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Featured Poet: Jen Schneider

Jen Schneider is an educator who lives, writes, and works in small spaces throughout Pennsylvania. Recent works include A Collection of Recollections, Invisible Ink, On Habits & Habitats, and Blindfolds, Bruises, and Breakups.

RRR contributor, Pat Kelly, sat down with three of her poems and cooked up a few questions for the author.

PK: Obligatory first question: Tell us a little about yourself. Where did you come from? Where are you now?

JS: Ah, a deceptively complex question!...

I never know how to answer the question of where I’ve come from (for any of us, really). Honestly, I’m just grateful to be here.

For now, I live in Pennsylvania and work in Philadelphia. I do most of my writing up and down the East Coast.

PK: Poetry can often feel like an anachronistic mode of art in the 21st century, and I find that it takes an interestingly stubborn mind to take that journey. What experiences led you down this path? What started the fire, so to speak?

I can relate well to your sentiments and I often marvel at my good fortune to have discovered the joys of poetry in such times. I stumbled across poetry by chance (along one of many wayward paths) when I signed up for a workshop on a whim.


artificial sweeteners :: of dusk, dawn, & (day)break

i’d wake early

minutes before dawn

to watch him leave for work

burrowed eyebrows

framed lined spools

of rough terrain

& pigment-stained pain

perimeters etched of

faint maps

& wayward paths

to/of undeclared destinations

artificial sweeteners everywhere

his torso covered of faded pink stripes

– patterns of vertical

formation woven into button-downs

starched & stretched across shoulders

of horizontal tendencies

all limbs heavy

weighted of cranberry red thermos jugs

black coffee, cream & sugar

& army green coolers

insulated & insular

all contents piping hot

artificial sweeteners dally

i’d drag pint-sized limbs


of canned creamed corn

& fruit cocktail in heavy syrup

to watch.consume.contemplate.him

artificial sweeteners linger

he manned a fish store

turned butcher shop

sold goldfish (two for a dollar) out back

& swedish fish (five for a quarter) out front

anything for a buck

placed cardboard signs

advertising fresh fish & meat

on the sidewalk

& twisty bags of fresh carcass

in the alley

artificial sweeteners dawdle

i always wondered

what sort of man

could kill a fish, chop a cow,

then squeeze the neck of a lobster

all while whistling it’s a wonderful world

& kissing his offspring

atop freshly washed curls

with breath that bore the scent of death

artificial sweeteners layer

& see his own child writher

under the cut of harsh words

served daily – beet red

part of a well-balanced diet

& carry on

& whistle chirpy tunes

in air heavy of invisible elephants

attic & corduroy trunks