Sylvia your son has done. Has done.Has
done. A son undone.
A plumb bob.A fell swoop. A fraying
fuse Your son gone out.
The family shoe, Undo, undo. Short letters
rant, Do not, Do not. A roaring score, Alors, alors.
The worst is true. You pay on blue.
Two, of course, there are two. It seems perfectly natural now ——
The down dog tree, whose branches clamp your total lack, in fact, they rip the cage of your lost
rib in two. A man unstrung in black out back, whose knees play timpani, Constant C Against the oven door B flat.
in his hospital icebox. A simple frill at the neck.
Then you come around with
your frown in your hand like a blemish of fish, like a Flemish witch, a twitch to
the cuttlefish agony, you do not face until this death wishing
sore unwell meets you in your cookery To rhyme a rank reunion
Eyes run with ruddy scrim. Sylvia, you remember him; the baby in the barn cut
Remnant At my window the willow is quaking, the storm pounds delicate and deep. I was up all night writing in cursive pools
of cerulean are staining my feet.
My berries were pinched and bitten when they looked for something to sell. All night they
came through windows. I had to give them something small.
Dangerous men have taken my buttons. My sleeves fly
holey in the breeze. They dally me, daily; my thighs tender sighs. Call it, Tit for Tat. Now, they listen.
this kiss to the gravel pits and say you don’t know me.
My hand reaches across such monstrosities of time. I knew you when I was little. You were
nice and, Oh, your arms were round and hollow.
For you, I would wander
with chickens and matches. For you, I would disgrace my family, let the apples under my apron feed swine.
Wet my ears with your waxwing runner. Cross my heart with your piccolo tongue.
No paths led through the blackberries; I got lost every day, including this one. Every day,
I fell on the honor stone. What I gave to them, I can give again.
My legs ache to hold you and a beachy wetness
bothers my thigh. It is cool where waters find me and the storm has taken a new direction.
Now they question me and turn me out calling me precise and French. Kiss me, a short vow.
Someone is coming. Kiss me, seriously. My horn is lost.
Keep me in your right frontal hideout. Kiss me with
your momentary mouth. Upside-down on a kitchen stool touch the mouse I keep in my skirts.
I am so ashamed of
this terrible need. Make up anything, I will do it. You are nice and, Oh,
your arms are round and hollow.
At my door, your hand is knocking, The storm pounds delicate and deep. I’ve been up all
night writing instructions. Pools of cerulean have colored my feet.
"For Jon,Once My Brother" Oklahoma Review May, 2009
Alaska Quarterly Review
A Murder of Crows: Solstice 2007
I. Isn’t it darker this year? More dread? Like a murder of crows or a wounding of crows
or a slick waxwing?
Didn’t it come in strands on the breeze black as coal smoke a putrid whiff now and
then of creosote and clay?
Just a drifting breeze, touched with smoke circling with
seasons, settling like a dusty veil in subtle defiance of Solstice redemption. You waved it away. I did. I
Still, it pressed an apprehension a foreboding to nibble at the gut like
stray mice in grain like something important forgotten somewhere To be probed with the tongue like
you bother a broken tooth.
The news was bad. Word came on a death ship bad news as relentless as Katrina. Did you turn it
off? I did. I did. It turned me off.
Later, you had to think. Reckon. Chew words like character, destiny, and principle. Choke words like torture,
incompetent, out of control. Then, done, doomed, lost, dust.
When is it bad enough to scream uncle or To crawl on your belly under the radar, stealing to Canada Ashes smeared
across your mouth Tasting tar and oblivion Clothes ripped and ragged Heart drained, despairing To bargain, beg,
to offer your throat your sex hope of heaven To turn the death ship around To say you want no part
of this murder of crows?
I remember bands of brothers eyes shining Friday night lights Ready to die for America.
affable death mongers. An extraordinary rendition of drooling birds inchoate spawn gruel lappers.
A mangling and gnashing Murder of Crows.
II On this night, in this deep dark Confidence in redemption flags. Will we shout back another day,
another chance? Does the flame go out this time?
You gathered here, what is in your throat? a cacophony of possibility? a busting of chains? Do the sounds of
silence tear ruby flesh? Cough it up. Spit it out. Can you still Imagine? I can. I can.
But only when we gather the ravens and the wild birds – a flock of flockers A cobbling of characters An
industry of artists A flight of teachers A congress of conspirators A murder of crows Committed to an older order To
a call, who will set fire to vile vanities Who offer open hands contemplative hearts concern for kids. And peace.
In our time. An end to war. In our time. Let’s call back the sun. One more time and one more time
I invoke these holy words Intone the call To overcome One more time. To study war no more and Like a
tree by water not be moved. Pounding swords, pounding swords. Into hammers of justice while Bells of freedom ring
one more time To the brilliant light of ages Diminish this dread night Burst forth with bright cacophony To admit
the power of the word No.
Maybe again Love is all you need To dispel the darkening horror To call back our fearless sun Let’s
call it home. Let’s call it home. ~~ Sandra Kleven
Current issue Topic
"Bad Rap: How to Stop Alaska's Teens from Killing Themselves" 2005.
Author bio -- Sandra Kleven
is a poet,
film maker, and a visual artist. Her
poetry and other writing has appeared in Cirque, Alaska
Quarterly Review, Oklahoma Review, Topic Magazine, and F-Zine.
She has work in the anthologies Cold Flashes: Literary Snapshots
of Alaska and Alaska Women Speak (September
In 2009, Kleven
received a second
Celebration Foundation award to support her creative work. A clinical consultant with a specialty in
young children, she travels to small Alaska villages during the school year. Her children’s book, The Right Touch, winner of a Benjamin Franklin Award, is a top-seller
on the subject of abuse prevention.
Touching Problem,” Kleven’s first film was awarded a Seattle area EMMY
award. In 2010, she produced a short
film, “To the Moon: An Homage to the Poet, Theodore Roethke.”
Her mixed-media work has been displayed at
the International Gallery of Contemporary Art; her 2010 show was titled, “Devils
Washington State as well as Alaska where she lives with her family. Kleven holds an MFA in Creative Writing from
the University of Alaska/Anchorage.