Archive for October, 2017

Three Poems by Alan Catlin

Posted in Alan Catlin with tags on October 23, 2017 by Scot

Branch Water

They liked it neat with
Rebel Yell shooter backs,
they said, expecting to get
a laugh.

They usually did.

They had reputations as,
cowboys with a hard on
for the world, that needed
to be upheld.

Fighting was what they
enjoyed most, what they did
best, though they would take
the odd woman if one was
around.

There usually was.

The places they hung out in
always had women who went
for Real Men.

Men who traveled with concealed
weapons, loaded gun racks
and a couple of cases of chilled
Lone Star.

You never knew.

Partying for them was a kind
of religion, was never dull,
was script grist for prime time
TV shows and novels with
named like Midnight Texas
and Living Dead Texas Style.

Swore they had sex with
demons and vampires.

Had the scars to prove it
though the puncture wounds
they were so proud of were
from the business end of a
long handled fork used at
a BBQ gone as wrong as
cookout could

and the scratches on their backs
were from messing with razor
wire fences on walls they had
no good reason to be trying
to scale.

Every roadhouse along a
hundreds of mile flat line
carried Branch or they’d know
the reason why.

Just put a bottle on the bar,
lay out a long row of Yell
and duck.

That wasn’t the name of an
actual drink yet but it would
be soon.

_____________

The Drowning Pool

This is how it begins:
a sedan through underbrush
up against a tree, a steaming
radiator, full moon reflected on
a lake, driver’s side door sprung
open, air bag deployed, blood in
the ruts where grass should be

This is how the movie proceeds:
a hand held camera shakily following
path of car downhill as in every horror
movie ever made. Feet cracking dead
sticks as they go. Pant legs scraping
against shrubbery, scattering leaves.
Hands moving obstacles impeding
progress. Rhythmic, labored breathing,
and the sound of a radio not quite tuned
into a station playing what might have
been country and western music in
another life.

The man from the car stumbling toward
the lake. His button down dress shirt
torn at the shoulder, blood splatters
on once white cloth. Trouser legs
ripped to the knee, to the thigh, soiled
from contact with wet forest floor.
An open head wound free flowing
down unnaturally pale face. Eyes
trying to focus on what lies ahead,
conscious of what follows behind.

This is where the stationery camera
focuses on the moon on the water,
establishing a shot contrasting to what
is about to happen on the shoreline-pursuer
making contact with the man from the car.
Thrashing on shore then a splash.
Then another, louder splash and a muffled
voice speaking words that make no sense.
Red bold type letters superimposed on
the once again tranquil scene:
The Drowning Pool. Unrated.
What happens next is up to you.
_____________

 

Locked Outside the Doors of Perception with
The Memphis Blues Again

True sailing is dead.

For the music is your special friend
Dance on fire as it intends
Music is your special friend
Until the end…
–J. Morrison

After hours, outside some forlorn
whiskey bar, some go go club, their
lack of focus suggests one too many
Alabama Slammers for the road,
too many close encounters of the mosh
pit kind, low grade concussions with
a down-the-drain spiral in their eyes.
Their spiked heels and platform shoes
betray them, making walking part of
the impossible dream of their lives.
That dream where they could time
machine transport themselves back
into LA in the Summer of Love
where their only goal in life would
be to gain admittance to whatever
bar The Doors were playing and fuck
The Lizard King senseless. On stage
if necessary: all the unfiltered spot
lights hot and focused, the pot smoke
raw and thick as china white and
plain rot gut neat consumed in the hold
or on the burning deck of a ghost boat
sailing off the charts to nowhere,
moonlight in their eyes, powdered
crystal for brains.

____________

Alan Catlin won the 2017 Slipstream Chapbook Contest with his “movie book” Blue Velvet. Next up in the series, Hollyweird, a chapbook to be published by Night Ballet Press.

