Thursday, September 30, 2010

Don't Snicker

Don't Snicker
by Gideon Burton

Today I found a candy bar, forgotten.

It somehow made it's way beneath my bed--
a no-man's land where food goes to go rotten--
a place of dust and junk, ignored or dead.
I thought it would be harder, firmly stale;
I thought I would just huck it in the trash;
I thought my better thinking would prevail;
but I have done a thing both sweet and rash.
How easily its wrappered skin gave way;
how readily I tore the nougat's tissue;
how quickly spiked my gloucose in that spray
of burning chewy sugar -- how I'd missed you.
     So many things when lost dissolve to dust;
     a few, preserved like nectar, you can trust.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Smoke of Sleep

The Smoke of Sleep
by Gideon Burton

The smoke of sleep unfolding over deep
And hollow chasms of this streaming night
Of dreams, of semi-dreams and mist, of bright
Misprisions, shadows doubling in the sweep
Of unaccounted time. Like water, weak
And weaving in the loom of loosened earth
Uncertain of its rhythms in the dearth
Of evening's thirst. There is no place to seek
No antidote to coarse confusions, no
Arrest, no pacing of the ardent flux
Around the center, holding place, the crux
And argument, unsown where one would sow
        The softest seeds of waking in the mind,
        To grow alive to daylight and its kind.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Refraction

Refraction
by Gideon Burton

Through which glass darkly viewing: book or page

or Latin, lens or focus, resolution, screen?
Along what vein projecting: inky age
or pixels perfect, language evergreen?
At certain angles textures cough and claw,
or smooth a prism's lancing of the black
confusions time accumulates in raw
and mute abundance. Certain masks retract
the numbness; certain fabrics sew the sense.
A pattern is an optic, matrix, stone
Rosetta, glyph unglyphed, thick verbs untensed;
dark algorithms make the darkness moan.
     Like sheep from goats, the signal parts the noise;
     simplicity's complexity that's poised. 


Memory of Eden

Memory of Eden
by Gideon Burton

Do you remember, Adam, how we were?
In paradise. In innocence. How long
did we explore those misty forests, stir
the rivers, naked-limbed, before our wrong
exposed us, clothed us with our cold desire
to separate, to brood in barren shame?
I still remember, just before the fire,
how He would call for us, would name our names
to come and play with us out there -- that's all.
Before that taste, that bite, the leaves, the leaving.
What I remember most was Autumn, not the Fall,
our time before we counted time in grieving.
     As drifting saffron leaves in scattered glory
     so were we then, before we fell to story.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Holy Spirit

Holy Spirit
by Gideon Burton

A phrase that arches upward, over, down,
transparent in the flow of lesser things.
A quietness that sounds the depths of sound;
a softness, wind on petals in the Spring.
Not wholly ghost: bright shadows just in sight,
warm residue that stings me as I seek
and seek again His tactile calm, this slight
perception strength's returned to me while weak.
Rich present of His presence, plain and near
and nearer, breadth inside of breath, the red
of blood, the pulse of sudden healing clear
as creamy moonlight though the daylight's fled.
     A single note, a beacon strobing slow;
     this quiet, constant friend, this God I know.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Asteroid Peach

Asteroid Peach
by Gideon Burton

A peach is like an asteroid except not hard,
much smaller, rarely tumbling off in space,
quite softer, really, fewer nickel shards
throughout, and smoother, kinder on its face.
A poor comparison? Digest it further:
once all the orange sugar globe is eaten,
a pit remains -- a horrid thing, like murder,
distorted, scarred, as though too often beaten.
Of course, when tonguing peach flesh on parfaits,
aglow with fruity perfume sweet to taste,
we act as though all peaches come our way
without that gnarled nut, that pitty waste.
     Both peach and planetoid have darkened cores
     that cling and cut: sharp pods of alien spores. 

