Fishing for Answers

Posted: October 5, 2022 in Poetry
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By David Allen

There’s a man I always see
standing at the end of the pier
when I take my lunch walk.
He holds a long pole
and occasionally casts
the line into the bay.
There's no bait on the hook.
The creel at his feet is empty.
Almost as empty as the look on his face.
His eyes are fixed on the horizon.

One day I asked him what
he hoped to catch.
Without a glance at me, 
he pulled his line out of the water 
and cast it back with a slight groan.
“I’m fishing for answers,” he said.
“I tried books, schools, the streets, 
and even turned to poetry.

I felt bad for interrupting his search.
But I had one more question.
“Answers to what?” I asked.
“Everything…nothing,” he said.
I walked on as he recast his line.
His search tormented me.
Was there really something there
in the cold, blue waters of life?
The answer to everything
and nothing? 

The answer hit me 
like a slap to the face.
The search is the answer.

I bought a fishing rod yesterday.
There’s plenty of room on the pier.
Care to join us?

Smooth Operation

Posted: May 14, 2022 in Poetry
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Not my operation. Photo is a U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Michael Feddersen/ RELEASED)
                 Smooth Operation
                    By David Allen                 

Nurses sometimes make all the difference
between worry and confidence you'll be all right.
Despite a weird recovery after my fourth spinal operation, 
when I tripped on a cocktail of meds that threw me 
into a disjointed world, where dead friends visited 
my hospital room and doctors sought to study my rare condition,
I began the fifth assault on my spine somehow sure
operation, where the surgeon would make 
a four-inch slit in my back and scrape the bony growth 
exerting pressure on my nerves, and strengthening 
my spine with rods and pins, couldn’t be any worse.

Any qualms I might have harbored were 
allayed by my recovery room nurse. 
She was young and perky and had a smile 
that destroyed any concern I might have.
“My name is Tara,” she said. “And I’ll be 
with you before and after the procedure.“
(“Procedure” seems less threatening than surgery.)

I relaxed and smiled when I read the card 
that she wore on her blouse. 
“How do you feel?” she asked.
“Better than a minute ago,” I answered. 
“Tara, You’re gonna make my pain Gone With the Wind.”
“That’s what I’m here for,” she said,
My wife, laughed and told the nurse I was a punster and a poet 
and often made such strange observations.
“A poet?” the nice nurse asked. “I wrote some in high school.”
She shared what she learned to the sleep doc 
when I was wheeled into the operating room.
“Oh yeah?” he asked, placing a rubber mask over my face.
“Who’s your favorite poet?”
“Today? Bukowski,” I said. “But don’t ask me why.”
“I like the classics, Whitman and Frost,“ he said.
“Now breathe in deeply.”

I awoke several hours later with a new four-inch slit
stitched over a decades-old scar.
 I smiled at a nurse hovering over me.
 I read her name name card on chest and laughed.
“Destiny? “ I repeated her name. “Really?”
She asked if there was anything she could for me.
“Can you tell me what’s my destiny?”I quiped. 
She laughed. “Honey, I don’t even know my own destiny.” 

“Whew,” one of the voices in my head muttered.
“This is going to a cakewalk.” 
And the voices argued throughout the night,
over the meaning of a cakewalk.


Posted: March 3, 2022 in Poetry, war
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By David Allen

A man stands alone
in front of a tank,
delaying its deadly mission
for a few minutes
as bombs rain down
on his Ukrainian town.

A rabid dictator
ordered this war
to rebuild Imperial Russia
and make him its newest Czar.

Democracies pass resolutions
to pick Russia’s pockets,
each president lining up
to wear Chamberlain’s old hat.
It’s a repeat of when Hitler
sought to take over land
lost in the first world war.

Now a 40-mile parade of tanks
rumbled toward Kyiv, as the people
ironically make Molotov cocktails
to stubbornly resist. 

I wonder what former
Soviet Bloc country
Czar Putin will invade next.

Living Forever

Posted: January 11, 2022 in Poetry
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Living Forever
By David Allen

I'm going to live forever.
All I have to do is never
take out the trash.

Sound Weird?
Well, I have it on good authority.
One drunken night in New Orleans,
lost and staggering through
forgotten alleyways,
my friend and I came upon
a palm reader who charged
two bucks to tell my future.

“Well, here’s two bucks for you and…”
“Five for the room?” she asked, smirking.
I was stunned. “How did you know that 
was a line in one of my poems?”
“I’m a seer,” she said. “Give me a hand.”
She slowly traced the lines in my palm.
“You’ll live to the ripe old age of 91,” she said.
Really? Wow, I thought. I had seven more decades 
of rollicking, wild fun ahead of me.

She released my hand and I gave her a tip.
As I turned to leave and find a bar to celebrate,
I heard her wildly cackling behind me.
“It's then you’ll trip and hit your head
on concrete stairs while taking out the trash!” 

Well, the Grim Reaper will have to wait.
I swore right then to never take out the trash.

That was decades ago.
Now, excuse me, a film crew
from a television show
about hoarding is coming over.


Posted: December 24, 2021 in Poetry
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By David Allen

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year,
Kwanza, Hanukah, too, 
This is my holiday poem
For you, you and you!
Let’s remember this December
Other reasons exist
To wish a Festivus for the rest of us,
No matter your bliss.
And, speaking of bliss,
This season marks when
Buddha found his.
Now, isn’t that Zen?
And should we add Saturnalia
To this season’s list?
You see, that old Roman holiday
Was the start of all this.
For, one week in December
The Romans gave a big bash
Where everything was permitted,
Like “The Purge,” thousands cast

To get drunk, damage property,
Injure strangers and friends
One day history will tell us
That’s where “Black Friday” begain.
The holiday was so popular
Early Catholics stole the date
To lure pagans to their churches
So they could seal their fate.

