Steven D. Schroeder

Theft is property, say pirates plotting
shots and coordinates of loot at X
and why the life begins with lie and selfless

ends with less. Possession is nine-tenths
of the theft. Rebels liberate their numbers

from counterrevolutionary accounts
and count on theft as the people’s opium.
Rock musicians rip off riffs and profit

sharing files from fans with air guitars,
artistars who wouldn’t charge a buck

an ear to hear their licks on politics.
Money talks, bulltheft walks. Pundits call it
pirate rebel rockstar fucking cool.

Note: I stole the title from Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

Nothing Else in Tennessee

How do you get rid of a state-school grad?
Be sure to show your work for full credit.
When the screen teems with gamers demanding

a name, can you remember whether whoever died
strangled by a wrestler called Narcissus
or on the toilet? Answer en Español

and the form of a question. Could the bookstore
sell tornado warning sirens for 24 hours
defenestrating letters and characters

and $#@% to the gutter? Cite your sources
the Chicago way. Will you raise those fallen

grades a roommate suicide by bull’s blood hazing?
For God’s sake, wake up and pay for the pizza already.

Note: I stole the title from “Anecdote of the Jar” by Wallace Stevens

The Coke Dude

Attention, teachers: Report nonconformance with our district
cola contract altering school colors to caramel and yellow #5.

Press kids like leaves in pages of the assessment testbook–
they come out twenties. Wait later to shake lockers down

for candy, coins and knockoff Niki Heirs. Upsell our sixteen
valedictorians on graduation gowns filigreed in gold and silver

or their inflated gradepoints float away like stoner smoke.
The loner in the library drawing bloody swordswomen all day

causes lawsuit liability, so grind him under the next mill levy.
I’ve earned my advancement to superintendent of plastic

scholastic system adventure theme parks, and I’m leaving
some child behind. Serve a burger and fries. Kind regards,

The Best Buy Jostens Coke Just Do It Magic Kingdom Dude.

Note: I stole the title from Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser

Powerful as a Zoo

Could a gazelle run faster
than whipsnakes with ten legs?

This factoid says the grizzly
bear poisons children’s air.

Where’s the Ferris wheel
if vultures are carnivals?

A mountain lion’s lick
tastes like an orphanage.

How many sins is that
mob of baboons committing?

If you leave the trail,
the timber wolves will love you
more than your mother does.

Note: I stole the title from “Dream Song 22: Of 1826” by John Berryman

House of Brown, Now Sit Down

Pick whiskey tumblers in flintlocks

Pull off-keys from portcullis mouths

To guard a charm, hum hymns for her

To voice the word mute, mutter a mouse

Fill pizzicato pitfalls with mortar

Bellows silent, blowpipe a spyglass

Kill swallows with piano-wire stories

Bow on throat, wring notes from a goose

Defeated wing, wobble sawblades

Tune two violins with thumbscrews

Spell the bell’s clang inside-out

Loop chords as a noose and leap through

Songbird loose, burn down the doubt

Note: I stole the title from the computer game Hero’s Quest

Steven D. Schroeder‘s first book of poetry, Torched Verse Ends, appeared in 2009 from BlazeVOX. His poetry is available or forthcoming from New England Review, The Journal, Indiana Review, diode, and Verse Daily. He edits the online poetry journal Anti-, serves as a contributing editor for River Styx, and works as a Certified Professional Résumé Writer.

“When I was three years old, I fell off our front porch and needed stitches for a gash on my chin. There’s still a scar, but mentally and emotionally I’m fine with front porches.”