Stevieslaw: Zippo—new poem

My poem Zippo was just published by Algebra of Owls. Here is the poem:


I was six when
the corner hardware store caught fire.
We were chased from our apartment
by smoke and heat
and the staccato pop of flammables bursting.

I remember the sudden burn
of winter and my mom’s blue lips,
as my dad, muttering and cursing,
tried to coax
the old Packard Eight to life.

The world outside
was ice and ash.
Sirens bawled and
yellow jacketed men
wielded axes like arms
and strained against hoses
struggling to break free.

Mom told me years later
that she had wrapped me in an old fur.
She said it was the coldest night
of the year and only the heat
from the car kept us from frostbite.
Try as I might
I can’t remember that.

I remember I shared the back seat
with my brother –
thirteen and the source of all knowledge –
and that he’d found a cigarette lighter that week
and showed me how to make a fire
of rags and paper,
and that his terrified face
flickered all night in the flamelight.

And the link:


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Stevieslaw: New poem published at Thimble Magazine

My poem, I am the younger brother, was published by Thimble Magazine today.  Here is the poem and the link:

I am the Younger Brother

The envelope arrived today.
You penned
969 for 696
and that simple error
from a math prodigy
Sent the letter drifting homeless
for months.
I wonder if you did it with intention.

The Times published your obituary last month.
you died somewhere exotic—
Chile, wasn’t it—at a mountaintop observatory
where you studied the collision of distant galaxies.
Of Brooklyn, you’d tell
friends and family
“It’s like living in a closet—
most nights,
the sky seems starless.”

In the obit photo,
you looked the same skinny malink
you did at 8,
with your nose crooked, from the time
I caught you with a right cross,
and Mom’s straggly hair
I could not imagine why women
found you irresistible, but they took
to you like bears to a hive.
You never felt the need
to swat a single one of them away.

Was there an award you did not win?
With a mind more at home
on Icarus—whose pale blue blink
takes 9 billion light years to reach us,
than it ever was in the tiny apartment
on Remsen Avenue we called home.

You sent a yellowed clipping
from the Brooklyn Eagle, circa 1959—
with a photo of two young teens,
dressed for fame and fortune
in jackets and ties that were too tight
holding a miniature Tesla Coil.
The headline below touted
“Twins, Age 12, Win Science Fair.”

Just that fragile photo
in an envelope
that might have travelled a million miles,
and for a second I’m forced to sit
as gravity releases me
so I might travel back in time.

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Stevieslaw: My poem, Poet, just published on Eclectica

Many thanks to Jen Finstrom, poetry editor of Eclectica, for nominating “Poet” for a Pushcart Prize. Here it is again.

Stevie's Law

Here is the link to the poetry section:

And here is the poem:


I found your first book today
in a second hand store at the Harrisburg Station.
Dingy and age-tanned,
it retained its dustcover,
with a photo of you at 22,
wearing a threadbare corduroy coat
I’m sure is still in your closet,
and what might pass for a smile.
It’s a rare first print from ’69.

My war.
Your deferment.
You kept to your poetry
like you kept to the old neighborhood,
both mired in bottomless poverty—
an endless scraping by.
Yet, just last year, The Times called you
the Bashful Bard of Brooklyn.

We will lay you out tomorrow
in a sandy plot
in one of those many cemeteries
that dot the flat, emptiness of the mid-island plains.
Bury you next to Mary
your common-law wife of fifty three years
and your only treasure.


View original post 74 more words

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Stevieslaw: Who will stop the rain*

Stevieslaw: Maniacal Liberal Scientists Control the Weather

Trump tweeted early this morning that the fall in the Stock Market was caused by the election of Democrats hell bent on investigating his administration. He also disclosed that he is fully aware that the spate of torrential rainstorms, which forced him to cancel his Veteran’s Day appearance, was caused by liberal climate scientists trying to give him a black eye.

“These liberal-democratic climate crazies,” he went on to tweet, “have learned to control the weather. I am hugely concerned that they will threaten mid-Western farmers with floods or drought unless they swear that they will not vote for me in 2020.”

Fox News has promised a thorough and non-biased investigation, the results of which will be presented tomorrow morning in a show entitled, “How can we stop the climate crazies?”

