Directions to Dallas

R.A. Allen
A found poem of venues from Don DeLillo's Libra


 —played hooky again, ridden the trains out to Brooklyn, where a man wore a coat with a missing arm—girls lingered near the benches on Bronx Park South—this secret force of the soul in the tunnels under New York—Miami had a resonance, an ardor; exile factions lived there, conspired and squabbled, waited for another chance—Zapata swamp, famous for mosquitoes—a Tokyo bar that was either a queer hangout or some kind of kabuki show or maybe a little of both—Camp Peary was the Farm, and the Farm was ISOLATION—a stunted frame house at the edge of a brick sidewalk in Georgetown—a boardinghouse on Southwest Fourth Street in Miami—a prison, Lubyanka, famous for its exterminations—he tried to explain what it meant to him to live in the Soviet Union—Trotsky took his name from a jailer in Odessa—underground reds in N'yorlenz—he talked about the South, about the police dogs and fire-bombings—Bossier City, a place where you could get a social disease leaning on a lamppost—a shotgun shack in the bayous west of New Orleans—a man who lived in a restored carriage house on Dauphine Street—walking past the Soviet embassy in Mexico City—he was on the road near the Louisiana border, driving into thunderheads—the Habana Bar, a gloom palace near the waterfront—driving in circles through the city of Galveston—headed west through a black storm, one of those sky bursts full of slanting coastal fury, and seven hours later he was in Houston—young Dallas matrons tell the most vicious jokes—he walked all the way down South Akard and stood outside Gene's Music Bar—Dealey Plaza is symmetrical—people scattered on the lawns of Dealey Plaza—Get us to Parkland fast—that moment in Dallas, the seven seconds that broke the back of the American century.


R. A. Allen's poetry has appeared in the New York Quarterly, The Hollins Critic, Night Train, RHINO Poetry, Word Riot, Amuse-Bouche, Gravel, and elsewhere. He has one Pushcart nomination for poetry and one Best of the Web nomination for fiction. He lives in Memphis, a city of light and sound.