Westward Doe!

In 1998 the Doe returned to the University of Florida, where she had been an undergraduate, and got a Master of Arts degree in journalism. Then she drove back to the San Francisco Bay Area. I wrote this poem for her then.

The Italian epigraph is a swipe at T. S. Eliot, who used it in dedicating “The Waste Land” to Ezra Pound. The phrase, meaning the better craftsman, is from Dante, who used it in the Purgatorio about the troubadour Arnaut Daniel.


© 1998 by Joe Buffalo

In memory of Robert Browning
il miglior fabbro

The Doe is created a Master of Arts!
See how she leads the gazelles and the harts!
For she is an artiodactyl of parts!
Yay! Yay! M.A.! M.A.!

Her thesis is finished, she’s done all the rest,
And now she’ll return to her home in the West,
Heading on back to the place she loves best,
Where all of her hopes will be put to the test.
Yay! Yay! M.A.! M.A.!

See the Doe pile all her stuff in her car!
Westward she’ll drive now, to follow her star.
Computer, and rice cakes, and that’s the last load –
Out of the driveway and onto the road!
Yay! Yay! M.A.! M.A.!

The animals wait as the Volvo draws near,
And just as it passes they let out a cheer.
For the Master of Arts is the Doe of the Year!
Yay! Yay! M.A.! M.A.!

Florida, Georgia, and then Tennessee,
Missouri, Nebraska. Wyoming is next,
Then Utah, Nevada, and finally home.
This stanza don’t rhyme, but hey, those are the states!
Yay! Yay! M.A.! M.A.!

The Doe is not panicked. The Doe takes her time.
She makes ninety phone calls. Each one costs a dime.
And when she has finished she’s lined up a gig,
And another. Another! She starts to get big!
Yay! Yay! M.A.! M.A.!

She consults and she teaches. She does it her way.
She writes when she feels she has something to say.
The Doe is terrific! Superb! Nonpareil!
And doing quite well at the end of the day.
Yay! Yay! M.A.! M.A.!

See her bedazzle an entrepreneur.
Consulting agreement? He snaps at the lure.
One-twenty an hour. She stops being poor.
Yay! Yay! M.A.! M.A.!

See how her résumé thickens and grows.
Her rolodex fattens with people she knows.
Within her profession she rises to fame.
Post-nominal letters trail after her name.
She’ll do a survey for thousands of bucks.
Into a row stroll the last of her ducks.
Yay! Yay! M.A.! M.A.!

The ducks all start singing. They’re quacking with praise.
They look at the Doe with a rapturous gaze,
At a Doe who has triumphed, despite some false starts,
And all by becoming a Master of Arts!
Yay! M.A.!