by Jeffrey Burghauser (October 2019)
Spring in the Gardens of the Villa Borghese, Sir Lawrence Alma Tadema
Villa Borghese Gardens
Since we were in Rome, of all places,
John Keats was quite substantially
On our minds, and Abe observed that
The younger you die, the greater
The mythic burden each increment
Of time’s expected to sustain.
Therefore, if you die in infancy,
What sort of god do you become?
Rereading Carmina Burana
Oh, the panoplies all sing & strut,
Everything so real, devoid of rust!
…saving, well, the raw, obscene disgust
For the archisynagogus. But
Then I read the Times. It breaks a seal,
Finding that I need reminding that
There is sorrow found in finding that
The Eternal is a package deal.
“Of you, dear friend, what can one say in such dismal times? In the old days, you’d have had the fame of Aristarchus, say, or of Zenodotus, eminent men, those Alexandrine scholars.”—Ausonius, “Citarius, Sicilian of Syracuse, Greek Grammarian at Bordeaux”
“I repeat: this firehouse will save
Lives,” declares the mayor on the site.
Festive bunting stapled to the height
Points to what this building will have meant.
In a random-seeming corner of
Newly-sodded lawn: a disk of white,
Lesion-patterned, plasticized cement.
And surrounding it are pillars, three,
Finished nearly like unfinished stone,
Meant to seem not placed, but somehow grown.
And on each piazza-facing side
Is a laser-perfect vacancy
For a typographic megaphone
Fit for names of those who will have died.
Oh, Ausonius, forgotten man,
Kvetching that another man who’s quite
Equally forgotten won’t delight
In Eternal Glory like these two
Other silly names who no one can
Recognize at knifepoint. Anthracite
Is the memory of meadow-rue.
Heaven’s oscillating like a snake
Over everything & everyone.
“Take no thought,” enjoined the careful Son,
Engineering tungsten-perfect love,
“For tomorrow. Let tomorrow take
Thought of its own things. Sufficient un-
To the day is the evil thereof.”
 From the Encyclopædia Britannica: “[A] 13th-century manuscript that contains songs […] and six religious plays. The contents of the manuscript are attributed to the goliards (q.v.), wandering scholars and students in western Europe during the 10th to the 13th century who were known for their songs and poems in praise of revelry. […] [T]here are drinking songs, serious and licentious love songs, religious poems, pastoral lyrics, and satires of church and government.”
 Slavitt, D.R. (trans.). (1998). Ausonius: Three Amusements. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. (line and stanza breaks removed)
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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 collection, Real Poems, is available on Amazon and his website is www.jeffreyburghauser.com.
Follow NER on Twitter @NERIconoclast
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