Wounded

My poem, Wounded, is up at Poetica Review. Here is the poem:

Wounded

The phone rang
but I hesitated
to take Jim’s call.

Are we born
with the need
to avoid

human misery?
Perhaps that
is the source

of accusation—
witch, warlock
bad things happen

around you.
And Jim had
more than his share.

It wasn’t
like he complained.
He rarely did,

but I was afraid
I’d catch
his unhappiness.

I thought I detected
a sob in his voice—
his mutt Felix had run off

and Felix was all he had
left. We scrambled
the neighborhood

and searched for hours til Felix
came wandering back
at dusk, hungry

and thirsty
and unaware of the crisis
he had caused.

Clear and very cold tonight.
but for now, at least,
we would all stay warm.

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Collector

My poem, Collector, is in the current issue of Nixes Mate Review. Great fun to write because collectors are a special breed of crazy.

Collector

I found it
in the thrift store
beside the coffee
shop on College Ave.
It’s become a fine
place to browse
now that all
those aged professors,
colleagues,
are emptying
their Victorians
and moving nearer
to their kids.

It’s the book
you searched for
all those years,
but never found—
in an intact dust jacket,
even though it’s
over a hundred years old.
Did I mention
it is author-signed?
You’d have given
a pint of blood
just to hold it,

You had the soul
of a collector—
books and knives
and other men’s wives.
I often wondered
if it was something
you were born with—
like a seventh sense.

Your birthday
would have been
next week—
I bought it for you
anyway.
Downsizing—
I’ve sold most
everything,
but I will take
this book with me—
to remind me
of the one thing you
couldn’t have.

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Raking

My poem, Raking, is in the spring issue of Muddy River Poetry River. Here is the poem:

Raking

leaves today—
old whisk rake
with the sound
of someone
trying to get
my attention.

The leaves fell
from a street
maple—a tree
about as old
as I am.
We thought we’d
lost it last year

but a little
trimming
brought it back
to life—
these leaves
the reward.

Now I can’t
help wonder,
as I lean
on my rake
like the codger
I’ve become,

if that old maple
will outlive me—
and if it does
will it somehow
acknowledge
my passing?

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Snowline

My poem, Snowline, has just been published by Sangam. Many thanks to the editor, Ryan McGuckin, for some helpful suggestions. Here is the poem:

Snowline

All night
The neighborhood
Houses shuck
Their tents
Of snow.

“One more spring,”
You’d chant
As if urging
On the nag
You had two bucks
On to win.

By tomorrow
The snow-
Line on the ridge
Will show green
At its
Edges—
Dabs of
Watercolor
On a fresh canvas,

And the walkways
Will be pockmarked
With icy puddles—
A gag gift
From the departing season.

Sleepless,
I look back
On what
The winter
Has taken
And what still
Binds us.

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Stillness

My poem, Stillness, was just published in the Fall/Winter 2021 issue of the Schuylkill Valley Journal. Here is the poem:

Stillness

It’s perfect right now.
Early evening
distilled through the oaks
in a lattice of light.
The air cooling
to that first fine chill.

In these enlightened times
mindful meditation
is offered three times a day
on Zoom—
and my smart watch reminds me
every hour to breathe.

“Be in the moment,”
we’re advised—
which brings a smile
and memories—
zen koans, Alan Watts,
the sound “of one hand clapping.”

Truth be told
my mind would wander beyond
the droning “om,”
flip through the rolodex
of people and place,
promise and regret.

You and I are lucky
that age can cure
what discipline
and study cannot.
I welcome the enveloping evening
calm, empty, and open.

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Two Poems on RavensPerch

I have two poems published on RavensPerch. Here are the poems:

AT THE GRADE-SCHOOL REUNION

No,
of course you
don’t remember
me.

No doubt,
you remember
the cut-ups
who sat in the back—

passing
notes and
planning to hold
up the liquor store,

and those in front,
tiny adults—
scrubbed and
glistening,

listening
to every word and
imagining the doctors,
and business leaders

they were sure
to become.
I had a seat near
the middle—

away from
the window
side with
the mediocrities,

the ones
destined for nothing
grand.
For fun,

we used old photos
to place the grown ups
in desks,
and google

to trace their histories—
but nothing stood out
except the number
of empty chairs.

