Prayers

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by Jeffrey Burghauser (January 2023)


Woodland Prayer
, Egon Schiele, 1915

 

On Waking

Darkness disperses as a dune
Of tiny crabs is parted by
The shadow of a little girl.

I thank You, Merciful, Eternal King,
Who’s given back my soul to me, with love.
May I maintain unbent awareness of
My purpose, and appreciate the shrewd,
Humane, vitality-delivering,
Divine regard beneath which it’s pursued.

 

 

A Father’s Psalm

Voice #1:

A father’s psalm. Some hungers sting appallingly. O listen, lad: When sorrows find inside the fun a burning grove of sandalwood … when Love arrives like contraband, discreetly wrapped, its seal embossed … do listen, for, at eventide, the heavens say: “When Mercy’s just, and Justice kind, I’m present. Turn to Me. I must be Him.”

 

Voice #2:

O what a fearful thing
It is to witness the
Formation of a bad
Relationship with your
Beloved eldest son:
That constellation of
Contingencies & good
Intentions, of indulged
Parental instincts and
Advice acquired at
Extensive-seeming cost,
Securing his contempt—
The spite that shall abide
The balance of his days.
Your present moment must
Bizarrely constitute
The boy’s eternity.

 

 

Polyphony

[A father’s psalm.] O what a fearful thing
It is to witness the [Some hungers sting
Appallingly.] formation of a bad
Relationship with your [O listen, lad:
When Sorrows find] beloved eldest son:
That constellation of [inside the fun
A burning grove] contingencies & good
Intentions, of indulged [of sandalwood,
When Love arrives] parental instincts and
Advice acquired at [like contraband,
Discreetly wrapped,] extensive-seeming cost,
Securing his contempt—[its seal embossed,
Do listen, for,] the spite that shall abide
The balance of his days. [at eventide,
The heavens say:] Your present moment must
Bizarrely constitute [“When Mercy’s just,
And Justice kind, I’m present. Turn to Me.
I must be Him.”] the boy’s eternity.

 

Table of Contents

 

Jeffrey Burghauser is a teacher in Columbus, OH. He was educated at SUNY-Buffalo and the University of Leeds. He 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 appeared (or are forthcoming) in Appalachian Journal, Fearsome Critters, Iceview, Lehrhaus, and New English Review. Jeffrey’s book-length collections are available on Amazon, and his website is www.jeffreyburghauser.com.

Follow NER on Twitter @NERIconoclast

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