A new Mexican telenovela

started last week

at 6 o’clock

on channel 44.


My wife and I

watch it

while we eat dinner.

We complain when we have to stand up

and adjust

the rabbit ears.


Some of the characters in the novela

live in a garbage dump


Mexico City


a mountain range of refuse

where the poorest of the poor

build their shacks

pick through the garbage each day

for things they can fix

and use or sell or wear or


no place to even wash



My wife is from Mexico

and she assures me

this is not fiction.


Of course the actors

are actors

and certainly not poor

but when the filming stops

real people still live there

in this basurero

at the rusty edge

of existence.


They aren’t saints

but they are closer than we are

as we sit on our sweat-shop sofas

eat dinner

with hardly an appetite

watch novelas


and pretend.





I met the Masked Marvel the other day.

He was drinking whiskey at 3 in the afternoon

at the Golden Nugget.

He was 74 years old.

Everyone called him Doc.


Years ago, he was one of those

traveling professional wrestlers

moving from town to town, grappling with men

with names like The Predator

and Chainsaw Charlie.

It was quite a life,

drinking from ship-sized barrels of rum,

a new bone or joint cracked and twisted each day.

All the towns, all the crazy fun.

He told me he still had his leather mask

and shoulder pads.


Life was real back then, he insisted,

mapping his countless scars.

He had been beaten and had come back for more

somehow enjoying it,

the small animal victories

of rubbing men’s faces into the mat,

the screams from the crowd for more gore.

He thought it a lucky game

and he fancied himself a winner

as he downed

gulp after gulp.


I was believing his story,

what with all the details and facts he had

but when he stood to go to the bathroom

the bartender cleared things up for me.

There wasn’t a word of truth to any of it.

Doc was a nutcase, a few shots

short of a clip, usually harmless

but if he tried to demonstrate any

of his old “wrestling” moves on me, it

was suggested that I leave.


I thought about the other man

inside the Masked Marvel and inside

all of us, the man who holds

everything pent up

until he finally snaps

unleashing bullets into the ring

of the Circle K

like that guy in the news last week.

I pictured him strapped

to an electric chair

or pinned against the ropes of madness,

whispering pleads

to cauliflower-eared walls

costumed in a straightjacket.

I thought about that other man

we all fight each day


and when he returned from the bathroom

I looked at the Masked Marvel, old Doc

and raised my glass to the pain.


Mather Schneider was born in 1970 and now lives in Mexico. He has had many poems and stories published and has 4 books available.

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