After Having The Memoir Fully Plotted

Not what I planned because I didn’t.
No “what were you thinking” applies, just eyes
off to the side sometimes looking at me,
more often away, with nothing to say.
And I, that worst of all pronouns, wandered
into the woods hoping they’d follow
or find the fire by another path through
trees opaque in the starless damp.
And what should I do but stare at the flames
guessing their start and narrative drive
to the predictable smoldering end.
There was no moral standing to defend,
there was and is no hope I can pretend
to foresee or even define. Sometimes
the smiting is self-satirizing—all
one can do with the flame is build up steam
to power an entirely different train.
Or so I write now with half a brain
while the rest remains seated by that fire,
waiting for dark to dampen that desire.





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M. A. Schaffner has work recently published or forthcoming in The Hollins Critic, Magma, Tulane Review, Gargoyle, and The Delinquent. Other writings include the poetry collection The Good Opinion of Squirrels, and the novel War Boys. Schaffner spends most days in Arlington, Virginia or the 19th century.