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.

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