Saturday, February 1, 2014

Alan Catlin- Three Poems

 Choose Life

 The sign inside Finnigan’s
 Hers were running wild
 down aisles between the card
 displays yelling,
"You're it, you're it."
"No I'm not.”
 “You are. You are."
 while she considered Father's Day
 messages by Hallmark.
 The youngest clinging to her filthy,
 CHOOSE LIFE t‑shirt.
 "Daddy's gonna really love this special
 card, huh, Ma?"
 "He will if he survives the dinner
 we left him."
 "What was that, Ma?"
 "Nothing.  Come on, you son's of a bitches,
 it's time to motor," she yells,
 "Form a line like right now or there's
 gonna  be some sore butts tonight.
 And I don't want to have to say it twice." 
 Judging by the look in the kid’s eyes,
 and how they formed a line, she never
 had to say anything twice.


Facts of Life on the Route 55 Bus

 It was old home week
 in the back of the bus.
 Her friend felt she looked
 like she was putting on
 a lot of weight.
 “It started a couple of months ago.
 This guy I know, like invited up
 this friend of his, and we doubled. 
 Had us a few drinks and
 a couple of laughs and pretty soon
 he's coming up weekends
 and we're hanging out pretty
 regular, until I notice I'm getting
 real fat all of a sudden. 
 Scary, isn't it?"
 "What happened to the guy?"
 "Beats me.  All of a sudden
 I don't hear nothing from him
 and they tell me his phone's
 I tell you this whole business is
 a pain in the ass. I'm so damned
 uncomfortable and pretty soon
none of my clothes are going
 to fit unless something happens."
 "Don't you know what this is all about?"
 Her friend asks,
 "Don't you know what's going on?"
 "I'd like to know what happened to
 Mr. Big City. He was coming on all
 lovey dovey and now this.
 Owes me a couple of yards
 and an explanation.  I expect
 I'll hear from him again soon as
 he gets good and lonely. 
 God, I can’t stand myself.

 I feel like a freak.
 This happened once before
 to me.  I can't wait 'til it’s over."

 The Stranger

 Maybe the street lights were
 bothering his eyes or there was
 some kind of strange lunar eclipse
 the rest of the world wasn't aware of. 
 There had to be some explanation
 for a guy wandering around Albany
 in the dead of the night wearing aviator
 style sun glasses asking,
 "What's your cheapest beer?"
 with a peculiar smile that suggested
 he was on a budget tour from Alpha Centuri.
 Stood there sipping Matt's Premium Beer,
 resplendent in an interesting clash of
 soiled polyesters, the frayed edges of
 his t‑shirt hanging out at the waist,
 yellow balled paper napkins stuffed
 in the hollows of his raincoat sleeves.
"Nice hat." I commented. 
 It was a canvas rain job, brand new and it
 might have fit him when he changed body
 types and became The Magnificent Hulk.
 "Matt's." He said, sliding the empty beer glass
 across the bar with his exact change.
 At least, he was having a good time,
 smiling up a storm watching a cable movie
 that came in over budget at two thousand
 dollars, carrying on a running conversation
 with himself, pausing to smile at the punch
 lines, idly spinning the glass ashtray
 on the wood, turning abruptly:
 "Do you take checks?" he asks the back
 bar mirrors.
 No one answers.

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