June Thoughts

Posted: June 10, 2018 in Poetry
Tags: , , , ,

 

Memorial-Day-Images-2018
memorialdaypictures.org

JUNE THOUGHTS
By David Allen

June is the month
That comes between
The holiday for heroes
Who died protecting
The freedoms guaranteed
By the second holiday.
 
The deadly shots of the first
Turn into fireworks for the second.

Decades ago, I first wondered ,
While listening to Marines
Jaw drunkenly  in a San Juan bar
About the horrors of Vietnam,
Whether our brave military dead
Might be rolling in their graves.

Did they feel forgotten and betrayed
By the politicians who sent them to die
In a nightmare conflict that had nothing
To do with protecting their freedoms at home?

I was just a lucky sailor sent to do my two years
Of active duty on a rusting Landing Ship
That took war-hardened Marines on
Pleasure cruises, supposedly protecting
The Caribbean against Communism.

Mostly, we just drank and whored
And forgot about the still-raging blood fest
That would darken the souls of some veteran’s
Years after their uniforms were packed away.

This June I continue to scratch my head
Wondering what the dead from recent war-torn fronts
May feel about dying for oil, religion, despots and
The oligarchs that control the shifting sands
Of history from behind the screens.

 

 

69028a

SCATTERED
By David Allen

While driving down Anderson’s miles
Of struggling stores and an empty mall,
I realized the name of the four-lane road
Was appropriately named Scatterfield.
The strip malls are pocked with “closing” signs
And bright lights shining on empty shelves.
Even the pawn shop has given up any hope
Of making money from jobless clerks
Hocking their futures for a few bucks
To buy a gallon of milk at the Dollar Store.
Success seems scattered on Scatterfield.
A flea market dominates a once thriving strip.
Nearby, cheap, damaged bulk items are stocked
In a former brand name big box store.

The drivers negotiating the pot-holed boulevard
Scatter down Scatterfield, many on their way
To drug stores, cut-rate medical mills,
“No Credit Needed” used car lots,
And the always crowded Goodwill.

I drive on, shake my head and wonder
Why our country’s economic boom
Has bypassed this Middle American mess
Until I realize I missed my turn a mile back.
I’m scatterbrained on Scatterfield.

 

The Boot

Posted: May 28, 2018 in Poetry
Tags: , , , ,

boot

THE BOOT
By David Allen

The worn combat boot
Stands alone in the sand
Weather-baked faded leather,
Toe scraped and colorless,
It’s mate nowhere to be seen.
Laced halfway, the loose strands
Fall to the ground, run under the heel
And then trail off in the white sand.
The sweltering sun creates a lonesome shadow.

Is this some landing beach
From a decades-old Pacific war?
Or a desert scene from a more recent conflict?
The boot is not saying
It just stands at attention
Proud, perhaps, that it hasn’t fallen.
It keeps watch over something.

I stare and wonder where the wearer went
Was he a survivor, blown out of his boot
By a mine — now footless but free?
Or was the boot planted here
To honor a fallen friend?
The boot is still not talking
It just stands there, silent,
Leaving it’s meaning
To whoever meanders by.

yard sale

WHATCHA LOOKIN’ FOR?
By David Allen

Cruisin’ slow through the neighborhood,
Causing my passenger to mutter,
“Whatcha lookin’ for, some sign from God?”

Nah, I’m lookin’ for
A sign for a yard —
Sale, that is,
Some place where I can rummage
Through someone else’s life,
Examine the pieces of their past,
Old books with broken spines
And underlined passages
That once meant more
Than the 25 cent sticker
Pasted on the cover’s corner;
Maybe a video in a format
Almost as forgotten as
The romantic night on the couch
Munching more than popcorn;
Or a toolbelt retired
From the job at the shuttered mill
In the aging town with overgrown lots
As empty as the old lady’s eyes
As she sells frayed towels in faded colors
And her creaking rocker.
The grandchildren she sang to sleep are gone.
What else might I find?
Maybe a dented bicycle helmet,
Reminder of a scary night in the ER;
Fishing gear sold by the wheelchair
Bound diabetic amputee;
Cookbooks with place holders
Marking recipes long forgotten
By the widow who dines alone.

