Cadge

Thrilled that my poem, Cadge, has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize by Burningword Literary Journal. Here is the poem:

Cadge
JANUARY 2021 | POETRY, PUSHCART NOMINEE
I bet the four flush—
worth next to nothing
but looking to all like the key
to the kingdom of heaven.

You told me once
that poker
was half luck
and half bluff.

They had just
cleaned you out again
at the Friday night game
above the body shop on Sutter Avenue.

You and your six
unemployable friends—
passing a cheap bottle of rye
and shots at each other’s parentage,

in a room
full of reefer
and the sweat
of day labor.

You told me once
you had no luck—
having given it
all to me.

And I pictured a medallion
bestowed upon the younger brother—
no small burden
you’d hung around my neck—

as if the family’s fortune
was riding on my narrow shoulders.
“What fortune?”
anyone who knew us might think to ask.

“But, you’ll never be a bluffer,
you told me,
for that you need a pair—
and in our family, I got them.”

Cold as cobra’s breath
I bet my four spades
and watched
as the better hand folded.

You never were a judge of character—
a lifetime
of confusing
friends and enemies.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Two New Poems:

I have two poems on the Lothlorien Poetry Journal site today. Here is a link:

https://lothlorienpoetryjournal.blogspot.com/2021/11/two-poems-by-steven-deutsch.html

and the poems. You can get the actual format of the poems on the link. I can’t make the blog behave.

Where I’m Writing From

A library cubicle—

under a flickering 

fluorescent—

watching sleet

cover the trees

through the spattered

window. Tea icy

and ideas 

as stingy as the heat.

But, I swear 
it won’t 

always be that way

In the sun,

with coffee

and croissants 

that replenish 

themselves

like that porridge 

pot in Grimm.

With a view

of the beach,

and children

laughing

like Munchkins

after the Witch

of the East

was squashed.

And, it will

be going well—

my hand barely 

able to keep up

with the words—

like I had

a laureate 

whispering

in my head.

And you’ve written

to say

you’ll join 

me soon—

although the drive

is a long one—

a happily

ever after—

I know,

like the tales

we once cherished

as children.

 Balter

“In the end,

you are left

with just your

memories,”

my cousin Eddie 

murmured.

It was just after

his third cardiac

event, and there

wasn’t much meat

left on his 6’

4” frame.

I wondered why

they called them

events—as if you

might purchase 

a ticket to attend.

We called him

“Too Tall”

and I remembered

that his favorite

expression as a child

was “willya sign

my cast.”

“Too Tall” was always

falling down 

or getting up—

prone to trip 

on sidewalk 

imperfections invisible

to the rest 

of us.

“Remember when 

my parents got

me dancing lessons

for my 12th birthday

and I thought 

I’d die of shame,”

he said in a whisper.

“I was graceless,”

he grinned—

“I never told

them how much 

I loved those lessons.”

I watched his eyes

linger on a photo

of his wife.

He’d met her in class—

all 5’2’ of her.

So shy 

she blushed

when she smiled.

She’d died this winter

leaving her dancing

partner a wall of trophies

and empty arms

I left him

with his memories—

I do believe 

he was humming a waltz.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Checker Cab

My poem, Checker Cab, is in the Fall Issue of Black Coffee Review. Here it is without the stanza breaks. And what might be a link.

https://www.blackcoffeereview.com/fall-2021?fbclid=IwAR2x42zGUgCfVmqkJeGYH2uFInySueex3tEbKFU5uUOdeHAqsLk3Gw6Z9Sg

Checker Cab

It was the one story

my dad never told

even though his 

greatest pleasure

was holding forth

at the dinner table—

a cigar in one hand,

forked morsel in the other.

Dad drove a Checker cab

the graveyard shift

in New York City.

A fleet car—

he could never afford 

the medallion.

But to hear him tell it

his cab was the hottest property

in the early morning city—

attracting great names

like Vegas attracts high rollers.

Over the years, he’d driven

Spencer Tracy, Rock Hudson,

and all of the Rat Pack.

Marilyn once pecked his cheek

rather than pay her fare,

and he had to help the doorman at the Plaza

extract Mantle and Ford

from the back seat—

“drunk as skunks.”

Sinatra, he told us, never rode 

with the same dame twice,

and Jackie Gleason

would exit with a flourish—

“And away we go.”

He’d tell us of the ordinary 

people that hailed his taxi

at 4 AM

pleading their cases like bookies

hawking tout sheets at Belmont.

And the tips—

from nickels and dimes

to bank-fresh fifties.

We knew he made most

of it up—

but dad was true to a code.

There was a tiny bit of truth

in every tale.

