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Steven's poem "The Skipping Stone" has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize (2013) by Presa/Presa Press:

The Skipping Stone

             for Nancy

From the mud of the green-scum pond,
she drew a flat round rock, a smooth and perfect
fit inside her palm. She rubbed and flipped it

one hand to the other, let it slip between
her fingers like a charm. Soon she knew

the black stone like a child knows a parent’s hand.
She took it with her everywhere. The years passed.

Once when her bag spilled open on the bed,
her new husband saw the stone and picked it up.

Making imaginary sidearm throws, he claimed
that he could skip her round flat beauty

twenty times before it sank. She told him
he’d be throwing love away and rubbed

the stone until the smell of small green apples
and the summer sun on the still pond returned,
then placed it back inside her bag.
Soon babies came. She stuffed the bag
with gloves and gum, with empty wrappers,
scraps of paper, books and boots, a tub
of wipes and toys. They dumped it all onto the rug.
The curious smoothness of her stone
excited their small hands. When they left home,

once on their own, she feared they took
the best of her away. Discovering the bag
she hadn’t used in years, she dumped its contents
on the kitchen table. The flat black stone

now tumbled out, again a perfect fit inside her hand.
She rubbed it as she had when she was young.
A sudden breeze swept through the trees,
brushing her cheek. She caught the scent
of small green apples, sensed the stillness
of the pond, her parents’ presence,

placed the stone beside old photographs
and gifts spread on her dresser. Her life
appeared as one flat stretch of water,
the past retrieved one bounce at a time,
where nothing, while the stone
skipped over, ever sank.

"Where's My Bailout?"

Follow the link above to read this recent piece that appeared in Satire & Comment.


Click above to read this Poetry In Motion selection that appeared in Portland, OR.

Selected Poetry © Steven Sher

The Box Of My Father’s Clothes

Reluctantly I hold them up

and swear before the mirror

I begin to look more like he did

each passing year. His clothes

cannot tell us apart. Carefully

I then extend one jacket’s

empty sleeve into the air

the way someone might lead

another back into the world.

Down into the cool long arms

I reach, sleeve by sleeve,

pushing one hand then another

free beyond the open ends.

My claim, more durable than time.

I imagine, standing straight

and proud, how he might have felt

in this wool coat. The weight

of his arm now on my shoulders,

the weight of worry dusted

from my back, the past encouraging

the present to go forward

like a shy but willing child,

the child so quickly an adult,

a man so quickly expired—


his arms my arms

my arms his arms.



The Man Who Brought His Own Food

           for Natalee Moinester

She doesn't remember his name

or anything he might have said—

she was too young—but only

that the man brought his own food,

a grocery bag set on the countertop

beside the phone, some fresh things

wrapped in plastic in the fridge,

and he wouldn’t eat from their plates.

With some prompting, she will say

he was an old friend of her father’s

she had met for the first time

who wore a yarmulke and in the morning

seemed to move his lips but out came

silence as he stood and shook

wrapped in black straps and a white shawl

before his book off by himself

while she watched cartoons, yet

he didn’t seem to notice the spectacular

view of the mountains behind the house,

his eyes half-closed, his shape gone limp.

Maybe then the girl first guessed

her father was this way before,

so too the grandfather she never knew

among those strange and chanting

men at once familiar in her dreams.




The secret of the wind, papa’s hot

breath, blows in her bones.


The reason for the rain, her stormy

temperament, goes beyond clouds.


Our daughter’s twitching sleep will

take her one hundred and eighty


degrees around the sheet

and so she’ll learn this room


before she walks, hear her fate

among the shadows talk


before she feels it kiss

her fat milk cheeks.



Proposing On The Brooklyn Bridge

     On the way to one’s beloved

     there are no hills.

          —Kikuyu proverb

For love, for its uncertainty,

I gave my racing heart away.

The hush of dusk was strung,

this cabled span, across the river.

Claiming night’s first star for us,

down on one knee, I blurted out

we would have children, having seen

the future in her eyes, starting for its light;

my string of dreams, the poor

man’s pearls I placed around her

neck, love’s skyline beckoning.