Jennifer Schneider

Of Time, Fresh Truths, & Daily Mail

Editor’s Note

I am so happy to have been introduced to Jennifer’s work. I’m sure we all have those poets that we go to read before doing our own writing, the ones that inspire the words to flow. She is one of those poets. She has one of those styles that, for me, brings up the words, the motion, the music. In her poems you clearly know the joy of play! If you haven’t read her yet, well, then I’m so happy to get to introduce you.

— Daniel J Flosi

On Forced Air, Feigned Ignorance, & Heirs of Many Forces

the forced
air, artificial & angry –
perhaps due to circumstance,
more likely a result of happenstance, 
fussed, churned, and chortled
like sour milk in an aluminum bowl  
stained             & scarred of rust
& riddles of time.

all of us
simultaneously captive
& curators of confined spaces. 

  (“of airs and heirs”)

the arrogant
hum, hurried & harried – 
perhaps due to miscalculation,
more likely a result of a miscarriage 
of justice,
gurgled, gargled, and groaned
like hungry crows in a field
blown open     & apart of earth,
wind and fire. 
all of us
simultaneously captive
& curators of melody & meter.

  (“of hums and chums”)

home is not always sweet
sweat is not always welcome
sweaters don’t always produce warmth
the north star is not always a respite

  (“of sweat and sweaters”) 

the ball of wool
dropped           bounced rolled
around, then down
a staircase of scratched wood
& bruised rumps
long grown 
not healed  
protracted gasps, prolonged gaps
belts tango
as welts shiver & shake
to make moves of juke 
box dances &
auto-immune reactions
colored pink of hives and hell(o)
on the              square landing

  (“of rumps, bumps, and bruises”) 

heirs attract airs
as gob smacking chums
chew curd in rising
temperatures. sweat
brews as sweaters of
wool and faux
gold fibers unravel.
& bruises
battle familiar foes.

the capacity to forgive
yet not forget
produces captives
of time & space
continuums —
goldfish in
shatterproof bowls
of fog and finger smudges
— that recycle
in pockets (wool, denim, sagging skin)
of personhood confined & curated of sweat and sweaters 

in today’s mail

most days electronic boxes ding of documents and documentation. cardboard papered cubes crave create (sometimes curate) & consume minutia of many moments. strings of sensory-starved (& stripped) syllables of varying degrees of seriousness. salutations and permutations. greetings and gophers. pleasantries and platitudes. most days electronic boxes ding of documents and documentation. commands to retrieve. commands to atone. archives searched. artifacts seized. a dearth of novelty in both design & delivery. daring those who dream to reply run in directions of random latitude & with varying longitude. most no farther than the nearest lieu. some privy. some not. most (mostly) marked. 

Tales of Trials & Tribulations

___ is hard
to measure skills
& challenge / a program

instructors / pre and post

insist on demonstration
of skills.
sue ___

under office door

motion, will 

Promises of Playground Permutations

easy to use,
can make it

flagship platforms,

__, __, __, & __
(that which is either not
or deeply broken)

single sign on
score sync

Jousts over Caffeinated Cultures and Carefully Curated Conspiracies 

want to follow up
i haven’t heard
from you

hope i’ve
things (you) out

you understand 
the spirit
the email 

New Additions & New Divisions

Please join
the Division (always divided)
in welcoming (cautioning, too)
new ____ 

And Departures

join me
in congratulating __

for (nearly)
__ years of service

in helping to raise __

has served
as a member of ___

co-founded ___

despite the confounding array of mundane messaging & music with no meter, each week’s end brings a dazzling array of attitude shifts and shifting altitudes. tones of baritone basements flutter across keyboards at a quickened pace. altos reappear as sopranos and hibernators emerge as out of office replies. like a ding bat, i wait. for the five o’clock alarm and the requisite reply. chair legs glued along with eyes until dismissal dared to dance with destiny and date planners. the weekly update serves as a closer. a few hours after the seventh inning stretch. bats down. release and relief. popcorn kernels sizzle. chocolate coated petit fours in glossy paper boxes tease. a litany of automated likes stack in layers. yellow thumbs always up. dings proliferate. twelve-point font always trailing. often telling, too. polyester covered arms twist. denim clad legs tap. armstrong streams on overhead speakers. and we think/hum/type to ourselves,
what a curious, quizzical, comical, audaciously eccentric, buttery sweet, & wonderful ____.

of time, truths & good (fresh) eggs :: by the dozen

1: due dates always a misnomer, you were neither over nor under due. you were, and always have been, simply and stupendously, you. half-baked of dna from lands far and near. over baked of hard-core curls & extended dues. under baked of hardened reactions & clever contractions. 

2: seven days early, they said, as if early had any meaning at 4 AM times two. all rooms full. all senses engaged. gum cracking. bubbles (and bellies) popping. latex of hospital grade blue and baby girl pink. everyone awaiting you.  

3: late nights at first a blessing. late mornings, too. quiet kitchen corners. sinks that drip in tune with lullabies. radio dials set to digits of (for) two. Beatles on repeat. Springsteen on strings. gentle gusts of wind at linen draped windows. window guests of red robins & blue jays. tiny nests. tiny spiders. tessellations of time & truth. fingers trace & track smudges. smiles, too. 

4: as days turned to weeks to months to years, late nights turned to early mornings. of morning walks up, down, and around sidewalk blocks. consuming eggs (always good / always fresh) catching (then releasing) butterflies and sleepy fireflies of iridescent wings. chasing leaves of seasonal greens then reds then browns. scooping stones. sticks of pastel chalk in hands of constant motion. letters etched on concrete. A, B, Cs. 1, 2, 3s.  buses honk. hurry, can’t be late. 