Yeah, I’m lookin’ for a yard sign marking
Some place with memories for sale,
Some place where I can lose myself
In someone else’s dimming past
As I run away from my own.

NOTE: Schedulding our first major yardsailing trip thie weekend with my Muse. Reminded me of this poem I wrote a few years ago.

Emojis

Posted: May 14, 2018 in Poetry
Tags: , , , , ,

images

EMOJIS
By David Allen

There they are again —
Thumbs Up, Smiley, Wow, and Anger,
All waiting for me to choose one
As a picture comment of my feelings
About a Facebook post.
But what do they really mean?
Is  Smiley laughing at the humor posted,
Or at the user who dumbly shared it?
And is Wow amazed at the post’s incredible insight,
Or that someone would fall for such nonsense?
And Anger? Who is it directed at?
Is it the hilarious post about dimwitted Trump,
Or the poster for publishing such treasonous stuff?
Take your pick.

Emojis, like the words they seek to replace,
Mean what you read into them.
It’s another gift from the Japanese
Who confound us with “Japlish,”
The English they use on tee shirts, signs
And notebook covers, that confound
Us with their unintentional Zen.
They were born in Japan,
The word means “picture character.”
Years before Zuckerberg possessed our souls.

In the late 1990s, Tokyo Thumbalinas
Ruled the net, speedily posting messages
On cell phones, choosing an emoji
To quickly share their feelings.

At first, just a dozen or so yellow-faced emojis were created
Now there are thousands used internationally.

 

The Leaves

Posted: May 12, 2018 in Poetry
Tags: , , , ,

leaves-62818__340

THE LEAVES
By David Allen

On the last day of April
I raked the leaves of Autumn
That had piled around my home
When they were given a reprieve
From a November pyre
While I recovered from
An operation on my spine.
The oak leaves found a refuge
Piled high against my walls
Blown there by brisk winter winds
Which saved them from the snow.

So, feeling I was able, I ambled
To my backyard, armed with
Two rakes and a cold ice tea.
And I attacked the dry mounds
Raking the leaves away,
Enjoying the exercise on
A welcomed sunny day.
I heaped the dry, mildewed mess
Into one large heap and added twigs
And woody garbage I thought
Would serve as a gala bonfire
To celebrate my long-sought victory.

But no, the forecast calls for
A heat wave, we’re “red flagged”
There’s danger in the dry air
Outdoor fires could quickly spread.

And so, the leaf pile sits there
A foliage fiend thumbing its nose
A the raker warrior at the window
Swallowing a handful of aspirin
While the nightly forecast calls
For the hot day to be followed
By two days of flooding rain.

10350610_762891203777840_6690409889786655021_n

Here’s a fun poetry prompt for April 30, the last day of National Poetry Month

At the Last Stanza, a poetry group that meets twice a month, we always assign a challenge for our next meeting. Last week’s challenge was to go to a bookcase and write a poem based on what you have on the shelves. Ready, set, go —

Here’s the poem I wrote:

THE SPAWN OF STEPHEN KING
By David Allen

The spawn of Stephen King
dwell in my living room
On the top two shelves
Of the wall of books
It’s scary sometimes.

At Four Past Midnight I can hear
The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon
Under the Dome in Misery moan
About The Drawing of the Three
In the Pet Cemetery.

The Tommy Knockers
Hide behind a huge Dream Catcher
As The Regulators worry about Carrie,
A marathon runner who failed
To cross The Green Mile.

When she failed to end Gerald’s Game,
She refused to eat at the Feast of Fear
The diet progressively turned her Thinner
Until she was little more
Than a Bag of Bones.

