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There’s No Snow
By David Allen

Oh the weather outside’s delightful
We don’t mean this to sound spiteful
It’s got us singing wherever we go
“There’s no snow, there’s no snow
There’s no snow!”

We’ve discovered a brand new beach
Not crowded and not out of reach
The only footsteps are our own
Our hearts are skipping like a stone

While Christmas shoppers are crushing their elbows
We’re walking in sand in bare toes
It’s got us singing wherever we go
“There’s no snow, there’s no snow,
There’s no snow!”

We can be hugging each other tight
On the patio late at night
Enjoying the subtropical breeze
And drinking whatever we please

Ruth Ellen’s health was a disaster
Twelve months later, all that’s past her
Newly childless we’re on our own
There’s no snow, there’s no snow
There’s no snow!

She became founder just this spring
Of a very important thing
A women’s group of some renown
The only chapter not in a stateside town

This past year we’ve had our hands full
From New Years right to this Yule
And we’re happy wherever we go
There’s no snow, there’s no snow
There’s no snow!

Lot of good has occurred this year
Old friends dropped in for a beer
Traveling 6,000 miles or so
But at least, they escaped the snow

David’s muse has returned with a vengeance
He’s a poet, he’s no longer past tense
At the readings, he’s part of the show
The earth shakes, but at least
There’s no snow!

The palm trees are swaying in time
To this seasonal rhyme
I’m thinking I’m glad your mine
Living in the best of our times

Oh the year’s start was a little frightful
Me in my shell, I was quite a sightful
Now I’m free and the scars hardly show
And there’s no snow, there’s no snow
There’s no snow!

I practice my meditation
Driving without direction
Coastal roads climb mountain heights
The clear blue ocean’s such a great sight

We’re not saying we’ve had no problems
But we’re finding ways to solve them
They scatter as the breezes blow
And there’s no snow, there’s no snow
There’s no snow!

It’s so wonderful to be here
Especially this time of the year
The Chrismas lights sure look nice
And we don’t have to scrape any ice

You might think warm weather spoils the season
But it doesn’t, it gives us a reason
Like kids on cardboard sleds without snow
We make it up as along we go

They slide down the hills of grass
And though they might not go as fast
They are not bundled up for snow
Like some poor Eskimo

While I write I eat the meatrageous.
Ahh, this feeling is getting contagious
I’m singing as the words flow
There’s no snow, there’s no snow,
There’s no snow!

It’s a wonderful time of year
And it’s making one thing so clear
That as long as our good luck holds
We’re never going to be cold

Oh the weather outside’s delightful
And I don’t mean this to sound spiteful
But it’s got us singing wherever we go
“There’s no snow, there’s no snow
There’s no snow!”

Okinawa Christmas 1999

 

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Xmas gift hunt 2

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.

 

Duane’s PoeTree Interview

Posted: December 4, 2017 in Poetry

david-allen_setu

https://duanespoetree.blogspot.com/search/label/David%20Allen

Duane’s PoeTree

Today’s poets, today’s poems. Share yours, send to duanev@hotmail.com

Showing posts with label David AllenShow all posts

Sunday, December 3, 2017

David Allen responds

DAVID ALLEN: All I ever did well was write. You just have to read my poetry to see that poetry is my life. Everything that happens to me is apt to eventually become a poem. I was fortunate to make a living by writing by working as a journalist for 36 years, 19 years in the Far East. I am now retired and busy myself as poetry editor of the Indiana Voice Journal and vice president of the Poetry Society of Indiana. My poems and short stories have been published in several journals and I have two books of poetry, ‘The Story So Far’ and ‘(more)’ both available from Amazon.com or by emailing me at david@davidallen.nu. I also have a blog, “Type Dancing,” at https://davidallenpoet.net. I am also an active member of the Last Stanza Poetry Association in Elwood, Indiana.

DV: How did you ever get into the writing game? Did it start with poetry, or was that a late development?”

DA: I don’t remember a time when I didn’t write. I have boxes of old journals and poems pounded into life on old manual typewriters. The oldest are poems written in high school to elusive loves. A lot of the early poems were knock-offs of Rock and Roll tunes. I worked various jobs — dishwasher, cook, cabbie, sailor and anti-war activist,  I lucked upon a job as a reporter for a small Virginia weekly newspaper. My life as a journalist for 36 years on six newspapers in Virginia, Indiana and the Far East gave me plenty of material for my poems. I was a member of a group that printed a small literary magazine, “Old Friends,” in the Washington, D.C. area, and was a regular at the Eat Write Cafe weekly open mics on Okinawa, Japan. For a while I was editor of the group’s e-zine.

