Epigraphs by Chris Schlegel


My mother shrived an oil-rig;
my father loved a squirrel;
my sister Ed was timely wed to Jane, the rakish burl. 


“I have not long to lie with you”—he was a red-cheeked bard—
“for I must drive to St. Paul’s Inch where camp the Seventh Guard.”
“It’s nothing harsh to wait, to wait,” replied Susanna Flynn,
“I’ll square the grounds
and ply the hounds
then pray away the sin and shroud,
then pray away the sin.”

So drove the bard by Quony Lake (the linseed flats appear),
and watered at the dented ploughs. “I know but what I hear.
I hear.” He tapped his heel. “The sun is white,” he hoped to say.
“An age ago
in Holstebro
I reckoned this my day to die,
I reckoned this the day.”


A goblin must needs eat, but never drinks.
A djinn shows teeth of nail, of nail, a tongue of peat.
The pard has louvered fins and feet with thumbs.
A rukh is wise.
And thus we are disguised. 


Fain would the aphorist marry Xanthippe,
and sire a dozen brooders ere his brains putresce,
his will expire. 

I would a sire be
and not the lord, a husband to a holiness
but never one adored.


The ensign looped a bowline with an arm around the boom;
two half-hitches cinched his britches
in the taxis of Vendome.

An aquifer will guide us to the tomb.
They bow before their niches
with their toes toward home.


The bondsman’s manumission brings on dire dissipation.
The freedman has no need for superstition—he wants for regulation
gauzed with catholic erudition.

A hawker’s occupation seems a casual sedition,
netting mostly gain and good. May the gain produce elation and an inkling of freedom, 
           like the freedom in perdition
from all human obligation.