Sunday, June 23, 2019

For a Moment, Purpose

I was young once and didn’t know it
was the frothy whitewater time of my life;

strong, violent and shaping sharpness smooth
before becoming gentle in dreary decline,

widening into pools where dark carp lurked
and skulked in the muck that had settled below.

Still, there was a seeping of black earth green
around me and, for a moment, purpose

until everything turned the after-harvest brown
of a tired and worn-out ground.

Big River Poetry Review - June 2, 2012 (defunct)

Friday, June 7, 2019

Galleywinter #18 - Mather Schneider


Natalia’s grandfather died
when her grandmother was 40
and granny remained in mourning
for the next 52 years
always wearing black
never going in public without her black veil.
She even had a black dog
that followed her around.
She died at 92
sitting in her old wood rocker
alone in her little adobe house
from a centipede that crawled up her leg
and clamped onto her thigh.
They found her like that
leg black and swollen
centipede dug-in
her long black hair in a braid
her notebook in her lap
where she wrote her letters to God.

Mather Schneider was a cab driver in Tucson for many years and is currently living in Hermosillo, Mexico. His poetry and prose have been published in the small press since 1994. He has 4 full length books available.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Salt-and-Pepper Villanelle

I twist my salt-and-pepper beard,
inhale the sizzle of the grill,
then turn the meat to watch it sear.

My vision’s turned a smoky blear
of birdsong echoes sounding shrill.
I twist my salt-and-pepper beard

into a braided length of weird
and wiry time to somehow fill
then turn the meat to watch it sear.

Along the back, black stripes are smeared
like lashes struck until we’re still.
I twist my salt-and-pepper beard

and wag my head until I’ve cleared
the moonshine cobwebs twice distilled
then turn the meat to watch it sear

away the melancholy cheers
of vague potential unfulfilled.
I twist my salt-and-pepper beard
then turn the meat to watch it sear.

First appeared in THAT Literary Review

Sunday, May 19, 2019

All Five Flavors

The other day I tasted the whirr of a hummingbird for the very first time.
It nestled on the tip of my tongue the way laughter does when it sails
from a park on a Saturday afternoon and follows the arc of a doe leaping.

It was a gentler flavor than plowing dry ground black with back and blister
into something fingers can rake, though it was stronger than the sweet blush
of cheeks lighting like snowflakes on her fluttering lashes. Speaking of her,

she smiled at me once and it tasted like walking home all alone from school
in May between walnut shadows and the effervescence of a sunlight
barely able to make it through to my carrying nothing away that day.

Not too long after, I pursed my lips against the tang of chasing our old hatchback
and shouting from the bottom of my throat. Its aftertaste burned just like the bile
of running barefoot and waving goodbye to my Dad through tailpipe smoke.

Little Patuxent Review - January 2015

Reprinted in The Lake - May 2019

Friday, May 10, 2019

It Was a Giraffe

Actually, it was a recipe holder.

Ok, it was a stick painted yellow with brown spots
and a glued-on clothes-pin stuck into a styrofoam cup
filled with plaster of Paris.

It was a Mother’s Day present.

It came from kindergarten
and it was in my hands when I got mad.
(Mom, it’s my turn to sit up front!)

It was unwrapped by my stomping feet.

It is the eyes shut tight
brown-and-yellow-and-powdery-white taint
of every Mother’s Day since.

Boston Literary Magazine - Spring 2012

Friday, May 3, 2019

Galleywinter #17 - Mather Schneider

114 Degrees of Separation

The deaf lady dangles in the swarm     anarchy cooks
at the supermarket doors stuck half open     she thinks the cab’s for her

but you’ve come for a man named Glenn     her eyes eclipse from prayer 
to rage like she’s been punched as an old man approaches 

says he’s Glenn     she throws a fit karate-
chopping you a new asshole     mute fumes     pissed-off mime

with moldy spaghetti hair on her mutilatedskull     she begs
a pen and digs out a Tucson Daily Star from the trash can:

“I waiting 2 ½ hours” she scribbles in the gray margin     waves
the news in your face     July 5th     headline photo

of the foothills burning     no rain forecasted     10 a.m.     blue ink
veins her rheumatoid claws     asphalt hot as Satan’s abscessed tooth     she tosses

the paper to the oven wind     you stare directly at her face
and tell her you’re sorry you have to pick up Glenn     following

orders     somebody’s mother     grandmother     far too
much light     Glenn in puppy shit thrift store slacks isn’t looking

for trouble     70 years old     5 foot 1     80 pounds     the sun throbs
like a sore on the back of a leper’s neck     embolism air 

bubbles trample toward your hearts     you pile Glenn and his groceries
into the puss-yellow cab     swear to the deaf lady you’ll drop

Glenn off and return for her     no clue
which cab company she called or if she’ll curse your soul     doesn’t

matter     we’re all nutsacks and frail promises
collapsing in the funk     Glenn lives 8 blocks away where the rippling water

mirage evaporates     stroked-out apartment complex     you lug his bags up
4 crooked flights     back in the cab you get another fare and take

it without thinking in your automaton nod     remember deaf lady but can’t turn
back     you’ve got your own problems you rationalize

to your gin blossom in the rearview mirror     your wife is crippled
and someone hacked your bank account      there’s a constant ringing     a voice

in your mind you can’t plug up     sweat beads like spider pearls
on this faded roulette wheel that bites     hell

she’ll be alright     bawling in her silent sentience     you pass
a rotted coyote in the cinders of the shoulder

like a poet grinning in a heroin suicide or a theorist
who wrote his final pamphlet on the social ecology meltdown     horse flies

rifle loud and mad in the cracked mud ditch     suck oxygen
into wretched sciatica biomass and hold the fuck on     a 17-tired truck

skids sideways through the red at Rudasill Road     spilled oranges
bounce like propane orbs in violet oblivion     tremulous meteorites

criss-cross your eyeballs     oblique brakes rip the fabric
of traffic like knees bending the wrong way and shattering     like bees

sizzling the bliss with 10,000 flames     like the future
blow-horning your name.

