Poetry

The group I used to send poems out to (the Slow Poetry Zone) is being replaced by occasional new poems posted here. Every so often I will put up a new poem – similar to the Slow Poetry Zone which I called “occasional poems at irregular intervals”. Poems are always hot off the writer’s pen.

POSTS IN REVERSE CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER:

8. 4th March, 2016. Always they come

7. 8th August, 2014. Gaza, the Ukraine and a great deal more… 

6. 26th August, 2013. The Drummers of War

5. 24th August, 2013. After a Night and Everyone Crumbles Differently

4. 7th August, 2013. Trust in the Sun

3. 18th July, 2013. When the Ship Comes In

2. 13th January, 2013. Birthday poem for my wife

1. 12th December, 2012. We took the land and Angeline

     *     *     *     *     *     *      *     *     *     *     *     *     *

THE POEMS POSTED (most recent first)

8. ALWAYS THEY COME

This is the path
where you can plunge into the abyss
and rise up three days later
with the scent of roses on your breath.

Who is there who believes in the path today?
Who walks the path today?
Always they come
whose names are called.

Always they yearn
for what they never will be able to possess
unless all that belongs in them to death
is given back to death.

And then, through them,
creative power will work
to transform chaos, decay and death
to purer, greater life.

 

7. Gaza, the Ukraine and a great deal more… 

Children burning in Gaza –
their cries are entering me.
The lies that are leading us to horror upon horror –
like black rats they come creeping into my soul.

I accept them. I bear them.
But what can I do with them?
Alone I am helpless
but I am not alone.

I offer them to another.
“Take them,” I say to Him.
“Take them in the name
of the suffering earth.

“Take them from one
who himself cannot help
except through recognition

“that the pain in himself
and the evil in himself

“are the pain of the world,
the evil of the world,

“that he simply passes on
to You who bears all.”

8/8/14, Kirchschlag, near Linz

 

6. The Drummers of War
Syria 2013

Who are the ones
who are beating the drums
of war?

Not they whose sons
will soon die alone,
not the widows who mourn
or the children who scream,
not the nurse who carries
the amputated limb,
or the lovers parted
with their amputated dreams.

These are never the ones
who beat on the drums
of war.

But the wolves in suits,
the sellers of arms,
the peddlers of lies
for whoever will pay,
those who strut the world-stage,
those who slink in the shadows,
who smile and smile
though their souls stink to hell…

They are the ones
who beat on the drums
of war!

Michael Hedley Burton
August 2013

 

5. After a night and Everyone Crumbles Differently
After a night

After a night spent facing phantoms
he lies down
to listen to the birds.

Sweet sounds resounding
in the aftermath of battle
and distress.

Nature knows not what it means
to be a human being, forced to wear
the liberator’s chains.

He learns to face the darkness in himself.
Can he help others?
Or will his efforts make their darkness worse?
3/6/13, Chengdu

Everyone crumbles differently

Everyone crumbles differently.
They come up to the barrier
and most of who they are stops working at the gate.
They cannot cross because they are not whole.
They limp back – sadder, older, emptier than they were
the night before.

And we are all arriving at the barrier.
In the morning sometimes you can sense what happened.
You were there last night.
I wonder: Did you crumble?
Or did you wake up with an inexplicable and hungry zest
and new reserves of light?

Unless you come prepared, two thirds of who you are
cannot get through. But it is possible to prepare
and ride the wave across the barrier.
Then, from that place for which your heart desires,
you’ll bring back substance from your sojourn there
and inexplicable light and fire and zest.
14/8/13

 

4. Trust in the Sun

There is no need to walk a tightrope any more
between evil and evil.
Trust in the Sun
and all things will be well.
Honour the Sun and all things will be well.

The days in which you tried to overcome yourself by force
are over.
Now you need to find yourself, become yourself
and be yourself in everything you do!
You simply need to be yourself in everything you do.

The Sun within you is the one
who’s closer to you than any other power.
He is your first and deepest love.
You knew Him long before you set foot in this place.
He was your deepest, truest love before you ever set foot in this place.

