Poetry: Selections from Mather Schneider

Jose Jose was a great singer
and now he’s dead.
Mexico is in mourning.
2 weeks of drama on the tv,
his songs nonstop on all radio channels.
The problem is he’s got family in Mexico 
and family in Miami
and they’re fighting over where to bury the body.
They could cremate him and then split the ashes
but they won’t do that because he’s Catholic. 
They’d rather fight about it.
His song “Que Triste” is pretty good,
powerful stuff back when they knew 
how to make music.
“Que Triste” means “How Sad.”
It made me cry the first few times I heard it.
Natalia and I used to watch videos together and drink beer.
Those were good times,
long gone now.
Natalia doesn’t drink anymore
because of the sickness.
I drink enough for both of us and a couple more people too
but I don’t cry no matter how much I drink
or what song I am listening to.
I usually just get angry.
Sometimes I get angry at death
and sometimes I get angry at myself.
and sometimes I get angry at Natalia
and sometimes I get angry and I don’t know why.
Death is the main thing I think,
death and dying.
I probably need therapy. 
I wonder if Jose Jose went to therapy. 
His family needs to go to therapy from the looks of it
as they fight over a corpse.
It’s funny that his name 
is just the same name twice.
When I die bury me wherever you want to.
You can burn me up, that’s fine too.
Hang me in the town square 
for all I care, and play
whatever music pleases you.

Trying to sip coffee as quietly as possible
so as not to disturb Natalia.
Maybe she’ll wake up better today.
Maybe a dream will tell the truth.
Maybe the cats will stop tearing up the flowers 
and pissing on the screen door.
Maybe Chucho will grow wings 
and fly fast enough to burn the ticks off his eyes.
Maybe a new doctor will come to town
in a long black limousine. 
Maybe the Devil will go to therapy.
Maybe the smoke will blow away and the sea will calm down
and maybe the fish will come back
and maybe I’ll find a treasure chest 
buried in the yard.
Maybe the water will become drinkable.
Maybe the mango tree will stop wilting 
and stand up like Rumpelstiltskin. 
Maybe she’ll smile again.

Natalia has been curled in bed 
crying for days.
No doctors have the answer.
They’ve thrown the kitchen sink at her.
I tell her maybe it’s menopause 
but she doesn’t like that.
I haven’t said anything right in a year 
or done anything right either.
This too shall pass,
I say to myself 
at the kitchen sink
with coffee cup rings
under my eyes 
watching the children skip to school.

Up early to take Natalia to the urine lab.
They always want the urine from first thing in the morning.
“Maple syrup urine,” a famous writer said.  
Back home we both crawl back into bed.
Soon I am dreaming I am Superman.
I have a job as a waiter 
flying over the tables,
filling coffee cups from above,
cleaning 10 tables 
in a single bound.
No need for busboys or dishwashers. 
I run the cash register too
and I never pilfer. 
I even refuse all tips or if they insist 
I donate the money to the powerless.
After my shift I sit at the bar 
and drink 46 bottles of tequila
without catching a buzz.
I have to take a piss but can’t find 
the dick-hole in my super shorts.
The light through the curtains is blue as kryptonite 
and I walk to the bathroom like any middle-aged man
with a dying wife and a flabby gut,
flat feet on the cold tile floor.

Mather Schneider's poetry and prose have been published in many places. He lives in Tucson, Arizona.