Missing In Action

I left it all on the table, an act not
so much of sweeping away Katherine
Hepburn style, as shrugging off

a backpack filled with books you wouldn’t
read even at midnight, waiting in the Gare du Nord.

Nothing but dust and halos whispering
secrets to the screeching rails.

Too thirsty to bleed, I looked in the rain
for a streetlamp bar where women stain
swollen air with swallow song and every man

weeps whisky tears into his rough black beard.
Out of sight, goblins sang (if that’s what you
would call such squealing rhythms, such a

corkscrew in the ears) or maybe they were bats
or wingless doves or a million spilled grains

of butcher’s salt breathing an atmosphere so rich
in oil that every sound converted in the air.

Maybe they were rioters downriver, where barges
drag new fashions to the crowded outlet mall

or maybe they were cats with nothing better to do
than open the skin of night with their vestigial teeth.

My father owned a green book with photographs of men

with vestigial tails.  I know this is true
though he took that book with him to the grave.

Steve Klepetar

If you have any comments on this poem, Steven Klepetar would be pleased to hear them.

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