SPOTLIGHT ON ALLEN BLAIR
Ellowrites is pleased to showcase Allen Blair. Below is a bio and three selections of his work.
Follow Allen @tinpoet and comment on his work!
I’m a lifelong Kentuckian who wrote his first story in fifth grade, a riff on a Scooby Doo mystery. I loved science, walking the hills, cutting my photography teeth on an old Canon AE-1, and learning how to program in BASIC—in short, a woodsy geek.
Some all-too-brief years followed when I thought I would be an astronomer, physicist, and poet—not necessarily in that order—and I eventually graduated with a journalism degree from Eastern Kentucky University, quickly becoming a community newspaper editor, and marrying my soulmate and best friend. I proudly served the journalism profession for more than 20 years before becoming a government communicator, a move that helped us afford to be a family.
Now, I've returned to my fifth-grade fictionaut roots. In other words, I love making up words, and worlds. I enjoy speculative sci-fi and weird fiction, literary non-fiction, free-form poetry, and telling stories using true-to-life experiences, aka #Tignettes.
When not writing, I dabble in being a dad, making pictures and playing the mountain dulcimer.
First writing selection
Elephant In Our Hills
Saturday sun lit the kitchen sink windowsill, spotlighting the players. At stage
right, the green and yellow corn vase. Or was it a pitcher? It never occurred to me
to ask, I guess. It had been part of a set until the move, when a plate of some sort
met its demise in a loosely packed box. My fault. I became lax in the rush of a new
job and the ensuing new house search.
Next up in the chorus line of trinkets came our Aladdin's lamp. A smallish facsimile
framed with metal and green polished stone. A gift sent from Saudi Arabia by my
sister-in-law who lived there some time ago during her ex-pat phase. Quite
beautiful, actually, sitting beside the three old glass bottles dug from the old
homeplace last year when my father bull-dozed a spot for a turnip patch up the
branch. The blue one caught my eye, pulling me into another time, onto the past's
stage, and I wanted a scene play out where some old man, or woman, slipped a
cork from it and took a sip while the kids played or the sun set.
Shadows passing across the window shook my mind free, and I braced for the
swish and bang of the backdoor.
"Dad, dad, dad!" my daughter said. The breathless greeting, as usual, made me
"There's this, there's this, elephant," she blurted. "I seen it, I swear."
"Saw it," I corrected, then thought. An elephant? Well, vines and weeds and
misshapen trees maybe. Pretending again.
"That's cool sweetie. You'll have to show me sometime. Trying to clean the kitchen
right now, though."
"I mean it, daddy, a real elephant. I 'saw' it's trunk. It was drinkin' by the creek.
It's kinda small but I watched it, then followed it. It's walking through the woods!"
I stopped washing the glass in my hands, and looked up at the window out past
the yard, down toward the creek.
"I didn't see it honey," I said, tried to take a fun tone. "Besides, no elephants here.
Maybe if we were in the African jungle. Not the Kentucky hills."
I looked her way as she took a deep breath, focused her intense eyes on mine,
and waited. Standoff.
"Sweetie, I know you want me to play. Maybe in a little while, but right now, I'm
trying to help mommy catch up after being on my trip for a week."
She turned and left. The back door banged again. Shadows flew past the window
again. I turned back to the dishes, the sun casting the blue bottle's shaded
shadow across the water. And my mind wandered. Again.
I imagined an old-timer, having spent time abroad and arriving back on the shores
of America decades ago, maybe even a century ago, leading elephants off a tall
ship and into the wild country beyond, forging them an Appalachian home.
Chuckling, I looked up at the windowsill, and at the little fairy - one of my wife's
favorites - that stood alongside the bottles. She smiled, her black eyes staring at
mine, intently, like my daughter's. Both seeming to question.
Do I really know? Can I prove it? No elephants in our hills? Had I so forgotten my
childhood that I could not dream?
I finished the dishes, carefully rinsing and laying them aside, dried my hands,
pulled the plug and watched the sink drain before I walked away, quietly, listening
for a trumpet blast.
Second writing selection
we stripped elm bark to weave hammocks
ate river mussels cooked over sandbar fires
stared into a milky sky expecting dreams
to blaze across it any second
yet they did not
and we did not speak
fearing broken silence would
stop our hearts
would carry our souls to the buzzards
that circled now around this other sun
so we walked, and swam
plucked berries, and trapped fish
skinned more elm trees
dripped silent tears in the dead night
as the two moons feasted on our wishes
Third writing selection
a Tinpoet #Tignette
They arrested Junior once for trying to release a stuffed bobcat back into the wild.
Not that dragging said inanimate animal, affixed to a log, through the woods
behind the elementary school, and tossing it onto the riverbank is illegal. Freeing
it from the AAA office first, however? That made a difference.
"Let's go get some jerky," he said, when I picked him up outside the county lockup
two days later.
I handed him the pouch I'd picked up after breakfast. At least we'd kicked the
He slammed the door to my rusty Gremlin a bit hard. I watched the side mirror for
a couple miles, but it held, stuck to the familiar. Like most of us, more afraid of the
I shook my head, hung my arm out the window, and just drove.
Thanks for reading @Tinpoet: Word alchemist. Shutterbug. Dulcimer player. Dad. Aging 80s geek. You can find his writing—including a multi-part, unfinished, fictionish, short story memoir: "The Next Chapter," which was first featured here on Ello—online here, and photography here. If you’re interested in PR consulting, his side business is over here.