Poetry

Poems by Mather Schneider

BILLS IN THE PICNIC BASKET

I hop barefoot across the august coals of Tuesday afternoon
to get my mail at the communal mailboxes
a quarter mile away at this thousand-holed
birdhouse for people

nothing but bills

I remember when I was a kid my mom would get the mail
there was always something magical about the mail
I would ask her
What did we get?
I imagined something wonderful would come one day
something that would change our lives
rip us out of our dull routine
make my mother smile
maybe money or a ticket to another world
or city
maybe something from Ed McMahan
or an invitation to the Price is Right
but my mother would always say the same thing
“Just bills”
she’d throw them into a picnic basket by the table
and start boiling
the same old macaroni

I always thought it was somehow my mother’s fault
that all we got was bills
that she must be doing something wrong to be so unhappy
and when I was 18 years old I got the hell out of there
I ran like the wind
but I learned pretty quickly
that it wasn’t my mother’s fault at all
the world was a sick and stupid place that cost too much
and it ate good people alive

I walk back towards my apartment this Tuesday afternoon
35 years later
smell the fire of someone’s barbecue
a little altar there in the middle of the grass
a rib-eye smolders
the tongs lay just so
a brown bottle of something with the cap off
where is the chef I wonder
maybe he went inside to take
a piss or get the salt shaker or maybe the phone rang

I clutch my stack of bills and want
to toss them into the barbecue coals
disrupt this peaceful little still-life
I put my bills close to the heat
smell the charred meat see the blood seeping out
god it would feel so nice to watch
this bullshit go up in flames
but what then
more would come
they’d shut off my utilities
it wouldn’t solve anything

instead I put the bills in my pocket
think of the macaroni waiting for me at home
think of my mother
eating dirt
I grab that steak off the grill
hot hot hot hot
toss it back and forth in my bare hands

run like the wind.

VACATION

It rains the whole time
but that’s all right
we huddle inside looking out
pray for no leaks in the roof
luckily there is only one
small drip
like a water-filled
hour glass

there is a feeling during a rip-roaring storm
when you are safe inside with your lover
while the world cracks
like a mad scientist drawing the juice from the heavens
to create new life

civilization falls away
its catches let go
the job the errands the duties
the responsibilities
seem silly and unimportant

the lightning sucks the power out
we squeeze each other in our little secret
pocket of devilry
the thunder makes us start
and giggle

we hold our breath
we don’t think

later
the clocks blink
as if time has not stopped
but simply become confused

and we come apart
and go from room to room
always a little sad to
set them right again.

POSSIBILITIES BITTEN INTO THE SHOULDER OF 3 A.M.

Get born, seek mate, repo-dos, grill wings, melt before
miss universe

ball your socks, jack-off, don’t weed whack
before 6, act zany

eat neat, look cool, suppose, hop hip
lope, oppose Hitler’s roses, lean the way

the wind blows, support, feel sorry, fart
smartly, caramelize onions

choose paper, nix cook’s special, send
kids loaded wishes, mate hate

talk right, break clean,
shame the wild, mount the tame

want nothing, have everything,
remember Rome, sift sand , sport baseball

caps, screw rice, buy American,
guffaw at sombreros, say it is

what it is, pinch lice, keep shrinks, plug in
water picks, scrub molars, know nice

smiles open doors
to Roarshack kill-floors, don’t duck walk

heart the world, watch moles
raise pinky, remember mother’s

day, vomit quietly
omit pain, shun shit, shut tombs, pound chest

lock bike, don’t call
collect, shoot straight, take in

a show, lick ice cream, tap glass once
sit in call-centers, taxi cabs, crap factories, white labs

fornicate for money, help people, pull strings
graph blackness, like Einstein’s hair

jot numbers, make jokes, stare discretely, believe
tv, save, retire, wave spatula

get sauced, pretend to be
someone else, snicker, diddle, muddle, doodle

hold on to the holy trinity
of three friends, forget, go quietly

to bed, tread on he who tailspins, fuck
yourself, be forgotten, chew tripe

swallow down the right pipe
make pee pee, don’t think

thinking makes death kinky.

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2 thoughts on “Poems by Mather Schneider

  1. Could be (one of) my kind(s) of poet. (And that ain’t easy). Enjoyed.

    Favourite bits (for completely different reasons):
    “remember Rome” & “like Einstein’s hair”.

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