On the second shelf I saw Christine,
who screamed From a Buick 8,
Careening along the Roadwork
Towards The Wastelands where
Ghouls there waited in The Dark Half,
Watching It reach The Dead Zone.

That’s where Nightmares and Dreamscapes
Present naked Fear Itself, as clouds
Turn the scene to Full Dark, No Stars.
A bit left of the chaos, Needful Things
Also waited in Desperation.

There, inside the Black House, where on 11-22-63
Doctor Sleep remembered Different Seasons,
Firestarter, an arsonist hired by King,
Burned Cujo during a sacrificial rite on
The Cycle of the Werewolf.

On the far left, hiding behind a pile of paperbacks,
Hardbacks announce the Skeleton Crew kneels
Before The Eye of a Dragon, presenting
A tribute to The Talisman who serves
A  Wizard and Glass eyes.

But that’s Lisey’s Story
About Mr. Mercedes and
The Duma Key and I’m
Saving that for a stormy night.

 

LUNCH
AMBASSADOR’S LUNCH
By David Allen

What’s wrong
with this picture?
The U.S. Ambassador
to Japan is to address
Okinawa business leaders
at a lunch today and
here we are in the press corral
sitting at roped off tables
watching everyone else
eat while we sip our water
and wait for the ambassador
to wipe his lips and
nod in thanks for
the pleasant introduction
from the governor
and spin a speech
about how great
the U.S.-Japan alliance is.
Meanwhile, the press’s unfed
stomachs rumble.
We weren’t fed and
a good free meal
is the major reason I came.

Davidreads

WHAT D’YA DO?
By David Allen

It was a great night
at the Eat Write Café.
About a dozen poets,
fueled by cold beer
and raw feelings that filled
the pages they clutched as they
climbed the stage steps,
shared their poems
with the Friday night crowd.

While they read, I paced fidgety
at the rear of the room, smiling
whenever the barmaid passed
with tray full of beer for the tables.
I had already read and I was like
a punch-drunk pug anxious
to get back in the ring.

Out of the corner of my eye
I saw a young man with a
severe Marine haircut
climb off a stool at the bar
and walk toward me with
a napkin in an outstretched hand.

“Hey, man, I just wrote this,” he shyly said,
handing me the ink-stained tissue.
“Think I can read?”
“Sure,” I said and read his poem.
It was short, about a dozen lines,
a wavy scrawl with some crossed-out words
about a lost love, left behind at some
Philippine back street shanty.

He slowly got up on stage
when the emcee, “The Mic,” asked
If anyone new wanted to share.
When the young Marine read,
there was a respectful silence.
The crowd clapped and roared
their approval when he smiled
and shyly left the stage.

Later, he bought me a beer,
thanking me for the chance to share.
“I sometimes write, but the guys in my squad
make fun of it,” he said. “They think it’s gay.”
“Screw ‘em,” I said. “No one understands poets.
We have to write like we have to breathe.”

We talked on, joined by other poets
downing mugs of inspiration.
They were Marines, Airmen,
Sailors and soldiers, civilian teachers,
contractors and older Americans who had made
Okinawa their home. Gathering
to share their addiction to the printed word.
They encouraged him to continue writing.

After a few more beers, the young poet
turned to me, saying he could tell by my beard
and graying, long hair that I was obviously
not a member of the military.
“What do you do?” he asked.

I smiled and drained my Guinness.

“Yeah,” I mused. “What d’ya do?”

 

Buy my books! The Story So Far and (more) are available at Amazon.com.

https://www.amazon.com/David-Allen/e/B00DT6TM7Y?ref_=pe_1724030_132998060

Islands of Thieves

Posted: March 16, 2018 in Prose
Tags: ,

Okay, my prolific poet/novelist friend, Jenny, makes me ashamed that I never finished my novel about newspapering and searching for answers in the Far East. So, I am going try to kick this thing into gear again. Below is my first chapter. tell me what you think.

