Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Alan Catlin- Three Poems

Death on the Installment Plan

“I have learned that Jesus loves me
because the TV tells me so.”
      Daniel Jones, “After forty-six days on the Psycho Ward”

The script he was a character in
had him tricked out like some
vagabond mountebank without
a license to sell, all his wares lost
in the apocalyptic ruins of the place
he was stumbling out of like Steadman’s
Macbeth carrying a locked suitcase
full of heads leaking blood on a ruined,
rutted road, ace archer’s arrows instead
of a necktie, shafts bent where they
hit his chest, or like a refugee from
a burning wood, Bierce characters
from The Wilderness trying to escape
the conflagration and finding an original
Twilight Zone episode of the Holocaust,
a Dresden bombing like Slaughterhouse 5,
one that never made it from a cutting room
floor, a young Robert Redford as Death
with a medicine bag making house calls
in the tenements, ghettos of a vanishing
world, handing out vouchers for his
treatment, down payments for a layaway,
pay as you go installment plan.

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

The headline of The Weekly World News
proclaimed: 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse
Photographed in Arizona just days ago!
And all I could think of was: Where else?
The badly out of focus picture of the boys
accompanying the headline suggested some
bad dudes, pissed off riders of the purple
sage hell bent for a tour of duty exacting
rage, retribution and revenge.
At first, the picture suggested nothing
more exciting than every other fraternity
party I had attended, in another life
as a college student, but looking closer,
the one riding with the mace held high
over his plumed head reminded me of body
language peculiar to a certain kind of
Neanderthal who majored in weight lifting
at the local university.  In fact, the whole
crew could have been the front line of any
college football team and hadn't I just
waited on them, collectively and alone?
               Wasn't I rude, as well, recently, even? 
And wasn't it here, with the lights low,
the clock with its frozen hands stalled between                          
early morning hours, that I had raised my voice
to ask for last call, and these same men
had emerged from the shadows, the names
of the living and the dead escaping from
their lips?

The Dead Man Walks His Dog

He should look older
but he doesn't,
he's been dead too long.
His skin should be wrinkled
but it isn't,
his face is as smooth as a silk sheet.
He should be emaciated
but he's not
Let's face it, his body odor is unbearable.
He is, well
something of a dead issue
even now as he walks his favorite dead dog
down main street
holding the leash near soiled fire hydrants
watching the traffic with a stiff, vacant                                       

All the neighbors comment:
"What's he doing now?”
“Walking his dog?”
“He should know better
and keep to his own kind."
That old dead fool
walking his favorite dead dog
this one last time.

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