a fresh new poem by Jacob Strautmann
Forgive our cultivated ugliness I won’t, and even if we’d seen it through
a third growing, believe me, I’d be a mean toothless liar like Pappaw.
Flat rocks slick with garter snakes, squash we never planted, groundhogs
our dogs dragged to the till line. Corn, flowers, a cold unmoving eye.
Virginity could mean nothing there with possum, milksnake abloom in the ragweed,
and all the dead soul words I knew the square fence rusted around.
We kept his tiller for years wrapped in a yellow tarp. The shock of death
was his flag fraying under the pine. Daddy long legs shuttled
some towards, some circling the meat of my finger. By then we’d ripped it out:
a place for my bike, for living things. He meant well. He meant nothing at all.
My mother lay beside him, unbuckling the degenerative vertebrae.
We kept death, and he kept us. She kept those years in a mason jar.
Jacob Strautmann’s poems have appeared in Solstice Literary Magazine, WebDelSol, AGNI Online, The Appalachian Journal, The Center, The Boston Globe, Salamander Magazine, Poetry
Northeast, and SpoKe. Two poems are forthcoming in Quiddity. He is a contributing editor to Salamander Magazine and the managing director of Boston Playwrights' Theatre at Boston Playwrights’ Theatre at Boston University, where he also teaches poetry, fiction and playwriting.