Debbie Schnitzer is a Winnipeg prize winning poet and novelist and a wondrously imaginative educator. She has long been devoted to working in classroom and community settings. A member of the River on the Run Artist Collective, Debbie is a participant of the story of the poetry house on the Red River.

(Stories) Poetry|washing women

water woman has a sister
sisters actually hearing
her anguish at night
in the tide torn moon
light lying low
over scum unlit algae sick
lake spread spit sired
by hoarse highrising
profit poofs

waterwomen subaltern
sisters with standing
pin money taped to broadthighs
buckets not meant for slop
depigging surfaces
with cloths torn from hope chests
sewn in secret as women are

pigs campcaptive
stalled mechanicals
meat cured treats
processing binges

without regulation
without her swell times
waterwoman calls
in her moon
for sisterly affection
well women
their longtime

in godown water



green ink

wetnursing trusted
intentioned windowmakers
elbowing bluegreen
      scummaking maniacs
      formula fakers

spitpolish washing

        wringing the lake

       so it might sing

Talking Water Project|Debbie Schnitzer (2013)

(Stories) Poetry|We Defecate

we defecate where we dream

near inventory waterwoman tells me of her many deaths
  strangled in theories contested in laboratories
  malnourished by competing interests in bored rooms with money laid down

gives me the names of spoilers
  vomit from drainage ditches forced upon her
  sewage malfunctions burning her membranes
  coughing pig men who do not cover their
mouths we defecate where we dream farmed by excess the way we eat stuffing her skin against
  h e r against
  her children lie wasted bred in gluttony ruining her diversity

   wakes me in the middle of my night when the moon ribbons her waters the light streaming
if I would rise from my comforter to her occasion
fight for her however pale I have become emptied by mechanicals
      indoor fountains
      water bottled

if my shoulder turns away from her wheel
my belly’s intelligence severed
drifts her own beds lamenting
distill the uselessness of bath toys rimming the lake
    hot tubs
    swelled legers fetid along the river bottom
    {water park/pig pen/cod pieces/hydro line}
her nipples damtwisted
    loose talk
    saloon slobber

a wild wests’ seedless consumptive

    in the cradle she turns over to the history of use, passages she has given to the globe spun sick a melting spoken in the factories, their thick necks as creeks she feeds
    without bias
her intention my shape

systems loving
her circulation  emulate poorly on paper

I do not live without her unknown widthmisspent by manufacture still she deposits her mouth at my feet so that I might
    perish the thought of her in water parks only will I
open my foot to her

river you sand my bottom pulled on for our occasions
my parts your parts
our tea muddy
your channel my wave
our skirts skinny
all tongues succulent against your teats
love me loves
me my recesses
your belly mows my
belly rushes a fan beneath

water babies my girth

she replies closing her capacity mangled by wavering resolutions takes her rivers away buries them in the stronger hold of caverns inaccessible

humans dehydrate
boned along river beds where sucking stones no longer undulate
sand stuffs water theft (dams, locks, barges, ice makers, air conditioners, highrise
shafts howl) winds sweep

waterwoman opens her dry mouth void the moon aching pulls at the desert trees forgive their roots grasses discount their number crevices lose reflex
fields relapse


Talking Water Project|Debbie Schnitzer (2013)

(Stories) Poetry|To The River

To The River on the Occasion of its Way

Dear River,
    If I
with the tongue I have
    its worth aching to represent my
    love for you might I/t speak on behalf of the butterfly by the dock
    entirely black
    who allows
    when I call
    might I say
I have consulted
the lap against the pier
the old crow who makes much of dawn
    yarrow slant along the green railing
    standby grasses
    august’s field flowering your rivershoulder
nodding plumeless thistles
    red and sweet clover
    common tansy
    smooth fleabane
    bladder campion
    oxeye daisy
brittle-stem hemp nettle

may I say
I am committing walks in woods
        stained blues from berry picking
        the counsel of two deer
            who look to see if I might return from you more careful having been
            wrapped in your body every day hearing seminars among pines sure-
            footed along the stone slide that trims the line you advance toward the
            lake whose elbow pivots at sunrise

I have written to you before
    belly skyward wording my wake
    in circles backstroke laughable
    a spray of kisses pedaled by knees

    triangular arms sloppy though devout
    spun as any dreidel might
    twisting toward the shore

I am committing my seemingly failed technique
    thankful you have so often returned my writing
        asked me to rethink
            laps I might impose
            energy I might waste looking for a personal
within a
river current unbeaten
    velocity unbested
    volume inexhaustible     I see
    how you come
back from stretches to sea up sky descending

may I commend this cycling
        within which I become

might I say that I am thinking of you
    borrowing from your shore
    the one fish I’ve seen pill the riverglass
    surprising the slimmest of humming birds who dusts birches ancient by the front
window, the spider running through the light grasses on my cheek at night

might I spread my swimmingmind along the highway that sometimes follows your success
carry into the city five weeks of the way I am loving you
the holding tank inspected
    potato peels composted
    grass unmowed
    paths according to their wont
    deers unimpeded
    boat motorless
    soap green
the nest above the fuse box undisturbed

might I ask for next year
the dangle of my body thread whose tangle you have encouraged among waterweed?

Talking Water Project|Debbie Schnitzer (2013)

(Stories) Poetry|Dear Human

Dear Human,

Thank you for the dike.

it is true that
sometimes I am more full of myself than
I thought I’d be
(This sensibility you share.)
in my eagerness to river after ice
(I have seen you thaw in cotton dresses barelegged in March.)
you make shore of me
so tender when you
stack this lap I might rub up against
your human heart as daisy chain
love me love me not
bagging your
small army of sand

you dike me
you really dike me.

my storied spread
from year to year
I carry back and forth the
old water I began with.

I would wish you safe
(Have you not oft wished the same for me?)
in the way you are along my body
though near, closer than is wise stuffed with
too much loving
me for yourself
(You know this.)

I heave
what you leave behind as you eat me
in drainage dumps

I am as careful with you as I can be
wishing you more cautious.

Think of the place you land
(You’re standing on it.)

this basin overall

a flood plain

(By whose accounting is the name given).

I am the way the season comes and goes and
every year
without fail
I bring my children made in snowfall, spillage runs
I am the where you are
with river
what you would dream

(There are sad names for those times and you know them).

The city in you on driveways
wintered shoulders at your side
remembering the way I milk
the shape I take at parties in glasses
how I would be the very last to leave
you if kinder
wider in your understanding
giddy in the gift I bring my
mouth big with my fishes you
might catch deeper stills

(I have seen you bathing in this quiet).

Remember my come and go
faithful in the girth of April
July tongues spun under ice
saga rising

even in the high of summer
my low prepares the work of melting

dikes always on side
moreso when seen through difference.

preparing and unprepared
I do not carry our spring lightly,
The River

Talking Water Project|Debbie Schnitzer (2013)