Archive for the Mather Schneider Category

TONYA PATTERSON by Mather Schneider

Posted in Mather Schneider with tags on April 18, 2017 by Scot
 
She’s seventeen years old
and at midnight
she falls through the high school gym skylight
into the dark
like a hard swallow.
 
The next morning
they find her
on the parquet floor,
 
the same floor
where the cheerleaders dance
at home games
 
where we play dodge ball
like killers
 
where we do wind sprints
until our guts heave.

KARINA AND I by Mather Schneider

Posted in Mather Schneider with tags on January 7, 2017 by Scot

KARINA AND I

were camping
in Washington State
and while we were sleeping in the tent
a bug crawled
into my
ear.

I exploded
out of the tent flap and into
the moonlit night
screaming and moaning
and slapping my right ear
(it was like a giant
was walking on my
brain)
and eventually rolling around and beating
my head on the ground.

Karina came out of the tent
sleepy eyed and beautiful
and looked at me
and laughed
and just at that moment
the little black monster hopped right
out onto the ground
and scurried away
into the dark grasses
of Mount Baker
before I even had the chance
to murder it.

Katrina and I made love after that
like two wild animals
oblivious
to the fact that one morning
years later
I would wake up in our
two story house
completely and mortally civilized
mute
and deaf to her
tears.

CHASING THE GREEN CARD by Mather Schneider

Posted in Mather Schneider with tags , on November 27, 2016 by Scot

It is absurd
what men have made
of life:
this government office
tucked away in a low rent warehouse district
behind a run-down McDonald’s
where the bitch security guard
makes you take off your belt
and shoes
and give her all your things
and walk through the metal detector
like a portal to
hell:
the big room with 60 chairs lined up
and not a single person
not a plant
or a picture
nothing on the walls
no windows
not a single piece of lint on the carpet
no water allowed
no food, they barely
allow air.
And you sit with your Mexican wife
and wait for the door to open
and the little mousy government official
to poke his head out
and mispronounce your names
(but don’t correct him, god!)
and usher you into his
tiny office, again
no windows, nothing on the white walls
but oppression, righteousness
and a military calendar.
And in this tiny room you will beg
for leniency, for him
to let your wife stay in this country
beg him to believe you are really
in love
that you are good people who just want to live
together and be happy
to live a simple life
without trouble, that you didn’t ask
for this to happen
she didn’t ask to be born
in Mexico with no money, she didn’t ask
to have hope
and courage
and you didn’t ask to meet her and fall in love
and if you can’t properly define
what it means for two human beings
to need each other, he will
tear your life apart.
And you will watch his face
for any signs of compassion
and see none, no smile, nothing
just nods at your answers
as he makes his little checkmarks and notes
on a paper
and looks at a computer screen
you can’t see
and this man who has lied 20 times already that day
will judge you both immoral
and unworthy
and point to a tiny paragraph
in a 1,000 page law book
as proof.
When it’s over
he says you will never see him again
and you will receive notice
in the mail, yes or no, yes or
no
maybe in a week, maybe a month
maybe the post-person
will lose the fucking thing, maybe it will get
sent to your asshole
neighbor.
If your request is denied, what then? you ask
as your wife begins to cry
and he looks at you as if that is a
stupid question.
She will have to go back
to Mexico, he says, so calm
so absurd, so easy
as he sips his water from a clear bottle
and shows you the door
as if you’ve forgotten where it was
and that’s it:
he’s got his paycheck, it’s
Friday
he’ll have his pension
at age 55
he’ll go to Puerto Vallarta
for vacation
and give the poor beggar children
pennies
and think nothing absurd
about it.
You want to kill him and wonder
who is more insane
him or you
which is more absurd
his life or yours
and you leave the building
and stand in the sun
and hug your wife
as she cries.
There’s still hope, you say
pulling her closer.
And so you wait, which is what you’ve been
doing for 2 years
all your life it seems
the small man who has no power and so must
say to himself things like
“roll with the punches” and
“be like water”
and “love your fate”
but the truth is
it hurts:
this absurdity
this waiting
without knowing
what will happen to you.

A SMUG POEM BY Mather Schneider

Posted in Mather Schneider with tags on September 12, 2016 by Scot

The belly-up guppy still moves his lips
at the stupid world
as if everyone should be ashamed
to be walking the land and breathing the air

because they are unsure
or because they are angry or hesitant
or have not heard of a particular
newly minted acronym or legalese footnote
or because they can see two
sides to things, or
many sides to things. God,
smugness must be

the ugliest of human attributes, show me desire
for sex or revenge, show me humiliation
or mutilation, show me
sadness, madness, will to power, will
to self-defeat, show me doubt, love, hate, show me
courage to confront Jesus show me anything
but smugness, anything but the social
media revolutionary in his transparent

gold suit, snob-slobbering his gob of 30 character all cap
dismissal, the pc hot issue
parrot-fish jogging behind
a baby stroller wearing Rush Limbaugh
earphones, or

the world-peace glib-flipper like a push-back
mob-peg bubbling
with delight at the slightest scent
of weakness from the man of the
wrong color, wrong mood, wrong opinion, of any man
alone, of any man
who is not perfectly comfortable
in a waterbed of dreadless quiet, of any man

out of whack,
of any man not stroking with the current, the smug
twitter-porpoise following
the pipers of American
this, American that, or the
liberal arts education steward, always
going with the numbers, the statistical cesspool, the MFA
soul sucking monster of smugness,
the spell-checker

of the soul, the rule-eel, t-crosser, the reference
pointer, precocious teenager
who has never had
his eyes dotted.

