Hall of Fame

My poem, Hall of Fame, is up on Silver Birch Press today as part of their Landmark Series. Here is the poem:

Hall of Fame
We were not
a wayfaring
family.

My dad drove
a taxi nights
while mom worked days

at a discount store
downtown.
How is it

no one speaks
of the weariness
of the poor?

A six-block trip
to the local
chop suey joint

after a double
feature
was quite a night.

But the summer
I turned 12
dad announced

a vacation
to Cooperstown
at the Baseball Hall of Fame.

There was not
a boy in all
of Brownsville

that didn’t envy
me that trip.
And, yes I milked it.

The three of us made
a week of it.
meandering through

the back roads
of New England—
admiring all that green,

while my dad
spoke of Ty
and Babe—

Honus and Christy
and Walter as if
speaking of old friends

and my mom
told me of my grandfather—
a man I never got to meet.

And the Museum?
Well that was
wonderful too.

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RavensPerch Second Poem

Aeolian

When I was a young man
I’d take to the shore—
counting on the salt-slap
of wind off the North Atlantic
and the emptiness
of that unearthly horizon
to rouse me
from a melancholy
that held me bone deep.

It was best
when the weather
was foul—
sky teaming with
ocean to perform—
arousing a primal fear
like the snap of ozone
almost overwhelming.

Today, as far from youth
as I am from the sea,
I take an ancient trail
to the peak of Wind Gap—
above the tree line
of oak and hemlock.

The trail is steep
and slick in spots
and as I struggle up
I wonder, out loud,
how man could have
conquered McKinley.

City bred,
I am outside my ken—
the hilltop scoured
of all life
might well be on Mars.
But the view is breathtaking.
The locals say
you can see three states
from here
and that the wind—
strange and strong
and cold as December,
can turn you around.

Posted in gang gang dance, poetry | 1 Comment

Sonder

I’ve two poems published today by the RavenPerch. Here is the first

Sonder

Dad would never
let on how he got
his nickname.

Even mom, who used
Sonny for all but scolds,
wasn’t telling

and you’d have
more luck convincing
some chicken Colonel

to part
with the nuclear codes
than in persuading

his old friends
to let you in
on the secret.

A shrug
and a wink
was the most they would offer.

Hey,
we had theories—
perhaps

some relic
of a wild
and lurid past—

though dad
was the kindest man
I ever knew.

Buddha—
watching a crop
of neophytes

search for enlightenment
could not have
been more pleased

than dad
as we tried to puzzle
it out.

Once, just before he passed,
dad and I took
a gentle stroll

around the neighborhood
and he pointed
to a stranger and said

there is
a whole life
we cannot imagine.

But I didn’t
make
the connection.

Just last week
a friend used
sonder on a triple word

in Scrabble.
I lost the challenge,
but finally understood.

And, now the word,
like some fond, fair memory,
will never leave me.

 

Posted in gang gang dance, poetry | 1 Comment

I believe I do…

The Trump Team announced today that negotiations with the tooth fairy are going very, very well.  The negotiations are being led by Mike Pence, who has a long-standing relationship with imaginary beings.

Trump intends to make good on his promise that the virus will one day disappear just like magic.

Said Pence, who has carefully avoided meeting with the fairy one on one, “I think she will agree to do that.”

Senate Republicans said the idea is brilliant, in particular, since it can’t possibly cost the government much more than 2 bits.

Posted in Humor, parody | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Poem on Burningword Literary Journal

 

Quotidian

For fifty years, we lived

at the bend in Spring Creek

where the stream turns

back on itself,

in a shingled Cape Cod

too small for the family

and dreadfully cold.

 

The creek’s ceaseless song

captained our seasons—

the slow murmur

of half-frozen water

holding tenuously to life

or the great green rush

of an early thaw.

 

Each spring we bailed

the basement

trying to keep our poor boat afloat—

fearing any minute

we might have to swim for it.

How our children learned

to hate that sodden season.

 

They are grown now

and scattered here and there

like the spray of water on rock.

It seems forever since a visit.

The oldest, Jillie, tells me

it took years to get the creek

out of her head.

 

I drove past the old place today—

much of the roof is collapsed and jagged.

I like to watch the fly fisherman

pluck rainbows from their hidden holes,

with a grace beyond my understanding.

And then, at sunset,

the creek and I head home.

 

 

 

Posted in gang gang dance, poetry | 3 Comments

Persistence of Memory Published

has arrived. It is available through Amazon, Kelsay Books and me. Bellefonte Art Museum will have some soon.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Hi Ho Silver Away

Just up on Silver Birch as part of their wearing a mask series. Check the site for a picture of me in a black mask—photoshopped by Karen Deutsch

The Lone Ranger
by Steven Deutsch

For his tenth birthday,
my brother got

two cap pistols
a good guy hat

and the Ranger’s
famous black mask.

At six
I was convinced

that my masked brother
was beyond recognition.

I was happy
to be cast as Tonto.

I wore a single chicken feather
held fast by a salvaged hatband,

and carried a tomahawk
made of a hammer handle

and an empty can
of Campbell’s soup,

I said sidekick things.
“Him say horses need water,”

and called my brother
“Kimosabe”
.
But, how I wanted
that mask.

