[Poetry] — R.A. Allen

Figure Study

He’s always in the same window
of the high-rise at the midpoint
of my nightly walk.
Backlit by an unwatched TV
he stares out,
and stares out again.

He’s not gazing at tonight’s clear sky,
with its stage-prop moon. Nor the twinkling grid
of streets; nor the bar graph
of buildings along the waterline.

He’s watching, waiting
But there’s something more,
something about the slack in his jaw,
something in the slope of his shoulders,
and how he locks his fingers to form an upturned
bowl. I find him a collectable specimen
for my ongoing study
of longing.
He could be longing personified,
forestalling despair with dogged hope.
He teaches me that in longing, hope still lives.



If character is destiny,
how might a parent effect
a prenatal bump-start
in early childhood nurture?
In the giving of names
care must be taken:
mark of Cain or jetpack to merit,
auspicious or stigmatic?
Nomen est omen,” the Romans said.
Boys named “Biff.”
Girls named “Candy.”
Teddy Roosevelt or Ted Bundy?
I’ve heard that from the name
to the thing itself is but a step.

A daughter is on the way.
My bookish wife favors “Colette.”
But I worry.


R. A. Allen‘s poetry has appeared in the New York Quarterly, RHINO Poetry, The Penn Review, B O D Y, The Hollins Critic, Northampton Poetry Review, and elsewhere. He is a Pushcart nominee and has one Dzanc Books Best of the Web nomination for fiction. He lives in Memphis and was born on the same day that the Donner Party resorted to cannibalism: December 26th.