Steven Knepper

From Hansel he had learned to be prepared. 
But when the crisis finally came there was 
No time to gather flints.  He threw some clothes 
And shoes into a bag and helped his sister 
Find the fraying octopus whose tentacles 
She chewed when she was scared.   
                                    Then off they drove. 

That night their mother shut herself inside 
The motel bathroom with the rust-stained sink 
And cried while they escaped the smoke-stale air  
Onto the balcony that overlooked  
A parking lot with no illumined trail  
To lead them back to what was not a home 

But which at least had been a place they knew. 
He'd fished some quarters from his mother's purse 
To buy them each a Kit Kat at the desk 
Downstairs, and as they walked the concrete hand 
In hand they looked up at a low round moon 
That sparked against the surface of their eyes. 

Author’s Commentary: My poems often start in my reading. The idea for this poem flashed into my mind while preparing for a class on 'Hansel and Gretel.' The title is an explicit allusion to the fairy tale, but there are a couple of other nods in the poem.

Steve Knepper teaches in the Department of English, Rhetoric, and Humanistic Studies at Virginia Military Institute.  His poems have appeared in Pembroke MagazineSLANT, The American Journal of Poetry, The James Dickey Review, Pennsylvania English, and other journals.

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