These are my favorite epigrams, including some that I wrote as a child and in my early teens ...


My Most Popular Epigrams

MY MOST POPULAR EPIGRAMS

Epitaph for a Palestinian Child
by Michael R. Burch

I lived as best I could, and then I died.
Be careful where you step: the grave is wide.

According to Google results the last time I checked, this epigram appeared on a staggering 92,000 web pages. The poem has been published by Romantics Quarterly, Poetry Super Highway, Mindful of Poetry, Poets for Humanity, The New Formalist, Angle (Australia), Daily Kos, Eurasia Review, One News Page, Katutura English (Namibia), Genocide Awareness, The Hip Forms, Darfur Awareness Shabbat, Viewing Genocide in Sudan, Trudantalion Blog, FreeXpression (Australia), Setu (India), Brief Poems, Better Than Starbucks and Art Villa; also translated into Romanian by Petru Dimofte, into Turkish by Nurgül Yayman, into Czech by Z J Pinkava, and into Indonesian by A. J. Anwar

***

Autumn Conundrum
by Michael R. Burch

It’s not that every leaf must finally fall,
it’s just that we can never catch them all.

Published by The Neovictorian/Cochlea, Deronda Review, Jewish Letter (Russia), Verse Weekly, Brief Poems, Setu (India), Stremez (Macedonia), Borderless Journal (India); also translated into Russian, Macedonian, Turkish, Arabic and Romanian

***

Piercing the Shell
by Michael R. Burch

If we strip away all the accouterments of war,
perhaps we’ll discover what the heart is for.

Published by Art in Society (Germany), Jewish Letter (Russia), Poem Today, Setu (India), Stremez (Macedonia), Borderless Journal (India); also translated into Russian, Macedonian, Turkish, Arabic and Romanian; also set to art by Jordi Fornies and combined with photography by Eny Abdullah

***

Bible Libel
by Michael R. Burch

If God
is good,
half the Bible
is libel.

Published by Boloji (India), Pride Magazine, Nexus Myanmar (Burma), Idle Hearts, AZquotes (Top 17 Very Witty Quotes), and numerous other quote websites

***

Styx
by Michael R. Burch

Black waters—deep and dark and still.
All men have passed this way, or will.

Published by The Raintown Review, The HyperTexts and Blue Unicorn. Also translated into Romanian and published by Petru Dimofte. This is one of my early poems, written as a teenager. I believe it was my first epigram after “Bible Libel.”

***

Nun Fun Undone
by Michael R. Burch

for and after Richard Moore

Abbesses’
recesses
are not for excesses!

Published by Brief Poems and Poem Today

***

Less Heroic Couplets: Sex Hex
by Michael R. Burch

for and after Richard Thomas Moore

Love’s full of cute paradoxes
(and highly acute poxes).

Published by Asses of Parnassus, Lighten Up Online and Poem Today

***

Less Heroic Couplets: Fahr an’ Ice
by Michael R. Burch

with abject apologies to Robert Frost and Ogden Nash

From what I know of death, I’ll side with those
who’d like to have a say in how it goes:
just make mine cool, cool rocks (twice drowned in likker),
and real fahr off, instead of quicker.

Published by Light, Famous Poets & Poems, Poetry on Demand, Poetry Life & Times, Fullosia Press, Inspirational Stories, Litera (UK), Poems About

***

Less Heroic Couplets: Questionable Credentials
by Michael R. Burch

Poet? Critic? Dilettante?
Do you know what’s good, or do you merely flaunt?

Published by Asses of Parnassus (the first poem in the April 2017 issue)

***

Laughter’s Cry
by Michael R. Burch

Because life is a mystery, we laugh
and do not know the half.

Because death is a mystery, we cry
when one is gone, our numbering thrown awry.

Published by Setu and Angelwing

***

Kin
by Michael R. Burch

O pale, austere moon,
haughty beauty ...

what do we know of love,
or duty?

