Thursday, January 21, 2016

Poet Steve Klepetar Reimagines Prosperine, Ophelia, and a Scapegoat

Back by popular demand is poet-professor Steve Klepetar. His work has received several nominations for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, including three in 2014. His most recent collection is an e-chapbook, Return of the Bride of Frankenstein, from Kind of a Hurricane Press. Klepetar teaches English literature at Saint Cloud State University in Minnesota. Read more on his website here


After the painting by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1874

She holds the pomegranate with its bloody
gash, forbidden seeds ripped from flesh.
Fingers drape her painful wrist, as if covering

a racing pulse, or a slash, or a lover’s playful
bite. She is no springtime goddess, snatched
from gathering flowers on some green hill,

but a queen robed in the colors of night,
a crow’s blue-black sheen. Her lips bleed,
her hair floats as a dark cloud, her hooded

eyes betray no hope of return as they stare
down toward the dark rivers flowing to a
nether sea where all boats must come to rest.


After the painting by John Everett Millais, 1851-1852

Springtime, and the Rose of Shannon blooms,
Dragon’s Tongue reeds jab warming air.
They rise from a narrow brook, tangle of brush
and watery moss, a thick and growing tomb.
Her heavy dress pulls her body down
toward river muck. On the surface, her face floats,
another petal torn from a flowering bush.
She has dragged herself to this place of sacrifice.
Naiads weep, all their mournful singing stopped.
Frogs linger in shadows, holding their green tongues.
Flowers perfume humid air, but the birds are still.
The Priests have retreated, with their hoods and flame.
Wade into the stream, bend and kiss her brow.
She will waken, her hands open, to greet you at water’s edge.

The Scapegoat

After the paining by William Holman Hunt, 1854

She stands in a desert of ice by a blue-green
lake, beneath a range of mountains, violet
in the thin light of winter afternoon. When

she moves, her hooves crack through to
water cold enough to make her voice break
in this silent, empty place. She carries the red

sins of a tribe that shivers in the distance, out
of sight, with provisions running low. Their
children have grown thin with want, the hunters

return with nothing. All the bones picked clean
and grim night comes on. The goat’s eyes 
wild with a knowledge torn from dead sky.

painters and poets ekphrastic poems

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