Posts Tagged ‘journalism’

David Phones

Daily News
By David Allen

No news today
I’m on vacation;
slept late,
no daily work routine,
no papers to read,
no e-mail to answer,
no radio, TV or
Internet news reports
to slog through.
I’m free.

Until the cell phone rings.
An editor from a thousand
miles away says something
big happened today,
can I drop the nothing
I am doing and log-on?
Make some phone calls?
Get some reaction,
find some local color,
something new to feed
the copy beast?
Can I crank out something
for the next news cycle?

Sure, I say, what the hell,
maybe nothing will happen


My books are available on Amazon, both paperback and Kindle. If you want a signed copy, email me at Order your copy today! I am like most poets — poor.

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Petersburg, Va. Progress-Index newsroom 1978

By David Allen

Okay, now it’s personal.
Five journalists were shot dead
Today in a Maryland newsroom
By a maniac upset about a years-old story
That named him a harasser, a serial nut job.
He shot his way through a glass door
And unloaded his shotgun
At people dodging for cover.

Years ago, that could have been me.
For almost four decades I covered the news,
I was threatened many times
By people upset by the truths
My stories uncovered.
Once, I received a note,
Cut-out letters pasted on
An ink-stained piece of paper.
My name was at the top
Of a list of editors and the city mayor,
Declaring, “Death to you.
Death to your families.”
I laughed and photocopied
The note before calling the police.
I reveled at being named first.

I’m not sure I’d laugh today
Violence in this country is rampant
Madmen act out their threats with guns.
I cry for those killed today
And seethe with anger.

But then I remember
Advice I once saw written
On a Japanese tee shirt:
“Don’t let the teardrops
Rust your shining heart.”

I’ll try
But it’s getting damn hard.

*NOTE: The threat I received was at the Fort Wayne, IN, News-Sentinel, but I don’t have a photo of that newsroom.




  Advice For College Grads


To new grads:
Don’t take any advice
Without a ton of salt
Especially from me.

So, you want to go
Into journalism?
Well, first grab
Your forearm.
Pinch it.
Then take out
Your wallet.
Feel it.
That’s your future
As a journalist.
You’ll have to be
Thick skinned and
Be satisfied with
A thin wallet.


It does no good
To piss and moan.
It’s better to just
Drink your beer
And piss.



Bone scanner 2

By David Allen

My aching bones
brought me to this
nuclear medicine lab
where a smiling nurse
filled me with a radioactive
soup that made my bones glow
for the scanner.

Lying flat on my back,
hands over my head,
the lab light darkened
as the huge metal machine
rolled over my body,
two inches above my nose,
and took pictures of my bones
as I quickly fell asleep
(it’s a talent I have).

Soon, I was in a Midwest newsroom
where I spent some eight years
as the ace crime reporter,
listening to some management geek
explain that the news staff
was to be reduced by four reporters.
A RIF, he called it, as if reduction in force
was more polite than just saying,
“Get the fuck outta here.”

I enviously eyed the computer
that sat on a small rolling table
I shared with the reporter
at the next cubicle.
I was hoping the firings would
free up some space, so I could have
the computer all to myself,
and maybe moved my pile of clips
and news releases and other paperwork
to his desk.

I was beginning to enjoy that thought
when I heard my name called.
“Allen,” the pretentious prick
of an executive editor said. “You’re lucky
we don’t kick your sorry ass outta here!
Maybe next time,” he laughed.
and the sycophants laughed along with him.

But I knew I was safe.
I knew where all the bodies were buried
and no no one else had the sources I had.

I looked around the newsroom,
smiled and wondered which one
of the faces I was gawking at
wouldn’t be there tomorrow.
I was about to start making my guesses
when I heard a faint beep
and a voice over my shoulder said,
“All right, Mr. Allen, we’re done.”
“Well, I’m not,” I thought.
But I had already opened my eyes

Man, that old newsroom was
twenty-four years in the past,
and that scene never happened.
Why’d I dream that up?

You know, you never know
why something pops up in a dream,
no matter what the dream studies say.
A car turns into a train with no
effect on the plot; sex with a beautiful woman
suddenly becomes a fight with a bear;
you lose your car in the parking lot
only to find it parked on the roof, ready to
fly you off to a new adventure.

Dreamscapes just happen.
Just like how my bones
All of a sudden, I seems,
Have just started aching with age.



My second book of poetry, “(more)’ is now available in Kindle and paperback editions.  Order your copy today!



David Allen  Don Gallus (2) 3

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


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:


Over 50,
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,

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.


That was decades ago
and, while my lady still serves as my muse
life, as is its wont, chose another path.
Poor health and the steady decline
of newspapers brought me back
to Hoosierland, where retirement
is easier on my thin wallet.

Here, I’ve seen a city’s decline
abandoned by the industry
that once made it great.
I saw a home stripped of metal
by a meth-head renter,
expediting the owner to bargain
with a bank for a deed in lieu of foreclosure.
I saw a woman lying bloody
on the living room floor,
her throat damaged by alcohol;
a young man jump out of a moving car
to warn people in a quiet neighborhood
of his pending crucifiction;
and a parade of parents on the tv news
arrested for murder in the neglect
of their young children.
I fought cancer and won
and survived three spinal operations
that left me shorter and cane-bound.
I finally jumped full-time into poetry, creating a blog
and two books and editing a literary ezine.
Which brings me to now.
being active with other statewide scribes
to make sure poetry stays alive.



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.