Alan S. Kleiman









Before my first attempt at writing

I used to carve trees,

Make the shapes needed

To feel smooth in the hand

And make the images necessary to

Appeal to the eye

To remind one of

Something identifiable

I’d make a turtle

Or a bullfrog

A horse or a goat

Or a smooth shape,

My favorite,

Just a shape you could hold in your hand

When your hand was in your pocket

And people thought you were

Paying attention

But you paid attention instead

To the smooth shape

In your pocket

Admiring its feel and shape

How happy it was to hold

How satisfying you could feel inside

No matter what the words said

Floating there in the open sky


As I got older

I had to write words

Content mattered

And I was stifled

My smooth carving ability

Didn’t shift to words

They bumped in my mouth

And made me nervous



And they came with a label

That ran across my forehead

Bold and high contrast


No way Jose

Don’t call us we’ll call you


I could put on a hat

With a big brim

That shaded the forehead

Or pull the cap so low

The label barely showed

But it never went away

Never dissolved into spring air

Always made life hard, hurtful

With pains like headaches

Or broken bones

Pains like death

Or a toothache

In the left rear molar.


Let me make something smooth

For your hand

Something smooth and glorious

Something to make your palm smile

Something so smooth

The words in the sky

Will seem

Nothing but clouds.






I never met a semicolon I didn’t like

Why once I had come

to the end of a sentence

Screaming period

But no

I snickered and


Semi-coloned it

Right there

Running on and on

About girls and cars

About afternoon treats

Where sunsets began to poke

at the window


It’s time now

Better leave

But still I semi’d it along

Not ready to end

Not ready to say

This is all I have left







You don’t have to finish messages


I read you mind

Your brain is on my table

Open before me

I see each synapse

That is where I touch

The little pieces that make

You flutter

And wonder

What was that breeze












Alan S. Kleiman is the author of GRAND SLAM, a Collection of Poems published by Crisis Chronicles Press. His poetry appears in numerous magazines and journals including Verse Wisconsin, Right Hand Pointing, Camel Saloon, Stone Path and international journals AfricanHadithi, Scene4 and others. His poems are in anthologies published by Fine Line Press and Red Ocher Press and have been translated into Spanish, Russian, Polish, Norwegian, Danish and Ukrainian. He appeared at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts as a featured poet in the performing arts series. Alan lives in New York City and works as an attorney when not writing poems.


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