Posts Tagged ‘David Allen’

Emojis

Posted: May 14, 2018 in Poetry
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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
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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.

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.

DYING MALLS

Posted: January 27, 2018 in Poetry
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Dying Mall 1

                DYING MALLS
                 By David Allen

Sitting alone again,
Parked on a bench
Watching nothing happening
In a dying Midwest Mall.
Waiting for the cinema to open
While my wife explores a small shop
Conducting a post-Christmas sale;
Toys, candy, cards all 75 percent off.

It’s nearly noon on a weekday
And the tables at the nearby
Fast-food court are empty.
The mall-walkers are absent
The halls are deserted.

I remember a time in my youth when
Malls were shopping meccas.
I was 14 when Walt Whitman Mall
Opened on Long Island, the first
Enclosed shopping center
In New York city’s suburbs.
The halls were teen hangouts
A shopper’s Valhalla.
Everything was for sale for the right price.
No one seemed to care that
The shops downtown were closing.

It got so bad that my favorite haunts
In Huntington Station — the soda shop
Where I sipped the world’s best egg creams;
The stationery store where I paged through
The latest Cracked and Mad magazines;
The Red Top, where my father perched
On a barstool until Mom sent me
To fetch him home for dinner —
Were bulldozed to make way
For commuter parking and
Low-rent apartments.

What will this mall become?
The last time I saw it busy
Was when the old Sears
Opened on the weekend
For flea market booths.
There was also talk of leveling
It all for a new reservoir.

The future will be a world
Where everything, even groceries
And fast-food will be sent to your door,
All available on cell phones and laptops
Used by customers  from their couches
As they binge-watch their favorite TV shows.

Back to now.
When my wife returned
We paid senior fares
At the mall’s cinema
To watch the latest “Star Wars”
With four other Baby Boomers
Scattered throughout the theater.

heres-why-malls-across-thDying Mall 2e-us-are-dying

Well, I  hope my poem did not have anything to cause this, but the owner of my local mall has announced it will close for good April 1.

 

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

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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 heard 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.

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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.

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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.