The Rivers of Flame

by on Dec 13, 2017

“Beyond surprise, my ribs start up from the ground.’

                W.S. Merlin


And I dance beneath your open window
like a shadow between the shadows of trees.
I rattle and I shake. I wake the neighbors
and alert all the dogs, who pull
against their chains and howl into the night.
Come to the window, love, and see my collection of bones.

See my collection of bones, how they dance
at the end of a string, how my feet stir the loose earth,
how the wind sends my legs in the air.
See how I juggle my arms, how my skinny neck bobs,
how my shiny white skull grins at the sky,
with its blob of moon and clouds, its smear of stars.

Hurry, because night is almost gone, and sirens
pierce the neighborhood. Soon oaks and maples will revive,
and that green will sting your eyes. Birds will balance
on every skeletal branch. They are coming to push me
back underground, where my song, now choked with ash,
will linger forever, but only beside the rivers of flame


Steve Klepetar lives in Saint Cloud, Minnesota. His work has received several nominations for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize, including four in 2016. Recent collections include Family Reunion (Big Table), A Landscape in Hell (Flutter Press), and How Fascism Comes to America (Locofo Chaps).

2 thoughts on “The Rivers of Flame

  1. It takes me to the Day of the Dead ritual where souls are invited to return for a day. Steve Your work is powerful, evocative, out there. Thank you for sharing. I would love to use The Rivers of Flame in my ‘ritual’ referencing, with your permission.

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