Austin Allen

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After Announcing My Intention to Become a Poet

That evening all the various blooms and growths
I’d stepped on prior to my new vocation
swarmed to my front door in a delegation.
I had to smile and learn their names, swear oaths
to serve the clover, represent the phlox,
uphold the glories of the goldenrod;
I lavished praise on every local god
and promised small constituencies of rocks
not to ignore their voices. Then the stars
and crickets crowded forward, willows stooped
to sigh their grievances, the hawks all swooped
like hawks—and when I drove off to the bars,
so many inspirational backwoods deer
leapt out to greet me, I could hardly steer.

A Reply to His Critics

I, too, dislike me.
Still, since I seem to lack the will to strike me,

I keep abetting me
by stetting me.

Unruled, uncentered, and unjustified,
I stand for now. (But firmly on your side.)

Austin Allen‘s debut poetry collection, Pleasures of the Game (Waywiser Press, 2016), was awarded the Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize. His poetry has recently appeared in The Sewanee Review, The Yale Review, The Missouri Review, 32 Poems, and elsewhere.