognition is enough ...
enough each night to bask in you, to know
the face of love ... eyes closed—its afterglow.

Love is her Belief and her Commandment

Love is her belief and her commandment;
in restless dreams at night, she dreams of Love;
and Love is her desire and her purpose;
and everywhere she goes, she sings of Love.

There is a tomb in Palestine: for others
the chance to stake their claims (the Chosen Ones),
but in her eyes it’s Love’s most hallowed chancel
where Love was resurrected, where one comes
in wondering awe to dream of resurrection
to blissful realms, where Love reigns over all
with tenderness, with infinite affection.

While some may mock her faith, still others wonder
because they see the rare state of her soul,
and there are rumors: when she prays the heavens
illume more brightly, as if saints concur
who keep a constant vigil over her.

And once she prayed beside a dying woman:
the heavens opened and the angels came
revealed as long-departed friends and loved ones,
to comfort and encourage. I believe
not in her God, but always in her Love.


There are times before the appearance of the comet
when the course of a life is set,
then we enter into the moment.

Skies of blue, skies of slate, skies of ecstatic violet and jet—
the times to come, the moments we expected to share ...
were merely potential then. Still, the very air

was charged with possibilities, as though
lightning lurked beyond the horizon, in obscure and distant skies ...
and then I looked into your sparking eyes.


Unto the night
with its moon bright-ascending,
I whisper your name
and the shimmering rain
pauses, then ceases descending.

Who are you child?
The owl also wonders,
and the heavy-lidded sky,
with its bizarre lightnings and thunders ...
and still more exciting, the electricity the thought of you conjures.


There is within her a welling forth
of love unfathomable.
She is not comfortable
with the thought of merely loving:
but she must give all.

At night, she loves the storm's calamitous call.
Nay, longs for it. Why?
O, if a man understood, he might understand her.
But that would never do!
Beth, as you embrace the storm,

so I embrace elemental you.

Wildest, Truest

Hers is the wildest heart,
though increasingly tame,
like a thunderstorm
becoming rain.

Hers is the truest heart
I'll ever know:
an immaculate expanse
of virgin snow.

All her sorrow

All her sorrow,
never borne lightly
but contemplated nightly,
to an almost infinite mass.
She is weary,
prone to eerie
haunting dreams.
And now it seems
her tears grow heavy
till no levee
can withstand,
nor any man.

Your Pull

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.


O pale, austere moon,
haughty beauty,

what do we know of love,
or duty?

The Stand

Love is the end of all endeavor—
the perfect work no hand
can do, or undo ... the Stand
we take against Forever.

Valentine Haiku

Teach me to love:
to fly beyond sterile Mars
to percolating Venus.


I did not squander my light
but kept in it a place
of pure human embrace.

Now "saints" might cry Disgrace!
because I touched your breast,
as if I’d failed some test
but I would say more blessed
because you kissed my face.

For nothing, all ...

For nothing more than a moonlit night
and a few trillion stars
strewn about like so much silver dust,

for nothing save the wine, the candlelight
and your heady perfume, sedulous as must,
and your eyes so full of trust,

I fell in love.


Sleep tight;
the earth's delight
is not the dawn,

but this disbelieving finger,
able to linger
such lips upon.

Constant Forever

She is all sweetness and light,
and about her there is the fragrance
of roses, and the vagrance
of love is in her eyes.

Still, when she cries,
when she is weary, though her heart is true,
she despairs every cloud, bids the sky to be blue
every day,

for that is her way.
And, no, I would never change her,
be cruel to her, no, nor a stranger,
but as she is to me, so let me stay:

constant forever.

At the Natchez Trace
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth

Solitude surrounds me
though nearby laughter sounds;
around me mingle men who think
to drink their demons down,
in rounds.

Beside me stands a woman,
a stanza in the song
that plays so low and fluting
and bids me sing along.

Beside me stands a woman
whose eyes reveal her soul,
whose cheeks are soft as eiderdown,
whose hips and breasts are full.

Beside me stands a woman
who scarcely knows my name;
but I would have her know my heart
if only I knew where to start.

Not every man is as he seems;
not all are prone to poems and dreams.
Not every man would take the time
to meter out his heart in rhyme.
But I am not as other men—
my heart is sentenced to this pen.

Men speak of their "ambition"
but they only know its name . . .
I never say the word aloud,
but I have felt the Flame.

Now, standing here, I do not dare
to let her know that I might care;
I never learned the lines to use;
I never worked the wolves' bold ruse.
But if she looks my way again,
perhaps I will, if only then.

How can a man have come so far
in searching after every star,
and yet today,
though years away,
look back upon the winding way,
and see himself as he was then,
a child of eight or nine or ten,
and not know more?

My life is not empty; I have my desire . . .
I write in a moment that few man can know,
when my nerves are on fire
and my heart does not tire
though it pounds at my breast—
wrenching blow after blow.

And in all I attempted, I also succeeded;
few men have more talent to do what I do.
But in one respect, I stand now defeated;
In love I could never make magic come true.

If I had been born to be handsome and charming,
then love might have come to me easily as well.
But if had that been, then would I have written?
If not, I'd remain; damn that demon to hell!

Beside me stands a woman,
but others look her way
and in their eyes are eagerness . . .
for passion and a wild caress?
But who am I to say?

Beside me stands a woman;
she conjures up the night
and wraps itself around her
till others flit about her
like moths drawn to firelight.

And I, myself, am just as they,
wondering when the light might fade,
yet knowing should it not dim soon
that I might fall and be consumed.

I write from despair
in the silence of morning
for want of a prayer
and the need of the mourning.
And loneliness grips my heart like a vise;
my anguish is harsher and colder than ice.
But poetry can bring my heart healing
and deaden the pain, or lessen the feeling.
And so I must write till at last sleep has called me
and hope at that moment my pen has not failed me.

Beside me stands a woman,
a mystery to me.
I long to hold her in my arms;
I also long to flee.

Beside me stands a woman;
how many has she known
more handsome, charming,
chic, alarming?
I hope I never know.

Beside me stands a woman;
how many has she known
who ever wrote her such a poem?
I hope not even one.

In Thrall

Tonight I have come
to the wrong conclusion
again, and I know—
love’s a strange transfusion
of perilous liquids
and traitorous breath
embezzled from gods
to the laughter of Death.

Thus the bastard exists—
pale Mortality, born
like the frail-petalled rose
to adorn
some Dark Thorn.

And I know this, and yet
I know nothing at all ...
but love's frail-petalled breath
and the sweet wherewithal
of your lips, mine in thrall;
thus I taste crushing sweetness
where I ought to taste gall.


Her heart has borne too much sadness,
an overwhelming weight, the heaviness
of learning too soon of the emptiness
of being alone.

Now we are one,
but caught up sometimes in our differences,
forgetting the balm of a sweet caress,
our arguments border on heartlessness.

Yet I love her so.
Beth, oh my darling, please don't go ...

My life without you would be meaningless
and my love without you become nothingness
and my dreams without you would be naught, or less.

Do not make it so.