*Creedence Clearwater Revival

As long as I remember
The rain’s been comin’ down
Clouds of mystery pourin’
Confusion on the ground
Good men through the ages
Tryin’ to find the sun
And I wonder, still I wonder
Who’ll stop the rain
I went down Virginia
Seekin’ shelter from the storm
Caught up in the fable
I watched the tower grow
Five year plans and new deals
Wrapped in golden chains
And I wonder, still I wonder
Who’ll stop the rain?


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Stevieslaw: New Poem—The Dying of the Light



My poem, The Dying of the Light, is in the 4th issue of the Borfski Press Magazine (print journal).  Here is the poem:

The dying of the light

We found my mother
on the third floor
of a hospital
that should have been shuttered
in the 80’s.
The lights were dim
and the walls and halls
so covered in filth
it seemed they
had absorbed the misery
of the past 30 years
and the anguish would no longer
wash away.

It wasn’t hard to find mom.
She screamed “Help me”
every couple of minutes.
We heard her from the elevator
above the endless beeping
and the garbled sounds
from the PA system.
The fact that we
were now with her
did not alleviate her need to scream.
Nor did reasoning.

She had fallen again
and broken her tailbone.
She was 95 and failing
and I was the good son—
the one who answered the call
at 2 AM,
booked the 1000 mile trips
and tried to find a place
where she could end her days
in comfort.
It was rewarding in an exhausting way.
Finding, unexpectedly,
I was the one to be counted on.

But, listen,
there is just so much
we can do for one another.
There are limits to prerogatives
of blood.
We practice love,
not magic
and when,
in a moment of lucidity
she stared at my face—
a face she had known
my whole life,
and said,
“I’m dying,”
“Save me.”
I was again
as helpless
as the infant
she had held
to her breast.

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Stevieslaw: new poem on Eclectica Magazine


I have a word poem in the current issue of Eclectica Magazine.  I had to use the words: mirror, demand, rain and settle.

Urban Redevelopment

They took down the tenement
I was a child in today.
We were all at the demolition—
the adults slouched in lawn chairs
and shrouded in a haze of Lucky Strikes,
Viceroys, and Pall Malls.
They guzzled coffee by the gallon
and shared gossip and good-natured lies
in whispery voices so indistinct
it seemed they must be speaking of events
of great moment.

The kids ran the edge of supervision
reined in by an occasional
“Don’t hit, Johnny,”
“Gloria, stop crying long enough to catch a breath.”

My best friend, Marvin, was “it” in red light green light.
Girls played hopscotch and jumped rope
and my long dead brother, a waif in short pants,
was already ogling the pretty girl from 4A
who was just old enough
to be checking her reflection in a mirror
every minute.

The Kleins strolled by arm and arm.
My mom and I would visit them
on Sundays for tea and radio concerts
from Carnegie Hall.
And the couple that lived above us
stomped past
with their four oversized children
I knew collectively as Godzilla.

I’d almost forgotten how happy we were there.
We demanded so little of place,
so much of home.
If we lacked heat in winter,
we huddled;
if it was too hot in summer,
we crawled out on the fire escape
and pretended to be camping.

I shook off the apparition
And stood in the rain
dripping from the blue-black sky
hands deep in the pockets
of my old corduroy coat
patchy gray hair lapping my collar.

Neither loud nor dramatic—
the building collapsed with a sigh—
the debris settling in on itself.

I didn’t stay to watch them
haul it away.

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Stevieslaw: My poem “Stan”

My poem “Stan” has been published by Muddy River Poetry Review.  Here is the poem


He looked as if
he’d never caught a break,
worn through—in need of a shave
and a shower
and a hundred other things
only money could buy.
His lifeless eyes looked through me.
The knife was real enough.

I thought.

He recognized me first.
“Potsy,” he said softly,
using a nickname
I hadn’t heard in years.
“Stan—Stan the man,”
my voice rippled with relief.
Stan held every record
in high school track—
it was a wonder
to watch him run.
He joined the Rangers
right out of school—
Nixon sent him to Nam.

He lowered the knife
and there, on an unlit
street corner in lower Manhattan,
we shot the shit about the old days—
of Brownsville and the guys.

We didn’t pretend
we’d stay in touch.
To see him on his way
I emptied my wallet
and gave him thirty one dollars—
it would help him
do up once or twice.
The twelve hundred bucks
I earned in that night’s poker game
stayed hidden in my shoes.

I hailed a cab on East Broadway,
and had it take me
the four blocks home.
It wasn’t until I
climbed the stairs
and flipped on the light
that I began to shake.

And the link:



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