But he never told 

us why he came home that morning

in the middle of his shift,

with blood stains on his work

clothes. He chained smoked

Camels—as he tried to still

the shakes

with a few shots of basement rye

and the longest shower

the man had ever taken.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Shibboleth

My poem was just published by Hare’s Paw Literary Journal. Here it is:

Shibboleth by Steven Deutsch

“You even changed

the names of the fucking streets,”

Andy told us over beers

a few weeks after he’d come home.

It was not the homecoming

we imagined—

a ticker tape parade perhaps—

the high school marching band,

cheerleaders, and the glee club

when our Most Likely to Succeed,

1992, made his way back home.

Instead, he crept back,

like a dog too often beaten,

nursing a fragile recovery

from the drug of the month club—

living with his mom,

and reporting to a parole officer

he had once dated.

“It’s all changed,”

Andy told us,

as we sat in a bar that hadn’t

changed in thirty years—

same worn booths,

stale peanuts,

bottled Buds.

“And the people,”

he said, followed by a terrific swig

that had his Adam’s apple

dancing—

“it’s as if they’ve forgotten

how to talk—

and communicate

in grunts, grimaces

and shrugs.”

I grunted.

Bobbie burped—

his burps

were legendary.

Not a grimace

in the group.

“I remember that burp,”

Andy said with the laugh

we knew so well.

He shrugged,

added a wink,

and bought the next round.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

My third book of poetry from Kelsay Books. Up now on Amazon.

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Vow of Silence

Tired of talk.
How hard
to take this dreadful season
in silence.

The reason
for the pleading
has passed
like last summer.

I did not see
it going. Only gone.
To quiet
now

against those
tedious arguments —
repeat
and repetition.

My cheerful, mid-winter, mid-pandemic poem is up on The Drabble.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Balm

My poem, Balm, was just published by the Bookends Review. Here is the poem.

This evening, I ended my walk
with a terrific skid.
Just as I recovered
the sun peeked out
from wherever it had been hiding,
to warm my neck and face
and the streetlights,
as if to share in my relief,
flickered to life.

It took me back,
to one of those flights
from Hawaii or Japan
that landed at LAX at dawn
We banked
and I could see
the sun’s earliest light
sharing the stage
with runway lights
backgrounded
by a city so calm
and gentle
I had to pinch myself
to remember where I was.

You and I no longer
worship the sun as god.
Yet doesn’t the sunset,
for all its colorful hallelujahs,
bring with it the same odd unease
that drove our
primitive ancestors to light
bonfires to coax
the sun back to life.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Oak

My poem, Oak, is up on RavensPerch today. A who-knows-where-the-time-goes meditation. Here it is:

While I was dozing
the seedling I planted
grew forty feet
and threatens my roof
in the wind.

My children went
from “mama”
to middle aged
with children
of their own—

marriages,
mortgages,
money worries,
and hair starting to gray
at the roots.

While I was dozing
my friends became
old and arthritic
with artificial hips
and knees that sound

like the tin man in the rain
Memory faded,
they talk of medical miracles
and how they’ve outlived
their physicians.

But my tree is magnificent
shading half a city block
with its wingspan.
Did I ever tell you
I planted it

as a seedling
and that it
grew to a thing
of wonder
while I dozed?

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Scry

My poem, Scry, is in the current issue of Waymark Literary Magazine (Kennesaw State University). Here is a link:

and here is the poem:

Scry

An awful night—alone with 

that All Soul’s crew

on the third floor of the dorm.

A half-dozen wanna be witches 

and warlocks

dressed to kill Cock Robin 

yet looking more malnourished 

then wicked.

I was stoned—

when wasn’t I stoned,

and on a diet 

of Southern Comfort 

for its medicinal benefits,

when they broke out 

the Ouija board.

They dimmed

the lights for fear

that ancient dorm room

at twilight

might not be creepy enough—

and yes, I shoulda been

laughing my ass off

but this was 1968

and I couldn’t keep up

with the constant 

parade of sorrows.

They linked hands 

and slid a heart-shaped block

around the board

as if possessed—

perhaps they were.

And it didn’t take them

long at all

to declare me

a walking dead man.

And yes, I knew it

for hooey,

but I spent that night

walking the ice-strewn streets

trying to convince myself

I’d be alive tomorrow—

that I wanted to be alive tomorrow.

I was only a kid then,

you know,

and had 

lost my way. 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Rereading

My poem was published today by MacQueen’s Quinterly.

Rereading

is like checking in 
with an old friend 
you find drowsing 

on a porch swing 
in a house along 
the storied river. 

It seems years 
since she’s even 
run a comb through her hair, 

but she offers buttered scones 
and reheated coffee 
that tastes better 

with each successive sip. 
You warm 
to her lilting voice 

sharing stories 
as you walk along 
the mossy path—

tales you knew 
so well once, 
and yet, 

hasn’t their meaning 
shifted ever so slightly, 
like the light 

through the willows 
you walk beside 
in the advancing afternoon.
Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments