by Michael Burns         


Rushed in wet wool, mad mud underfoot…
Left the house at three, it was dark and I was heart-dipped in honey
Courage and other belongings stuffed in an old pillowcase,
my mother’s swollen eyes and her smothered kisses

It is the sickness that is the worse for me, moving always moving


Charcoal, graphite and Acrylic on canvas — Michael Burns

I am heartsick and drown in this smell, of vomit and the urine.
I am so afraid…I have never been this afraid

I tremble and am banged about the broken world outside of me
It is always the same

I am afraid of men 

When I went to school, I was taken and possessed by it
Learning became all and nothing else for me
But then, they stopped all that…

I will never see my home again, it does not exist anymore for me
That place of my beginning is long cast away, shadows leaking into the past
Madrid street and the high catholic times,
around that…

Religion is a fever, a fervour
Hold fast I say to what is yours,
your soul
and let go of all else…
let it go now…let it go it was never yours, let it go

In a dream, I walk out on white snow for the first time
The clean…
The silence, and the taste of it
It is still and dark, not too cold…with large flakes falling so gently, like feathers from a busted pillow

Only a few of them at a time — as drifters in and out of the scene
Making a crunching noise on their exit
And I am content and warm now…and satisfied with myself here, and deeper still,
strangely safe forever and that is the thrill of it…

When we land I am too be sold like a dog —
I am a debt
I am told I will work in a kitchen or clean rooms
Laundry or the polishing — may I find the will for this
I am beaten and cannot feel their blows
This is what you are now…


 Michael Burns — Oil Painting  May/2015

Bee-balm and then the lilies
Walking free in nature is the greatest gift I have been given…
Leaves and grasses and little flowers abound every look —
My mother’s Irish laugh, in the corners of her eyes…

Mountains amid the red — cold fresh cloud drops, below the faint line
A chill drops to the ground, and then we are all in it…
Winter can be so quickly cruel
But never as cruel as these men

I balance for a moment… and put my heart to it…and lean into it, lean forward into its cold welcoming embrace
I let go

And I am content and warm now…and satisfied with myself here, and deeper, and deeper still…
strangely safe forever and that is the thrill of it

…I am Colleen

And I am home now.

All images and writing are the copyright of Michael Burns.