In Moments of Quietude, Love

In moments of quietude, Love
becomes far more than even the finest balm and ointment
healing our world and holding our lives together
while warming and containing our orbits
and suddenly I am reminded of
the sun on a sunny morning
when all the flowers lifting their weary heads
begin to magically stir and brighten

so that, at that moment, life seems ordained
and with it, us—not only as observers
but also as creatures like those fantastical bottom-dwellers
who evolved to create their own light.

Your Tender Warmth

Feelings deepen.
Nights lengthen.
The moon grows paler.
Winds strengthen.
But your sweet warmth
will never fail
though the stars expire
in a black gale.

And the mystics say
true love will prevail
at the end of time
though our sight is frail.

So hold me tight;
come, share with me
the tender warmth
of eternity.

Flesh Softer than Gold

For all that is lost,
still something remains—
this moment we shared—
this sadness, this joy.
And who knows the cost
of love’s brief alloy?
Many mothers have dared
birth’s wild-wrenching pains—
delighting to hold
flesh softer than gold.

Love is not wisdom
and yes, life holds terror.
Perhaps god’s in error.
Perhaps man’s a bust.
But one thing I trust—
you, my love, were no error.
So I’ll brave every terror—
to have and to hold
your flesh softer than gold.

Tonight how I miss you

Tonight how I miss you, as never before,
though morning is only a moment away.
Oh, I know I should sleep, but I lie here, distraught,
as you flit through my mind—such a wild, haunting thought.

And love is a dream that I lately imagined—
a dream, yet so real I can touch it at times.
But how to explain? I can hardly envision
myself without you, like a farce without mimes.

Deep, deep in my soul lurks a creature of fire,
dormant, not living unless you are near;
now, because you are gone, he grows dim, and in dire
need of your presence, he wavers, I fear ...

How he and I wish, how we wish you were here.

Her Absence

When she is gone,
when she is far away,
when day is done,
when she is not there to say
that she loves me,
when morning seems far away
and darkness looms like a sea
stretching endlessly
between night and day,
sometimes I dream her near
though sleep remains elusive, so far away,
and I say ...
I tell her how much I love her
thinking she might appear ...
but the sky only grows more gray ...

No Words, a Valentine

What use are words when the neophyte “teaches”?
Who needs a Muse, when True Love holds the floor?
There are no words for this heart that now reaches,
with each tender passage, to say even more.

There are no jewels as bright as your laughter,
nor one precious diamond worth one of your tears;
there are no moments, none now, nor hereafter
sweeter or better than those with your near.

There is no woman I ever held dearer,
nor longed so to call both my friend and my bride.
Which wanton, which angel could lure me the nearer?
(And since you are both, I need never decide).

There is no music as warm as your laughter;
there are no kisses (none!) half as divine
as your sweet, gentle kisses (before, during, after)
the hours when the sun and your clothing decline.


A willowy yew thrust out its shoots
through all the long decades
of defiant rains ...

till, silhouetted in a winter mist,
ice-shagged and -barnacled,
it sagged and groaned.

Ecstatic feet no longer strayed
within its eerie borders; so it knew
a kind of peace.

Though overgrown
with stiff brown moss,
it did not care,

in the chalcedonic silence there,
the pale catharsis of that face:

that face, that Face,—
the very countenance and sum
of all that it had reached for,

and become.


for Beth and Laura

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


for Beth on her birthday, December 20, 2008

Through the years,
though sometimes softened by tears,
we endured.

and yet your loving heart
did not grow hard ...

no, not a thing of sard!

... but, oh, in your palest cameo
the shape of your heart


This was your starring role,
you whose transcendent heart
needed no marquee,

only a child to love,
and me,
and an ever-expanding world

of friends, loves and family.


Now this is your starring role:
your heart the centerpiece
and your magnificent soul,

loving and giving at ease,
once a tender and wounded soul,
now delighted and willing to please.


You won! You claimed victory
over the brutal world
fair angel, sweet mother! (Wild girl!)

The Garden of Love

Love came to me
in an unreasonable season
for an unseasonable reason,
as Love always does ...

like a late-blooming rose
in a wasteland of briars
tended palely by friars
singing chastity’s laws
(but Love smiled, because
She’s above all men’s laws).

Then Love sent the rose
the sweet warmth of your face,
the bright rains of your grace
in Her mysterious cause

and thus hope has bloomed
in a heart once thought doomed.

Improvement on Shakespeare

I’d make her immortal
but her love beat me to it.
Still at least I can chortle:
"I was wise, ’cause I knew it."

Waking into a Dream

Hours before morning in the shadow-torn gloom,
in the stillborn silence of an empty room
with the floorboards groaning and an ache within
echoing something someone said about "sin,"
I remember your solemn, most lovely face
and your exquisite grace ...

How do I love thee?—The angels lose count.
There are bright worlds beyond our white wingbeats surmount
in a thunder of wild, implausible heaves ...
till tonight in the darkness strange gravity bereaves
my dreams of dreams’ flight ... thus, earthward I fall
here into your arms, your lips yielding all
the sweetness I know, and all the ecstasy
of heady reality.

Sonnet to Grace

In the blackest night the brightest stars, ablaze,
light my path, as you do, and amaze.

I need no higher compass point, no unseen spangled heaven,
no priest’s or pastor’s incommensurate leaven,

no ghostly grace, no sacrament,
no platitudes, no testament,

no altar calls, no hymns defiling grace.
For I find grace in your warmth, your eyes, your face.

I find grace in the plenitude
of love, and in love’s amplitude.

I need no other, want no other grace
than to touch your hair, your hands, your breasts, your face.

The wildest wish I ever wished, I vow,
I wished upon the star who guides me now.

What If We Had Never Met?

What if we had never met;
had never fumbled with the fragility of love;
had never swallowed the bittergreen taste of regret;
had never choked on the ash of remorse;
had never smiled, groped and swept
a disgruntled remark under the carpet
like a cheap cigarette?

What if we had never kept
the secret expectation of other lives
in secluded compartments like knives
tarnished with unuse,
though they had been meant to slice
our hearts open like grapefruit?

What it our love had not gone a little sour at times,
like a dour vinegar extracted from wine,
beneficial only for its astringency?

What if we had never met? ...

What if we had never met?
How could I not have loved you,
have not have planted the seed of our son deep within you
in the waterfall course of your expectation
of a light so bright I could not comprehend,
but stood blind,
drowning in radiance?

What if we had never met?

Is the mirror unkind

To your lovely brown eyes is the mirror unkind,
revealing far more than reflections defined
in superficial glass, so lacking in depth?
Is the mirror unkind, at times, darling Beth?

What you see my dear, I see different by far,
as our sun from Centauri is just a “small” star,
but here it brings life and warms each day’s start.
Oh, and a mirror can never reveal a true heart.

Give Her All Stars

Gather up Sparks from the hearth of the heavens;
give her all Stars to heighten her eyes;
give her the Moon or some vagabond Planet;
give her the Wind, the communion of sighs.

Tell her the tale of a butterfly princess
climbing to heaven on gossamer wings,
or sing her sweet songs of the last true enchantment:
the wild, plaintive song the sad nightingale sings.

