I was born in Shanghai, China, the son of Holocaust survivors, and grew up in New York City. I now live in the booming metropolis of Saint Cloud, Minnesota, where there are a surprisingly large number of good, cheap, hole-in-the wall ethnic restaurants. Two of my four grandchildren live in town, so I get to spend a good deal of time with them, playing tag, which is sort of like running wind sprints. For over thirty years I taught in the English department at Saint Cloud State University, where the kids from Lake Woebegon go to college, and I can attest to the fact that they all are, in fact, above average. Please take a look at these two chapbooks, which are available for download at the amazingly low price of nothing: Blue Season (with poems by me and V-V regular Joseph Lisowski, and Return of the Bride of Frankenstein — click on the book titles.)
Werewolf Eats a Drunk
Hungry in new full moon, werewolf
eats a cat, spits out hair and bones, mews
in the alley, chasing his tail. He climbs
a fence, balances on tiptoes, sings weird
tunes to the spotty face nailed to sky.
He eats an owl, takes on its ancient face,
tiny moon wrinkled in a silver bath.
A train chuffs east, sirens wail down the
boulevard. Without a conscience, he owns
the night. Sneaking by river, he snags fish
and sleeping swans, eats mallards and laps
cool water with his riveted tongue. Slick
as mud he moves nearly invisible, more felt
than seen, something absent, fierce and old.
On the corner near three bars, across from
La Luna, he eats a cilantro spicy drunk
hunched by a lamppost, nearly ninety proof.
On two legs he stumbles home, climbs in
through the window and lies down in bed by
his wife, who sighs and shifts beneath her sheet.
Werewolf On the Field of Dreams
Gone are the days when he roamed
centerfield, sleek shadow streaking
grass. Hit well too, to all fields,
and though his power numbers
weren’t great, he could beat out
a bunt, steal a base, beat you
with his glove and legs.
To stay in shape, he read once,
a ballplayer would have to play
a doubleheader a day and run
three miles. But that didn’t take
the traveling into account, those bus
rides through heat and dust, hostile
crowds and bad calls, gobbling
teenagers behind bleachers after
night games, all that pop and cotton
candy in their blood. He ate
a centerfielder once, a quick blonde
kid who played college ball
downstate, tasted like honey
and fresh farm milk.
Now he drinks Grain Belt
and watches the Twins on TV,
munches pretzels until the salt
goes hard on his lolling tongue.
Outfielders make him think
of oatmeal cookies at the kitchen
table, his mom’s voice and the smell
of sweat and infield dirt, but pitchers
tend to eat stringy and tough,
and forget catchers, tasting
of deception, all haunches and gut.
Don’t get me started – hairy
legs sticking out of those
short shorts, sweat-splotched
tee shirt (gray shows through
best), some real huffing and
puffing and what’s the point?
Blisters on your paw pads?
Shin splints when you go
bipedal too long at a stretch?
Eat a terrified sheep out in
some pasture under gleaming
moon or a well-fed dog out of
someone’s yard and you’re fat
that week. Go hungry and
you’re thin, that’s nature’s law.
Yet you run and you run,
headphones on your long ears,
listening to Howlin’ Wolf
no doubt, or Los Lobos,
fragments of icy stars exploding
in your brain with every crashing stride.
©2016 Steve Klepetar