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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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Your Happy Soul

By Mather Schneider

Do you think that when a man is at the end
of his rope
when he is up against the
cold blackness of the universe
after he has fought for days and
nights since childhood
when it seems that not a single person in the world
is on his side or can
know his insides
do you think a poem
written because the author thinks two words sound
clevertogether
will help this man?
Do you think a poem written from some
writing prompt
will help any man feel
less alone
or that life might have some
meaning?
Do you think a poem like this
will last
longer than the next
semester?
If a poem like this has helped you
maybe all you want from poetry
is to have your happiness
congratulated,
your institutional smuggeries
petted and cooed to,
in which case I will say
a little prayer
for your bored, happy
half-assed soul.

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He Took a Cab

By Mather Schneider

A cabby got shot last night.
Another cabby found him.

He was already dead.
It was over where Geronimo

hits Main, between Larry’s Hardware
and El Corral, thirty

feet from his cab. Our guess:
fare refused to pay

and fled; cabby pursued.
You know the hope

in your life is the same
as your hesitation

before you stand up
to chase a man

down a dark alley,
for fourteen dollars.

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