If I Could Sleep
by Steve Klepetar

If I am still awake it’s because
I can no longer tell these shadows
from a doorway into dreams.
Last night I tiptoed on a tightrope
strung high above the village green.
People down below hurled
their shoes at me.
All had the same red face,
Men and children, young women
with their lovely curves,
old ones with their bent backs
and crooked teeth.
Of course I suffered, but it didn’t
take long, and soon I had a thousand pair.
When the wind picked up, I sailed
away with my reeking parachute
to a forest where birds sang in French –
troubadour songs
and tales of Roland and Charlemagne.
If I’m awake now,
it’s an accident of pain, this troublesome
back that hates my guts and wants me dead.
Someday it will lower my body to the neck
in gray sand, grinning with malice at the throbbing tide.

PHOTO: The author in Bordeaux, not sleeping.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I never sleep, but my wife keeps taking photos to prove that I do. I don’t though, believe me. I just sort of rest my eyes. “If I Could Sleep” is a poem about that, kind of.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Steve Klepetar lives in Saint Cloud, Minnesota, where he taught literature and creative writing at Saint Cloud State University. Klepetar’s work has appeared worldwide, in such journals as Boston Literary Magazine, Deep Water, Expound, The Muse: India, Red River Review, Snakeskin, Voices Israel, Ygdrasil, and many others. Several of his poems have been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize (including three in 2015). He has also done several collaborations with composer Richard Lavenda of Rice University in Houston, including a one-act opera, Barricades, for which he wrote the libretto. Klepetar is the author of 10 poetry collections and chapbooks, the most recent of which include The Li Bo Poems (Flutter Press, 2016) and Family Reunion (forthcoming from Big Table Publishing).