Three Academic Poems

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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[1]

 

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.

 

 

Eternal Flame                            

 

“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”[2]

 

“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.

 


[1] 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.”

[2] 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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