© 2018 THE LONG ISLAND LITERARY JOURNAL

Three Poems by Blaise Allen, Ph.D.

By Ode to Autumn

 

Our single tomato plant blooms. From once yellow

flowers, five emerald marbles droop over the cage

 

wilted from heat, as if they have the vapors

and need a fainting couch. They probably won’t

 

make it to the table, even with extra care.

I poke my finger into the clay pot, test the soil,

 

dry as peat, water them till the smell of dirt rises.

Wildlife hasn’t found the chartreuse globes,

 

too sour for birds and grubby handed raccoons.

I nuzzle my nose to plant, inhale bitter-greens,

 

caress the fuzz of stem and crisp-edge curl of leaf.

Sticky virescent residue stays on my fingers.

 

Salt-air winds quiver the lone reddening tomato

we watch grow. Each day, I tuck my hand underneath,

 

lift and squeeze to see if it’s ready to be plucked.

Its weight increases a dram-a-day.

 

Spiders spin across plants. Little Buddhas

settle on webs in the ripening glow of sunset.

 

 

Hangover

We opened the night like a bottle of Malbac,

and after it was empty, downed darkness like a pint

of Guinness. And evening poured over our shoulders

like a pashmina shawl—edit—we pulled twilight

over our heads like satin sheets. Strike that.

I rolled dusk up my thighs like black silk stockings

secured with garters. Revise--You rolled something else,

and smoke made the sky a composition notebook

of clouds. The moon a wheel of Manchego cheese.

Dogs charged reflections on sliding glass doors.

The evening smelled like docks at the marina, creosote

and diesel. Passion sounded like the time you revved up

the blacktop driveway, blared your horn, waited for me

to come out in heels and fishnets. You burnt rubber

into our uncertain futures. Truth is, we drove

to the nearest hotel off the Long Island Expressway.

The one with mirrored ceilings. Rented rooms by the hour.

The Summit Inn? No, no, it was the Commack Motor Lodge.

We nearly drank a bottle of Maker’s Mark.

Painfully woke to dawn. We saw we were naked

in a wallpapered garden. In vain,

we looked around for a serpent and apple.

All we found was a scribbled poem about a cold plum

someone bit into and left to shrivel in the fridge.

 

 

The Narrow Road to Happy Hour

 

The years, an expedition of days, nights, and happy hours. The years that fly by day after day are also travelers. And after a summer of visiting coastal bars of Long Island, by terminal moraines and surf, I flew south in autumn. Once again, a snowbird in Florida, sitting at my regular bar on my regular barstool. Each afternoon a wanderlust gang joined me: Tom Collins, Tito, Sherry, Bud, The Millers, The Schaefers, the Black Russian, The Nutty Irishman, Herb Jager, and, my Honey Jack. As Tolken said, Not all who wander are lost.

 

Bacchus, God of wine and revelry, devil of temptation, possessed my very soul. Neon lights of local watering holes beckoned from every strip mall so that it was impossible for me to stay home. Even when I was home putting on my face, applying lip gloss, and pulling on Spanx to make my thighs appear stronger, I was already dreaming of reaching into a bucket of Blue Moons bobbing on ice. So vivid the thought, my hands felt frost bitten. Late afternoon, I headed to the Mai Kai Lounge, featuring songs of The Sampu Villagers. A verse I posted at the Tiki bar read:

Kasu no to mo

Sumi-kawaru yo

Zo hina no ie

 

At happy hour, an old woman in a grass hut

(her resting place) is still with Captain Morgan

and a Barbie Doll

 

The other eight stanzas of haikai, I posted on Facebook.

 

Translated by Blaise Allen

                                        (The Narrow Road to the Deep North and Other Travel Sketches, 2017)

 

 

Blaise Allen, Ph.D. is Director of Community Outreach, The Palm Beach Poetry Festival. Her poems have been published in literary anthologies and magazines including: The American Journal of Poetry, Pink Panther Magazine, South Florida Poetry Journal, Clackamas Literary Review, East End Elements, Naugatauk River Review, The Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, Blue Fifth Review, Long Island Quarterly, and Mothering Magazine. Blaise bridges her passion of social welfare and the arts through community engagement, and project management