Photo: flickr - verysubmm

Friday, September 24, 2010

Let Them Fail

Let Them Fail
by Gideon Burton

Let's engineer the nebulae, compress
the early elements toward a mass
of sparking hydrogen, this stellar mess
persuade into a string of pearls to last
as long as Adam's atoms trace their way
along fresh generations -- who will choose
their own elliptic orbits, how they'll prey
upon the fertile days, find ways to lose
their way, to weight the swallowed gravities
surpassing Jupiters in poisoned mass.
And let them sound the darker cavities,
cosmographies confounding present past.
     We've known the primal chaos lost in cold.
     We'll see Him light new suns from those grown old.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fajitas

Fajitas
by Gideon Burton

Another pepper chopped to juicy heat
then slathered on a chip of salty corn
A salsa, with cilantro newly born,
tomatoes diced along the basil leaves.
The barbecue has blackened cuts of meat
that, sliced to lengths, acquire the needed form
to wedge among tortillas, flour or corn,
which we, sauteed with onions, gladly eat.
A spread of reddened rice to dress the plate
perhaps a dab of sour cream as well
the guacamole lingers on the side
The platter, a sombrero, filled with great
aromas, Mexico has cast its spell
that we consume with gusto and with pride.

Photo: flickr - ugod

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Reason

Reason
by Gideon Burton

Is reason male? Spock-logical and sure?

Secure within its calculations cold
and bold? Each measured premise never lures
the passions: algorithmic, I am told.
Machinery of thought, the valid check
on wild distractions fertile in our minds. 
What comfort: in our world we may expect
behavior rigorously constant! Blind
to bias: major, minor premise, done.
Oh, I have felt this warm seductress draw

from me conclusions that have drugged and stunned
me with their elegance, no fault no flaw
no way this opiate goes out of season:
our lust for order, dressed in slinky reason. 


Photo: flicker - exper

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

thinkspeak

thinkspeak
by Gideon Burton

but also something's always in the mix

of demi-memories cascade parade
invade rechurn resmooth the remnant pricks
of constant conscious conscience where we wade
in eddies of the last recursion whirl
about the denser flux and turn and turn
go back returning to the sandy pearl
that strings along the sticky salve the burn
along the tongue or thighs or inner ear
where wounds the shape of words absorb the ground
is horizontally inept cohere
is my command the echo laughing sound
unsound of mined illusions forged and crushed
against the orange blood grow cool now hush

Photo: flickr - Darren Hester

Monday, September 20, 2010

Cogito Ergo Sum

Cogito Ergo Sum
by Gideon Burton

I think therefore I am I think I am
as solid as these curds of milky thought
I think quite certain where it is I stand
I think and in my swirling thoughts am caught
I think as tethered semi-solid sure
upon the unembodied continent
where notions rise or fall or sharply blur
but this I think is what I know or meant
how silly are the tangibles that sum
cognition for whom matter seems to matter
and don't you think ideas can soothe or stun
that deep within we know the ink-blot's splatter?
     Rene Descartes, with Hamlet rub your chin;
     to think is not to die, and there's the sin. 

Photograph: flickr - Stephen Poff 
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Sunday, September 19, 2010

A God of Miracles

A God of Miracles
by Gideon Burton

A God of Miracles both bright and still
and still He waits to weight that cloudburst grace
with haste sufficient for His knowing will:
the rescue speed, that resurrecting pace
in time with timelessness, in time with peace
at least as firm as ocean mornings thick
in calm, the wrinkling waves all ironed, creased
in whitened folds where scented breezes lick
the promises laid bare as grains of sand.
A God of Visions staring steadily,
the vistas cupping woman, child, and man,
abysses gaping wide to draw us heavenly.
     Stark miracle to pause, and looking see;
     Great God of comets, cocoa, kelp, and flea.

