Archive for March, 2017

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

David Allen writes


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.


Thanks to Poet/Editor Wayne Russell, I have three poems published in Degenerate Literature


Fleabag Motel

Bukowski would have loved this place
a real fleabag motel
no fridge
no ice,
some cigarette-burned
ancient RCA TV
bolted to a low bureau,
strips of pressed wood
peeled off,
sits next to a Gideon Bible;
lamps tilt at weird angles,
chairs of ripped fake leather,
in worse shape than Salvation
Army retreads;
grey-white walls marred
with black boot heel marks
near the door;
dirty handprints
smudge the wall near the bed;
a bullet hole marks the wall
just above the TV;
the plastic covers of the electrical sockets
are cracked, split;
brown water stains the gray ceiling tiles.
yeah, this is a Buk place,
a real roach motel.
a six pack, maybe something harder,
would make it habitable.
out back, on the other side of the parking lot,
the steady clickityclack and haunting whistle
of a freight train as it passes a crossing
makes this dump almost romantic.
well, at least the sheets are clean.
and anyway,
all I need is a place to sleep
and shower
and shit.
it’s perfect
for all that.


 10:40 p.m.
Just getting settled
For bed.
Phone rings
“Hello, I need you to come
To the front desk.”
Indian accent,
“You need to fill out
Some papers.”
“For the police.”
“You need to come here,
Something about your neighbor in 234.”
“I don’t know, you need to come down here
Right away.”
All right.

I hang up,
Put my shirt on,
Grab my wallet and keys –
Maybe that’s a bad move.
Some mugger might be waiting
Just outside the door.
But I might need an ID.
I take out my money, credit cards,
Slip them under the mattress.
(Strange, I’d never think of doing that at home
But in this rundown Indiana fleabag motel with
Bullet holes and bootheels marking the walls,
I worry.)

Maybe the call was a hoax.
A ploy to get me to open the door.
Wait, what if it’s really the cops
And they need my contacts in this burg?
Maybe I should take my address book.
Nah, if they need them I’ll just go back to the room.

I open my door,
Step out,
No one around except
The trash-fed stray
Cat that hangs around the stairs.
She meows loudly,
Scurries away.
I descend the cracked concrete stairs,
Glance at my rented car.
No stranger there;
Bright lights allow
No shadowed lairs.
I round the corner
To the front office
Door’s locked.
I spot a woman inside
Waving me to a security window
Like a self-serve gas station at night.
I rap on the window
And a Paki-Indian-Bangledeshi
Man walks up.
“Can I help you?”
Yeah, what do you want?
“What do YOU want?”
I dunno, someone called me
Told me to come down here
And fill out some papers.
“Sorry, no one called.”
Someone did.
“Not from here, my friend.”
But someone said there was a complaint
From room 234.
“I am sorry, my friend, but no one called.”
No call?
“Someone did the
Same thing yesterday.

I go back to the
$25 a night room
With mold in the shower
And crusting the
Air conditioner.
I am convinced the mugger
Had positioned himself
To strike when I return.
But I am greeted only
By stray cat
In the open garbage bin
Maybe he’s already in my room
Maybe he slipped in there
While I was gone and
He’s cleaned me out.
I walk around the corner
To the strairway,
Stare at the door to 234 —
No sign of life
I open my door,
No one here,
Nothing missing,
Just one big
Fucking pain in
The ass practical joke.

I’ve been robbed of nothing
Except my sleep.

Abandon All Hope
“Hope springs eternal,” now there’s a lie
I’ve seen the infernal work of the pedophile
sadist, the lifeless little girl carefully posed
naked in a rain-swollen ditch,
legs spread, teeth marks on thighs,
satanic signs carved into prepubescent breasts.
I wrote the news stories
that ruined your meals.
They should post large notices
at the entrances of all maternity wards
and the foot of every birthing bed.
“Abandon all hope ye who enter here.”
This world you inherit is the most horrible,
most horrific of all of Dante’s rings of hell.

BIO: David Allen is a retired journalist, freelance writer, and poet living in Central Indiana. He is the poetry editor of Indiana Voice Journal and vice president of the Poetry Society of Indiana.  He has been published in many literary journals and has two books of poetry, “The Story So Far,” and “(more)” available at Amazon.

Occult Hand 001

By David Allen

I admit it
I confess
I joined a cult
Who would’ve guessed
That I’d fall in
With an obscure band
But it’s true that
I’m an Occult Hand.

