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    misty green branches

    Three Poems for Fathers Day

    For My Sons

    By Jacob Stratman

    June 12, 2018

    Joy curves in a trajectory: a poem for my son before school

    A Golden Shovel for Marilyn Nelsonfootnote

    Happiness, theologians tell me, is not joy,
    but they haven’t seen how the ball curves
    as it leaves your small hand and begins in
    its journey toward my hand – not quite a
    straight line, yet still its own trajectory.

    four boys jumping to hit a soccer ball in a forest

    The Juncos want for nothing: a poem for my sons when they wait for news

    A family of Dark-eyed
    Juncos have now arrived
    at the Oak tree feeder.

    I say family loosely;
    I’ve only seen the males
    scratching the oddly warm

    mid-February ground,
    never with much interest
    in the feeders above:

    House Finches, Goldfinches,
    and the bullying House
    Sparrows.  Food will be there,

    they think, especially
    when my son throws handfuls
    of thistle seed around

    the base of the feeders.
    It’s easy to watch them
    want for nothing, gleaning

    two boys jumping to hit a soccer ball in a forest

    leftovers from the ones
    who dance and dive around
    each other – acrobats

    and pugilists, grabbing
    the easy spot to eat,
    letting only a few

    seeds drop. Juncos are blind
    to accidental grace,
    never acknowledging

    their benefactors – just
    here, scratching and bowing.
    I’m watching the Juncos,

    reading family texts
    about your surgery,
    while reaching for a light

    thread, the metaphor’s deft
    linchpin. It evades me,
    mostly, swaying somewhere

    above my head, while I,
    face down, want for everything
    and write nourishing lines.


    A poem for my sons when they have to account for themselves

    “But Mary, virgin, had no sittings, no chance to pose her piety.” Luci Shaw “Announcement”

    I keep telling you, when we catch
    you in a lie or hear of your casual

    a boy jumping to hit a soccer ball in a forest

    disobediences, that integrity
    is doing the right thing when no one

    is looking, which is crap, we both know,
    or at least I am beginning to smell

    its stale bumper sticker odor. Someone
    is always watching.  You are never alone,

    never beyond the reach of the one
    who knew you before I knew to consider

    you, never too far above or below
    the one who cares for nurtures attends

    to you.  Consider your life a nest,
    not a bubble or a glass bowl

    or a cage, ornate or rusting. Consider
    Mary who knew, always resting

    in the assurance that she is known
    that she didn’t need to rehearse,

    she didn’t need to pose her posture,
    her words now an anthology

    of gestures of praise of automatic
    awe and love and yes.


    1. The Golden Shovel is a poetic form developed by Terrence Hayes in his poem “The Golden Shovel” in praise of Gwendolyn Brooks’ famous poem “we real cool.”  In the form, the poet uses a line from another poem and places each word as the last word of the line in the new poem.  
    Contributed By Jacob Stratman Jacob Stratman

    Jacob Stratman’s poems and essays have been published (or are forthcoming) in numerous magazines and reviews.

    Learn More