Author’s Note: Just back from a wonderful trip to Portugal and southern Spain, too jetlagged to write anything funny or profound. Here are three for May, that young princess of months. There’s a love poem among these, and maybe an anti-love poem. And, for good measure, a ghost poem too.
You are generous to me with your voice, your touch.
You make the air move in sweet circles around my head.
We walk together, hardly speaking, letting sun play
on our faces and arms.
You let the hours wind around your fingers as we go.
We wander by the shoreline arm in arm
as gulls float above the sand.
It seems we have been wandering for years,
and still we haven’t reached the end.
Last night you sang for me and I rose
on those silver notes.
I floated until you sang me down
into the bedclothes, and I slept until my brain
turned inside out, reveling in the fragrance of your skin.
Letting Things Lie
A cat leaps lightly from the fence,
turns down the alley and melts
into shadow on the cold ground.
Here comes my father, following,
cup of coffee in his hand.
He’s whistling, something
from Carmen, maybe.
He’s too far for me to hear,
but the cat isn’t buying it either,
not without a little slab of liver
or at least a dish of cream.
And now they’re face to face,
and it’s clear they are not in love,
but my father is a gentle man
who doesn’t hold a grudge.
He keeps his hands to himself.
He just wants to talk, talk about
not talking and letting things lie.
The cat couldn’t care less.
It’s hobbled a mouse,
plays sadistic games all morning
while my father breathes slowly,
letting vapor rise as the mouse
suffers in the cat’s jaws, struggles and dies.
Praise and Joy
“The dead may walk among us simply because
we insist that they do.”
It may be when light dims at day’s end,
or when rain and mist obscure the sky.
It may happen when you turn a corner
and glimpse a face reflected in a window,
or when you turn over in bed, not quite awake
but caught up in the darkness of the room.
It’s never a footstep, nothing you can hear,
but a feeling of someone walking nearby,
or a voice rehearsing an old argument,
issuing a warning or complaint.
It happens when you’re alone but not alone,
when the book you are holding slips
from your hand. It happens when you speak
aloud or mutter when no one is there.
But sometimes the dead come to feast and sing.
They come to share your wine,
to look over your shoulder at photographs.
That’s when you hear them in still air, murmuring
their praise and joy, the conversation that never ends.
© 2019 Steve Klepetar
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