Kerry Trautman

(after a sculpture by Liu Xue)

Floating in the freak show tank,
the seahorse man’s big belly
bulges above scaled tail.
Impossible gravity, like triple-
scoop ice cream on a sugar cone.

His jowls, his melon-sized
triceps lift and lower in bubbled
current of filtered water.
Breasts hover, measuring
buoyancy of tourquoise-tinted
tank versus salted sea.

Should he twist—
to still the float of him—
twist coil of tail around plastic kelp
there must be a bending,
a tug of will.

One can’t help
but stare. Shouldn’t but
the glass box of water requires
acknowledging the male belly
full of hatchlings,
the eventual breaking free.


A lifetime Ohioan, Kerry Trautman is a founder of ToledoPoet.com and the “Toledo Poetry Museum” page on Facebook, which promote Northwest Ohio poetry events. Her work has appeared in various anthologies and journals, including Slippery Elm, Free State Review, Mock Turtle Zine, The Fourth River, 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.)