Saturday, September 7, 2013

Alan Catlin- Three Poems

Due Date

She must be in her
twenties, three kids
already and another
about to drop, working
doubles at Dunkin'
Donuts to keep the food
on the table because her
unemployed, NASCAR
loving honey can't seem
to find a job come love
nor money, wants the
whole enchilada, paycheck,
this week for "something
big" as if she didn't know
what that meant, something
big always meant eating
Spaghetti O's for a month,
there are just so many
Spaghetti O's a person can
eat, not that he'd notice,
he's been off home cooking
for weeks, ever since I
hit five months he's been
banging somebody else,
thinks maybe I don't know
he did the same thing last
time, probably the time before
that for all I know or care,
thinks marriage is the dirtiest
word in the English language,
the way it comes out of his
mouth it probably is, all he
cares about is getting laid and
he don't much care who it is
lying down to take it. On her
break she chain smokes four
Menthol Lights, shivering
the whole time, must be
she really feels the cold more
now that she's almost due.

Heart Like a Wheel

Maybe she was in
training for a new kind
of power lifting event:
hoisting cold ones one-
handed and slugging them
down, half the contents
of a glass two quart pitcher
at a go, only pausing to
belch and to wipe foam
from her lips with a ragged
sleeve of her flannel shirt
that had previously been
used as a drop cloth for lube
jobs by semi-professionals
or maybe she'd honed her
skills at a chop shop, holding
rear ends of cars up on her
own, saying, "Lift? I don't
need no stinkin' lift, I've got
all the lift I need right here
on this broad's shoulders';
maybe that was where she'd
gotten the bucks for her one-
of-a-kind world's in collision
tattoos that rose from beneath
her customized low cut t-shirt,
unfettered tits like the hubs of
mag wheels 'built for speed
and for distance'; maybe no one
would ever forget how she
polished off the second half of
her pitcher, slammed it down on
the bar so hard it split clean in
two right along the seam waking
the bar drunk from his perpetual
coma long enough to witness her
saying," Next pitcher's on the house!"
and it wasn't a question.

The Gathering of Tribes, Schenectady, N.Y. 2013

After the funeral, the assembling of
the grievers, gang banging their way
to the shrine of candles and empty
bottles: tequila and vodka, Jameson’s
Irish and Morgan’s Spiced Rum, not
a native assembly, nor a celebration of
life with music and song, but a procession
of the drugged and the addled, haters
in cargo pants strapped around their knees,
ball caps turned sideways, backwards,
trash talking and roach toking, blocking
the sidewalks, the street, refusing to let
traffic pass, rude and abusive, examples
of a dead city’s life force: gangs with
spray paint guns for territorial piss marking
on empty buildings, and guns to insure
they stay that way: vacant and marked
as their own.  If they could read anything
more complicated than Text, they might find
themselves in an Extraordinary Popular Delusions
and the Madness of Crowds, once the cops
arrive, responding to shots fired reports,
requesting the assembled to disperse,
a request greeted as a call to war, a police
state action, no matter how respectful
and restrained the order was issued.
Four backup units plus Smokies later,
the street mellows to a relatively funereal calm;
only the relatives of the dead inside the manse
planning the next family gathering for Attica
in the Year of Our Lord, 2015.

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