Friday, May 17, 2013

Alan Catlin- Three Poems

Late 60's Young America

We were so used to
death an assassination
was an occasion for
an unexpected holiday,
classes cancelled, books
thrown aside, stereos
turned up as joints rolled,
beer bottles cracked open,
body counts in overseas
            jungle as unreal as riots
in the street in nowhere
New York, Utica, where
Nixon's silent majority
ruled & long haired students
on drugs were what was wrong
with America, not the War,
not killing Civil Rights
leaders, not spying on
your fellow citizens, not
shooting candidates for
high office; Death was
a spontaneous party,
taking the blind guys to
the driving range, teeing up
their balls & showing them
where to hit, the arc of a
well struck shot a white
tracer round disappearing
into the clinging mists,
into unreal klieg light haze
over dried brown grass,
over us all, drunk, stoned,
oblivious, young dead men


They act as if you were
born old, some kind of
Ancient of Days with a          
shot glass, say, "Do you
remember 1970?"
And you zone out into
a hard rain is gonna fall
moment, Spring semester
senior year, stoned crazy
since some forgotten time
in the Fall of 1969,
vaguely recalling listening
to Sun Ra record in dark
of Sunset Blvd. duplex
amenable to any suggestion,
even ones that don't make
sense, maybe especially
those, "Let's go to the
reservoir and listen to
the water going over
the dam---"in torrential
rain, sliding down steep
embankment, the mud and
the grass underfoot, Hinkley
runoff, a virtual Niagara
of sound and power, all
the clinging mud some kind
of strange prelude to, not so
far away prospect of Basic,
of being shipped overseas
into the jungle, part of a
            new Credence tune, "Better
run through the jungle----
Don't look back---"into
the rain, the swirling torrents
debating whether to jump
now and be done with it or
join the living dead, dog
soldiers on this mission
that serves no purpose,
the interior car light a beacon
beckoning in the distance
"A bad moon risin'------
Who'll stop the rain----
Proud Mary keeps on burning
rolling on the river----"
hit parade of Credence tunes
intimations of mortality,
an impetus to make the climb,
the long journey home.
Inside the car, bone cold,
shivering, lighting another
stick for the road pounded
flat as all the double lines
we crossed over, living all
the worst kind of bad dreams
a man could want----"
"1970," I said, "Yeah, I
remember 1970, A great year
for Sports, Drugs and Rock
and Roll."

The Transfer Student from Hell 1968

No one had seen him
since the start of
the semester though you
could hear him scratching
on the walls, scuttling
amid the rubble presumed
to be inside, knocking
things unknown over,
dragging stuff across
the floor, something
screeching that could
have been a living thing
tortured or a recording
of the worst kind of
suffering known to man.
If he went to classes he
left the room under cover
of complete darkness long
after everyone should have
been sleeping.  DC said
he'd seen this pale as death
person dressed all in black
walking on frozen snowbanks,
gesturing toward the full
moon, his arms outstretched
summoning reflected light,
alternate life sources he
intended to assume as his
own.  Doc sd. DC's out of
his mind and everyone agreed,
he was, but what he had said
went a long ways toward
explaining whatever it was
that was happening behind
that closed, that double locked

1 comment:

  1. Alan, I hear ya beckoning back to the sixties and seventies good job
    I was eating lunch out of a catering trucks. Getting the news of friends death in nam and my brother chased my bullets. The assassinations in our faces.