GRAVEDIGGERS

Posted: April 22, 2014 in Poetry
Tags: , ,

gravediggers

GRAVEDIGGERS

The grave was dug almost five feet deep,
Barely two feet wide,
Maybe two-and-a-half feet long.
Steve and I sweated over that grave,
Blistering our hands,
Breaking his heart.
The product of his seed would be planted there,
A day-old son he never saw.
He had never wanted a child,
But when Marylou left him
She took more than her clothes.
A son, premature, but strong
Except for bad lungs.
Steve didn’t know what to think.
At first he was pretty excited,
It’s not every day you have a son,
Even though he’ll call some other dude dad.
The birthday was a good day.
The next, as I awoke and shuffled to the head,
I passed Steve, sobbing, telephone clutched in his shaking hand.
His baby had died unexpectedly in the night –
Damn the night!
Steve was in a fog for days,
Almost found his way out,
But then the minister of the tiny
Episcopal church down the road
Asked if Steve would dig the grave.
“After all, it was your kid,” he said.
“It will save Marylou some money.”
We dug that grave,
Four hours in the hot sun,
Ninety degrees, no shade,
With shovels, pickax,
Fence post digger,
Smoothing the sides,
Perfect ninety degree angles,
Making ready for what the minister called
“The big send off.”
As if the baby’s soul was going to wait
For his blessings before it hiked to Heaven.
Dirty and tired, we left,
Met the funeral party at the graveyard gate
As we returned the minister’s tools.
We spoke civilly, Marylou looked good.
We went home, washed and took naps.
The funeral went on without us,
I had another poem
And Steve had done his penance.

By David Allen

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(god) DAMMIT

Sitting here
Drinking coffee,
Scarfing down
A cheese Danish,
Waiting for the atheists
To arrive.
A movie night
With the Okinawa
Freethought Society,
Gonna watch a flick
About how religion’s
“The Root of All Evil,”
By Richard Dawkins.
But it’s already 8 p.m.
And no one’s
Showed up yet.
Goddamit!
Where the hell
Are they?

HACAT_V44

Haymymarket section_header

THE PROVOCATEUR AND THE ANARCHIST
(Haymarket Riot 1886)

Gotta admit
it worked like a charm.
Look at those four men up there,
dressed in white robes on the gallows stage.
Anarchist scum will think twice now
about holding their protests in Chicago.

Well, it’s almost time.
The trial’s over and, even though
I was at home playing cards when the bomb
turned Haymarket into a slaughter house,
They came for me any way.
Doesn’t matter, I’m proud
to fight and die for the working man.

The money was good,
but I would have thrown
the bomb for nothing.
That foreign America-hating
scum has no business striking
our slaughterhouses and mills.
Forty hour weeks? Lazy bums.
If you don’t like the work conditions, quit.

Hanging us won’t stop the movement.
We will succeed in getting decent hours and pay.
Sure, we anarchists advocated roughing up scabs,
but we don’t sanction killing, not like the cops.
Ah, I see the hoods for our heads, it’s coming soon,
the curtain’s about to be drawn.

I’m sorry some cops got killed,
but, hey, that’s the way it goes sometimes.
Broke the spirit of the strikers though.
Gave us the excuse to round up the radicals.
Ah, last words. Won’t be long now.

I’m glad the paper spelled my name right
and reported I asked the governor for no pardon.
Last words? Sure. “Today is a great day.
I am proud to die.”

What’d he say?
Damn foreigners don’t even speak English.
Whoa! Look at ‘em drop. See the legs kick.
It all worked out in the end.

By David Allen

classic-car-week-rattvik-vw-beetle

AN OLD VOLKSWAGEN WONDERS

Today, my master called me a “junker”
And I cannot understand why.
I am not one of those dive bombers
The Nazis used over Britain,
And I certainly am no fancy watch.
And though I believe Hugo Junkers,
The German inventor, was a great man,
He had nothing to do with me.

I also know nothing of the “Junkers”
In the Star Wars movie I once saw at
A country Drive-in theater.
They were people from the
Junk planet of Lotho Minor
Who armed themselves with anything
They could find from the heaps of garbage that
Other planets dumped on their polluted orb.

And I certainly have nothing in common
With the Junker class of Germany,
The so-called “Country squires,”
The landowner elite who once ruled Prussia
And controlled the military until Hitler came along.
No, I am just a Beetle, a Bug, a car for the people
Cheap, simple – not one of those fancy-pants
Porsche, Audi and BMWs.

