Salud – Mather Schneider

First Time

For 2 hours you sit trying to work
up the nerve to call a call-girl.

You dial 3 digits of a phone number,
hang up. You dial 5 digits next time,

hang up. Malarial with adrenaline.
Finally, all 7 numbers and an answering

machine: you come up
with a code-name delivered

in a macho pitch. You hold your hand
on the phone for a while after. Later

the clock tells you it was all a dream
and you’re looking out the window

when the ring jumps up your rectum. Hell-
o? When she asks for Don, you blush,

then she sells herself like a blurb
on a video box. She asks obligatorily

if you’re a cop, then drops an hourly
number like hot oil in your ear,

2-day’s pay but no haggling.
You catch your breath as the truth

sinks in. You say ok.
And then there’s nothing left

but details: a time slot; your major
cross streets; where she should park.

51 Weeks and 3 Days to Vacation

He’s shelving books in the travel section
of the empty bookstore in Pekin,

Illinois, when he comes across
a little something:


He flips through it, lingering here and there
at P.J.’s Lucky Strike

and Cathy’s Cozy Corner.
It’s unclear if law or tact

forbids they mention prices
but if you have to

ask you can’t afford it.
Fornication is rarely insisted upon

but a drink minimum is not uncommon.
On a map of Nevada on the back of the book

each whorehouse is marked by a red heart.
Red hearts all around the border.

His boss gives him a look
and then he scoots

over to Alaska, land
of salmon and the midnight sun.

The Pussy Never Came Down

She had a harelip
he says.
You ever had a woman with a harelip?

He’s 40 something
face unctuous and bloated from alcohol.

She had a nice ass, he says
and a wad of money
and she needed a drink
so we bought two bottles of Mad Dog
and went to the park
and after we drank those we came in here
and that’s when she went crazy.

Well we got kicked out of here and then
went back to her hotel where
some other nutball broad was hanging out
and I thought shit
the pussy’s coming down
the pussy’s coming down
but actually
the pussy never came down.

I tell you what I was lucky
to get out of there with my life.
It’s amazing how they play you.

I met her at the Greyhound station.
I was buying a ticket to San Diego.
Fifty three bucks.
I’m leaving tomorrow.
I know this guy there who has a used car lot
and he needs someone to stand out by the road
in a bear suit.

The Worst Job I Ever Had

It’s a toss up
between the lumber mill
and the fish plant.
They were both mind-killing
wrist-numbing jobs, conveyor belt
They both had lots
of deadly machines, saws, noise, safety
Both entirely sub-human.
But with the fish plant there was the lingering smell
like I’d been swimming in a whore’s cunt.
I had two male room-mates at the time
and I wasn’t allowed
in the house in my work clothes.
I had to undress and leave my work clothes
in the shed, thank
God for that shed.
My clothes had to be washed separately or else
they would ruin everything they touched, and
they never came out clean. Eventually
I had to throw them out
and buy new ones.
At the lumber mill
you had to walk a mile just to have
a cigarette, well, maybe
half a mile, but it was too far to
go in a 15-minute break. Sawdust
thick as snow on the ground, like Christmas after
14 tornadoes.
Both jobs involved working with
and under, dumb-shits
but that happens pretty much everywhere.
I’ll have to say
the lumber mill was worse, despite how
nice it seemed
on Little House on the Prairie.
At least at the fish plant
you got to nibble on some fresh crab legs
when the screws were grab-assing
and on your break
you could sit and look out at the sea
and think
about drowning there.

Uncle Andrew

My dad’s brother Andrew
was always the sane one
with the perfect family.
He retired from the Navy
at age 52.
His wife, Aunt Lucy, was a schoolteacher
They were both thin and healthy
and they had one blond daughter
cousin Amy
who was good in school
and never got into trouble.
They lived in northern California
in a nice house.

Cousin Amy married a military man
and moved to Germany
and things continued to go well for Uncle Andrew
until a few years ago
at age 64
when one day he just stopped
wearing clothing.

He began to walk around buck naked
in the house and yard
agreeing only to wear clothes when he went
into town.

He told Aunt Lucy he felt like he was in the best
shape of his life
(he’d been doing yoga)
and just wanted to show off
but she wasn’t seeing it
and told him not to sit on her
and she stayed away from the house
more and more.

Not long after that
Amy’s husband kicked her out
because she was posting slutty pictures
of herself on the internet.
She flew back from Germany
and moved back in with uncle Andrew
at age 40.

Uncle Andrew called my father the other day
drunk at 9 a.m.
bawling like a baby
and confessed he was an alcoholic
and was on psyche meds and didn’t
know what he was going to do.
Aunt Lucy wanted a divorce
and he wanted to come back and live with
my dad in Illinois
or maybe come back and live with grandma
in her nursing home.

Dad told me this on the phone yesterday.

I said, “Wow, that’s amateur shit”
and my dad said, “I know!”
and we both laughed at poor Uncle Andrew
and how strange life is.

We talked for a good long while.
It was nice to hear from Dad
while I sat in my hot little room in Hermosillo
drinking cans of beer
in my underwear.