Steve Deutsch, Three Poems

The Year We All Got Cancer
Steve Deutsch

Winter stayed.
The April rain so cold
it left blisters of ice
on an earth
as scarred and pockmarked
as a landscape mired in war.

We waited through the freeze and thaw
for some sign from the recalcitrant earth–
anxiety growing with each passing day.
The sun was of little use,

peeking indifferently
through the skeletal clouds,
as if late for an appointment
on another planet.

We had become
a shivering muddle–
a people resigned to winter,
when we woke one day
to wild things bursting.
Fields of dandelion
and mustard greens and,
in the most desolate spot of all,
a stand of wild asparagus.


That Night
Steve Deutsch

“I’m sure there are good people out there,”
he said, as he eyed the door.
“I’m just not one of them.”
He talked.
It was his way of calming down.

We were in a bar
up near Times Square.

You know the place
or someplace like it.
They serve boilermakers and boiled dogs,
and no, there was not a soul in the place
you’d want to take home to meet your mother.

The bleeding over his eye
was no better,
and the hand he used
to hold a wad of bloody napkins
up to the gash
was starting to swell.

Every time the door opened, he’d jump
and now he had me doing it too.

When we were young
and faced with something to bear,
we’d summon a magic
to make us invisible.
We’d close our eyes
and count to twenty-five.
It never worked, but it might have,
I closed my eyes.

The violence had been
rapid and real
and I don’t want to talk about it.


At the Edge
Steve Deutsch

The important questions
have no answers,
my friend told me.

The others had wandered off
while we sat looking out over the lake,
gone gray in the early evening light.
He spoke with little conviction,
as if hoping I might contradict him.

Every now and again
a car passed unseen
on the road behind us,
breaking that stillness
you find only in graveyards
and at the water’s edge.

He knew, of course,  I wouldn’t.
We’d been having
this conversation
since we were teens
and shared a street corner
in South-central Brooklyn
with a gaggle of wannabe thugs.

Quite suddenly
a hundred nesting birds
took to the air.
The sky raged

as they voiced their
indignation.
Then just as suddenly
they settled
and we sat back down,
grinning with spent shock.

Our companions reappeared–
as if strolling out of the setting sun,
and as we clamored
into my weathered car—
speaking of a movie
and perhaps some dinner out,
clouds gathered and darkened.
Tonight, it might well rain.


Steve Deutsch, a semi-retired practitioner of the fluid mechanics of mechanical hearts and heart valves, lives with his wife Karen, a visual artist, in State College, Pennsylvania. Steve writes poetry, short fiction and his blog: stevieslaw.wordpress.com. His most recent publications have been in Eclectica Magazine, The Ekphrastic Review, New Verse News, One Sentence Poems, and Misfit Magazine.

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