Pending Changes

Dearest Readers,

Good morning! I hope you’re having a great Saturday wherever you are.

I wanted to let you know of some changes that will be taking place to my blog here soon. Due to a mix up and some technology complications, I recently purchased a website through WordPress, thinking I was locked out of this site and needed to start over. After I did, I found what I needed to get back into this one (my backup codes for two-step authentication, which I was sure I’d shredded). In essence, I now have this site, with all of you who at least appear to like my work, and that one. But that one I’ve set up to be both more simple, and more personal. It also allows me advanced functions like uploading videos through Videopress and playing around with other features that I’m kind of geeking out over. Not to mention that it comes with 13 GB of space, which is more than quadruple what I have here.

So what I’ve decided to do is this: Poet598, which is and always will be my sort of brand (I have that on most social media platforms) will be used to share poetry. I believe the bulk of you read for my poetry, so I’m going to keep providing that here.

My miscellaneous writing, however, and anything I do or write pertaining to dance and/or my professional adventures as a journalist, will now be on the new site:

This change means I can keep catering to you guys who like how I share poetry, but so I can also expand my creative horizons a little without annoying you who only like the poetry with a bunch of other stuff you don’t care about.

I am @poet598 on twitter, so if you’re interested in everything, just follow me there, as I’ll post from both sites through that account.

I know this sounds complicated and I know it sounds annoying to you guys. But thank you for your patience and for hanging with me all these years.

Keep smiling,

Shelton M. Burch

Poetry: 2-1-1 At Home, 2-0 Win Over UMKC

A poem about a night at Kansas State Soccer:


2-1-1 At Home. 2-0 Win Over UMKC
Stand in the stadium after
their last home win. Hear their
voices, vibrant and surrounded
by friends, family, loved ones.
Use your ears and see
the internal battles each one faces:
two parts triumph, one part conflict, one part fatigue.
Stand in silence amid the organized
chaos. Stand. Bask in the way the voices
feel as you hear them, in the way you see
only their smiles and the tired outlines of their eyes
under the night sky. See the scoreboard that screams
“2-0 victory” with ignited lights.
Feel their smiles in your soul. Warm, jubilant, sometimes
frustrated. Imagine what they feel, then don’t.
If you’re really listening with your eyes
and seeing with your heart
they’ll tell you.
But you have to choose. Like each of them
did. Like each, who chose to come to a Division 1
school with no soccer program. You have to choose
to turn around before you walk through the gate to write
about their victory. You have to choose to realize
that what’s really worth writing about is worth waiting for.
You have to choose
To realize that the stories really worth telling
Are the ones that happen when nothing is happening at all.

Returning To Resonance

Dancers are known for being our own biggest critics. Heck, maybe people are known as being our own biggest critics. We rip ourselves apart mercilessly in the face of friends’ feedback to the contrary. We deny our souls the satisfaction of being loved not by others, but by our very selves.

But sometimes we’re just afraid.

Afraid of what? Who’s really to know. Afraid of who? What’s really to say. Marianne Williamson might argue “off success” to the first question and of “ourselves” to the second.

I prefer to think I’ve just been afraid of being vulnerable again by writing poetry.

Not by being vulnerable in the sense of opening up about one’s life or oneself or ones circumstances; my friends, and in particular my peers on the Tap Dance Ensemble I’m blessed enough to part of, could all tell you I’m probably annoyingly comfortable sharing that side of me.

Not by being vulnerable in the sense of defying the stoic, never-talk-about-your-emotions-ness that stereotypically comes with being a straight man in today’s society; again: my friends, and in particular my peers on the Tap Dance Ensemble I’m blessed enough to part of, could all tell you I don’t typically conform to such a thing.

Rather, I’d prefer to think I’ve been afraid to write poetry because I’ve been afraid to fail again.

This is a weird sensation for me. Ask friends on the dance team, and even friends in general, and you’d probably hear them tell you that I try things just for curiosity’s sake. I do stuff like take computer-networking jobs because I want a new challenge. I start dancing even though over a decade of running has left me with the flexibility and turnout of a brick that hasn’t stretched in a few months.

Not so with poetry. Last semester, in Spring, I took a 600 level poetry writing class that left me mentally limping as I stumbled out of it, licking my wounds and promising myself I’d never enter another poetry contest, a statement I still hold to. I learned, or if not “learned,” then “observed” that my poetry didn’t stack up at all with my peers’ work. It wasn’t abstract or deep or unexpected in any of the ways we’re taught poetry should be. It was technically simple, grammatically dull, and at times overly-idealistic. Or, to put it more directly: my poetry stunk. That was the gist of what I discovered after hearing the work of my peers last semester.

It’s taken until today for me to finally get over that.

