The Funeral

Posted: February 4, 2017 in Poetry
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nan-nan-and-her-grandkids-about-1960

THE FUNERAL
By David Allen

The chapel smelled sweet
flowers surrounded the coffin
that displayed my grandmother,
my Nan Nan, with a smile on her lips
that was foreign to the face.
 
She had never looked like that.
Her living smile was more subtle
quick to bend when a barrage of words
annoyingly asked why I was staring at her.
But I knew her secret — she just acted tough.
She was a former police matron who
acquired a thick shell that hid her true feelings.

But I knew better.
She was more than my grandmother,
she was my friend, the pal I ran to
when the drama at home became strained.
I was her first grandchild, her “Little Monkey.”
She always had a banana for me
and was repaid with a puppy dog hug.

The person in the casket
Was not my Nan Nan.
She was always larger than life,
this body was dead.

I was on leave from the Navy
and stood there in my uniform
weirdly feeling I was wearing some
new outfit she’d bought just for me.

Ten rows of chairs, eight across, filled the room.
Few were used; most of the attendees congregated
in the rear of the room, animatedly chatting
about anything other than my why they were there.
They caught up on the adventures of acquaintances
and introduced new additions to their families.

They hushed as a priest led the small group in prayer.
He never knew her, but called her a “Good Soul” anyway.
It was strange to hear him call her Charlotte.
That made it even tougher for me to believe
the still body behind him was my old friend.

When the priest finished, my grandfather,
my Pop Pop, slowly approached the coffin.
His weathered face contorted in a painful frown
as he bent over the top of the casket .
His trembling hand softly touched the corpse’s cheek.
He kissed her and trembled, shaking as he turned.
The mortician gently helped him walk away.

His two sons, Nan Nan’s stepsons , kissed her next.
Then, in an order unrehearsed, it was my turn.
I knelt before the box and fought my fear.
I felt like a child again, worried she’d yell if I stared.
Shaking, I stood and leaned over the coffin.
She was covered with a blanket from the waist down
so no one would see she had but one leg,
the other was amputated years ago, a sacrifice to diabetes.
She was pale. The funeral parlor make-up was unnatural.
I hesitated, then kissed a cold cheek and turned away.
I had touched my lips to a powdered statue.

I walked away sobbing softly to myself
and joined Pop Pop in the foyer, holding him,
his head resting on my shoulder as we watched
others file by the coffin, their conversations resuming
after shaking his hand and heading for the parking lot.
Pop Pop and I were alone after the casket was carried away.
I slowly turned and looked into his sad eyes

“That’s not Nan Nan,” I said
“I know, son,” he sighed. “I know.”

Note: The picture is of Nan Nan, our grandmother, and the Allen kids (l to : David, Donald, Michael, Jean, Kathy, Chuck and Ricky in Nan Nan’s arms). Circa 1960, Roslyn Heights, Long island.

POETRY CONTEST

Posted: January 26, 2017 in Poetry
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POETS!!! Here’s a new contest for you!

The POETRY SOCIETY OF INDIANA
(Indiana State Federation of Poetry Clubs)
2017
39th Annual Fall Rendezvous Poetry Contest

RUNS JULY 1st – SEPTEMBER 1st, 2017

Get the details here:

http://www.isfpc.org/annual-contest.html

MY MUSE COOK

Posted: December 24, 2016 in Poetry
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MY MUSE COOK
By David Allen
 
She reads cookbooks
Like Romance novels,
Dog-earing pages
For future kitchen trysts.
She whips up wonders,
Finessing the recipes,
Adding her signature touch,
Transforming deserts
Like Black Forest Trifle
Into “Oohies” that words
Cannot describe.
She holds kitchen court
With our grandkids,
Crushing Oreo cookies,
Sifting, pouring, stirring.
Flour covered faces and hands
Announce another magic cheesecake
Has been born.

A CHRISTMAS TALE

Posted: December 22, 2016 in Poetry
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A CHRISTMAS TALE
By David Allen
 
This is the giving time of year
To do something for others
Not as well off as you

One of my clearest memories
Of this merry time of year
Has little to do with decorating trees
Unwrapping presents, or a Christmas feast.
It’s the day I sat in my paper’s district office
After helping the manager cover unclaimed routes.
I was 13 and getting ready to bike back
To my family’s housing project home
When I paged through the paper
And casually came to the list of needy families
The Paper – Long island’s Newsday – was sponsoring

I came across a dead-on description of my family’s plight.
There was no doubt the woman with seven children
And a husband who had lost his post office job
Due to self-medicating mental wounds from the war
Was my mom, a suspicion confirmed Christmas morning
When we opened more presents than we’d seen in years,
New toys and clothes, not the hand-me-downs of Christmas past
People unknown to us gave us the best holiday ever

Now, decades later, my wife and I give what we can
To brighten the season for others,
Perhaps hats and gloves for the homeless,
Or bags of food for women and children
Huddled in domestic abuse shelters.
It’s the giving time of year, you see
Time for sharing with those much more needy.

