Two Poems

by Jeffrey Burghauser (September 2020)

Autoportrait sans indulgence, Guy de Montlaur, 1969



My Psychiatrist


Piled like a rotting toad  

At her desk, a sleepy pride

Rippled through her face’s load.

Something seething in the snide,

Trampled glimmer of her stare

Intimated that my fair

Application was denied. 


My prescription refills re-

New my license to remain

And maintain residency

In the Nation of the Sane—

Over there I have a life,

A vocation, kids & wife

I would like to see again.


Documents are no more un-               

Certain than the borders they             

Let you cross, or than that ton

Of diluted blue & grey

Scattered through the never-rent,       

Desolated firmament—  

Night that plays the host to Day.


Be aware that only His

Voice persuades Earth to exist.

But the Good (by nature) is

Frangible, remission-kissed,

Coy, contingent, feminine,       

Or (in other words) the in-                 

Verse of my psychiatrist.



On a Certain Clergyman


Among those men entitled to my gratitude

Is one who’s sickened by the man I have become.

His disappointment isn’t baselessly accrued,


But, nor is my intent to flatter someone who’d

Regarded me deserving. Therefore, he is plumb

Among those men entitled to my gratitude.


The banquet he dispensed acutely crooned with food—

Expensive food that left my mouth profoundly numb.

His disappointment isn’t baselessly accrued.


Because the man imagined me a many-clued

Equation orderly enough to have a sum,

He’s doubtlessly entitled to my gratitude.


His father-fondness lost me as a sunset-hued

Guitar lets leak away a plucked note, and is dumb.

His disappointment isn’t baselessly accrued.


He loved me. My diminished, retrospective mood

Affirms that love is necessary as a thumb.

Among those men entitled to my gratitude

Is one whose rancor isn’t baselessly accrued.


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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 collections are available on Amazon, and his website is www.jeffreyburghauser.com.

Follow NER on Twitter @NERIconoclast