By John Allman

It was easy as lying to our mothers. As living in Queens

across from Manhattan, walking over

the bridge connecting three boroughs, looking
down on the nut house on Ward's Island, one of us

dribbling a basketball. Eggs in our


pockets, we sneaked into the Loew's theater through

the back door. The old vaudeville stage

behind the movie screen moving with the shadow of
Bogart and his lisp. One of us just out of jail for sticking

up a drug store. His father leaving him


there two extra days to teach him a lesson. We climbed

  up the ladder along the side of the 

screen, behind a fake Renaissance curtain, looked out at
the audience in the dark, the glowing cigarettes, Hank,

whose father ran a dry goods store


on Steinway Street, slipping his hand under a girl's skirt. 

Checking the material. A script

flickering at our loins. The newsreel releasing survivors

into sunlight, arms thin as the stripes on their pajamas.

Eleanor's father on the corner of Broadway


 waving pamphlets for the Labor Party. Eleanor not yet

in her marine boy-friend's room getting

shot to death. We reached the little balcony, the Wurlitzer

organ draped with an old carpet, the bad smell of Father

Flaherty's breath. We kept going.


At the top of the screen, from behind a decorative

molding, we saw our neighbors sucking

Black Crows, rolling darkness in their mouths. And

we started. The eggs cool from Sonny's aunt's

refrigerator flew across


the night sky blinking down from light bulb Space. They

landed like doves breaking apart on Hank's

chest, a gooey wound on the girl's skirt. They slid out of our

hands like ghosts, uncle's loud jokes descending at his

 sister's second wedding, groans


splurting in the night, a rifled mischief rotating in the air,

concussed, spun by history's grooves,

while Jerry down there with his polio leg in a brace

raised himself on the splattered yolky arms of his seat 

and roared, shaking his fist.

                                     -John Allman


    John Allman was born in New York City
    in 1935. After dropping out of high school
    he earned his diploma at night school while
    working as a laboratory technician in the
    product control labs of Pepsi-Cola. He
    then enrolled in Brooklyn College, as a
    pre-med student, but later transferred to
    Hunter College in the Bronx. After many
    delays, and a stint in California as a
    technician, he settled on studying the
    humanities and decided to become a
    writer. Mr. Allman holds a B.A. from
    Hunter College, an M.A. from Syracuse
    University in creative writing, where he
    studied with Philip Booth and Delmore
    Schwartz. He is now retired from
    teaching college English, having taught
    at Cazenovia College in Central New
    York State and, for 26 years,
    Rockland Community College of the
    State University of New York. In 1976,
    he received the  Helen Bulls Prize from
    Poetry Northwest; in 1983 a Pushcart
    Poetry Prize ; in 1984 and 1990, he
    was awarded National Endowment in
    the Arts Creative Writing Fellowships
    in Poetry. His poems, stories and essays
    have been widely published in such
    magazines as The American Poetry
    Review, The Atlantic Monthly, The
    Antioch Review, The Paris Review,
    Massachusetts Review,  Poetry, The
    Michigan Quarterly Review, North
     Dakota Quarterly,  Poetry
    International, Poetry Northwest, The
    Quarterly, The Yale Review, as well
    as the online journals Full Circle and
    Blackbird. Allman's latest book of
    poems, his sixth, is Loew's Triboro
    (New Directions, 2004). Other books 
    include Walking Four Ways in the Wind
    (Princeton Univ. Press, 1979), Clio's
    Children (New Directions, 1985),
    Scenarios for a Mixed Landscape (New
     Directions, 1986), Curve Away from
     Stillness: Science Poems (New Directions,
    1989), Inhabited World: New &
     Selected Poems 1970-1995
    Wallace Stevens SocietyPress, 1995).
    He has also published a book of short
    stories, Descending Fire & Other Stories
    (New  Directions, 1994.  His seventh
    book of poetry, Lowcountry, has just
     been completed.   Mr. Allman lives in
    Katonah, NY, with his wife, the writer,
    scholar and critic Eileen Allman during
    summer and fall; they spend the winter
    months and part of the spring on Hilton
    Head Island, SC.



John Allman

photo by Eileen Allman


Best Books 2004 - Bloomsbury Review

Selected comments on John Allman's other work:

"This book, Curve Away from Stillness: Science Poems, is for people who have
time for reading, and rereading, and closing the book and taking it up again, perhaps
with colored pencils to trace the complexity of the metaphor webs, the Shandean
simultaneities, the recitativas, the arias, the ensembles." -The Beloit Poetry Journal

"The lyric mode proves him to be a poet of rare expansiveness and
imaginative gifts." - Publishers Weekly

"Allman's imagination is capable of startling maneuvers, but he always
holds to the tracks of the poem's subject." -American Book Review

"For Allman, geography is a means of understanding the ways of others,
which he does warmly, compassionately, and with novelistic specificity."
- The Times Literary Supplement


Last updated:

AuthorMe.com 2005