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I see him reading in the full moon’s glow,

The crags above so like his own decaying

Molars, while the woods and fields below

Convey the gentle day’s spent ardor, playing       

With his thoughts, which meet the chill of night.

Aside from architecture and Wagner, reading

Provides his greatest passion and delight:

For hours, until dawn, he goes on feeding

On the pages as the vampire does

On flesh and blood. And so his dreams are fed.

And no great majesty that ever was,

No heroic deed or love, is dead.

And lacking love himself, and home and wife,

To castles real as dreams he gives his life




William Ruleman is Professor of English at Tennessee Wesleyan College, where he teaches a wide range of courses, including creative writing and literature, with a specialization in modern poetry in English, including that of Yeats, whose hometown of Sligo he will be visiting on May 2013. His poems have appeared most recently in Open Writing and Poetry Salzburg Review, but also in many other journals, while his first two books of poetry were published by Feather Books of Shrewsbury, England, and his translations of Stefan Zweig’s early novellas and stories appeared in 2011 from Ariadne Press. Currently he has several other books of poems and translations in progress.















Journey to the Eastern Shore




Make a right onto Thirteen and almost

before you know it Discount Cigarettes,

Lowest Prices Allowed By Law – you hear?


Only the Government stands between you

and cheaper death, the Winning Formula,

Everyday Low Price, “La Bamba” playing


over the self-service pumps, candy aisles,

no-touch rest rooms. Fill up and move on:

Country Western Sleigh Ride Thru’ the Holidays.


Thinkin’ Chicken? Always Fresh. Never Frozen.

Peninsula Poultry Equipment Co.

The road is only a poem we drive on


from Blue Crow Antiques to Family Dollar.
Tell God of the Gratitude in Your Heart.




M. 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 in a home built cheaply more than a century ago.















Diary of a Mad Alchemist’s Niece



On my eighth birthday,

I saw the complete arch

of a spectacular double rainbow


and thought it was about me.

All summer I ran through the sprinkler

for more rainbows on the lawn.


At noon, I crawled through narrow tunnels

from cave to cave, casting my torch on stalagmites,

fearing a burst of bats. I found no subterranean rivers.


No Styx or Lethe shed insight on whatever is buried

in my subconscious. Honestly, I was relieved

to surface and breathe.


At midnight, I climbed Mt. Fuji.

A black sky deployed meteors at the base

and a grey sky dropped hailstones at the peak.


No summit sunrise in the fog. No guru for me.

Only numb tongue and cold bones,

ice and pumice, obsidian and obstinance.


My grandmother’s great uncle was a mad alchemist,

imprisoned by the King of Poland, who failed

to convert brass to gold yet figured out the formula


for porcelain. Perhaps my fate will match his:

years of ambitious dabbling

to accomplish what didn’t matter to me.




Sara Backer recently won the 2015 Turtle Island Poetry Award. She teaches at UMass Lowell, leads a reading group at a men's prison, and tramps around the woods in New Hampshire worrying about wildlife. Her poems have appeared in Poetry, Bamboo Ridge, The Rialto (UK), Carve, Crannóg (Ireland), Gargoyle, New Welsh Reader (UK), Southern Poetry Review, Poetry Northwest, Arc Poetry Magazine (Canada), PANK, The Seattle Review, The Pedestal, Turtle Island Quarterly, Waccamaw Journal, and many more..  For more information and links to her online publications, visit


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