Building Traps
by Steve Klepetar

Where do you go at night
when padded darkness
falls and sleep flows
chilly along floor boards,
seeps through window
cracks, leaks into bedclothes,
oblivion’s raspy breath?  

I have felt your longing
pull like a tide
scraping shells across
slippery sand or a knotted
rope or Monarch hovering
above heather stem and thorn.  

I think you’ve been building
traps, a way
to capture the last frog
sounds or scent of meadow,
clover in a breeze tossed
and warmed through
memories of cloudless June.  

Before dawn my blurry eyes
swim up, struggling into cold
and humming dark.
All night your absence
aches, phantom
pain burning down my leg.

by Steve Klepetar

Anyway, you ran down that hill carrying
bottles that jangled in your arms, breaking
the air like a living bell, your chestnut hair
unfurling in the wind.  Let me count — three
bottles of flowery Beaujolais if I remember
right. And seven Centaurs bent like shaggy
fists over the hill’s steep brow.  And seven
stars and seven streams with seven wooden
bridges stretched across.
Tramp, tramp,
and you are first across, maroon
sweatshirt damp and glowing with the hood
flung back, taste of
chevre still biting warm
on your tongue, gnats and flies like blue
speckles crying you beyond the lost land.

by Steve Klepetar

I never laughed in the hallway of winding
stairs without a nervous look —

there on golden handrails, a twig-green
mantis stared me down with dragon eyes.

My feet burned.  For weeks I could not
drift beyond the line of sleep, or drink

a steaming cup of your amber tea.  
Someone pushed me into bushes and I

fell through scratchy twigs to the hard
root below.  When I looked into puddles

my floating face was striped with blood
and I did not know my way home.  

All night I studied the veins of brick,
worked out patterns in roof, concrete and tar.

Once in cloud-thick afternoon, I held
a mirror to my face and breathed your

name on shiny glass.  My feet dragged
in the sand and everywhere tinny radios

spilled their songs into barbwire meadows
where butterflies looped, a crazy script

above clover and milkweed and buttercup
buds.  If I had been lost, my chin yellow

with greasy trails of seed, scattered shards
of note and chord might have led me back

through rain.  I could stare across fire
grates but what’s the use of elemental dance?

I could never find enough spiral shells
to shake veils from your Spanish-moss eyes.   


Steve Klepetar teaches literature and writing at Saint Cloud State
University in Minnesota.  His most recent work appears in
GHOTI, The Mad Hatter’s Review, TMP Irregular, and Lily.

On “Building Traps”:
They’re a lot easier to build than escape from.  
It’s always night work, and sometimes you don’t make it back by

On “Seven Stars and Seven Streams”:  “Did you ever have a dream
you couldn’t explain,” wrote Dylan, and here’s one
in medias res,
the count transmuting from just the number of bottles of Beaujolais
one could reasonably carry while running to cross seven magical
bridges.  Even trapped in a myth, the wine and cheese taste

On “Truth Is”:  I’ve been haunted for years by a memory of coming
down the three flights of my garden apartment building when I was
about ten, and seeing a green preying mantis on the handrail.  
Stopped me like a blow to the chest — I wanted to kill it or run
screaming or disappear into a world where nothing like that could
exist.  Truth is, I don’t remember what I did.

Previous Page    Apple Valley Review, Spring 2006    Next page
Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary

ISSN 1931-3888

Volume 1, Number 1
(Spring 2006)

Copyright © 2006
by Leah Browning, Editor.  

All future rights to material
published in the
Valley Review
are retained
by the individual authors
and artists.
Truth Is
Seven Stars and Seven Streams