Monday, April 19, 2021

Skully by Steve Deutsch

Last Saturday we met at Denny’s bar
up on Remsen Avenue by the old Seltzer plant.
The pregame show flashed on the big screen

as Sal took a long sip of beer,
and brought out an old peppermint tin—
inside was a worn RC Cola cap and a piece of chalk.

“Remember Skully,” he asked?
as if we’d ever forget
the street game we played as kids

on four squares of Brooklyn sidewalk—
a game as New York City
as the Empire State Building.

How we prized those bottle caps,
each of us with a lucky one or two—
history written in a hundred scuffs.

We lived small back then
and had to guard the caps from our moms—
who were known to throw out anything

that “sat out.”
I recognized Sals’ RC cap.
He won it from me in the summer of ’54.

We were out the door in a Budweiser minute.
And that afternoon—instead of watching another b-ball game
we chalked the court and played like the children we once were.

Down on hands and knees we flicked bottle caps
with arthritic fingers and called each other
by nicknames we thought forgotten.

At the end of that afternoon
I had won the RC cap back—
at least until the rematch.

Steve Deutsch lives in State College, PA. Some of his recent publications have or will appear in The Mark Literary Review, Boston Literary Magazine, Rat’s Ass Review, The RavensPerch, MacQueen’s Quinterly, 8 Poems, Louisiana Lit, Burningword Literary Journal, Third Wednesday, and Muddy River Poetry Review. Steve was nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize. His chapbook, Perhaps You Can, was published in 2019 by Kelsay Press and his full length book, Persistence of Memory, was also published by Kelsay Press in 2020.

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