Steve Deutsch


It was right after the rent-a-cop—
with his fine-tuned 
sense of self-preservation
made his tattooed self scarce,
that they came on the court,
so loose-limbed 
you imagined them melting
in the August heat.
Yet their procession
seemed as inevitable as the tide. 

I hadn’t realized I was still dribbling
until Leroy was on me—
face to face.
I had played b-ball with him
at pick-up games on Stone Avenue.
He was like some sub-atomic particle—
always moving.
He was good
and when he went up for a jump shot
I was left defending knees.
Leroy showed me a metal Band-aid box
full of twenty-two shells
and a taped up pistol
as ugly as Brownsville.
He told me—
“I’d stay off the streets tonight.” 

Soon after
the draft started
to round up the basketball stars,
the craps addicts,
and the layabouts
from the bowling alley. 

Word was
Leroy flushed 
his subway token
and took off—
with just his basketball
and his dad’s pay envelope.
They haven’t caught him yet
and the smart money says
they never will. 

Perhaps, he will 
grow old 
and prosperous—
on a court somewhere,
lofting one-hand set shots
over his grandkids’ heads
and catching only net.

Steve Deutsch lives with his wife Karen—a visual artist—in State College, PA. He writes poetry and the blog: His recent publications have been in Literary Heist, Nixes Mate Review, Third Wednesday, Misfit Magazine, Word Fountain, Eclectica Magazine, The Drabble, and The Ekphrastic Review. In 2017, he was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His chapbook, Perhaps You Can, will be published next year by Kelsay Press.