Two Poems

by Jeffrey Burghauser (September 2018)

Lycidas, Henry Fuseli, 1820

[1] Suburban Monody


I never thought: “When I get older,

I’ll own a boulder.”

But there’s one in my backyard.

I never thought that someday I’d boast

Owning a lamppost.

By the boulder it stands guard.


A tire whose pressure seems exact,

Might, in point of fact,

Be preparing to explode.

I, though not at all presumptionless,

Never reckoned this

Information I was owed.


A surprise: They still abhor the Jew.

Furthermore, who knew

Pain could colonize . . . a knee?

It appeared supremely understood

That I never would

Have kids intentionally.


But my chest became an icy sluice,

Dearest Lycidas,

When, receiving no reply,

I forced through your bedroom’s heavy lock,

And succumbed to shock
At the fact that people die.

Le VoileWilliam-Adolphe Bourguereau, 1898



[2] Eclogue

after William-Adolphe Bourguereau


The heat is

Broken like a droplet’s skin. Fasten

The fair, fresh-uncoiléd strings, each

Attempting to determine what it

Means to abide beneath unheard-of

Tensions, their untried, infinitely

Discoverable authority

On wayside sympathetic strings,

On mahogany, maple, spruce, brass,

Bone & ebony—On human skin,

And on heaven’s common air. Beware:

Dermal vapors rising through the thin,

Suburbanly-laundered linen in-

To an olfáctosphere busy with

Breeze-shaken buds, botryoidal moss,

Thickened vegetationary floss,

Wet granite, damp tobacco, wine, and

All those soft, kindred occasions of

New heat, each singularly a-pulse,

Trailing its Nazareth lace of fruit

Shampoo & talcumey showerstuff.


In Arcadia, one’s vices grow

Selfless, as they were a world ago.



Jeffrey Burghauser is an English teacher in Columbus, Ohio. He was educated at SUNY-Buffalo, the University of Leeds, and 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 previously appeared (or are forthcoming) in Appalachian Journal, Lehrhaus, New English Review, and Iceview (Iceland).

Follow NER on Twitter @NERIconoclast




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