by Jeffrey Burghauser (March 2020)
The Violinist at the Window, Henri Matisse, 1918
Talking to him was like playing upon an exquisite violin. He answered to every touch and thrill of the bow…There was something terribly enthralling in the exercise of influence. No other activity was like it. To project one’s soul into some gracious form, and let it tarry there for a moment; to hear one’s own intellectual views echoed back to one with all the added music of passion and youth; to convey one’s temperament into another as though it were a subtle fluid or a strange perfume: there was a real joy in that—perhaps the most satisfying joy left to us in an age so limited and vulgar as our own, an age grossly carnal in its pleasures, and grossly common in its aims.—Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
Am I speaking to or through my violin?
Look at me, my love. Are you my violin?
Resistances, accounted for, were equalized.
In the Maker’s hands there grew my violin.
Sorcerers have threaded gut through furrowed bone;
Shredded, boiled skin shall glue my violin.
“Such receptive, confidential, earnest grace!
With what ease she loves me!” “Who?” “My violin.”
Breath, exhaled, may warm a moiety of air.
Lesser things are known to skew my violin.
Tamburlaine had burnt his lover’s place of death.
What devotion isn’t due my violin?
Years are deftly cut, and sold by weight,
And they turn upon a spit at night.
Nightmares here are dark & fusiform,
Taproots into which I bit at night.
Here’s the bus. You’ll bring your camera.
Monumental guilt is lit at night.
Pour your gentle wine on them.
Rinse away the brine on them.
May they be at ease with Time,
Knowing its design on them.
Their bewildered questions are
Fixed on you, and mine on them.
Poet, formless are their woes.
Make your song a spine for them.
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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.
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