Or favor her heart with a white incantation;
let unicorns bear her to Aasgard above ...
none of these mysteries are mine, alas!, to give her,
but that which I have I will give hermy love.


I do not deserve her,
nor can I give her what she deserves:
all the sweet and gently-rendered words
(a failing all too common in a man).

If I could, I would tell her
that her kindness has touched me in so many ways,
that the light of her presence has brightened my days,
and that I love her.

If I knew how, I would show her
that her love has become the sweet-beckoning light
illuminating my path through the darkest night,
like a radiant meteor shower.

If I could tell her.

First and Last

You are the last arcane rose
of my aching,
my longing,
or the first yellowed leaves'
vagrant spirals of gold
forming huddled bright sheaves.
You are passion forsaking
dark skies, as though sunsets no winds might enclose.

And still in my arms
you are gentle and fragrant—
demesne of my vigor,
spent rigor,
lost power,
fallen musculature of youth,
leaves clinging and hanging,
nameless joys of my youth to this last lingering hour.

When everything is falling apart with the body, the heart may still cling to the object of its affection.

Lines for our Fourteenth Anniversary

Beth is the gentlest name I know—
as light on the tongue as a flake of snow.

It seems the name a child might teach
soft things that fall within his reach,
like autumn leaves, the art of speech.

It’s bruised, sometimes, like purple petals
sequestered by cruel, sharp-spined nettles.

It’s cloudy, like the voice of kettles
crooning softly to themselves.
It’s curious, like the songs of elves.

Oh, Beth is the tenderest name I know—
as light as the sound of the deepening snow.

Love Is the Strongest Diamond

Love is the strongest diamond,
though it’s never hardened by time.

No weight can ever crush it;
it only grows more sublime.

Though we lie in our graves, my darling,
we need fear no ultimate crime

for our love cannot be stolen,
as long as your heart is mine.

This diamond is merely a token
of our love: precious, bright and unbroken.

This diamond, and also this rhyme.

For Beth, on Valentine's Day

I could not find a gift as rare,
as sweetly scented as your hair,
though fields of fragrant lilacs bloom
exquisite, delicate and fair.

I could not hope to find a prize
as captivating as your eyes,
though crystal shackles light within
its ambient device.

I thought to give a gift of words;
they came, then fled like flitting birds,
till I was left alone again
with lines of pale and palsied verse.

But let me wish you on this day
a life resplendent, festooned, gay ...
and let me wish for you each night
peace, dreams and stars in wild array.

And may God's peace, the whitest dove,
smile down on you from high above.
For one who has so many gifts,
accept one morethis poem, with love.

There Are Many Tricks of Words

There are many tricks of words
and all have been used before
by Artists in search of Rhymes
and Accolades galore;
so let me sincerely say
I love you, as simple men may.

There are many tricks of words,
most of them overused
by Poets gone overboard,
Titanically over-enthused.
So let me sincerely say
I love you, as simpletons may.

Since poets have praised women’s eyes,
though none are more lovely than yours,
please don't let me be greatly despised
if I fail to describe their allures!

Since poets have praised women’s hair,
though yours is more auburn and fair
than Helen’s, who sent fleets astray,
still, should I unably compare?

Since poets have praised women’s love,
though I know yours is brighter by far
than even the angels’ above,
and higher, a Halcyon Star,
it is futile to conjure mere words
when they seem like the twitt’rings of birds!

Let me not make the fatal mistake
of praising with lackluster rhymes
a woman beyond all my art.
I’d be sentenced, I’m sure, for such crimes
to dungeons where paupers await
the great Final Stroke, their just fate.

No, let me content myself
with small words, simple, gentle and true,
and let these humble words be my wealth:
I really do love you.


Nightly, I’m the bearer of water
to Poseidon’s thirstiest daughter!

Not a thankless task, but strange:
did Homer or Will ever rearrange

their epic schedules, to adjust them to those
of wives demanding fresh H20s?

She is brighter than dawn

There’s a light about her
like the moon through a mist:
a starry candescence
with which she is blessed

and my heart to her light
like the tide now is pulled ...
she is fair, O, and bright
like the moon silver-veiled.

There’s a fire within her
like the sun’s leaping forth
to lap up the darkness
of night from earth's hearth

and my eyes to her flame
like twin moths now are drawn
till my heart is consumed.
She is brighter than dawn.

Lines offered in a cringing act of repentance for my lovely wife Beth on our seventeenth Wedding Anniversary

My muse cried, “Whip it out!”
(This poem, I mean.) And so
although I live in doubt
and peril (as you know)
for stupidly forgetting
this quite momentous Date,
I hope you’ll keep in mind:
this isn’t really late.

Lines in which the Poet, intent on Art in the form of a Mushy Poem, implores his lovely wife Beth for a special consideration on their seventeenth Wedding Anniversary

Don’t be a person from Porlock!
I’m doing the best that I can
to write you a Mushy Poem!
Relax there, on the divan!

My Muse is ostensibly balky:
I’ll soon change her “s” to an “l”!
I’m hitting, it seems, every false key,
and each interruption’s sheer hell.

A “Genius at Work” sign’s been posted.
Now here in this hell I implore
that all interrupters get roasted,
till I am soon toasted, and more!

I’m working on ART, heaven’s sake!
Immortality soon will be yours:
a Mushy Poem for all the Ages
(if only you’ll honor my doors.)

Lines in which the Poet, having forgotten his seventeenth Wedding Anniversary, implores his increasingly mulish Muse for Inspiration

“Mushy Poem in Progress!”
The sign’s been posted: Heed!
and “Genius Hard at Work
(though rarely at full speed)!”

Now here I sit and tap at
my querulous QWERTY keys
and wish I’d bought a Hallmark:
Muse, heed my fervent pleas!

Lines in which the Poet, having forgotten his seventeenth Wedding Anniversary, finally produces his Masterpiece, despite a lingering Trepidation that his wife may not buy it

This is my Mushy Poem.
I worked on it real hard.
Now you’re Immortal, dear,
like a Cameo in Sard!

You now rank with Mona Lisa
as Enigmas to the world,
and with the world’s great Oysters,
since you’re my priceless Pearl!

How did I work my Magic?
That Secret I must keep.
But I’ve no doubt you’ll revel
in a poem this Great, and Deep.

You really mustn’t thank me,
for you’re the Inspiration
of this deep, Mushy Poem
(and my great Trepidation).


for Beth on our seventeenth wedding anniversary

Only hammered arpeggios revoking despair
guerdon me here while you cordon your hair
in white scarves, tiaras, combs, straightpins and bows.
Of two different worlds (how, God only knows)
yet born to one planet revolving through time,
evolving somehow (brilliant angels from slime?),
both of us innocent, birth our sole crime,
I lack your sweet arts, so I proffer this rhyme.

O, when in our journey will our footsteps meet
on some common ground? When will our eyes greet
with some comprehension, the great fictive whole
—or is it the “reality”—of the farcical “soul”?
(That your heart is real, I have no doubt,
yet a puff of flame blows the candle out.)

