Checker Cab


It was the one story

my dad never told

even though his 

greatest pleasure

was holding forth

at the dinner table—

a cigar in one hand,

forked morsel in the other.


Dad drove a Checker cab

the graveyard shift

in New York City.

A fleet car—

he could never afford 

the medallion.

But to hear him tell it

his cab was the hottest property


in the early morning city—

attracting great names

like Vegas attracts high rollers.

Over the years, he’d driven

Spencer Tracy, Rock Hudson,

and all of the Rat Pack.

Marilyn once pecked his cheek

rather than pay her fare,


and he had to help the doorman at the Plaza

extract Mantle and Ford

from the back seat—

“drunk as skunks.”

Sinatra, he told us, never rode 

with the same dame twice,

and Jackie Gleason

would exit with a flourish—


“And away we go.”

He’d tell us of the ordinary 

people that hailed his taxi

at 4 AM

pleading their cases like bookies

hawking tout sheets at Belmont.

And the tips—

from nickels and dimes


to bank-fresh fifties.

We knew he made most

of it up—

but dad was true to a code.

There was a tiny bit of truth

in every tale.

But he never told 

us why he came home that morning


in the middle of his shift,

with blood stains on his work

clothes. He chained smoked

Camels—as he tried to still

the shakes

with a few shots of basement rye

and the longest shower

the man had ever taken.

Steve Deutsch lives in State College, PA. Some of his recent publications have or will appear in Pirene’s Fountain, Evening Street Review, Schuylkill Valley Journal, Bookends Review, Waymark Literary, The Red Eft Review, Thimble, The Mark Review, Boston Literary Magazine, Rat’s Ass Review, RavensPerch,  MacQueen’s,  8 Poems,  Louisiana Lit,  Burning-word Literary Journal, Third Wednesday, Softblow, and the Muddy River Poetry Review. Steve was nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize. His Chapbook, “Perhaps You Can,” was published in 2019 by Kelsay Press. His full length book, Persistence of Memory was published in 2020 by Kelsay. Steve’s third book of poetry, Going, Going, Gone, was just accepted for publication.