Four Memos to J. Morton Allen

Memo One

To: J. Morton Allen

Re: Mission



Plant a seed deep inside the boy

that words matter, words can remake

a world formed from nothing

in six days by


In time he will

find his place among

his heroes, adding to their long

harvest his own variety of joy.


Memo Two

To: J. Morton Allen

Re: Method



Adolescence is the spring time of deposit.

Hearing you, he will not hear you,

not for awhile until

after he has


Budding wisdom

from its long cocoon

will emerge to sound the way a truth

can take on flesh, become the cause of it.



Memo Three

To: J. Morton Allen

Re: Plan



Your time together will be short. Then he’ll

move away. No more contact.

The power of your gift will

release through


The wafting scent

of a strong cologne

distilling in an empty room

haunts absence with a presence still.



Memo Four

To: J. Morton Allen

Re: Wings



After this is over the bells will ring.

With the Dove at large and your

love in play, the line

of dominoes


next to next,

 truth and grace will climb

the Paraclete’s pathway toward

the gathering saints and angels with bright wings.


These four short poems are part of a larger collection entitled In Search of J. Morton Allen, a tribute to a fuzzy figure in my past who encouraged me in my identity as a young budding poet.  I was in seventh grade at the time. These short chiastic* poems are envisioned as God-memos to an angel named J. Morton Allen, briefing him  for a mission to go and encourage a young boy interested in poetry.

*The chiastic structure plays with inversion.  The two outer lines (1 and 9) in each memo ( both 5 stresses) correspond with each other through a meaning or verbal link, as do lines 2 and 8 (4  stresses each), lines 3 and 7 (3 stresses each), lines 4 and 6 (2 stresses each), with the middle line 5 (1 stress) holding the key word of the poem.  This term comes from the Greek chiasma which means "crossing," and is an official term of rhetoric referring to a figure of speech in which clauses relate to one another in an inverted parallelism.  Fun to experiment with!