Poetry: Dee Allen

Dee Allen

As a boy,
I was raised
By 3 maternal elders:

Grandma Lillie,
Granny Lucy
And Granny Oak.

Although she never dispensed
Treats to us kids
Like the other 2 did,

Granny Oak
Always held down
The front lawn of Grandma Lillie's house'

Near what my
Little brother Mike called
“The gumball trees”.

Granny Lucy
Kept the inner house
Running smoothly, even from her wheelchair.

She was the stern
Disciplinarian among my
Female elders, despite partial paralysis.

Whenever one kid stepped out of line,
Granny Lucy would order another,
Usually the kid that wasn't in trouble,

And tell them:
Boy! Git outside
An' cut me a switch!

Granny Oak
Never gave up
Any fruit or nuts,

But she damn sure 
Supplied Granny Lucy with
Enough whip-like switches to beat us with!

Those whuppings
Kept me on the straight-and-narrow.
Until 10th Grade. The start of my “Metal Years”.


As a man
In my 20s
Living out “The Punk Years”,

Grandma Lillie
Had Granny Oak
Evicted from our family's land.

Granny Oak
Did something Grandma Lillie
Didn't like—and she couldn't help it:

A thunderstorm,
One of the fiercest, caused
Granny Oak to snap

A gigantic branch.
All that torrential rain and wind
Went well into dusk, sent that branch

Landing on the roof of
Grandma Lillie's house.
If that broken limb of wood were

The inner ceiling would've collapsed.
And this tale would never be told.

Next day,
Grandma Lillie
Telephoned for someone to escort

Granny Oak
From the front lawn.
It wasn't a team of sheriff's deputies.

Tree surgeons 
Drove their chainsaws
Into the big oak tree that served as

Granny Lucy's
Partner in child
Discipline when I was younger.

A clean-cut
Stump, a layer 
Of sawdust, leaves and twigs

Were all
That remained of
Another family maternal elder, gone from our midst.



There was much more
To Grandma Lillie's backyard
Than the 3 or 4 peachtrees
Standing at attention.

For starters,
The sad little 
Peeling-paint tool shed

Seemed to collapse with each
Passing season and storm,
But it never
Lacked company

Like the ophidian grapevine
That slithered along the side of the tool shed
Doing its tumble down number in slow motion.
It yielded purple grapes in Spring, though;

The blackberry bush
That grew against a neighbour's chainlink
Fence behind our time-worn shed. I bet
Those blackberries were sweeter than the grapes;

[ Razor-sharp thorns made picking them a challenge ]

The pear tree
And the apple tree,
Though I'm partial to apples than pears,
Which had blandness you could tell from one chomp.

The peachtrees' mature, juice-laden bounty
Went through the routine seasonal
Cycle of drop-soften-rot, attracted
Wasps by the swarm onto

Felled blond fruit
Prior to decomposition—

Those stinger insects
Loved the taste of peaches, too.

[ Explains why nobody gathered them up ]

But it was like that
In Grandma Lillie's
Self-contained orchard
In her backyard.

Dee Allen: African-Italian performance poet based in Oakland, California U.S.A. Active on creative
writing & Spoken Word since the early 1990s. Author of 7 books—Boneyard, Unwritten
Law, Stormwater, Skeletal Black [ all from POOR Press ], Elohi Unitsi [ Conviction 2
Change Publishing ] and his 2 newest, Rusty Gallows: Passages Against Hate [
Vagabond Books ] and Plans [ Nomadic Press ]—and 50 anthology appearances under
his figurative belt so far.
Email: deeallen415@gmail.com  

No comments :

Post a Comment

We welcome your comments related to the article and the topic being discussed. We expect the comments to be courteous, and respectful of the author and other commenters. Setu reserves the right to moderate, remove or reject comments that contain foul language, insult, hatred, personal information or indicate bad intention. The views expressed in comments reflect those of the commenter, not the official views of the Setu editorial board. प्रकाशित रचना से सम्बंधित शालीन सम्वाद का स्वागत है।