Where is the country of snow?
Buried now in living leaves,
its dead white breaths forgotten
in summer’s thrill.
Even this clear lake forgets the ice
that locked its charms in frozen spells
that seemed deeper than hope,
deeper than blindness and early dark.
Water skiers skim
the lake’s taut skin, as sailboats
hang colorful patterns across the sky.
But I can’t shake
winter’s gray, lodged deep
in my bones, or forget drifts
piled along slick roads.
I feel the shovel’s cold shaft even as boys
shout on the ballfield, and my hands
recall wind’s angry
bite. Around the bases, dusty infield
still feels the weight
of what has gone and will come again.
so busy now, will tumble
into silence, and trees will stretch
black, leafless branches into a sky bereft of birds
A Mouthful of Words
We have come to the end of questions.
How are we to survive this winter,
with the neighbors digging in their yard,
their lights burning the driveway yellow?
They are digging for their lives,
filling their trench with canned goods and tools.
The radio plays a country song about a man
with a blue dog and a woman with green eyes
that burn against sunbaked earth.
Even the children listen as they dig
before frost hardens the ground to cement.
Wind blurs their faces.
How are we to sleep with moon dust
falling through windows, brown oak leaves
trembling on the snow?
You are calling with a name made of berries
and honey and frost. The neighbors have come,
with their seven children rolled into blankets of ice,
and now all of you follow giant prints to a lake
that gleams like a white circle among birches
and pines. How can I enter this vision you share:
a huge beast trapped in its black hide,
braying at wood’s edge for a mouthful of words?
I stare at leaves falling as though they were messages,
a gusty gathering of words
loosely bound in some ungainly web
swirling around my feet, yellow-green with decay,
whispering about depths like small lizards
acquainted with tunnels and spaces between rocks.
But we all live uncertainly: our destinies (if by that
we mean our ending in this world) defined,
they say, by some internal clock
which winds us all toward darkness
as though our lives were weightless, our words
too easily swallowed by the continuous howl
of many winds which no one may bind up in a bag,
no matter how smart or proud or rich or strong of grip.
Steve Klepetar lives in Saint Cloud, Minnesota. His work has appeared worldwide in such journals as Boston Literary Magazine, Chiron, Deep Water, Expound, Phenomenal Literature, Red River Review, Snakeskin, Voices Israel, Ygdrasil, and many others. Several of his poems have been nominated 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. Two new collections appeared in January 2017: A Landscape in Hell (Flutter Press), and Family Reunion (Big Table Publishing).