Something for the children of the Holocaust and the Nakba Something inescapable is lost— lost like a pale vapor curling up into shafts of moonlight, vanishing in a gust of wind toward an expanse of stars immeasurable and void. Something uncapturable is gone— gone with the spent leaves and illuminations of autumn, scattered into a haze with the faint rustle of parched grass and remembrance. Something unforgettable is past— blown from a glimmer into nothingness, or less, which finality has swept into a corner ... where it lies in dust and cobwebs and silence. Styx Black waters—deep and dark and still. All men have passed this way, or will. Spring Was Delayed Winter came early: the driving snows, the delicate frosts that crystallize all we forget or refuse to know, all we regret that makes us wise. Spring was delayed: the nubile rose, the tentative sun, the wind’s soft sighs, all we omit or refuse to show, whatever we shield behind guarded eyes. Infinity for Beth Have you tasted the bitterness of tears of despair? Have you watched the sun sink through such pale, balmless air that your soul sought its shell like a crab on a beach, then scuttled inside to be safe, out of reach? Might I lift you tonight from earth’s wreckage and damage on these waves gently rising to pay the moon homage? Or better, perhaps, let me say that I, too, have dreamed of infinity . . . windswept and blue. Hearthside “When you are old and grey and full of sleep...” — W. B. Yeats For all that we professed of love, we knew this night would come, that we would bend alone to tend wan fires’ dimming bars—the moan of wind cruel as the Trumpet, gelid dew an eerie presence on encrusted logs we hoard like jewels, embrittled so ourselves. The books that line these close, familiar shelves loom down like dreary chaperones. Wild dogs, too old for mates, cringe furtive in the park, as, toothless now, I frame this parchment kiss. I do not know the words for easy bliss and so my shriveled fingers clutch this stark, long-unenamored pen and will it: Move. I loved you more than words, so let words prove. Love Has a Southern Flavor Love has a Southern flavor: honeydew, ripe cantaloupe, the honeysuckle’s spout we tilt to basking faces to breathe out the ordinary, and inhale perfume ... Love’s Dixieland-rambunctious: tangled vines, wild clematis, the gold-brocaded leaves that will not keep their order in the trees, unmentionables that peek from dancing lines ... Love cannot be contained, like Southern nights: the constellations’ dying mysteries, the fireflies that hum to light, each tree’s resplendent autumn cape, a genteel sight ... Love also is as wild, as sprawling-sweet, as decadent as the wet leaves at our feet. Remembering Not to Call a villanelle permitting mourning, for my mother, Christine Ena Burch The hardest thing of all, after telling her everything, is remembering not to call. Now the phone hanging on the wall will never announce her ring: the hardest thing of all for children, however tall. And the hardest thing this spring will be remembering not to call the one who was everything. That the songbirds will nevermore sing is the hardest thing of all for those who once listened, in thrall, and welcomed the message they bring, since they won’t remember to call. And the hardest thing this fall will be a number with no one to ring. No, the hardest thing of all is remembering not to call. Sunset for my grandfather, George Edwin Hurt Sr. Between the prophecies of morning and twilight’s revelations of wonder, the sky is ripped asunder. The moon lurks in the clouds, waiting, as if to plunder the dusk of its lilac iridescence, and in the bright-tentacled sunset we imagine a presence full of the fury of lost innocence. What we find within strange whorls of drifting flame, brief patterns mauling winds deform and maim, we recognize at once, but cannot name.
Michael R. Burch is an American poet who lives in Nashville, Tennessee with his wife Beth and two incredibly spoiled puppies. He has over 6,000 publications, including poems that have gone viral. His poems, translations, essays, articles, letters, epigrams, jokes and puns have been published by TIME, USA Today, BBC Radio 3, Writer’s Digest–The Year’s Best Writing and hundreds of literary journals. His poetry has been translated into 14 languages, taught in high schools and colleges, and set to music by 23 composers, including two potential operas if the money ever materializes. He also edits www.thehypertexts.com, has served as editor of international poetry and translations for Better Than Starbucks, is on the board of Borderless Journal, an international literary journal, and has judged a number of poetry contests over the years.