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Sample Poems by Shelby Allen

Parade Balloon

In the shape of the crowd’s favorite animal,
with no strings … OK, one string
to keep me up, shiny, puffed. Don’t be jealous,
let me inspire you, as I ride the wind:
too high to hear myself.

Bright charming wide
success-animal smile,
lips flapping for public talk,
legs way off the ground.

Buoyed by everyone’s eyes,
I have the airiness
of being watched. The brass plays
success marching songs: Hello to you and you!
I cry, so high I don’t see
who is holding my string.

Quiz Show

Who needs God?
I have a buzzer to zap,
a wink for the camera.

TV proves I know
the names of the saints,
the crops of the countries.

What is the sun?
Biggest star of our local system,
93 million miles from high school.

What happens to a diamond
if it skips the coal stage?
Will the sparkle last?

How much do I know?
So much I float.
My head is a picture in the air.

Farm Zoo

They built an underground window
in a mole’s tunnel
so we can watch the mole run
from one side of a 16-inch box
to the other. What does a mole need?

They wrapped the bottom of the sky with wire,
left space for two crows to fly. But they don’t.
One crow doesn’t leave its branch,
the other crow digs up the same leaf
and buries it, three times.

A woman brings food in a dish.
She pats the second crow on the head.
The crow stands there. People raised him,
she says. They kept him too long.
I’ve been stroked that way.


I climb with Mother.
Heavy shoes make her feet sad.
She swallows her mouth

so the sadness won’t spill.
I practice flying:
three stairs at a time going

up: she pulls me
back: afraid I’ll fall before I start
to dance her happy: pull

mouth / tight
smile / marionette
myself / pirouette

for the recital:
watch Mother watching me
inside mirror walls