Stevieslaw: In Time for Christmas

Stevieslaw: In Time for Christmas

Republicans in the House and Senate have been working overtime—some as much as 3 hours a day—to ensure that the new tax plan is approved and signed by Trump by Christmas Day. Republicans have signaled that they are willing to put in the hard work, as the benefits to the donor class are incredibly generous.

Said Orrin Hatch, “The donor class—a group that has made our government what it is today—will reap huge rewards from this tax plan. And, who deserves it more.”

“What a wonderful stocking stuffer,” Mr. Hatch said.

Republicans admit there might be some small collateral damage from the tax plan, If, for example, you are a poor, disabled, sick, young, middle class or named Tom, you will find your benefits cut to the bone.

“The Chip program, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, job training, pre-natal care, pre-school programs, scientific research and the Arts are likely to be cut or canceled, when we find their isn’t enough money for the programs and the 1%, continued Mr. Hatch.

“But here we are, like all good Republicans, simply following scripture,” he said. “As it says so dramatically in The Bible—Corinthians, I believe:

There’s nothing surer,
The rich get rich and the poor get poorer.”

Or as Smokey Diamond has been saying a lot lately, “Ain’t we got fun.”

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Stevieslaw: The Scouring of the Shire

Stevieslaw: The Scouring of the Shire

You can get a pretty good picture of how it’s going to be by listening to what the people happiest about the shrinking of the national monuments—Bears Ears and Grand Staircase in this case, are saying about the decision. The National Cattleman’s Beef Association President said, “We are grateful that today’s action will allow ranchers to resume their role as responsible stewards of the land and drivers of rural economics.”

Who wouldn’t choose them as stewards of the land?

We are at war.

In Tolkien’s Ring Trilogy, the four hobbits—Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin, fought against evil throughout the war of the rings, but it was not until they returned to their native Shire to face a despoiled and wasted landscape, that they understood the pervasiveness of evil. Nothing had been spared—certainly not their little piece of heaven on earth that was the Shire.

Trump and his evil band of Republican thugs will change the landscape of this nation. Whole pieces of it will become unrecognizable. The evil they will create, in the name of making money, is just beginning.

The hobbits scour the Shire of evil, but they cannot undo all of the evil done to the land and the people. They resolve, instead, to start anew. To build something better.

It sounds like a plan.

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Stevieslaw: Two Poems

Here are two poems that were also published in the latest issue of  Word Fountain.  And here is a link to the entire issue.

That Night
Steve Deutsch

“I’m sure there are good people out there,”
he said, as he eyed the door.
“I’m just not one of them.”
He talked.
It was his way of calming down.

We were in a bar
up near Times Square.

You know the place
or someplace like it.
They serve boilermakers and boiled dogs,
and no, there was not a soul in the place
you’d want to take home to meet your mother.

The bleeding over his eye
was no better,
and the hand he used
to hold a wad of bloody napkins
up to the gash
was starting to swell.

Every time the door opened, he’d jump
and now he had me doing it too.

When we were young
and faced with something to bear,
we’d summon a magic
to make us invisible.
We’d close our eyes
and count to twenty-five.
It never worked, but it might have,
I closed my eyes.

The violence had been
rapid and real
and I don’t want to talk about it.

At the Edge
Steve Deutsch

The important questions
have no answers,
my friend told me.

The others had wandered off
while we sat looking out over the lake,
gone gray in the early evening light.
He spoke with little conviction,
as if hoping I might contradict him.

Every now and again
a car passed unseen
on the road behind us,
breaking that stillness
you find only in graveyards
and at the water’s edge.

He knew, of course, I wouldn’t.
We’d been having
this conversation
since we were teens
and shared a street corner
in South-central Brooklyn
with a gaggle of wannabe thugs.

Quite suddenly
a hundred nesting birds
took to the air.
The sky raged

as they voiced their
Then just as suddenly
they settled
and we sat back down,
grinning with spent shock.

Our companions reappeared–
as if strolling out of the setting sun,
and as we clamored
into my weathered car—
speaking of a movie
and perhaps some dinner out,
clouds gathered and darkened.
Tonight, it might well rain.

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Stevieslaw: Nominated for Pushcart Prize

Many thanks to the editors at Word Fountain for nominating my poem, “The Year we all got Cancer,” for a Pushcart Prize.  Word Fountain, the Literary Magazine of the Osterhout Free Library (Wilkes-Barre, PA) is available in both print and on-line versions.  Here is a link to my poems (including audio).


The Year We All Got Cancer

Winter stayed.
The April rain so cold
it left blisters of ice
on an earth
as scarred and pockmarked
as a landscape mired in war.