Photo: flickr - andreyphoto

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Learning Love

Learning Love
by Gideon Burton

In time our children come to re-create us;
their lives, a nearby echo of our own.
We measure how we are within their status,
less certain who we are when they leave home.
In time our children walk without our aid;
they speak and learn and earn without us there.
A son becomes a groom and courts a maid;
We count the years and, speechless, dumbly stare.
My father told me once I'd never know
of love until I held my newborn child.
My newly-wedded child has made the flow
of love redouble: something tame and wild,
both old and new, both hot and breezy cool.
He'll start to know, now he is off to school.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Escape

ESCAPE
by Gideon Burton 

Forget the atmosphere, it is a skin
Of moistened molecules, a slab of heat
And dirt that hems you in, that slowly pins
You to the muddy surface where you eat
The wan pollutions and the heavy breeze
Of broad decay across the tribe of breath
Who chomp and puke and ever cough and wheeze
Until they cloud their time with signs of death.
Remember just the cleanliness of space,
Beyond that sticky sphere of sweat and gloom,
Where nothing heaves its germs into your face
And all will find such distance, blessed room.
       Escape the bounds delimiting your role.
       Into the vacuum launch your tired soul


Photo: flickr - colinjcampbell

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Surf

The Surf
by Gideon Burton

Consider this: the hushing surf recedes,
the foamy salt massages speckled sand,
then rushes in again as though a grand
crescendo would engulf the bending reeds.
Observe again: with tides the ocean bleeds,
as though the ballast dropped by time had rammed
the belly of the watery beast, undammed
the lower fountains, now erupting seeds
of mint fluorescence, bursting plankton pods
in deep arrays of filtered, flickering light.
Descend and breathe: the waters bring you home
within the firmament, the womb of God,
the saline matrix churning years of night
to paste against the edges of this dome.


Photo: flickr - karma police

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Not Aloud

Not Aloud
by Gideon Burton

I'm just not going to say it -- not aloud.
You know how some stuff changes once in words,
how certain thoughts live only in the cloud
of demi-memory, in halves and thirds,
and verbalizing sets perimeters,
commits you to accept or to react.
Crude instruments! As though altimeters
suffice for pitch or yaw. The lens is cracked
that focuses as clearly as a word
defined. Unwind those denotations, blur
and smear the wash of colored music, stir
the safe obscurities: alive, absurd.
     The drums might rhythm smooth our wrinkling brains;
     to speak or write welds thinking into chains.

Photo: Flickr - Thomas Hawk

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Hungering

Hungering
by Gideon Burton

I cannot trust what isn't hungered for

in time by bodied spirits longing long
for some delivery a way toward
away around a single note a song
sustaining waning past the feigning wrongs
I have indulged beyond an even score
that scrapes its measurings its rusty tongs
a rallentando code that's less that's more
that's evening the twilight's pebbled shore
unsure if silence surf or air is strong
the strength of wanting wanting more and more
a place to plant desires where they belong
inside a trust carved out by weariness
by clarities bestowed by weariness

Photo: flickr - steve took it

Monday, September 13, 2010

River Hymn

River Hymn
by Gideon Burton

A rusty lather clogs the river bed
and presses knobby claws against the boats
meandering along the muddy red
of vented evanescence. Sugars bloat
the blurry froth. They spend illusions hot
and sharp along the hour’s stony throat.
Whatever quivers, groveling, or caught
in viscous, hidden snares within the moat
of consolation–bellies soft or breast,
a tarpaulin to veil the stinging breeze
or summon desert dusts to drown the west,
a gesture of the heavens’ failing ease–
     I’m listening, content to scan the score,
     to drink the cup and drinking thirst for more.

Photo: flickr - ourmanwhere

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Foundation

Foundation
by Gideon Burton
an imitation of Helaman 5:12
And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.

My sons, a life is built upon a base,
a place upon which other things rely.
As you build onward, spanning open space,
plant deeply down, so upward you may fly
as storms arise to bend you, beat you down.
An adversary aims his crossbow's shafts,
rains thick his spiteful hail so thick around
that night and day into his pit are cast,
and he would drag you into that abyss.
But if each day you build upon that rock,
the Holy One whose meek yet mighty fists
can calm and shake, can heal or hotly shock--
     Then come what may, your structure rising holds;
     on certain ground you cannot fall or fold.


