Sleep Deprivation in the Age of Innocence

Steve Klepetar


You could talk about waking at 4 a.m., your back
knotted in agony, and there would be a space
next to you where a body had lain. 
Or you could talk about the furnace whining in the cold. 
It wouldn’t matter, irony would not come to your aid. 
Even if you spoke to someone else about darkness
dropping like a veil in late afternoon, even then
there would be little to laugh about. 
Remember when sleep turned you back into a child
with a warm, red face? 
Long ago, in the spring, you dreamt of deer
licking salt in the yard and blackbirds
swarming berry bushes near the creek’s edge. 
Your body was made of light. 
It radiated from your bed, striking images
on the blue walls. It was before the election, 
before turtles changed their minds and crawled
back into the sea. 
Your parents were alive then, sitting on the sofa
drinking beer. The TV hummed, and they seemed
so happy, lost in its silver glow, your brother
just a shadow strung in the closet, a marionette whose
mouth moved in the language of sleep, saying nothing at all.


Steve Klepetar's work has received several nominations Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize, including four in 2016. Recent collections include My Son Writes a Report on the Warsaw Ghetto, The Li Bo Poems, Family Reunion, and A Landscape in Hell. 

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