Three poems by Steve Klepetar

Cold Days

When January wind sweeps across naked
brows, leaving a knife smear of blood, we

have no choice but to recall the hard metal
lessons of cold days, how brittle trees lattice

endless blue oceans of sky, while useless sun
sparkles on snow crusts and ice. Cold is a river

in our veins, a serpent winding its way deep
through muscle spasms, down along an aching

spine, a way of measuring every second spent
in sensation, an amazement of nerve endings

and the body’s empty hunger, its incessant
demands for relief and warmth. Memory

lingers on skin, in the hard reality of frozen
breath and stinging tears beyond sorrow or pain.

"Cold Bush" (photo by Flickr user Fabian Bromann)

“Cold Bush” (photo by Flickr user Fabian Bromann)

Reading the Steam

At Starbucks the barista preaches
Everyone on line stops
for a moment to watch her pale
face, her black,
haunted eyes, like, yes, of course,
coffee beans, her blue-
streaked hair snaking out, and after
a minute or two, her red tongue lolling.

Delphi must have been
like this –
customers broken
away from the day’s business
and the Sybil entranced
in some mysterious mist, feeling
her ecstatic way to all those cryptic answers:

“A great kingdom will fall. He who
kisses his mother first shall rule. Out
abomination –
you will kill your father and marry
your mother and your children
shall be monsters and accursed.”

All you wanted was a Grande skim milk latte;
you didn’t bargain for prophecy and dire
warnings rising from black pots of fragrant steam.

"Coffee" (Photo by Flickr user misterjingo)

“Coffee” (Photo by Flickr user misterjingo)


I like to close my eyes and feel the stories
all around me, like the one about the man
so greedy that his heart turned to gold and
he became a silver tree, rooted to a rocky
cliff. All day the wind whistled around
his metallic ears and at night the moon
played across him with her pearly fingers
of light. When the princess came along,
with her knights and golden hair, her
red, lipsticky kiss proved worthless and
cold and she went away carrying off a
finger from his right hand, enough to pay
her traveling expenses. The duchess, pretty
as the cover of a magazine, fared no better
and took a silver toe as she made her
waspish way home. But the poor girl,
unattended, and lovely in rags, knew just
what to do: a little patience and a roaring
fire melted him down to his golden heart,
which she carried home in her wooden
bucket and kept by her bed for a rainy day.

Curious Ellie 012_cropSteve Klepetar teaches literature and creative writing at Saint Cloud State University in Minnesota. His work has appeared widely, most recently in Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Red River Review, and Thunder Sandwich. Klepetar’s poetry has received several nominations for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Flutter Press recently published two chapbooks: “My Father Teaches Me a Magic Word” and “My Father Had Another Eye.”