New Poem: Estranged

My poem, Estranged, was published by Flashes of Brilliance today. Here is the poem:

I happened by the old house today.
It was early evening
and the well-worn sun was just beginning
to retire behind the tree line—
it had been years and years,
and I almost passed it by.

It has been poorly kept.
Someone painted the front door
fire-engine red—
which seemed to me a cry for help—
but even that has faded.
The majestic beech that towered
over the street is down—
with hands linked
we could barely get our arms around it.
I remember autumns when the leaves
pooled yellow—
inches deep on the front lawn.
How we would wade in them.

I thought
that tree would last forever.
But all things change,
even the continents
are drifting apart—
are becoming strangers

And the link:

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Reading in Philadelphia

Moonstone Poetry @ the Pub

Fergie’s Pub, 1214 Sansom Street

Wednesday September 11, 2019 – 7pm

         Elise Brand, Steve Deutsch & Jackie Shelley  

Elise Brand is an English teacher, writer and poet, adviser of Journeys to America, and The Maple Legacy and advises the biannual SAHS Red Oak Literary Magazine. Her poetry has appeared in Transcendent Visions, Adanna Literary Journal, The North Penn Reporter, Mousetales Press, and The Broadkill Review, as well as Lovers and Fighters: Poetry for Social Change and she served on the board of MCPL for six years.

Steve Deutsch was born in Brooklyn, NY and currently lives in State College, PA. Over the past three years, his work has appeared in more than 2 dozen print and online publications. He was nominated for Pushcart Prizes in 2017 and 2018. His Chapbook, “Perhaps You Can,” was published in 2019 by Kelsay Press.

Jacalyn Shelley, a member of the South Jersey Poets Collective, participates in poetry readings in Atlantic City and hosts the Leap Street Poets Workshop. She’s been published in several journals including Sugar House Review, Dunes Review, DASH, San Pedro River Review, Shot Glass Journal, and Pilgrimage’s Injustice and Protest Issue. In 2018 she was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. To enjoy more of her poetry go to

Dave Worrell, Host, Open
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New Poem—Comfort

My poem, Comfort, was just published by Better Than Starbucks (yes. I know. What a great title—especially for me).  Here is the link:

And the poem:


There was never a formal

treaty between Mom and Smokey.

For years, they recognized

the dread and dislike they inspired

in each other, and surprise

encounters, in the narrow hallway

of our old house,


arched backs,

hooded eyes,

and hissing and spitting.


So alike—

they ruled

with a surety

that brooked

no insubordination.

So different than Dad—

a gentle soul

who seemed his best

with cats and dogs

and small children.

How could Smokey

not love him?

When Dad died suddenly

one ordinary winter day

the two discovered grief,

and enmity was forgotten.

Mom and Smokey took to

sharing Dad’s overstuffed wing chair

by the sunny window—

comforting each other

in unbroken silence

like old, fast friends.

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Newer Poem

My poem Hygge (from the Danish) is up today at The Drabble.


When the first greetings
were done
an easy silence settled
over the firelit room—
the afterglow of finding
each of us still kicking
after all these years.
We circled the blaze—
feet to flame,
passing the Chianti around
in its brown paper bag—
just as we used to do,
while you told
that infamous story
of how we all met—
to giggles and snorts.

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New Poem

This was just published by the Loyalhanna Review.

Your Birthday Would Be This Week


Just past the tunnel

the road rises,

and from its crest

I see the lights

of an entire city

shine like memories

of a life left.


When did we last

really talk,

my brother and I?

Even here,

we settle into roles

enshrined by childhood.

You play the tough guy

in a bad B movie,

and I become

​​​​​​​​​​the simpering sidekick.

Our patter is so to script

we manage not to mention

the hospice team,

the feeding tube

and morphine drip

that keep your heart

barely beating.


It is nearly morning

when I reach the turnpike

and the road

seems suddenly unfamiliar.

It is only then I realize

the lights of the city

have gone out.

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New Poem: Reunion

My poem, Reunion, was just published by the San Antonio Review.  Here it is:



The night we decided
to meet, no matter what,
on Winter solstice, 2018
Artie got so wasted
he couldn’t figure out
how to get out of the stall
in Shadows—our local bar
and tiny Alice,
lithe as a gymnast
had to climb over and free him.
We carried him home
to a fourth-floor walk-up
on Calder Alley.
I kept dropping his right leg
which left glyphs
In the fresh snow
to be interpreted
by those who’d later pass.

Those were glorious days,
the future—left unsaid—
was on everyone’s lips
and seemed somehow undimmed
when Ray’s F-4 Phantom
belly flopped into the South China Sea
and Barbara lost her life
to a mole gone rogue.

I never made much of my future—
never left this College Town—
worked every odd job
you might imagine.
How I loved the calls and cards
from New York, LA,
Paris, Singapore—
mates, careers and kids
though they dwindled through the years
to the occasional surprise.

How I longed for our reunion
though I should have been forewarned
when Shadows closed last year.
I stood beside the raw construction site
that frigid solstice night
stamping my feet
and blowing on my aching hands
as the whole gang arrived
just before midnight—
youthful, apple-cheeked and
full of the future.

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New Poem: I Remember (November 1963)

Here is the second poem just published by Misfit Magazine:


I remember November 1963

It was the Saturday
after they’d gunned
down Kennedy.
Too cold for b-ball,
we huddled
in the schoolyard
and talked
at half voice.

We didn’t notice Joel
at the corner of the chain link
until he began to kick
it and scream,
“I’m so ugly.”

And he was.
It was as if
he was sculpted
from a single piece of granite
by an indifferent artist
who said—
“This is good enough,”
and put it aside.

We didn’t see the gun
until he put it
to his head
and pulled the trigger.
We all heard the empty click
and the wail of utter despair.

I remember that click
as clearly as I remember
that last motorcade.
And, I remember,
that even after he dropped
the pistol,
not one of us
ran to help him.

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