Photo: flickr - ioana

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Further Light and Knowledge

Further Light and Knowledge
by Gideon Burton

Once more to revel in the revelation,

unmetered light descends, expands, extends
the range and rate, thick grace in variation,
another chorus coming as one ends:
that voice, so still and small (not still nor small)
commanding with percussive, pressing peace;
consoling, patient, as I rising fall,
unbinding, speaking where to find release.
So settled, soothing, sacred to the taste,
this winter-fresh assurance, clean and near,
excitement smoothing, steady in its pace.
I watch and see; I listen and I hear.
     It comes -- too much, enough -- compounding sight;
     His flowing rays, these words, this heavy light. 


Photo: flickr - Christolakis

Friday, September 10, 2010

September Stays

September Stays
by Gideon Burton

Each year the tilting planet spills the seasons:
the colored breezes run in altered hues;
the oceans slosh into September's reasons,
persuasive as the aspen trees' chartreuse.
Some years my sons and I have piled our leaves
to mounds of paper florins, rich with must.
Our little dogs we've tossed with football ease
upon this Autumn bedding (gently thrust).
They yapped their giggling, seemed to ask for more,
but we had thrown ourselves and scattered all.
How elegant the yard, its leafy floor
abused when raking ends our playful brawl.
     Turn earth, turn time, refreeze and thaw again;
     the seasons stay that wisely we have spent.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Let Her Speak

Let Her Speak
by Gideon Burton

I waste my words, encumbering thought with flesh,
all mashed in glottal mush, the meaning pressed
against the palate and the jilting thresh
of time, occasion, cues mistook or guessed--
She speaks my name as though to keep the air
from bruising it, as though upon her tongue
it lies, a flower petal thin and rare,
and any extra syllable, though sung
with grace, would loosen filaments or cells
and leave a shredded shell, a noise profane
and blank, no longer sounding down the well
of mystery, a label, fixed, inane. 
     My libels thrive on every breathing wave;
     she calls me once, and all my words behave.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Encore No More

Encore No More
by Gideon Burton
at the passing of the family dog

Sometimes you lay paws forward, like a sphinx,
the living room your Egypt to command.
The other dog would wait for second drinks;
you were the alpha canine, small, yet grand.
With springing leaps you stripped the trees of birds,
whose siblings chirped in anger at the kill.
Your midnight barking prompted naughty words;
your shedding made our vacuuming a thrill.
You were a runner, worming under fences,
who cost us money at the city pound;
a fugitive who loved repeat offences --
that is, until that auto mowed you down.
     Despite the bites, the barking, and the mess.
     Your liveliness we'll miss, I do confess.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Man

Man
by Gideon Burton
inspired by Hamlet, "What a piece of work is man?"

A thing of pieces, not so much of peace;
a work in progress, infinitely half
of wholes one holds which leave in bold caprice;
a waypoint on a torn and tearing map.
A fluid form, as lithe as nimble time;
a rhythm from the sable vaults of space;
a force, a gesture, angling for a rhyme;
a thing substantial, anchored to a place.
A set of senses, crude enough, yet apt
to weigh the wonder throbbing from the dark
abyss of things untempered, dull to craft,
yet pregnant with a voice, a past, a spark.
    A measurement of thickening desire;
    a sprite and trickster, caught in summer fire.

Photo: flickr - deryckh

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Wanderer

The Wanderer
by Gideon Burton
after the Old English Elegy


Who lives to know my fate, the frost-cold sea?
But I within my breast chest seal this sorrow.
The ice-locked waves divide my friends from me,
no treasure-giver, mead hall, joys unborrowed.
So winter-bound, unlike those feasting days,
near counsel and the gift-throne; friendless now.
No hall companions thaw the binding waves,
and wisdom waits through winters' foaming plows.
Time-blasted, buildings tumble, soldiers pass
Creator wrecks the walls of each enclosure.
So many ancient slaughters, lives of glass.
Where are the brave ones, left to time's exposure?
     Slipped into nightfall, joys in fleet descent
     The rider, prince, the giver, shadow-sent.

