Although I wrote poetry in my late teens and early adult years, demands of study and work kept me writing other things. Now and then I read poetry, but only resumed writing it about 15 years ago. Encouraged by some writer friends, Places and Times (eLectio Publishing) was released in 2015. This book considered the interplay of several places where I lived and their importance for my development.

My second book, Accents (Blue Deco Publishing 2017) has a thematic structure that involves my love for languages and places. Looking back over my life several leitmotifs, or accents, appear. These involve the careers I have had in education, the Army, and as a Lutheran pastor. There are connections only became significant to me later, but are clear to me now.

I hope that readers can share in my journey, and perhaps reflect on their own. This column introduces the reader to some of my poems, and to who I am. While I read a lot of poetry, my major influences are Whitman, Eliot, Auden, and Rilke.

Contact us if you would like to share your poems.

To My Mentors

Not every teacher or older colleague is a mentor. But there have been some with whom I have kept in touch, or at least think about often as I conduct my own careers. Far too many are gone now, and this poem is for them. In some way I hope that some younger colleagues and/or students see me as a mentor.


How do we become who we are?

more than genetic configurations

or environmental influences,

A series of individuals

at times working in concert

but usually in isolation

temporal and spatial

excavates our potential,

burns away our dross

exposing enough of inner diamond

for us or someone else

to labor on its perfection.

 

So many strove to fashion

the person I eventually became

whether by duty, pity, or vision

they listened, corrected, and modeled.

Certain of them offering

glimpses into themselves

apart from classroom and office

allowing access to their reality.

 

As time passed and distances grew

contacts grew infrequent and

confidence replaced inquiry.

intention to offer thanks or write

overwhelmed by agendas and action.

Faces set toward the future

prevent recollection of all things past.

 

When numbing reality seized me

that some of them had departed

familiar settings, no longer connecting

at conference to recall halcyon days.

I resolved to let no more of them

enter the undiscovered country

hearing no words of gratitude from me,

without seeing the immortal diamond

glistening from this poor potsherd

that they earlier discerned and polished.

And I in my way doing the same for others.

 

Arthur Turfa, Accents, © 2017

Blue Deco Publishing

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