You are more sure—(than I am)—of life.
Your heart is so true that I made you my wife
with great admiration for all that you are,
as immortal, I’m sure, as any bright star.
(But where will we live when life’s over, and how?)
I hope you’re quite through with your buttons by now!

Mars shines, and Venus, and men go to war
while women dream love’s like some quaint romance store
where candies are purchased, and sweet Harlequins
wherein evil men perish for their chauvinistic sins
(the ones who would rape them, but of course never those
who merely rip bodices from breast-tautened clothes
and ravish their slaves—on some peculiar cue
of which, I’m quite sure, few men have a clue).

And so I await, with great admiration
and also, I fear, some real trepidation,
your arrival in glory and style down the stair
and hope I look (ahem) debonair.

Love, if it were fragile

Love, if it were fragile,
would blow away like a puff of smoke in the wind,
but love is not fragile,
and though we have lashed out, and though we have sinned
against each other,
still, I would have no other lover,
nor can I see myself waking in the morning without you:
how could that be?

Emptiness and darkness gather around us
and the loss of hope confounds us
and our apathy and our despair sometimes astound us,
and yet love still can be,
still surrounds us.

How can that be?

Love is a seed
and it needs
to be weeded,
and tenderly
and befriended.

Love needs compassion and infinite patience.
Love needs a touch of the cheek, or a kiss.
Love needs a promise of tenderest romance.
Love needs, and we need, sweet moments, like this.

I love you yet

Perhaps there’s not enough love in my heart
to light the night when the pathways grow dark,
but I swear that I would never do you any harm,
nor forget that your love is the sacred charm
that reminds me, even now,
of each dear dream and vow,
and makes me long for their fulfillment, somehow.

In a world of empty promises and broken dreams,
where illusions obscure reality, and the haunted child screams,
I have tried to be true, yet I fear I have failed,
for how could I sail the dark seas that you sailed?

How can I explain my frustration, except to say
that I saw the withering of the flower, day by day,—
a flower fair and lovely, but not under my control ...
and the flower’s travail and despair touched my soul,
but I could not make it whole.

And, if I spoke, then your torture only grew,
and the tears flowed, and the damage became new,
so that it seemed a terrible silence was my only course ...
and, if silence fell between us, still it seemed the lesser curse.

And it seems to me some things remain beyond a man—
your life is your own, to do with as you can.
And I cannot grant you happiness, nor lessen your despair,
but still I know I have failed you. I should have been there,
if only to care.

How many nights I thought to reach out, to touch you and draw near,
to hold you gently in my arms, and to kiss away each tear ...
but something in me held me back: what, I cannot say
except rejection seemed a hand we both were bent to play.

And you, with your rejection, and I alone with mine
slept alone together, strangely parted by a line
that grew between us day by day, till we were cold and hard
and all we had was meaningless, and “love” was just a word.

But even now I think of times when you lay in my arms
and we were one together, and sought love’s sillier charms,
then talked until the morning of all our hopes and dreams,
and laughed—until the tears flowed—of silly, giddy things.
And I know that not a moment of those times will I forget,
and I know that such sweet tenderness I never will regret,
and I know this one thing also—my love, I love you yet.

With Reawakened Eyes

Here, in the still hour
when the moon reappears
to countenance love
and calm human fears
with aethereal light,
denying bleak Night
the power to rule
those blessed by fierce sight,
I see you again
with reawakened eyes
as sweet now as then—
as gentle, more wise.

Time taught you tenderness.
Time, oh, and love.
Now, love in ascendance,
soar high, my dove!—
till Love reigns in heaven
there is no love like yours
to be found in the earth’s
diurnal course.
So smile for me here—
let my sweet sun appear!


Here in the prime of her beauty, Delight
spangles her eyes with borealises and auras;
her Light is more pure than the stars’ at their height
and is sure to grow brighter ten thousand tomorrows
despite earth’s dark sorrows.

Love is her element, natural as Light
to stars wreathed in flame in their myriad choruses.
To be without her is to flounder in night,
one’s only “respite” the apostate’s discourses,
chained to his horses.

For as God is Love, he comprises her heart
and fully indwells it with immaculate forces;
her Love is eclectic, striking, electric
like lightning to men standing yoked in their courses
sweeping kings’ bourses.

She is not chained to their servile beliefs,
but longs for the freedom of many, and all,
and cries for her sisters and all their dark griefs
at the hands of enslavers, or should I say “paws”?
For Love is the first and the last of her laws.

Their day’s almost over; hers nearly beginning.
When, when will they weary of swabbing and sinning?
When Love has her reign
and no serfs cry “Abstain!”
her kingdom (and heaven’s) will gaily remain.



something about her
something gentle
something exceedingly gentle

something exceedingly gentle
like a soft breath of wind
caressing numb limbs
consoling shocked leaves
reminding them all
now, soon they must fall
while the earth gathers petals and grieves

something about her
something gentle

Something about her
something compelling
something wildly compelling

something wildly compelling
like the imperial moon
with earth’s tides in tow
haunting strange oceans far, far below
whose waters embrace
her reflected face
as if there is something they know

something about her
something compelling

something about her
something alluring,
something sweetly alluring

something sweetly alluring
like the day seeking rest
with the sun to the west
when the moon’s overhead
and the veils of the night
grow, ah!, glitter-bright
with white stars being drawn to our bed

something about her
something alluring

something about her
something comforting
something dreamily comforting

something dreamily comforting
like a warm Afghan
her hand in my hand
as the embers die in the hearth
and the moon appears
with her train of stars
and a silence, a stillness descends on the earth

something about her
something comforting.


To be so fair
where there is sorrow,
a light must shine.
Tonight, it shines.

Now, like a rose
whose sun’s ascending
toward your light
my heart inclines.

To be so sweet
when life is bitter,
love must bloom.
O, what a Bloom!

Here at the altar,
my desirable Priestess,
my heart gives thanks
for such perfume.


for Beth and Laura

At evening sometimes light streams through gaunt trees
illuminating leaves sweet morning wore
more gay, more greenly, freshened by a breeze
that blew in from some paradisal shore ...

Yet if among the few remaining leaves
of autumn we hear psalms, not quite romances,
but more like musings someone’s heart believes
who also thinks life gives us second chances,

we might presume to listen, to be still,
as if the oaks’ soft murmurings were meant
for us alone. So listen, with a will
to understand, and I will not relent,

but tell you all I know of how there came
to be two trees, more lovely than the rest,
and how two tardy girls dashed through strange rains
to stand beneath them, bosomed at Love’s breast.


They come here now, they move among the slow
remorseful leaves, like shadows of themselves.
Mature in every aspect, how they glow
with senescence of life, and how it delves

the very heart, and carries love intact
through filaments and filigrees, to rise
like maple-nectar sweetened through the impact
of water borne from earth toward blue skies.

And many fruitful tears their eyes have known,
and fruitless also. Bruited they have stood,
half won of earth and half reft out of stone.
Their roots have made bare wilderness a wood

of pleasant greenery, though winter beckons.
Their fledglings flock below. They calmly gaze
toward the certain future autumn reckons.
The sons they’ve borne will outlast winter’s blaze

across the hinterlands, and even here.
The girls they were, somehow they still remain.
They whisper to themselves, and they cohere.
Their limbs entangle, twine. A sweet refrain

bursts from their lips, few men will ever know.
The tardy girls have come, through many rains,
to women now, and bowering here, bestow
great shelter on the sons of their wild pains.

