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M. A. Schaffner Poetry

Stumbling Over Imaginary Chairs

By M. A. Schaffner

Every old car dies with new parts
and every one of us
looks in the mirror and sees seventeen
then, with our spectacles, a stranger.

There’s time not lost to recollection
but simply disappeared
into dimensions we forget to dream about.

One looks back from the era and asks
Have I done this before?

There it’s Twenty-Seven/Fifteen
everything sleek and streamlined as death
yet mentally cluttered in ways
that make refrigerator doors seem clean.

Now it’s winter again and one worries
about spring and having to wake up
to another day as a subordinate
in someone else’s dream, waiting for life.

Seasonal Affect

It feels like another country,
not one I’ve gone to but one where the dogs
still bother to mark all the boundaries.

It’s past football season here,
still undecided on the number of players,
or where to imprison them till fall.

Meanwhile trees have begun to plan leaves,
considering all the colors that might work
before compromising again to avoid arguments.

In the distance cars go back to work
and the planet returns to sighing.
A heavy burden of newsprint settles in.

Everything I fear has still not happened,
but I know I won’t reach the end of the book
or manage to again hear the LPs
before the turntable falls into the sun.

Seasonal Affect, Part II

Spring returns with all its obligations,
its early sun and ever shrinking night.
I can’t tell now when peace will book a stay
but I guess we’ll save some money on lights.

While making this morning’s halting run up Taylor,
I crested Seventeenth and saw two blocks ahead
a white-tailed fawn flitting across Nineteenth.
One runs to keep their vices, the other to not be dead.

It was nice to look at winter as a time
to finish what I’d left undone last year,
It’s nice to do without the sure reminder;
I’ll want the same when winters disappear.

And there’s the joke, I guess, of all ambition;
not goals achieved, but hopeful repetition.

Generation Ghost

With this morning already yesterday
and the day before but vaguely seen
through the lens of the sixteenth century
we wander in between
strange rooms on stranger missions.

Pug fur on the staircase
clouding our ascension to the loft,
a hole in the carpet revealing
six layers of fractured stains –
why would one ever want to clean that off?

Pets reigned like pashas
unbothered by books.
The mice and the wasps and fans ran free.
Drooping cobwebs graced a private history
curled in every thought.


M. A. Schaffner lives with spouse and pugs in a house built cheaply 110 years ago in Arlington, Virginia. Their work has recently appeared in The MacGuffin, Illuminations, and the anthology Written in Arlington. Earlier appearances included Poetry Wales, Poetry Ireland, and The Tulane Review. When not avoiding home repairs through poetry, M. A. wades through the archival records of the Second United States Colored Infantry (1863-66) with a view toward compiling a regimental history.

The Writing Disorder is a quarterly literary journal. We publish exceptional new works of fiction, poetry, nonfiction and art. We also feature interviews with writers and artists, as well as reviews.


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