Sunday, November 26, 2023

Two Poems by Mather Schneider

Suegro's Tour 


Suegro was my father-in-law

and he didn’t die gracefully.

He made a big damn show of it,

squalling at his wife from his deathbed in the house

calling her a crazy old lady,

a fucking bitch,

getting even for all the things that pissed him off his whole life

telling her to come in there and help him go to the bathroom.

He would fall on purpose 

and wipe shit all over the walls.

He would go into the kitchen and yell from the window:

THEY’RE KEEPING ME PRISONER! 

SOMEBODY HELP ME!

The neighbors would come.

Once the police came too.

Suegra had to explain.

 

Poor old Suegro.

He was a sweet man when he was healthy

but dying, no.

 

During his last years he always talked about taking a tour of Mexico.

He hadn’t been anywhere in his whole life,

just that same dirty town 

but he had seen they had tour buses that would take old people

around Mexico to visit the towns and sites,

the “magical pueblos.”

He wanted that tour so bad but it cost too much. 

 

He finally died in midsummer 

when it was hot as fuck.

The funeral was in a church so he could go to heaven.

That funeral probably cost more than the tour but somehow

they always find money for funerals, 

funerals and beer.

 

After the ceremony 

we all got in the procession to head to the cemetery.

The hearse was in front and kept making odd turns.

I said to Natalia, 

Isn’t the cemetery on Progresso?

She just shushed me and we followed.

 

The hearse ended up going all over the place,

through neighborhoods I didn’t even know existed.

The kid driving the hearse 

didn’t know where he was going

and was drunk

so we all just drove around the city for an hour.

Finally some fed-up uncle got out of his car at a red light 

and set the punk straight.

 

We pulled into the cemetery as the sun was setting.

I guess old Suegro finally got his tour.

Now he’s seeing places we can only imagine

and he can’t even send us a postcard.

 

 

Trout Fishing

 

Natalia and I get in a fight on Christmas morning.

She’s sick, in fact she’s dying

and just wants me

to get away from her.

I stay out in the shed all day and night.

When I go to sleep on the floor

 

I dream I am driving my green car to a lake

to go trout fishing. 

A kid pops out of the pines and hitches a ride. 

It’s my old classmate Ian

who never had any friends

and killed himself one summer.

 

At the lake we don’t catch any trout. 

Some cool boys wander over

and begin to make fun of Ian. 

I don’t stick up for him though I should. 

I walk to my car,

get in and drive it 

straight into the lake.

 

Later I see Ian and my dead Uncle Harry 

outside the Stop-n-Go

where I am buying two frozen trout.

 

Uncle Harry says, 

We know you and your friends purposely stopped Ian

from catching any trout

and you also tried to kill him

and we’re going to take you to court.

 

He looks at me with a terrifying hatred.

 

I say, 

Nobody caught any trout that day, Uncle Harry.

 

So you admit you were there? he says.

 

I’m sorry, Ian, I say. 

 

I roll my wheelchair away from them

because my spine was crushed 

when I drove my car into the lake.

They fished me out 

but the car is still down there.

 

I feel sad for Ian. 

I feel sad for Natalia

and Uncle Harry.

I feel sad for damn near everybody

and that’s the truth so help me God.

 

Bio: Mather Schneider was born in 1970 in Peoria, Illinois. He attended several colleges but never attained a degree. After living in Washington State for eight years, he moved to Tucson, Arizona in 1997 where he married a Mexican woman and began travelling to Mexico. He has had several hundred poems and stories published since 1994 in places such as River Styx, Rattle, Nimrod, Hanging Loose, Rosebud, Pank and New York Quarterly.

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