Poetry: Michael R. Burch

Michael R. Burch

Native American Travelers' Blessing

loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch


Let us walk respectfully here

among earth's creatures, great and small,

remembering, our footsteps light,

that one wise God created all.



Native American Prayer

loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch


Help us learn the lessons you have left us here

in every leaf and rock.


Cherokee Prayer

loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch


As I walk life's trails

imperiled by the raging wind and rain,

grant, O Great Spirit,

that yet I may always

walk like a man.


This prayer makes me think of Native Americans walking the Trail of Tears with far more courage and dignity than their “civilized” abusers.




Cherokee Proverb

loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch


Before you judge

a man for his sins

be sure to trudge

many moons in his moccasins.

Sunset, at Laugharne

for Dylan Thomas


At Laugharne, in his thirty-fifth year,

he watched the starkeyed hawk career;

he felt the vested heron bless,


and larks and finches everywhere

sank with the sun, their missives west—

where faith is light; his nightjarred breast


watched passion dovetail to its rest.



He watched the gulls above green shires

flock shrieking, fleeing priested shores

with silver fishes stilled on spears.


He felt the pressing weight of years

in ways he never had before—

that gravity no brightness spares


from sunken hills to unseen stars.

He saw his father’s face in waves

which gently lapped Wales’ gulled green bays.


He wrote as passion swelled to rage—

the dying light, the unturned page,

the unburned soul’s devoured sage.




The words he gathered clung together

till night—the jetted raven’s feather—

fell, fell . . . and all was as before . . .


till silence lapped Laugharne’s dark shore

diminished, where his footsteps shone

in pools of fading light—no more.

Herbsttag (“Autumn Day”)

by Rainer Maria Rilke

translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch


Lord, it is time. Let the immense summer go.

Lay your long shadows over the sundials

and over the meadows, let the free winds blow.

Command the late fruits to fatten and shine;

O, grant them another Mediterranean hour!

Urge them to completion, and with power

convey final sweetness to the heavy wine.

Who has no house now, never will build one.

Who's alone now, shall continue alone;

he'll wake, read, write long letters to friends,

and pace the tree-lined pathways up and down,

restlessly, as autumn leaves drift and descend.






“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 barsthe 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.

who, US?

by Michael R. Burch

jesus was born

a palestinian child

where there’s no Room

for the meek and the mild


... and in bethlehem still

to this day, lambs are born

to cries of “no Room!”

and Puritanical scorn ...


under Herod, Trump, Bibi

their fates are the same—

the slouching Beast mauls them

and WE have no shame:


“who’s to blame?”



  1. It is always an honor to be published by Setu!

  2. Wonderful poetry...truly enjoyed reading the poems. Thank you.


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