Published by Swathe of Light and The HyperTexts

***

Childless
by Michael R. Burch

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

***

Stormfront
by Michael R. Burch

Our distance is frightening:
a distance like the abyss between heaven and earth
interrupted by bizarre and terrible lightning.


***

don’t forget ...
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth

don’t forget to remember
that Space is curved
(like your Heart)
and that even Light is bent
by your Gravity.

I dedicated this poem to the love of my life, but you are welcome to dedicate it to the love of yours, if you like it. The opening lines were inspired by a famous love poem by e. e. cummings.

***

Kissin’ ’n’ buzzin’
by Michael R. Burch

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!

This is another poem I wrote for my wife, but you're welcome to share it with that special someone, if you like it.

***

honeybee
by michael r. burch

love was a little treble thing—
prone to sing
and (sometimes) to sting

***

Incompatibles
by Michael R. Burch

Reason’s
treason!
cries the Heart.

Love’s
insane,
replies the Brain.

Originally published by Light

***

Intimations
by Michael R. Burch

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

***

Less Heroic Couplets: Negotiables
by Michael R. Burch

Love should be more than the sum of its parts—
of its potions and pills and subterranean arts.

***

Imperfect Perfection
by Michael R. Burch

You’re too perfect for words—
a problem for a poet.

***

Expert Advice
by Michael R. Burch

Your breasts are perfect for your lithe, slender body.
Please stop making false comparisons your hobby!

***

The Reason for the Rain
by Michael R. Burch

The day’s eyes were blue
until you appeared
and they wept at your beauty.

***

The Reason for the Rain (II)
by Michael R. Burch

The sky was blue
until you appeared
and it wept at your beauty.

***

Dry Hump
by Michael R. Burch

You came to me as rain breaks on the desert
when every flower springs to life at once,
but joy's a wan illusion to the expert:
the Bedouin has learned how not to want.

***

Not Elves, Exactly
by Michael R. Burch

(after Robert Frost's "Mending Wall")

Something there is that likes a wall,
that likes it spiked and likes it tall,

that likes its pikes’ sharp rows of teeth
and doesn’t mind its victims’ grief

(wherever they come from, far or wide)
as long as they fall on the other side.

***

Fine Feathered Fiends I
by Michael R. Burch

Conformists of a feather
flock together.

Winner of the National Poetry Month Couplet Competition

***

Fine Feathered Fiends II
by Michael R. Burch

Fascists of a feather
flock together.

***

Less Heroic Couplets: Murder Most Fowl!
by Michael R. Burch

“Murder most foul!”
cried the mouse to the owl.

“Friend, I’m no sinner;
you’re merely my dinner.

As you fall on my sword,
consult the Lord.”

the wise owl replied
as the tasty snack died.

Published by Lighten Up Online and in Potcake Chapbook #7

***

NOVELTIES
by Thomas Campion
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Booksellers laud authors for novel editions
as pimps praise their whores for exotic positions.

***

Skalded
by Michael R. Burch

Fierce ancient skalds summoned verse from their guts;
today’s genteel poets prefer modern ruts.

***

Long Division
by Michael R. Burch

after Laura Riding Jackson

All things become one
Through death’s long division
And perfect precision.

***

Less Heroic Couplets: Marketing 101
by Michael R. Burch

Building her brand, she disrobes,
naked, except for her earlobes.

In an attempt to demonstrate that not all couplets are heroic, I have created a series of poems called “Less Heroic Couplets.” I believe even poets should abide by truth-in-advertising laws! — MRB

***

Less Heroic Couplets: Meal Deal
by Michael R. Burch

Love is a splendid ideal ...
at least till it costs us a meal.

***

Less Heroic Couplets: Mate Check
by Michael R. Burch

Love is an ache hearts willingly secure
then break the bank to cure.

***

EPIGRAMS ABOUT EPIGRAMS

Brief Fling I
by Michael R. Burch

“Epigram”
means cram,
then scram!

