Steve Klepetar has recently relocated to the Berkshires in Massachusetts after 36 years in Minnesota. His work has received several nominations for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize, including three in 2017. Recent collections include A Landscape in Hell (Flutter Press), How Fascism Comes to America (Locofo Chaps), and Why Glass Shatters (One Sentence Chaps).
The House Next Door
The neighbors are praying
in their garden,
or that’s what I like to think
as they kneel there,
putting the plants to bed.
Suddenly it is cold,
and in the forecast: snow.
Dark mornings, and we
wander through the chilly
house with all the lights on.
The neighbors move through
the yard, threading their way
through a serpentine dance.
Cars line their driveway -
a black limo, a white one,
a small sedan and a blue
There are children tumbling
in the leaves. A man pushes
a lawnmower that roars
for hours in the last, golden light.
In the Yard
She stood in the yard, watching her shadow
climb into branches of a maple tree, watching
the sun stretch through humid air.
Squinting, she sang in the afternoon,
a song about a boat and a girl
with wonderful eyes.
Her shadow danced among a crown of leaves.
She waved her hands, invited the crows
with their golden beads.
Her voice echoed everywhere.
She stood on tiptoe, peeking beyond the fence
where an ocean rolled, mirroring the darkening sky.
For All We Know
This may be the only planet
supporting a life made
with hands. Or it may be
the country of wolves, boundary
between whisper and song.
Could this be the place
where cousins dance their tales
of common blood?
If this were a reunion, I would
kiss your hand and offer you
a welcome home. I would serve
you bread, and soup of bones
and roots. I would fill your glass
with wine pressed from the gapes
of a country you see in dreams.
For you I would hold my hand
over the sky. For all we know,
this is how the living speak
to the dead, crying across a black
river running cold to the sullen sea.
A Wall of Stones
My grandfather drifts through fog.
For years he has slept in a lost city,
a place of bridges and clay.
Now he wanders by the lakeshore,
Who knows when he will have enough?
On his thin frame, the clothing hangs,
as though he has eaten air.
Still, he carries what he has gathered,
and now he kneels.
He is building a wall of stones.
He leans one against another,
and somehow, without mortar,
they snap into place, higher and higher
on the wet grass. I scream,
but he smiles at me, and in the silence
of his eyes I know he will keep himself
from tumbling back into the world.
A Blessing, Maybe
All night, the drumming of rain,
and in the morning, dripping
oaks and silver
Something has passed over us
in the night, a blessing maybe,
or an oracle’s song.
We have forgotten the tune.
In our hands we hold nothing
but shadows of water and salt and bread.