Elegy for Claude

We did take the world
Didn’t we, Niño?
Took all the dim bar light
And made it sing
Didn’t we, Niño?
Made the girls call our name
At least some of time
Didn’t we, Niño?

And even dared take the city lights
And bend them into dreams
Didn’t we, Niño?
And in the end
Knew for sure
How the gleam in your eyes
Would simply go on forever
We did know that
Didn’t we, Niño?

Claude Haton

Claude Haton


R.I.P. Claude Haton
My little brother
November 1, 1955 to July 19, 2014

Note: A benefit concert in Claude’s honor will be held August 1 in Cairo, N.Y. (proceeds go to scholarship fund for local high school students).

The Red Apple Rest

Took a wrong turn and ran smack into my past: The Red Apple Rest, a way station for city travelers on their way to the Catskills, abandoned now for nearly 30 years. Had no idea she still existed.

The Red Apple Rest

The Red Apple Rest

Beautiful in her ghostly repose, she inspired this poem:

THE RED APPLE REST

Came upon her by accident
and as surprised as when
she loomed up at us
as we breached that far hill
in the Studebaker

The Red Apple Rest
that boyhood vision
ship-like
in all her sweeping glory
magic oasis for urban escapees

Snack bar windows yawning
for the idling Fords, Mercs and Greyhounds
engines hotter than Venus
dogs, malts, pastrami
loudspeakers and mothers’ calls

Free to roam and exult for a time
gape at the oddities
men with beards
girls with midriffs
until back in the oven car
stuffed with pillows and dishes
and dreams of an endless summer

 

Ode to the Lost Motels of the Jersey Shore

Exploring Seaside Heights, N.J., for the first time, and, sadly, I find no treasure-trove of midcentury motels like there are in Wildwood. Here, as testament, is an image of a Jeffrey L. Neumann painting of the Seashell Motel in Wildwood and my poem on the same subject (total coincidence, but not surprising, since Jeffrey and I cover the same beat: lost America).

 

"Sea Shell," a painting by Jeffrey Neumann

“Sea Shell,” a painting by Jeffrey Neumann

CHECKOUT AT THE SEA SHELL MOTEL

the caramel room
at the Sea Shell Motel
dollar store palm prints
and nicotine sills

cheap rum hangs in the shaft of sun dust
hula lamps hold the afternoon

dealings have come and gone —
Greek families, pimps, divorcees,
schmuck runaways, suicide watches

music plays no more
only murmurings and distant trucks
the scent of the bulldozer

Shadow in Online Edition of The NY Times

Just to clarify, my story appears in the online version of the “Walking New York” Magazine feature in The Times, and doesn’t appear in the print edition. If you’re looking, click here and search “Kovler” in your browser to find it quickly.

NYT_Kovler

 

Shadow Published in New York Times

The New York Times published a piece I wrote as part of their Walking New York feature for this Sunday’s Magazine. In addition to a number of prominent writers, others were invited to submit a story of about 600 characters, and mine was one of few that made the cut.
NYT_Kovler
I wrote about a boyhood adventure along the Grand Concourse, in the Bronx:

The Grand Concourse, Near Tremont
By Allen Kovler (aka Allen Shadow)

At 13, my friend Sammy and I would hike up the Grand Concourse all the way to Mosholu Parkway on a hot, sunny Saturday, equipped as if on an explorer-worthy trek, cargo pants pockets stuffed with sundries, Army canteens smacking our hips as we marveled at the sights: the bric-a-brac stores on Burnside, the Loews Paradise, the bustle of Fordham Road, the eerie tranquility of Edgar Allan Poe’s cottage, the home for the blind. Exhausted, we’d mount a bus back, hanging from the windows, still thrilled.

Wichita Lineman

In the raw New Mexican morning
“Wichita Lineman” on the Delco
eggs and coffee at the townie cafe
all stick figure kitchen chairs
a flag and a snowy 12-inch

Cowboy hats and thick-framed glasses
stares at the hippie kids
The West foreign as Bagdad
to a Bronx boy
uneasy wonder, unleashed desire
every mile, every town
every magic mountain vista
every flat forever
California to be charmed finally
from its dreamscape

‘America, I’ll Have My Way With You’ — Book Release

My latest chapbook of poetry, America I’ll Have My Way With You (Casa del Pueblo Press, 2015) was released during a book signing party and reading last week in Pueblo, Colorado, home of Casa and the Pueblo Poetry Project. It was the seventh time over the past 30 years that I’ve been the featured reader at a project event. (Copies are $6 each, postage included, and can be purchased by sending a check made out to Allen Shadow to P.O. Box 268, Catskill, N.Y. 12414.)

Cover of poetry chapbook  "America, I'll Have My Way With You"

Cover of poetry chapbook “America, I’ll Have My Way With You”

I began the America series after returning from a trip to Mexico in the summer of 2001. I’ve come to love some of my subjects, some of which are places — like New York, America. Love them so much they become personages to me, even paramours of a kind. Let’s face it, writers can get very personal with their subjects. Returning to a beloved place can reinvigorate your feelings, like returning to your longtime lover after a journey. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, but it also opens the eyes wider.

The poems in the series are written in a style called “direct address.” Think of it as writing a heartfelt letter to a loved one. In this case, it’s this whole wide, mysterious country I’ve wanted so bad to know. To me, she is like a temptress who has hold of you, keeps you hungry, keeps you wanting more.

I offer one of the poems from the chapbook as a sample:

America, I’ll Have My Way With You #136
August 17, 2001

Thank you for waiting, America
for my return from Mexico
your Lucite furniture store letters
your neglected window displays
your sandstone and faux brick face
your stairways to nowhere
at ajar doorways
your Dutch pediments
your ants and cigarette butts
your warehouse alarm housings
your dense August afternoons
lunchroom turbines whirring
dishes clanking in the alleyways

Your semis abandoned in vacant lots
your hashed roofs
your bricked up factories
your sun cut warehouse walls
your sea birds one hundred miles
from the ocean on the Hudson

Oh America, I love you
I’ve always loved you
even with your one eye
your misshapen hips
your iron nipples