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Allen Strous

Allen Strous

Allen Strous is the author of Tired (The Backwaters Press), and one of the authors of The Fifth Voice (Toadlily Press).


The machine minder
not in the machine yet—
mind remaining
gray space,
gray wadding of the headache,

waste space,
saved by inefficiency, past it,
the gray glide of the hallway,

the fire escape from my sixth-grade classroom,
World War I-time building,
the stairwell, down two floors,

grandeur of
      The little box thinks of grandeur—
the stairs' rise, turns,
space of pure geometry, featureless,
the walls' grayed white no-color.
Had the plaster ever been painted—
past such attentions—

and the windows—
one into a first-floor "cloakroom,"
two panes of frosted wire glass
for a little light struggling onto that landing near the bottom,
how nearly pointless
and there     it is

and up, up,
the long window high on the wall at the top—
let it stay long and drafty with just sky,

window     nature

not so definite as usual, not details crowding in,

just space
just walking outdoors,

other     allowing.
I am here and there is more

I     am here,
all vague.

Someone's music, talk could crowd in and crowd me out,
someone's cheery elementary school.
With waste space, I stand a better chance.


Yellow and brown
low intensity

the homemade lamps for an electric bulb
or the kerosene lamps converted,
with a bulb now

ineffective     reminiscent of the kerosene

little light
casting darknesses

the usual way     this nightscape     roomscape
here, here

from there     it stretches,
so given

no question, anymore,
change unthinkable—
change this     glared away
a nowhere     homelessness

The books turn yellow and brown, dim down,
the newspaper,
the usual
looked at intently
each classified a little hearth
and what hearths, further
in each glowing coal

if not much glow,
just the usual,
these little boxes

familiar block downtown
round and round, again
and the new, the more, it contains.

The Gap

They talked too much of happiness,
of too much.

Take that word happiness
turn it over and over, smooth stone in the hand.
It is there, there may be happiness, but

the stone breaks and this opens up

a crack
in the summer evening where the daylilies burned last,
what burned through

layers of evening,
the going, the coming, glimmering

in the light then     and into the light
the country that opens up there,
the cleanness of it come back to where I was,

no finicky fineness
but the fineness in the dandelion's gold

It was this gap
that filled,
set me in motion,

something in the head,
something in the air,
there     air

reaching, reaching

always wanting a hole.


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