By Robert Burmer

Tragedy dogged us through the winter.
The snow never came to give us a glimpse
of a brand new world,
but the rain fell
and the rivers rose.

December’s wind and a rotted peg
took down the barn
…collapsing… in a heap
of tin roofing and
100-year old beams.

And what of you my friend
with your gliding dance into the aether.
We loved each other in the language of men.
Once the whole world was ours and
we were the kings of nothing.

We laughed and leaped through the bus stations
of the cross, tickled the Buddha bone and
ran away again into sorrow.
Nights of George Dickel and Jameson,
with black coffee on the side.

Gesturing with cigarette in hand
over minor epiphanies
and fleeting revelations.

Now in winter, my half-opened window
frames Jupiter and the moon
lighting the last leaves
of the maple like unanswered prayer
flags in a Himalayan wind.

I sit on the edge of the bed
staring at a dream icon
made of silvered twigs,
shorebird feathers and a picture
of a red-haired girl smiling
in a sun lit barn.

I fall and awake,
awake and fall to the
breathing of the circle.

Far off a telephone rings
nine times


I often wake at 3 A.M.
Perhaps it’s the wine
It helps me sleep
But I invariably wake 4 hours later
Since I was a young boy
I’ve spent many nights
Unable to sleep
Back then I thought of
The world outside the small town
Where I grew up
Once I knew I’d never be
The football hero
Once I knew I’d never
Hit the winning shot
Once I knew I’d never
Fill the shoes
Of Ward Cleaver
I followed the sound
Of the train whistles
That floated through
The railroad town

These days it’s mortality and
Ghosts while I stare
Into the coming abyss
Although the loves of my life
Still return warm skin and sighs
Like a drug it wears off
Quicker each time
Perhaps I should move
The crow statue perched on
On my dresser
It casts a silhouette
On the Chinese prints
And dark blue walls

In the summer I hear them
Calling to each other
It often sounds like street talk
In a tough neighborhood
On a Friday night
They have come to know me
Inhale and exhale
Sidewalk and gutter
In the moon light we’ll
Never be naked
Beads of sweat
A broken prism
That silences the crow

I’m resigned to omens
But must they all point
Toward the darkness

Will the crows notice
When I’m gone

They will welcome me

A celebration at sunset


I’m here for the weather and the ring of fire
Shown red on maps with hellfire and creation
Mountain wind carries down
A scent of winter from the white peaks
Mixed with spring’s bloom and snow melt waters
When the world takes on the texture
Of a Chinese silk painting
Horses, bamboo and rivers

I no longer laugh at dragons and ghosts
I’ve seen too much while falling asleep
When time turns in on itself
Until everything happens at once
A jumble of clouds and my lover’s skin
The brown August meadows
Owl in the oak tree
Mice in the granary

I want to eat raw oysters
Under the light of a full moon
Drink pale, green wine
The dead will call from a pay phone
Outside a pool hall in Ames, Iowa
The operator asks for sixty cents
But their pockets are empty and
They disappear once again


Robert Burmer is a poet and musician who lives in the Pacific Northwest. His poetry has appeared in Art Access, Poetry Corners, Ars Poetica, and Last Poem on Earth: A Jazz Requiem.