But, today my owner, the fourth or fifth I’ve had
(it’s hard to keep track), said he might
Turn me in for some “Cash for Junkers” program.
Some call it “Cash for Clunkers,” but I am neither.
I am still road worthy, though there’s some
Rusted through spots on my floorboard
That turn into puddles when driving
Through washed out country lanes.

And, so what If my antenna
Was snapped off by my master’s son
Who used it as a light saber in some silly game?
The radio doesn’t work anyway
And only received AM stations when it did.
I don’t understand why it has come to this
I can still go. I’m no Junker
I’m merely old.

By David Allen

MY HOWL

Posted: April 14, 2014 in Poetry
Tags: , , , ,

DillPoet1

MY HOWL

I saw the best pups of my litter
petted, pawed at, pulled
from Mom’s teat too soon.
crammed in cages, placed on view,
prices posted on paper-lined lairs,
dens barely large enough to
turn around in. Sold to strangers,
shampooed, collared, carted away
from cagemates in cars, transported
to new dens ruled by bipeds.
Lonely without litter mates,
we tried to play puppy games.
But our friendly greeting bites
were met with shrill shouts,
“No bite! No bite!”
No bite?
What do they want us to do?
Lie still while the world awaits,
to taste, to smell, to roll in?
Hide our excitement? Be rude?
Passively accept the patting hand,
the petting massage, with
no teeth? To bite the hand
that feeds you is not a crime,
but a compliment. We do not tear at their flesh,
but mouth them, teeth and tongue
become a part of them, forming a We.
Ahh, but bipeds think too slow and
cannot broadcast their thoughts,
or receive, no matter how hard we try to send.
They cannot talk to wind, to leaves, to grass,
to the pack with thoughts.
They bark, but never bite.
What sin did they commit to
have to keep their thoughts to themselves?
Bipeds! Hapless bipeds! You treat my brothers sorely,
You speak with shouts and coos, commands and tempt
us with treats, but we know of Pavlov and
his bells. We trained him. Who was it got to eat?
Bipeds! You can chain us, but never own us.
You can cage our bodies, but our minds run free.
Bipeds! We will shake your hand, come when called,
Chase your balls, catch your Frisbees.
But remember always, it’s our choice
when to obey and when to run.
The wild dog you invited to share
your campfire is within us still.
Bipeds! Hear our growls. Know
you may drive some of us crazy,
you may take the mad ones, the
outcast, abandoned ones away,
cage us together one last time
in death row kennels;
put us to that never waking sleep,
to sleep, perchance to dream, of freedom
that you can never know.
Bipeds! You may force us to
act the fool; dress us as clowns,
make us look ridiculous,
cut our hair in weird designs,
dye our ears, bob our tails, but
you cannot conquer our spirit.
For — I saw the best pups of my litter,
spirit-filled, running free, despite leash and cage.
For we are what you bipeds can never be –
We are dogs!

By Dylan, the Poetry Dog
English Translation by David Allen

Old Schoolhouse 1

DRIVING AIMLESSLY
By David Allen

I’m driving around
Aimlessly trying to drown
My inner tears.
It’s what I do
Instead of drinking
The pain away.

A new hurt
Came today
From my eldest son,
Who says, “we’re done.”
After almost 31 years,
Most spent in mental combat
To undo the damage done
By his crazy Mom,
She’s finally won.
My son believes all of her lies.

I pass fields of corn
And leaning, faded barns,
Trying to focus
On how he lost his way.

Then, the ruins of a rural
One-room, brick schoolhouse
Causes me to pause.
Of course, I think,
He’s boarded himself in
And, rambling through the rubble
Of a mind tortured by
The psychosis inherited
From his Mom,
He has lashed out
At the one stable
Supporting pillar
In his crumbling life.

I want to turn around,
Speed to his house,
Comfort him,
Help repair the damaged
Walls of his mind;
Unboard the windows
So he can see out.

But I don’t.
I drive on.
I am done, too.

REUNION

Posted: April 10, 2014 in Poetry, Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,

Sailorz 001

PREPARING FOR THE REUNION

This will be strange.
Forty-six years after
Giving my last salute
On the quarterdeck,
I am embarking
On a road cruise
Back to the scene
Of many crimes –
A reunion with shipmates
Far removed from the
Liberty calls of our youth.

What should I pack?
And what should
I leave behind?