Yet again, one of my friends on the dance team has come through for me, igniting a twig on the ground in the rainforest, convincing the fire that maybe, just maybe, this poetry thing was worth another go.

It was always, for the record, worth another go. I just was perhaps afraid to put on my shoes and step out onto the dance floor again.

So I’ll write again, and not just write again, but write poetry and share it again, and let history and the readers decide where it falls on the grand scheme of things and how significant it is, even if my diction will be simple and my ideas too idealistic for the genre at present.

Sam Clemens failed at nearly everything he professionally did in his life, but his words defied the grave and inspired some of the most profoundly important American writers to ever live.

Maybe one day my musings will become that meaningful.


A Few Weeks In To Tap 3

Editor’s Note: This was initially written back in early February, but was never published though it was fully written. Now seems like an appropriate and interesting time to share, as a way of taking it back to a time in Tap 3. Enjoy🙂


It’s horrifying to think we’re already in February isn’t it?

This semester, I started taking Tap 3 “Advanced Tap.” I also decided, prior to the semester, that I would begin training for my first full marathon. This is something I’ve failed at twice before, in each instance because I tried to train for a full that fell on Feb. 14 or that weekend, which meant I had to train through the snow and through winters that felt about as warm as I imagined the surface of Pluto must feel.

Still, I was sure I could do it this time. It was El Niño, so it was setting up to be the warmest winter in years, and I was training for a May race. Should have worked perfectly.

Instead, I realized by the end of week one that I made a massive miscalculation.

I misjudged the devil out of Tap 3.

I knew it would be fun, and I knew it would be mentally hard, and I knew it would be a workout, but my gosh I didn’t see how much of a workout it would always be.

Keep in mind I’m not complaining at all. I love it, and I love knowing that, by the time it’s done, I’ll be ready to completely rock dance camp again in August. I love knowing it’s making me sharper. I love knowing it’s pushing me far outside my comfort zone and making my feet faster, more precise and capable of enduring more than I ever thought they could.

I just also may have to stop my full-force training, and make this kind of a “dummy-run.” I may try and add the miles and see if I can get to the point of running it, and just run it in Manhattan to see what it feels like and see if I want to deal with that in a full-race environment. Initially though, in weeks 2-4 of my running training, all indications were that I flirted with achilles tendonitis. So I backed off running for those three weeks and ran a grand total of nine miles in there. That’s nowhere near what I “should” be at per my running training, so I’m probably in a bit of trouble with that one. Oh well.

For the moment though, there’s something bigger making me want to hold off on training. I really really really (for emphasis) hate feeling like I’m not dancing well enough to compete on the Tap Ensemble. I want to get better, I want to be one of the best dancers on the Ensemble, even if that isn’t possible and never will be possible because of how new I am. I want to make that pursuit though! I want to chase the gap between the other dances and I like a racing opponent in the distance who I can see ahead of me but fading and who I’m determined to overtake. I musn’t let an injury derail that pursuit, so if I have to back off running to stay healthy while I get used to this semester’s dance load, I can accept that.

I feel such tremendous loyalty to my team that I find myself inclined to give tap my full athletic priority for the moment. I’ll run, but the mileage may not be enough to make it to my chosen full marathon race-date. Instead, I may have to “settle” for trying to PR again at the Bill Snyder Highway Half-Marathon this year.🙂. Then again though, I did place third in my age group last year, and I’m eating better and training harder via core workouts and dance classes, so maybe I can make the effort in that regard count.

Here’s the truth: I love this dance stuff. I’m not good at it, but I want to be, and I’ll do anything to be, within ethical and legal limits of course! I want to become good enough that I can do it at local gigs and talent shows and maybe even one day become a professional. I have no expectations, but as I once wrote:


The preceptor that teaches us to dance with Success,

Chooses to keep better quality company than Comfort.


Tap Happy🙂



The Dance Over Words?

“Meaning necessarily entails words, symbols. They point to something other than themselves. Good music doesn’t point anywhere. It just is. Likewise, only unhappiness has meaning. That’s why we feel compelled to talk about it and have so many words to draw upon. Happiness doesn’t require words.” -Eric Weiner, “The Geography of Bliss.”

For that very reason, I wonder if my idea of trying to translate poetry into dance is a futile exercise. Good dance should convey an emotion, and not one capable of extrication by words.

I suppose I thus imply that the dancer is superior to the wordsmith of equal stature. Does dance, in my eyes, transcend the essence of writing because writing requires words while dance can simply symbolize?

This question of the heart merits further introspection. Is there added virtue, based on the quote above, in how writing (outside of forms that self-analyze, such as the ars poetica in poetry) points to something else? Does dance always point to itself, or can it point elsewhere as well? 

