Poetry by Arthur McMaster


Don’t wait up; I’m going out with friends, I said, one summer evening,
now so many years ago. Me, back home from my first year of college.
Nineteen, figuring I was a man now—on the verge of something ineffable.
Something not unlike freedom. A guy to make his own choices. I grabbed
her keys, because she had nowhere to go. Don’t wait up, I insisted; Mom,
soaking the dishes from our dinner together, there in the sink. That night
I got shit-faced with my friend Brian and he introduced me to two young
women who told us they had no curfew. We drove around for hours and
drank and made out and did stuff, but did not do what I wanted, which I
thought I needed then more than anything. A kind of love denied me. We
dropped them off and I went home, near dawn, tired. Disappointed. When
I walked into that house I found her sitting there—head down, at our tiny
white Formica table—sweet face buried in her arms. Looking up. Coming
more awake. I said, go upstairs; get some sleep, Mom. She stood and said,
No. And I will never wait up all night like that again, Bill. I will not worry
about a son who does not call to say, I’m okay. Don’t worry, mom. I love
you. Not again, my boy. I will not. I cannot. No; you are free of me now.



Let Silence Speak

I watched him clean his two-inch nylon brushes at the spigot
out back of the house, not saying a word to me,
he, having just painted several worn garage shelves
that otherwise would have had to be taken down
and replaced. Those carefully tended brushes 
would be rehung atop his tidy, make-shift work bench
which none of us were permitted to touch, though
looking was evidently fine — late 
afternoon sun piercing the lone window there,
over our black Chevy, dazzling the blade of his keyhole saw.


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Arthur McMaster’s third chapbook is due out this Fall, from Main Street Rag. McMaster’s poems have appeared in recent editions of Rattle, Worcester Review, and the James Dickey Review. Arthur is the poetry editor for the Emrys Review.