Two Poems

Poetry / Jason Schneiderman

:: The Last Ace of Base Enthusiast ::

The last Ace of Base Enthusiast wishes she could live in the 1990s. 
The last Ace of Base Enthusiast imagines a world where it was impossible
to avoid Ace of Base—where it would be playing over the stereo
when you entered a convenience store, or when you went to the bank.
At first she was annoyed when her friends asked her what the songs meant,
or tried to pin her down on precisely what “the sign” was, or insisted
on knowing why the main character was crying in “Don’t Turn Around.”
Later, she was frustrated when her friends refused to listen to her answers,
and she had to write a book explaining all of the lyrics, and the multiple
permutations by which they might be understood. No one bought the book,
so she started making dioramas of the convenience stores and banks
in the 1990s where you couldn’t avoid Ace of Base songs. Her show
of dioramas is well received, and highly regarded as an example of 
“The New Retrospectivists” though she is consistently hurt by the pride that
critics take in being able “to endure the hideous cacophony of screeching
vocals that the artist has dredged up from a past that we remember with
great pain, but as she has shown us, forget at our own peril.” Once, she thinks,
people would have bought the CD in the gift shop on the way out of the museum,
back in the 1990s, when there were CDs. 


:: Little Red Riding Wolf ::

On the lecture circuit, Little Red Riding Wolf
is generally brought to tears by at least one 
question. Wolves tend to accuse her of being
a collaborator, while humans tend to demand
to know if she has ever eaten a person herself.

Folklorists tend to dismiss her outright
as being trapped in a very stupid story, 
while a certain cadre of literary theorists
consider her very identity an ouroboros, 
a figure that they hope will become as popular

as the rhizome once became for an earlier
generation of scholars. None of this helps
Little Red Riding Wolf, whose only real
pleasure is cruising online dating apps, 
never meeting up, but pretending 

sometimes to be only a wolf, 
sometimes to be only a little girl.  


From the writer

:: Account ::

While these poems were writ­ten as part of very dif­fer­ent sequences, they both reflect the ways that I often see iden­ti­ty as radi­ant or con­ta­gious in ways that blur affin­i­ty or oblig­a­tion and defy sim­pli­fied (but nec­es­sary) forms of stand­point epis­te­mol­o­gy. I think we’re in a time when we are focused on uni­tary forms of iden­ti­ty, which is a cru­cial cor­rec­tive to a kind of post­mod­ernism that failed to decen­ter dom­i­nant modes of iden­ti­ty by extend­ing cer­tain fail­ures of mid twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry human­ism. Both poems are about char­ac­ters caught in forms of iden­ti­ty that look inco­her­ent to the peo­ple around them. The char­ac­ters find strate­gies for being seen in ways that make the mis-recog­ni­tion pro­duc­tive and emo­tion­al­ly sat­is­fy­ing, but they can’t quite find their way to being per­ceived in the ways that they per­ceive them­selves. Poems allow me con­cretize the abstrac­tions that buzz around my head all day, so—fingers crossed—you enjoyed the poems more than the account.


Jason Schnei­der­man is the author of four books of poems: Hold Me Tight (Red Hen Press, 2020), Pri­ma­ry Source (Red Hen Press, 2016), Strik­ing Sur­face (Ash­land Poet­ry Press, 2010), and Sub­li­ma­tion Point (Four Way Books, 2004). He edit­ed the anthol­o­gy Queer: A Read­er for Writ­ers (Oxford Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 2016). His poet­ry and essays have appeared in Amer­i­can Poet­ry Review, The Best Amer­i­can Poet­ry, Poet­ry Lon­don, Grand Street, and The Pen­guin Book of the Son­net. He is an asso­ciate pro­fes­sor of Eng­lish at the Bor­ough of Man­hat­tan Com­mu­ni­ty Col­lege, CUNY, and lives in Brooklyn.