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From a City in the Rain

Poem by Steven Klepetar

From a City in the Rain

“My letter is a paper hoop,
When I break through it, you will be imprisoned”

         Robert Lowell

I blow
on this plastic straw, send its paper sheath
across the table where my friend sits smoking.
From where I sit, his hair appears to be on fire
but there is no stench of singed follicles,
nor does his calm face suggest anything but mild
pleasure in his herring and black bread.
“Conrad,” he says in his deep, low voice
(he always calls me Conrad though my name is Jim
because my face looks pale through his red, volcanic
eyes) “you are a fool and at least half a knave.”
You can tell he doesn’t mean it though, because bits
of fish and onion leak from the corners of his thin lips.
He has traveled far to this place and maybe his legs
have turned to stone.  
Once he wrote to me from a city with a sky of steel
to let me know how the rain slanted, how women
seemed to glide along wet streets.  
I was homesick then and startled by his noisy yawn
which ripped the yellow paper he had stained with ink.  
If I could have climbed into that breech, hand over
hand along its glossy sides, it may have been to tumble
with the season, down into brittle cold
to see my face turn real again, jagged and unashamed.

Steve Klepetar’s work has received several nominations for the Pushcart
Prize and Best of the Net.  Three collections appeared in 2013:
Speaking to
the Field Mice
(Sweatshoppe Publications), Blue Season (with Joseph
Lisowski, mgv2>publishing), and
My Son Writes a Report on the Warsaw
(Flutter Press).  An e-chapbook, Return of the Bride of Frankenstein,
came out in 2014 as part of the Barometric Pressures series of
e-chapbooks by Kind of a Hurricane Press.
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