Photo: flickr - Nick in exsilio

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Witness

Witness
by Gideon Burton

To witness, watching all the cosmos spark
and pulse when little breezes bend the petals,
or children's fingers hold you in the dark,
or leaves submit, dissolve as Autumn settles;
To witness, tasting Winter in the water
the hush along the skin from cotton's touch;
to see the goddess in your wailing daughter;
to sleep and wake and know it is enough.
To witness, speaking all the waking wonders:
I've heard the crickets, smelled the amber dusk,
I've tasted rain and trembled in the thunder,
I've chewed the rinds and cracked the stubborn husks.
     To witness us, his scattered, scabby seed:
     His sacrifice, His soul, His love, our need.

Photo: flickr - feelmystic

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Renaissance Humanist

Renaissance Humanist
by Gideon Burton

These books are different: a world not ours,
a better one, yet still within our reach.
The splendors known in Greece, Rome's shining stars--
were due far less to riches than to speech.
Demosthenes or Cicero, alive
with lucid language, mesmerizing crowds,
--and miracle!-- orations still survive,
each metaphor pristine, their force unbowed.
What if the coliseum lies decayed?
The arts that moved the masses stayed intact.
Rome's theater of life can be replayed,
if rhetoric is studied, speech exact.
     Let us begin our mighty, wordy task,
     to imitate, revive the gloried past.


Photo: flickr - philobiblon

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Measure of All Things

The Measure of All Things
by Gideon Burton

How could we be the measure of all things?
With time and space, we've learned that time and space
outrace, outreach the instruments we bring.
Infinities surround our petty race,
and all of our devices only show
how crude and small and transient humans are.
We map and mark the worlds above, below,
our wooden slides rule metering the stars;
with confidence assert the mass of time,
the warp and woof energy and matter.
The quantifying stairs are set to climb;
omniscience just a rung atop a ladder.
     We probe, we scan, anatomizing wonder;
     cold math to mask an exponential blunder.

Photo: flickr: aldoaldoz

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Sparrow's Flight

Sparrow's Flight
by Gideon Burton
after a passage from Bede's Ecclesiastical History of England

The swift flight of a sparrow through a room,
this present life, compared to the unknown
abyss beyond the recent or the soon,
deep ignorance that frames our fleshy bones.
We sit at supper, warmed by friends, by fire
while rain or hail attack the bruising roof;
then, suddenly, arrives the tiny flier,
in one door, out the other. There's the proof:
however warmly safe within this space,
the bird is but a fractioned moment's guest.
So much of life is fluttered, winging haste;
the rising sun is setting in the West.
     From out of Winter, fast returning there;
     We are but sparrows, beating thinning air.


Original passage:
"The present life man, O king, seems to me, in comparison with that time which is unknown to us, like to the swift flight of a sparow through the room wherein you sit at supper in winter amid your officers and ministers, with a good fire in the midst whilst the storms of rain and snow prevail abroad; the sparrow, I say, flying in at one door and immediately another, whilst he is within is safe from the wintry but after a short space of fair weather he immediately vanishes out of your sight into the dark winter from which he has emerged. So this life of man appears for a short space but of what went before or what is to follow we are ignorant." [source]

Photo: flickr - Flavio@Flickr (adapted)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Let Me Not to That Marriage: A Shakespeare Remix

Let Me Not to that Marriage:
A Shakespeare Remix

by Gideon Burton
in imitation of Shakespeare's Sonnet #116 (below)

Let's talk about the marriage of true minds:
admit it: the impediments make love
a sport, less stagnant when stagnation finds
the bland ennui of love's routine, that groove
that is an ever-fixed rut, that stark
vanilla boredom better stirred and shaken.
Good lovers love a tempest's test, a spark
of lightning lightening the granted taken.
Love lets us be Time's fools, to mate and seek
Spring love when mating makes the children come.
Love alters as we watch the toddlers peek
across the threshold toward bride and groom.
     If I were falsely constant to the past,
     our ripening love through error would be smashed.


Sonnet 116
by William Shakespeare

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

Photo: flickr - Lindy Drew Photography