Two Poems by Steve Deutsch


There was a full moon
the night you died.
You would have wanted that.

When we were 8
and 10, we snuck
down the fire escape

one night to walk
the length of Church Avenue.
From the first rise

we looked out
on the near
perfect alignment

of street lights.
The moon was full
and we told each other stories

of how the planets aligned
like streetlights
and the pull of gravity

animated the vampires
the werewolves and the creature
from the Black Lagoon.

You said you could see them—
crouched like ravenous tigers
on the streetlight stanchions.

But we were young
then and only afraid
of make believe.



They came for candy
this evening from 6
to 8, as the city allows.
Their parents trailed

with flash lights, bottled water
and warm clothing.
Costumed for cute
they dangled decorated

bags or plastic
to carry home
hermetically sealed chocolate candies.

In Brooklyn, we dressed
for combat, ready to do battle
with the feisty folks
in poorly lit tenement halls

that smelled of cabbage
and kippered herring.
Remember when old lady
Blocker baptized Pete

with a pot of boiling water
rather than part with a penny
sweet. Outside it was mayhem.
The older kids blowing

the covers off manholes
with cherry bombs—
screaming like banshees
on sugar highs

until someone got too close
and spent the evening
being stitched at Beth-el.
They lit things up—

my brother was the star
of the show
with dad’s zippo and a paper bag
of puppy poop.

Our parents ignored us—
preferring Sgt. Bilko on TV
to refereeing the goody wars.
But the candy was sweeter then—

as if it were stolen fruit.
As if we had earned the right
to ruin our teeth on jelly
beans and turkish taffy.


Steve Deutsch is poetry editor of Centered Magazine and is poet in residence at the Bellefonte Art Museum. Steve was nominated three times for the Pushcart Prize. His Chapbook, Perhaps You Can, was published in 2019 by Kelsay Press. His full length books, Persistence of Memory and Going, Going, Gone, were published by Kelsay. Slipping Away will be published this spring. Brooklyn was awarded the Sinclair Poetry Prize from Evening Street Press and has just been published.

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