Published by Brief Poems and The HyperTexts

***

Brief Fling II
by Michael R. Burch

To write an epigram, cram.
If you lack wit, scram!
—Michael R. Burch

Published by Brief Poems and The HyperTexts

***

Brief Fling III
by Michael R. Burch

No one gives a damn about my epigram?
And yet they’ll spend billions on Boy George and Wham!
Do they have any idea just how hard I cram?

***

Nod to the Master
by Michael R. Burch

for the Divine Oscar Wilde

If every witty thing that’s said were true,
Oscar Wilde, the world would worship You!

***

The Whole of Wit
by Michael R. Burch

for and after Richard Moore

If brevity is the soul of wit
then brevity and levity
are the whole of it.

Published by Shot Glass Journal, Brief Poems, AZquotes, IdleHearts, JarOfQuotes, QuoteFancy, QuoteMaster

***

Fleet Tweet: Apologies to Shakespeare
by @mikerburch (Michael R. Burch)

A tweet
by any other name
would be as fleet.

***

Fleet Tweet II: Further Apologies to Shakespeare
by @mikerburch (Michael R. Burch)

Remember, doggonit,
heroic verse crowns the Shakespearean sonnet!
So if you intend to write a couplet,
please do it on the doublet!

***

THE CHIASMUS AND SPOONERISM

To avoid being a hack writer, hack away at your writing.—Michael R. Burch
To fall an inch short of infinity is to fall infinitely short.—Michael R. Burch

Love is either wholly folly
or fully holy.
—Michael R. Burch

Love's full of cute paradoxes
and highly acute poxes.
—Michael R. Burch

When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced.
Live your life so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice.
—White Elk, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

It’s time to impeach
the peach imp.
—Michael R. Burch

Teddy Roosevelt spoke softly and carried a big stick;
Donald Trump speaks loudly and carries a big shtick.
—Michael R. Burch

Poets must sometimes re-butt asses like Trump.
—Michael R. Burch

***

DOGGEREL

Woeful Waffles
by Michael R. Burch

for and after Richard Thomas Moore

I think it’s woeful
and should be unlawful
to eat those awful
tofu waffles!

***

PARODIES

Caveat Spender
by Michael R. Burch

It’s better not to speculate
"continually" on who is great.
Though relentless awe’s
a Célèbre Cause,
please reserve some time for the contemplation
of the perils of EXAGGERATION.

***

Me?
Whee!
(I stole this poem
From Muhammad Ali.)
—Michael R. Burch

The poem above was written in response to the Quora question: “Can you write a poem titled “Me”?

***

Stage Fright
by Michael R. Burch

To be or not to be?
In the end Hamlet
opted for naught.

***

Grave Oversight I
by Michael R. Burch

The dead are always with us,
and yet they are naught!

***

Grave Oversight II
by Michael R. Burch

for Jim Dunlap, who winked and suggested “not”

The dead are either naught
or naughty, being so sought!

***

Golden Rue
by Michael R. Burch

Love has the value
of gold, if it’s true;
if not, of rue.

***

Bed Head I
by Michael R. Burch

for and after Richard Thomas Moore

“Early to bed, early to rise”
makes a man wish some men weren’t so wise
(or least had the decency to tell pleasing lies).

***

Bed Head II
by Michael R. Burch

for and after Richard Thomas Moore

“Early to bed, early to rise”
makes a man wish
wise old Ben told sweet lies.

***

Less Heroic Couplets: Midnight Stairclimber
by Michael R. Burch

Procreation
is at first great sweaty recreation,
then—long, long after the sex dies—
the source of endless exercise.

***

Biblical Knowledge or “Knowing Coming and Going”
by Michael R. Burch

The wisest man the world has ever seen
had fourscore concubines and threescore queens?
This gives us pause, and so we venture hence—
he “knew” them, wisely, in the wider sense.

***

Liquidity Crisis
by Michael R. Burch

And so I have loved you, and so I have lost,
accrued disappointment, ledgered its cost,
debited wisdom, credited pain . . .
My assets remaining are liquid again.