I was baptized five times
When just a tyke
As my Mom searched
For a church she liked
But what I found
Was no Christian cult
I found my niche
When, I became an adult

I turned to the Dark Side
The Fourth Estate
Covering the news
In several states
I wrote about crime
And I covered the courts
And for a short time
I even wrote about sports

But the best gig of all
Was when I moved to Japan
And Stars and Stripes gave
Me a bureau to command
It was when Okinawa
Went through a serious drought
A strange story surfaced
And I found out about

A ritual on a tiny isle
Where the villagers danced
With a priestesses
Who sang a chant
And soon weeks of rain
Fell on a single day

“It was if an occult hand
Swept clouds Okinawa’s way.”

An editor in Tokyo laughed
And let the lede stand
That’s how I became a member
Of the Occult Hand
It’s a secret order that never meets
Lacks a leader and has but one rite
“It’s as of an occult hand had…”
The reporter must write

Publication of the phrase
Gives the writer full rights
To boast he’s a member
On post-deadline nights
Bragging to his bar mates
Toasting to the cult
Regaling them with stories
With each Guinness gulp


I am the featured author for the February 2017 issue of SETU:

Setu: A Bilingual Journal of Literature, Arts, and Culture (Pittsburgh, USA)


Introducing Setu

Edited by an international board of talented Hindi and English authors, poets, journalists and critics from across the globe, Setu is a monthly artistic journal. Setu focuses on diasporic writings and features most happening, cutting-edge works in Hindi and English.

Setu means a bridge in Sanskrit and many other Indic languages. Becoming a cross-cultural bridge for the world literature is one of the main objectives of Setu.

Setu English Edition :: Setu Hindi Edition

(Here’s the February issue webpage:

David Allen is a freelance writer and poet now living in Central Indiana. He is the poetry editor of the online Indiana Voice Journal and vicer president of the Poetry Society of Indiana . A native of Long Island, he is retired journalist, reporting for papers in Virginia, Indiana and the Far East, where he was a bureau chief for Stars and Stripes for 19 years on Guam and Okinawa, Japan. He was part of the “Eat Write Café and Traveling Poets Society” on Okinawa, doing open mic readings and publishing an E-zine. His poems and short stories have been published in several journals and he has two books of poetry, "The Story So Far," and "(more)," both available from and by e-mailing him at He has a blog, “Type Dancing,” at, and is an active member of the Last Stanza Poetry Association in Elwood, Indiana.

Poetry: David Allen

 by David Allen
David Allen

A Lie

once upon a time,
i found the secret
to the truth
to protect my sanity,
i smashed it
with a rock
and destroyed all trace
of the liar.

Taking the Trouble

I walked to your
back door last night
and saw two legs standing
where mine might have been.

I panicked, stepped backwards
down the stoop steps,
retreated to the side of the house
and plotted.

Then I knocked on your door.

“Are you coming?” I asked.
You were confused, drunk,
shaken by his visit —
but smiling.

“How are you?” I asked his beard.
“I’m coming from behind my mask,”
he said. “My ass,” I thought.

You said you’d be along

I waited through the long night
for your scream
or a slamming door.

Checking Out

And then the door slammed
and he stood there
in the middle of the room
looking toward the finality,
as if he could see the tracers
of her striding angry,
furiously from him.

“F**k this!”
she had said,
and the shock
of those two ugly words
echoed inside his foggy brain,
already confused
and struggling
to make sense
of what had happened.
The coins and the change bowl
and paperbacks and pens
she had swept with an angry arm
off the top of the bookshelf
lay scattered on the floor.

In his hand he clutched
the orange she’d thrown
at his head.

“Is this it?” he wondered.

“Is it finally over?
Or is this some new torture,
the start of some new
chapter in this confusing mystery?”

Outside, an engine started and revved
and the peel of rubber
told him
another non-supporting
character had just exited
stage left.

