Archive for the ‘Mather Schneider’ Category

Down and Not Proud

By Mather Schneider

I am beginning
to understand
how someone could drive his car
over an animal
on purpose,
rolling down the blacktop

at night,
how he could rev the engine
into a furry creature

wandering out in the cold
dark beauty of the earth
without favor

or expectation,
how seeing raw
fear in small

eyes could make
him smile,

twisted with need
to feel superior
to something, to anything, to fool

himself, to bend a life
against the will
of a tire,

when he is weak
and alone
and no one is


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By Mather Schneider

She bends her knees in the tiger shadows,
slides down pink
petal-thin panties
and drops tiny champagne piano keys
onto the earth.

I pull her to me
before the froth can settle
and push myself inside her
like a slippery root.

Her hands fly out to the gnarly trunk
of an old tree
like she’s trying to push it
over and ride
down to the valley

while from my
cramped toes I shoot
strings of crazy snow
into the hot mesquite syrup
of our blood.

Sometimes it is good
to get away from the city
and into
the mountains.

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By Mather Schneider

Sometimes intelligence
is a place with no oxygen

like a man laughing so hard
he can’t breathe.

Nobody knows how we
are built to live, why we go
bat-crazy over every
little thing, how it all

got warped and goes
on warping, hour by hour,

or what humor means
when your life is a maze

with a center of pain
and your soul is a moth-

eaten substitute for immortality.
Laugh that the torment felt

is not a torment meant
but an accident.

Laugh that our lives are
barely a moment

to the tamarind

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The Gridiron Diner

By Mather Schneider

There is the usual gallery
of wackos,
homeless men lugging army surplus fardel,
wild as sandpipers,
occasional hookers
laughing like kookaburras.
Life is a ziggurat
of coffee-guzzling nut-bags.
there is a waitress named Araceli,
duchess of the diner,
with the curves of a calathus vase
and two yurts bivouaced
high in her shirt.
Her eyes are black sapote
and her figure is a hummocky
mirabile dictu
for which there is no inoculum.
Her Doppler approach to my table
corresponds with the poplar
of Demascus steel
moving down my thigh.
Her words are chryselephantine sculptures
smooth as banana oil
while I might as well
be speaking Upolu,
opening and closing
my mouth like a chub.
At the Gridiron Diner
it’s heaven on a muffin,
matches flare like fireflies
but words will not come
if you order them.
Araceli smiles. My heart jumps
into her hands.

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Be Mine

By Mather Schneider

When I first started sending out
poems to magazines
it was 1992
and if there were internet publications
I didn’t know about
I didn’t have a computer and had
never been on the net.

When submitting my poems
I didn’t understand the whole
SASE theory.
I couldn’t figure out how you could put
one envelope inside another envelope
if they were exactly the same size,
and folding one just
seemed wrong.

I bought these small envelopes
like the kind kindergartners put their
valentines in
and I used

A few editors managed to cram
rejections slips into them
with ingenious or angry
sloppy folds
and then one editor finally
wrote me:
“Get rid of the little envelopes.”

I heard about people putting
little extras in their submissions (I wasn’t cool enough
to call them “subs” until many
years later)
such as candy hearts
with messages on them
like “I LUV U”
and “Be Mine”
but instead I decided to impress them
with a wild fancy
cover letter.
I put a large,
grainy, photocopied picture of my face
in the right corner
and I drew a mustache on myself
and glasses.
With the bio I said things like:
Skin: White.
Hair: Lots.
Age: Why, is this a bar?
Sex: yes please.
Activities: see Sex.

Finally another editor wrote me:
“Stop being cutesy and pretentious
and just write.”
I was angry at that editor for
a while:
I mean, pretentious? Me? Ha!
But after a few weeks
I got over it.

In a few months I got my first acceptance
from a journal called
The editor was Dan Nielson.
He sent me a contributor’s copy
and I still have it.

I sent Dan some more poems right away.
In a few months he returned my poems
and wrote:
“I will never read another poem
as long as I live.”

After that
he completely dropped out of sight,
never published again,
and maybe he even kept his
I wish I had
guts like that
but at the same time I hope my poems
weren’t specifically to blame for his

If anybody out there
knows where Dan
Nielson is,
let me know.
I would love to
send him a Valentine
with a small candy

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Fancy Language

By Mather Schneider

I used the word “creosote”
in a story the other day
and this guy I know (another writer)

“What’s with all the fancy

“Fancy language?” I said.

“Yeah,” he said. “I hate it when writers
try to act like they’re
smarter than I am,” he

“Creosote’s a
plant,” I said. “That’s hardly

“Fuck plants,” he said.

Well, I thought,
fuck people too.
In fact, fuck stories,
fuck communication,
fuck feeling,
fuck words,
fuck it all.

(Creosote bushes live
where almost nothing
else can.
They decorate the desert
and when you crush the
small green leaves
they smell like rain.)

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The End

By Mather Schneider

centuries from now
when our sun is burning out
and life is dying.
What would matter to you?
Would you care about
feng shui or
or how your abs look
or if your subscription to Pussy Foot Poetry
has lapsed?
Would you care what’s on
the dollar menu
or how horrible the Dallas
airport is
or what’s on tv on Thursday nights
at seven?
Maybe a few rich could
escape on ships to live in some
artificial environment
but without cheap labor
they too would
soon die.
What possible reason could you find
to go on?
Who would help you through it?
Billy Collins?
Just imagine
centuries from now
or maybe

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