May 9, 2017

Three poems by David Allen: "I Never Wrote a Poem About My Mother", "The Day Mom Died" and "What Comes Next"

David Allen is a freelance writer and poet now living in Central Indiana. He is the poetry editor of the online Indiana Voice Journal and vice president of the Poetry Society of Indiana . A native of Long Island, he is retired journalist, reporting for papers in Virginia, Indiana and the Far East. He was part of the “Eat Write Café and Traveling Poets Society” on Okinawa, doing open mic readings and publishing an E-zine. His poems and short stories have been published in several journals and he has two books of poetry, "The Story So Far," and "(more)," both available from Amazon. He has a blog, “Type Dancing,” at https://davidallenpoet.net.  Here's some poems for Mother's Day.







I NEVER WROTE A POEM ABOUT MY MOTHER

I never wrote a poem about my mother,
even though dozens about dad
flowed from pens filled
with ink blood red.
after all, he planted the seeds
of fear and hopelessness, deep
strong roots grown in furrows
slashed into pliant flesh
by belts stinging,
quick backhands
and cutting words, while
mom protested in silence,
condoning the conditioning years
later saying --
“But afterwards he always cried.”

I never wrote a poem for my mother,
though I love her and think fondly
of the bond we formed in later years.
what was there to write?
I tried to protect her once
I was nine and my Dad, drunk again,
had raised his hand one too many times
and as he stumbled from the house,
my mom damning him to the fiery pit,
I chased him down the steps,
swatting his back with the brush
end of a broom;
trying to sweep him from our lives,
I suppose, though he’s here still
long after buried in a veteran’s grave.

I never wrote a poem about my mother,
she kept us together somehow
all those years, for what
I never understood.
I relished the times
I was farmed out to
uncles, aunts and my
Nan Nan’s strong, protecting arms.

I never wrote a poem about my mother
who never told me what to be,
just follow the rules
as muddled as they are,
“Stay out of trouble, David
or you’ll anger you father.”
He was so quick to anger,
haunted by war ghosts
and failures too numerous to name;
a dozen jobs, a dozen homes,
a dozen shattered promises.
I stood with her often on the welfare lines,
bringing home the state dole of
oily peanut butter in gallon cans,
powdered milk, cornmeal
and the white beans that gagged me
every time.

I never wrote a poem for my mother,
though she saved me once by moving us
to another county when
the streets beckoned and threatened
to steal the soul of her oldest son.
she never said why we moved
and I always assumed it was to hide
from the collection agents who came
round to our door as often
as the milkman and the mail.

I never wrote a poem to my mother,
who behind the scenes later
cut the strings, let me
find my own way, any way
that was better than
the stifling daily struggle
she suffered alone with seven
children and failing health.

I never wrote a poem about my mother
who stoically now in her
Golden Years, a widow, children grown,
has finally allowed herself
to live her own life, with no regrets,
no sighs of could-have-beens, but
says, “That’s just the way things were and I did the best I could.”

I never wrote a poem for my mother
who never taught me to hug,
or love, but managed still
to make sure we always had food
and clothes and a bed,
where in dreams I escaped
the dread of the Dad-filled days
until I was strong enough to run.

I never wrote a poem for my mother
and still I wonder why?




THE DAY MOM DIED

The day Mom died
My doorbell rang
Twice, two times in
The afternoon.

But when I bounded from my chair
There was no one there,
Or anywhere near,
As I scanned the scene
For signs of a prank or the post.

After the second signal
I tested the bell for a short
Or some other cause.
But it worked just fine,
No gust or glitch had
Had set it abuzz.

Hours later I got the word
Mom departed this cold world.
My wife suggested
Mom stopped by our island,
Which swarms with ghosts,
To say goodbye to her oldest son,
One child absent from the last bedside.
And I just shrugged,
And would still, except --

The day they turned our Mom to ash
The doorbell rang again.
And her grandson answered only to find
No one waiting to come in.

And in the months that followed,
The doorbell never repeated its
Eerie ring, sounding only
To announce a package delivered
Or a neighbor stopping to say “Hi.”

I guess Mom said her final goodbye.





WHAT COMES NEXT

I walked toward the bright light
And as it dimmed I saw my mother
Sitting on a swing.
She smiled and asked,
How I liked the trip.
“The trip?” I asked
“Yes, the life you just left.
How’d you like it?”
I was stunned.
“What did you learn this time?” she asked.

I struggled to understand what was happening.
My Mom died years ago and moments ago
I had slipped on the stairs
While taking out the garbage.
“Oh, hon, I can see you’re confused.
That wasn’t a smooth transition.”
She rose from the swing and took my hand.
“Life is all about learning,” she said.
“It’s a series of trips towards enlightenment.
How’d you like this last one?”

It was then I realized I had died
And was newly alive.
Impressions from my latest life
Flooded my mind and, overwhelmed,
I sank to the ground.
My mother sat next to me.
“It was alright,” I finally stammered.
“I found my muse.
I traveled the world
And had children and grandkids.
And I wrote poetry.
I was happy.”

“And what did you learn?”
My mother asked.
Her smile warmed me.
“I learned not to hate,” I said.
“I helped others when I could.
I laughed more.”
“Good,” she said. “You’re progressing.”

She squeezed my folded hands.
“Now, do you want to go back?
Or would you like to rest before
Your next lesson?
Some of your family and friends
Are waiting to see you.”
“I’d like to see them, too,” I said.
“But only for a while.
There’s still a lot more to see and do.
Maybe I can make a difference.”
“You already have,” my Mom said.
“Now let’s party for a bit.
We’ve been waiting for you.”

Sometime later, she pressed my upper lip
So I’d not remember where I’d been.
And I slowly disappeared.
And a beautiful girl baby was born
To an immigrant couple
Inside the domed city
On Mars.

© David Allen

1 comment:

  1. These poems brought tears to my eyes. Thank you David Allen . I still can't write a poem for or about my mother but maybe now I can try. Judy Moskowitz

    ReplyDelete

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