Steve Klepetar lives in Saint Cloud, Minnesota. His work has appeared widely in the U.S. and abroad, and has received several nominations for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize, including four in 2016. Three new collections have appeared in 2017: “A Landscape in Hell;” “Family Reunion;” and “How Fascism Comes to America.”
Watching You Dream
You’re asleep in the blue chair, and I
am watching you dream. Today your
hair is made of glass. It shines
in window light, splashing your shoulders,
streaming down your back.
You must be flying in humid air
as sun struggles through breaking clouds.
High up the world looks wet and green.
You sail the currents, rising with heat,
then dipping into cooler troughs.
Your eyes become mirrors, your hands
a fluttering pair of nets.
I watch your mouth as it seems to sing,
chewing the lyrics of an old tune
we crooned on a train
shooting out towards mountains in the west.
We were young and blessed with peace.
I watch you sleep, and my face
transforms to lead. I would follow if I could,
sailing my weight along the track.
Soft leaves had not yet turned,
or drifted toward earth. All night we rode.
In the morning our eyes were dazed and full of snow.
Outside someone is hammering.
It is evening after a day of rain.
Through the window I see nothing
but clouds and mist, or only
a shape, something big and heavy
in the street, and now the silence
is broken. It takes this noise,
metal on metal, to grasp the quiet,
how rarely even a single car
glides down my street, whooshing
Maybe I’m trapped inside glass.
In the middle of this life, something
Thick as summer, air closes
around my throat.
Even last night I heard nothing,
not even the swing set creaking,
or dogs chasing birds across the yard.
Turning the Corner
I met myself coming
from the river, where
I stood so long on the
wooden bridge, staring
into dark water.
The face I saw floating
like a pale wafer of flame.
In motion now, I feel
the warmth of my hands,
my blood revives.
I have come up the road,
turned the corner
by the gray stone house.
A thin line of light spills
from the front porch.
Half in darkness,
I greet myself as I pass,
palm held high,
an unarmed shadow
returning from the edge.
The eye rises from its pyre of flame, and what it sees it consumes.
Everywhere wind pushes into corners,
and sky bends with its sly colors – black clouds and oily sun.
Here in winter, the sea bubbles turquoise and indigo,
framed by a rocky coast.
If you wait in the shadows, where bent trees
lean their hunched backs,
you might see the famous lovers rising from their deep sand pit,
straining upward on naked, muscular legs.
They climb and climb, exhaustion
burning on their faces as they reach the cool air by the shore.
They have eaten nothing in the darkness.
Their hair has turned to gold, to white gold,
or platinum threaded with jewels. See how their hunger
grows as night comes on so early,
with its new burial and its mouth sharp with mountainous teeth.
Eyes of the Sea
I find myself looking into the eyes
of the sea. He stares back, an old
man with breath made of foam,
spread out between sand and sky.
We don’t speak. Gulls shriek and
dive in the space between our
silence. Suddenly I feel wet
and cold, and the sea opens his
gray waves. Music plays from
a boardwalk just up the beach,
a young woman with a guitar
and a voice that’s swept away
by the wind. The sea listens.
It roils over the melody,
and turns green, then violet
as notes penetrate the water’s
skin. My eyes break away. I feel
a great longing for distance,
for the wide shoulders of this land,
with its ceaseless shoreline circling
the narrow shadow of my vanishing self.