The blood of all their noteless number / Ran red like mine.
– A.E. Housman


from the Middle English
to beg. Like his forbears
the minstrel prays amid the swish
and rustle of white albs
for what, exactly?

For the dregs of absolution:
his words.

How otherworldly those
dumb beliefs.
The bray of a donkey
spells sounder truths.


Meanwhile his alter ego –
a popinjay at the ball –
adjusts his ruffled collar.
His métier is the other’s weakness.

Such aplomb.
The buttonhole carnation
bends its neck toward his baby face
while a tired servant
contemplates his excess:
partridge, rare beef, wine, and brie.


Poetry wants something enormous
said Diderot –
something simply just not there.

They both know that
one tries but not the other.

David Sahner is a physician-scientist and poet whose poetry has appeared in journals on both sides of the Atlantic, including Tears in the Fence, Agenda, The Bitter Oleander, Connecticut Review, Catamaran, The Sandy River Review, Van Gogh’s Ear, Blue Unicorn, Blackbox Manifold, Mudlark and elsewhere. His work has been anthologized in several collections.