“My Fifteenth Year” by Mather Schneider

Mather Schneider


I remember the schools
of dead carp on the riverbank, 

the bonfires, the first booze 
and the first smoke

rolling through me like buffalo.
I remember the novelty 

of let-downs, the tilt 
of my reflection,

which I looked for everywhere. 
I remember the way a friend forgave 

his father and mother,
how we were told to smile 

for pictures, the murder in our eyes
when we were betrayed

or thought we were betrayed,
the stabbing green shoots 

of new emotions. I remember growth spurts 
and how my genitalia 

ruled the timid logic of my brain
like a little general with a red face

and a tight grip. 
I remember snickering at suicides,

rolling my eyes at old age
and at what I considered stupid and banal,

which was almost everything
except the future 

and strange foreign places.
I remember thinking 

the world was mine
and that I would live

as no one ever had lived before, 
and as no one ever would live again.

from Rattle #71, Spring 2021


Mather Schneider: “Sitting around one day during the quarantine and our ridiculous times, memories of my high school days came back to me, when we hung out on the Illinois River among the washed up dead fish drinking Mad Dog and trying to get laid. The poem came out almost fully formed, as they say, unlike human beings. I remember even back then I thought we were living in an absurd society, reading Camus and ready to tackle the world. Now here I am, 50 years old, wishing I was 15 again.”

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