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).
I Doubt It
I doubt you could climb among stars,
or stand rigid in spaces in between.
Your fingers would bleed, your knees
go numb in that inky cold.
Even your eyes would darken
as you waited there for voices in the wind.
Maybe in winter on the coldest day,
maybe then you could penetrate
six feet of ice with your withering stare.
I doubt it though.
Your strength is not among giants
made of gas, or pulsars, or red dwarfs.
Your heart could never be a furnace
or a forge. No, it bends with daffodils
in the meadow by the stream.
One yellow eye looks up, one down,
and soon you are swept away:
a thousand colors tremble behind the rain.
On the Hill
Slated for destruction, the house teetered
on its little hill. Every night for a month,
rain splattered down on its broken roof.
The front windows were fogged,
and the walls bent slightly,
like a pigeon-toed man resting by a shop.
Once, when I was small, we camped out here,
near the well which we were forbidden to touch.
Two or three of us stared down at its velvet darkness.
We smelled the wet stone.
Crickets chirped in the grass nearby, and clouds
like balled-up fists moved through the azure sky.
One by one we peeled away, each leaving
a small bit of skin dangling at the edge
of something we couldn’t name, bottomless and vast.
Is It True
that the highway is another river, made of tar
and ash, or is that another alternate fact?
This one seems empty on a January day, with red earth
stretching flat, north and south beyond those horizons.
On the radio, another country song about a man
whose father ran when he was young,
leaving nothing behind but a name and a guitar.
From the sound of his voice, he turned out well,
though there’s just a twang of discontent, perhaps
a conduit to a deep well of sorrow. Is it true
that he is sober as a preacher in a tent revival show?
Is it true that the woman who appeared, that vision
in a lightning flash, who saved him from violence
and tears, loves him, or is she just a picture on his wall?
Is it true that her eyes follow him around the room?
And what do his comrades think, those unsentimental
men to whom he sings? Are they truly moved,
or would they throw him in the muck for being lovesick
out loud in a cowboy bar? It’s not easy to read another’s palms,
even when he holds them out, torn and bleeding, an injured
bear retreating from a stream without a fish, just
a paw full of thorns, and a wounded heart too easily impressed.
Late at night in the dark forest, moon hangs
in the sky, a luminous mask covering a pair
of gleaming eyes as tree shadows thicken,
silence grows heavy as mist, while voices
call in the leaves as the river drags over logs
and rocks, something I have dreamed
many times, a strange sensation in my cheek,
sky written over, carved up with an ancient script.
A Hundred Days
Music explodes in the mind,
a ball of light
leaving no room for pain.
Someone has knifed the sky,
ripping rain from its pale
blue flesh. Listen as it dances
and cars. Will a storm
cleanse our streets of blood,
or will the year build
and build its pyramid of bones?
For a hundred days we’ve
sat in the dust,
listening to dry throats of birds.
We have scored buildings
with chalk, lain down
by the river and dreamt our names.
Night after night
we have dreamt, and waking,
we tumble into bodies
we never knew, trying to learn
a new language,
trying to raise new hands to new
eyes, to wipe away the fog of sleep.