Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Alan Catlin- Three Poems

Midnight Cowboy

What was he thinking, really?
This celeb doctor drawn to
tropic island, hurricane wasteland,
disaster area. Expressed motive was
for, “Humanitarian Reasons” though
his I-phone blogs, with pictures,
suggested otherwise, suggested
something like extreme human
misery slumming, getting down
and dirty with the natives and their
open wounds, suppurating sores,
swollen bellies, all nearly naked 
and pestered by horse flies and
mosquitoes, dysentery and disease.
Somehow he neglected, forgot?,
to bring his black bag, medicinal
remedies, tools of his trade.
Pressed into actual service, his only
instrument for dire amputations,
a hacksaw, aspirin for anesthesia,
placebos for everything else.
Suddenly, his blog posts became
less frequent, less self-important, 
no pictures for: typhus, cholera, dengue.
General power failure, cell towers
down, no signals come in or go out;
no reception, nothing.  In the thick
of it all, what to do? Where to begin?

Women on the Edge of Time

Relief work wasn’t supposed to be
like this: no social worker class,
textbook, field research, prepares you
for a land beyond hope, without moral law,
recourse or redress.  Multiple rape victims
freaking out seeing on-the-loose abusers;
all still threatening, smug, recharged and ready.
Field notes indicate female subjects are
often totally hysterical, inconsolable, self-destructive.
No drugs to bring them down, no palliative care.
Nothing to mollify in this place where no one
was ever meant to be. After initial observations,
one dead the next day. Another the day after.
How could anyone understand such pain?

Hell in a Very Small Place

                                    “If you put in enough hours in bars, sooner or later you get
                                    to hear every imaginable kind of bullshit.” C.K. Williams

                                                “We weren’t in the position to disobey
                                                a direct order. None of us were.
Not in the field.  And there was nothing
ambiguous about the order either,
‘Kill everything that moved.’
Everything meant everything, son.
You think My Lai was an aberration?
Hell, that shit happened, like all the time,
Man, every day.  Saw it with my own
two eyes. You send out a bunch of
nineteen and twenty year old, fresh-from-
basic, sacred shitless kids, with only one
thought left over in their minds from six
or eight weeks intensive training in hell
and that’s ‘Kill Kill Kill’, sure as shit, when
the opportunity arose, yeah, they killed
everything that moved. It’s not like there is
a whole lot of time for critical thinking
when some senior guy in the squad starts free
firing into a Ville and the first Looie flips
his Bic and all of a sudden everything’s going
Burn Baby Burn ….well, you get the picture;
“Platoon” without the sad music.
Later on, you know, when guys had some
time to like absorb what had come down, 
to really think about shit, they felt like remorse,
and got all crazy and shit, only natural,
I guess. Made for some really bad mojo in
the squad that’s for sure.  Lot of those guys
didn’t make it. I’m not saying they got fragged
and shit, but, like who checks which direction
the fatal bullets are coming from, who like really
cares? Can’t prove dick, anyway. Lot of guys
that made it out, they adjusted, man.
They did their job and later on, if they cracked up,
well, that’s not the Army’s problem, is it?
Not my problem neither.  To be honest with you,
I kind of liked it: no rules, no regulations and
all the ammo you’d ever need; it doesn’t get
any better than that.”

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