No matter what happens, newspapers will always break your fucking heart –
                                                Paul Sann, former executive editor, New York Post

CHAPTER ONE

“I quit!” Jacob Riley shouted as he stormed into his editor’s office. Hank Christian was hunched over a cup of black coffee and an illicit cigarette, reading the competing morning paper. He made no motion to acknowledge Jake’s presence.

“Goddammit, I said I quit!”

“You know what I’d like?”  Christian asked, still not turning to Jake or taking his attention from the paper. “I’d like an office with a door. A real office where people would have to knock first, with maybe a window so I could look up and see who’s coming at me before they barge in and disturb my morning. That’s what I’d like.”

Jake took three steps to the far corner of Christian’s cubicle and poured himself a cup of coffee from the pot, which always seemed half full. He sat at the edge of the small table.

“I mean it, Hank. This business is just too depressing.” He took a sip of Christian’s special blend of Cafe Noisette and Colombian Supremo and launched into the morning’s diatribe.

“Shit, I can deal with the murder of the month, child molesters, mother rapists, random and not-so-random drive-by shootings, disasters and diseases, scandals and scams, fires, floods, and famine. But I can’t watch newspapers die,” he said.

“You alliterate too much,” Christian mumbled, slashing at a column in the paper in front of him with a red felt tip pen.

Jake didn’t listen to him; he was on a roll.

“I can’t stand this kind of slow, painful death,” he said. “I can’t stand fucking story quotas, bullshit editors paying more attention to bullshit readership surveys than what’s news and what’s fluff. Man, they’re taking all the fun out of newspapers!”

Jake took another sip of coffee and, without looking to see if Christian was paying any attention, continued. “And now, damn it, the suits are downsizing Metro. Cut three FTE’s, they say. Full-time Employees, shit, they can’t even call them people. Did you see the memo, Hank? It’s hitting everyone — slash manpower by 25 percent, consolidate beats, bonuses for early retirement.

“Downsizing, shit!” he yelled. “They’re gutting the goddamn paper!”

Christian looked up from his paper and turned to Riley. “You kiss your mother with that mouth, son?”

The stocky metro editor was only seven years older, but the father-son relationship fit. Jacob Riley, a short, wiry redheaded Yankee from New York had never grown up. At 44, in faded blue jeans, a blue chambray work shirt, and a wide, wild, flower print tie, he easily passed for someone in his early 30s.  Hank Christian, conversely, had grown old fast in a business that had more than its share of alcoholics, failed marriages, ulcers and hair loss — all problems Christian embraced as small price to pay for the privilege of being a newspaperman. A native of the South, he was a paunchy newspaper gypsy in brown corduroy baggy pants, blue shirt, striped tie and a brown cardigan sweater.

“Calm down, Jake,” Christian said. “You’re not involved in this. Your job’s safe.”

“Sure it is,” Jake said. “It just means getting more shit assignments the cubs should be doing. After 18 years you’d think I’d seen the last of obits.”

“You can do it in your sleep,” Christian said, still giving more attention to the newspaper in hand than the cranky writer. “What’s the big deal?”

“The big deal is the better you are around here the more you have to do because of the incompetent deadwood we’re getting from the J-schools. Goddammit, Hank, they force out the veterans and then hire some J-school pukes who couldn’t find a lead if it was biting them in the ass — and at half the salary. Everything’s bottom-line, nobody gives a good goddamn about news anymore.”

“That’s why we hold on to people like you,” Christian said.

“Yeah, bleed me dry until they find some reason to can me so they can divide my salary between two J-school kids.” Jake, who had started working on weeklies when still in high school and majored in history in college, made slashing motions with his hands, holding an invisible knife that cut his wrists. He held his arms out in a Christ-like pose and looked down at his right wrist as if he was watching the blood drip to the floor.

“They’re killing me! J-School pukes! Damn it, Hank, Evans has been here two years and still can’t write a simple city council story.”

“That’s why he’s on the cultural affairs beat,” Christian said.