Lines for Our Sixteenth Wedding Anniversary

Now love more than ever
binds us together.

With each passing year
I hold you more dear.


And what love binds together
shall never dissever.

Here, deep in my heart,
I hold you more near.


If you love me as I am,
and love without blame,

let me love you as you are—
my fierce-shining Star.


When God thought of Love
he created the dove

and then he made you
just as wild, sweet and true.

For Our Wedding Night

Tonight, you will be a virgin to me,
for your heart is true
and your heart is pure
and these two virtues forever endure.

Tonight, you will be an angel to me,
for your face will glow
and your eyes will shine
with a love both earthly and divine.

Tonight, you will be a wife to me:
the woman I want
the woman I take
to love forever, and never forsake.

Mother's Smile

There never was a fonder smile
than mother's smile, no softer touch
than mother's touch. So sleep awhile
and know she loves you more than "much."

So more than "much," much more than "all."
Though tender words, these do not speak
of love at all, nor how we fall
and mother's there, nor how we reach

from nightmares in the ticking night
and she is there to hold us tight.

There never was a stronger back
than father's back, that held our weight
and lifted us, when we were small,
and bore us till we reached the gate,

then held our hands that first bright mile
till we could run, and did, and flew.
But, oh, a mother's tender smile
will leap and follow after you!

Love’s Entrapment

a modern medieval love Lyric in which the poet Entreats his Mistress to be True, always, but does so in such a Clever and Witty Way that he secures her Love and Troth forever

love me or leave me
but never deceive me—
add to your Promise
not the kiss of a player
but of the sweetest Truthsayer;
o, Love—love me or leave me
but never deceive me!

o, Love—love me or leave me
but never deceive me—
this is my burden and prayer;
it’s like walking on air
when one’s lover is fair,
so, Sweet—love me or leave me
but never deceive me!

Sweet Love—love me or leave me
but never deceive me—
add to your song
this sweet
not a note of betrayal
but the perfect Avowal
that you’ll love me or leave me
but never deceive me!

so please—love me or leave me
but never deceive me—
then I shall always be pleased
and hold fast in my heart
fair Cupid’s bright dart,
if you’ll love me or leave me
but never deceive me!

(but Love—love me, don’t leave me,
for that would bereave me;
after you’ve given your Vow,
love me Forever;
is it fair, Dear, to sever
such a Sweet Oath as you Swear you Swear now?)

Bed Head, or the Ballad of Beth and her Fur Babies

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 Zander the clever
all clap their cool paws
and follow dear Beth
to their warm nightly roost
where they’ll sleep on her head
(or, perhaps, her caboose).

The pressure’s on

The pressure’s on: my honey
said, "Write me something funny!"
and since we’re in recession
(some say a new Depression)
and money’s really tight ...
I think I’d better write. Right!
Can I be cute on purpose?
Was Flipper not a porpoise?
Of course I can, I’m certain.
It’s just—my brain is hurtin’
with this new unfair pressure.
I think it sprang a fissure!
I once was like Old Faithful
erupting poems on cue,
but now that I’ve grown older,
I mostly spurt and spew.
Forgive me Love—I doubt
a good one will come out.
My second wind is coming!
This time she’ll see my Art
or perhaps she’ll have to smell it—
since it was just a brain fart.

Saved by a Star (in an Usual Way)

Once in the night
a bright Light appeared—
the Star of your Presence
(though goofily weird)
and taught me the glory
of Perfect Love
and how to fart out
in such perfect key
awestruck Pootians and Fartians
saved our sweet Butts
from Nefarious Martians.

The War of the Worlds averted,
we sank
back into our bed,
plugged our noses (it stank)
and farted in chorus,
"We’re Free at Last"
while the Pootians and Fartians
clapped and re-gassed.

The Butt that Launched 10,000 Space Ships

Listen, my children, and you shall hear
of the thunderous discharges of Beth Burch’s rear,
which summoned the Pootians and Fartians to earth
in 1967, the year of her birth,
and made her the Helen of Troy to space races
whose planets have methane in the rarest of traces.

When the Pootians and Fartians determined Beth’s ass
was the source of the Universe’s most volatile gas,
a battle ensued (of galactic proportions
that made men forget H.G. Wells and his Martians)
and left our poor heroine, alas!, in contortions
as many an ET sent out strobing probes
to explore the declivities between her sweet globes
(which made her fart more, till the perilous air
was filled with the fragrance of l’eau derriere).

The motherlode found, the gas-seekers dickered
but could not agree (hell, some even snickered
at the thought of not tapping the Perfect Gusher),
so war was declared by one of the lusher
(more drunken) ass-lords, whose lasers were readied
to shred terra firma into more permeable confetti.

But at the last moment, as 10,000 tankers
all hovered mid-air, Beth let out a "stanker"
that blew them all back to the planets they hailed from
in an inky, stinky, tornado-like Maelstrom
and thus saved the earth from a fate worse than death
(though not nearly as bad as her ass’s foul "breath"!).

The moral is this: if earth’s ever in danger
Beth’s "cannon" can take out any extraterrestrial stranger.


lines in which the Poet explains why his Piddies are off limits, even to Beth

Love can be giddy;
love can be sad;
but Piddies fly solo
(so don’t make them mad).
Love can be bought
or sometimes freely had,
but a Piddy cannot
(or it acts like a cad).

All Piddies are loners;
all Piddies deny
any need to be cuddled
or tickled. (Don’t try!)

It’s true that some lovers
think Piddies can change,
so they try to reform them
(they just end up deranged).
’Cause Piddies are hermits
like the Unabomber:
antisocial types
(they won’t write their own momma!).

Yes, Piddies are loners
and Piddies deny
any need to be cuddled
or tickled. (Don’t try!)

So a word to the wise:
Your intentions? Abort them!
They’re misogynists
(so there’s no need to court them).
A Piddy who’s tickled
will lose all composure
and seek sweet revenge
(as a cruel form of closure).

For all Piddies are loners
so my Piddies deny
any need to be cuddled
or tickled. (Don’t try!)

A Funny, Mushy Mother’s Day Poem/Song/Endeavor to be Clever

This is my mushy poem.
It’s mushy, like foam
(but very sweet foam,
because you make a building a home).

This is my mushy song.
(I promise it won’t wax too long.)
It began in my heart, like the poem,
because my heart is where you belong.

This is my silly endeavor
to seem like I’m awesomely clever
when all that I’m really trying to say
is: Happy Mother’s Day!

Another Funny, Mushy Mother’s Day Poem

Sometimes a poem is a knock-down fight.
I wrestled with this love poem for many a sleepless night.
The words just wouldn’t come!
I felt so dadgum dumb
(as in, unable to speak)
till Sir Sidney told me, "Son,
just look in your heart, and write!"

