R. A. Allen


I went out to my mailbox.  
Everything was addressed to a previous occupant (twice removed)
	who is now,
	according to my neighbors,   

One theory about the afterlife is that your brain, in its winking
	finality, replays your life over & over, each repeated
	memory growing fainter until celluloid clear—
	a jukeboxy kind of immortality.      

But Hoffenstein tells us, poetically, that the heart's dead are never
	I like this one better.

In my hand I bear "Douglas J. Smythe" to the trashcan.
	We proceed in a manner befitting the occasion.

From his printed name alone I try to summon a face, a biography.      
	What did he do, and fail to do, in his brief strut?
	What was he to those who knew him then?
		And to those who remember him now?

That I wonder about him at all is proof of a life after death.
	Maybe not harps and clouds, but one I would settle for.
	Too, he lives here in the moment of this poem.   
		I am his witness.


R. A. Allen‘s poetry has appeared in the New York Quarterly, RHINO, Glassworks, The Penn Review, The Schuylkill Valley Journal, The Hollins Critic, Rendez-Vous, and elsewhere. His fiction has been published in The Literary Review, The Barcelona Review, PANK, The Los Angeles Review, and Best American Mystery Stories 2010, among others. He has a Pushcart nomination for poetry and one story nominated for Dzanc Books’ Best of the Web. He lives in Memphis, a city of light and sound.


Read more by R. A. Allen

Story in The Barcelona Review
Poem in The Penn Review
Poem in Matador Review
Author’s Website

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