Jeffrey Allen

Four Poems


from “Behind the Candelabra”

Every day he swings
his brief case at his phan­toms. No room
for change in his glit­ter­ing ears.
No smoke to remove
to clar­i­fy the oh! I can see I’m quite typ­i­cal now!
Oh my god I look like my father in drag!
His face ban­daged from the nose job twang,
his cheek­bones to be: so rich, squared
exquis­ite! My piano tramp
in all his robed boldness
declares this is my fin­ger this is my hand! 
this is my thigh this is my hip!
and this is why I love you,
my Liberace in rings, tail of peacock,
just what are you think­ing now,
skin of gold­ened tortilla.



The world calls the pine tree out –
it is not sup­posed to be a pine tree.
Then what am I sup­posed to be?
What of this car­ry­ing the weight of snow
on my fore­head in winter?
The world doesn’t know what to make
of the pine tree, even though
a crow hides in the pine just as it would
in a poem. Thus, on the outside
things look marked­ly normal.
I know the oppor­tu­ni­ty for the pine
to mean some­thing else presents itself
in this oppor­tu­ni­ty. A child doesn’t know
what to make of the body he or she is in.
I close my eyes: the moon in China
four thou­sand years ago, what was it doing there?
Did some­body look up and whisper
Wait, Not yet, You’re doing it all wrong.

When I was One of Them

Wasn’t until they were in public
the woman’s scarf showed  itself to be flammable.
It was quite the sight to see.
Back in her own stu­dio, one window,
no door, which she snuck in and out of for drinks,
all things eviliz­ing, nev­er a thing worth
men­tion­ing, the world com­ing to its close,
and she, a painter sur­round­ed in work,
using men for her still-lifes, snuck
them in the win­dow, took them to the back
there to say: hold this wal­rus, sycamore, peach,
low­er your gen­i­tals down in front of those cans.



A four-inch bust of Dmitri Shostakovich
with a bro­ken neck and glass­es chipped.

Inside the paint­ing his head rests on a cream
‑col­ored rug, his mouth open to a small finch.

The birds eat seeds spilt from his face, then
fly back into blurred trees like a secret gift.

A riv­er leaks towards his ear, the trees
will not look at him, the water just an inch

away. The birch­es are angu­lar, skin­ny, depressed
and drooped into a smear of gray for Shostakovich.

Dmitri begins a tear, the birds bathe
in it. Above a field the orange moon splits.

A moment before rain, and the neck of the bust
form­ing into a nest, and the vined flow­ers into lips.

Jeffrey Allen is cur­rent­ly study­ing poet­ry in the MFA pro­gram at George Mason University. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Comparative Literature at the University of Cincinnati. As an under­grad­u­ate Jeffrey was award­ed first place for the Academy of American Poets Prize. He has poems pub­lished in Recap MagazineShort Vine Literary Journal, among oth­ers.