When I looked into my heart, of course I found you there:
my Angel of Compassion, so tender, sweet and fair.
Then the words spewed out;
I’m sure you’ll never doubt
that at long last I have written some words with real clout!

The Ballad of Beth’s Valentine’s Day Gifts

I was carrying my heart on my sleeve,
when it fell out completely—
and so I slid it to you
tenderly, sweetly.

They said that I wasn’t "brilliant"
but, hey!, just look at me now—
a rare, scintillant elephant,
a Star in the Swarovski Show!

The greatest of gifts is a heart
made brilliant by love—
but none shines more brightly than yours,
below or above.

My Christmas Star

The first Christmas star
—distant, afar—
led men to hope.
The second, the brightest,
the sweetest, the divinest,
let me to hope.

No star is eternal
but your love is supernal;
when no sun remains,
when the Cosmos grows dark,
let the angels sing—Hark!
her Love remains.


The Light of Love

The stars at night
compound their light
but none (nor all) compare
with the Light of Love you bear
and always gladly share.

When galaxies at last subside
and the universe is an ebbing tide
of darkness—still you’ll shine,
your Light immortal, divine,
and light this heart of mine.


Honey in the Lion’s Mouth

"A swarm of bees had left honey in the lion’s carcass."

... like the bitter scent of clover,
so the taste of love is bitter,
perhaps a little sweeter
for the bounty, where flies hover ...

... in the lion’s gaping maw,
see, the rich dark honey runs ...
stranger proms and cummerbunds
and love’s strange, imperious law

... yet so tender, like the thought
that if all this comes to naught
still we lied and sipped, devout,
at the honeysuckle’s spout ...

My Happy Thought

after Peter Pan

I am happy merely to
have contemplated you.

Beauty Within and Without

A beautiful day?
Well, yes then ... okay ...
But you, my dear darling?
Oh, my! My! Olé!

For there’s something within you
the stars are without—
love, wisdom, laughter, tenderness, doubt—
that makes me so bubbly inside that I say:
You, my sweet darling?
Oh, my! Hip-hooray!

A beautiful day? Quite true, I suppose ...
somewhere someone’s praising a sun-warmed rose
while ignoring its thorns and the nettles nearby,
not to mention the compost that reeks like a sty!
So I (being wiser) will praise your sweet spirit,
your kindness, your tenderness ...
hope you don’t mind to hear it!
They make me so giddy inside that I say,
Oh, my beautiful darling!
Olé! Hip-hooray!

here in the darkness

here in the darkness, dreaming of light—
the light of your Presence—i welcome the night;

though once small, without you, i felt only terror;
confronting wild shadows, i cowered in error

yet somewhere you (Tender, Compassionate, Kind)
were waiting to meet me, as if Love designed
the night for Love’s purpose;
now the haloing moon
shines like the promise that you’ll be here, soon,
but with or without you, i know you exist
and so Love is proven, and so dreams persist
in the infinite longing of hearts—to unite;
thank god for the strange, inconceivable night
that led me to dream that you too might be there—
my Love and my Longing, my one answered Prayer

The Sweetest Thought

There never was a sweeter thought than this—
I loved you, and the beaming world agreed
that the kiss
of an angel like you is what all men need.


Love held me there
by the weight of her hair
and her breasts’ soft albescence,
for love, ah!, was her essence.

I was drowning in her presence.

There was love in her rigor
and love in her vigor
and, though her face was hidden
by her hair that fell unbidden,
I knew her at that moment
as once Halley did his comet.

In 1705, Edmond Halley, who later became the Royal Astronomer and was knighted, stated his belief that the comet sightings of 1456, 1531, 1607, and 1682 related to the same comet, which he predicted would return in 1758. When he was proven correct, the comet became known as Halley's Comet.


for Beth, my pearl of inestimable worth

Her heart is transparent
or semi-opaque
like a hazy pearl
given as a keepsake ...
and who knows the depths
at which it,
fashioned moonbeams from tears
as grit-irritants festered ...
till a diver approached
and, with a wondering hand,
harvested Love,
bore it to that strange land ...

A Sip from the Teacup

lines written after a dream in which I prayed to experience the love of God, then realized I had found it in the love of my wife Beth

If we could express our love fully,
it might overwhelm us.
It is too great, too terrible for words—
a Thing of Awe.
And so love finds expression in small things—
a tender smile,
a warm hug,
an act of contrition or forgiveness,
an unresolved tear.

And yet love is more real than any earthly bond,
even gravity,
for only love allows us to be wholly unique, yet holy one,
like the love of God for the Angels,
and theirs for us.

So let us be content then, at least for now,
with these small expressions of love—
a love so profound that to acknowledge it fully
would be to wrench ourselves from this earth to the highest heaven ...
and yet we still have so much work to do here,
oh, my sweet darling dear!

Sip from the teacup,
the tide lies beyond you;
stick a toe in Love’s ocean,
lest Heaven abscond you!

if not here

if not here
then somewhere else
the chancels of pain shall be broken
and Love may, at last,
be held firm and fast—
not some enigmatic token


this life i grieve
and soon must leave,
this window cracked, half open,
this ransacked pane
now blurred with rain
through which dim light falls, groping ...

this is not all,
or if it is
then sweeter, by far, the thought
that Love once bloomed here—
that a human tear
watered what gods could not
and so brought religion to naught


if god is not Love
let Love be All
or let all come to naught;
this is my thought—
you taught it to me
with hair scented apricot,
with lips sweet and tender
as honey bees render,
with eyes bright delights
ah! uncensorable nights,
with a heart more devout
then the stars that wink out
rather than shine
in a sky less divine



Why did I find you,
in this world beyond reason?
Why—why!—did I love you,
in a desiccate season?
Oh, why did the ice
of my heart quickly thaw
leaving me defenseless,
not immune to love’s law?

Some men claim knowledge
and a few, even wisdom.
I call them all fools—
may some god strike them dumb.
But let me accept
what I cannot deny—
I love you even though
this whole world’s gone awry.

Solo Performance

Love was her art; the masses didn’t care
or slept throughout her solo—unaware
of how the notes were formed, fell into place—
while tone-deaf maestros flubbed "Amazing Grace."
The grace was hers. How could their songs compare?


Mortality taught us compassion—
the perfect synthesis of vulnerability and love.
For what is the austere love of angels
compared to the warm, beating heart of the dove?
As doves’ wings evolved, self-evidently, to fly,
so the heart has its reasons to be born, and die.

Experience masters pale, translucent sard;
the Cameo appears, but love’s ways are hard
and who masters love, or the Artist’s hand?
Dispute his cruel ways, the results are grand!
O, what can I make of the Angel he left me
though in ten thousand other ways he bereft me?

Pygmalion knew this—she was drawn to life
for the sake of a kiss, to be a man’s wife.


My sweet, tender angel,
so guileless and true ...
what can I say
but that I’m honored to love you
and honestly love you ...
although I’ve no choice,
since heaven gave Love
your eyes, hair, lips and voice!

Such tender enticements!—
how could I resist?
I’m helpless to love you
and stunned by your kiss!
Like the bee drawn to nectar
in a deep woodland glade,
I’m helpless, but happy—
thus my serenade.