There is a slimy scaly hypocrite
within the smug man, there is always some
bed of coral
from which he speaks, while he enjoys his
food sprinkled to him daily,
even if he speaks
of being deprived,
even if he speaks of going hungry
it is a lie, a smug lie,
the smug man is a man for whom
the current system is functioning brilliantly
even if he preaches
change he wants nothing
of change, the smug man chuckles
his witty derision, as if he can hardly spare

a breath to belittle you, his salty pity, his
titters

reverberate
in the glass bowl
where he so happily, so smugly
floats.

GARY’S TREE by Mather Schneider

Posted in Mather Schneider with tags on October 26, 2014 by Scot

For years Gary would park his cab
in the shade of the tree in the corner of the parking lot
behind the Wafflehouse
on 22nd Street
when it got hot in the afternoon
and it was slow and he was tired
of driving.

Gary’s 58
with a long white beard, one replaced
knee
and he walks with a cane, been
driving a cab for 18 years.
He can remember
when that tree behind the Wafflehouse
was small
and the Wafflehouse hadn’t even been built yet.

Yesterday he told us other cab drivers

“Some fuckhead cut my tree down!
Now I got no place to go.
I’d like to take an axe
to that son of a bitch!”

And there are people who will say
Gary needs more courage
to live a fuller life
and there are people who will say
Gary needs to find another job
and anyway
it wasn’t HIS tree,
it wasn’t his PRIVATE PROPERTY,
he had no RIGHTS when it came to this
tree.

I guess that’s true
but there aren’t that many trees
around here
and it gets hot in the summer
under that sun.

The thing is, Gary’s old, doesn’t have much
to live for anymore
and now he’s talking
about killing someone with
an axe

and there isn’t a cabby in the yard
who would stop him.

NOT WHAT IT IS SUPPOSED TO BE by Mather Schneider

Posted in Mather Schneider with tags on October 1, 2014 by Scot

A new Mexican telenovela
started last week
at 6 o’clock
on channel 46.

My wife and I
watch it
every night
while we eat
dinner.

Some of the characters
in the novela
live in a garbage dump
outside
Mexico City

a huge
seemingly endless
mountain range of refuse
where the poorest of the poor
build their shacks
call it home
pick the garbage daily
for things they can fix
and use or sell or wear or
eat
no place to even wash
themselves.

My wife is from
Mexico
and she assures me
this is not
fiction
and I can tell by the footage
it is no stage set.

Of course the actors
are not poor
but when the filming stops
real people do live there
in this garbage dump
this basurero
and they do live like
that
every day
fighting on the very edge
of existence
death is their neighbor
hunger their black butterfly.

They are not saints
and I know they would probably do
almost anything
to give their children
what we have

but
there is something
not what it is supposed to be
here:
ensconced
on factory-bought sofas
eating dinner
without real hunger
watching novelas
every night

clicking off the
tv
when the credits
roll

dishes washed
garbage cans pushed
to the curb

going to our soft
clean beds
to ready ourselves
for the coming
workday

lying here in the dark
feeling fat
restless
and filthy

CARTAS DE AMOR by Mather Schneider

Posted in Mather Schneider with tags , on June 3, 2014 by Scot

 

 

The other day I was riding my bicycle
and I imagined what I would feel like if Araceli died
and left me alone in this house
I thought it would be the end of me.
I had no idea how I would go on
I thought about sitting alone here
writing letters to her ghost
a whole book of letters
in her Spanish language
even though I don’t know it very well
I figured she would understand me
even from the grave
like when we first met how we communicated nobody knows
not even us
but we did and it was easy and beautiful

and I came home from that bicycle ride
made some notes about it
left the paper on my desk
and when Ara came home from work she found it.

I came into the room and she was crying
she thought I was writing a goodbye letter to her
thought I was leaving her
thought I was going to sell the house and go away.
It took me 30 minutes to convince her otherwise
and when she finally believed me
understood that I was thinking of writing an imaginary
book of letters to her after her imaginary death
well that didn’t sit too well either
and though the tears stopped
she looked at me like she didn’t know who I was

and was distant and strange later in bed
like she thought I might kill her in her sleep.

Best not to imagine your love dead
or to think people will understand what goes on inside you
best not to put literature ahead of life
best not to write certain things down
or if you do
best to burn them
or hide them
for some cold cold day.