DV: Journalism and poetry are obviously very different, “fact” vs “fantasy,” but in your experience do you think either one of them has directly impacted the other?
DA: Actually they worked hand-in-hand for me. Both are considered “outsider” endeavors. Through being a reporter I learned to be an observer. And as a poet I learned how to tell stories that not only supplied the facts, but also sang. Many of my poems derived directly from what I observed as a reporter. Other poems were born out of boredom during trials. And when I was in the Far East, the reporters from Korea, mainland Japan, Okinawa and Guam often challenged each other in email haiku contests.

DV: The story that made journalist Stephen Crane famous was his first-person account of the sinking of the “SS Commodore,” which he recycled as one of his most important short stories,  “The Open Boat,” and again in the poem “A  man adrift on a slim spar.” Do you have any poems derived from your reportage that you could share with us, as well as the backstory?

DA: Probably the most memorable poem derived from a news story is my poem “The Names.” It was a news story about an event memorializing the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Okinawa. I had editors who allowed me to stray from typical reporting and I was able to use the story almost entirely intact in a poem.

George Allen White Jr.,
Edward Lewis White,
James White

Names,
American Marines who died on Okinawa.
These names are read in June,
in April the names were soldiers,
May was for sailors.

Names
every day.

On April 1,
the reading of the names began
to commemorate
April Fool’s Day,
Easter Sunday,
Love Day,
the day the Americans invaded Okinawa,
struck back on Japan’s home soil
in 1945.

Every day
for an hour at lunch
and in the evening
they came to read the names
at a church high on a hill
overlooking the invasion beaches.
A church with American and Japanese parishioners,
with a Japanese-Canadian priest,
who spent his war in a cold Saskatchewan internment camp.
Every day
they come to
All Souls Episcopal Church
to read the names of the souls
lost.

James Preston White,
James Thomas White,
Jerry Wilson White.

They are coming to the end.
Eighty-three days,
each day of the battle.
Returning veterans,
some with wives and grown children,
sit in the back of the chapel.
Silent.
Respectful.

Thousands of names.
12,281 Americans,
110,000 Japanese soldiers and Okinawan conscripts,
More than 150,000 Okinawa civilians.

Logan Willard White Jr.,
Thomas George White,
Charles Edward Whiteman.

Each name another soldier,
sailor, aviator, civilian
killed in the carnage that was
the Battle of Okinawa.

Listen –

James Richard Whiteman,
Mark Edward Whiteman,
Forrest Whitt,
Joseph Henry Whitaker.

Whisper them softly,
fall into the rhythm.
it’s a Jewish Kaddish,
a Buddhist chant,
a Christian prayer.
Meditate.

Joseph Henry Whittaker,
Marvin Jones Wiggins,
William Robert Wiggins.

Name after name.
Each man some mother’s son,
some father’s pride.
this one the class clown;
that one the brain.

Some were orphans,
no family except their platoon
or shipmates.
That guy was a Gary steelworker,
and wasn’t little Jimmy Whit
the mechanic down at the corner garage?

And what of the names read
on other days?

David Bond,
Earl Graham,
Ernie Pyle.

Wait, that one’s familiar.

Pyle, a newspaperman,
he wrote about these people,
always making sure he got the names right.
Thousands of names for the readers back home,
’til a Japanese sniper reaped his name
for the book of the fallen.

All-American names
like,
Howard S. Schwartz,
Louis Odachowski,
Kazuyoshi Inouye.

Some of the veterans are uneasy
on the wooden church pews,
it’s hard to sit through.
The reader’s voice is hoarse,
so many names.

Robert Wiggins,
Gray Huntley Whitman,
Hugh Whittington.

So many names.
Names inscribed on a striking monument
on Mabuni Hill, where the Japanese Army
made its last stand.
The Cornerstones of Peace,
the names of the dead from all the countries,
carved into 1,200 black granite walls,
stretching to the sea
like the wings of doves.

Donald James Wilton,
Kenneth William Wilkins,
Jack Williard.

The American list is over for the day.
the veterans leave,
handkerchiefs pat at moist eyes.
Few remain in the chapel
as a new reader sits at the table.
She begins to read.

