EIGHT THINGS by JEN SCHNEIDER

14 (PLUS) REASONS TO (RE)SET THE CUCKOO CLOCKS


just when you think there is nothing more to say, an alarm clock rings, & the small wooden nightstand trembles. a cuckoo clock chimes of 14 (plus) reminders & reasons to always say (good) night / wipe (dry) the sockets / stay (un) plugged / (un)check the ego/locks/box, & (re)check the spicket

  1. he’d start and end (end and start) each day – all days good, all good of the day -- with rounds (bed to bath, bath to dresser, dresser to pantry, looped and ladled) and grounds (heaping tablespoons of arabica beans / following a night of (carefully crafted / good) sleep and (horrible/better / carefully surreptitiously curiously curated) dreams. Always after saying good night (day)

  2. dynamic/electric sockets of kelly & sea green eyes (never lies) and kitchen aid coffee makers (no fakers). bifocaled vision & three-pronged electricity. outlets for/of energy (& synaptic synergies)

  3. concave stainless steel on convex pebbles, peddled at farmers markets and neighborhood fleas

  4. all spickets checked for early tarnish and latent tarnish trappings, whether revealed or concealed by unobstrusive wrappings of obvious strappings. water tested daily. patients and patience, too

  5. all processes a matter of perspective. not all perspectives a matter of the moment. wall clocks tick. time taunts in ways both disguised and discordant

  6. red robins & blue jays would chatter (the latter always two seconds delayed) as coffee would brew. storms of many nations and wars of many patterns percolate

  7. drip. drop. puzzles of cross words & cryptique concerns brew

  8. corduroy clad arm drops & dangles over wooden chair back. cranberry velvet drapes tied of lemonade ribbons. knuckles/fingers worn of tile grout & toil form knots (sheets, cloves, & squares) of many numbers

  9. loop right. pull left. drape over hooks of heavy metal. heavy metal plays at volume one. in the smallest pockets of air where loud meets soft, where dawn kisses dusk farewell & where stale breath brushes with sweet iced buns

  10. electric burners coated of burnt buns (& dated of bunsens) bake (recipes of tradition & results of trepidation) as wooden brooms brush dust and plastic dustpans bristle

  11. he’d whistle as he worked & readied the kitchen. all tunes off. all spickets checked

  12. patterns both patently predictable and predictably potent. his own patterns fuel for an engine running first low, then (near/on/of) empty

  13. no matter how many times all spickets drip & sockets blink, he’d start and end (end and start) each day with/of rounds. pantry to dresser, dresser to bath, bath to bed.

  14. until final resting places & spaces. no beds of roses. all rosed red. always after saying good day (night)

  15. spickets trickle of time and time spent. no time to say (good) night. water falls from many spaces and places. now i, all grounds (coffee/wood/mud) awry, run on empty

 

EVEN THE EGG MCMUFFIN GETS HACKED [X]


as musk makes waves amidst flocks of blue birds and the universe engages in a meta war of words & wacked wisdom, even the egg mcmuffin


gets hacked


biscuits swap places with taters, browns hash, & markets tumble as syrup drips. plunging rates a sign of neither fierce competition nor feigned curiosity, but of age and cornerstones. it’s a birthday. with wax (& pennies) to burn. time always a tikok’ing. even the egg mcmuffin


gets hacked


all that’s old is new – again. you tubes track replays. cliches, customer promotion, & history never fail to repeat (or saturate) themselves & claim rights in perpetuity to always be right.