So I gather my rhythm
and busy with song
buzz with my efforts
to help Love along
in sweet, fruitful endeavors
before tender night comes
and I rest in night’s shadows—
blessed, without qualms,

believing in Love
having seen her sweet face
reflected in yours
in this radiant place—
radiant because
I discovered you here
amid the golden pollens
of a sunlit sphere.


Two Visions of Love

Last night an Angel
like a Vision of Love
appeared in my dream—
childlike, like a Dove,
gentle, serene.

This morning an angel
flew into my arms
with the sweetest of smiles
and a heart full of charms—
the rarest I’ve seen.


Beth’s Song

I saw the spring arrive—a brilliant green—
the most vibrant I’ve ever seen ...
winter came, it was just a dream ...
but when the earth was frozen, I still had you.
Your love warmed me through and through.
It’s something that you can do.
So let’s believe a lot of love will pull us through;
it’s something that you can do;
so let’s believe in me and you.

I saw the sun rise in the eastern sky;
her magic caught my eye ...
I blinked and she passed me by ...
but when the night was dark, I still had you.
Your love warmed me through and through.
It’s something that you can do.
So let’s believe a lot of love will pull us through;
it’s something that I can do;
so let’s believe in me and you.

I saw the silver moon arise and shine;
her light seemed so divine ...
then a cloud left her behind ...
but though the sky was black, I still had you.
Your love brightened me through and through.
It’s something that you can do.
So let’s believe a lot of love will pull us through;
it’s something we both can do;
so let’s believe in me and you.

So let’s believe a lot of love will pull us through;
it’s something we all can do;
so let’s believe in me and you.

Requiem: Remember My Laughter

... if some day I am absent, and loss
collects in the wound, or floods some great ravine,
or blocks out the sun like a thick Spanish moss
webbing over the canopy of heaven ...
then darling, remember my Laughter, and smile
at my sillier poems and their tenderer moments
and remember the wisdom of Will, who said I’ll
be one of those Poets more immortal than comets
who flashed through the heavens and left a Wild Mark
on the incoherent dark.

My Angel

O little fallen wren,
who valiantly struggled to fly—
how could my prayers not avail
your efforts? O, why?
My starling, flown on to the stars,
my turtle, my sweet, my dove,
my Angel, sweet Spirit of Love!—
watch over me, from above.
We struggle, who live on the earth;
so remember my prayers for you.
And now, because you are so dear—
please remember—my love was true
and grant me my cherished thought—
that no wren shall fall, uncaught.


Night, and the heavens seem alien to life.
The moon?—a strange omen of impending doom.
The stars?—faintest remnants of some shattered belief
unable to warm our novice’s room,
soon to match her wild gloom.

See? Here she bends by the warmthless hearth.
Why?—She is young, but her eyes seem old.
Whence?—She has come from some distant earth
to this planet obscure and immortally cold.
So have you, I am told.

Neptune and Pluto orbit wildly above her.
Oh—will the gods love her, if she completes her quest?
Lo—further off, the benighted stars hover
and brush her with light, as, benignly undressed,
they all sink to their rest.

Sleep, gentle creatures, sans thorns and horns!
Dream of white orchids and unicorns!
Magical creatures! When will the gods bless
the works of your hearts with great thankfulness?
Or, should morning come like a dawning dream,
flush with warm sun and bright clouds like white cream
streaked here and there with strange violet hues
as if rainbows flashed there, confused but enthused
by the promise of life, by bright light striking water ...
then open your eyes to the laughter and slaughter
and know you are loved (and please smile, if you can)
if not by the gods, by this wondering man.

Your Heart’s Rose (I)

The rose within its whorls contains
perfumes and lustres—mysteries,
symbols of love and its verities.

Your heart within its whorls remains
secluded and lovely, tender and warm—
more exquisite treasure, without barbarous thorns.

Your Heart’s Rose (II)

I have seen your heart flower
in its triumphant hour
to rose of such beauty
it out-splendors the ruby.

Roses Blush

Earth has no flower
sweeter or brighter—
none fit to compare
with your eyes, lips and hair.

For your brown eyes shine deeper
and your lips taste much sweeter
and each strand of fine hair
anchors thoughts bright and rare,

so that roses in bloom
seem mere things of strange gloom—
and thus unfit to compare
with your eyes, lips and hair.

But if some Upstart
thinks to rival your heart ...
well the thought’s so damn silly
she’d soon blush, willy-nilly!
                  will want to know this!)

My Eve

On the holy mountain of Zion
let the lamb lie down with the lion
and let my Eve befriend them
and—oh, so tenderly—tend them,
as they nuzzle and snuggle her feet,
when creation is complete.

When creation is complete
and they nuzzle and snuggle her feet
— the gentle lamb and the mighty lion
on the holy mountain of Zion—
even the Angels shall believe
in the love of my lovely Eve.


My Epitaph

I lived and strove with all my might to make
my name my own, and hers, for Beth’s sweet sake.
Now, if we lie together or apart,
always, eternally, she has my heart.

After the Flood

After the flood let me never forget
the anguished cries of the eloquent
the terrified geese,
the immense seas
turgid with death
or the way these
hardened eyes breasted tears.

After the flood let me never forget
the happiest thought of my fifty-two years—
your beatific face
once again gracing my threshold.

After the flood let me always remember
and never forget—the sweetness, the light,
the immaculate grace of your Presence
almost lost to the Vortex and Night.

Love’s Theology

All joking aside—when the bright day is over
and the dark Night has come and I’m sleeping in clover,
when the last star above me has finally winked out,
if the joke was on us, or if God is in doubt
about whom to save
from the lightless grave,
yet I’ve certain knowledge
not bookmarked in college—
for in your embrace
I learned all heaven’s Grace.

All disputes aside—when the bright day has ended
what matters the most is the ones we befriended,
or, better yet, loved—here, before the Abyss.
Thus, what I’ll treasure most is your sweet, earnest kiss.
And if I survive
or if I do not,
I can live with your love
or perish with its thought.

Love keeps no diary, no record of evils.
Love needs no hell (and thus no Evel Kneivals
risking their lives at strange, warped, breakneck speeds
to awe us with courage, till we all lie in weeds).
There’s only one question—
will sweet Love conquer death?
My heart tells me, Yes!
Then let fools save their breath.

If God is Love, then there's no need for hell.
If God is not, then please kiss me, and tell!
And let us love here, believing in Love,
and not in religion, till we all fly above
and learn our true fates ... or we all lie together
still believing in Love, here beneath the dark heather.
(For then no God can judge us
for the dark sludge above us.)

My Eve (II)

In my dreams I see the gentle does
gather ’round, for each one knows
the tender hands of love are yours,
and gentleness your guiding force,
as theirs.

And soon the shy fawns also come,
beguiled by kindness—till the sum
of amiable creatures is compounded
and even the heavens sing astounded
immaculate prayers.