Sato Yoshiro,
Yasuoka Tomohiko,
Murakami Minoru.

More names.
These are Japanese,
a college conscript from Tokyo,
a farmer from Hokkaido.
soldiers in the Emperor’s Army on Okinawa
when the Americans came with their
Typhoon of Steel.

Pak Man-do,
Chou Che-jiu,
Song Yong.

Korean names,
forced laborers,
comfort women.

Masahiro Kohagura,
Masao Ota,
Kiyo Yamashiro…

Okinawa names,
Page after page.
It sometimes takes 10 minutes
to read the day’s American names,
maybe 25 minutes for the Japanese,
much longer for the Okinawans.
That name belonged to a fisherman from Kin.
And wasn’t that the name of the mother from Itoman
who huddled in fear
at the rear of a deep cave with her two children,
shivering with fright as death came calling,
collecting his names?

Grandfathers,
babies,
teenage girls pressed into service to tend
the wounded.
Whole families of names,
each a sad reminder of War’s toll;
each name a testament.
To what?

Life.
This person once lived.
“I existed,
I had a name,
I was somebody.”

Read our names,
remember us.

A much shorter poem, “Two Good Legs,” stemmed from another battle memorial event:

The American veteran
stood on the stage
tearful and trembling
as he talked, reliving
the hell that was Okinawa
five decades ago,
when he fought a relentless foe
and lost such young, good friends.
He tottered at the lectern
on his one good leg
and, as he tearfully

finished and turned to leave,
he dropped his cane.

As he stumbled
and began to fall,
a hand reached out
from behind and
grabbed his arm
and he turned to look
at his helper.

One of the Japanese veterans
had hobbled to his side
and, throwing down the crutch
that aided his one-legged stride,
said, in heavily accented English,

“Here, friend, let me be your other leg.”

And they walked away
arm in arm off the stage,
comrades in survival.

And here’s one from a court case I covered:

CAUGHT WITH HIS GLAND IN HER COOKIE JAR

The crime lab tech said there was no doubt

the DNA from the defendant’s saliva

matched DNA from sperm samples

collected at two rape scenes.

“There’s just one chance

in 4.8 billion it could have

been someone else,” he said.

The accused hung his head.

It sucks when your own body

rats you out.

DV: One of the most interesting things about journalists is the wide variety of stories they cover as part of their regular routine. As a poet, it certainly gave you a lot of material to work with. Of your many jobs as a reporter of 30-plus years, which one was the most memorable?

DA: The job I loved most was being the Okinawa News Bureau Chief. The job sent me all over the Eastern Pacific, from Thailand to Tarawa and many places in between, especially during the 50th anniversary of the Pacific battles of World War II.

DV: Newspaper writing is strictly governed by deadlines (and by-lines and headlines and date lines! lots of lines!) and column inches. Have these habits of schedules and space considerations had any effect on the way you write poetry?

DA: I had a sign hanging over my desk in the Okinawa Bureau of Stars and Stripes. It read, “DEADLINES AMUSE ME!” I shrug at deadlines, even when I am toiling the night before the deadline for a new poem for my group’s poetry challenge. But there is usually no deadline for writing my poems. I still face deadlines for accepting and formatting poems for the Indiana Voice Journal.

DV: How has retirement changed your life as a writer? Has this been affected at all by your current editorial duties?
DA: I retired in 2010. At first, I did freelance work for a local paper, but the pay was low and I found myself sidetracked by spending time with family, traveling and gathering poems for my second book. A bout with cancer took up a year and I’ve had three since then. During all this, I became an active member of the Last Stanza Poetry Association of Elwood, Indiana, poetry editor of the online Indiana Voice Journal and vice president of the Poetry Society of Indiana. This year I have been the contest director for PSI’s annual poetry competition.

DV: You’ve been a busy dude! What is the Last Stanza Poetry Association? It has an intriguing title.
DA: The Last Stanza is a group of poets who meet twice a month in Elwood, Indiana, to share and critique poetry. Most meetings have about 10 poets from a wide range of backgrounds. Several of us are also heavily involved in the statewide Poetry Society of Indiana, formerly the Indiana State Federation of Poetry Clubs. Several of the members have published books of poetry.  A friend of mine, who often groans at my puns, says the name Last Stanza was perfect for me.

DV: Now that you have acclimated to Middle America, what do you miss most about Okinawa?

