White Sheets, Black Sheets – by Steve Klepetar

Here in the north, rivers don’t run red with blood.
Corpses of flowers still dangle
on their long stems and geese have gathered
and flown south. The leaves, no longer interesting,
scatter brown and crinkly across lawns or cling
to oaks singly or in clumps. Not far from this quiet
place, languid with unusual warmth, someone
thought it quite a joke on Halloween
to hang black effigies from their front yard trees.
Maybe they were supposed to be ghosts –
white sheets, black sheets?
But between us there are ghosts enough
worrying their way up from rivers underground,
ones that burn, ones you will pay a coin
to ride across, and ones that rob you of your memory.

 

 

 

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. Family Reunion and A Landscape in Hell are forthcoming in 2017.

My Father Comes Back – by Steve Klepetar

 

He returns in the snow to teach me
to fly. I don’t know when he learned
because when he was alive he walked
everywhere, striding with his hands
crossed behind his back like someone
marching to his own execution,

or he took the subway,
where he would sit, or stand
and read The Times, folded perfectly,
an origami book in his huge hands.
I think he’s chosen this snow day
for the fresh wind and hope of soft

landings, but I would rather be inside
with him, drinking scotch or cognac,
smoking cigars. We’d have the radio
on softly, Bach, maybe, Glenn Gould
playing the Goldberg Variations
on piano, tinkly and beautiful and strange.

And he’d tell me about riding the train
from Budapest to Prague, a world
of trains and time that spread out all day
like butter growing soft in a dish.
But here we are on the roof with snow
pelting down, and he shakes his feathers,

but his face has nearly vanished
in the sweep and swirl of flakes.
All my plans for the day lie broken,
thick and black as branches in the snow.
Below us a white world, silent and formless,
at this great height, small and fragile as an empty glass.

 

 

 

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. Family Reunion and A Landscape in Hell are forthcoming in 2017.