Poems by Aaron Deutsch


Cairo, Illinois

-After Rodney Jones


I know you
by your rusty steamboat stops
and phantom lynchings
where barrels of black molasses
broke your backs.

There were sawmills once. Buzzing
neighbors clamoring in doorways.

Every Sunday—-miracle of tongues on repeat:

Pray for the Lynnis boy down the street
to be cured from his queerness, dear Lord.

This town limp from repenting.

Then the thunderous judgement of railroads
demanded the hotels come tumbling down—
take your slick-shoed elevator operators with you
—left a town of sutures.

Yes, I know you
aspired to mine coal
till you forgot the sky.

Would’ve reckoned yourselves
for the stable shift work of the rust belt.
Something to look up to
from a milk crate on a curb
watching the sheen of progress fade
the way pennies get old.
Everyone tense as copper springs
teetering over a cliff face. Surviving
back to the wind
if you can just hold your breath.


Elegy for a Vulture (Found on My Doorstep)


Creature circling over, hunting the dying spirit
as it coagulates in the body. The eyes finally gone dark

Once at school, a boy named Zeke backed me into the corner, called me a queer,
and blinded me with a camera flash.

My brain
——————writing images with the last light on my eyes—

Zeke’s biceps, cleaved by farmer’s tan. Light and dark sides of a hostile planet.

The dead bird’s charred belly and rubbery feet in rigor mortis.

Zeke in the angriest bedroom of my mind, naked. Alone. Squeezing my paper effigy
unable to part with it.

Clear and vivid as a migraine aura.  And I yelled out to the lunchroom of people…


Where is the bird with a coin-shaped eye
searching for new, tiny lives? Here to record beginnings?

Zeke had guns as any good hunter does. They made sure we’d never forget it.
from spit ball to church to custom gun rack. All he took was my picture,

what comes of me as I form in the swaddle of a darkroom’s curious red light.

Hands up, like naked bones
——————or face under a glare of white camera light?——The card of Estrella.


Let them all see the bright white, borealis of creation

before seeing me die.


Aaron Deutsch received his MFA with distinction from Texas State University, and while a life-changing experience, he took time to travel to place like Egypt, Vietnam, and Azerbaijan. He is now working on his first-full length collection, which addresses how it is we find home all over the world. He teaches creative writing in San Antonio, and loves to read and review books of poetry.


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