Thursday, October 30, 2014

Alan Catlin- Three Poems

After the Closing of the Dime Museum & Flea Circus

“If you’ve ever talked to somebody
with two heads you know they know
something you don’t.” Diane Arbus

Underwater lights in over chlorinated
indoor pool give off a toxic light,
graygreen and shimmering, surreal as
the party goers sipping drinks from
plastic cups: high balls and fruit punches
with tiny umbrellas, mimosas colored red
as a Hawaiian Sunset, long neck beers,
some with straws for better access,
drinking all the way down to the end.
Function sign outside the pool room,
the thick-with-condensation sliding glass
double doors, says “Welcome Freaks”,
they who are gathered here one last time
after closing of last Flea Circus on the circuit;
all those sideshow attractions: bearded ladies,
one trick pony dwarf albinos, sword swallowers
and fire eaters, armless twins, deformants all,
medical curiosities and their touts, all unwanted
and unemployed, dressed in their costumes
one final time; their glitter and their glow
in the harsh, damaged light.

The Last Drop

Barroom misted Prussian blue,
toxic with smoke, substances
that are legal and those that are
not.  Hate rock tunes on the juke,
full contact, no rules, Ultimate
Fighting machines on flat screen
TV’s, big money riding on the
outcome of the match between
body art model skinhead versus
the wild black man with dyed
purple/green Mohawked hair;
the kind of blood sport that leaves
splatters on the barroom wall,
barely visible on layered grime,
years of viscera, layered slime
already encrusted there. So densely
packed in here everyone is moving
standing still. Sweat stains the bar top
yellow and everyone is breathing
the same canned heat, released.
All the emergency doors are locked,
alarm bells muted as the ultimate
fight goes on. The room so tense
and tight, you wonder what will set
it off. You wonder when.


Lives spent in crosshairs of
night vision scopes, souls
mortally wounded, body and
brain soon to follow. Faces of
dead people you might have
known frozen as cameos
in fossilized eyes of stuffed
creatures, wild cats and deer,
antelopes and steers, horror show
galleries wax museum figures
gain admittance to see, paying
double to watch ghosts walk as
humans.  Time out of mind,
at railway’s end, electric cars
derailed, spewing sparks like
tracer rounds, one mad minute
after the next.  Nowhere to go
someone isn’t watching. Glow
worms crawling ceilings, illuminating
walls, caterpillars carpeting floors.
Every day like this.
How long can it go on?

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