“Act of Contrition” – Poetry by M.A. Schaffner

ManRay
Optical Hopes and Illusions – Man Ray, 1928

“I detest all my sins because they offend thee, my God / who art all good and deserving of all my love,” says the Catholic prayer known as the “Act of Contrition.”

“The next age’s illusions will depend /  on Gods we’ve yet to discover,” writes M.A. Schaffner in “Act of Contrition,” one of four poems he contributed to our Winter 2015 issue.

{ X }

IF GOD WERE HEARTILY SORRY WE’D UNDERSTAND,
but there are no sins, not even creation
ranks above reflexive pathology.

I’d clean the erasers for that schoolgirl
each long afternoon her mother spent at work
mixing poisons for her daughter’s future.

It wasn’t just wanting only one thing
but continuing to want, and to plan
a life along those lines of honesty.

The garden will go in just a little while,
the soil scraped back to the Pleistocene,
and stacked with pre-fab sections of Versailles.

The next age’s illusions will depend
on Gods we’ve yet to discover — on prayers
pleading for eternities just like this.

{ X }

M. A. SchaffnerM.A. SCHAFFNER has had poems published in Shenandoah, Prairie Schooner, Agni, Poetry Ireland, Poetry Wales, and elsewhere. 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.

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