Letter to Legolas – Fiction

“I am just a stranger here
I come from down the road
And I did come to ask you all
To help me with this load
But I came to sing this song for you
And tell you where I’ve been
And maybe share a glass of wine
Before I’m gone again.”
                        Rabbit McKay
            It’s happening all around you. Listen to the strange and you’re sure to bear witness to the truth. I have been wrong all along. All along I’ve been wrong. There are no many truths. The Buddhists are confused. Baba Rum Dum sure does drone out a nice neat message, packages it beautifully. It goes well with our American cultured minds, so tired of our parents’ Protestantism. We need something simple. We need to find some excuse to protect us from the dark. We believe religion will protect us from the shadows. But our parents are being murdered in our sleep while Christ laughs and dances a nifty cha-cha with his brother Satan. And so we turn to the East and bow to the truths of the enlightened ones. Yet, we still die messy little deaths in the mire of man’s hate and chanting doesn’t chase away the dark.
            What are we going to do? Can’t you see how much easier it is to accept the dark, to no longer be afraid? Turn off your mystic night lite and walk boldly into the shadows. There is more than one world. We are all worlds unto ourselves. I am the only world I know. There is only one world. There is only one truth I can accept. There is no truth. There are only extensions of myself. See what I am getting at? Force yourself to try to understand. Put down that comic book. There is no law of the universe. We are all reflections of the universe.
            The universe is flawed and the flaw is beautiful. I look into her eyes and chant hymns to the beauty mark on her thigh. Beauty marks are flaws. Understand? My god challenges your god to a duel. Loaded theologies at dawn. Their seconds are shrouded in black cheesecloth. In the cemetery they mark their steps and turn to fire. The bullets pass right through them, killing a small lamb, scarring a proud tree. I take her hand in mine, she guides it to her breast. My other hand stabs deep within the fountain of her life. The knife blade finds no milk. I stifle her moans with a holy candle and try to crawl into her womb. The earth opens and in her primeval cave I find solitude at last as the laughing astrologer falls from his pyramid of air.
            All that matters is that love is the key to understanding. I love you. All of you. But I have failed. I can’t love those I don’t know. I hate them for their distance. I see the blood on their hands. I smell the pestilence that feeds on their souls. I love the boulder in the woods where I go to think. I love the stream that soothes my mind. They are real, always here for me. I am not confused, you know. Just worried. There has to be someone who can help me unravel these thoughts, help me find meaning in this madness. Someone who can ease my mind and explain this terrible longing. Why do I have to wrestle alone with these tireless demons?
            Ever so gently I wrapped her body in a long silk sheet, carefully pinning the ends. She looked so pure until the blood soaked through.
             Changes, we all go through them. Right now I am pissed that my “Pearls Before Swine” album is scratched. It seems to mock my life. Changes, we are always changing. You think you know something, then find it’s a lie. She is really not dead. Not that way. My only murder is in my head. At times I am so pure I am invisible. My only sins are in my mind. Don’t believe me, it’s still true. Ask those who did not see me. I was there. I’ll point them out to you. “God is seeing.” Kenneth Patchen said that and I believe it. I can clearly see you. Man, am I glad you are there to listen and know how to laugh. Too few people really know how to laugh these days.
            I lifted her gently over my shoulder, careful not to let the blood drip to the ground. She was much heavier than on nights of love. Dead weight. I carried her down to the cemetery where the gods were feasting on barbecued lamb over a wood fire. They could not see me. I was invisible. Their seconds plotted murder behind a rich man’s mausoleum. They wanted to be gods. Her body strained my back and I stopped to rest beside a shady tree. It was a weeping willow and cried huge tears.
            “Why do you cry, friend?” I asked
            “I always cry for the dead,” the tree answered.
            “But that’s wrong,” I said. “Your tears should be for the living.”
            The tree did not answer, but allowed the tears to fall unchecked into a little stream. The water was warm, salty and harbored no life.
            “See what I mean?” I asked. “If you cried for the living, I’d have a cool stream in which to wash off this blood.”
            “But how can I cry for the living, when the living have not learned how to cry?” the tree wondered.
            “I don’t have all the answers,” I said, fording the stream and climbing to the top of a nearby hill.
            I dug her grave. She who refused me life had died by my hand. It was my duty, my penance. She who had been my mother, sister, lover, friend, enemy and just another face in the crowd. The grave was as shallow as her life. She never did understand her murder, or why I am so influenced by authors and poets of questionable literary talents.
            Before I lowered her into the grave, I unwrapped her head and held her shattered face in my hands.
            I wiped the blood from her lips and chin with the torn tail of my shirt. I undid her bun and allowed her hair to fall straight down her back and over her pale shoulders and breasts. I kissed her and felt my tongue bitten by the broken remains of expensive teeth. Blood trickled from my mouth as she sucked the life from me. There was no struggle as I undressed us both and joined our bodies. As one we were always strong. As the air was sucked from my lungs, she possessed enough life to talk.
            “Why did you kill me?” she rasped.
            “Don’t you like being dead?” I asked.
            “It’s not fair to answer a question with a question,” she said.
            “It’s not fair to question my motives. Besides, I gave you no answer.”
            “But, I loved you.”
            “I loved you, too. That’s why you are dead.”
            “So you would learn to enjoy life.”
            There was no more breath to talk. She slept and I, who could not die, wrapped her again and gently nudged her body into the grave with the toe of my boot. A dog did the honors of covering her bones.
            On my way back through the cemetery, I noticed that the gods had finished their feast and had fallen asleep. Their seconds had stolen their clothing, leaving them naked upon the grass. Not a pretty sight. I guess the seconds preferred freedom to the enslaving weight of godhood.
            I am secure in the insecurity of my beliefs. Don’t think for a moment I write just because I like the sound of my words, even though I do like to hear myself think. I am not trying to be cute.
            Don’t worry, she will not bother you. She is my own ghost. Personal ghosts are strange people. She never forgave me for not going to her wake. I never forgave her for going to sleep. She really doesn’t bother me much. The only thing that annoys me is she takes great delight in making me whimper her name when I hold some strange woman in my arms.
            I walked back to the top of the hill to dig on a Walt Disney sunset. They drive me to wilder and wilder thoughts. It’s getting more difficult to haul one down. They run into each other, bleeding into incoherency. What do they mean. What do we mean?
            This is long enough for anyone. I mean, there has to be a time when we can embrace nothingness as our own private truth and admit that mankind was some kind of fluke. He is the one that doesn’t make any sense.
Peace and love, brother,
“Well your roads in life are many
So be careful how you choose
Be sure that what you’re gaining
Will be worth what you will lose
“Cause you’ll only come to find
That every man must stand alone
And that every hand will have to reap
Exactly what he’s sown.”