***

Why the Kid Gloves Came Off
by Michael R. Burch

for Lemuel Ibbotson

It's hard to be a man of taste
in such a waste:
hence the lambaste.

***

Housman was right ...
by Michael R. Burch

It’s true that life’s not much to lose,
so why not hang out on a cloud?
It’s just the "bon voyage" is hard
and the objections loud.

***

honeydew, honeydont
by michael r. burch

I sampled honeysuckle
and it made my taste buds buckle.

***

Ironic Vacation
by Michael R. Burch

Salzburg.
Seeing Mozart’s baby grand piano.
Standing in the presence of sheer incalculable genius.
Grabbing my childish pen to write a poem
& challenge the Immortals.
Next stop, the catacombs!

***

Less Heroic Couplets: Sweet Tarts
by Michael R. Burch

Love, beautiful but fatal to many bewildered hearts,
commands us to be faithful, then tempts us with sweets and tarts.

***

Less Heroic Couplets: Dark Cloud, Silver Lining
from “Love in the Time of the Coronavirus”
by Michael R. Burch

Every corona has a silver lining:
I’m too far away to hear your whining,
and despite my stormy demeanor,
my hands have never been cleaner!

***

Negligibles
from “Love in the Time of the Coronavirus”
by Michael R. Burch

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

***

Flight

It is the nature of loveliness to vanish
as butterfly wings, batting against nothingness
seek transcendence ...

Originally published by Hibiscus (India)

***

Ars Brevis, Proofreading Longa
by Michael R. Burch

for Brooke Clark

Poets may labor from sun to sun,
but their editor's work is never done.

***

Redefinitions

Faith: falling into the same old claptrap.—Michael R. Burch
Religion: the ties that blind.—Michael R. Burch
Baseball: occasional hittin’ with immeasurable spittin’.—Michael R. Burch
Trickle down economics: an especially pungent golden shower.—Michael R. Burch
Poetry: the art of finding the right word at the right time.—Michael R. Burch

***

Elevate your words, not their volume.
Rain grows flowers, not thunder.
—Rumi, translation by Michael R. Burch

While nothing can save us from death,
still love can redeem each breath.
—Pablo Neruda, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Once fanaticism has gangrened brains
the incurable malady invariably remains.
—Voltaire, translation by Michael R. Burch

Where our senses fail,
reason must prevail.
—Galileo Galilei, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

An unbending tree
breaks easily.
—Lao Tzu, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Love is a canvas created by nature
and completed by imagination.
—Voltaire, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

A question that sometimes drives me hazy:
am I or are the others crazy?
—Albert Einstein, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Little sparks may ignite great Infernos.—Dante, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Truths are more likely discovered by one man than by nations. – Rene Descartes, translation by Michael R. Burch

My objective is not to side with the majority, but to avoid the ranks of the insane.—Marcus Aurelius, translation by Michael R. Burch

Warmthless beauty attracts but does not hold us; it floats like hookless bait.—Capito, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

You can crop all the flowers but you cannot detain spring.—Pablo Neruda, translation by Michael R. Burch

Love distills the eyes’ desires, love bewitches the heart with its grace.—Euripides, translation by Michael R. Burch

No wind is favorable to the man who lacks direction.—Seneca the Younger, translation by Michael R. Burch

The danger is not aiming too high and missing, but aiming too low and hitting the mark.—Michelangelo, translation by Michael R. Burch

He who follows will never surpass.—Michelangelo, translation by Michael R. Burch

Nothing enables authority like silence.—Leonardo da Vinci, translation by Michael R. Burch

Blinding ignorance misleads us. Myopic mortals, open your eyes!—Leonardo da Vinci, translation by Michael R. Burch

It is easier to oppose evil from the beginning than at the end.—Leonardo da Vinci, translation by Michael R. Burch

To know what we do know, and to know what we don't, is true knowledge.—Confucius, sometimes incorrectly attributed to Nicolaus Copernicus, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Fools call wisdom foolishness.—Euripides, translation by Michael R. Burch

