Two Poems by Jason Schneiderman


Ars Poetica I


What is it you want?

            I used to know.

Has it changed?


What it is you want?

            Love.  To be loved.

Has it changed?

            Love? Yes. It has.

What is it you want?

            To be brilliant.  Effortlessly brilliant.

Has it changed?

            I never got that.

What is it you want?

            To be charming.  Handsome.

Has it changed?

            I never got that either.

What is it you want?

            I ask myself that all the time.

Has it changed?



Ars Poetica II

You want to know
if I understand,

believing as you do
that understanding

is forgiving,
though if pressed,

you would say

There’s nothing to forgive.

I didn’t do anything wrong.

If you really understood,

you’d know that.

But, there are both for me now:
understanding and forgiving.

They feel
like fatigue.

I’m trying to say:
Forgiving is the end of love.

The end of hate.
The end of strong emotion.

A poem should be
an understanding.

A forgiving.
But not the end of love or hate.

Maybe this
isn’t a poem.

You say I talk
too much.

You think I should be quiet.
Like the moon

or the grass.

Look at all the sense you keep 

trying to make, you say,

You should know better. 

That’s why I did what you think

I need to be forgiven for. 

Fair enough.

If understanding
was the wrong thing,

I asked
for the wrong thing.

It was what I wanted
when I asked.
Jason Schneiderman is the author of Striking Surface, winner of the Richard Snyder prize from Ashland Poetry Press, and Sublimation Point, a Stahlecker Selection from Four Way Books. His poetry and essays have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including American Poetry Review, Harvard Review, The Best American Poetry, Grand Street, The Penguin Book of the Sonnet, Story Quarterly, and Tin House among other places. He has received fellowships from Yaddo, The Fine Arts Work Center, and The Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. He was the recipient of the Emily Dickinson Award from the Poetry Society of America in 2004. He currently directs the Writing Center at the Borough of Manhattan Community College.

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