Poetry: Selections from Mather Schneider

Getting Old 

Getting old is no good
you get the jowls and your bones creak
and you have to wipe your ass for 10 minutes
and then again a half hour later
Just wait it gets worse says my old mother
Dad’s got two new hips
even grandma is still alive can you believe it
she’s 96
they all live thousands of miles from this small Mexican town
where I count change for a pack of smokes
walk to the corner store with my 33 pesos
Chucho follows me jumping and acting a fool
he loves to go to the store though I never buy him anything
he sniffs the garbage everywhere
chases a cat or two
old Chucho now 5 years old but still a pup at heart
except some days he seems tired
and wants to crawl onto my lap and sleep
he must have some arthritis from when he got run
by a car a couple years ago
Getting old is no good Chucho
he looks at me and tilts his head and cocks his ear
I complain to him about not getting laid anymore
because the old lady’s got a sickness and says it hurts
but poor Chucho’s probably been laid at best
3 times in his whole life
and he doesn’t even have pornography to look at like I do
when the old lady goes to the drugstore

The Duck 

A duck showed up in Isabela’s yard last week
just this lone little duck out of nowhere
I’ve never seen a duck in this town
there are no ponds or lakes
it was ornery as fuck this duck
it chased Isabela’s dogs and cats around and even ate their food
it bit one of Isabela’s little girls on the finger
they tried to catch it but it was fast and agile
I don’t know what they planned on doing with it if they caught it
maybe eat it
it didn’t lay any eggs or do anything useful
it was white and black
it stayed for a couple of days while Isabela and the girls watched it
from the window
it made the sounds ducks do
which don’t make much sense to humans
it shit on the front porch
maybe it had been migrating and just let down for a breather
but we never see any “V’s” in the sky here
only the smoke from where the city burns the trash out in the desert
where they find dead bodies sometimes
then one day the duck up and disappeared
back into the void where it came from
just like Isabela’s second husband last year
and her first husband a couple years before that


Rosalita told Sofia to put a drop of her own pee
in her man’s beer
if she wanted him to love her
so Sophia did it
and by God it worked
then 11 months later Sofia was near to pop-out a baby
and her man was standing in the dirt road at 3 a.m.
screaming obscenities at the house
pissing on the front stoop
until the cops showed up
and slapped him with a half-ass-enforced
restraining order
the baby boy who was named after him and looked just like him
grew to resent his life and his fate
until the age of 18 when he left
the old mud-hole of Hermosillo  
and settled into a plumbing LLC in Mexicali
where he makes a pretty good living to this day
though you’d never know it by his cheapo
Christmas gifts
and the weird vibes we get on social media
from his cornsilk-haired significant other
and all her psycho family from Acapulco  

Outside the Drugstore 

Natalia’s got a zit on her clit
among other things
we drive to the drugstore to see if they have something
I sit in the car and wait for her
the guy who hangs out in the parking lot washing car windows
comes over and talks to me
he knows me
he asks me if the wife is sick
Yes, I say
I’m annoyed he’s come over because I know he wants money
I’m feeling sorry for myself
he’s wearing a pair of ragged shorts and no shirt
2 mismatched sandals on his brown dirty feet
How are you doing? I say
Not so good, he says, the place I was staying in burned down last night
burned all my clothes
burned my bicycle too
now I got no place to stay
(he says all of this in Spanish)
Natalia comes out of the drugstore scowling in the sun
scowling at the guy talking to me
scowling at me
They don’t have anything, she says, bunch of idiots in this place
Who’s this guy? she says
His house burned down, I say
It wasn’t my house, the guy says, I was just staying there
Well ok take care, I say
Hey you wouldn’t have a pair of pants you could give me? he says
No, sorry, I say
which is true but I don’t think he believes me
he’s been smiling the whole time
like only the down and out can smile
I hand him a few pesos and back the car away
People take advantage of you, Natalia says
as if she’s made a wise and earth-shattering pronouncement

The Puppy 

The only thing that keeps Suegra from going completely nuts
is her grandson Pedrito
Pedrito is her rock
he’s the only reason she has for living
Pedrito turned 8 last week
he said to Suegra,
“I can’t have a birthday party this year can I Nana?
It’s ok, I know it’s because of the virus.”
Isabella brought a puppy over to the house
as a birthday gift for Pedrito
she left the puppy with a bag of food
just as Pedrito’s mother had left him with Suegra
when he was 3
but the food soon got eaten up
and the puppy shit on the floor and Pedrito didn’t seem too interested
he only wants to play video games
they didn’t even name it
Suegra gave the puppy away to a stranger walking by the house
the stranger took the puppy thinking it was his lucky day
now there’s one less mouth to feed for Suegra
and a little less shit on the floor
never give somebody an animal as a gift
unless it’s an animal you can eat
preferably already butchered
it doesn’t matter if your heart is in the right place
or not

Mather Schneider's poetry and prose have appeared in many places since 1994. He has 6 books available and lives in Mexico.