Posts Tagged ‘poetry’


Posted: January 27, 2018 in Poetry
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Dying Mall 1

                DYING MALLS
                 By David Allen

Sitting alone again,
Parked on a bench
Watching nothing happening
In a dying Midwest Mall.
Waiting for the cinema to open
While my wife explores a small shop
Conducting a post-Christmas sale;
Toys, candy, cards all 75 percent off.

It’s nearly noon on a weekday
And the tables at the nearby
Fast-food court are empty.
The mall-walkers are absent
The halls are deserted.

I remember a time in my youth when
Malls were shopping meccas.
I was 14 when Walt Whitman Mall
Opened on Long Island, the first
Enclosed shopping center
In New York city’s suburbs.
The halls were teen hangouts
A shopper’s Valhalla.
Everything was for sale for the right price.
No one seemed to care that
The shops downtown were closing.

It got so bad that my favorite haunts
In Huntington Station — the soda shop
Where I sipped the world’s best egg creams;
The stationery store where I paged through
The latest Cracked and Mad magazines;
The Red Top, where my father perched
On a barstool until Mom sent me
To fetch him home for dinner —
Were bulldozed to make way
For commuter parking and
Low-rent apartments.

What will this mall become?
The last time I saw it busy
Was when the old Sears
Opened on the weekend
For flea market booths.
There was also talk of leveling
It all for a new reservoir.

The future will be a world
Where everything, even groceries
And fast-food will be sent to your door,
All available on cell phones and laptops
Used by customers  from their couches
As they binge-watch their favorite TV shows.

Back to now.
When my wife returned
We paid senior fares
At the mall’s cinema
To watch the latest “Star Wars”
With four other Baby Boomers
Scattered throughout the theater.


Well, I  hope my poem did not have anything to cause this, but ownerheres-why-malls-across-thDying Mall 2e-us-are-dying of my local mall have announced it will close for good April 1.


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.



Xmas gift hunt 2

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

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.


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


Frog Legs
(A Modern Fairy Tale)
By David Allen

Without realizing the consequences
d.g. leaned out as far as he could,
arm outstretched in some mad play
to catch the ring of fate.
The carousel spun dizzily
no one else could grab the ring,
the hare-lipped troll in
d.g.’s employ had seen to it
that everyone else on the ride
was an amputee.

Nothing was being left
to chance, the prize came
into sight. d.g. stretched,
leaned to snag fate —
Damn! It was gone.
The French war veteran,
a laughing old fart with four
stumps and a backbrace,
had snatched the ring with his
considerable nose.

They came for d.g. when
the machine stopped,
but he was already gone,
disappearing into an alley,
his left leg dragging lifeless
behind him.

The hangman would have to wait.

d.g. was visibly shaken by his
experience with the ghouls of conscience
and the ring of fate.
sweat poured from his pained brow
as he limped to the fire escape
at the end of the alley
that led to his room above
the kitchen door of
Chun’s Chinese Restaurant.

Joe Chun was there, emptying the remains
of several skinned felines
into a dumpster, but
he had his back to the alley and
missed the frog’s entrance.

The frog waited for d.g.
to turn the corner before he spoke.
“What’s your hurry, friend?”
the frog asked, stepping
lightly from the shadows.
He was dressed nattily, after the fashion
of enchanted princes, and smiled at d.g.,
who had stopped dead in his tracks.
“Oh dear,” said the frog, staring
at the limp body.
“Why does this always happen to me?”

The frog knelt and checked d.g.’s pulse,
it was slow and weak.
Then he slowly, sensuously placed
his moist lips over d.g.’s face
and tenderly caressed his eyelids
with his long, sticky tongue.

“Uh, where, what?” was all
d.g. could say as his eyes opened
and he saw a four-foot frog
dancing a little jig of joy.
“You have to be the weirdest thing
i ever saw,” d.g. said, standing shakily.
“I am here to give great news,” the frog began.
“I can fulfill three wish….”
Joe Chun’s hatchet made a swift impression
on his mind before he could finish.
“Oh, what crazy frog legs
we have tonight,” Joe said.

“Count me out, man,” d.g. answered.
“I don’t think i could stomach any French food.
Goodnight, Joe.”
“You goodnight,” Joe replied,
dragging the frog corpse toward the restaurant.
“Me good eat.”


Note: This probably is proof that being forced by a school psychologist in the 6th grade to respond to a series of ink blots was probably justified.


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.


Freight Yard 1

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.


Shooting an air torpedo aboard the USS New York City

By David Allen

I was asked about my workplace
What was it like?

Well, there were desks and file cabinets,
Reporter cubicles in lines,
copy editors grouped in a circle.
Typedancing was the newsroom music,
Metal keys slapping rubber platens
With the constant clickity clack background music
Coming from the wire room, created by machines
Spinning out the national news.
Years later, silence descended when computers took over;
A serenity broken only when a reporter cursed loudly
At his phone when a key source clammed up.

But there were other workplaces for me
So many  more …

There was speeding down a narrow Thailand road
On the way to the Bridge over the River Kwai,
Dodging rundown buses taking up most of both lanes
As “Highway to Hell” blared from my car’s speakers.

And there was the USS New York City,
A submarine where I pressed the button
Discharging air torpedoes at
Phantom enemy shipping.

And I can’t forget circling on the only road in Nauru,
Where I noted the island’s center
Was the richest mine of bird guano in the world.
That was on my way to Tarawa, where my workspace
Was a sandy beach next to a rusting tank
Sunken in the ground for 50 years.

Once my workplace was another beach,
Drinking rum from a coconut on Peleliu
As the children paddled to collect presents
Dropped by Santa from an Air Force plane.

Another island workplace was Guam
Where a scared photographer declared
My driving was “Vehicular Bungee Jumping”
As we rumbled along mountain trails
Searching for the cave where a Japanese soldier hid for decades.
Guam, where my family survived an 8.1 magnitude earthquake
And I was absent for a week covering the damaged buildings and lives.

There was also that day in Northern Indiana
Where my workplace was a diner booth
Chatting about White Pride with a neo-Nazi skinhead,
Getting him to trust me so I could join his Aryan Christian Church
And take notes for a future front page expose.

In the same city my workplace was a walk
Around the county courthouse listening to a police spokesman
Tell me a woman recently murdered had collected evidence
That threatened the careers of his boss and the mayor.

Much earlier in my career
My workplace was a Virginia border town
Where I interviewed descendants
Of the Hatfields and McCoys,
Noting the West Virginia families
Lived in rundown trailers with
Huge satellite TV antennas in the yards

Today my workplace is my Indiana home
In an office crammed with books,
File cabinets, plastic boxes of old newsclips,
Piles of notebooks filled with scrawled poems,
And photos of the other days
When I trawled the world for news.





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

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.