Monday, March 10, 2014

Alan Catlin- Three Poems

Urbane Cowboy

We’re seeing more of them, all the time,
from back East. Feels like they are
fixin’ to take over.  It’s like a disease or
a Plague. A plague of locusts that is.
They think maybe wearing some Sears
and Roebuck jeans, Western style shirt
and leather boots don’t so much as have
a crack in them, they’ll blend in.
Even they know better than to wear a
string tie.  If they had any pride, they’d take
them jeans out and drag ‘em behind
the pickup for a few hundred miles,
then wash ‘em ‘til the color fades to
a natural washed out blue.  That is if
they had a pickup.  More than likely they
have one of them SUV’s.  Shoot, no cowboy
I ever knew would get caught dead in one
of them.  Where would the gun rack go?
Bet he don’t know what a gun rack is,
much less how to shoot a gun.  Any gun.
Can’t carry on a decent conversation
with one of ‘em either. You say, “Back in
the day, Ole Barry would have known
what to do.”  And they look dumber than
usual and ask, “Who’s Barry?” And you say,
“Goldwater.” And they think you’re on about
some new liquid refreshment comes in a
plastic bottle they haven’t heard of yet but are
dying to try. That’s like going to Louisiana
and not knowing who Huey Long was. 
What good are they?  Back when I was in
the Rangers over there in The Nam we used
guys like them for target practice. 
Guess we missed a few.

“…one of God’s personal sunbeam angels”
            Robert Stone, “Death of a Black-Haired Girl”

There wasn’t a lane built yet
fast enough for her, eyes fixed
on distant corn whiskey still fires
burning in the night like fireflies.
Driving for her was a headlong rush
straddling double yellow lines around
do not pass ess turns, brights on high
or no lights at all, simply for the thrill
of it, sometimes with one eye closed,
sometimes with both taped open,
menthol cigarette smoke clouding her sight.
There was no point trying to keep up
or to slow the pace down; there wasn’t
a name for where she was going or
where she would end up, passing hundred
dollar bills like roadhouse bev naps
with the outline of martini glasses
in red ink stenciled on the design,
cocktail olive skewered on a toothpick
half gone and not a drop to drink.

            The Boys

Back bar mirrors are for the boys
to admire the perfection of their
features in.  They are worse than
vain women: fluffing their hair,
flexing weight room toned muscles,
studying facial profile lines as if waiting
for an artist to notice them, do sketches
and translate the studies into stone.
If makeup defined a male’s beauty,
they would have all of it: blush in
every shade and color, back packs full
of lipsticks for every outfit, all kinds
of light, powders for the blemishes should
any be found. They are the boys
and they were born to be pampered,
God’s gift to sorority sisters, mommy’s
little man, even when chronologically
adult, daddy’s credit score in jeopardy
once all the credit cards are maxed,
new ones taken out. “Use one card up,
apply for another, it’s only plastic,” is
their motto, at least until they are shut off,
strict allowance guidelines imposed.
They have back holes instead of brains
they try to fill with back shelf booze,
designer drugs and imported beers.
They go to class just to check in, someone
else takes the exams, writes the papers,
fills out the grad school apps. Have
that MBA all but filled out, a no-show,
no-point, cocaine days and cocaine nights
job on the street signed and sealed once
the last day of class ends as long as dad’s
cooked books pass inspection, if the Feds
don’t indict, 9-11 doesn’t happen twice.
They know everything without being taught.
Some day they might even come of age.

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