Steve Klepetar lives in the Berkshires in Massachusetts. His work has received several nominations for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize. The most recent of his fourteen collections include A Landscape in Hell, Why Glass Shatters, and The Coffee Drinker’s Son.
This Poem is its Own Worst Enemy
This poem was born in New York City, carried its lunch to school.
It had a Roy Rogers lunchbox and crayons made of light and oil.
This poem rode the Staten Island Ferry until dark.
This poem bought cannoli on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx.
It bought a Good Humor bar and walked to the Central Park Zoo.
It met Peter, Paul and Mary at the monkey house.
This poem delights in mischief and has never told the truth.
It’s acquainted with Rock legends Walter Becker and Tommy Ramone.
Once it met Jackie Kennedy at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
She was coming off the elevator,
and her bodyguards made it stand back to let her pass.
This poem opens windows to the soul, drops water balloons
on the heads of tired businessmen.
This poem has run through alleys in the rain dodging truant officers and cops.
Sometimes this poem gets caught, gets tuned up for being a wise guy jerk.
Sometimes it turns state’s evidence, enters witness protection and disappears.
You will not find this poem again.
Maybe It lives in Omaha near the railroad tracks or down in New Orleans.
This poem may root for the Bears and run a pizza place on the near North Side.
This poem has grown too big for its britches.
It wears suspenders and a garish tie.
Some girls have called this poem undatable.
It slicks back its hair and goes to the movies alone.
This poem is monolingual. It has mustard stains on its shirt.
I saw it wandering down the street muttering to stray dogs, calling to pigeons
as they roosted near the overpass.
The sky turned purple and lights flickered on along the river bridge.
This poem whines too much. “I’m my own worst enemy,” it says.
My friend Rob smiles and shakes his head. “Not as long as I’m alive.”
We walk along the river, holding hands,
watching mallards swimming
not far from shore. It’s early spring
and the trees, mostly maple and oak,
have not leafed out. Wind still stings
a bit, a little winter left in the biting air.
All day we have walked through river towns,
over bridges and through parks
where flowers soon will scatter their color
over new, pale greening grass.
Our legs ache and our stomachs growl.
Time to find a café not far from river’s edge,
a place to sit and rest, eat hot food, drink coffee
until our eyes spring open with a caffeine rush.
We are done with talk.
Quiet at last, we are walking our way home
toward summer sun, pleased to be here
one more time to see the world blossom into joy.