Arthur McMaster is Contributing Editor to Poets' Quarterly
What my Students Teach me About Darkness and Light
No good in touting the difficult and long-forgotten lessons
of the Transcendentalists, no point in pointing out
the timelessness of twenty-eight-year old Henry David Thoreau,
camped two miles from town in his peevish cabin,
needing only one decent pencil to record his observations
from last night's stars, to contemplate the temptation of dreams,
the slender fingers of those dreams ever-reaching for meaning
as he wakes and rises and steps from the clapboard cabin, perhaps
to rendezvous once more with the unsettled Margaret Fuller,
who will have left to discover her purpose apart.
No earthly reason to encourage them to find something
in Emerson's Nature that might chide them, that could inform
and infuse their day, as they turn the pretty stalks of their heads
as one to the morning sun beaming in from the windows between us,
like so many drowsy sunflowers seeking only the brightness of day.
(from, Need to Know - a Memoir, Outskirts Press, 2013)
Golf in the AgencyMy boss moves his ball around in the rough, in order, no doubt, to improve his lie— knows no one will care to call his bluff, feels service abroad means the rules don’t apply. My boss plays golf in the African veldt, asks me to join him for nine or more holes, then meet the boys for a Pyms or two, having excelled at what passes for sport; achieving nefarious national goals. My boss grounds his club in a bunker of sand, in order, once more, to garner advantage— thinks no junior officer dare judge the man lest the wrong word said would invite his quick passage back to HQ—sitting one year on the Antarctic desk, there to ponder the purpose, I suppose, of America’s timeless game of burlesque.