1973 meets inflation & the moment, social amidst all media. the original opines

for prime-time hours all before the stroke of noon.


only on the app, of course. even the egg mcmuffin


gets hacked (presently valued at 63 cents)

 

OF MIRRORS & MAYHEM: READY. SET. RELEASE.


we see you, the voices say. smile. like you mean it. watch for flashing lights. eyes open. wide. no, wider. I don’t want to see/smile/stay, i mouth in reply. head of tangled knots ever more knotted. I want to listen. and wait. for the moment to matter. no matter how many moments might meander as i listen. head strong. arms tied. minutes consume moments & moments consume minds. armstrong plays in peculiar patterns as i/we type. mirrors of concave and convex lens linger as we work on texts of tunes and tombs of time. i wait & watch, always eager for the/a day when i no longer capture your reflection in the mirror. when i pause & smile with abandon. and see only me. & flicks of crass low budget films & flecks of even lower budget broccoli cheddar rice. all while steam of mushroom risotto & charlie brown riddles tease. as I --


stretch muscles of raspberry scented musk & lemonade flavored velvet with ease


dress in bottoms of red plaid & patterns of decades past


consume pureed peas and slices of homemade pie – blueberry buttercream & peanut butter meringue


craft caloric masterpieces -- coconut crumpets meet cocoa puffs -- that joust & jumble in asymmetrical mounds on carved wood tabletops etched of next-door neighbor initials dismantle aces fleeing with jokers all cards counted in one swoop as peach cobbler crumbs & hickory acorns fall upon nutmeg leather boots handstitched at the local cobbler’s corner desk, the one in the corner shop with the single lightbulb always on and the door always open


as fashion earrings of islands & magic dangle from lobes long overdue & pink blossom painted lips whisper words of many meanings


meanings heavy of love/luck/life draped in lilac & pride pruned in yellow corduroy bell bottoms to see/feel/touch/taste pride in/of/for me no matter what


& i wait for the moment when my eyes no longer meet yours in the mirrors of every hall,


& i can say – to myself, you make me proud

 

FOURTEEN REASONS TO RIGHT WRITE A WRONG


I’ve pledged to do better. Do more. Do me in ways that inspire not conspire. I know not whether I will succeed. I know I cannot fail. (1) Pleadings linger long after tears dry. (2) Water boils with sustained heat. Blood, too. (3) Dusk turns to dawn only for those able to see the light. (4) Dues of many forms. In due time. Yearly dues. Due dates. Due diligence. (5) Dues of many manners. With due care. Of his due. On his due. (6) Dues of many directions. His due. Due North. Due South. (7) Dues of many doubts. Due process. Dudes. Dudes on dues. (8) If due time and due dates flaunt due process, what does one do? Dueño de casa. (9) Odds favor the house. Who owns the house? (10) Do you wonder/question/worry, too? Duendes do. I, too. (11) Technicalities of many forms & flavors. (12) Consumables that appear sweet, taste sour. (13) Sweet and sour share coordinates. Often in plain sight. (14) Write and Wrong share a 1st consonant.

 

FIFTEEN REASONS WHY I WOULD PREFER NOT TO SAY


I know what they’re up to. The experts. The earnest _MDs__. The _COs_. All _OCD_. I tell them that I still have rights. That my past is not my present. That tense is often private. First person sometimes means one person. That my story is not for public consumption. That I’m thirsty. Tired. Torn. That I’d rather not participate – and then they tell me to write down why.


15 reasons why I would prefer not to say


1. loneliness often comes in layers. layers of second-hand button-front cardigans and sidewalk Ts (three for $10). cotton fabric that holds the scent – breathe, air, life – of lost love. unhemmed edges. frayed tags. not all layers age well. not all that is well ages. I missed him.


2. loneliness often comes in waves. waves of seaside storms and sidewalk streams. waves of salty tears and momentary tears of joy. waves of memory – memories that linger. then wrap their collection of moments around a heart desperate to dance. To Bruce. Garfunkel. Beastie Boys.


3. loneliness often lingers. Beyond location. East Coast. West Coast. North. South. Beyond time zones. EST < -- > PST. Beyond expiration dates. month/day/year. pantries still house elbow macaroni and creamed corned cases. cans of adobe sauce and sardines. preferred flavors. favored habits. Vacuum-sealed. memory locked. mine. ours.


4. loneliness has a scent. sweet. sweaty. salty. lingering scents attract flies. swat.


5. sometimes flies buzz. loudly. sometimes flies watch. silently.


6. most household flies / some household guests - are pests.


7. sometimes pests appear perfect.


