Vanitas Still Life by Pieter Claesz, 1625
by Jeffrey Burghauser (March 2022)
I hated Ezra, and I loved him, too.
And there was mesmerizing Liza, who
I loved, and never hated. Ezra, though,
Decided she was ponderous & slow.
(Those worldlier than I would have the sense
To see what’s suspect in such vehemence.)
The consternation that I suffered on
Discerning something of the cinnamon
Distributed amongst the folds of his
Relationship with Liza was—and is…
A specter strides across the years to swing
Ammonia censers—never trifling.
For she permitted him to cry in her
Well-practiced arms. A Paradise, they were.
A Prayer on His Forty-First Birthday
O help me to be somewhat less of a jerk,
And less of a feast for Anarchical Need.
O reconcile me to the shape of the knout
Mortality twists from Original Life.
O Lord, may I read fewer books. May my wife
Learn more from my face & inflection about
My essence’s systems & moods, than, indeed,
From learned reviews of my recondite work.
Since exiles aren’t all equal (to wit,
Love’s artist, sweet Ovid, was famously hurled
Definitively to the Edge of the World;
Josephus was sent to the center of it),
Preserve me from visions I cannot afford,
And give me a death I can live with, my Lord.
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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