Three Poems by Matt Schroeder

If this Love is Easy, Leave
without telling me &
throw out my socks
when they grow holes.

We’ll move                  back to the town
you grew up in —

nearly wiped off the map
during the siege

yet somehow forgotten
in all the war stories —

where your eyes filled
with medicine from
a dumpster,
see where this is going?

We’ll spend weekends
with your father,
living in the hills

until we have learned
the forest of his boyhood

or until one of us
has gasped into

& spend winters
in the city that cannot
leave me alone,

smoke ghosts caught
in the lungs still,

an ever-blackening horizon.

I was born
with a hunger
for terrible things

& recently it has become
paper thin for you.


Body as Ordnance

Now that the soil has cooled

I dream I am free of the danger

contained in this body

they have a name for us here
instead of the soft lilt of non-native
my other-mother’s tongue defaults

to stranger        meaning never go there
meaning           mark the field where this body lay
with a sign to keep children        &         locals at a distance

the lack of blood above my door
keeps eyes trained on the strangeness
of the almost same-self here
my fault is I am overflowing
with joy & new sounds dancing in my mouth
how is it even children
know to be afraid
fearing the otherness in me
will cause more harm than good
so tonight in sleep
make this body
a sacrificial offering
one third for the children

one third for the skeptical

one third for newly named familiar


Dog Days from Within

Some mornings
you wake up
to your ears
in water.

Sometimes that
which is necessary
for life is also
exactly that which
can hold it under
long enough to kill.

Some mornings
you wake up
to the building
you live in
chain smoking,

walls filled with
tar & bad omens:

crows that have fallen
dead from the sky,

broken mirrors leaking
shoes on every
a constant burn
of eyes & a smell
that won’t wash out.

I spend so much time
hoping for the frozen
waters of winter to thaw
that I forget about summer’s
smoke & mirrors suffering
pulling me under into
the heat of dog days.

This year I’ll go quietly.

I can already feel the pull.

Matt Schroeder is a poet and educator currently existing in the great humidity that is southern China. His poetry can be found in The Rush, Dovecote Magazine, Poetry Lab Shanghai, The Decadent Review, Fearsome Critters Magazine, and in Art in the Time of Covid-19 from San Fedele Press. When he is not writing, he enjoys making friends with the other strays.