Archive for the Mather Schneider Category

Mather Schneider

Posted in Mather Schneider with tags on January 18, 2022 by Scot





The cars stop at the red light
one guy slams on his brakes and skids
blue stink of tire smoke
they paw the line snarling and growling

112 degrees
sun the open mouth
of a lion

a young guy hustles out into the intersection
he’s thin and dark
green shirt and red pants
hair black and cut short
like burnt grass

he’s got a unicycle with a 5-foot-high seat
he gets up on it
gets up on it
falls again
finally gets up and wobblingly
keeps it going

the road is full of potholes
and rocks

he digs out 3 yellow fuzzy balls from his pocket
starts to juggle
but drops one

gets down off the unicycle
retrieves his ball
gets back up and starts again

each time he starts to juggle
he loses his balance
and has to stop juggling
or fall

for about 5 seconds he’s on all cylinders
he juggles and balances
torqueing those pedals back and forth
before noticing the light
is about to turn green

he jumps down
bows to the cars
but when he tries to collect
pesos from the car windows

all the cars peel out to the green light

one car almost runs over his foot
before he dives back to the median
an impressive acrobatic feat

he sits in the dirt
waits for the light to turn red again
watches the ants at his bare feet walk their tight rope lines
lift their boulders
build their quiet pyramids

DONE TO DEATH by Mather Schneider

Posted in Mather Schneider with tags on November 30, 2020 by Scot


I’m watching a poetry program
on Youtube.

At a round wooden table
with their glasses of water
3 poets snicker
at the idea of death
because in poetry death
has been done to death,
frankly everyone is sick and tired of death
and it is time for a revolution

and at this moment I swear to God
I get an email
from an old friend who tells me
he wants to kill himself.

He’s told me this a few times.

How tiresomely the poets make
their suffering macramé,
how stern and serious their devout replies
to clown questions,
how they wave sanctimony and sass
like lassos
over the necks of plastic ponies.

The last time we emailed each other
he was sober,
getting married and having a kid.
I had just got out of prison
and he kept asking me questions about it,
kept telling me I should write about it.
We grew up together
and he remembers
the dumb stories I used to write
in study hall, those dreams
and long-gone days.

These poets
are brave souls,
they’ve been to Vienna,
they’ve been to Bangladesh
and Disneyland.
They fell in love with language
at an early age,
words are all
they ever needed.
Well, words
and round tables
and cameras and microphones
and reading gigs and applause and grants and sabbaticals
and hair dye and nose rings and nice houses
and health insurance and easy jobs
and the purest safety.

He doesn’t tell me any details
about why this is happening.
He wants me to write him back.

Next up is a woke gangstress
with tats and a full ride
to Berkeley.
She explains her pronouns and recites a medley
of middle-school quatrains
about how powerful love is
and how whites must die in the fires of hell.

She tells us, “Language can save you”
as if she’s ladling soup
in a Gulag.

I turn it off,

sit looking at his email.

I am sorry
but I don’t know what to say
to people who keep talking
about death,

it’s just so much more
bad poetry
and frankly everybody’s sick of it.

Two Poems by Mather Schneider

Posted in Mather Schneider with tags on September 22, 2017 by Scot


In third grade, us kids were given a piece of paper
to teach us about similes, and thus
to understand life better.

On the paper were written things like:

“________ is as green as grass.”


“It was as hot as ________.”

We were to fill in the blanks.
At the end of the page we were to invent our
own similes completely from scratch.

For my own simile, I wrote:
“Tony Posino smells as bad as a garbage can.”

Tony Posino was a big kid in our class
who liked to beat up other kids and threaten us
and steal our stuff
and it was true he smelled
like a garbage can.

I turned in my paper and later got a note from the teacher
and he took me out
of class and had a talk with me.
He told me that was a terrible thing to say about another human being
that I should have respect for people
that others didn’t have it as good
as I did
I could not go through life with that mentality
and my parents should have taught me better.

That teacher, he really knew how
to lay it on a kid.
I felt so bad I cried.
I thought I was an evil person who would
never have any friends in my whole life
and never know the meaning
of happiness and probably end
up completely alone and then go to hell.

That teacher sat there feeling
good about himself
for correcting a wayward 8-year-old soul
while I wiped my eyes
and walked home hoping no one would see me
stupid similes,
what good are they?

I’ve been ducking people
like him
and Tony Posino
ever since.




Charlie was at the Iguana drinking.
Charlie’s a Yaqui like me
but he’s blind.
He had his cane hanging on his knee
and his girlfriend Katey was there,
she’s an albino,
she’s white like you.
Well this drunk guy notices Charlie’s blind
and decides to make a move on Katey.
She’s an albino but still not bad looking.
She whispers to Charlie,
“This guy’s getting close,”
and Charlie whispers back, “How close?”
And she says, “Real close, he’s right there.”
“Right there?” Charlie says.
“Yeah, right THERE.”
Charlie stands up real slow
and stares straight ahead with those milky eyes
and he reaches around Katey
and grabs the guy by the neck with one hand
and hauls him out the door.
It was about three in the afternoon
and we all followed him to watch.
Charlie had the guy pinned on the sidewalk
and he says, “You had enough? You had enough?”
And the guy grunts something, you know
and Charlie lets loose
and we all go back inside and leave the guy there.
He wasn’t really hurt bad.
Now, I’ll admit
a one-armed guy beat me at pool one time
at Skinny’s Pub
and I like Charlie and no disrespect
but if I got my ass kicked by a blind guy
I would be so embarrassed
I don’t think I’d EVER go back in that bar again.
But, this dumb-ass just came back in ten minutes later
like nothing happened.
But he didn’t do nothing that time.
He just sat at a table
by the wall
and rubbed his eyes.

I’LL GET RIGHT ON THAT by Mather Schneider

Posted in Mather Schneider with tags on August 25, 2017 by Scot


My wife’s uncle is murdered
in his home in Hermosillo
his head beaten and left on the floor
to lay there in the Mexican summer heat
for 2 days
until he’s as bloated as an air mattress.

He’s found by his sister
my wife’s mother.

It takes 3 guys
to squeeze him
into the coffin.

The funeral is rushed.

The preacher says the mass in 15 minutes

and then out to the cemetery
where two kids wearing sweaty t-shirts
drop the coffin
into the red dirt.

My wife and I make the 4-hour drive down
from Tucson
get back in time to
work the next day.

12-hour shift in that stupid cab
some meth head runs on me.

I get home from work
turn on Facebook
and some guy tells me
I really need to read
his press-mate’s new crime novel
the latest star to come out
of Kentucky State’s MFA program

because the rawness of the writing
will blow my mind.

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


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

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
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
to the fact that one morning
years later
I would wake up in our
two story house
completely and mortally civilized
and deaf to her

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
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
maybe in a week, maybe a month
maybe the post-person
will lose the fucking thing, maybe it will get
sent to your asshole
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
he’ll have his pension
at age 55
he’ll go to Puerto Vallarta
for vacation
and give the poor beggar children
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

in the glass bowl
where he so happily, so smugly

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
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

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.


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

Some of the characters
in the novela
live in a garbage dump
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
no place to even wash

My wife is from
and she assures me
this is not
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
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

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

clicking off the
when the credits

dishes washed
garbage cans pushed
to the curb

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

lying here in the dark
feeling fat
and filthy