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  • By Michael R. Burch

Water and Gold and Other Poems

King Midas Judging The Musical Contest Between Apollo And Pan by Filippo Lauri

Water and Gold

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.

You came to me as riches to a miser

when all is gold, or so his heart believes,

until he dies much thinner and much wiser,

his gleaming bones hauled off by chortling thieves.

You gave your heart too soon, too dear, too vastly;

I could not take it in; it was too much.

I pledged to meet your price, but promised rashly.

I died of thirst, of your bright Midas touch.

I dreamed you gave me water of your lips,

then sealed my tomb with golden hieroglyphs.

In Praise of Meter

The earth is full of rhythms so precise

the octave of the crystal can produce

a trillion oscillations, yet not lose

a second’s beat. The ear needs no device

to hear the unsprung rhythms of the couch

drown out the mouth’s; the lips can be debauched

by kisses, should the heart put back its watch

and find the pulse of love, and sing, devout.

If moons and tides in interlocking dance

obey their numbers, what’s been left to chance?

Should poets be more lax—their circumstance

as humble as it is?—or readers wince

to see their ragged numbers thin, to hear

the moans of drones drown out the Chanticleer?

Michael R. Burch is the editor of The HyperTexts, on-line at, where he has published hundreds of poets over the past twenty years. His poetry has been translated into fourteen languages and set to music by ninecomposers. A five-time Pushcart nominee, his poems, translations and essays have appeared in hundreds of literary journals, including Light Quarterly, The Lyric, Measure, Iambs & Trochees, Blue Unicorn, The Chariton Review, The Chimaera, Able Muse, Lucid Rhythms, Poem Today, Asses of Parnassus, Writer’s Digest—The Year’s Best Writing and The Best of the Eclectic Muse.


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