I’d tie it on
and visit the mom and pop

shops up and down Hopkinson Avenue
preserving the peace

to a chorus of
“Who was that masked man?”

And when my brother
discovered baseball in June

I buckled on
his six-shooters

and climbed up
on my magnificent white horse.

What a glorious
summer.

To this day
I can’t watch

the sun go down
without belting out

“Hi Ho Silver
Away.”

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I often write about my brother, though only rarely truthfully. I had the idea for this poem early on. The original ending was much darker, but I couldn’t get it. This ending popped up instead. I’m happy with less darkness.

Posted in gang gang dance, Humor, poetry | 2 Comments

New poem about my dad

Just published by Third Wednesday. A 50/50 Contest Honorable Mention Poem.

Your Time

When mom announced
you were coming North
for your birthday,
we planned a celebration.

Guys only,
we’d take you
to the rib joint
on College Avenue

and then, after you’d
set the local record,
trundle you off
to the new cigar shop

buried in a mini mall
next to the donut shop,
catering to good cigars
and incredible bullshit.

There was a time
not long ago
when you could
eat for three

while spinning
fantastic tales
you seemed to invent
on the spot.

We watched.
We listened.
We learned
cadence and timing.

But that night
you hardly touched
your ribs
though the meat fell

from the bone.
And sitting quiet and
distanced,
you puffed

only once
or twice
on what was
a very fine cigar.

They say
elephants know
when their
time has come

and march
to their burial ground
with pace
and precision.

And we all knew
when you boarded
that plane
with a tattered smile

that we
would never
see you
again.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Second Poem—Urban Legend

Here is the second poem published yesterday by Anti-heroin Chic.

Urban Legend

Eddie told everyone
Benny lived in a fourth-floor walk up
on Watkins Avenue,
in one of those crummy tenements
that only had heat in the summer—
but he later admitted
he’d never been there.

Jenny said
her cousin Ray told her
Benny lived with his mom and dad
and that the mom
was old country,
spoke only Yiddish,
and took in sewing
to pay for luxuries—like rent.
“Desperately poor,”
She said
Ray said.

But, we all knew Ray
made up stories
and, when pressed,
he’d only say, “How would I know?”

Marty was sure that Benny’s dad
led a horse-drawn cart
around the cobbled streets
of Brownsville.
selling rags and tin pots
and sharpening knives—
“for future suicides,”
we’d joke,
and then remember Anna,
who had.

Looks just like him,
Marty insisted,
but the guy
was named Jesus
and came from San Juan,
and Benny was
as Jewish as Solomon.

Benny would come by midweek
dressed in what must have been
his dad’s cast-offs
and black high-top sneakers
that might have been new
twenty years ago.

He’d join us for basketball—
taking the court
with a winning smile,
though he dribbled
like he thought the ball
was radioactive
and he might—god forbid—
have to pick it up.

Other days,
Ricky assured us with great authority,
Benny ran a floating craps game
in a school yard
somewhere
in East New York.

But Ricky had no idea
why someone needed
to run a craps game.
And what did “floating”
mean anyway—
Hucklebenny on a raft
on the East River?

Benny could talk
you inside out
and seemed to know
all there was to know
about everything.
It was a bit of a challenge—
even for those of us
who went to class
hoping to learn what Thomas Jefferson
High School had to teach,
and Davy might say,
“Let’s see what he knows
about the Spanish Civil War,”
and just like that Benny
would take you to Barcelona
to the aroma of saffron and garlic
and the sound of the ocean
breaking the news
of the death of the Republic.

But what Benny knew best
was baseball.
ERAs and Batting Averages
and who would play who
two weeks from Wednesday—
and yes, he made a little book,
and yes, he made a little money—
but no one begrudged him that.

I pictured him
the next Mel Allen
but they drafted him
and sent him to Nam
with the rest of the kids
from Watkins and Thatford,
Chester and Bristol.
And some came back—
older and odder,
and as doomed as that Spanish Republic,
but Benny never did.

Posted in gang gang dance, poetry | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

New Poems

I had two poems published today by Anti-Heroin Chic. Here is the first:
Captain Jack

I almost passed him by–
so folded into himself
he looked more turtle
than seven year old boy.

I had wandered over cautiously–
fascinated by the
verbal fistfight
rattling his second story windows.

“Captain Jack is home,”
I thought.
It’s what we called
that tight little man

who sported
a pencil mustache
and a mermaid tattoo
on each arm.

He was Navy Shore Patrol,
and Mom told me
I was not to visit
when the Captain was home.

She did not issue many warnings.
It was, after all, Brooklyn
and she thought it best
I figure things out for myself.

My best friend, Joel,
did not want to talk just then.
He nursed the kind of wound
that would never really heal.

But, later that day
in the school yard
he told me his dad
the Captain

was teaching him to box.
And, assuming a Joe Louis stance,
he raised his boyish hands–
half-hiding his bludgeoned eye

Posted in gang gang dance, poetry | Tagged | 2 Comments