Alaska Shorts: Three Poems by Sandy Kleven

Paid Up

Fifty dollars a month.
Back then it was a lot of money,
added to base pay, and
sent home to wife and baby boy.

So Wayne Gross Kleven 
joined the paratroopers,
even though he was afraid of heights, 
and dying 
to go home,
to sway under silk canopy to Corrigidor.

Wayne made it back,
lived to see his grandkids grow,
never said much about the war.
He died at home encircled.   

Last week, Wayne Douglas Kleven, 
flew to Hawaii with his dad, 
who was once that baby boy. 
Tomorrow they will parasail 
over Pacific waters
beneath a bright canopy 
for thirty seven dollars each.

Wisdom Blonde
When she was sixty-one and young,
she colored her hair a cranberry red
not seen in nature’s hews. 
Ruby fire made her dance, so she
colored her roots for the next six years,

flamboyant in her favor. 

Dishwater blonde is the taunting
name for the shade she hid with dye.
A mousy dun, both drab and drear,
fit for a girl who is going nowhere.
Red was more of a match. 

Down in the root, her color changed.
She almost did not notice.  But,
curious, she let it grow. It came out
pretty, silky and fine, more blonde than
white (she swears), as good as red, as bright,

Some gift of time, bizarre, embraced,
“It’s great,” she preens, “I never color.”

What perplexes a girl with hair so swell
is the number that came with it.   
“How in the world,” she demands 
to the mirror, “did I get to be sixty-seven?”  


You are all at computers, today.
Millions of you.  Right now. 
You are typing, reading and breathing.

                Combined, your breath is a soft symphony,
                a weather system, moist from a million mouths,
                the huffpuff of industry, the tug of tidal sighs.

Rear ends on chairs. 
A billon stenciled fannies, varied in heft and thrust,
each valued by someone.

At this moment sitting before screens: 
Agonists, agents, old age artists,
screamers, Dadaists (there must be at least one),
Presbyterians, marauders,
Celts, people with one hand, people who type by blowing in a straw,
hunters and peckers, cocks and sox, novelists, florists, people
writing appeals to various bodies toward multiple ends.

Do we move simultaneously?
                Leaning now.  Moving the mouse.  Pausing.  Pursing lips.  Cupping the chin. 
                Perfectly synchronous, not knowing how we coincide.

Oh, my loaves.  Busy, bossy, loaves,  are you, too, thinking of others
                in this identical arrangement of flesh and thought,
                amassed at this border ready to spill,
                to roll like beans toward a wide green plain?    
My communists, my colleagues, how is it that we shall never meet,
                never know all of the other?  
Huddled in the light. Intent on your business. Millions tapping codes. 
In these dense moments I feel you there.  
                Clicking.  Linking. Hitting reply.  Entering.  
        ~ Sandy Kleven

Sandra Kleven is the editor of Cirque literary journal. She is a poet, filmmaker and essayist.  Her work has appeared in AQROklahoma Review, Topic, Praxilla Stoneboat, f-zine and the UAP anthology, Cold Flashes.  In 2012, two of her poems were nominated for the Push Cart Prize.  She recently won the F’Air Words prize in poetry.  Kleven has been awarded two Celebration Foundation grants.  She has authored two children’s books, plus a collection of poems.  Kleven holds an MFA in Creative Writing.  Kleven claims affinity for Alaska, where she lives with her husband, and Washington State where she was born.

5 thoughts on “Alaska Shorts: Three Poems by Sandy Kleven”


    Dear readers,
    Please note that the funny formatting is just the nature of auto-blog. My chagrin settles if readers comprehend that the run-on lines were not intended.

    Thanks, 49ers for posting my poems. Readers, thanks so much for your comments.

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