8. sometimes perfection is performative. kind acts (flowers / bus fare / fair tickets) sometimes conspire (perform / comply / require)


9. not all performances are planned. intended. informed.


10. pests persist. pests plead. pests plan. pests pounce.


11. loneliness inspires premature decisions. Yes, Thank You, Of Course, Come In.


12. premature decisions instigate loneliness. No, No Thank You, Of Course Not, Leave, Stop.


13. locked in loops. not all stops / swats stick.


14. not all sticks / pests surrender. not all shields are defenses. not all defenses are documented.


15. i’d prefer not to document any longer. sometimes loneliness is loveliness. captured. preferred. chosen. comfortable.

 

MEMORY

(Found in S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders, Chapter 5)

 

DOUBLE HEADERS


Just when u think there is nowhere left to play and no reason to swing / hit / punt, a fly ball soars in totem with the wings of an endangered eagle. Its bald head capped by sweeping clouds. Heads capped of cotton and pigment-dyed cloth tilt. cricks in necks ease. crinkles around eyes deepen. lights focus. lap trays / sun rays / tired locks turned gray relish in the unpredictability of the predictable. game on / not over.


(9 times 2) reasons to always play (ball)


1. Stretch limbs. Stretch lives.


2. Sustain (neither strain nor sprain) muscle memory.


3. Tally tender tunes (of rock, roll, & pep bands) & time of lives of loves.


4. Bats primed & printed of favorite fonts (blocked & bolded) and etched of favorite logos


5. Grains of weathered woods. Grins of checkered foods (cobs of corn / gobs of sticky caramel).


6. Untethered ball pens. Untethered work cells. Auto-replies ON.


7. Caps to protect against heat. Cleats to protect against sleet.

8. unfiltered slips. bleets. blurps & burps (pardons proliferate).


9. Overhead planes / speakers of clouds with letters like “cumulonimbus” and “nimbostratus” & ultraviolet rays of sun boom from spaces unbounded by time & shape


10. Sound (alto / soprano) that surrounds in beats both of & out of tune.


11. Notes (of tune & time) that blanket & heal bites of critters of many forms.


12. Leather mitts that warm palms, limbs & laps.


13. Pie at bat. Caramel corn at rest. One bit. Two bytes.


14. Irreverence and irrelevance fade like setting suns / subs under ballpark lights.


15. Stadium seats of blue & red vinyl (& perfect posture) hug in play & peace.


16. Punts - not runts - that perform the unpredictable.


17. Play by play replays. each day. every way.

18. Extra innings. Extra butter. Extra relish. Extra time.

 

FRIDAY NIGHTS UNDER THE LIGHTS


(9 times 2) ways/grounds/plays to step up (to the plate) & run (the bases)


1. second inning bottom of the inning second chances.


2. double scoops / double headers / double _____.


3. chair backs that recline. comebacks that refine. both breed confidence.


4. small pockets of air where dusk meets day.


5. home plate slides. homemade sides.


6. lots of gravel. opportunities to travel.


7. helmets for all heads. popcorn & peanuts for all bellies.


8. teams with tightly knit seams. fields of never-ending dreams.


9. ground balls – to 1st / 2nd / 3rd - with no expiration dates.


10. rules not meant to be broken. umpires who play by the rules.


11. cards in 3 by 5 binders.


12. trades of unanticipated origins. curves to expected destinations.


13. blunders with space for redemption. fouls with time for correction,


14. collections (cards, cleats, caps, ___ of old & new.


15. five cent cola and ten cent dogs.


16. port-a-potties with no waits. sliced porterhouses with extra plates.


17. open doors with no gates. open mitts with no breaks. open mouths with no hates.


18. pinch hitters. pinch heroes. the ability to feel the pitch pinch.

 

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 (Next Chapter), Invisible Ink (Toho Pub), On Daily Puzzles: (Un)locking Invisibility and On Crossroads and Fill in the Blank Puzzles (forthcoming, Moonstone Press), and Blindfolds, Bruises, and Breakups (forthcoming, Atmosphere Press).