Friday, February 22, 2013

Alan Catlin- Two Poems

The Hard Life

began for him long before
birth: his insides mutated,
all those genes his mother
used as a kind of
perverse free-form
genetics experiment,
that began in the tail end
of the 60's and hasn't ended yet.  
You could sense his conception
as a riot of bad unprotected sex,
cheap booze, and more
pharmaceuticals than a well-
stocked, on-campus infirmary.
Nothing he ever did or said
made sense, nor had he never
achieved anything like focus or
anything like a interpersonal
relationship, most ending
before they began. 
His mother claimed he hardly
ever cried as a baby once she
started him on Similac and
homemade acid.
She could tell he was grooving
on the stars, the way his eyes rolled
behind the lids and his extremities
twitched just like he was dancing.

A Scanner Darkly

There wasn't a fire,
crime in progress,
drug bust, sexual
assault, homicide or
911 call he hadn't
heard about on his
all frequencies scanner,
and the next morning
he'd be at the bar,
with the sweeper,
for a cold pop to tell
the whole world all
about how your neighbor-
hoods were all going
to hell in a hand basket
and how your friends,
relatives, and casual
acquaintances were all
warm sacks of shit,
not worth the efforts
expended to keep them
alive and that, hell,
when he was growing up,
Albany wasn't a bad place
for a man to have a
family and for a kid
the way he did, playing ball
and chasing tail like any
other good old american
boy, until that 911 call
he heard, about a man down
in action, a drug bust
gone bad, and the kid
they were arresting,
was his own.

Alan Catlin was a barman for thirty-four endless years, a fact he draws upon in his written work.  Revenge is sweet, the truth harsh, so it goes.

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