Jock Strap
Michael Simms

My mother bought my first jock strap for me,
for protection she said vaguely trying to sound
matter of fact as if it were just part of the school supplies
she’d bought like the thin #2 pencils and the red and gray
Chieftain tablets. I picked up the jock strap,
holding it like a dead rat by the tail
which had a tag above the cup
that said in big letters SIZE: SMALL.
And the first day of gym class, I tried it on
without noticing the other boys around me.
I wasn’t sure what this contraption was supposed to protect
so I put it on with the tag in back hoping to hide
the word SMALL which left my member of the club
hanging in front, twitching in the cold air.
When the other boys saw what I’d done
they roared with laughter… and the rest of the year
And today, my jock strap
under my swim suit, arranged in manly correctness,
I swim my quick twenty laps
then stand with the other old men in the shallow
end, our white and black bellies hanging over
our invisible jock straps that protect our business
from jiggling, flopping, bouncing
in the cold water of old age.
Michael Simms, who identifies as a person with autism, is the founder of Vox Populi, an online forum for poetry, politics and nature, as well as Autumn House Press, a publisher of books. He’s the author of four full-length collections of poetry including Nightjar (Ragged Sky, 2021), two novels including Bicycles of the Gods (Madville, 2022), the co-author of a college textbook about poetry—and the lead editor of over 100 published books, including the best-selling Autumn House Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, now in its third edition. In 2011, the Pennsylvania Legislature awarded Autumn House a Certificate of Recognition for its contribution to the arts.

View David Joel Kitcher’s selected works.

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