A Journal of Poetry and Kindred Prose

M. A. Schaffner

has poetry recently published or forthcoming in The Hollins Critic, Magma, Decanto, The Monarch Review, and Prime Number.

Other work includes the collection The Good Opinion of Squirrels, and the novel War Boys.

Schaffner used to work as a civil servant, but now serves civil pugs.

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Gives No Change

The time we’ll have for everything is waiting
in a bus shelter by a little-used park.
A few advertisements and gum wrappers
have blown inside, while in the corner sits
a bundle of blankets inhabited
by Adam and Eve, who still haven’t bathed.
They might be homeless or they might have rooms
in a palace or hotel but prefer
the wind that moans forever down the streets
as if trying to remember its name.
There’s time for that, too, in the creatures’ snores,
which sound like the bus when it makes its stop,
opens its door and remains there waiting
as long as it takes for you to climb in.


Fort DeRussy, D. C.

On afternoons at drill they would have looked
over iron sights at a countryside
no less bucolic for the state of war
reported each day at a safe distance.

For three summers the view had scarcely changed—
brassy corn and snaking split-rail fences;
orchards and barns across the fields of fire.
Only in recent weeks had the wildflowers

grown up uncut over the broad glacis;
only after the garrison had marched
at Grant’s command, to join the fighting south.
The fight came back, but now the fortress guns

answered to recruits, and the trenches filled
with invalids, militiamen, and clerks,
so when the enemy attacked the guns gave
tremulous signs their hapless crews would stand.

The sun itself aided in the defense,
with a fire from which no one could find cover,
and the Army of the Valley—so close—
at length fell back from wounds and exhaustion.

It happened here, before these woods grew up
to hide the city and suburbs that took
the fences dismantled for cooking fires,
the trampled fields, the barns smashed to coals.

It happened here, not far from the traffic
that carries us to shopping malls and jobs,
more or less in safety, under a flag
that now is just a shadow in the leaves.