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matt schumacher / two poems

Dutch Character 1850, Germany (Southern Region)

Bavarian gravity carved me from gnarled tree,

stijfhooftig as cadaver. Could I be

born more blunt or stubborn? Burl of wrinkled brow

to lip, I squint chipped paint's roughened glint. Halte! growls

my gray beard that grates like graveyard gates

as you yank down my arms again, jong baas.

Ik ben boos. Like crushed nuts, life shattered me, bald pate

to wooden shoes, flat as Amsterdam. I’m no Sinterklaas. 

You wrinkle my forehead's affairs. How dare you gloat!

Despite my time standing upright, I'm still vital, no old goat.

Don't stare, urchin. Search for all you don’t know.

Grind shells with your teeth for a lifetime or so

until the secret’s revealed. Thought I'd crack or plead?

My conifer-furrowed brow disagreed.

Man In The Moon
19th Century Switzerland

There liveth none under the sonne

That knows what to make of the man in the moone.

—John Lyly

Rome, tousled in its sleep, glimpsed me rustling sheep.

The Chinese see me as a stranded goddess

with an enchanted rabbit in my keep.

English taverns bear my name to redress

my exile for stick-gathering on the sabbath.

A Norse wolf chased my chariot to Ragnorak.

Truth is, I’m a pale man in the labyrinth.

My smile’s a million miles of ancient rock,

cracking nuts in this parlor because I’m old.

Moon fruit, Lorca wrote, must be eaten green and cold.

My sole food is gloom. Humans fancy lies.

Lunar marias made my mouth and eyes.

The hungry know my glowing dough and distant bread.

The dying only see my cowled death’s head.


Author of the poetry collections Ghost Town Odes and A Missing Suspiria de Profundis, Matt Schumacher edits the journal Phantom Drift and lives in Portland, Oregon. His work is forthcoming in Birmingham Review, Eternal Haunted Summer, and Cathexis Northwest Press.

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