as charged

“As Charged,” “My dad,” and “One Last Thing”

In Issue 76 by Steven Deutsch

as charged
Image from Adobe Stock

As Charged

The jury found you guilty

in just an hour and fourteen minutes.

Long enough for bathroom breaks

and a single show of hands.

Your public defender

advised you to cop a plea,

but mom borrowed a suit and black shoes

and dressed you as an innocent man.

I remember the letters best—

years of writing back and forth.

I told you of my slowly changing

life and you told me stories

of ancient gods and heroes

confined to lonely islands.

So many lonely gods.

So many empty islands.

We learned last week

you weren’t coming home

again, though mom hoped

you might someday.

She kept your room as it was

and now can’t pass it by,

sits in your favorite chair

with thoughts I can only imagine.

My dad

had a two week retirement.

Just long enough to drive

the Packard to Deerfield Beach

and help unload the U-haul.

He’d worked since he was ten

and would have loved some time

to tell bad jokes and play

some serious pinochle,

but he and mom needed the money.

He would pack a thermos of coffee,

a couple of cheese sandwiches,

and a chunk of apple cake

and head out most nights

to his job as a watchman

at a development under construction.

Mom and the neighbors

took to calling him The Sheriff.

Dad was not courageous

Vowing to deal with thieves by asking,

“You guys need an extra pair of hands?”

One Last Thing

My key, burnished

for fifty years,

slips smoothly

from my hand,

as if it wished

to ask me

if I’m sure.

You would

often say

“if I had a dollar”

and I thought

of all the times

I had passed though this door

and how I might

spend my incredible wealth.

There is a last time

for everything

I suppose—

some day our sun

will explode

and earth will

become a cinder.

But we rarely

think of that.

We don’t live

on the precipice

of never again

until one day

we lock the door

and walk away.

About the Author

Steven Deutsch

Website

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.

Read more work by Steven Deutsch .