DA: It was quite a shock to return to the States after 19 years on Guam and Okinawa. It is not the same country I left in 1991. I had to learn to lock my car and house and be more cautious about the people I met. The towns here in central Indiana are dying. Abandoned homes fill many inner-city neighborhoods and many factories and mills are closed. The political landscape is scary, with politicians safe in their Gerrymandered districts and willing to sell their souls to the oligarchs. The people here are not as friendly as the Okinawans. Of course, I also miss the subtropical weather and the ocean.

DV:  I just returned to the US after being gone even longer. After teaching in Korea and Japan, I retired to Thailand. Most of my friends had told me how different the US was since they had left. Some of them bemoaned the takeover by the faminazis, and others were concerned with the rise of Trumpism (back when it was called the “tea party”).  So I was apprehensive when I came back to Farmersville, Ohio (population 1,009). On the whole, except that I’m no longer a teenager, things don’t seem very different on the social level. At least you have public poetic activities to keep you active. Thank you for your time. I look forward to your next submission.

 

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Death by exasperation  by Robert Williams

I have always been a fan of poetry challenges and this one was a doozy. The leader of our group, the Last Stanza Poetry Association, showed us some weird art by Robert Williams and challenged us to write a poem about them for the next meeting. I chose to use the titles of the paintings.

Here’s the list: Death by Exasperation, Pathos in Paper Mache, The Fraught Proposal, Purple as an Inexplicable Color, A Farce on an Extravagant Scale, Fast Food Purgatory, Wooden Spirits Persist Where Termites Fear to Tread, Swap Meet Sally,  Flight of the Lost Dodo, Art’s Triumph Over Substance, A Carouser’s Ode to Sentimentality, Mathematics Takes a holiday The Notion that Lurks Inevitably Between Two Adjacent Thoughts, Irene Interfacing with an Astrodynamic Epiphany, Greater Concerns than Mere Puppetry, and Gimme,  Gimme, Gimme.

 

Here are my poems 

IN THE MORGUE
By David Allen

“It was a death by exasperation,” the coroner said.
“She just couldn’t take the fraught proposal that
Her whole life was just a farce on an extravagant scale.”
“Yeah, Swap Meet Sally believed she lived
In a fast food purgatory,” the reporter said,
Looking over the coroner’s shoulder.
“I knew her from her days at the lumber mill,
She thought it was haunted. Said it was
where wooden spirits persist, you know,
where termites feared to tread.
How old was she?”
  “I don’t know,” said the coroner.
“With her, mathematics takes a holiday.
“What’s that lying next to her?” the reporter asked,
Pointing to a torn paper lantern.
A note said it was a pathos in paper mache,”
The coroner said. “It was titled Flight of the lost dodo.”
“Gee, it’s sort’ve art’s triumph over substance. No?”
Who knows,” the coroner said, rearranging the corpse’s arms.
“Look at this. I call this position Irene Interfacing
with an Astrodynamic Epiphany.”
“Do you always play with your subjects?” the reporter asked.
“There are greater concerns than mere puppetry. No?”
“It’s my way of defining the notion that lurks inevitably
Between two adjacent thoughts,” the coroner answered.
“Hmm, interesting,” the reporter said. “Let me try.
C’mon, gimme gimme gimme. “
 

Here’s my second poem:

ROUGH STUFF
By David Allen

I’m in a fast food purgatory
Eating in a McDonald’s
Because I needed to use the free wifi.
But, as I read my email,
Rednecks at the nearby table
Are talking loudly, proudly
About Trump’s most recent tweets.
If I stay here I face
Death by exasperation,
For this a farce on an extravagant scale,
And I feel I will be the punchline,
Considering the fraught proposal
That I am about to deliver to the Trumpites,
Harsh words purple as an inexplicable color.
I search my mind for the perfect phrase
That will shame them,
Hoping to be so clever that I’ll create
The putdown to art’s triumph on sustenance.
But, as I am about to deliver the notion that lurks
Between two adjacent thoughts,
The Trumpers get up and walk out,
Leaving trash on the table,
And I merely scribble my feelings
In my notebook, a pathos in paper,
Remembering my own foolish behavior on
Drunken nights.
My silence is a carouser’s ode to sentimentality.

Railroad Crossing

MEDITATION STOP
By David Allen

Waiting at the train crossing,
a chance to meditate,
ridding pent up stress
to the clickity-clack staccato
of metal twirling on metal.
The alarms keep dinging
and the engineer wails
on his horn as the
flashing red lights hypnotize
the waiting drivers,
who impatiently
lay on their horns
at the dazed lead driver
when crossing arms are raised
and the bells are silenced.

