Steve Klepetar’s work has appeared worldwide, in such journals as Boston Literary Magazine, Deep Water, Expound, The Muse: India, Red River Review, Snakeskin, Voices Israel, Ygdrasil, and many others. Several of his poems have been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize (including three in 2015). Recent collections include My Son Writes a Report on the Warsaw Ghetto and The Li Bo Poems, both from Flutter Press.
Every Blade of Grass
Here’s a rebellion starting, a circle
of angry men. They toe the ground
like horses gathered in a cold field,
stamp their boots on crusted snow.
All night their dreams are plagued
by darting crows. Mice scrabble
in the cellar, a dog moans outside
a cottage made of stone. A song
rises from someone’s phone,
a lament about a brother dead, two
women with their black hair hanging
in a curtain of grief. Men wake
to moonlight and a clatter of plates:
wives and girlfriends cooking, serving
food. One man says “there’s a rifle
behind every blade of grass.”
Another pulls his fleece tight around
his chest and coughs, air heavy
with dust. A pickup bounces along
the access road. With sunrise, sky
will fill with smoke, as a hundred
curses snake all around stiffening tongues
Again I wake in the cold night to find
my heart in flame. It’s four a.m., but still
the postman’s knock comes loud as breaking
glass. Who could have sanctified this early
shift, or has the mailman at my door gone
rogue? Rubbing my eyes, I shuffle to open,
alert for murderers or thieves, but there is
nothing, just a package addressed to my
other self, the one who clings to edges of dream.
With fingertip, I trace his name and feel
the sting along my calves, the burning
in my lungs, as if I had run six miles
in summer heat. When will I enter his
life of silver birch and rain? Darkness
wavers now, trembling at the edge of sky.
Somewhere in the distance I hear a train.
Its roar and whistle linger on the quiet lake
until they vanish in the silence of a stillborn day.
In the Garden of New Growth
Here in the garden of new growth
last year’s weeds lie like exhausted
nudes weary from stretching their
limbs on a wiry couch. A dog sniffs
at thawing earth, pricks his ears
and bays into the wind. Neighbors
carry armloads of wood to their shed.
A man across the street is dying,
less substantial every day since he
cursed a couple waiting by the hydrant
to pick up their kids from school.
His eyes have twisted in their sockets
as if to begin the self-examination
we all must make one day. His wife
makes soup from bones. All day
the water boils and boils, and she
scoops frothing scum from the top,
adding onions and carrots and peas,
the neighborhood fragrant with
the scent of her cooking, windows
open in warm spring air. Maybe
his soul will rise in the steam of her
magical broth as her brothers arrive
from out of state, tired and hungry
from a three day’s drive, to help her pack.