by Jeffrey Burghauser (April 2020)
Hylas and the Nymphs, John William Waterhouse, 1896
There’s no fever Mercy can’t
Build a Bethlehem around.
Show me marble comeliness
Faith can fix a stem around.
Basic life’s a burlap square
Mercy is the hem around.
Poet, here’s a breeze you may
Wrap a requiem around.
Join me, shepherdess, within this glade of rage,
Where I sprawl beneath the thickened shade of rage.
Will the sylvan nymph unbind her fragrant hair?
It’s congested deftly in a braid, like rage.
She declines. I sniff like an aristocrat,
And caress the soft, Venetian suede of rage.
“Equal work,” they say, “deserves its equal pay”;
It appears that I’ve been overpaid by rage.
Boredom is a Danzig thaler; fear, a void.
Anger is a wooden nickel. Trade with rage.
All these moms & maids & maiden aunts were led
Very well when led to be afraid of rage.
Heaven’s fulcrum is a rowlock made of brass.
Hum a hymn, and dip your oar into the night.
I catch most of my experience by day,
Conjure, and release my lore into the night.
“Swear,” she importuned. I turned toward her face,
Looked into her eyes, and swore into the night.
Poet, armed but with a flask of Persian ink,
You can stalk a carnivore into the night.
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.
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