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