Not to speak one’s mind is slavery.—Euripides, translation by Michael R. Burch

I would rather die standing than kneel, a slave.—Euripides, translation by Michael R. Burch

Fresh tears are wasted on old griefs.—Euripides, translation by Michael R. Burch

Hypocrisy may deceive the most perceptive adult, but the dullest child recognizes and is revolted by it, however ingeniously disguised.—Leo Tolstoy, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Just as I select a ship when it's time to travel,
or a house when it's time to change residences,
even so I will choose when it's time to depart from life.
—Seneca, speaking about the right to euthanasia in the first century AD, translation by Michael R. Burch

A man may attempt to burnish pure gold, but who can think to improve on his mother? —Mahatma Gandhi, translation by Michael R. Burch

Civility
is the ability
to disagree
freely
but always agreeably.
—Michael R. Burch

Love is exquisite torture.—Michael R. Burch (written after reading “It’s Only My Heart” by Mizra Ghalib)

Poetry moves the heart as well as the reason.—Michael R. Burch

We cannot change the past, but we can learn from it.—Michael R. Burch

When I was being bullied, I had to learn not to judge myself by the opinions of intolerant morons. Then I felt much better.—Michael R. Burch

Irony of ironies! Could there be a less poetic term for a poem than “poem”—whether pronounced “pohm,” “po-um” or “poym”? And what the hell rhymes with “poetry”? Knowitry? Showitry?—Michael R. Burch

Death is the ultimate finality
and banality
of reality.
—Michael R. Burch

***

Vice Grip
by Michael R. Burch

There’s no need to rant about Al-Qaeda and ISIS.
The cruelty of “civilization” suffices:
our ordinary vices.

***

Less Heroic Couplets: Self-ish
by Michael R. Burch

Let’s not pretend we “understand” other elves
As long as we remain mysteries to ourselves.

***

Less Heroic Couplets: Lance-Lot
by Michael R. Burch

Preposterous bird!
Inelegant! Absurd!

Until the great & mighty heron
brandishes his fearsome weapon.

***

First Base Freeze
by Michael R. Burch

I find your love unappealing
(no, make that appalling)
because you prefer kissing
then stalling.

***

Cover Girl
by Michael R. Burch

Cunning
at sunning
and dunning,
the stunning
young woman’s in the running
to be found nude on the cover
of some patronizing lover.

In this case the cover is a bed cover, where the enterprising young mistress is about to be covered herself.

***

Political Epigrams

Piecemeal, a Coronavirus poem
by Michael R. Burch

And so it begins—the ending.
The narrowing veins, the soft tissues rending.
Your final solution is pending.
(A pale Piggy-Wiggy
will discount your death as no biggie.)

Teddy Roosevelt spoke softly and carried a big stick; Donald Trump speaks loudly and carries a big shtick.—Michael R. Burch

Hell hath no Fury like our furry Führer.—Michael R. Burch

Predict the future? How, when tomorrow is as uncertain as Trump’s next tweet! — Michael R. Burch

Thanks to politicians like George W. Bush, Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann and Donald Trump, we now have a duh-mock-racy.—Michael R. Burch

Trump says he “loves” his supporters. How much does he “love” them? Apparently, to death, since he packs them together like sardines in the middle of a pandemic!—Michael R. Burch aka “the Loyal Opposition”

It’s time to impeach
the peach imp.
—Michael R. Burch

***

Arse Brevis, Emendacio Longa
by Michael R. Burch

The Donald may tweet from sun to sun,
but his spellchecker’s work is never done.

***

Rallying the Dupes
by Michael R. Burch

after Anaïs Vionet

Houston, we have a problem:
the virus is multiplying;
meanwhile, our Demander-in-Chief
keeps lying, lying, lying.

Houston, we have a problem:
the Astros are now the Nau(gh)ts,
but Tweety will still pack the ’Dome
untroubled by actual thoughts.

Originally published by LIGHT

***

Not-So-Heroic Couplets
by Donald Trump
care of Michael R. Burch

To outfox the pox:
kill yourself first, with Clorox!

