Poetry from Sam Burks



Listening to the ocean speak
in tones of mercy, tones
of a tortured body
finally bigger
than all
of that pain

I sometimes
the same waves keep breaking
over and over
again and again
and why the sound
they make
consumes every lost
and incomplete idea,

consumes it all
like so many vessels before
into that endless mirror
of the heavens
on earth

listening to the pulses
of the universe
expressing its pace
in my own chest

I sometimes wonder
we can look so hard
in the opposite direction
and only glance
at infinity


“The sky is still there”

What happened
to the sky
and the clouds
that once made up
the dimensions
of that eternity?

Buried in my
tattered clothes and
bellow this hollow mattress
it’s kind of hard
to see what I
is there

and even though
the clock
screams at me
telling me
what I
want to hear
I hope that surely
the sky is still
big and blue and
still right there
right above
the roof

but in the warm
room, I can see
only patterns of the
days that I’ve been
counting down

The blurry scars
on my arm

Past thoughts
on yellowing paper
littering the room

Unread books


Photographs of
the gone

The surviving words
of the dead

And if this
broken and scattered
laying around me
is trying to say
at all

I hope
it’s that
the sky
is still there
and blue


“The Network”

The shock that projects in waves-

The reflected vibrations of our collected selves-

Fills both hands with separate meanings

Contradicting black and white

Identifying good and evil

While remaining a singular expression

Of feeling, of color, of thought

Of the trembling of our presence

Within a deserted room

Who are you, who are we

But a change upon and within our selves

And our surroundings

And the common ground

We know as being right here

When the eyes have met

Maybe they’ll see a reflection

Of infinity upon infinity

To beyond our conscious fences

To nowhere at all

Sustained as a circle

A loophole in the rules

That guide so quickly to hate and fear

Which we as a being

Should learn to hate and fear in turn

I will not separate myself

From the seclusion

Of everything as one

And one as everything

I will not surrender

To the animosity of the unfamiliar

For I am one to think

That I am familiar too

I will not tolerate

Change as a means to an end

For the end is changing meanings

And happening all at once

The shock of being here

Dies with the realization

That here is being

And we will not keep ourselves

To ourselves anymore


“Memories (a farewell)”

Before we knew it
the time
was almost here
to say

And how?
so unexpected,
long desired,
the light is finally
breaking shadows
on the horizon.
And amongst the joy and
the thrill and the sigh
of relief
is a small twinge
of selfish logic
breaking in
to our hearts

we know that we
don’t feel ready
just yet

But when will we?

Back in the warm
securing shadows
we watch the light drawing nearer
and we wait
and recollect

a memory:
this park bench
where a few summers ago
we met on our bikes
at four in the morning
to drink stolen wine
and laugh.
And oh, how we laughed
until we collapsed
each other.
Nothing but the dry
summer night,
the roof of stars,
and the perfume
of yellow grass-
the scents and
of what we were
that night.

Or that dark
stretch of sidewalk
leading from the echoes
of a house party.
You couldn’t make it very far
down that sidewalk
you were too drunk.
So I laid there with you
and we prayed
for the ground
to stop shaking.

Or that parking lot
your car got a flat,
and I broke the jack
and put a dent
in the asphalt
trying to put on
the spare.
And how we laughed
away the worry
we collapsed.

Or all those hangovers with coffee,
the miles that we
put on each other,
all the careless
and funny accidents,
all those memories
that made us
who we are.

Back on this park bench
where I held you
and fell in love with you
a few summers ago
I wrote down
a few things
that I
about us,
and how things
are so different now,
and how
I don’t
want to
let you go
just yet.

But if not now, when?

You are already
just a memory
of the laughter
and the stars,
and the booze,
and the dry grass,
and the relentless
summer nights,
and the sprinklers,
and the kittens,
and the dark sidewalks,
and the jealousy,
and the inspiration,
and the certain songs,
and the comfort
that I
once had.

And now, almost before
I knew
what hit me,
and long before
I’ve come
to accept it completely,
the time has come,
you are
already gone,
time to let the memories
be just that: memories.

Sam Burks is from the San Francisco Bay Area, in California, and can be reached at srburks@gmail.com