Posts Tagged ‘poem’

June Thoughts

Posted: June 10, 2018 in Poetry
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Memorial-Day-Images-2018
memorialdaypictures.org

JUNE THOUGHTS
By David Allen

June is the month
That comes between
The holiday for heroes
Who died protecting
The freedoms guaranteed
By the second holiday.
 
The deadly shots of the first
Turn into fireworks for the second.

Decades ago, I first wondered ,
While listening to Marines
Jaw drunkenly  in a San Juan bar
About the horrors of Vietnam,
Whether our brave military dead
Might be rolling in their graves.

Did they feel forgotten and betrayed
By the politicians who sent them to die
In a nightmare conflict that had nothing
To do with protecting their freedoms at home?

I was just a lucky sailor sent to do my two years
Of active duty on a rusting Landing Ship
That took war-hardened Marines on
Pleasure cruises, supposedly protecting
The Caribbean against Communism.

Mostly, we just drank and whored
And forgot about the still-raging blood fest
That would darken the souls of some veteran’s
Years after their uniforms were packed away.

This June I continue to scratch my head
Wondering what the dead from recent war-torn fronts
May feel about dying for oil, religion, despots and
The oligarchs that control the shifting sands
Of history from behind the screens.

 

 

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.

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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.

NEwsroom

Newsrooms, Petersburg (Va.)Progress-Index, 1978.

ON DEADLINE
By David Allen

The one thing I miss the most
about those busy newspaper days
is the energy rush responding
to calls on the police radio;
racing to beat the ambulances
and squad cars to the scene
of accidents and crimes.
Yeah, I was a disaster junky.
“Hey, Allen, we got two hours!”
an editor once shouted
as I left the noisy newsroom
to chase down a missing child report.
“You want a two or three hanky story?”
I yelled back, stuffing a notebook into
my back pocket as I scurried away.
I usually got to view the bodies
before the police tape went up
and interviewed families
before the news horde arrived.
My newsmates dubbed me “Dr. Death”
and my cubicle was roped off
by yellow police tape.
A sign above my desk read:
“Deadlines Amuse Me.”
The police radio always played
in the background – at work,
at play, and beside my bed at night.

Late in my career, in the Far East
as a Bureau Chief for Stars and Stripes,
the police radio was replaced
by emergency broadcasts
warning of typhoons, tsunamis,
earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

I never examined why I was drawn
to the darker side of life
until I retired and pondered
about the emptiness I felt
when sirens wailed in the distance
and I didn’t have to go.
I loved chasing the news
because that’s when I felt alive.
And I told the stories better
than anybody else.

The Reporter 1979 (2)

Cop reporter at the Petersburg (Va.) Progress Index 1978.

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The Funeral

Posted: February 4, 2017 in Poetry
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THE FUNERAL
By David Allen

The chapel smelled sweet
flowers surrounded the coffin
that displayed my grandmother,
my Nan Nan, with a smile on her lips
that was foreign to the face.
 
She had never looked like that.
Her living smile was more subtle
quick to bend when a barrage of words
annoyingly asked why I was staring at her.
But I knew her secret — she just acted tough.
She was a former police matron who
acquired a thick shell that hid her true feelings.

But I knew better.
She was more than my grandmother,
she was my friend, the pal I ran to
when the drama at home became strained.
I was her first grandchild, her “Little Monkey.”
She always had a banana for me
and was repaid with a puppy dog hug.

The person in the casket
Was not my Nan Nan.
She was always larger than life,
this body was dead.

I was on leave from the Navy
and stood there in my uniform
weirdly feeling I was wearing some
new outfit she’d bought just for me.

Ten rows of chairs, eight across, filled the room.
Few were used; most of the attendees congregated
in the rear of the room, animatedly chatting
about anything other than my why they were there.
They caught up on the adventures of acquaintances
and introduced new additions to their families.

They hushed as a priest led the small group in prayer.
He never knew her, but called her a “Good Soul” anyway.
It was strange to hear him call her Charlotte.
That made it even tougher for me to believe
the still body behind him was my old friend.

When the priest finished, my grandfather,
my Pop Pop, slowly approached the coffin.
His weathered face contorted in a painful frown
as he bent over the top of the casket .
His trembling hand softly touched the corpse’s cheek.
He kissed her and trembled, shaking as he turned.
The mortician gently helped him walk away.

His two sons, Nan Nan’s stepsons , kissed her next.
Then, in an order unrehearsed, it was my turn.
I knelt before the box and fought my fear.
I felt like a child again, worried she’d yell if I stared.
Shaking, I stood and leaned over the coffin.
She was covered with a blanket from the waist down
so no one would see she had but one leg,
the other was amputated years ago, a sacrifice to diabetes.
She was pale. The funeral parlor make-up was unnatural.
I hesitated, then kissed a cold cheek and turned away.
I had touched my lips to a powdered statue.

I walked away sobbing softly to myself
and joined Pop Pop in the foyer, holding him,
his head resting on my shoulder as we watched
others file by the coffin, their conversations resuming
after shaking his hand and heading for the parking lot.
Pop Pop and I were alone after the casket was carried away.
I slowly turned and looked into his sad eyes

“That’s not Nan Nan,” I said
“I know, son,” he sighed. “I know.”

Note: The picture is of Nan Nan, our grandmother, and the Allen kids (l to : David, Donald, Michael, Jean, Kathy, Chuck and Ricky in Nan Nan’s arms). Circa 1960, Roslyn Heights, Long island.

MY MUSE COOK

Posted: December 24, 2016 in Poetry
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MY MUSE COOK
By David Allen
 
She reads cookbooks
Like Romance novels,
Dog-earing pages
For future kitchen trysts.
She whips up wonders,
Finessing the recipes,
Adding her signature touch,
Transforming deserts
Like Black Forest Trifle
Into “Oohies” that words
Cannot describe.
She holds kitchen court
With our grandkids,
Crushing Oreo cookies,
Sifting, pouring, stirring.
Flour covered faces and hands
Announce another magic cheesecake
Has been born.

A CHRISTMAS TALE

Posted: December 22, 2016 in Poetry
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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.

 

 

 

Winding Way

Posted: October 28, 2016 in Poetry
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winding-way

WINDING WAY
By David Allen

There’s a street in town
called Winding Way
that I swear was designed by fiends.
I turned onto it once to find a yard sale
and spent hours lost in a puzzling scene.
No matter the way, straight, left or right,
I passed the same playgrounds, houses and lots.
And when I turned onto a side street ,
like some horror book plot,
it dumped me back on Winding Way.

Confused and dazed, I thought
this was some awful dream.
This is what Hades must be like.
Searching to find some value in life,
I was just spinning my wheels
My whole life was a Winding Way.

But finally, like most fruitless quests,
this one did come to an end.
And I was able to wend my way out
onto a main road, where my growling gut told
me I’d best stop for some food and a drink.
I found a drive-in, but had to skip it when
I read the sign on the “Steak City” board
advertisimg burgers and something called “Phyllis.”

Was this some misspelling for a Philly Steak?
Or was it something more chilling?
Had some poor Phyllis died
On her Winding Way drive
And her body cooked up by some villain?
I didn’t dare ask, and instead just passed
What surely must be the village’s cannibal diner.

 

phyllis-steak

dental-fuss

Dental Fuss
By David Allen

Went to the dentist today
And, as I was being prepped
For another root canal,
I checked out his new goatee.

“So, is that so you won’t
Be recognized when
You go out in public?”
I asked.

Silence.

A pain-filled hour later
I realized I
Never did have
Good comedic timing