Three Bucolics

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by Jeffrey Burghauser (April 2019)


Dance of the Haymakers, William Sidney Mount, 1845

 

 29th Appalachian String Band Festival

Banjos can supplicate. Harpsichords can’t.

Éxedral shadows released

Music: Arcadian fiddles that pant

Antically into the creased

     Region of silence against which the fresh,

          Asperous, reddened, unblessed,

               Effortless, fleet,

               Buttery, sweet

          Mouth of the music was pressed.

 

Memory’s fingers reflexively pose,

Buff into classical heat,

Frame with devotional ornament those

Anythings found in the sweet

     Era that happenstance set just before

          All of the colorless fuss

               Frothing the plain,

               Always mundane

          Era belonging to us.

 

 

Roscoe Holcomb, Photographer Unknown
 

Roscoe Holcomb

 

His bat-like sound, seemingly mindless,

Harrowingly haphazard, in fact,

Is absolutely certain—certain

As construction progress on a dry

Roman siege ramp; as certain as bone.

 

He wedged an empty cigarette pack

Underneath his tailpiece, that he might

Obtain the ideal tone; he was not

Alone in learning the banjo as

If it had never been learned before.


Old Stone Church, Jaro Nerad
 

Sabbath Rest

Here’s the lane

That extends until

Fiddle’s Bane.

 

Up a mossy hill.

Down a lesser knoll. Repeat.

Thus the upward spill:

 

Though we’re headed toward the feet

Of God, the air grows reciprocally

Heavy, oxidized, discrete.

 

Yes, the summit-base conceals a free

Place, ample & weightless as a robin’s breast,

Where banjos & oaten pipes agree;

 

The afternoon heat is barely overstressed

By the crest of evening’s cool domain,

And the people know the gain of Sabbath rest.

 

 

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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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