"But first, baby, as you climb and count the stairs (and they total the same), did you, sometime or somewhere, have a different idea?
Is this, baby, what you were born to feel, and do, and be?"

-Kenneth Fearing

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tower Window

after eleven a.m. by Edward Hopper

They say it makes sense. They tell you it does.

Last night the anchor said everything was fine.

But it’s hard to believe that from where you are

seated at your high castle window

where maybe the prince will see you.

(but is your hair long enough?)

Who placed you here, and how long ago?

This is no story, so there is no villain

so who then will release you?

(Heroes are useless in cities.)

This is not a story, not at all, so no one

wants to hear about your broken heart;

your poison apple, your deep sleep,

not Jon at the newsstand, not Mike and Billy

riding bicycles, not Emily holding an outside table,

not any of the hundreds who will pass beneath

your watch on their lunch hour.

They don’t want to hear that your clothes remind you

too much of the world, and only your shoes

keep you from vanishing. They don’t want to know.

This is not a story. They don’t want to know,

This is not a story they want to know.

This is a story: Everything is fine.

This is the story they want to know:

Everyone, everywhere, fine.

                                  -Brent Allard

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Miles Between Exits


Tom Joad carries a five gallon gas can,

towards the dropping orange sun.

Jesus looks to Tom and says “I’ll take it for awhile.“

They walk along the shoulder,

framed by shadowy finger clouds.

Sirens blare threats in the distance.

Tom hands the can to Jesus,

and nods a thank you,

his arm already feeling light enough to float.

Jesus feels the strain,

in his purpled eye, cheekbone

still stinging from the billy-club.

Wincing, Jesus says,

“It's like we never stop walking”

Tom replies, “I know, but we’re almost there.”

and wonders how best to tell Jesus

that the gas gauge in his Chevy

doesn’t work.


            -Brent Allard

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Single Serving

*after Edward Hopper's Automat

It's not such a terrible thing
to be alone, except for those
nights when the coffee is lousy,
but you drink anyway, because
no one would hear you complain.

This is a night of wearing down,
of ticking, of erosion becoming visible.
Call it a blue table night of the soul.
Even if someone occupied
the chair across from you,
What would you tell him; that
you've dreamed a life of circles
and lived one in squares?

He would say; "look into your
cup. Rest your head on the
table. The lights will keep you
safe, and when you wake
it will all be true."

         -Brent Allard

Thursday, July 8, 2010



It got me across the country. In fact I’m still driving it. I’ve already got more than my $800.00 worth. It’s ugly, brown and loud, but I don’t mind. There’s every sort of car out here, rusted out orange Pintos, and new Mercedes Benz’s. They make the movies here, so they’ve got to have all kinds. Some people even walk, like this guy I met yesterday playing country songs on his guitar, next to Jimmy Stewart’s star in the sidewalk. I would’ve given him a buck, if he’d known some Johnny Cash.

But here in the January sunshine, where even the migrant workers smile at nothing all day, what I’m thinking of, is you glancing out the window as the snow falls over Beacon St. You’re curled up in a blanket, watching 80’s movies, letting the telephone ring itself out, though not for Emilio Estevez or Molly Ringwald’s sake, you just can’t break the warm isolation of cable television. You’re not thinking of me.

I didn’t know I was leaving you, until I was on the road at three in the morning with only speeding eighteen wheeler’s to keep me company. I thought, some people do this every day and then head home again. But they must wonder, What if, this time I don’t turn around? They must, because it happens every day. I won’t turn around, and I’ll probably never think of you again like this. I’m just a face you saw a few times, had a few beers with, made polite conversation.

It’s not like I’m sending this to you. I just wondered for a minute, what it would be like to wake up in your bed as you were putting on your make-up to head out the door. Could I have lived there for the rest of my life, or was I always headed here, to this sunny ending, alone in my car at the In and Out Burger drive-thru?

-Brent Allard
previously published in Slipstream