Two Sonnets


by Jeffrey Burghauser (December 2018)

Girl with Cat, Michael Ayrton


[1] Petland

Petland (facing the electric sub-

Station shivering like a tray of

Experimental lyres), a-throb

At noontime, supplies a display of

Children & puppies, who, a-lather

With an Arcadian bravery,

Pour their excesses at each other.

But it’s the adults who interest me.


What’s in their dear eyes as they receive

Such wealth as a supple, amber-drawn,

Juvenile cat appears to give?

Of what is this a perversion?


But I know the magnitude: as wide,

As raw, as Democracy, applied.



Bored with Lessons, August Heyn, 1876

[2] Students


Greene’s set-designs are back-lit for me

By his having built Saint Credo’s dome.


Gibbon mentions that the soldiery

Serving fruitful, still-ascendant Rome,

Foaming in the fury of her arts,

In making their famously precise

Exercises, used swords that were twice

The weight of their wartime counterparts.


Each unit of a true poem grows

From those powers too immense to aim.


A decade’s teaching has taught me more

Than anything else that (sadly) for

Many a student, his family name

Is the most substantial word he knows.




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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