Monday, May 12, 2014

Alan Catlin- Three Poems

Morning After the Night Before

Inside the hard edged darkness,
the bar after hours, chair legs turned up
toward the pitted ceiling, toward yellow
caked layers of nicotine and dirt and beer,
the drip of the faucet, the tick of the minute
hand on the industrial clock, ten minutes
past reality and running fast.  The blur
of the TV screen, Music TV with the sound
turned off, rootless images and wasted,
misplaced energy, narratives without meaning,
stories like a Fritz Lang, Metropolis with
dead rock stars inside, floating cars heading
toward a destination no one comes back from.
Sensing the presence of the long gone,
the solitary drinkers who made this their last
home, still sipping their last Socrates cocktail,
their riding the stainless steel gurney elixir,
two bits short of a double and not caring
either way. Recalling the faces of those
not so long gone, those brown girls with
“Don’t fuck with me” expressions and you didn’t,
but you bounced their boyfriends so high
they might never come down, the“ Just who
the fuck do you think you are” tramps, one article
of clothing short of an indecent exposure arrest,
and those banshee voiced women with their
drug shot eyes, bleeding from the corners and
their bad money men with their  ‘I shot the sheriff,
I killed me a guard ‘tattoos, two tears less than
a deluge of body fluids and sudden death and
a whole bar full of drinks to drown them all in
for awhile and a room to wake up in when
the drugging stops and there’s nothing
to save you but yourself.

The Mercenary

He's got a complete
set of Soldier of Fortune
Magazine neatly stacked
and indexed, hot places
marked with post-it-notes
as if he'd been there, done
that, got the battle ribbons
and the scars to prove it,
has some convoluted bull-
shit story about working
rescue on the Autobahn,
even has a closet full of
white EMT shirts with
his name sewn on pockets
that proves he loved the
work and was ready to go
back on a moment's notice,
says picking body parts
out of twisted beyond all
recognition wrecks caused
by out of control drivers
playing high speed chicken
games with designer cars
was where it was at,
says he loved the work cause
it reminded him of working
FUBAR patrols, Graves
Registry, all the details no
one in his right mind wanted
or would ask for, though he
missed the heat of the jungle
in winter but not dealing
with freakin' bugs with fangs
the size of walrus tusks that
drew blood on recon human
fly bys, painted such an elaborate,
detailed picture of his work
you wanted to believe some
of what he was telling you
might be true.

Like clockwork

every Saturday morning
between three & three-
thirty, she wakes up
screaming for more blow,
crack, whatever she's on,
injecting, snorting, smoking,
all of the above----demanding
that he get some more---fast,
before she got sicker, so sick
she wouldn't be able to stand
herself, would have to climb
the mother fucking walls,
coming down hallucination
demons crawling under her skin,
down the walls, filling up
the room, all the spaces left to
breathe----he says, "Calm down.
Where am I going to get such
a thing this time of night?"
"I don't care." she cries, "Just
get it!" Screams, getting louder,
more desperate, more frantic,
more out of control-----until
he smacks her.  Hard. "Snap
out of it, girl! Get a grip,
get yourself together, now."
But she doesn't, won't, starts
that Godawful screaming again----
Until he hits her, harder, this time.
Again and again. Inducing a kind
of cowed silence, she interrupts
by whimpering, nodding off, for
the moment----Their two boys
from other partners, burrowing
under the covers, no longer asking
what's going on, what's wrong
with momma?  They know, now,
how it is and how it will be.

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