How the Grateful Dead Got Their Name

by on Nov 28, 2017

Don’t believe this story. It is fake news.
Jerry Garcia did not return from the land of the dead
with three pennies in his hand,
touched by those subtle fingers, rubbed smooth.
I didn’t free him from his coffin on the sea.
When he came to me, dressed in white,
paler than before, we didn’t walk along
the high road, we didn’t stop and go inside a church.
No princess, no dragon, no heads on spikes.
None of that happened. We sat down to drink coffee
in a Starbuck’s near my house,
though I would have preferred the Local Blend.
“The wi-fi’s better here,” he said, and anyway, he was buying.
He told me that it sucked being dead – the food is dry
and there’s no drugs – but at least he didn’t have to live
in America under Trump. Remember, this is fake news
made up by that failing poet, Steve Klepetar. Sick guy. Sad.

 


Steve Klepetar lives in Saint Cloud, Minnesota. His work has received several nominations for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize, including four in 2016. Recent collections include Family Reunion (Big Table), A Landscape in Hell (Flutter Press), and How Fascism Comes to America (Locofo Chaps).

Hollow

by on Sep 11, 2017

Hollow out the darkness.
There will be a tunnel of night.

It won’t have a name,
but you will learn to call it

love-soft words as your breath
turns to glass. At the end,

someone slips you a handful
of coins. You buy fish and bread

and ale. Tomorrow you wake
to a hollowed out sun.

On your stoop, the newspaper
burns. You read through flames

until your eyes ignite.
Better, sometimes, to be blind.

The tunnel yawns as it waits
in the glossy dark to swallow your life.

 


Steve Klepetar lives in Saint Cloud, Minnesota. His work has received several nominations for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize, including four in 2016. Recent collections include Family Reunion (Big Table), A Landscape in Hell (Flutter Press), and How Fascism Comes to America (Locofo Chaps).

Refuge

by on May 26, 2017

If sky darkens on a day when you have roamed too far,
if wind picks up, trembling leaves on familiar trees,

if lightning carves its fiery veins above your head,
if thunder explodes, and a fury of rain drenches you,

if you stumble in this wet misery on a street
that all but disappears, I offer you an open door,

and at my table, an honored place. If power lines
lie sizzling and snaking on the wet ground, we will

find lanterns and candles, some crusty bread
and plenty of wine. Together we can ride it out,

this storm that rose so suddenly. Others have already
come, shaken and storm-cursed, but warm now, and dry

in this well-built house, where voices study the daunting
language of hope, and new songs braid and rise, until fear

is sealed away, and a new, quiet courage spreads around
us, a lake glimmering at sunset, or moonlight in the spring.

 


Steve Klepetar has received several nominations for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize, including four in 2016. Recent collections include My Son Writes a Report on the Warsaw Ghetto and The Li Bo Poems (both from Flutter Press). Family Reunion (Big Table) and A Landscape in Hell (Flutter Press) were released in January, 2017.

The Spoilt Season

by on May 16, 2017

This is the spoilt season, the dying land.
Here are weeds and crows and graves.

Trucks growl up our street all night
and in the morning we pull our shades

against another day of rain and tears.
Here are angry men wading icy streams.

Here is their music of broken drums.
Here are drugs and beds with their sheets

torn up, and dust on the nightstand, dust
on the walls and floor. Someone lived

here once, in wind and fading light,
when the kitchen hummed, and the scent

of soup went everywhere. She lived
in a body, painted her image on glass

where it shone in the dark, another star
made of desire, kissing the brow of sky.

 


Steve Klepetar has received several nominations for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize, including four in 2016. Recent collections include My Son Writes a Report on the Warsaw Ghetto and The Li Bo Poems (both from Flutter Press). Family Reunion (Big Table) and A Landscape in Hell (Flutter Press) were released in January, 2017.

The Sound of Taste

by on Feb 14, 2017

There’s a yellow boat on a blue sea.
It’s a drawing you made, and the sun

is like an olive in the sky.
Maybe you were thinking Martini

thoughts, or maybe you were drawn
to that horizon which always seemed

to mark your work, that blurry line
of spray and cloud where the world

disappeared. Some artists render light
as if it were something you could touch

or breathe, but you always drew
and painted taste, a world made of lemons

and salt. Your objects melt and fade,
like something sweet on the tongue.

What lasts cannot be trees,
their trunks and leaves, but a flavor

caught for an instant, a sensation
in the act of fading into itself.

Your landscapes hang on my walls,
and every meadow, every sea cliff,

each green field, lingers in my mouth,
the sound of taste, another lovely, long farewell.

 


Steve Klepetar has received several nominations for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize, including four in 2016. Recent collections include My Son Writes a Report on the Warsaw Ghetto and The Li Bo PoemsFamily Reunion and A Landscape in Hell are forthcoming in 2017.