Look! Now, from afar, a sweet black form
runs to your arms! The angels are charmed
as their Cherished One is reunited
with my gentle Eve who claps—sweet, delighted,
done with all cares.


for Beth, possibly channeled from her Father?

to use the word seems sacrilege
for any mortal man,
after seeing how You love,
as only angels can

but half of loving is the Other—
their dreams and strong desire
to have You hale and whole again,
your sparkling eyes afire

you were my Glory, and still are,
and evermore shall be
but be mindful of your body,
this side of Eternity ...

Love’s Exemplar

Life here on earth is hard, it’s true,
from our harrowing birth till the day life is through
for it’s here angels fashion
hearts filled with compassion,
and kindest of angels is you!

Thanksgiving Day Prayer

This is my prayer —
our Beth, hale and whole,
her body as sound
as her heart, mind and soul.


The Purpose of Creation

I say
on Christmas Day,
true Love is yours, in every way?

Your heart grows neither stiff, nor gray,
but kinder, purer.
I assay

the Lodestone of a Mother’s heart
and find your flesh Divinest Clay
from which God wrought
such Love, long sought,
the angels sing the same sweet lay.

The Search

To know your own worth
search all over the earth —
where else is there passion
like yours, or compassion,
or a longing for perfection?
Or, not finding it, dejection?

I know where to start —
for your heart is God’s heart.
When all others agree
the earth will finally
be heavenly.

Christmas List

Perfume and pyjamas,
angels, Dalai Lamas,
Frosty, Santa, Mary,
Jesus, Rudolph, merry
elves and gnomes and munchins,
and those strange hairy scrunch things,
warm comfy things and cozy
books through which to mosey,
jewels in oodles drippin’,
and egg nog (yuck!) for sippin’,
turkey, giblet dressing,
good friends and fond confessing
of love-enamored feelings
the highest stars out-soaring,
old anecdotes (none boring!)
of loved ones long departed . . .
and you — so kind, good-hearted
and full of oohs and ahs . . .
You rival Mrs. Claus!

The Grail of Your Laughter

The grail of your laughter
both here and hereafter
is my righteous quest;
now men call me blessed —
since I beheld your Face;
my Vision, my Grace.

The grail of your laughter
both here and hereafter;
the joy, the elation,
of your love, my salvation;
the hope, the desire
of your Love, my empire ...
O, bequeath me your favor,
my Lady, my Savior!

The Vision

I awoke this morning with thoughts of you —
beautiful and warm, as Love’s thoughts are true.
And as I thanked the heavens such angels exist
(though sometimes the tears form an obscuring mist),
I beheld a Vision of the true nature of Love —
a strong Hand holding gently the swift-mending Dove.

Beth’s Advice to a Slowly Awakening World

This is the day of new beginnings —
act only in love; cast aside hatred’s sinnings!

in Your orbit

once like a dew-infused Orchid you lured me
far away from the hive and the gaudy rosebeds —
i fed on you nectar till my intoxicated head,
enraptured, cried “whee!”

so i orbited You — You became my Horizon —

Note: “whee!” is a pun on “we.” The poem is a bit mock-comic, but I think there is some truth to it. Flowers are attractive to honeybees; that’s how nature gets things started. (I’m sure this has something to do with women adorning themselves with lipstick, fingernail polish, perfume and hair spray!) This poem is written a bit in the style of two of my favorite poets: William Blake and e. e. cummings. The dashes are a nod to America’s first great female poet, Emily Dickinson.

Perfect Love, for Beth

“Perfect love casts out fear.”
“Love keeps no record of wrongs.”
“There is no condemnation in love.”

All that’s familiar
and everything dear
only have meaning
because you are near.

If our roles were reversed
and I was in pain
and needed a pill
(or was one, again)

would you condemn me
or smile, hold my hand,
and tell me you loved me?
What is Love’s kind command?

But the same must be true
when you receive love,
or there never can be
a true heaven above.

To see me through your eyes
you must see you through mine
in the same perfect light
of a Love true, divine,

and trust that I love you
the way you love me
as Love’s Creator intended,
with perfect symmetry.

Sweet Dawns of Love

How fragile human happiness,
yet how warm and courageous your heart!
My dear, I’m as awed by you
as the sun when the new days start
for your love brought light to my heart.

Why I Don’t Need Any Other Gifts this Valentine’s Day

The best gift I ever received
was a present too precious to be believed —

My gorgeous one! Were my eyes deceived,
or my heart with the deep-welling feelings conceived?
No, you’re true!

Enigma (II)

My darling, my gorgeous one,
you have a good, great and wonderful heart.

And, while I hate to see you in such pain,
it pains me to hear you suggest, even for a second,
that you are somehow “unworthy”
because the circumstances of life on a very difficult planet
sometimes lead to mistakes.

Everyone makes mistakes
(all we can do is overcome them)
and how can anyone be “unworthy” of love
or of any good thing,
especially an Angel like you!

I hope that very soon — nay, today! — you will see yourself
in the proper, stunning light
of my eyes,
which will be to see yourself as you truly are:
completely and utterly amazing,
a Gem without flaw
needing only the proper setting
to astound even the myopic.

O, when will you see yourself as you truly are,
my darling, my gorgeous one,
my embodiment of Love,
my most precious Enigma!

Note: The Roman numeral for two consists of two independent I’s standing firmly together as one.

Did I Ever Tell You?


O, did I ever tell you
that the sun and moon revolve
around your love?

Or did I ever tell you
that you drew me from my shell,
as stars above

lure hermit-eremites to their light?

Or did I ever tell you that to be without your smile brings blackest night?

Or did I ever tell you
that the diamonds you so love and greatly prize
lack the warmth of your dear eyes?

Or did I ever tell you
that through every step of hell you
shine more bright?


So, dear, when the angels greet you
where no pain can ever defeat you,
if they think to praise your beauty, love and grace,

just smile and tell them smartly
they’re latecomers to the party—
for (as I wrote) you’re the Belle of the whole damn place!

Note: “Hermit” refers to hermit crabs, who procure shells for safety. It would take something very attractive to lure them out of their shells. “Eremite” derives from the Greek adjective eremos, meaning “empty or desolate” and the noun eremia, meaning “desert.” Toward the end of the 3rd century, it became common for Christian monks in Egypt to go into the desert, where they lived solitary lives of contemplation and asceticism. An eremite is, therefore, a recluse who chooses to live alone in the desert.


o!, let me embrace the            and the heartbreak
of having loved you—though fierce stars d e s t r o y
your glowing atoms with despicable time;

shall Love prevail? if not, then let god’s crime
bring him to naught, like us;
thus, let him
to nothingness, along with the kitchen sink.

but should our Love outlast the winking stars
and the realm of Love appear, born by our Hearts
as we were born to Others’, so conceived
in Love that other things might be Believed,
then let us yet have Faith, for We’re Love Gods;
quick, toss out libel-bibles’ rules and rods!


(But always remember: I piddy d’ foo’
who messes wi’ m’ piddies!)

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).

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.

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!

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.


Mary, Mary
by Michael R. Burch

Mary, Mary,
sweet yet contrary,
how do your puppies grow?
With sugar and spice
and everything nice,
and Mama Beth loving them so!

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.


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,

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 new home, here.

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.

The HyperTexts