 

 

 

CHRISTMAS TREE

Posted: December 8, 2016 in Poetry
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re-and-tree

CHRISTMAS TREE
By David Allen

Twenty seven Christmases have passed, I know
And all of them had me warm and aglow
With love for the woman who became my wife
My muse, my soulmate, “sticky booggers” for life
(Okay, we spent one apart when I was far out of reach
Preparing a new home for us on a Guam beach)
The picture above shows how my love
Feeling sad for our fallen Christmas tree
Stretched out on the floor in sympathy
It’s the kind of thing she does, you see
And that’s just one of her traits that captured me

Veterans Day Haikus

Posted: November 14, 2016 in Poetry
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Coffee Break  USS Suffolk County (LST 1173)  1967

VETERANS DAY HAIKUS
By David Allen

1.

I’m a veteran
Much thanks for the holiday
But, please, no more wars

2.

It  is quiet now
All along the western front
War wages elsewhere

3.

Ah, this was the war
You promised would “end all wars”
How did that work out?

4.

Veterans have earned
The honors received this day
Not those who sent them to die

5.

We veterans thank you
For all your handshakes and hugs
Now, fund our health care

 

Winding Way

Posted: October 28, 2016 in Poetry
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winding-way

WINDING WAY
By David Allen

There’s a street in town
called Winding Way
that I swear was designed by fiends.
I turned onto it once to find a yard sale
and spent hours lost in a puzzling scene.
No matter the way, straight, left or right,
I passed the same playgrounds, houses and lots.
And when I turned onto a side street ,
like some horror book plot,
it dumped me back on Winding Way.

Confused and dazed, I thought
this was some awful dream.
This is what Hades must be like.
Searching to find some value in life,
I was just spinning my wheels
My whole life was a Winding Way.

But finally, like most fruitless quests,
this one did come to an end.
And I was able to wend my way out
onto a main road, where my growling gut told
me I’d best stop for some food and a drink.
I found a drive-in, but had to skip it when
I read the sign on the “Steak City” board
advertisimg burgers and something called “Phyllis.”

Was this some misspelling for a Philly Steak?
Or was it something more chilling?
Had some poor Phyllis died
On her Winding Way drive
And her body cooked up by some villain?
I didn’t dare ask, and instead just passed
What surely must be the village’s cannibal diner.

 

phyllis-steak

dental-fuss

Dental Fuss
By David Allen

Went to the dentist today
And, as I was being prepped
For another root canal,
I checked out his new goatee.

“So, is that so you won’t
Be recognized when
You go out in public?”
I asked.

Silence.

A pain-filled hour later
I realized I
Never did have
Good comedic timing

INDIANA VOICE JOURNAL

Posted: October 4, 2016 in Poetry
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I am the poetry Editor of the online arts magazine Indiana Voice Journal.

Here’s a link to our October issue, there’s a lot of great poems, fiction and art:

http://www.indianavoicejournal.com/

And here’s my two two poems about Halloween.

http://www.indianavoicejournal.com/2016/10/two-poems-by-david-allen-halloween-and.html

Swinging Mom

WHAT COMES NEXT
 By David Allen
 
I walked toward the bright light
And as it dimmed I saw my mother
Sitting on a swing.
She smiled and asked,
How I liked the trip.
“The trip?” I asked
“Yes, the life you just left.
How’d you like it?”
I was stunned.
“What did you learn this time?” she asked.
 
I struggled to understand what was happening.
My Mom died years ago and moments ago
I had slipped on the stairs
While taking out the garbage.
“Oh, hon, I can see you’re confused.
That wasn’t a smooth transition.”
She rose from the swing and took my hand.
“Life is all about learning,” she said.
“It’s a series of trips towards enlightenment.
How’d you like this last one?”
 
It was then I realized I had died
And was newly alive.
Impressions from my latest life
Flooded my mind and, overwhelmed,
I sank to the ground.
My mother sat next to me.
“It was alright,” I finally stammered.
“I found my muse.
I traveled the world
And had children and grandkids.
And I wrote poetry.
I was happy.”
 
“And what did you learn?”
My mother asked.
Her smile warmed me.
“I learned not to hate,” I said.
“I helped others when I could.
I laughed more.”
“Good,” she said. “You’re progressing.”
 
She squeezed my folded hands.
“Now, do you want to go back?
Or would you like to rest before
Your next lesson?
Some of your family and friends
Are waiting to see you.”
“I’d like to see them, too,” I said.
“But only for a while.
There’s still a lot more to see and do.
Maybe I can make a difference.”
“You already have,” my Mom said.
“Now let’s party for a bit.
We’ve been waiting for you.”
 
Sometime later, she pressed my upper lip
So I’d not remember where I’d been.
And I slowly disappeared.
And a beautiful girl baby was born
To an immigrant couple
Inside the domed city
On Mars.