Two Poems by Thomas Allbaugh


An adjective, everyone knows, is a dandelion,
painting lawns with first grade primary colors
turning to old lady hairs winded to seeds.
How then it becomes that lustrous dance partner
taking more than he gives, luring
like a shivering child or
a gentle man, lying like a
silent killer. Many, in the end,
are the nouns missed.

Taking away even as he adds generous
height or light of day,
or beauty or weight or sound or sight
and smells of nothing when sidled up to, leaves
a world more impoverished,
many are the nouns missed,

In rooms never believed he dares enter,
subject complement or
in Spanish entering
second, after a grander noun,

but in English, coming out “the mean
short order cook,”
all of my writer friends
cut off the head, send them all

single and alone
where the whole category awaits the return
of early spring where, taught
by second grade teachers as
good description, dandelions across the lawn,
many are the nouns that are

This is the staying power, hope eternal,
all flowers are weeds until
they are pretty, all mortal men great leaders,
all revving engines and lucky fools silent dead,
intelligent babies going
where many the nouns
sometimes go,
Many are the nouns
that are missed.


Boundary Grief: Toward another String Theory

I look across at the lobby
and wonder what I am doing meeting
new acquaintances. I should be in
an asylum meeting Napoleon Buonaparte or
JFK and they should help me plot
an escape. Instead, as usual near this
abyss you left to us, I balance a tea
and reason in pop psychology
with someone again who has never met you—there are
more of them these days, but you
do come up again, into present tense again
into the day I am forced back into
seeing you as a balloon floating away
because she talks you into an artifact
and asks, “Was he

Blinded with a grief no one sees, I listen to her
“He must have been. Suicides often are.”
Well I never thought you were, but were you?
In a few night dreams you have appeared
as your eight year old self, bold with
boundaries, running through defenses,
ready to race into walls, leap from ledges.

Always, this comes when I try to tell
that you lived, that you did this and that, that you stood
there on the edge. This is the model,
installed as she says, this new acquaintance,
all analysis, no rhyme, for my new day dream,
You the balloon
on long string,
the wind keeping you up
where the string may not hold,

to make me think. You’ve appeared
in dream far off shore, a small elementary boy,
with long dark hair, bobbing to your chin
in the tide far from the rest of us treading
the same water close to shore
and away from us, in calm deceptions of broad

in the dream
this is what I hear and see, you all out there,
the swells slow but there.

And though
you may rise at first, it only happens that you must
fall to earth. A last boundary
must be kept.


About the Poet
Thomas Allbaugh is the author of a novel, Apocalypse TVSubtle Man Loses His Day Job and Other Stories, and The View from January, a chapbook of his poetry. His work has appeared in a number of publications, including River Heron Review, Broken Sky 67 and Relief. He is professor of English at Azusa Pacific University, where he teaches composition and creative writing