“You mean the suck-ass beat,” Jake said. “And most of what he covers is the Heritage of the Month, mostly African-American and Hispanic community news. Couldn’t have anything to do the fact he’s black, does it?”

“Naw,” Christian shrugged. “It has to do with the fact he can’t write a simple city council story and no one’s going to criticize his stories about Black Heritage Month because he’s black,” Christian said. “Jesus, Jake, lighten up a little, will you? I’ve got to finish going over the morning rag to see what we missed.”

Christian turned back to the paper, the Morning Advertiser-Proponent. He had slashed in red at columns of stories the afternoon Dispatcher-Press had the day before. Broad red exclamation marks marred two of the stories.

“How the hell did Franco miss the farm truck accident on the interstate yesterday?” he asked. “A pickup full of chickens, feathers flying and cars careening all over the place, cops chasing after squawking hens. You could’ve written the hell out of that — a real slice of life piece.”

“Franco said she heard the report on the police scanner and passed on it,” Jake said, watching Christian’s Camel burn its way toward the editor’s nicotine-stained fingers. There was a new rule banning smoking in the building, but Christian claimed his cubicle was a ban-free zone.

“She said there wasn’t anybody injured, so didn’t think there was a story.  The only photog on duty was too busy taking a picture of some new French chef at the Hilton for Lifestyles.”

“No story, Jesus!” Christian snuffed the Camel out in an overflowing ashtray and rooted around his desk, looking for something. “Where’s my Maalox?”

Jake watched his editor slam desk drawers and move piles of paper from one place on his desk to another in a vain search for the blue bottle Jake had seen sitting next to the coffee pot a moment ago. He liked it when Christian’s Buddha-like demeanor dissolved in an ulceric rage.

“I know I had a bottle here somewhere,” Christian said, looking in the bottom drawer for the third time.  “You know, if I had a decent sized office — something with a door to keep interlopers out — I’d know where everything was.”

Jake snatched the bottle and threw it on Christian’s desk. “Here you go,” he said.

“Thanks.” Christian quickly twisted the cap off and drank half the bottle in a single gulp. He made the kind of face a four-year-old makes when given a spoon of cough medicine.

“Hits the spot,” he said.

“You ever think of getting that treated?”  Jake asked, smiling at the chalky mustache the Maalox made on Christian’s upper lip. “You gotta have a hole the size of a quarter in your stomach.”

“Why?  The doctor would only tell me to give up coffee and cigarettes and booze. There’d be nothing left to live for.”

“What about sex?”  Jake asked.

“You forgot I’m married,” his boss answered. “Gave that up a long time ago. ”

Their laughter was cut short by a timid knock on the plastic wall of the cubicle.

“Yes?” Christian asked.

“Uh, Mac wants to know if you’re going to the morning editorial meeting,” a frail woman in her early 20s said. “It started about five minutes ago.”

“Tell Mac to go, he wants my job anyway,” Christian said. “Hell, those meetings are too depressing anyway.”

“You want me to tell him all that?” the woman asked.

“No, just tell him I’m busy chewing out one of the reporters. He’ll love that.”

“But he won’t believe it, Hank,” Jake said. “You’d better go. If the suits come up with one of their stupid story ideas, Mac will come back to us with it. At least you try to deflect them.”

“Guess you’re right,” Christian said, standing. He moved with a grace that belied his weight and turned his attention to the woman.

“Too bad about the chickens, but you learned something about what makes a good story, right Franco?”

The woman stared at him dumbly. “You mean I should write up all traffic accidents?”

“No, just ones where if you don’t you wind up with egg all over your face,” Christian said.

Franco continued her blank look.

“I don’t think she got it,” Jake said, chuckling.

“Neither did we,” Christian said as he left the cubicle. He stopped and turned to Jake. “Hey, didn’t you say something about quitting?”

“I’m always saying something about quitting,” Jake answered.

“Okay, well let’s talk about quitting over a few beers tonight at Gentry’s. Let’s see if I can talk you out of it — again.”