Posts Tagged ‘Last Stanza’


Posted: December 24, 2017 in Poetry
Tags: , , , , ,


By David Allen

Now I’ve done it.
It’s Monday
The Last Stanzas meet Friday
And I have no new poem to wow them;
My brain is as foggy
As the damp December day
Outside my home.

There was a glimmer of hope last night
When I saw an orphan poem
Sitting sadly, lonely,
On my computer’s desktop.
Hundreds of other poems
Gathered in “done” folders.
One massive file contained poems
Published over forty-two years,
Another folder bulged with poems
Prepared for my next book.
But this one poem sat alone.

I opened it and read about
My latest spinal operation
And the nurses who guided
My recovery with caring hands.
There was Tara, who would make
My pain Gone With the Wind,
And Destiny, who said I’d be fine,
But wasn’t so sure about her future.

I smiled and exhaled a sigh of relief
“I don’t think I shared this one,” I said to Myself.
“Good, now go to bed,” he answered.

But in the morning I had doubts
And called the Last Stanza leader
Just to make sure the awesome poem
Had not been shared with the group.
“Send it to me,” she said.
“Aw, it’s upstairs and I’m sipping coffee
Huddled on the couch under a blanket,” I complained.
“It was about my nursing care after my operation.”
She remembered the poem. I read it to the group months ago.
“Just write a new one,” the poetess said.
We said our goodbyes
And I pouted and pulled
At my Holidazed mind
For just a few lines.

And now, this…

It’s a week before Christmas
And all through the house
I searched for a poem
But my inner voice groused.

“Hey buster, forget it
There’s no poem here
Your gift sack is empty
There is no good cheer.

“You’re being punished
You’ve been a bad guy
You laughed at deadlines
When you were a news scribe.

“Now, you’re paying for laying
For days on the couch
Binging on Christmas movies
You’ve been a real slouch.”

“Bah, humbug,” I muttered
“Hey, I have an idea.
I’m thinking of sleeping
Until the New Year.”

I then heard a rumble
Of yells in my head
“Scram!” Inner Voice yelled
“Screw you!” Ego said.

“David still has it,” Ego announced
“Just give him a chance.
He’ll soon find a theme
And the words will dance.”

So, I drained my coffee,
My fifth or sixth cup,
And told the two voices
To shut the hell up.

Then I reached for my pen
And this notebook I filled
With this new poem
I knew fit the bill.




By David Allen

Sharing stories with poet friends
Topics taken by rolls of the dice
(If you didn’t like the first, you got to roll twice.)
Some tales met with gasps, others with grins.

Pat witnessed an alien craft
Light up the Midwest night sky
Later suspecting meteor reports were lies.

Joyce’s dad lost a finger to a circular saw
Judy saw a red pirate ship sitting offshore.

Tom delivered meals on Thanksgiving Day
Jenny almost died from morphine taken to chase pain away.

Cathy’s first kiss from a slobbering boy
Put an end to thinking love would be a joy.

Linda’s college rooms were painted wild colors
Turquoise, blue, and green walls clashed with each other.

Judy’s big night pout was a Nutcracker affair
Jenny’s drug store sold liquor and comic book fare.

Joyce remembered a drunk knocking down all the pins
Pat shoveled walks and cut grass to fill his book bins.

Judy’s dry cleaner’s hot air beckoned the bees
Jenny’s waitress job made her toes bleed.

Jenny’s brother cut down a tree, pocketing Christmas money
Pat brought a man purse from Europe and people looked at him funny.

Cathy’s band placed first in the entire state
But bringing up the rear was the majorettes’ fate.

Linda’s favorite item at the Indy drug store
Was raspberry sherbert, she always wanted more.

Pat’s dad found huge wooden type to declare JFK was dead
Cathy’s practical joke was to season sweet potato doughnuts with pepper instead.

Tom partied and danced at a Grateful Dead concert
Where a pretty girl yakked despite the “Shut Up and Dance” shirt.

Joyce shyly sand in her church choir
Pat’s art class dance set a teacher on fire.

Linda thought being banned from her daughter’s medical exam was jive
Cathy remembered a family split when she was just five.

And me, I told several stories from my wayward life
Cross country driving, divorcing my wife,
Jumping from a plane for a story, but missing the shot
VW broke down outside Barstow, the desert was too hot.

(NOTE: This was a poem challenge for the Last Stanza Poetry Association)


Posted: April 10, 2014 in Poetry, Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,

Sailorz 001


This will be strange.
Forty-six years after
Giving my last salute
On the quarterdeck,
I am embarking
On a road cruise
Back to the scene
Of many crimes –
A reunion with shipmates
Far removed from the
Liberty calls of our youth.

What should I pack?
And what should
I leave behind?

Old pictures, for sure;
Salty sailors on the fantail
Sipping coffee,
Sharing the scuttlebutt;
Rum and coke sodden smiles
Grouped around a bottle-laden
Table at the Lucky Seven,
The warm tropical air
Of Old San Juan
Still soothes my soul.

And look, here’s a picture
Of me astride a pony
In a Panama City park,
Taken the same day
During a train ride back
To the ship when one of
Our drunken crew
Showed us how the whore
At some mildewed club
Showed us how to
Smoke a cigarette with her ass
And we pushed him
Into the next car, filled
With officers and
Panamanian locals.

I might also take
The two pieces of my uniform
That survived the years.
The stained white short-sleeved blouse
(we didn’t call the shirts)
I wore on liberty –
A good two sizes too small
For me now –
And the shiny silver ship’s
Belt buckle I still
Wear with my jeans.

But what should I share
About the after-life?

Would they be offended
By my anti-war work?
The 36-year adventure
As a journalist, the last
Nineteen covering
The misdeeds of American
Servicemen on the islands
Of Guam and Okinawa?

I’m not sure.

And maybe I should
Omit the stories of the Glebe,
Communal days in Northern Virginia,
LSD parties in the pasture,
Scaring the cattle and
Daffodil, my goat.
I am sure tales of the broken
Marriage and custody wars,
The frustrated years
Raising preschool kids
On my own, and the joyous
Later times spoiling
Their children, would ring
Familiar bells.

But I wonder what they’d think
Of open mic poetry nights
In the Gate Two Street bars
Outside the sprawling air base
On Okinawa?
(I did write poems back
In the sailing days,
But shared them
With a select few.)

I don’t know,
It’s hard to say how
This reunion will play out.
Will it reunite, rekindle
Old friendships?
Or underline why we
All went our separate,
Different ways,
Once I left the Grey Lady,
Striding down the gangplank,
Seabag over my shoulder,
Smiling as the quarterdeck bell
Rang and the Officer of the Deck
Proclaimed, “David Allen,

By David Allen
February 2014

NOTE: This is a poem I wrote when Last Stanza leader Jenny Anderson Kalahar said we should get ready to resume our biweekly poetry meetings and suggested we write a poem about reunions — since Last Stanza has been on a one-year hiatus, primarily due to my confrontation with cancer. We haven’t set meeting dates yet, but here’s my poem.