Monday, October 5, 2015

Alan Catlin- Three Poems

Donnie with Baby and Cows

The cows look superimposed
beneath this makeshift shelter:
part flying saucer, part mold
and moss covered inverted metal
dish receiving transmissions
from above and funneling them
directly into the ground through
metal support poles or siphoning
random signals into the irregular
barriers of an electrified fencing,
cored hot water heater, or large
stump roots decorated by cast
aside exhaust system pipe, junked
car parts and farm effluvia, jury
rigged to form something like
a whole, with the idea that nothing
reusable will ever go to waste.
What do the cows care? They are
among the dumbest creatures on God's
good earth, a sentiment shared,
no doubt, by farmer Donnie cradling
a babe in arms, both smiling for
the camera; a family album keepsake
or is the picture to be digitally
re-mastered and transmitted to warn
off all the others still in outer space?

He looks like  someone
too weird for The Rocky
Mountain Horror Show
though he could be
posing for the cover photo
for a life work in progress:
My Own Private Loony Tunes.
The thing around his neck
might be described as
a necklace, an ornament
more appropriate for frontier
days on the Great Plains, or
in portraits of chieftains
and warriors by George Catlin
and others, that is if the Indians
were into glitzy metal piece
working, instead of animal teeth
and claws. The rest of his
ensemble has a custom fit
feeling to it: tight pants
to emphasize his considerable
bulge, though whoever designed
the top unwisely forgot buttons
to close over his bare chest.
The cool gloves almost save
serious style points lost by
the pants and top, cut as they
are with a rakish sleeve that
slides over the too short arms
of the jacket; it would be wise
not to ask him about the ray gun
clutched for action in his right
hand in case it might be real.

Firefighters 1935

They are dressed in
outrageous uniforms: jackets
that look to be of a fabric
like burlap cut several sizes
too big, pants they must walk
on to move, hands covered
by oven mitts, heads potato
sacks with small eye holes
removed well above their
foreheads, an outfit that might
be useful for warding off heat
or blending in with adobe walls
in case their transformation has
been completed so that they
may be sacrificed to alien invaders
or Grade B movie, atomic ray
exposed, mutant creatures
the size of school buses,
all those outsized tarantulas,
iguana, prehistoric toads invading
border towns just this side
of the desert not unlike original
Star Trek peons in red uniform
tops, those clothes of doom
marking the wearers as walking
dead men by the next reel.
But this photo is taken in 1935,
years before the first atomic
tests, red menace scares, TV
melodramas, huge spikes in
cancer tumor deaths  and these
men have a real job to perform,
crippled by their clothes,
as they approach the scene,
the fires that await them.

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