He left His paler refuge in the sky
and made His home on earth.
The foxes have their holes, the birds of the air their nests,
but His place, where He wishes to be most, is in your heart.
The place where most of all He yearns to be is in your heart.

He put on flesh and walked the road of tears.
Through His own life He knows your passions and your shame.
He knows you and He loves you because for three years He lived out your life
and trod your earthly destiny until its very end.
He trod your earthly destiny until the end.
5/8/13

 

3. When the ship comes in

They are not all down there, holding hands on the shore,
in that wonderful hour when the ship comes in.
They gradually feel that something has changed
and go down to the harbour to see her there.
It is all full of mystery – something moves, something stirs;
they don’t know what has happened but the world is new.

And they stand on the shore looking out to the sea –
all of them wondering what is it that they feel.
And it settles around them like a great white swan –
the peace that falls from the sky like mist.
For a second time the ship comes in
as the swan settles back in her earthly nest.

When the soul of a man is made pure and true
then the souls of all people in some way are changed.
A longing is stilled; the earth is new-born
and graceful women dance their dances of thanks.
You feel it around you – a presence unseen.
And peace hovers close when the ship comes in.
18/7/13

2. Birthday poem for my wife

DESTINY OF THE BUTTERFLY

Death is an awakening
to the ones who blindly crawl.
The butterfly
can teach us that.

Impelled by darkness,
we know not why we crawl.
We’re unaware why we must suddenly stop
and weave ourselves into this solitary womb.

Some do not make it further,
ending crumpled in a lifeless heap.
It was their risk.

For we go through
the trials that
the butterfly
goes through.

We enter into dark caves of the human heart.
We learn to know the sorrow
of the Queen who weeps
there in each human heart.

This is your destiny as well, my love.
To meet the sorrowing Queen
within your heart.

She is the one who weaves in secret for you
wings
that one day you shall wear.

You share,
with all who crawl,
the destiny of the butterfly.

DSCF0977Imagine, as you enter through the narrow gate
into the dark caves of your heart,
the arising joy of sunlit flight –
the joy that takes from you
all memory of pain.

The image of the butterfly
reminds you who you are.
The image of the butterfly
reminds you
who you truly are.

(13/1/13)

1. 12/12/12. We took the land and Angeline

Recently (on 12/12/12 to be exact) I was at an evening for poets to read their own poems on the theme of MAKING ROOM. Here are the two poems I read. One looks at making room in the sense of carving it out, aggressively if necessary as the early settlers in Australia and New Zealand once did. The other is the opposite gesture of keeping still and allowing something to enter. Here are the two poems:

(a) WE TOOK THE LAND

And we took the land – our fathers carved it out
and conquered it
and built those places through their toil
where quietness and family ties could thrive,
surrounded by the brown and menacing bush.

We took the land and made it ours
and linked our bones with it
and slowly grew to love the absence of its soul,
the trees that sheathed its nakedness
and how it breathed its life into our blood.

And when the trees were gone
and when the ones who dwelt above the trees were gone,
we said we missed them, but we lightly let them go
and grew accustomed to the sight of open sky,
finding strange comfort in the chains of city life.

Yet always in our dreams the spirits of this earth
still roam. We took the land. We said the land was ours
and tried hard not to hear its cries.
Though we denied those cries, deep in our hearts we know
that we belong to the land; the land does not belong to us.

10/11/10, Rozelle NSW

 

(b) ANGELINE

It takes courage to stop;
all sorts of things threaten to catch up with you
if you do.

Dare to stop
and feel your soul settle round you
like a flock of pigeons
coming home.

Not in seeking for the Angel did she come to me
but on the fourth day with a lake in front
and mist about the bush.

I only cleared the way;
it was she who moved into my sphere
falling like rain
with just a wing-tip touch
she fell like rain,
leaving a gift of words
and gone again.

Lake Waikaremoana, New Zealand, 30/5/2001

Sign up here if you would like to read poems as they are posted. There will not be many of them but I’ll resolve to post some now and then in the spirit of the original Slow Poetry Zone “occasional poems at irregular intervals,” and always hot off the writer’s pen.

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