Otherwise Occupied. by Richard James Allen


You think I am not listening 
but I am just not listening to you
I am trained to keep listening

I am trained for the war on eternity
with death hanging off my back
like a trained monkey

never to give me 
a moment’s peace


In your last delirium, 
you orchestrate 
gravelly totem sounds 
for your funeral, 
conducting everything 
to the last, 
handing around parts 
for a bouquet of friends 
to memorise black folioles.

It is understandable, 
everyone wants 
to go out in style. 
A ceremony of ending 
to make up for 
messy beginnings 
and what you sense 
will be the suffocating silence 
of an unmarked grave. 


At a certain point you may be privy to a perspective beyond all others. It’s as if you have climbed through narrow passes and across difficult ridges and then finally up the steepest cliffs of a mountain.  And while you are catching your breath at the summit, you find yourself compelled to look back down over what you have scaled to the vast plain below.  It’s a vista from which even the greatest passions and highest pinnacles of achievement seem very small.  It is the perspective of your death.

There is a dolefulness to this dying young,
to this dying before you are dead, 
but also, if you can survive 
the long, slow trudge of mourning,
back down the slopes to your life, 
a kind of liberation.
A kind of bliss. 
Like the tale of

      who has gone blind  
                                                                                                        but now spends
                                                                                               his whole day  
      staring at the sun.  


The only thing I’ll miss are the trees.


I sleep with two hot water bottles 
when you are away 

One for your heart 
and one for your head

But nothing for your soul
which I have here with me

Learn more about Richard James Allen on IMDb

The Kamikaze Mind by Richard James Allen

Richard James Allen
The Kamikaze Mind

About the contributor

Richard James Allen is an Australian born poet. His latest book is The short story of you and I (UWAP, 2019). His writing has appeared widely in journals, anthologies, and online over many years. Creator of #RichardReads (https://soundcloud.com/user-387793087), an online compendium of Global Poetry, Read Aloud, he has written nine earlier books of poetry and edited a national anthology of writing for performance. Richard is also well known for his multi-award-winning career as a filmmaker and choreographer with The Physical TV Company (http://physicaltv.com.au/) and as a performer in a range of media and contexts.

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