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Two Sonnets


Vanitas Still Life by Pieter Claesz, 1625

by Jeffrey Burghauser (March 2022)

I

Salad Days

 

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.

 

 

II

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.

 

 

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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