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By Jeffrey Burghauser (May 2018)
Studies of a Dead Bird, John Singer Sargent, 1878
he predawn’s first songbird (I hear you from
My tent), undertaken with that bored,
Nearly sulky dispassion of some
Normal bystander abruptly chore’d
With the performance of some routine
Public service you’re not sure you are
Awfully gratified to be seen
Confessing is within your repertoire.
I wonder if it depresses you all
The more, indeed, to be reminded
How easily one can provoke this wall
Of idiot peers to sing, blinded
By everything they might have symbolized—
Or, if not, by whom are you despised?
Or In The Mind
n an oath’s silhouette, birds are still.
Rifles quote the voice that made the Earth.
Heat ascends, flawless as exile,
In the rain-swept courtyards of my breath.
Fraying ledgers score those vaults where death
Is stored in dusk-beveled ingots we
Shiver to observe disbursed with
The darkness makes itself polemic.
Valley-blasts must be abrupt as salt.
Humiliations are dynamic.
Sten-gun sounds comprise a Gothic vault.
This sort of emergency you’ll find
Only at a war—or in the mind.
Jeffrey Burghauser is an English teacher in Columbus, OH. He was educated at SUNY-Buffalo, the University of Leeds, and currently studies the five-string banjo with a focus on pre-WWII picking styles. A former artist-in-residence at the Arad Arts Project (Israel), his poems have previously appeared (or are forthcoming) in Appalachian Journal, Lehrhaus, New English Review, and Iceview (Iceland).
More by Jeffrey Burghauser here.
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