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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,
hideous,

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

watching.

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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
sun.

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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,
yellow-throats,
occasional hookers
laughing like kookaburras.
Life is a ziggurat
of coffee-guzzling nut-bags.
But,
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
them.
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
those.

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!
Impossible!
But after a few weeks
I got over it.

In a few months I got my first acceptance
from a journal called
NERVE BUNDLE REVIEW.
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
word.
I wish I had
guts like that
but at the same time I hope my poems
weren’t specifically to blame for his
decision.

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

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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)
said,

“What’s with all the fancy
language?”

“Fancy language?” I said.

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

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

“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

Imagine
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
wicca
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
somewhere
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
tomorrow.

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By Mather Schneider

She stretches naked
on a yellow blanket
above the treeline.
I stand over her
and I’m naked too,
horseflies chewing

my headcheese ass.
Then I’m upon her,
a bobcat screaming

on the sunny edge
of a lonely glacier.
I’m the first me,

she’s the first her.
Her hair is obscene
in the blown grass
and the blue flowers
of her eyes roll
to the white.

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By Mather Schneider

My wife is from Mexico
and can barely speak or read in English
but she loves it when I get a poetry journal
contributor’s copy
in the mail.

She first looks
at the cover, and is generally
unimpressed.

Then she goes for the contributor’s
notes.
If there is a photo of me
she says something like
“Que guapo!”
and if there is no
photo she frowns
like a little girl.
Then she makes fun
of the more pretentious photos,
the ridiculously artsy, dramatic or
glamorous ones
and we laugh together at these.

Then she looks my name up in the contents
and finds the page
and reads it
slowly,
carefully
to herself,
asking me about certain words,
checking others in the Spanish dictionary
and giving small laughs and
sighs.

When she’s finished she kisses me
and says,
“Mi gringo guapo, te amo.”

Then she flips
through the rest of the journal looking for
short ones,
and these she reads
but with not as much care
or attention
that she spent on mine.

As she’s going through the journal she lingers on
any photos or
artwork, even if most of it
seems insane
or pretentiously amateur.

At the long poems,
especially any poem extending for
two or more pages
she just says, “Dios mio,”
and leaves these
for the experts.

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By Mather Schneider

I got a letter from a guy in prison.
The envelope had a big
red stamp on it.
The guy had read a few of my poems in a
magazine.
In one poem I had used some swear words
and he didn’t approve of that
while another poem was about sex
which was ok
as long as I didn’t use the swear words.

He told me
he’d murdered his wife
and that he also wrote poetry
and he included several handwritten poems
in a tiny, beautiful
penmanship.
He said he believed in self determinism
and wanted to know how
I felt about the improvement of
humanity.
He said prison had freed him
from responsibilities like keeping
himself fed and housed in an expensive
and insane society
and had given him time
to read and to figure
things out.

I wrote him back telling him I didn’t
like his poems
(they were robotic)
and that I also had bars on my window
and worked 50 hours a week to
hold it together
and I told him I was not interested in
self determinism or his
plans for humanity.
I told him if he wanted to save the world
he probably should have started
by not killing his wife,
which was a cruel thing
to say maybe,
but then again maybe you should ask his
wife’s family before you
judge me.

I have wanted to murder many
times but never did.
Maybe that makes me a coward,
it’s hard
to be sure about anything,
and anyway
he never wrote
back.

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