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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