David Allen  Don Gallus (2) 3

Don Gallus and me in an Old San Juan bar in 1966.

reandme

Me and my muse on Okinawa, 1998

My birthday is this Thursday (May 8). A while back I wrote this poem about turning 50. It became the title of my first book of poetry, published by Writers Ink Press in 2004. You can buy it here: http://www.amazon.com/The-Story-Far-David-Allen/dp/0925062480/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&qid=1399425268&sr=8-9&keywords=story+so+far


THE STORY SO FAR

Over 50,
Damn!
Now I’ve done it;
gone full blown
into the middle of
my sixth decade.
Weird to think the toes
that toddled into the second half
of this century
are stubbing themselves
on the doorstep
of the new millennium.

Like the Grateful Dead
liked to sing:
“What a long, strange
trip it’s been.”

A child of the South,
raised in the North,
because my Yankee Dad
fell in love with television.
Grew up on Long Island
when there was still room
for clammers, before you could
walk across the harbor on the decks
of the boats of the rich.

Traveled a lot–
Lived in the Southeast,
the Mid-Atlantic,
Virginia mountains and shore,
D.C., Williamsburg,
Fort Wayne, Indiana—
dubbed that cold city the
“Crack Capital of the Midwest.”

Lots of traveling
through two marriages,
five kids and four dogs;
finally getting it right
on the subtropical shores
of Okinawa.

Caught the news Jones
as a kid peddling papers.
Made it a living after trying out
being a busboy, dishwasher, cook,
sailor, postal worker, pump jockey,
shipping clerk, disc jockey,
student, activist, cabby,
surveyor.

Finally found work
on a weekly;
rhyming beat,
sports and courts,
at $120 a week.
Caught that news Jones bad,
still need that daily fix
only a byline gives.
Thirty years on deadline,
almost half a life;
printer’s ink for blood;
thick skin, thin wallet.
Press cards, a passport
to the adrenaline rush
a good story brings.

Writing just felt right.
Still does.

Fifty-plus years—
where’d they go?
Playing war with sticks and clods of mud;
protesting war with shouts, upraised fists;
Washington demonstrations and
Central Park Love-Ins;
Nights at the Fillmore East,
some new band called Led Zeppelin
playing to half a house;
Woodstock, bluegrass festivals;
experiments with hallucinogens and booze
about as carelessly considered
as choosing eggs or cereal
for breakfast.

Fifty-plus years—
always observing, writing;
boxes full of unfinished journals,
jotted thoughts that somehow found their way into
stories, poems, letters.
Started Old Friends, a slip into
publishing, providing poets
and photographers a place
to lay it all out;
great idea at a bad time
for cash-poor gypsies.
Scattered poems published since
until running into the Eat Write folks.
This feels good,
think I’ll hang out a while.

Fifty-plus years—
seen a lot;
murder, mayhem, floods and fires,
twisters tearing up trailers,
typhoons triumphant,
earthquake rocking the house:
boys laughing, what a ride!
girls crying, what a horror!
Seen the bare-breasted women of Yap,
Hoosiers bundled, braving a wintry blast;
the hookers and whores of San Juan,
Manila and all ports in between;
saw Sodom and Gomorra in
a Thailand town called Pattaya;
ate political chicken dinners,
drank iced rum milk from a chilled coconut;
saw Santa drop sleds of Christmas cheer
parachuting from the rear of an old cargo plane
as the natives of Palau sang Christmas carols
in their native tongue.

Fifty-plus years—
saw love come and go,
knocking at my door
and running away.
Saw hunger, but not lately.
Saw poverty, but that’s past.
Had health and heartache;
still cry easily.
Saw a mother torn from her daughter
and sit on the floor tearing Bibles.
Saw the bodies of little girls,
naked, mutilated,
torn from life and left for dead
in some rain swollen ditch.
Saw a woman go insane.

Fifty-plus years—
saw a lot of smiles,
heard much hearty laughter.
wrote my own wedding
once I found my soul mate;
didn’t matter she gave me only two years,
I knew we’d be together forever.
We still are, fifteen years later,
living in a house of love.
I’m going to microchip her soul
so the search will be easier next go `round.

Fifty-plus years—
haven’t done too bad;
saw all my babies born,
cut the cords on two;
taught them how to enjoy good music—
Dylan and Jimmy Buffett;
good food—pizza, cheeseburgers,
chicken and dumplings like my mother made;
taught them how to ride bikes, watch horror movies,
laugh at “professional” wrestling
and tell bad jokes.
Saw them grow,
saw them go.
They all do, mine just left early.

Fifty-plus years—
where’d they go?
And why don’t I feel old?

Fifty-plus years—
hell, it’s only time
and it’s all what you put into it.
I’ve crammed a lot into my small space.
I still have much to do—
finish that novel,
write that hit song,
live on a beach;
haven’t given my lady
half the loving she deserves.
But that’s okay,
I’ve got plenty of time.

POSTSCRIPT:

We finally lived on in a house on a hill overlooking the beach. But when I decided to retire Okinawa was too expensive to live, so we trekked back across the Pacific and half the U.S. to settle in a nice house in Chesterfield, Indiana, mostly to be near our other kids and grandchildren. I am now a freelance writer, full-time poet, and cancer survivor. Life here hasn’t always been great, but we’re learning to adapt to the cold, crazy politics and everything else life may throw at us. So, the ocean may be far away, but there’s woods in our backyard and a path that leads to a little river.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s