And since death’s the main goal,
mainline Lysol!

No vaccine?
Just chug Mr. Clean!

Is a cure out of reach?
Fumigate your lungs, with bleach!

To immunize your thorax,
destroy it with Borax!

To immunize your bride,
drown her in Opti-cide!

To end all future gridlocks,
gargle with Vaprox!

Now, quick, down the Drain-o
with old Insane-o NoBrain-o!

***

Donald Disgustus
by Michael R. Burch

It’ll be a cold day in hell
when I wish The Donald well:
was there ever a bigger liar
than President Pants-on-Fire?

***

Religious Epigrams: The Church Gets the Burch Rod

Bible Libel
by Michael R. Burch

If God
is good,
half the Bible
is libel.

Saving Graces
(for the Religious Right)
by Michael R. Burch

Life’s saving graces are love, pleasure, laughter
(wisdom, it seems, is for the Hereafter).

since GOD created u so gullible
how did u conclude HE’s so lovable?
—Michael R. Burch

Multiplication, Tabled
by Michael R. Burch

for the Religious Right: a “novel” solution to the coronavirus pandemic

“Be fruitful and multiply”—
great advice, for a fruitfly!
But for women and men,
simple Simons, say, “WHEN!”

Religion is the opiate of the people.—Karl Marx
Religion is the dopiate of the sheeple.—Michael R. Burch

How can the Bible be "infallible" when from Genesis to Revelation slavery is commanded and condoned, but never condemned?—Michael R. Burch

To fall an inch short of infinity is to fall infinitely short.—Michael R. Burch

How can infinite Love conceive of hell, or into any life where hell is possible?—Michael R. Burch

***

A Passing Observation about Thinking Outside the Box
by Michael R. Burch

William Blake had no public, and yet he’s still read.
His critics are dead.

***

Blake Take
by Michael R. Burch

we became ashamed of our bodies;
we became ashamed of sweet sex;
we became ashamed of the LORD
with each terrible CURSE and HEX;
we became ashamed of the planet
(it’s such a slovenly hovel);
and we came to see, in the end,
that we really agreed with the devil.

***

tyger, lamb, free love, etc.
by michael r. burch

for and after william blake

the tiger’s a ferocious slayer.
he has no say in it.
hence, ur Creator’s a shit.

the lamb led to the slaughter
extends her neck to the block and bit.
she has no say in it.

so don’t be a nitwit:
drink, carouse and revel!
why obey the Devil?

***

Clodhoppers
by Michael R. Burch

If you trust the Christian “god”
you’re—like Adumb—a clod.

***

Farewell to Faith I
by Michael R. Burch

What we want is relief
from life’s grief and despair:
what we want’s not “belief”
but just not to be there.

***

Farewell to Faith II
by Michael R. Burch

Confronted by the awesome thought of death,
to never suffer, and be free of grief,
we wonder: What’s the use of drawing breath?
Why seek relief
from the bible’s Thief,
who ripped off Eve then offered her a leaf?

***

The Not-So-Heroic Stoic, or, A la Cartesian

i think,
therefore i question
if, who and what i am.
—michael r. burch

i think,
therefore i guess
who the hell i am
on this hellish quest.
—michael r. burch

i think,
therefore i postulate:
Fate
ain’t so great.
—michael r. burch

i think,
therefore i am
confused
and unenthused.
—michael r. burch

i think,
therefore i am
not a fan
of THE MAN.
—michael r. burch

i think,
therefore i am
puzzled
addled
frazzled
befuddled.
—michael r. burch

i thunk
THEREFORE
i am sunk
...
like a frog
in a bog,
KERPLUNK!
—michael r. burch

The greatest philosophers are better known for their questions, doubts and mistakes than what they actually knew. Thus lesser thinkers may want to avoid the hubris of certainty in a universe that seems designed not to reveal its ultimate secrets. — Michael R. Burch

I have my doubts about your God and his “love”:
If one screams below, what the hell is “Above”?
—Michael R. Burch