In Merciless Air

by on Jan 23, 2017

You shouldn’t venture into fog,
where a mountain’s head rises,

a face without eyes, arrowhead
jammed into the flesh of sky.

It may be, someday
that the world will flip to face

another sun, and you the fish
choking at the bottom

of a wooden-ribbed boat,
your eyes smoke and glass,

your desperate lips pouting
as you drown in the merciless air.

 


Steve Klepetar has received several nominations for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize, including four in 2016. Recent collections include My Son Writes a Report on the Warsaw Ghetto and The Li Bo PoemsFamily Reunion and A Landscape in Hell are forthcoming in 2017.

The Animals Are Gone

by on Nov 18, 2016

They left in the night, taking with them
the scents of the world. First there was
disbelief. “This must be a joke,” we smiled

at each other, and we set out to find them
in forests and fields. But our dogs wouldn’t
come when we called, even when we offered

steak and bones, even when we whistled
in that pitch we ourselves could never hear.
The sky was empty of birds, leaf-heavy

trees silent on this late summer afternoon.
We ran to the park, but the peacock cages
stood empty. Even feathers had vanished

or blown away on rising wind. No geese
waddled by the river, no ducks bobbing
just beyond the shore. Cats were gone, milk

souring in their bowls. No midnight yowling
at the fence line, no swarms of gnats.
Suddenly we were alone with the empty seas.

We lay face down in mud, hoping to catch
a glimpse of frogs or toads, or hear a familiar
croak, or a clack of crickets disturbing the high grass.

 


Steve Klepetar’s work has appeared widely. His poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Recent collections include My Son Writes a Report on the Warsaw Ghetto and The Li Bo Poems, both from Flutter Press, and Family Reunion, forthcoming from Big Table Publishing.

In a Dark Room

by on Aug 8, 2016

It’s so simple, this waiting
in a dark room, its air
perfumed with lilac and mold.

Every breath springs to your
chest like a white moth
flitting in a garden of ash.

Once there were sounds
of many voices, and silver
pictures flickering on the walls.

That was long ago in the days
of heat. We were carried off
by strong hands into rough cliffs,

where we learned a new set
of prayers. But now the walls
are painted over with signs.

One points to the road that runs
past this house, winding its way
to the city of our birth

with its traffic and children
and dogs skirting rubble and glass.
Another points inward to the ocean

of our blood. As our lungs fill
with the water of dreams, we touch
each other lightly, just before dawn.

 


Steve Klepetar’s work has appeared widely. His poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Recent collections include My Son Writes a Report on the Warsaw Ghetto and The Li Bo Poems, both from Flutter Press, and Family Reunion, forthcoming from Big Table Publishing.

Multilingual

by on Jul 26, 2016

I drink tea with spiders. There is never
enough milk. The spiders complain about
the heat, but I tell them to blow across
their cups or just have patience and wait.

On sunny days, birds glide overhead, apples
swell and hang heavy from trees. I can say
these truths in three languages,
the words inscribed on the inside of my skull.

This makes travel easier to many parts
of the world. Here’s what I’ve observed:
on rainy days, girls go to the movies.
They don’t go with boys or with their pets,

because they want to hear the film stars
snarl. The stars eat apples dropped from
the beaks of birds. They drink a tea brewed
from webs. They blow across their cups

to calm the howling pets. They have gold
flecked eyes and travel far, speaking tongues
of spice and flame. In darkness the girls spin
on their seats like small tornadoes in a glass jar.

 


Steve Klepetar’s work has appeared widely. His poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Recent collections include My Son Writes a Report on the Warsaw Ghetto and The Li Bo Poems, both from Flutter Press, and Family Reunion, forthcoming from Big Table Publishing.

The Somnambulist’s Notebook

by on Apr 22, 2016

is filled with lies. He plays with moonlight
as it pools on the bed, twists its fibers

into gold. His name is hidden in the caves
of earth, his fingers filled with mist and grain.

He has taken the queen’s daughter. With his
hand he has opened the door of a thousand lives.

Who has seen them dancing on the tongue
of darkness, swaying to the music of wolves

and frogs? Who has measured those automatic
steps? The sleepwalker sails, a particle through

a slit in the screen. His body stripes the wall
in two parallel lines, but when no one watches,

he streams, a wave rushing wrack and debris
to a black shore sharp with volcanic rock.

His dead eyes open, his tongue tastes the air.
His fingers scribble a code made of stones

and ash. What miracle has he found in the
borderlands but dust, broken houses and trees?

 


Steve Klepetar’s work has appeared widely, and several of his poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Recent collections include My Son Writes a Report on the Warsaw Ghetto and The Li Bo Poems (forthcoming) both from Flutter Press.