In the Park
Today I fall into step with an old friend,
bald now and dead many years.
“You walk fast,” he says,
“I’m afraid I slow you down.”
But really he keeps up if I slow my pace
a little, and it’s amazing how he walks
and talks, shuffling, his voice emerging
from the hood of his dun colored coat.
He speaks and I listen, how his daughter
fell into depression, how the face he loved
collapsed day after day, became a mask
of flaccid flesh tangled in dirty sheets.
“It was the hardest thing,” he says.
I remember how the merry wrinkles
below his bright dark eyes had spread
and sunk. We warm as we walk, he tries
to peel off his coat, and I help him free
thin arms from sleeves. He has become
a whisper, movements of mouth and hand.
Before he breaks off for home, his eyes
have become holes, empty
sockets, perfectly round, above a fleshless face.
I Carried Yesterday
a bag of sand up a narrow staircase
three flights high
and your voice on my back
and a memory of your hands.
I hauled water from a well we dug
together in the silver-
tinted night. I carried whispers
from the sedge and a little box
of frogs. Back and forth I trudged
“one foot,” I said, “after the other”
and even the blood and the black nail
on my right toe served me well, spoke
another version of my secret name.
is rich in shadows, twilight’s magnet at the edge of sun.
Nevertheless, you wouldn’t poke your finger
in my ribs, or laugh like wind through chimes unless
my memory stirred something honey-gold in your breast.
You wouldn’t stand silent and cold at the margins
of this March snow where squirrel tracks circle naked oaks.
All night ships unload at ghostly docks, great bales tumbled
through night wind song. Who practiced that unearthly
choir, who stumbled at the stage lip, hurtling fear
into the orchestra pit? I would touch your hair with fingers
like lips and taste the aura of your strange smile
if I could find your name etched on a bright string of stars.
Steve Klepetar‘s work has appeared widely and has received several nominations for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. His latest collection is Speaking to the Field Mice, forthcoming from Sweatshoppe Publications.