Posts Tagged ‘memories’


Posted: December 22, 2016 in Poetry
Tags: , , , , , , , ,


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.





By David Allen

I’m torn on the idea of graveyards.
Oh, I’d roam through them as shortcuts
And use them as playgrounds as a kid;
They were great for hide and seek.
Much later, I thought they were
Fitting reminders of those who came before us;
Some who died in battle,
Testaments to lives, lived and lost.
But for family grave plots?
Maybe for a generation or two
Some relatives or descendants  
Would place flowers, say a prayer,
Or maybe just meditate on memories.
But, what then? As the generations pass
How many headstones are forgotten?
How many graveyards abandoned?

Let me tell you about one.
Headstones were discovered not so long ago
Stacked against a fence in the backyard of a home
In Great Neck, Long Island,
A place settled by Allens in the late 1600s.
On what was then called Madnan’s Neck.
(Mad Nan was an earlier settler
Who struck her family and friends as a bit loopy.)

The headstones were in a small family graveyard
Started sometime by Daniel Allen in the early 1800s.
In 1938, his great-nephew died and left $500
For the upkeep of the cemetery.
The money was never used.
The family moved on,
Spreading throughout Long Island and points west.
The headstones stood alone and lonely
Then a subdivision fenced the cemetery
Into a small triangle between two backyards.
Sometime early this century the headstones were moved
To make room for a new shed and swing set.

News accounts are not clear on how
The headstones were rediscovered.
But studies of old records were made
And a search of the nearby grounds
Unearthed seven crumbling caskets
Forgotten during the busy decades
Since their, no-doubt, well attended funerals.
They were moved to a corner lot
And reclaimed by the town.

It might be interesting to visit one day,
Out of curiosity.
I am torn. I didn’t know the interred;
I heard no family stories about them.
And why should it matter?
Maybe a part of them lies within me
Perhaps that’s the only memorial
That really counts.


From the Great Neck Record:

Cemetery Project to Move Forward
May 24, 2014

There’s renewed hope that plans for the restoration and preservation of the Allen Cemetery, a 20-foot by 10-foot abandoned property nextled between the backyards of two homes on Pearce Place in Great Neck Plaza can soon move forward. ed property nestled between the backyards of two homes on Pearce Place in Great Neck Plaza can soon move forward. 

The optimism for the project’s completion came from the Town of North Hempstead’s historian Howard Kroplick during his appearance last week as a guest of the Great Neck Historical Society. “We’re going to be meeting with the Great Neck Plaza people, probably, within the next month,” said Kroplick, “and really come up with a plan. We’ve been working with them for about a year-and-a-half.”

“We’ve been working not only with the Plaza but with the Great Neck Historical Society on it, and with the Allen family, too,” he added. “We had to get all of our legal documents together.”


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)