Kelena Klippel

There Are Only Blinking Yellow Traffic Lights Blinking at 3am

My father told me that the true sign 

of a man’s love is when he looks 

back at me while I walk away

but I’ve never met someone who 

watched me like I carry Sodom 

and Gomorrah on each of my shoulders

 

He also told me that my body is a temple,

but I choose how I worship and come

as I am in my grey sweatpants,

the kind that looks like it’d be remembered

on a Sunday in October, with pockets deep 

enough to sink my bored hands into-- 

its brand name repeated around

the waistband, reading like a shibboleth

 

A cello plays in the distance

like in an impending jump scare

as I catch you watching me drive off 

from my rearview mirror, the dome light

appearing like a crown to you 

as my father sleeps a restless night

Kelena Klippel is a 25-year-old poet based in Gainesville, Florida. She is currently a graduate student and scientist at the University of Florida. Her work focuses on Thai culture, liminal spaces, and personal relationships. Stay tuned for more of her work that will be featured in a full collection. 

There Was a Bridge

I watched you die on your brother’s wedding day

That oasis of chest hair flat with sweat

 

Afterward, I curled my hair

and tried to calm my trembling hands

 

Was I a bad person being grateful

when your old belongings were no longer of use?

 

Like your new car, in a space where my thighs 

were the only ones you’ve gripped like a water bottle in July

 

I began to waft up to the ceiling later that night,

smelling of cigar smoke and what I assumed was cabernet

 

And woke to your smiling eyes, crinkled like when 

someone gingerly places an old terrier on the sofa cushion

Floured Lines

I never touched the corpse’s hand

at my grandfather’s wake

 

It looked like a designer 

bag contained under a glass box

 

Regardless, I cried with each fire 

of the three-volley salute

 

This past Valentine’s day, faint 

tunes followed me like mist

 

A young girl’s voice echoes

in the elevator shaft

 

Later, my mother reads my palms;

you can sense them, she said.