5: time always a matter of perspective. early mornings chugged as engines do. soon dawn collided with dusk and sleep was something new. elders say trends come and go. all that’s old becomes new again. kitchens quieted of corners & chatter. table spreads sowed. pots and pans were swapped for notebooks and numbers. books stocked and stacked. piled like towers. tilted right and left.

6: leanings also a matter of perspective. all topics served on hardwood tables. always left leaning. progressively more so. fingers stack cards. then deal. push towers slightly. middles sag then buckle. rebuild. test stability. test truths. test memory. slap jack and blackjack. decks of multiple suits. cartons of condiments. potato salad & coleslaw. cold sandwiches. winds at cracked windows. cold realities. 

7: truth as perplexing as time. “every pancake has two sides,” we’d say in late afternoon kitchen sessions. “you’re a good egg,” we’d smile as cooking commenced. “nothing a good pot of soup can’t heal,” we’d muse as nourishment of vitamins a, b, c, and d tangoed with wheat noodles of similar letters.

8: only the letters, even when strung in surreptitious strings, had no message or much sense. nearby, the computer bleeped curious truths & strings of letters of its own. website verbiage was clear. all orders placed by ___ would be guaranteed for ___. top ten lists lingered on desktop landings. you’ve won blinked in shades of neon. orange. pink. green. travel here. travel there. travel now. join us. now.

9: now, new types of due dates loom and time zones taunts. life scrambled. no longer over easy. shades fade in direct sun. windows wave back weakly (and increasingly weaker) as i stand and stare at the oversized yard in the undersized town where you grew and bloomed and blossomed. figments and fractured images linger as the life of a good egg sizzles in lands unknown.

10: dust dances in geometric swirls and curls, not unlike those that cap your heard and frame your face. bazooka gum wrappers & pouches of big-league chew crinkle on new coasts. wrinkles weave new patterns. & new sounds. of bazooka horns, harmonica bleeps, laboratory whistles, & toots of time, and travel. Intestines, too. all dates (early & late) now yours. fortunes & fate, too. no dues. no baby girl pink. pink bubble gum cracks on new coasts & in new cavities.

11: quality of life improvements. floor to ceiling windows and desk lights of six gears and sockets. you, always a light. and of flight. in libraries stocked and stacked of new worlds and wrinkled pages. books your initial stepping-stones (and stools). next baseball fields. ultimately flight landings. always of backup band aids and aspirations/inclinations of boundary breakers. now beakers.

12: from butterfly kisses to butterfly wings. a dozen wired composition notebooks piled to the left & rights of wireless high-end devices. the computer of blinks and beckons now a device of means. weekly orders of fresh fare – by the dozen — from a site called good eggs. for bi-coastal delivery. from one scrambled egg to another. true to self. always on time. 

Interview w/ Jennifer Schneider

When/how did you start writing poetry? 
I first started to write poetry about three or four years ago. I signed up for an online course on a whim and haven’t looked back since.

Who are you currently reading? 
I have an embarrassingly huge stack of books in varying stages of my reading process. It’s a pretty eclectic mix. At the top of my pile at this moment – Best American Short Stories of 2003 (a recommendation led me to this one), 12 Short Stories and Their Making (another rec), Vicky Swanky is a Beauty, Frankenstein, The Woman Suffrage Cookbook, and No Matter How Loud I Shout. Ask me again next week (even tomorrow), and the pile will likely be very different. 

Who are some of your favorite poets?Ah, this question is always so hard. The list is incredibly long, and always growing. Anyone taking a quick glance at my bookcases would see Claudia Rankine, Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton, Maya Angelou, Harryette Mullen, Sylvia Plath, Mary Oliver, and Frank O’Hara (among so many others). Again, my go to pile changes on an almost daily basis.

Where do you see other poets’ influence in your work? 
I’m influenced by every experience, including everything I read. I especially like prompts (my favorites are often

those based on other poets’ work) and responding to them via poetry. The influences come in a wide variety of forms, including theme, structure, and topic.

Your poems read like a stream of consciousness. Are they written in one sitting? How long do you spend on a piece? 
Ah, this is such a great question. I like to brainstorm and see where that leads me in a sitting, though my pieces are often written over the course of several sittings. I’ll then put a piece aside, give it time and space, and then I’ll revisit it for edits and revisions. The time spent on any one piece varies quite a bit. Some take shape much quicker than others – though I’m not sure I’d say any are ever in true “final” form.

Is there something that you’ve learned is unique in your process, something that others don’t do while writing?  
This is a hard question to answer. I know my own process varies quite a bit – by day, topic, etc. I don’t know a lot about how others approach their writing. I guess I’d say that perhaps not having any one particular approach or process might be a defining characteristic of my work (though I’d guess that’s true for most all writers). I suspect my own approach is much more similar than different to others. Most days, it’s not the writing that’s hard, it’s making sure I find (or create) small pockets of time to write creatively and in ways that are free of expectation.

Jen Schneider is an educator who lives, writes, and works in small spaces throughout Pennsylvania. She is a Best of the Net nominee, with stories, poems, and essays published in a wide variety of literary and scholarly journals. She is the author of A Collection of Recollections, Invisible InkOn Daily Puzzles: (Un)locking Invisibility and On Crossroads and Fill in the Blank Puzzles (Moonstone Press), and Blindfolds, Bruises, and Breakups.