ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Steve Klepetar

The World Closes

Not a sign will remain that we were in this place.

The world closes behind us,

The sand straightens itself.

                Yehuda Amichai

Wind scratches at these hills, 
which once were taller than the Alps,
higher than the Himalayas. 

Yesterday rain, and now again, 
slanting in from the west. 
The pond swells, and brush grows high,

hiding the deer as they come down to drink
in morning's gray light. 
Summer has two months to go, 

but already feels like it's slipping away.
We are quiet together, companionable
as figures done in oils, bent to their solitary tasks.


A Serious Dog

"The wind passed on its way through that locale
And a serious dog saw the humans laugh."

                Yehuda Amichai

But the serious dog was wounded on one paw,
and it scratched in the earth a long time.
The humans were dying too, 
slowly and without fear. 
Everything they ate poisoned them,
but how could they know? 
Even the wind carried a faint scent of smoke,
and oaks in the yard seemed to bleed.
Still, the humans drank and laughed.
They touched each other 
lightly on the shoulder, on the knee.
They looked at photographs – 
brilliant children in party clothes,
clouds from the other side of the world.
When the dog whined, they turned to the wall.
They marked their hands with paint.
Soon it was quiet again, and the designs
laid out in many hues. 
Sky wound overhead without a trace of irony.
Little trees bowed. 
The serious dog rolled in the dust, softly,
disturbing no one with its teeth or tongue.


Little Storms

A child is a missile into the coming generations.

                Yehuda Amichai

You bow low to speak with her. 
Below the surface, your voice ripples,
mirthful, unsure. 
Maybe she tugs at your beard 
or pulls your glasses off. 
She likes to wash her hands 
when you make bubbles in the sink.
You have names for her –
"Little Bean" or "Lady Macbeth."
Sometimes she sits at the piano,          
fingers moving like little storms
across the keys. Or she can be a mystery,
silent behind her book. She dreams awake,
struggles against sleep to keep the stillness away.


Steve Klepetar lives in the Berkshires in Massachusetts. His work has appeared worldwide in such journals as Boston Literary Magazine, Chiron, Deep Water, Expound, Muddy River Poetry, 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). New collections include A Landscape in Hell (Flutter Press), Family Reunion (Big Table Publishing), and "How Fascism Comes to America" (Locofo Chaps).

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