Categories
Poetry

M.A. Schaffner – 5 poems

Received Wisdom

 

Didn’t we have a time that decade we don’t

quite remember or agree on? You know,

the one with that weird dance, or was it song?

A buzzard never changes style, nor do squirrels.

That’s why we call them both inferior

as we study them on our way to work.

Whoa there, fella. Row that leaky boat ashore

and come in out of the rain for a drink.

We need to recall which era it was.

Our people were here before the Indians,

supping on codfish and mastodon pie,

chipping beautiful spear points and losing them.

It’s all in the epic we learned in school

and then recited by heart. Or maybe

none of that happened. Or maybe just some.

 

🍃

 

 Value

We’ll have the cookies till the drugs kick in.

Your organs aren’t failing, just dropping off

into a state resembling work to rule

or whatever we do in lieu of caring.

Already have insurance? Not enough

to live forever unless you have faith

or a related disorder. Funny,

but people burned or butchered each other

just for the ratings. In time we grew up

into commercial metastases,

a kind of consumerist zoo. And today

the king offers his horse for freezer space

and a place in the country where the walls

enclose a ceremonial golf course, lakes

with seasonal fish, and a club house filled

with peers and medicinal beverages.

Almost a life, it takes his mind off death.

 

🍃

 

 Invisible Wing

One definition of street had become

a community of shopping carts leading

to a cluster of depots and barracks

of the Grand Army of Consumption, which

promised ongoing ultimate victory

ultimately fueled primarily by

the fantasy that it was possible –

life as an unending tipsy orgasm

with production devolved to Alberecht

and his Third World dwarves. We’re so beautiful,

the films made in our praise are infinite,

though only a minute long, and billboards

greet us with gifts from every building filled

with our twins. They simulate work as we

text them from the neighboring block. It works

only so far as we don’t, then it falls

like a hawk who has forgotten to fly

and doesn’t know it yet, but loves to dive.

 

🍃

 

Civic Dedication: Lessons From The Lincoln Conspiracy

Not as buyers, but with ideas we keep

the future of the republic secure.

Let’s not, but say that our fierce rivalry

has implications beyond breakfast foods.

Notice how we mature – from sippy cups

to morning take-out beverages with names

evocative of foreign vacations

on ever less sleep because time presses.

Everything is an obvious casualty

of having traded species for product,

and the latest hour of decision looms

like an appointment to have one’s teeth cleaned.

Each franchise leader goes to market with

a “radical” proposal. Each network proclaims

a belief in people in the abstract.

I believe in me as an abstraction,

not a sentiment but a strategy

for surviving the inevitable storm,

for calibrating hope and affection:

not what Booth said, nor Boston Corbett did.

 

🍃

 

 Annual Report

An air of righteousness unjustified

by the underlying contribution,

like masses for those who’ve already died —

no matter how often the name comes up

this is about the organization

and its loyal staff, starting at the top

and ending not far below. It’s a law,

not of nature but of information

pertinent to most managers who draw

little lines from labeled box to hollow square

with steadily less consideration

for whoever might be working there,

though often praising their contributions

in speeches that thud like clods on coffins.

 

🍃

 

 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.

Categories
Poetry

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.

 

🍃

 

Bric-A-Brac

 

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.