Two poems by Alan Catlin
Lounge People Listening, Waiting for “The End”
Young America 1970, half wasted
drinking from the keg of perpetual
flowing beer, sacred font open 24 hour
a day, for charter members of Roosevelt
Drive Social Club, duplex of dharma
bums, a month away from graduation
and a letter of greetings and salutations
from Uncle Sam draft board;
black robes and mortar board hats in May,
jungle fatigues by October, flag draped
coffin by the first of the year, full military
honors; it had happened before and it would
happen again. No one mentioning what lay
ahead, but everyone aware of the elephant
in the crowded living room, the Woodstock
Live album on so loud Jimi Hendrix made
ears bleed the national anthem, taking you
higher as Sly and the Family Stone and
the hydroponic weed smuggled in from
who knew where, classes some kind of Kent
State nightmare no one bothered with any more.
Interiors so crowded early spring afternoons
relocating all the furniture outside on the lawn
under the high flying drinking flag: a martini
with olives on a cresting wave, seemed the only
way to fly, all the summers of love over,
young ladies on the daybed/couch dressed
in funereal black, white skulls on gold chains
around their necks, dead eyes and too red lips,
all the gone tomorrows, today, that seemed to
say, abandon hope all ye who enter here.
The war never ends on all
those twelve hour shifts in
his mind, humping the night
as if it were a twenty dollar whore
downloaded for action the duration
of a three day pass.
Even stateside, mustered out,
nothing changed him, nothing altered
his focus, selling cash crops from
backdoor saloons, boatloads of pure
and suitcases of dinero, calling all
the shots for every deal that came
down, a posse of dead beat,
human moray eels on steroids
for protection, everywhere he went.
Downtime, clubbing with his crew,
more of a black ops mission than
a special occasion. A date, grabbing
some babe and having her
strong armed into nearest empty
room for an upclose and private
encounter , just her and the boys.
A wad of twenties and some blow
left behind, along with the wreckage
of her life. No one dared complain.
Not then. Not ever.
No one crossed him on a business
deal either since the rumor started
was , he might pop someone, anyone,
just for drill. What he might do to an
actual offending party, unthinkable.
Out of town connections said he was
malo malo loco, was one tour of duty
and a deal from being lord of the
underground, a few heart beats
from immortal. No reason to change
the perceived, he thought. Not in this
life. Nor in any other.