The Rug Pulled Out From Under You

By Dick Allen

Small or large, it feels the same. What took
your feet once casually now takes your breath away,
but wasn’t it splendid when you rolled it out at first,
all that intricate design, the woof and warp
and pile and plush of it? Sometimes, you’d follow
a Pollock line from one end to another,
thinking of river veins, or forest trails. At other times
its patterns cantilevered into galaxies,
or those vague mountains
mist settles on above Hong Kong, where hermits’ huts
cling to slopes as if the huts are burrs
on the flanks of gray horses. Adjust
and deal with it. Flat on your back,
wind knocked out of you and seeing stars,
you’re not sure you’ll recover. How peaceful the ceiling looks,
not even a spider web or curling fly
testing its corners… Turning your head,
you see the rug is crumpled by the baseboard
and halfway turned over. Whose are those
heelmarks? What’s that blotch, that stain
leaked through to the backing?
How will you rise again? You slide one hand
across where there was rug and now there’s only floor.
dried swirls of varnish, resin blobs, the cracks
and splinters of the planks
the carpet softened as you strode them mightily,
not glancing down, not thinking to look down
where you lie now, aghast to be so ashamed.
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About Dick Allen

Dick Allen grew up near the Adirondack Mountains in Round Lake, New York. He received his BA from Syracuse University and his MA from Brown University. His numerous poetry collections include Present Vanishing: Poems (2008) and Ode to the Cold War: Poems New and Selected (1997).

Allen is one of the founders of Expansive poetry, a movement that started in the 1980s and includes New Formalism and New Narrative. As Allen writes in an essay for Expansive Poetry & Music Online, "Expansive Poetry is a narrative, dramatic and sometimes lyric poetry of the late 20th Century that conveys significant non-Confessional observations, thoughts and feelings about the world outside the Self and about the Self's various relationships with this outer world. In carrying such content, it generally uses traditional rhyme and meter—sometimes loosened or roughened—incorporating natural speech patterns."

Influenced by Ralph Waldo Emerson, A.E. Housman, Ben Jonson, and Robert Frost, Allen "ranges with ease from astronomy to politics to domestic situations; his poetry captures great swatches of real and imagined experience in nimble style," according to Publishers Weekly. Allen says in a Poetry Daily interview, "In a time still so influenced by Archibald MacLeish's admonition that ‘a poem should not mean, / but be,' my task is to have the poem 'be' and mean something—a non-preachy something, but something."

He has won the Robert Frost Prize for Poetry, the Hart Crane Poetry Prize, the Union League Civic & Arts Foundation Poetry Prize, the May Caroline Davis Poetry Prize from the Poetry Society of America, the San Jose Bicentennial Poetry Prize, and a Pushcart Prize, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. He has also received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Ingram Merrill Foundation. His poetry has been included in several Best American Poetry and Best American Spiritual Writing anthologies, and he has co-edited several science fiction anthologies, including Science Fiction: The Future (1971) and Looking Ahead (1975).

He was the Director of Creative Writing and Charles A. Dana Endowed Chair Professor at the University of Bridgeport until his retirement in September 2001. He lives in Connecticut with his wife, poet and fiction writer L.N. Allen. In 2010 he was named poet laureate of Connecticut and will serve in that position through 2015.

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