Mike Snider

Mike Snider is an American poet who has supported his poetry habit with jobs ranging from tool-and-die to middle school Spanish teacher to roofer. He now writes software at the Patuxent River Naval Air Station in Maryland so that he can keep a roof over his family in Cary, North Carolina. His poems have appeared in Matrix, The Louisville Review, Columbia, and Plum Ruby Review. For nearly three years he's blogged at Mike Snider's Formal Blog and Sonnetarium.

Financial Analysis

It seems I have the kind of tic
That busied Sigmund Freud,
For once again I've bought a house,
Then joined the unemployed.

He'd claim these walls that shelter me
Suggest my Mother's womb
From which my Father's banned by Death,
That I'm her guilty groom.

But I'm not blind—no matter how
Engrossingly complex,
Self-knowledge is no substitute
For earning steady checks.

Originally published in Matrix #68, Winter 2004


What did he expect? I'm old
And only want forgetting. Wine
Helps. That asshole says "It's too cold
To drink—You'll get sick or die." Fine.

Then let him give me a warm place
To sleep first—and then let him give
Me a bottle. I'd raise my glass
To his health, wish his sins forgiven.

My health's not at issue. It's bad,
And I'm drunk already. He'll learn
How little living means. God —
No night's as cold as his concern.

On the Extinction of Dragons

She dreams in summer heat
Of dark-thighed girls
In two-piece bathing suits,
Of smiling boys
Who oil the sun
Beneath their skins.

Alone at night, she prays
For wrath, for terrible
Lotteries, and chains,
For waiting alone
In wedding dress,
For burning tongues.

She wakes before dawn,
Remembers St. George
Killing the last one.
She dreams of knotted arms,
Knots her white veil,
Her white, burning rosary.


One day the door just opens. "Hello, dear,"
She says, as though you loved her. You suppose
That's right—but what's her name? "I need a beer —
You want one?" She pecks your cheek and goes
Into the kitchen, leaving you to think
How kind she is. She comes back naked. "Don't
Just sit there. Take your beer and take a drink
And take your clothes off. Then take me. I won't
Bite at first." And isn't she your wife?
For there's your ring she's wearing on the hand
She reaches with to pull you from your life
And take you to her own unending land —
Where you, your mind and flesh, are her delight,
Where nothing matters but her appetite.

Originally published by Plum Ruby Review

It Doesn't Matter

It happens in a bar, talking
While a woman sings old jazz tunes,
When some phrase—
You don't even know the song—
Makes your jaw ache with beauty.

Or you wake up and your arm's asleep
So you don't notice at first,
But your lover's naked body
Is so pure and human
You can't keep from crying.

Or on the street
A man turns his head
To look in a shop window,
And in his neck twist
The sinews of our world.

Published in slightly different form with the title "Revelation" in The Louisville Review

Day Off

With no alarms, no kids, no dogs to bark,
We woke entangled in new love’s designs
And scrapped a plan to breakfast in the park.

While kissing where the sheets had marked, "This line's
A path," she said, "which leads to where the prince
Is kept within this tower. Magic signs" —

Another kiss—"in ancient tongues convince
Me he may never cross the threshold till
A fountain gushes from the stone, and since

The sluice will open only to my skill" —
A longer kiss—"and those whose hearts are true
Come safe across the bridge of sighs, I will

Attempt this work." Her tongue then shaped a new
Language until her magic was complete.
"I am released—now say what I must do."

"Just go and bring me something more to eat.
"A jug of port, and Stilton, and fruit—those dark
And spicy D'Anjou pears." I answered "Sweet."

Originally published in Matrix #68, Winter 2004

Dancing Lesson

A country waltz, his wife three states away,
And Grace is closer than he'd meant to hold her
           Just a moment past—
It's hard; she stops to whisper "It's OK"
And kiss, then lays her head back on his shoulder.
            She won't be the last.

Originally published in a slightly different version in Matrix #68, Winter 2004

Read, Read, Talk, Talk

My Buddhist shrink tells me stories
Collected in Zen Flesh, Zen Bones.
He doesn't know I've bought the book
Or how I quickly solve his koans.

It's the same at work. I read the books
That no one else has time to read
And I'm a fucking guru when
Their code is tangled in the weeds.

Even you, who should know better,
Shake your head at what I know —
I talk about the things I've read,
A never-ending trivia show —

So where's the book that teaches quiet?
Promiscuous talk and empty arms
Are all the profit my reading brings me —
At 3 am, they have no charms.

Originally published in Matrix #48, 1996