William Kloefkorn

William KloefkornWilliam Kloefkorn lives and writes in Lincoln, Nebraska, where he is Emeritus Professor of English at Nebraska Wesleyan University. He has published more than twenty collections of poetry, two books of short fiction, four memoirs, and a collection of children’s Christmas stories. The Nebraska Center for the Book named his second memoir, Restoring the Burnt Child, as the “One Book, One Nebraska” selection for 2008. He initiated the Poets-in-the-Schools program in Nebraska and has read his work and conducted workshops in Nebraska and across the country in elementary, junior high, and senior high schools, as well as colleges and universities. His poems and stories have appeared in numerous periodicals and anthologies. He has received honorary doctorates from Nebraska Wesleyan, Midland College in Fremont, Nebraska, and Ripon College in Wisconsin, and has served for twenty-six years as the Nebraska State Poet, having been named by the Unicameral in 1982. He and his wife, Eloise, have four children-Terry Lynn, John Charles, Tracy Ann, and Robert Karl-and a meaningful assortment of grandchildren.

Books by William Kloefkorn for the Backwaters Press

Out of Attica Out of Attica by William Kloefkorn

Author: William Kloefkorn
Format: Paperback, 120 pages
ISBN: 9780981693682
Published: October 2008

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Poems from William Kloefkorn’s Out of Attica

Moving Away

If you could see me now
you’d see me moving away
more rapidly than either of us,
in our innocence until now,
thought possible.

I’m riding in the same skin,
more or less, that I was
born in. Think of it, insofar
as you care to, as a convertible
beyond reconditioning
with its top down.

Not much, really, to do or say
beyond raising the hand
in response to the hand
beyond the window you’re
looking through that’s waving.

Easy does it, doesn’t it? And
as natural as the sun
that with its rising
makes inevitable
its going down.

Practicing Invisibility

Because practice makes perfect, they say, and
because they say also that perfection is impossible
to achieve,

I practice invisibility by way of practicing the impossible,
I work at believing you can do it or have it if you try
hard enough,

if you’re willing to put yourself on the line and become
more visible, but often neither dedication nor
good intentions

can provide sufficient thrust to neutralize the drag,
and invisibility thus becomes the by-product
of moderate

if not failed achievement, the language of a poem always
on its way to providing another example. Maybe it’s
time therefore

to change directions, to say that lines that talk
on the page
is what Sacagawea called writing.
Remember Sacagawea—

that young Shoshone so early-on visible we can’t see
those other years of her life? I stand somewhere
in Virginia

looking at a bronze of the woman who only a stone’s
throw from the Pacific cast her vote in favor of one
winter camp

over another, a beautiful young woman, according
to the sculpture, beautiful in spite of it, beauty
being finally

the handiwork of all that cannot be seen, those tongues
that do their most audible talking
between the lines.

Late Summer, 1946

In the barber shop
Urie hands me a fresh copy
of the Sporting News. It smells
like a new baseball, say the one Pistol
Pete Reiser failed to catch because
it sailed like a small planet
over the centerfield wall.

A photo in the News stopped the ball
high above the wall, stopped Reiser too
at the instant his head made
contact with brick and mortar.


If it isn’t the sweet scent
of bay rum and Sweet Pea talcum
in Urie’s barber shop
it’s the smell of high octane and
Quaker State at the Mobil station,
Eldon Martin moving from one to the other
with an ease that would make the mouth
water, if it weren’t already
watering, lemon drops enough to last
until, the papers delivered, Van Heflin
kisses Marsha Hunt with an intensity
equal almost to the salt
in the second bag of popcorn.


With my Barlow, and Urie’s permission,
I had cut the photo from the News,
and now, walking home after the movie, I
remove it from my wallet
and wad it into the flyweight marble
I toss into the waterless ditch
two blocks from home.

I’ll not be able to find it
in the morning on my way to church,
but who cares, Reiser will do it again

anyway, photo or no photo, will do it
until his relentless head
relents, and he’ll drift into management
before drifting into the long sleep,

this Sunday morning meanwhile off to its
customary start, it being
less a day than an odor,
less time passing than time suspended.
And Sunday night? The dead, posing
as fireflies, lighting and
lighting again their acrid and
immortal cigarettes.

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