Dick Allen
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Thrushwood Lake

Dick Allen

A Cautionary


How do you get through this life

with its broken keyboards, its green awnings in the rain,

a battered tree top and a broken knife?

(the old man complained).

You walk a little.  You stop.  You hurt.

And then you go on.


Why was there nothing, and then something

and here became ocean and there became plain.

And what can we do about everything?

(the young girl asked, performing a curtsy).

You walk a little.  You stop.  You hurt.

And then you go on.


What if he or she dies?  What if she or he dies?

If you can’t trust even a Presbyterian

who will water the zinnias?  Who will rack up the skies?

(questioned the woman wringing her hands).

You walk a little.  You stop.  You hurt.

And then you go on.


Do you know the way to San Jose?  What tripped up Sisyphus?

Who took the noodles from my Ramen soup and when

were you going to tell me?  Can I survive all this?

(said the madman, a gun to his head).

You walk a little.  You stop.  You hurt.

And then you go on.


Isn’t this nonsense?  Isn’t advice

a joke in the ear, a clot on the brain?

One lie to another, just to be nice

(sneered the face in the crowd who once had my name).

You walk a little.  You stop.  You hurt.

And then you go on.

                    -THE HUDSON REVIEW


Would This Day Never End

Would billboards keep appearing on lonely country roads

advertising ranch dressing,

and painters never lose their eye for curved tree branches.

Would this day go on and on into the faint piano tinkerings of “Let It Be”

and the heart of a good man.  From everywhere,

let a thousand Keats stand before a thousand casement windows,

and coaches blow whistles across soccer fields.  Would we be able

to see signs in everything:  three red cars parked together,

lake ripples, four Goths in a row,

a piece of computer spam that made it through the rapids.

Would this day be Andy Rooney, Bill O’Reilly,

Sting and Mother Theresa, for who ordained

things should logically end.  Would this day

be planned and accidental as a flame.

Would cell phones grow luminous and begin eating their ring tones,

or cupcakes, which may be the happiest word in the English language:


Would all loves be like Russian nesting dolls,

one life surrounding the next, and that life taken over by an enamel birch tree,

each life new, but leaning inward.  Blueberry pies,

halyards clinking against flagpoles in deserted school yards,

John Philip Sousa.  Lake Placid.  “Houston.

Tranquility Base here.”  “I’m gonna make it to Heaven.”

A perfect haiku by Bashö.

Would it all be a buffet with homemade everything,

specifically, peach cobbler,

and would this was Bloomington, Indiana, 1965,

a tall glass of scotch and soda in my hand, I’m gonna live forever,

as I sat in a lawn chair, talking with good friends

about ye gods and little fishes. Who would have believed it? 

This life I mean. This music.  This wonder.

The moment inside the moment—that amazing

first time your teeth and tongue

broke into a chocolate covered cherry.  Sweet sentiment.


Mashed potatoes and gravy and the surrey with the fringe on top.

Irony be damned and covered with football helmets.

Would this day. . . . Bless this day.  Would this day never end.   

                                       -Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review