Mather Schneider was a cab driver in Tucson for many years and is currently living in Hermosillo, Mexico. His poetry and prose have been published in the small press since 1994. He has 4 full length books available.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Cinnamon Rolls Acrostic

Disagreeable yet fun ex-husband
arrives in her mind and displaces
reason. This time, warm cinnamon
rolls spice the air, wisting her
eyes closed as she lingers in
not remembering everything.

First appeared in Punchnel's - April 4, 2012

Friday, April 19, 2019

Poems I Admire #58

Home Economics

That week with my sister in Modesto,
the kitchen radio played an endless loop
of The Doors’ “Riders on the Storm” – 
Jim Morrison’s deadpan chant the anchor
for moody riffs on the Fender Rhodes
haunted by rain and claps of thunder – 
alternating with Carole King crooning it was too late,
both songs pulsing along the same hypnotic 4/4 groove
in a minor key suited to the duplex’s dimness,
the shades pulled to block the fiery afternoon sun.
While the baby napped, I read,
savoring the breeze stirred up by an oscillating fan.
I could hear my sister muttering curses at the weevils
she’d found in her flour, her second year of marriage
marked by cloth diapers and other domestic economies.
Like a cryptic prophet, Jim warned
of a sinister killer lurking in plain sight,
Carole’s prognostication of imminent break-up
seeming equally remote.
When the news came on a five, I headed to the kitchen
to peel potatoes, an eager helper.
My mother thought cooking from scratch an absurdity,
but my sister relished creation and innovation.
That week I practiced rolling out pie crusts
and beating egg whites. Twice we treated ourselves
to French toast for breakfast.

That week I made a dress under my sister’s tutelage.
I’d been dogging her through fabric stores for years.
Eighth-grade sewing had been wasted
on useless drawstring bags, but now I was learning
how to match plaids and clip curves
before ironing them flat. When my brother-in-law
returned from his long shift running peaches
at the cannery, I fed the baby his strained carrots
while my sister put a meatloaf on the table,
the radio tuned lower but Jim – dead in Paris
of a heroin overdose – still intoning that a girl
should love her man. Carole sadly replied
she could no longer fake it. Once we’d dried
the dishes, we sat on the front stoop as the sprinkler
doused the hibiscus. When my brother-in-law
retired to bed, his alarm set for four a.m.,
my sister gave the baby his bath, I at her elbow
observing the rituals of powdering. At fourteen
and twenty-three, listening to that soundtrack,
what did we know of nihilism parading about
in the tatters of flagrant excess? Or slow-simmering
heartache scorching love and boiling it dry?
We knew only what we’d been told mattered:
gratitude for shelter, appreciation for nourishing food,
thankfulness for well-constructed clothing
that would last.

First appeared in The Homestead Review

Patricia L. Hamilton is a professor of English in Jackson, TN. She won the Rash Award for Poetry in 2015 and 2017 and has received three Pushcart nominations. Her work has appeared in Ibbetson Street, Plainsongs, Third Wednesday, Innisfree Poetry Journal, and Cumberland River Review, among other journals. The Distance to Nightfall (Main Street Rag, 2014) is her first collection.

Friday, April 12, 2019


I have to be careful of closing my eyes
and taking deep breaths in the memory

of you leaning against me, resisting
the pull of stares we shared

in the tightest gripping of restraint
between hushed acknowledgments

that everything had just gone wrong
in the imagining of a thousand kisses

that would have been much too soft
to make possible the impossible leaving

of your emerald green pleas and desperate
wanting for the world to spin back to normal.

Full Of Crow Poetry - April 2012

Friday, April 5, 2019

Galleywinter #16 - Mather Schneider

Mather Schneider

At The Moon coffee shop, Gary gulps iced tea
and tells me the world is ending.

“I used to have such a wanderlust,” he says.
“What happened? Is this

what I really want?”
9 years since he and his boyfriend

split. 7 years since I’ve seen my mother or father
or the land where I was born. 392 days

since I’ve had a drink. 1
week till I’m 40. I stare across space

at the goth girl making espresso behind the counter.
She’s talking to herself

and I try to read her black lips
over the hiss of the milk steamer but fail.

Gary’s mouth falls open as a good
looking beverage rep walks in the door

and we both sit heavy under
the curse of an answerless universe.

“Want another
tea?” I say

but I can see by the way he wrings
his fingers he’s had enough.

I stare out the window at the neon sign
above the bar down the block

then get up
and go to the bathroom.

Mather Schneider was a cab driver in Tucson for many years and is currently living in Hermosillo, Mexico. His poetry and prose have been published in the small press since 1994. He has 4 full length books available.