Monday, October 6, 2014

Alan Catlin- Three Poems

Dancing Freak

Maybe they were teaching
ballroom dancing over at
the Psyche Center and his
section had let our early or
else he had made his escape
by way of the Frances de Sale’s
shop and scored some tux
and tails O’Malley’s Funeral
Parlor had stopped using for
display purposes.  I half expected
most of the suit to be missing
in the back like one of those
hospital gowns he got to wear
around the ward, not exactly
a fashion statement to be sure,
but what he was used to.  Or else,
it was his lucky day to score
the whole suit for his ambition,
for his dreaming Fred Astaire
fantasy, though he wasn’t likely
to be scoring any Ginger Rogers
for his partner for those dance
tunes he imagined were waiting
on the jukebox for the right couple
to be stepping out to, not that he
had a buck for playing songs, real
or imagined, or that he could read
anything more complicated than
a Dick and Jane primer despite
claiming to know Dick real well
and Jane too, back in the good old
days before Ginger, Top Hat and
the Great War that ended it all.


     Self-Portrait with Vincent

     I tell him to eliminate the greens
     but he paints in a flock of
     black birds over a field of yellowing wheat

     "No more night in my eyes."
     I say, but he gives me a starving
     family eating potatoes.
     "If you don't like that image there
     is a shot of absinthe waiting
     for you at the bar."

     "Try to see me in a different light;
     perhaps in pencil, black and white."

     Laughing he slashes off an ear.
     "There is no room in this world
     for such an absurd thing
     as that portrait."

     I say, "There is money in it, maybe
     enough for an evening with a whore.
     Maybe two."

     Smiling, he says, "Perhaps. Right now,
     I'm busy with the razor."
     I assure him, I'd be back with gold coins
     but I lied.

     So now, I'm stuck with this portrait
     in ghastly greens and white.

     I hate to admit to a likeness but
     there it is.

     Check out the eyes.
     They will look straight through you.

A Day Doing Life in a Bar

Cigarette smoke in the bar
like fog over a bay of beer
that never burns off.
Drinker’s heads turned toward
the flat screen TV where race
results of a dozen flat tracks
scroll by in rapid succession;
torn losers on the wood along
with spent matches, change
from a ten, bottled beer rings,
daily racing forms folded to a card
as the bar door opens and shuts
revealing some dude no one
had ever seen before and he
is saying, “Car broke down.
Could use some help.   Don’t
know squat about cars.”
Nothing moves but pairs of eyes
in the back bar mirror,
“They let anyone in here now,
that it?”
 “Must be.”
“Poor fuck must be lost.”
“Doesn’t know how lost he be.”
“Or how lost he’s gonna be.”
“Yeah, man, like way lost.”
The stranger standing just inside
the bar looking like a found out
fool on an errand, mutely watching
the hunched backs of the drinkers
waiting for the bar door to open
and close once more as if this were
a developing scene from a bad
horror flick destined not to turn out
well for all involved especially not
for the stranger.  The door opens and
shuts. More chits are torn up
and more beers ordered. 
Life goes on. 

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