KINDNESS

This morning
I watched from
my window
as a neighbor
cleared my iced-in
walk.

The sound of the shovel
took me back to when
I liked a little
winter,
although I
can’t remember why.

I had imagined
myself shut
in til spring—
these days
I enjoy nothing as much
as the thought of calamity.

I don’t believe
she worked up a sweat
or sent her heart
racing—although
she saved me from both
and a sore back,

but when she finished
she carefully tapped
her Apple watch—
nowadays even
kindness must
be counted.

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Forever

My poem, Forever, is in the current issue of Sheila-Na-Gig online.

Here is the poem:

Forever

Aloft
a single-engine prop
pulses against a head wind,

vibrates briefly,
like a drill biting bone,
then silence

over the forest of
Pennsylvania.
Progress seems little

more than slow-stepping
above the scented pines
and hemlock.

The horizon
unchanging as glass
and I am lonely

like I have never been
before. Is this how
forever feels—

to coast the empty
sky in the silence
of the blue-green afternoon.

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Zonker just published by Backchannels.

My Doonesbury inspired poem Zonker is up at Backchannels. Here is the poem:

Zonker

My love affair
with the sun
began early one
March, after
a particularly brutal
winter.

No one could
have predicted
it. After all I
was a pale
and pasty
child, who shriveled
outdoors
and spent
summers slathered
in calamine
lotion.

These days
I like nothing
better than
to sit in full sun,
skin alive
from the warmth,
like the afterglow
of a lover’s
caress.

Recently, a friend
called me Zonker
and the name took off
like a solar
flare. I haven’t
had a nickname
in 60 years—
and Zonker
is so much
finer than what
they called me
when I was young.

Today, as I sit
in the morning
sun—like a lizard
reviving, I imagine
Sol bequeathing me
the perfect
tan, as I hoist
the First Annual
Zonker Tanning Award
up to the full sun.

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Two Poems with the Lothlorien Poetry Journal

Here is a link:

https://lothlorienpoetryjournal.blogspot.com/2022/02/two-poems-by-steve-deutsch.html

The Mercury

will peak

at -2 today.

Declaring a holiday,

we let the kids

sleep in,

take coffee 

in the toasty kitchen,

and stare out

frost-crazed

windows

willing something,

anything, to motion.

When they wake

we will make  

a big breakfast,

watch road-runner 

cartoons,

and play 

for the ping-pong

championship

of the world.

I remember 

my grandmother

let me sleep in one day,

not caring if I missed school—

my parents off at work

after their bone chilling walk

and wait for the elevated.

I woke that glorious day

to matzoh brei

and coffee

and we continued 

our game 

of 500 Rummy—

keeping score 

with the rigor

of monks 

recording events

during the dark ages.

As we settle in 

to February,

what wouldn’t 

we give

for something special—

for a spot of color,

brighter than the sad

and distant sun,

to enliven lives 

as bone white

as the bleached

landscape.

 Slipping Away

Last week,

I thought I saw

you board 

the uptown bus

I shouted and waved—

just another lunatic 

flapping his wings 

on the avenue.

I remember how we met,

but not how we lost touch.

Isn’t that the way of it?

At eight

I got a kite

for my birthday 

and flying it

began to learn 

the rhythm of its motion—

updraft and downdraft,

when just for a second

my attention drifted

and the kite

flew off

untethered

in the wind.

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Millionaire

I heard him say it

dozens of times,

but the first time I said it

I laughed out loud.

Dad never had 

two extra nickels to rub together—

my parents the king and queen of getting by—

and, get by they did—

money not nearly as important 

as a house full of family.

He was a soft touch—

never able to say no to a friend.

I often wonder how he’d fare today

when money is god and we worship

those who have gobs and gobs of it,

like we worshipped the gods

of mayhem on Mt. Olympus.

Perhaps they’d think him a fool—

that small-statured man 

who wouldn’t say no—

who’d find a way to help

from a well worn-wallet—

certain to tell you 

that he’d be the “same millionaire

with or without it.”

Up in December on Street Light Magazine. I didn’t know until yesterday.

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