Poetry: Michael Burch

Michael R. Burch

For a Ukrainian Child, with Butterflies

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

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

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



I Pray Tonight 

for the mothers and children of Ukraine

I pray tonight
the starry light
surround you.

I pray
each day
that, come what may,
no dark thing confound you.

I pray ere tomorrow
an end to your sorrow.
May angels’ white chorales
sing, and astound you.



Twelve Haiku for the Mothers and Children of Ukraine 

How can she bear her grief?
Mightier than Atlas, she shoulders the weight
of one fallen star.

Dark-bosomed clouds
pregnant with heavy thunder —
the water breaks.

The sun warms
a solitary stone.
Let us abandon no one.

You astound me;
your name on my lips
remains unpronounceable.

Born into the delicate autumn,
too late to mature,
pale petals ...

Soft as daffodils fall
all the lamentations
of life’s smallest victims,
unheard ...

Crushed grapes
surrender such sweetness!
A mother’s compassion.

My footprints
so faint in the snow?
Ah yes, you lifted me.

An emu feather
still falling?
So quickly you rushed to my rescue.

The eagle sees farther
from its greater height—
a mother’s wisdom

Dry leaf flung awry:
bright butterfly,

Late autumn; all
the golden leaves turn black underfoot:
soot ...



Ancient Cries for Compassion

Both victor and vanquished are dewdrops:
flashes of light
briefly illuminating the void.
—Ôuchi Yoshitaka, translation/interpretation of his jisei (death poem) by Michael R. Burch

This world—to what may we compare it?
To autumn fields darkening at dusk,
dimly lit by lightning flashes.
—Minamoto no Shitago, translation/interpretation of his jisei (death poem) by Michael R. Burch



Hymn for Fallen Ukrainian Soldiers

Sound the awesome cannons.
Pin medals to each breast.
Attention, honor guard!
Give them a hero’s rest.

Recite their names to the heavens
Till the stars acknowledge their kin.
Then let the land they defended
Gather them in again.



We Are Here

“We are here.” – Volodymyr Zelensky

We are here. We are here.
And we won’t disappear.
We are here. We are here. We are here.

We are here. Have no fear,
our position is clear.
We are here. We are here. We are here.

And yet we need help.
Will earth’s leaders just yelp?
We are here. We are here. We are here.

Our nation stands strong.
Will you choose right, or wrong?
We are here. We are here. We are here.

Now let me be clear,
Vladimir, dear:
We are here. We are here. We are here.


BIO: Michael R. Burch's poems have been published by hundreds of literary journals, taught in high schools and colleges, translated into 14 languages, incorporated into three plays and two operas, and set to music, from swamp blues to opera, by 27 composers.

1 comment :

  1. It is always an honor to be published by SETU. Comments and suggestions are welcome.


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