Have Christians underestimated their God’s love, or his power to save, or both?—Michael R. Burch

A barbaric witchdoctor could dream up bloody sacrifices and hell, but an Enlightened Being? As Saint Paul was wont to say, Heaven forbid!—Michael R. Burch

Most Christians make God seem like the Devil. Atheists and agnostics at least give him the "benefit of the doubt."—Michael R. Burch

The best tonic for other people's bad ideas is to think for oneself.—Michael R. Burch

An ideal that cannot be realized is, in the end, just wishful thinking.—Michael R. Burch

Hell hath no fury like a fundamentalist whose God condemned him for having "impure thoughts."—Michael R. Burch

Religion is the difficult process of choosing the least malevolent invisible friends.—Michael R. Burch

If God has the cattle on a thousand hills,
why does he need my tithes to pay his bills?
—Michael R. Burch
Submitted to Conor Kelly, Potcake

God and his "profits" could never agree
on any gospel acceptable to an intelligent flea.
—Michael R. Burch

Hell has been hellishly overdone.
Why blame such horrors on God’s only Son
when Jehovah and his prophets never mentioned it once?
—Michael R. Burch

***

Thirty
by Michael R. Burch

Thirty crept upon me slowly
with feline caution and a slowly-twitching tail ...
How patiently she waited for the winds to shift!
Now, claws unsheathed, she lies seething to assail
her helpless prey.

***

A Possible Argument for Mercy
by Michael R. Burch

Did heaven ever seem so far?
Remember—we are as You were,
but all our lives, from birth to death—
Gethsemane in every breath.

Published by First Things

***

Longer Epigrams and Longish Epigrams

Delicacy
by Michael R. Burch

for my mother, Christine Ena Burch, and all good mothers

Your love is as delicate
as a butterfly cleaning its wings,
as soft as the predicate
the hummingbird sings
to itself, gently murmuring—
“Fly! Fly! Fly!”
Your love is the string
soaring kites untie.

***

The Greatest of These ...
by Michael R. Burch

for my mother, Christine Ena Burch

The hands that held me tremble.
The arms that lifted
fall.
Angelic flesh, now parchment,
is held together with gauze.

But her undimmed eyes still embrace me;
there infinity can be found.
I can almost believe such unfathomable love
will still reach me, underground.

***

Critical Mass
by Michael R. Burch

I have listened to the rain all this evening
and it has a certain gravity,
as if it knows its destination,
perhaps even its particular destiny.
I doubt mine is to be uplifted,
although I, too, may be flung precipitously
and from a great height.

"Gravity" and "particular destiny" are puns, since rain droplets are seeded by minute particles of dust adrift in the atmosphere and they fall due to gravity when they reach "critical mass." The title is also a pun, since the poem is skeptical about heaven-lauding Masses, etc.

***

Star Crossed
by Michael R. Burch

Remember—
night is not like day;
the stars are closer than they seem ...
now, bending near, they seem to say
the morning sun was merely a dream
ember.

***

Reading between the lines
by Michael R. Burch

Who could have read so much, as we?
Having the time, but not the inclination,
TV has become our philosophy,
sheer boredom, our recreation.

***

Once we have flown, we will forever walk the earth with our eyes turned heavenward, for there we were and there we will always long to return.—Leonardo da Vinci, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The great achievers rarely relaxed and let things happen to them. They set out and kick-started whatever happened.—Leonardo da Vinci, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Nothing enables authority like silence.—Leonardo da Vinci, translation by Michael R. Burch

The greatest deceptions spring from men’s own opinions.—Leonardo da Vinci, translation by Michael R. Burch

There are three classes of people: Those who see by themselves. Those who see only when they are shown. Those who refuse to see.—Leonardo da Vinci, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Blinding ignorance misleads us. Myopic mortals, open your eyes!—Leonardo da Vinci, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

It is easier to oppose evil from the beginning than at the end.—Leonardo da Vinci, translation by Michael R. Burch

