Thursday 20 June 2024

Three Poems by Steve Klepetar


So many women turned into trees 

or reeds or weeping stones.

There was a man bent over a pond 

who became a flower. Another died 

but rose from the bloody ground 

as a speckled plant.

One man wrinkled into cricket form, 

a woman wove a spider’s web.

Everyone was changing. 

You could see bark closing over flesh, 

bodies melting into streams, 

brothers lifted into the night sky 

as if their bones could become light 

and their breath clouds between galaxies. 

We used to understand the flight of birds 

or the strange roar of thunder 

on a clear afternoon. 

Once we stood on a cliff, 

looking out at the sparkling sea. 

We were famished then, I remember, 

so anxious for roasted meat and bread. 

How I loved the way your eyes burned, 

your wild hair transforming into gold 

as I watched, eager to change my body, 

to leap over the boat of a dangerous god.

I look at the sky 

and think of genius and mighty telescopes.

My father would have walked to the subway, 

sometimes in the rain. 

Across the world, the sky is thick with bombs.

At night, as we watched TV, my mother 

feared the worst. Sometimes a plane 

from one of the airports would rock the roof.

Sometimes a bulletin, girls dead in a church fire, 

or an island with missiles pointed at New York.

We would eat later than my friends, 

the food thick with gravy. We didn’t say grace, 

but my parents would share a beer.

Sometimes I carried plates and cups 

to the kitchen. Sometimes I stood at the sink 

until I fell asleep. My mother was grieving 

for her old country, its cobblestones and dirt.

She loved its rivers and castles rising 

above the distant city in the mist.

My father had a rifle that didn’t shoot, 

and a good hiding place.

He never talked about the streets he walked

for hours as the battle raged.

Sometimes he lay awake for hours, 

drinking vodka when the heat got too much.

He said he would drink until he fell asleep 

or he no longer cared. It was funny when he told me,

but I don’t think he liked it at the time.

My mother would go to the movies alone, 

or that’s what she said. My father and I sat

in the living room beneath harsh lamplight, 

blinking, clearing out throats until it was time for bed.

A Thousand Years

You’re lost inside your houses

There’s no time to find you now

While your walls are burning and your towers are turning…

Jackson Browne

Fires everywhere, even the dirt is in flames, 

even the air. Look out at the sea, 

how waves crash against rock, how seabirds 

dive and burn. 

Look at the grass, how it smokes,

how everything solid melts and turns to gas. 

Such a terrible dream, 

and now the doctor comes across the yard. 

Soon night will fall. 

Fish will haunt your dreams, 

sailing the falls, dying in the paws of bears. 

Soon it will be summer, soon the sun will widen in the sky. 

What you have left may be enough 

if you can hide it underground, sleep for a thousand years.

Steve Klepetar lives in the Shire (Berkshire County, in Massachusetts, that is). His work has appeared widely and has received several nominations for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize. He is the author of fourteen poetry collections, including Family Reunion and The Li Bo Poems.


  1. Love finding another Flutter alum here- I so enjoy your writing.

  2. Always a good read


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