Please leave your thoughts below🙂.

Poetry: Uninstalled Strings

Listen to the rhythm of my feet.
Listen to the heart pour itself forth.
Like Pavarotti’s tenor notes,
Like Lebron yelling “Cleveland!”
Like the way monks in the Alps pray for humanity.
Listen not for sounds of skill
for my feet are delicate, slow, and untrained.
Listen not for hints of Heaven-instilled greatness,
all you’ll hear is a need
for consistently-hard work.
But listen instead for the accented voice that lacks eloquence.
Listen to the feet as they
stumble through shuffles like a poet through a sestina.
Listen. Watch. Feel.
And take heart.
Hear the ebbs and flows of the soul through the soles
like a high mountain creek.
Hear the dissonance of weakness and vulnerability
conveyed fiercely, ferociously,
in a stomp shim-sham shimmy and a paradiddle.
This poetry of rhythm does not come from skill.
It is not eloquent or gentle or soft-handed.
It is bred of pure desire and prayers for patience.
It is bred like the hockey player in the desert.
It is bred like passion breeds with age.
It is bred like a piano player breeds skill with Beethoven
on a piano with uninstalled strings.

The Newbie Chronicles (Part 5): Polo Matching…


The girl from my dance team, who is one of my best friends and one of the perennially best-dressed people I’d ever met, sent me a short string of “crying laughing” emoticons followed by a few, valuable words of encouragement.

I deserved every one of those laughter-teared faces. Plus some. Forever.

The tears, hopefully actually representative of her falling out of her chair in said amusement, came after I’d sent her a text saying “See, I always thought the phrase ‘the clothes match’ meant ‘they are the same color,’ but everything you just suggested shows me that isn’t true.”

Welcome to my life everyone😛.

That was the day I went shopping for work clothes. The day I sought help from my friend because quite frankly I had no idea what looked good with bright khakis. Or dark ones. Or anything.

To give you some gentle background here, I have no style sense except to say that I know I look pretty fly for a white guy  in a black and white suit. Or, to rephrase, I think that “pretty fly for a white guy” reference somehow still resonates with people as funny.

Apparently style sense comes from the same side of the brain as humor…and apparently, that particular side of my brain is a tad eccentric.😛.

Anyways, the reason I am writing this on a laptop inside a room full of polo’s hung up to dry, is to say thank God for friends like that.

Thank God for friends who send you crying emoticons and are patient with you even despite how completely helpless you are at their hands. For ones who don’t judge and who remind you to be easy on yourself. For ones who are patient with you, like the lady at the quilting store when the young reporter intern walks in and says “I’m writing a story about quilting, and I have no idea what the difference is between that and sewing.”

But we’ll get to that. ;)

Thank God for friends like that. Who look at you humorously, either in person or through text, with eyes that say “Oh, honey…”

But then who help.🙂.

These are The Newbie Chronicles.🙂.

Poetry: Awaiting Your Music

Awaiting Your Music
I want to listen to you memories
like the lines of a Jack Gilbert poem.
I want to feel
your heart shine through the lines,
where it becomes irrelevant how they sound
because the language is irrelevant,
though, coming from you, even that’s serene.
I want to sit and just listen;
On a rooftop with you, sharing
a sunrise, with the music of your voice
and the music of your heart
serenading me. I want to hear
about the lives you’ve lived,
and the dreams you’ve dreamt.
I want to listen to your past,
to hear you tell me of your adventures
barbecuing at the lake with your family every fourth of July,
roughhousing with your older brothers
growing up, dancing with your dad
in your living room, at 13, dreaming of your wedding.
There’s a fear within you that I can’t listen,
that all I’ll do is
interrupt. But every day I listen
to a thousand futile voices:
peoples’, life’s, love’s, my own.
Secretly though, the only sound I wish to hear
is yours.

Poetry: Three Freshman And A Puddle

My Notebook on a table in my newspaper's main office. :)
Three Freshman And A Puddle
Three freshman played in a puddle
during a thunderstorm. Surfing
across its two-inch depth
like it was 50-feet deep.
The skies were dark, the tornado
sirens stood at the ready, a watch in effect
and warnings recently expired, and lightning
still occasionally dancing through the sky.
Yet there they were. No regard
for safety, or perhaps ignorant
the way youth are, or the way stubborn
adults are, or the way the night
is of its own, finite duration.
Like the night, they savored
the moment, the fresh energy of the air,
the joy of warm rain.

The Flowers of Kansas State University

A flower grows outside Fairchild Hall at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas.

I took some photos of flowers here at Kansas State University. Here’s some of the stuff we don’t always notice as students. I avoided the university gardens, since that would have been obvious. These were all taken elsewhere. Enjoy.🙂