Poetry: Selections from Samuel Strathman

I wish I wasn’t at work
but I am,
nose running, lips trembling
with the updraft.
Shadows and snow freeze me
in place.
Perhaps I’m contemplating
a dark truth.
Stuck here, missing home,
an old family portrait to reflect back on.
I do, however, carry the scent
of home on my body.
I just can’t smell it,
a blessing and curse.
I yearn for what I already have
yet I spend a fraction
of my waking hours in the place
that ground me, homesick.
Is more peace and quiet a cure
for the ill will I feel
toward this lonely planet?
Monotony has me in the depths
of its madness…
Something’s got to give.

This Child
This child
will go to school,
start conversations with jokes
that will fall short
of other children’s jokes,
a pariah in the eyes of his peers.
This child
will be taught by teachers
who lose their patience
when they ask the obvious questions,
chastised from the get-go.
This child
will become an adolescent
who cannot work
alongside their classmates.
They’ll be sent
to the principal’s office regularly
because the cycle repeats itself.
This adolescent
will be sent to therapists
and guidance counsellors
who cannot guide them.
They will have trouble
focusing during tests, homework.
They’ll lag behind
but keep pushing through.
This adolescent will grow
into a tormented youth,
keeping to themselves
unless they are forced
to engage with others,
torturers in the eyes
of the tortured.
This youth will grow
to be an adult who lives alone,
and works alone.
They will live by the rules
while the people at the top
continue their oppressions.
The never-ending cycle
never misses a step.
This adult won’t settle down
or have children.
They’ve seen what happens
when someone is born different.

Observe & Report
My most common pose
before a shift was stupor,
stewing in the kitchen,
a small fish in a shark tank.
The first half of the day
always felt like I wasn’t
in the driver’s seat:
haunted by how the biggest indicator
for committing suicide
(other than having a plan)
is if it runs in the family.
One uncle overdosed on the painkillers
they’d been chewing on
like breath mints for years.
A distant cousin took a similar route,
hung himself in his bathroom.
Who knew what lay ahead?
The harbingers in my nightmares
were insignias of fire.
In my mind, I was lower than the floormat
of failure, observe, report, repeat –
repeating the cycle until the wheel
of life landed on fate’s rainbow:
my feet have yet to touch the 

Samuel Strathman (he/him) is a poet, visual artist, and kitchen coordinator. Some of his poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Prole, Bullshit Lit Mag, Voice Lux Journal and other publications. He is the author of three chapbooks including In Flocks of Three to Five (Anstruther Press) and The Incubus (Roaring Junior Press). His debut poetry collection, Omnishambles is forthcoming with Ice Floe Press (2022). He is currently living on the traditional land of the Anishnaabeg people.