“But War on Christmas is upon us,”
The Faux News anchors scream,
But look not only to Humanists
For raising their spleen.

Hardcore Christians, the Puritans
Once took up the torch
To ban Christmas hokum
No day for their church.
The reason for the season
To me is just this –
Another year’s over
And we are still here

That’s a reason to party
To throw off our fears
To look to the future
With smiles, without tears

To count all our blessings,
Whatever that’s worth,
Because we haven’t yet
Killed our Mother Earth.

Pumpkin Prize

Posted: October 18, 2021 in Poetry
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       Pumpkin Prize
       By David Allen

I’m a bumpkin for pumpkins
pies, bread, and pudding,
and spice in my coffee
on cool Autumn morns.

As I drive around town
I see them on stoops, 
stairs, and porches;
gutted and carved
in Halloween screams.

I wonder if any of the gourd artists   
know the legend of Jack O’Lantern,
the Irish drunkard and fast-talking conman
who scammed Satan during a drinking game
into freeing him from Hades.

The centuries-old myth
claims Jack didn’t realize
the Pearly Gates were also
locked for him and, forlorn,
he begged Satan to take him back.

Satan refused. 
But, admiring Jack’s evil,
presented him an ember
to place inside a hollowed-out pumpkin.

A pumpkin prize 
to light Jack’s endless trek
through the netherworld.

The First Leaf

Posted: October 17, 2021 in Poetry
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The First Leaf
By David Allen 

I am the first leaf to fall,
marking the way for my family 
to follow when the days cool
and the trees evict them.
Some drop straight down 
in a suicidal plunge,
others find a breeze 
and swirl away in a last dance.
Eventually we blanket the lawn. 
creating a colorful carpet
until we shrivel and surrender
to winter's woes.


Toby Tyler

Posted: October 2, 2021 in Poetry
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This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is toby-tyler1-1.jpg
By David Allen

“See the elephants,
see the clowns,
see the county police
shut the circus down”

An editor once said 
my story ledes
were pure poetry.
And I was on a roll
in Fort Wayne in 1986.
I was responsible for kicking 
the Toby Tyler Circus out of town. 
and had tons of fun doing it.

The small-time circus
was slated to set 
up its tents in the city’s
Coliseum parking lot..
But the penny-pinching 
pachyderm show had left 
a path of collapsing bleachers
and broken bones in its wake..

“If the circus is coming to town
it better stop by an insurance office first,” 
I chuckled as I wrote..

Citing lack of adequate insurance,
the city balked and the one-ring 
sorry excuse for a great show
searched for a new local venue.

t finally found a farm lot
just north of the city.

“There was a bunch of midgets
putting up a tent in my backyard,”
a bewildered man who rented 
a house on the property said.
The lot owner neglected to
tell him the circus was coming.

About 150 spectators saw
the opening act before police 
closed the circus down.
It left town that night

So, yeah, I killed the circus,
And all the clowns, elephants,
lions, tigers, and bears.

Oh my!

NOTE: This one of three of my poems included in The Last Stanza Poetry Journal (6).  It's a great quarterly  anthology. Get your copy from Amazon.


Posted: September 30, 2021 in Poetry
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By David Allen

For decades I was 
the elephant in the room,
jotting down what I saw and heard
when I attended trials and responded
to wrecks, fires, murders and mayhem..
I typed up what I saw and heard
and editors splashed the stories
across newspaper pages.

We were the community’s memory.

I spent 20 years 
reporting in the Far East.
On the fiftieth anniversary
of the War in the Pacific
I interviewed scores of veterans,
sharing their memories of  those
harrowing, island-hopping days.

A decade ago I retired
from newspapers and
threw myself into poetry,
remembering in verse
all I experienced
in a life full of words.

NOTE: This is one of three poems of mine featured In the new issue of The Last Stanza Poetry Journal (Issue six). It's an excellent magazine. Get it at

Riding the Elephant

Posted: September 28, 2021 in Poetry
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By David Allen

Thailand’s Sin City glowed at night,
neon signs lit Pattaya’s streets packed
with American sailors and Marines
who jostled European tourists seeking
drugs, booze and unbridled sex.

I was there to report on
joint military maneuvers,
but was struck silly
by the maneuvers of
the "Buy-Me-Drinky”' gals
dressed in schoolgirl uniforms,
plaid skirts and light blue blouses.
They performed bumps and grinds
in club doorways, promising wild sex.

Scantily clad waitresses in the hotel lobby
knelt next to my chair, gingerly holding
cups to my lips as I sipped my drinks.
Outside, the streets sported cocktail bus-pubs,
and older prostitutes called from darkened doorways,
that hid their age-warped bodies, selling themselves
for a few Thai bahts or Yankee bucks.

I spent most of my time in my hotel room
writing about how the day’s exercise went,
sending the story to my editors in Tokyo,
calling my wife a half ocean away,
and fending off a hallway hostess
who wanted to give me an hour of
"the best ever sexual deep massage."

In the hotel restaurant I saw
a family with two children
and asked my interpreter
where they would go for fun.
Besides a few religious shrines,
where would a tourist in
Sin City take a child?
Even the beautiful beaches
swarmed with sex.

He laughed and drove me to a zoo
where children perched on baby elephants
that were led around a small circular track.
He was taken aback when I asked
if I could scramble atop one and go for a ride.
I didn’t care about seeming silly and laughed
as I climbed up on Dumbo for what was
the highpoint of my trip to Thailand’s
version of Sodom and Gomorrah

NOTE: This is one of three poems of mine in the new Last Stanza Poetry Journal (Vol 6). Be sure to order from Amazon.