ScottApril

Musings on Scott’s Departure
By David Allen

The poets are gathered again tonight
Jet-streams of thought are taking flight
Riding on rhythms of rhyming verse,
Sometimes free-form, some long, some terse.
Poems to soothe the savage beast
Or to assist in the beast’s release.
And there’s nothing more savage on a given night
Than poems by Scott – Sir Walter’s right
On target with tomes that suck you in
Like quicksand or a desert whirlwind.
Our sorrow tonight is in Scott’s departing
Just as most of us were starting
To see the sanity in his weavings,
Like seeing the pattern in a spider’s web.
(Getting past the horror of the spider’s leavings.)
“Oh, what a tangled web he weaves!”
But now, I confess, I once did deceive
When I told him he was good –
“But not that good!”
Now with his parting I have to say
How wrong I was that beer-filled day
Let me say it now and not be misunderstood –
He is that good! He is that good.
And he’ll be sorely missed.

Cabin Serendip, Okinawa
Aug. 6, 1999

frogprince

Frog Legs
(A Modern Fairy Tale)
By David Allen

Without realizing the consequences
d.g. leaned out as far as he could,
arm outstretched in some mad play
to catch the ring of fate.
The carousel spun dizzily
no one else could grab the ring,
the hare-lipped troll in
d.g.’s employ had seen to it
that everyone else on the ride
was an amputee.

Nothing was being left
to chance, the prize came
into sight. d.g. stretched,
leaned to snag fate —
Damn! It was gone.
The French war veteran,
a laughing old fart with four
stumps and a backbrace,
had snatched the ring with his
considerable nose.

They came for d.g. when
the machine stopped,
but he was already gone,
disappearing into an alley,
his left leg dragging lifeless
behind him.

The hangman would have to wait.

d.g. was visibly shaken by his
experience with the ghouls of conscience
and the ring of fate.
sweat poured from his pained brow
as he limped to the fire escape
at the end of the alley
that led to his room above
the kitchen door of
Chun’s Chinese Restaurant.

Joe Chun was there, emptying the remains
of several skinned felines
into a dumpster, but
he had his back to the alley and
missed the frog’s entrance.

The frog waited for d.g.
to turn the corner before he spoke.
“What’s your hurry, friend?”
the frog asked, stepping
lightly from the shadows.
He was dressed nattily, after the fashion
of enchanted princes, and smiled at d.g.,
who had stopped dead in his tracks.
“Oh dear,” said the frog, staring
at the limp body.
“Why does this always happen to me?”

The frog knelt and checked d.g.’s pulse,
it was slow and weak.
Then he slowly, sensuously placed
his moist lips over d.g.’s face
and tenderly caressed his eyelids
with his long, sticky tongue.

“Uh, where, what?” was all
d.g. could say as his eyes opened
and he saw a four-foot frog
dancing a little jig of joy.
“You have to be the weirdest thing
i ever saw,” d.g. said, standing shakily.
“I am here to give great news,” the frog began.
“I can fulfill three wish….”
Joe Chun’s hatchet made a swift impression
on his mind before he could finish.
“Oh, what crazy frog legs
we have tonight,” Joe said.

“Count me out, man,” d.g. answered.
“I don’t think i could stomach any French food.
Goodnight, Joe.”
“You goodnight,” Joe replied,
dragging the frog corpse toward the restaurant.
“Me good eat.”

 

Note: This probably is proof that being forced by a school psychologist in the 6th grade to respond to a series of ink blots was probably justified.

 

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THE POETIC POL
By David Allen

It was 1971,
or maybe ’72,
when Eugene McCarthy
came to my college campus
to speak about his run for president,
and the continuing war in Vietnam.
And those in the audience,
who cut their hair and bought suits
from the Salvation Army
in order to be “Clean for Gene”
back in those heady days of 1968,
raised their right fists in the air and
yelled “Right On!”
 
The former senator from Minnesota
smiled and raised his arms in the air,
and gave the audience the Peace Sign.
Later, sitting with the staff of the campus
weekly newspaper in the cafeteria,
the old pol readied himself for questions
he’d hear thousands of time before.
But he was taken aback when the editor of the paper,
his long blonde hair falling to his shoulders
and a mischievous gleam in his sky blue eyes,
said he was tired of politics.
“Do you have any of your poetry with you?”
the young man asked.
McCarthy’s smile broadened.
“Sure,” he said, reaching into his coat pocket
and pulling out a thin chapbook.
“Please share some with us,” the editor said.