Old pictures, for sure;
Salty sailors on the fantail
Sipping coffee,
Sharing the scuttlebutt;
Rum and coke sodden smiles
Grouped around a bottle-laden
Table at the Lucky Seven,
The warm tropical air
Of Old San Juan
Still soothes my soul.

And look, here’s a picture
Of me astride a pony
In a Panama City park,
Taken the same day
During a train ride back
To the ship when one of
Our drunken crew
Showed us how the whore
At some mildewed club
Showed us how to
Smoke a cigarette with her ass
And we pushed him
Into the next car, filled
With officers and
Panamanian locals.

I might also take
The two pieces of my uniform
That survived the years.
The stained white short-sleeved blouse
(we didn’t call the shirts)
I wore on liberty –
A good two sizes too small
For me now –
And the shiny silver ship’s
Belt buckle I still
Wear with my jeans.

But what should I share
About the after-life?

Would they be offended
By my anti-war work?
The 36-year adventure
As a journalist, the last
Nineteen covering
The misdeeds of American
Servicemen on the islands
Of Guam and Okinawa?

I’m not sure.

And maybe I should
Omit the stories of the Glebe,
Communal days in Northern Virginia,
LSD parties in the pasture,
Scaring the cattle and
Daffodil, my goat.
I am sure tales of the broken
Marriage and custody wars,
The frustrated years
Raising preschool kids
On my own, and the joyous
Later times spoiling
Their children, would ring
Familiar bells.

But I wonder what they’d think
Of open mic poetry nights
In the Gate Two Street bars
Outside the sprawling air base
On Okinawa?
(I did write poems back
In the sailing days,
But shared them
With a select few.)

I don’t know,
It’s hard to say how
This reunion will play out.
Will it reunite, rekindle
Old friendships?
Or underline why we
All went our separate,
Different ways,
Once I left the Grey Lady,
Striding down the gangplank,
Seabag over my shoulder,
Smiling as the quarterdeck bell
Rang and the Officer of the Deck
Proclaimed, “David Allen,
Departing.”

By David Allen
February 2014

NOTE: This is a poem I wrote when Last Stanza leader Jenny Anderson Kalahar said we should get ready to resume our biweekly poetry meetings and suggested we write a poem about reunions — since Last Stanza has been on a one-year hiatus, primarily due to my confrontation with cancer. We haven’t set meeting dates yet, but here’s my poem.

MAG 3

MAG 5

MAG 6

MAG 7

One challenge I love to set for myself is to collect a handful of magnetic letters at random from a box and form a poem. If you haven’t tried this, you should. It’s a great way to explore the inner canyons of your mind. You’ll be surprised at what emerges. These are some of the poems included in my book, “The Story So Far.” It’s available in Amazon paperback and Kindle formats. Or, you can get a signed copy from me by emailing me at david@davidallen.nu.

Boing 747 London - Bangkok

SOMEWHERE OVER THE PACIFIC

It takes all kinds
crammed into economy class
on this massive 747
hurtling over the Pacific.
Sleep escapes us,
the evening meal and snacks
are devoured,
the feature films
have played out.
Assigned the window seat,
I have already made my two
seatmates stand
for my trips to the head.
And now,
bored,
sleepless,
I turn on the light
to read some Bukowski:

“lovely women walk by
with big hot hips
and warm buttocks and
tight hot everything
praying to be loved
and I don’t even exist.”

The pretty Filipina
sitting next to me,
her petite body comfortably fitting
into the middle seat,
always has a nice smile
when I pass my trash
to the aisle.
She takes note of me turning on
the light and
slips her glasses carefully
out of a leather case
and draws a book
from the seat pocket.
I take a glance,
the Bible;
she turns to Acts 3,4.
I wonder what she’s reading.

The young Japanese man
in the aisle seat
turns on his light
and opens the latest
edition of Popular Science.
He reads about “What’s New.”

We are all stereotypes –
the dirty old man/poet,
the devout Catholic Filipina,
and the science-minded Japanese –
on our way
to someplace else,
coming from
over there.

COMPARING OUR MEDS

Decades ago
We gathered
And compared
Our favorite drugs,
Which pill sent us soaring,
(“One pill makes you larger,”
The Airplane sang),
And which pill made us retarded?
(“And one pill makes you small?”)
Which pills were discarded
Because they didn’t
Do anything at all?
Flash forward to now
Where we find the balding heads
Sitting on Jim’s back porch,
Listening to him play
Old standards on his squeeze box
While we compare the new pills
That thin our blood
And reduce our cholesterol
And keep our hearts –
And our lives –
On a regular beat.

By David Allen