Kerry Trautman

Uncle Ike

Uncle Ike had been dead
for half a day

before the twelve-year-old
boy with a basketball under

his arm found him—bloodied, spilled
to the empty parking lot from his still-

open car door, car ransacked
with its newspapers, blankets,

empty bottles.
They couldn’t have gotten

much. My husband and I were twenty
years together before he

met the phantom uncle Ike who,
when I was a girl, would

maybe appear at Grandma’s house
Christmas midnight, cousins

sleeping, for a beer and cigarette with the other
uncles, or on Easter for

a cold ham sandwich. Any pie left?
I remember

one year surprising him with my aunts,
my small arms

holding a fortieth-
birthday cake at the doorstep

of the shabby rental of his friend
who had a couch for him

that month, his eyes
staring down the blue icing

like a sweet invasion, like a reminder
of what isn’t and won’t be ever.


Kerry Trautman is a lifelong Ohioan whose work has appeared in numerous anthologies and journals. She has served as judge or workshop leader for the Northwest region of Ohio’s “Poetry Out Loud” competition annually since 2016. Her books are Things That Come in Boxes (King Craft Press 2012,) To Have Hoped (Finishing Line Press 2015,) Artifacts (NightBallet Press 2017,) To be Nonchalantly Alive (Kelsay Books 2020,) and Marilyn: Self-Portrait, Oil on Canvas (Gutter Snob Books 2022,)and Unknowable Things (Roadside Press 2023). Her fiction chapbook, Irregulars, is forthcoming from Stanchion Books in July 2023.