We waited through the freeze and thaw
for some sign from the recalcitrant earth–
anxiety growing with each passing day.
The sun was of little use,                                                                                                            peeking indifferently
through the skeletal clouds,
as if late for an appointment
on another planet.

We had become
a shivering muddle–
a people resigned to winter,
when we woke one day
to wild things bursting.
Fields of dandelion
and mustard greens and,
in the most desolate spot of all,
a stand of wild asparagus.

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Stevieslaw: Winter is Coming

Stevieslaw: Winter is coming

Even with the Flynn confession, we can’t manage much hope at Stevieslaw today. The Republicans got their tax bill through. The reconciliation with the House is bound to make the bill worse and this is just the beginning. Some time soon, the Repubthugs will be shocked to find the country has no money. Entitlements—medicare and social security—will be on the chopping block. The safety net—such as it is—will evaporate for our children and our children’s children.

I can’t help feeling that my generation—the baby boomers, the Age of Aquarius-ers has failed dismally. Remember back when we were going to change the world?

In the words of Graham Nash—“we can change the world rearrange the world, it’s dying to get better”
I remember singing that song, in the dark time after Chicago and the Kent State killings. We not only believed we’d change the world, we believed we’d make it better.

Here is the lyrics to one of my favorite songs for this time of the year—Urge for Going (Tom Rush via Joni Mitchell). Reading it, you can come away with great hope or great despair. Life-like in that.

And I awoke today and found the frost perched on the town
It hovered in a frozen sky and gobbled summer down
When the sun turns traitor cold
And shivering trees are standing in a naked row
I get the urge for going but I never seem to goAnd I get the urge for going when the meadow grass is turning brown
Summertime is falling down winter’s closing in

I had a girl in summertime with summer colored skin
And not another man in town my darling’s heart could win
But when the leaves fell trembling down
And bully winds did rub their face down in the snow
She got the urge for going I had to let her go
She got the urge for going when the meadow grass was turning brown
And summertime was falling down and winters closing in

Now the warriors of winter they give a cold triumphant shout
All that stays is dying all that lives is getting out
See the geese in chevron flight
Flapping and a-racin on before the snow
Got the urge for going they’ve got the wings to go
And they get the urge for going when the meadow grass is turning brown
Summertime is falling down and winter’s closing in

I’ll ply the fire with kindling, I’ll pull the blankets to my chin
I’ll lock the vagrant winter out I’ll bolt my wandering in
I’d like to call back summertime
And have her stay for just another month or so

But she’s got the urge for going I guess she’ll have to go
And she’s gets the urge for going when the meadow grass is turning
All her empire’s are falling down winter’s closing in
And I get the urge for going when the meadow grass is turning brown
And summertime is falling down

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Stevieslaw: Are you Republican?

Stevieslaw: How to tell if you are a Republican

Some years ago, I published a piece entitled “Are you Jewish?” in which I provided a simple test—can you slug down a pastrami sandwich on white bread with mayo or butter and lettuce and tomato? If yes, then no.

There is similar confusion today about “Are you a Republican?” Some of that arises naturally from the fact that there are two classes of Republican. The first, the more traditional Republican, is heartless and cruel—think repeal of health care that leaves 20 or 30 million people without or a tax cut aimed solely at enriching the already rich. The second group, of which Wormtongue (steve bannon) is representative, is heartless, cruel and creepy. This group believes Nazis are good people and are willing to wholehearted support a serial child molester for Senate. Years ago, I am told there was a third group—good hearted conservatives who were believed in fiscal responsibility. But that group has been hunted to near extinction since the days of Newt Gingrich.

Fortunately, both groups are heartless and cruel. The test is a simple one—are you bewildered by the lyrics of this Phil Ochs song? If yes, you are Republican.

There But for Fortune

Show me a prison, show me a jail
Show me a prisoner whose face has gone pale
And I’ll show you a young man with so many reasons why
And there but for fortune, may go you or I

Show me the alley, show me the train
Show me a hobo who sleeps out in the rain
And I’ll show you a young man with so many reasons why
There but for fortune, may go you or I

Show me the whiskey stains on the floor
Show me the drunken man as he stumbles out the door
And I’ll show you a young man with so many reasons why
There but for fortune, may go you or I

Show me the country where the bombs had to fall
Show me the ruins of the buildings once so tall
And I’ll show you a young land with so many reasons why
There but for fortune, go you or I — you and I

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Stevieslaw: All You Can Eat—Hy’s Song

For my dad, a man with great Continue reading

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