M. A. Schaffner

Sonnet for This Week’s Terror Alert

Volume 16:1, Winter 2015
The Sonnet Issue

Sonnet For This Week’s Terror Alert

Somewhere along the way we asked for this.
Not even disaster, only a scare
and our lynch-mob reflexes erupt. It’s
so American it has its own flavor:
Xenophobe Frappe. Airports fill with eyes
searching for the invisible, a haze
of trepidation, a pack of aimless spies.
Serial killers patrol the highways

like spiders crawling up the nation’s back.
Collective terror sparks the adrenal glands,
strokes the voters, but as consumption slacks
tent cities sprout from hidden fungal strands.
The real fear draws less from imagined attacks
than from the wealth that crumbled in our hands.


M.A. Schaffner retired in January 2010 after 32 years as a federal civil servant, beginning as a clerk-typist in the Secret Service and ending in a management role of ambiguous authority within the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, with stops along the way in Engraving and Printing, Public Debt, Navy, and GSA. His most recent publications include poems in The Hollins Critic, Magma, Decanto, The Monarch Review, and Prime Number. Other work includes the poetry collection The Good Opinion of Squirrels, the novel War Boys, and the memoir Good-Bye To All This, which he e-mailed to all his colleagues on his last day of service. To read more by this author: M.A. Schaffner: Fall 2004 M.A. Schaffner: Whitman Issue M.A. Schaffner: Wartime Issue M.A. Schaffner on Ambrose Bierce: Forebears Issue M.A. Schaffner: Museum Issue