Steve Klepetar’s work has appeared in nine countries, in such journals as Boston Literary Magazine, Deep Water, Antiphon, Red River Review, Snakeskin, Ygdrasil, and many others. Several of his poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Recent collections include Speaking to the Field Mice (Sweatshoppe Publications, 2013), My Son Writes a Report on the Warsaw Ghetto (Flutter Press, 2013) and Return of the Bride of Frankenstein (Kind of a Hurricane Press).
Li Bo’s Garden
is full of weeds. A lazy man
with a hoe, he prefers to lean
and dream. Digging is hard,
and blisters rise on his hands
even through work gloves.
Besides, sun-baked ground
cracks, resists. But now clouds
gather. Perhaps it will rain
and the task will be easier
on another day? He breathes
himself by a river where silvery
fish leap in the rapids and frogs
croak in high reeds. He closes
his eyes and listens to flowers
as they struggle up through earth
and sedge. How pleasant to ride
a ship of cloud accompanied only
by jugglers and a strange man
whose face is lost in a tangle
of leaves, whose long, thin arms
are hung with dangling, luscious fruit.
First, thunderheads gathered in the west,
billowing in July heat, then a shock
of wind and rain, river a dark, dimpled
line churning south.
Willows writhe and break, rough pines
shake along the banks, their creaking
drowned by thunder’s cry.
How quickly everything disappears.
Cars swept from roadways, lawns
submerged, gardens torn, littering
yards with green debris.
Here is a land of fists, of giant
drumbeats in the plain, where tribes
gather to sing old songs beneath a burning sky.
Entering the Old Wood
She pauses at road’s edge where the path
begins. Familiar trees transform in late
May sun, her eyes gone gray and blurred.
At this distance, their house a memory
burning in the ache of a long walk. All
morning she boiled water for tea, cleaned
the stove, wiping greasy hands on a fraying
towel. She swept and mopped and baked
bread until owls called and she stepped
away through a door in her mind.
No wonder she’s alone where the canopy
scrapes at spots of blue sky. The old wood
whispers. Somewhere a jay shrieks,
a woodpecker’s thrum echoes like a distant
knock. Her wrists are white and strong;
they shine in dappled light. And now
her roots tangle in the deep, soft earth,
her limbs encased in armor of oaks
as she sways easy in the wind, her human
breath fading as her lungs give way, and her
eyes explode into a million thin-veined leaves.