Three Sonnets

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Jeffrey Burghauser

Like the Sound of Rabbinical Hands
Like the sound of rabbinical hands
Within range of the enshallowing,
Chalky distortions of the dusty glands
Of an old loudspeaker as they wring

(The hands, that is) a substantial, toy-
Bright candy from a square foil sheet,
To be disbursed to a little boy,
That he might learn that God’s commands are sweet…

Like this sound, the preliminary
Thunder in the V of air that fits
In the hollow, where, against a tree,
An old man with an older banjo sits.

All storms, be their scale bad or worse,
Destroy equally the Universe.


Boethius agrees, venturing
That the Music of the Universe
Is automatic, indenturing
Herself only to her endless purse.

Automatic: like the taut, grotesque,
Augmented chord that the poets learn
From tips of the cirrostratic dusk
That frict the lost farmscape’s counter-turn.

Automatic: like gravity, rust,
Or the ethical trajectory
Of burghers with conscience so robust
They used a King to adorn a Tree.

Bar-Kamsa. Is his panting, vatic
Perfidy just as automatic?


Ecclesiastes directs us toward
What Wordsworth said a poem should be;
Proverbs, Lamentations show discord
Recollected in tranquility.

But David’s Psalms ably display
What’s far parox’d in the very thick
Of crisis: desperate, scattershot cliché,
Scrambling for what might do the trick.

Emergency, from “emergence”: grown,
Blown, gathered in the burléd dark, at-
Tacked, pressed briefly into sight. The lone,
Individual life is like that.

The lone, individual decree,
Almond tree, human love, galaxy.

Jeffrey Burghauser is an English teacher in Columbus, OH. 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 in Appalachian Journal, Lehrhaus, and New English Review.