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.”
Something Like Sawdust
And now it was February
and I stepped out
of a dream into summer
where green birds darted
of strange trees. I stood
on a balcony overlooking
the sea and a deserted
beach, with wind whipping
small white waves
a cloudless sky. For weeks
the world had come
and tearing at every seam,
but stinking and foul,
sticky as tar. All night
my familiars, those silver
wolves, howled songs
of failing blood, their
forests fading to shadows,
their gray pools gutted
and nearly dry. Through
the air, a tumbling
of snow. In the morning,
small girls sat among drifts,
their faces raw, their shining
hair bound in webs of light.
Waiting for Paradise
Here in the darkness, I am Adam,
returned to dust. The voice you hear
is no more than a rustling in the oaks,
or a crow asserting his claim
to a certain large branch.
Or it may be a river, or the echo
slipping across stones in the deep.
But where are you at the edge of all this,
grown toward absence? It’s sure I can’t
see you now.
My eyes have turned to glass.
They have swiveled
inward, disconnected themselves
from nerve and blood.
My ears are shells, which would crumble
beneath your weight.
Where are my fingers and toes?
Have you seen them wriggling
Oh mystery, oh shadow at the pool
of memory: What of my arms,
my legs, those veins heavy with gold?
When my children were small, I read stories
to them about witches and wolves.
There were demons beneath the rocks,
ogres hiding behind trees.
We were never afraid.
Even when the small girl was torn
to shreds and her body left scattered
by the sea, we knew she would return.
In stories, the dead
always return, though they never talk
about their blood, their bones.
In life too.
The dead return always,
again and again from the dirt
where we buried them, their ashes
reaffirmed. Are they resentful,
having been gone so long?
Is that why their hair burns, their eyes
dried out, drained of light?
You could ask them, one by one,
in the night, if only you could find
your buried voice as it lingers in a new grave.
Maybe day dawns purple,
or shadows streak your street.
It’s possible you’ve woken early,
starved for the blue sounds
of a moaning guitar.
Someone has gone down
to the Saint James infirmary,
someone has strolled
to the corner for a paper
and a bottle of milk.
In the news, UFO’s and coral
dying, bleaching white.
Men resign in disgrace.
Here in the quiet room, heat
pushes against bitter cold
windows rimmed with ice.
With a little foreknowledge,
you could have known what to do,
bet on the winning team,
bought the right stocks, made a million bucks.
Now, weeks after the storm, mermaids
reappear off the broken shore.
They swim beyond torn beaches.
Their green eyes glitter in the cold.
If you stand in the wind, quiet and still,
you can hear their voices braid in song.
You stare out over the gray sea, feel
an inner light rise from your tingling skin.
In all this vastness, it’s best to remember
that nothing human survives.
They don’t love you. They don’t know how.
Their hearts have been turned to stone.
It is only hunger that drives them through the waves.