Richard James Allen


Richard James Allen is a poet, choreographer and filmmaker. His books include the critically lauded The Kamikaze Mind (Brandl & Schlesinger) and the NSW Premier’s Literary Award-nominated Thursday’s Fictions (Five Island Press).
His forthcoming collection Fixing the Broken Nightingale will be published by Flying Island Books, an imprint of ASM (Macau) and Cerberus Press (Markwell, NSW).




The Optics of Relationship, or
With this Poem I Thee Wed

For Chee and Stephen


Who I was in the past,
Who I will be in the future –
What distractions these are
From who I am now.

Who I am now,
Here, with you.

In this moment,
You have rewritten my past.
You are rewriting my future.

What I don’t understand about
Who I was or will be
Doesn’t matter now.

Whoever that is
– As we stand before the shimmering altar
Of the unfolding lights of our lives –
I know that we will find out together.       

Because this is what a marriage is,
This is the optics of relationship,
The coming into focus of two lives.


The Secret Language of Border Guards and Those Who Wish To Cross

1. The Secret Language of Border Guards

What we dream we might say to each other,
if the roadblocks all came down
and the checkpoints disappeared.

If our language were not a secret one
we might share it with you.

If we had not already given up
on your ability to hear, 

we might open our mouths
and allow that magic expectant     

breath we
all share                  

in and then eventually out
with some words for you. 

If we had any faith left
in your capacity to listen, to think, and, 

on such basis,
to act, 

we might hope
for you to understand. 

But you give us no reason   
to believe. 

Faith starts
with small things. 

2. The Secret Language of Those Who Wish To Cross 

Do not speak to us of faith.

Faith lingers like smoke, drifting
through the rubble you have left
of our homes and our children. 

But deep below, nestled
like burnt seeds in the soil,              
the embers of the fires 

you have planted fester.
We do not dream,
we glow. 

Even if the roadblocks all come down
and the checkpoints disappear,
the road between us will never be open.