Small minds continue to shrink, but those whose hearts are firm and whose consciences endorse their conduct, will persevere until death.—Leonardo da Vinci, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I am impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowledge is not enough; we must apply ourselves. Wanting and being willing are insufficient; we must act.—Leonardo da Vinci, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Time is sufficient for anyone who uses it wisely.—Leonardo da Vinci, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Where the spirit does not aid and abet the hand there is no art.—Leonardo da Vinci, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Necessity is the mistress of mother nature's inventions.—Leonardo da Vinci, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Nature has no effect without cause, no invention without necessity.—Leonardo da Vinci, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Did Leonardo da Vinci anticipate Darwin with his comments about Nature, necessity and invention? Yes, and his studies of comparative anatomy, including the intestines, led da Vinci to say explicitly that "apes, monkeys and the like" are not merely related to humans but are "almost of the same species." He was, indeed, a man ahead of his time, by at least 350 years.

***

Excerpts from “Paragone of Poetry and Painting” and Other Writings
by Leonardo da Vinci, circa 1500
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Sculpture requires light, received from above,
while a painting contains its own light and shade.
—Leonardo da Vinci, translation by Michael R. Burch

Painting is the more beautiful, the more imaginative, the more copious,
while sculpture is merely the more durable.

Painting encompasses infinite possibilities
which sculpture cannot command.

But you, O Painter, unless you can make your figures move,
are like an orator who can’t bring his words to life!

While as soon as the Poet abandons nature, he ceases to resemble the Painter;
for if the Poet abandons the natural figure for flowery and flattering speech,
he becomes an orator and is thus neither Poet nor Painter.

Painting is poetry seen but not heard,
while poetry is painting heard but not seen.

And if the Poet calls painting dumb poetry,
the Painter may call poetry blind painting.

Yet poor is the pupil who fails to surpass his master!
Shun those studies in which the work dies with the worker.

Because I find no subject especially useful or pleasing
and because those who preceded me appropriated every useful theme,
I will be like the beggar who comes late to the fair,
who must content himself with other buyers’ rejects.
Thus, I will load my humble cart full of despised and rejected merchandise,
the refuse of so many other buyers,
and I will go about distributing it, not in the great cities,
but in the poorer towns,
selling at discounts whatever the wares I offer may be worth.

And what can I do when a woman plucks my heart?
Alas, how she triumphs over me, and yet I must persist!

***

Che posso fare se la femina mi trae’l cuore?
What can I do when a woman plucks my heart?
—Leonardo da Vinci, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

***

Here forms, colors, the character of the entire universe, contract to a point,
and that point is miraculous, marvelous …
O marvelous, O miraculous, O stupendous Necessity!
By your elegant laws you compel every effect to be the direct result of its cause,
by the shortest path possible.
Such are your miracles!
—Leonardo da Vinci, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

***

Love distills the eyes’ desires, love bewitches the heart with its grace.—Euripides, translation by Michael R. Burch

Fools call wisdom foolishness.—Euripides, translation by Michael R. Burch

One true friend is worth ten thousand kin.—Euripides, translation by Michael R. Burch

Not to speak one’s mind is slavery.—Euripides, translation by Michael R. Burch

I would rather die standing than kneel, a slave.—Euripides, translation by Michael R. Burch

Fresh tears are wasted on old griefs.—Euripides, translation by Michael R. Burch

Euripides was pretty good, wasn't he? I try to translate him in as few words as possible, hoping to stay out of his way.—Michael R. Burch

To know what we do know, and to know what we don't, is true knowledge.—Confucius, sometimes incorrectly attributed to Nicolaus Copernicus, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Where our senses fail,
reason must prevail.
—Galileo Galilei, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch





Poetry by Michael R. Burch The PoetBay support member heart!
Read 29 times
Written on 2021-06-02 at 06:50

Tags Epigram  Epigrams  Quotes 

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Coo & Co The PoetBay support member heart!
Well, these are excellent, Michael. Moreover, members of Coo & Co are reading of all your publishing successes and our eyes are wide as saucers 8>)
2021-06-02