Speaker (Kerry Trautman)


She hasn’t finished.

And when you shift in your seats 

or tap your feet

mine want to stomp them still. 

Not everyone’s a poet of course, 

the way not everyone tastes

the soup-of-the-day at the café 

and wishes for less oregano. 

Three more stanzas, then you’re free 

to slip into coatsleeves,

turn phones back on,

hoist backpack strap on shoulder. 

One more sip of her coffee, then 

water to rinse acid from her teeth. 


This is where it gets good. 

Sometimes things are 

better at the end. 


I’m supposed to be

in charge of time, but

I just want to let her speak and speak 

and speak.

I could listen to her all day. 

My mother’s voice used to drone

on long car rides—

what she thought were life lessons, but 

which TV writers did better. 

Now every other woman’s voice is 

like tropical fruit in January—

like blood orange, pineapple, and 

pomegranate arils on a chilled 

snow-white plate. 

Women, like murmurations, sync 

black pinpoint softness into 

undulating greatness.

In my car I speak to myself 

and still I don’t listen. 


A lifetime Ohioan, Kerry Trautman is a founder of ToledoPoet.com and the “Toledo Poetry Museum” page on Facebook, both of which promote Northwest Ohio poetry events. She is a poetry editor for the journal Red Fez, and her work has appeared in various anthologies and journals, including Slippery ElmFree State Review, The Fourth RiverPaper & Ink, Midwestern Gothic, and Gasconade Review. Kerry’s poetry books are Things That Come in Boxes (King Craft Press 2012,) To Have Hoped (Finishing Line Press 2015,) Artifacts (NightBallet Press 2017,) and To be Nonchalantly Alive(Kelsay Books 2020.) 


image: Kevin Sampsell is the publisher of Future Tense Books in Portland, Oregon. He’s also the co-curator and founder of Sharp Hands Gallery, an online showcase for international collage art. His book of collages and poems, I Made an Accident, will be published by Clash Books in 2022.