A School Exercise

by Jeffrey Burghauser (July 2019)


The Beginning (Panel 3), Max Beckmann, 1949
 

Teaching is an act of rage
Focused on the You you were
Back when you were of that age—
Focused also on the Sir
Who was fine allowing you to stay that way.
Teaching is an act of rage.
 
What’s a teacher then to do
When he learns a student who
(One believes) was taught the True
Has become a teacher, too?
Thusly, son, ancestral sin doth ricochet.
What’s a teacher then to do?
                                   
I cannot transmit a truth
Cleansed of all the residue
That (when I was but a youth)
Clung with such possession to
Gilded edges of the truth that I received.
I cannot transmit a truth.
 
“This is how you clean a gun.”
“This is how you edit prose.”
“Damnit, pay attention, son.”
“This is how HaTikvah goes.”
“This is how a precious baby is conceived.”
This is how you clean a gun.
 
Tell me what it’s like to die,
All your weathered strings unwound.
How torments me more than Why.
Should more rain assault the ground,
All the soil’s mouths will sigh. Let’s see the skull.
Tell me what it’s like to die.
 
Zweig describes a childhood
During which the label “Jew”
Moldered undeployed. Oh, would
That Experience were true
As substantial Innocence is beautiful!
Zweig describes a childhood.
 
You will meet the World Below
As one meets a swiveling
Office chair abandoned so
Recently you find the thing
At the end of its decelerating spin.
You will meet the World Below.
 
Teaching is an act of rage.
Man must be a hiltless knife.
Man must by a certain age
Learn to play upon a life
Just as Paganini played the violin.
Teaching is an act of rage.
 
 
 
 

__________________________________
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 collection, Real Poems, is available on Amazon and his website is www.jeffreyburghauser.com.

Follow NER on Twitter @NERIconoclast
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