Poetry: Selections from Mather Schneider

Our Ruined Wedding
Natalia and I are going to get married so we invite my rich aunt
down to Mexico for the wedding.
She drives her big blue Cadillac all the way from Ohio.
It’s the nicest Cadillac.
It’s got a separate bedroom
and a kitchenette.
It sucks a lot of gas but that doesn’t matter.
We’re all outside the church waiting our turn
because a mafioso guy is getting married before us.
The mafioso’s wedding gets a little nuts.
The bride gets pissed off and runs out
right before the I do part
then a brawl erupts and the guns start firing.
The mafioso and his gang come out to the parking lot
where he sees my rich aunt’s Cadillac.
He’s jealous because it’s nicer than his car.
He blows the thing up with a rocket launcher.
My rich aunt is madder than a snake in a skillet.
She has to sleep in our little place in the barrio
and we’re embarrassed about the bare floor and the roaches.
The whole thing makes the papers the next morning.
There’s a photo of my aunt’s poor blue Cadillac.
The locals think it’s funny.
The fact that our wedding was ruined gets brushed under the rug.
My rich aunt takes a bus back to Mammoth
fixing to sue the whole country of Mexico.
There goes our wedding gift back to God’s country.
The bright side is Natalia is still in love with me
and she has an uncle who says he can fix that Cadillac.
I’m inclined to believe it.
I’ve seen things here in Mexico that take the cake.
I’ve seen miracles happen.
I’ve seen dreams get out of bed
and walk across the room.

Another World
A demonstration of some kind is happening
on the street.
I just happen to be walking by.
The police are arresting everyone involved,
beating people up
and the people are yelling and screaming
and crying.
A cop looks at me and tries to arrest me
but I explain I have nothing to do with anything.
He stuffs a dozen men in the back of his squad car
then asks me if he can give me a lift.
I get in the passenger side
and we’re roaring off with the sirens wailing.
The men are packed back there like immigrants,
angry and thin as beanstalks.
They push against the glass partition and it breaks.
I try to hold them off
but it is a losing battle.
I am just one man
and my heart isn’t in it.
I open the door and jump out,
roll down a hill like a pillbug
to yet another world trying a little
too hard to be believed.  

The Detention Center
I am in a detention center awaiting judgement.
I sit at a small school desk.
I feel somber and hopeless
and I don’t know what I’ve done.
A guard paces around watching me and the others.
He jokes with some but not me.
One wall is all glass
and outside a man in army fatigues does exercises in the sun
with old iron weights.
The landscape is nothing but flat concrete white as chalk
as far as I can see.
An old rusty diving board is bolted down
and a lizard does pushups on it.
A boy sits next to me.
He is sad because he murdered his mother.
A woman walks up to me and gives me a piece of chocolate.
She has brilliant white teeth and a slim lovely face,
she glows like a deep-sea fish
and smells of low tide.
She says it is the last piece of chocolate left
from the bag she bought in St. Louis
which had 1,090 pieces in it.
It is soft in my hand like a damp turd.
She walks away and sits behind a desk
and turns a movie projector on.
A black and white soundless film shows on the wall.
A man and the woman are walking through a forest.
They talk to each other
about something that seems important and mysterious.
They look delightedly guilty
but there are no subtitles
and no music
just the clicking and crackling of old film
and the crashing of iron against concrete
and the sobs of the boy
and the laughter of the guard like a fork
scraping down a chalkboard.

The Flicker
Someone puts me in the cockpit
of a jet plane and gives me a push.
I can’t control it.
The world blurs below me
like abstract expressionist paintings
in a bombed museum.
I push the buttons and pull the levers
but it changes nothing.
It is inevitable that I crash.
I dig myself out of the sand
and start crawling
like a baby pterodactyl.
A dune buggy comes up behind me.
A few of my old classmates are having some fun.
I hop in and we drive
through a field of tidal pools.
Everywhere we look is uphill.
The water flows down at us
and we swerve and curl around the
puddles and eddies
which bubble like albondigas.
As we approach the horizon something like a soft egg
lodges in my throat.
We hit the edge
like the crest of highest roller coaster.
The buggy and all my classmates drop away
into a bottomlessness gloom that swallows even memories
and rises like steam
off fresh offal.
I reach out and grab the edge of the earth,
pull myself up by my claws
and gallop down the hill on all fours
toward one lone shrinking
flicker of light.

The Carnival
I am wandering through a carnival.
A woman selling bracelets sells hello.
She flirts with me.
She shows me her bracelets which are not impressive.
They look like they were made in China.
She says she has more and opens a door
to a room I can’t see the end of
full of bracelets hanging on racks wall-to-ceiling.
They are all three colors:
white, beige and gray.
Two other women walk around in the room
who I recognize from other places
and times
where they wanted to sell me something too,
things bland and boring
and flat and ugly.
I see they are still lonely like they were before
when I could not help them
and they are older now just like I am.
I tell the woman I have to go
because my father is waiting.
When I see my father
he has just finished jogging.
He is sweating and hairy.
He’s annoyed because he had to wait for me
and now I can’t keep up.
I stop to look at every little thing
that he’s already seen and grown tired of
and I realize he is not as strong as I imagined
or as wise.

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


  1. I like the first and last poems a great deal. I can feel the imagination of history and taste the yellow dust in your lungs.


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