Spring 2013, Volume 14

Poetry by Steve Klepetar

Something I Can Use

I shouldn’t talk to you, not in this place where
fireflies gather near the tree line. 
What season is this?  My shirt is thin
and I can see maples and oaks have leafed out. 
Here in the dark they hang black.
Where is your hand, that coaxing thing? 
Why can’t I see your eyes?  Your questions burn,
did you know that?  Every word is acid and flame. 

Where are your lips?  Are you nothing but tooth
and tongue and a braying throat? 
I should not be here, under the moon’s strange,
new eye.
You trouble me with your lights
and your words.  I have left such things
years ago, or so it seems now, in this blurring of air
and grass and bone. 

I had a foot once or maybe wings, remembering
is hard, I might have had a daughter or a son. 
Leave off.
Have you brought me a basket
of fruit or a ram tangled in some thorny
bush, something I can use?
Have you poured an offering of wine, something
sweet and red and strong, on this sun-parched earth?

What I Learned

I went outside and looked at the sky.

It was looking back
with its black
lenses, and I could feel
my chest open and my hair part
like some surging

Even as I turned away in a spasm
of loathing, my palms
burned, electric
tingles drove between my vertebrae.

Where are the tourists now,
with their maps
and plans?
Where are the instant kings?

Let it be known that nothing
works in this garage,
even the pigeons have gone.

When the sick earth
vibrates and terrifying
clouds worry our city with cats
and rain,

you will do well to remember
that battle,
once joined, can twist

like an old apple rotting beneath
your window, even in January cold.

Crossing the River

A girl comes to a canyon. Far
below, a river rages, angry white
swirls among black rocks. 
In this story she’s been fleeing
a witch, having blinded the hag
with a pot full of her own poisoned
brew.  But though blind, she can
hear the girl’s cloak as it rustles
against silver birches or the sound
of her small feet disturbing the grass. 
And so the witch comes on, fueled
by something in her darkness
she is powerless to name.  The girl
knows the witch is coming because
the sky has darkened and the air
smells like rain.  Witches love rain,
how it slants wet and cold
through a sky as uniform as a grey sea. 
What to do? 
The canyon slants down toward
the river, a gash ripped into tender
earth, wide and deep as the girl’s
sorrow.  She can’t help being beautiful
and kind, with blue eyes that work
like telescopes while her blind
pursuer is ugly as a lightning-burned
tree on a barren hill.  If she steps
out over this dizzying height, falls
and her flesh tears on rocks
and branches, food for the ever
circling crows, the witch will gather her
up, blood and flesh and fragments
of bone,  brew a daughter
with shining black hair, who knows
how to ride across canyons
on the floating disk of a scowling moon.





BIO: Steve Klepetar teaches literature and creative writing at Saint Cloud State University in Minnesota. His work has appeared widely, most recently in Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Red River Review, and Thunder Sandwich. Klepetar’s poetry has received several nominations for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Flutter Press recently published two chapbooks: “My Father Teaches Me a Magic Word” and “My Father Had Another Eye.”