Merlin at Lessons

merlin-and-arthurHe rarely listened to what I taught
but that is the way. A true teacher learns
early that insisting the student listen
is the surest way to uninsure it.
I would be deep into Lao Tze’s treatise
on warfare, and he would be drawing crude
pictures of what he imagined women dreamt he
might do to them. Fart jokes besides Poetics,
impromptu themes justifying the ways of God
to amoeba in terms only amoeba would understand.

Great music was reduced to rhythms
applicable to drunken pub sing-alongs. Ah.
Well. After all, he was a child. Even great men
must be children first. And so what of Galahad?
A priggish upright man even at six who never
changed. He knew the learned texts and
the catechisms and the teachings of poisoned
men and assumed he should emulate the saints
at a time when emulating saints was passé
and too hard to do in the winter.

Children becoming men. Children never
being children but expected to be lord
of the world, the goats, the tapestries,
the candle wax and all. Lord of the forest
when they still run to pee behind a tree
or laugh at dogs rutting in the ditch,
wave numbered placards in the air to judge
the women riding by on their way to market.
And perhaps that mighty quest started
as a search, not for the secrets of immortality,
but for the perfect-sized cereal bowl.

–Shaun Perkins

Another poem in my Arthurian series–mainly working with T. H. White’s version of Merlin here.

2 thoughts on “Merlin at Lessons

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