Posts Tagged ‘poems’

yard sale

WHATCHA LOOKIN’ FOR?
By David Allen

Cruisin’ slow through the neighborhood,
Causing my passenger to mutter,
“Whatcha lookin’ for, some sign from God?”

Nah, I’m lookin’ for
A sign for a yard —
Sale, that is,
Some place where I can rummage
Through someone else’s life,
Examine the pieces of their past,
Old books with broken spines
And underlined passages
That once meant more
Than the 25 cent sticker
Pasted on the cover’s corner;
Maybe a video in a format
Almost as forgotten as
The romantic night on the couch
Munching more than popcorn;
Or a toolbelt retired
From the job at the shuttered mill
In the aging town with overgrown lots
As empty as the old lady’s eyes
As she sells frayed towels in faded colors
And her creaking rocker.
The grandchildren she sang to sleep are gone.
What else might I find?
Maybe a dented bicycle helmet,
Reminder of a scary night in the ER;
Fishing gear sold by the wheelchair
Bound diabetic amputee;
Cookbooks with place holders
Marking recipes long forgotten
By the widow who dines alone.

Yeah, I’m lookin’ for a yard sign marking
Some place with memories for sale,
Some place where I can lose myself
In someone else’s dimming past
As I run away from my own.

NOTE: Schedulding our first major yardsailing trip thie weekend with my Muse. Reminded me of this poem I wrote a few years ago.

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Here’s a fun poetry prompt for April 30, the last day of National Poetry Month

At the Last Stanza, a poetry group that meets twice a month, we always assign a challenge for our next meeting. Last week’s challenge was to go to a bookcase and write a poem based on what you have on the shelves. Ready, set, go —

Here’s the poem I wrote:

THE SPAWN OF STEPHEN KING
By David Allen

The spawn of Stephen King
dwell in my living room
On the top two shelves
Of the wall of books
It’s scary sometimes.

At Four Past Midnight I can hear
The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon
Under the Dome in Misery moan
About The Drawing of the Three
In the Pet Cemetery.

The Tommy Knockers
Hide behind a huge Dream Catcher
As The Regulators worry about Carrie,
A marathon runner who failed
To cross The Green Mile.

When she failed to end Gerald’s Game,
She refused to eat at the Feast of Fear
The diet progressively turned her Thinner
Until she was little more
Than a Bag of Bones.

On the second shelf I saw Christine,
who screamed From a Buick 8,
Careening along the Roadwork
Towards The Wastelands where
Ghouls there waited in The Dark Half,
Watching It reach The Dead Zone.

That’s where Nightmares and Dreamscapes
Present naked Fear Itself, as clouds
Turn the scene to Full Dark, No Stars.
A bit left of the chaos, Needful Things
Also waited in Desperation.

There, inside the Black House, where on 11-22-63
Doctor Sleep remembered Different Seasons,
Firestarter, an arsonist hired by King,
Burned Cujo during a sacrificial rite on
The Cycle of the Werewolf.

On the far left, hiding behind a pile of paperbacks,
Hardbacks announce the Skeleton Crew kneels
Before The Eye of a Dragon, presenting
A tribute to The Talisman who serves
A  Wizard and Glass eyes.

But that’s Lisey’s Story
About Mr. Mercedes and
The Duma Key and I’m
Saving that for a stormy night.

 

Davidreads

WHAT D’YA DO?
By David Allen

It was a great night
at the Eat Write Café.
About a dozen poets,
fueled by cold beer
and raw feelings that filled
the pages they clutched as they
climbed the stage steps,
shared their poems
with the Friday night crowd.

While they read, I paced fidgety
at the rear of the room, smiling
whenever the barmaid passed
with tray full of beer for the tables.
I had already read and I was like
a punch-drunk pug anxious
to get back in the ring.

Out of the corner of my eye
I saw a young man with a
severe Marine haircut
climb off a stool at the bar
and walk toward me with
a napkin in an outstretched hand.

“Hey, man, I just wrote this,” he shyly said,
handing me the ink-stained tissue.
“Think I can read?”
“Sure,” I said and read his poem.
It was short, about a dozen lines,
a wavy scrawl with some crossed-out words
about a lost love, left behind at some
Philippine back street shanty.

He slowly got up on stage
when the emcee, “The Mic,” asked
If anyone new wanted to share.
When the young Marine read,
there was a respectful silence.
The crowd clapped and roared
their approval when he smiled
and shyly left the stage.

Later, he bought me a beer,
thanking me for the chance to share.
“I sometimes write, but the guys in my squad
make fun of it,” he said. “They think it’s gay.”
“Screw ‘em,” I said. “No one understands poets.
We have to write like we have to breathe.”

We talked on, joined by other poets
downing mugs of inspiration.
They were Marines, Airmen,
Sailors and soldiers, civilian teachers,
contractors and older Americans who had made
Okinawa their home. Gathering
to share their addiction to the printed word.
They encouraged him to continue writing.

After a few more beers, the young poet
turned to me, saying he could tell by my beard
and graying, long hair that I was obviously
not a member of the military.
“What do you do?” he asked.

I smiled and drained my Guinness.

“Yeah,” I mused. “What d’ya do?”

 

Buy my books! The Story So Far and (more) are available at Amazon.com.

https://www.amazon.com/David-Allen/e/B00DT6TM7Y?ref_=pe_1724030_132998060

POEMS

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

writers-block

POEMS
By David Allen

Damn!
Now I’ve done it.
It’s Monday
The Last Stanzas meet Friday
And I have no new poem to wow them;
Nothing,
Nada,
Nil.
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.

 

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Xmas gift hunt 2

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.

 

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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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.

quote-the-glove-has-been-thrown-to-the-ground-the-last-choice-of-weapons-made-a-book-for-one-eugene-mccarthy-251851

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.

Commutersimage

WHERE ARE THE POEMS
By David Allen

Where are the poems?
I looked in all the familiar
places and failed to find
a line that I could use.
I wanted to ask my muse
for a shot of inspiration,
but she slept the sleep
of the jet lagged
and I feared waking her
would result in words too tart.
I looked in the bathroom
and behind the bar,
but found no Bukowski hidden there.
The fridge offered no Ferlinghetti.
So I went out back, but Jack
must’ve been somewhere on the road.
No words, no poems,
no Ginsberg in my ginseng tea.
No Billy Collins cropped
up in my coffee cup.
and Cummings apparently
must’ve come and went
before my feet hit the
bedroom floor.
An unpoetic day, I thought,
that’s what this is.
And so, I left for work
where the news is my muse.
the words always come easy there,
like the snippets I write when a trial drags
and I readily reach
into the recess of my
addled brain and find
the thoughts to kick start
the poetic engine of my being.

 

NOTE: This is one of the poems I read today at a small gathering in Alexandria, Ind., for National Poetry Month