Rabbit McKay

Book Review: ‘The Story So Far’ by David Allen

– Review by David Axelrod

Poets are allowed to make lists to tell us their “Story So Far,” as long as it’s an interesting list. David Allen’s is and thus, so are his poems—a good life that makes a good read. American poets, in other countries, are sometimes chided for taking even little details from their lives and turning them into poetry. That’s a large part of the art that David Allen has mastered—solidly, happily in the American tradition.

Allen is not averse to autobiography, not needing that mask of fiction behind which so many artists hide. Of course that is true in his title poem which catalogs his personal journey. It is most poignant in poems such as “Requiem for My Father,” which recites a litany of pain and in so doing purges the past, leaving a “demon-less Dad.” He writes to atone for the fact that “I Never Wrote a Poem About My Mother,” creating a poem even more powerful because it celebrates a life that was so often bullied into a position of  powerlessness.

Allen’s poems are a often a plain song in performance of a homey philosophy. For those who search for god, “In the Country” asks “if god/ is afraid of the dark.” In “No Sense,” we contemplate a god who “is either/ absent minded,/ a practical joker,/ or a sadist.” His “Meaning” is something you can “put…in your pocket…go off whistling/ down the street.”

“Anticipation,” delights us with music “like a cool chill on a steaming/ day of city summer stranger streets.” “Nightmares,” turns philosophy into a song, something Allen may have learned from his father who “plays the mandolin/ when life begins to close him in.” Allen even has moments one could liken to Emily Dickinson, as in “Underneath.”

The Pulitzer-prize-winning poet Louis Simpson, himself inclined to cataloging the oddities of “American Poetry,” has also noted that many poets seem to want to be novelists. Allen himself, in “The Final Chapter,” promises “No more novel, play or poem similes.” Luckily, he contradicts this pronouncement many times in this book. His relaxed lines and narrative tendencies might remind you of “novel.” In truth, he has a professional journalist’s talent for writing good lead lines, a poet’s ear for music and the strong endings of a story writer. Blending forms, he is a poet who more than gives us—he gifts us his life in poetry!

He explains his modus operandi in “Running” noting how writing has been his refuge and salvation even as “book walls crumbled/ and, crippled, I learned to crawl.” Indeed, he’s gone much further than that humble admission in the Story So Far.  He puts a well-earned, positive slant on his accomplishments in “Seesaw Sensations,” exclaiming “Ah, so this is living.” Hooray for David Allen’s courage, creativity and poetry!