“This is called Courage After Sixty,”
McCarthy said.

“Now it is certain
There is no magic stone
No secret to be found
One must go
With the mind’s winnowed learning…”
 
And he held his small audience in rapt attention
for the next half hour, commenting
when he left that it was the best
time he had spent with students in years.
 
quote-the-glove-has-been-thrown-to-the-ground-the-last-choice-of-weapons-made-a-book-for-one-eugene-mccarthy-251851

 

Freight Yard 1

ON THE RAILROAD
By David Allen

I spent a good part of my youth
playing on the railroad
all my livelong days…

When I lived in Roslyn Heights,
on Long Island’s North Shore,
the tracks were my turf.
Located just a block from
our housing project,
the tracks were where I trolled
for soda bottles to cash in at the local deli.
They are where my friends got in trouble
for dropping rocks from a bridge
onto cars using the new expressway.

The freight yard was where we pretended
to be outlaws, running atop the empty boxcars,
jumping from car to car, shouting
“This is a holdup!”
Once I even rode a boxcar to the next town,
pretending I was a hobo, singing Woody Guthrie songs.

A few years later, living in Huntington Station,
the tracks were where we placed
pennies, collecting them after they
had been flattened by commuter trains.
As teens we rode the trains to the Big Apple,
our playground during the formative years.

Once I waited on the platform
with a hundred other commuters,
on my way to an internship
as a computer programmer.
The train came, but I stayed,
the scene was too depressing
to make it a career.

The last train episode I lived
before I escaped to other adventures,
was as a shipping clerk in the next town.
Every morning I boarded the train and hoped
the conductor wouldn’t get to me before my stop
so I could use the ticket some other day.

Commutersimage

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Shooting an air torpedo aboard the USS New York City

THE WORLD WAS MY WORKPLACE
By David Allen

I was asked about my workplace
What was it like?

Well, there were desks and file cabinets,
Reporter cubicles in lines,
copy editors grouped in a circle.
Typedancing was the newsroom music,
Metal keys slapping rubber platens
With the constant clickity clack background music
Coming from the wire room, created by machines
Spinning out the national news.
Years later, silence descended when computers took over;
A serenity broken only when a reporter cursed loudly
At his phone when a key source clammed up.

But there were other workplaces for me
So many  more …

There was speeding down a narrow Thailand road
On the way to the Bridge over the River Kwai,
Dodging rundown buses taking up most of both lanes
As “Highway to Hell” blared from my car’s speakers.

And there was the USS New York City,
A submarine where I pressed the button
Discharging air torpedoes at
Phantom enemy shipping.

And I can’t forget circling on the only road in Nauru,
Where I noted the island’s center
Was the richest mine of bird guano in the world.
That was on my way to Tarawa, where my workspace
Was a sandy beach next to a rusting tank
Sunken in the ground for 50 years.

Once my workplace was another beach,
Drinking rum from a coconut on Peleliu
As the children paddled to collect presents
Dropped by Santa from an Air Force plane.

Another island workplace was Guam
Where a scared photographer declared
My driving was “Vehicular Bungee Jumping”
As we rumbled along mountain trails
Searching for the cave where a Japanese soldier hid for decades.
Guam, where my family survived an 8.1 magnitude earthquake
And I was absent for a week covering the damaged buildings and lives.

There was also that day in Northern Indiana
Where my workplace was a diner booth
Chatting about White Pride with a neo-Nazi skinhead,
Getting him to trust me so I could join his Aryan Christian Church
And take notes for a future front page expose.

In the same city my workplace was a walk
Around the county courthouse listening to a police spokesman
Tell me a woman recently murdered had collected evidence
That threatened the careers of his boss and the mayor.

Much earlier in my career
My workplace was a Virginia border town
Where I interviewed descendants
Of the Hatfields and McCoys,
Noting the West Virginia families
Lived in rundown trailers with
Huge satellite TV antennas in the yards

Today my workplace is my Indiana home
In an office crammed with books,
File cabinets, plastic boxes of old newsclips,
Piles of notebooks filled with scrawled poems,
And photos of the other days
When I trawled the world for news.