M.A. Schaffner – 5 poems

Elder Statesman


Ninety percent of everything is crap” –

thought for the day on imagined samplers

intended to teach our youth not virtue

but the inevitability of despair.


Let’s say it doesn’t matter and move on

to the next plane of existence. Up there

this truth would only apply to poetry

and musical compositions, leaving


affairs of the heart free of foolishness,

at least past a certain sobering age.

But my age has sobered me all along

even as I resisted with rotten jokes.


No wiser and knowing nothing I move

from year to year of portraying an adult,

then open a door and see her smiling

in all innocence, maybe, though intent


on more, not knowing my fat stock of guile

and bad example. It changes nothing

but the clown suit and fright wig I put on

and when the grease paint smile becomes a frown.




Except The Beating Part


Your lover can’t be your lifeguard, your Christ,

your doctor or full time nurse. Not your whore,

your stud, your sympathetic furniture,

your bumper sticker or flag. Your lover

can’t lift you out of adolescence

or stay the steps of death. Your lover can’t

make demons disappear and angels sing

in praise of your nonexistent virtue.


Your lover might pretend to anything,

whether you wish or not – spend your money,

toy with your desire, drive you to madness,

embarrass you, or view you with disgust,

as long as they stay, and share what life gives,

grudgingly or beautifully together.




The Lamp And The Bat


She knew what I thought before I thought it –

sweet spectral smile and I’m an old buffoon

losing his wisdom before he got it

on a cool night, blue mist covering the moon.


Anyone can laugh and shake their head,

tell me to act my age as if that means

beyond a certain digit we’re all dead,

and have no right to love or hope or dream.


I see the gulf that keeps us both in line –

one that leads uphill, the other down,

but age improves the taste of more than wine

and though I cannot touch I won’t disown

the note of understanding in her voice,

the sudden pang in which I had no choice..




News From Near And Far


While I was watching they cut off his head.

A little later he fell in the street,

shot multiple times, as the spokesman said.

A drone observed the scene from overhead.


The victim’s phone produced this recording.

And it’s summer yet, flowers so pretty;

bees hum, birds whistle, children run and sing.

Government forces shelling the city


bring intimations of an early fall.

It gets so bright we want to turn away,

go back to school, watch movies in the mall.

Fatal accidents occur throughout the day.


Some fires you can outrun, but not them all.

The world will leave you with an oil slicked pall.

Your cocktails glitter untouched in the tray.

It seems too soon. You hardly know the way.






We met in a dark and intimate world

and later saw ourselves betrayed by day,

with daily needs to deal with and the sun

highlighting every blemish from the one

horizon to the next, and next beyond.


First seen, then seen too much, I disappear

into a curio cabinet of memories –

a romantic shade turned to dust catcher,

my transient ideal become collector

jumbling me into a drawer of random junk.


And there I will wait to see her again

as she passes with a newer treasure

into a newer room, carefully set

with all the objects dearest to her taste,

my life pending on the uncertain chance

she someday senses something else is missing.



M. A. Schaffner has had poems published in ShenandoahPrairie SchoonerAgni, and elsewhere — most recently in Former PeopleRaintown Review, and Rock River Review. Long-ago-published books include the poetry collection The Good Opinion of Squirrels and the novel War Boys. Schaffner spends most days in Arlington, Virginia juggling a laptop, smart phone, percussion caps, pugs, and a Gillott 404.


Christopher Barnes – 2 poems 

​Lord Byron Downloads A Zombie Movie


When to their                    hughies on a fuddled gale,

Shall call my spirit,           dark Guinness-tinged, pugilistic,

When, pois’d                    he rip-tides thick speech,

Or, dark in mist                 marks the spot before an unfermented head.

Oh! May my shade’s        giddy-pluck veins drain

To mark the spot              into a jotted fragment, a pub-crawl swig alone.

No lenghthen’d scroll       if that with bed-readiness this liver has glued

My epitaph shall be          with lurk-remembered charms        

If that                                only bugger-all shall lucidify

Oh! May no other             gaffes be misremembered. 


Glossary of slang: Hughie – Vomits.




Lord Byron Attends A Transvestite Party


One shade                   of forget-me-not dusts the eyes

   Had half impair’d       splotch on a rag doll cheek

Which waves                in a shagadelic hair-piece, nuzzling

   Or softly lightens        the boom-ting polkadot embodiment

Where thoughts            and amyl orbit the venturesome

   How pure                   this backdoor man daylights as Miss Salacia




In 1998, Christopher Barnes won a Northern Arts writers award.  In July 2000 he read at Waterstones bookshop to promote the anthology ‘Titles Are Bitches’ and at Christmas 2001 he debuted at Newcastle’s famous Morden Tower doing a reading of his poems.  Each year he reads for Proudwords lesbian and gay writing festival and he partakes in workshops. In 2005, Christopher saw the publication of his collection LOVEBITES published by Chanticleer Press, 6/1 Jamaica Mews, Edinburgh.


Tom Montag – 4 poems



It’s always about loss,

though when we are young

we think it’s about love.


There’s an emptiness

in the heart that blood

alone cannot fill.


There’s a black hole

at the center of our

galaxy which pulls us


to some last, great darkness.

That’s not about love at all,

for all we love will be


compressed to nothing

or as near to nothing

as atoms ever get.


You must push through such

losses, though, before

you find what you need.







And so you become

one with the universe,

one with this earth,

with the tawny grasses

that cradle you.

One with the vultures

that feast on you.


One with the sky

in which they fly.

One with wind. With

all of us, the huge

roaring greatness of

everything that is,

and was, and will be.






Such bright green,

this morning fire,


this consuming

light. We ask


for nothing, this

loveliness enough


to take us home.







Bitter cold. And why be out

in it? With wind an icy

sting above the river. And

snow on everything. With

fingers numbed lacing skates.

Why run the river’s fall towards

the Missouri?


                        To carve

the only marks the ice would

see that day. To skate free

as a poet would. To do

something that means something

even now, fifty years on.




 Tom Montag is the author of In This Place: Selected Poems 1982-2013He has been featured poet at Atticus Review (April, 2015), Contemporary American Voices (August, 2015), Houseboat (April, 2016), and Basil O’Flaherty Review (July, 2016), and received Pushcart Prize nominations from Provo Canyon Reviewand Blue Heron Review.


Welcome to Bindweed Magazine Issue 4!

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Issue 4 cover photography: Driss Tamdi

For January, February and March 2017 all poetry and fiction published in Bindweed will be included in the later print anthology for Issue 4.

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Leilanie Stewart 🌺