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When the Dull Normal Marries the Grifter And the Disillusioned Patsy Travels Abroad by Jennifer Blowdryer

Posted in Jennifer Blowdryer with tags on October 23, 2017 by Scot

 

What would modern Shakespeare look like. Box Office fags should clearly run the world, instead of being cramped in a sweat box enforcing pernicious rules. They need to be redeployed. Because this stage rattling shit just happens now. James Joyce said that the ordinary is the proper domain of the artist. The extraordinary can be safely left to journalists. Gay Talese gave it his meticulous all, researching the Lorena Bobbitt matter. I might argue that he and Jimmy Breslin occupied a space between journalist and artist, a crawl space maybe, bigger than a box office, but nobody will pay writers like this again, not for the next 40 years. In 2060, somebody somewhere will pay them, a hurt megalomaniac perhaps, and the new version of men and women, a model clearly on the wane, will once again gather the details of various types of collision.

Lorena Bobbitt, Columbian immigrant grifter, did what one does, attached herself to a good looking dull normal lug. When one is from another culture, it can take up to a year to distinguish just who is a loser. I offer up the earlier pairings of Caucasian men and Japanese women as a specimen. Nothing is better than Japanese women, nothing was worse than these men, but the hybrid vigor of their offspring may sustain the remnants of the market economy. If one takes the long view it’s really a win win scenario.

John Wayne Bobbitt had a stutter. Not dumb, maybe, but falling under the large umbrella of learning disorder. Common enough. Why, who among us can work the steamed milk function on a stranger’s cappuccino machine? I challenge the gabbiest spokes model of a physicist to go to another’s dwelling and figure out their multiple remote controls. The Carol Wright Gift Catalogue, the LL Bean of the shut in crowd, features a Remote Caddy. This is a good idea and an excellent start, but not quite enough to help our hypothetical physicist in this situation.

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necessary illusions by DB Cox

Posted in DB Cox with tags on October 23, 2017 by Scot

—I am tired. My heart is sick & sad. From where the sun now stands in the
sky, I will fight no more forever… Chief Joseph–Nez Perce

standing just out of range of a street lamp
i watch the shadows of tree branches
move along the empty avenue
almost every night
i come to stare at this vacant lot
the spot
where the lighthouse baptist church once stood

i open the back door to my mind
& dream-walk through the wreckage
scattered
across the floor of my memory

one drunken saturday night in 1985
my father
lonely for god
broke into the little wooden sanctuary
& doused the whole place
with gasoline
then he took a seat
in the front pew
lit a lucky strike
& burnt the son-of-a-bitch
down around his ears
the last “zippo party”

i don’t know
when my father’s heart
turned as black
as a piece of granite
from that sad “wall”
but most of his last days
were used up in a rage

when the whiskey was talking
the old man raved about
“search & destroy” patrols
wiping out entire vietnamese villages–
when there was no one left to waste
the cigarette lighters were thumbed open
& everything standing
was burnt to the ground
“zippo party”
a few more ‘dink’ hearts & minds pacified

there was a time
when i believed
my father was a hero

there was a time
when i believed
in simple right & wrong

there was a time
when i believed
in america

there was a time
when i believed
in all of the “necessary illusions”

enough to put my soul on the line
enough to go out
& confront things
i did not understand

another war
tied to another lie

bent under the weight of things
that can never be set right
i slide a shaky right hand
inside my jacket pocket
& retrieve a half-pint of i.w. harper
i raise a toast
to the lighthouse baptist church

a cold breeze sends
dead leaves skittering
along the gutter

i stare up the street
to where the white lines
are swallowed by the darkness

“vanishing point”

somewhere a lost dog howls
i step from the curb
a windblown bird
into the crazy night

 

Three Poems by Wendy Rainey

Posted in Wendy Rainey on October 23, 2017 by Scot

What I know about my Stepfather

When I was ten
I found his scuba gear,
his hang glider,
and his saxophone,
in the garage.
“Why don’t you do any of these fun things
anymore, dad?”
Without skipping a beat
he told me that after he took on
four kids,
a wife,
a dog,
two cats,
and a mortgage,
that was about as much fucking fun
as he could handle.

____________

 

Where did you go, Joyce Finklestein?

I dreamed of you last night, Joyce.
You were standing on the grass between the jungle gym
and the Jacaranda tree,
in that coat with the dirty sleeves.
Some boys were playing catch with your beret.
Laughing and screaming,
the two Brendas shoved you back and forth,
until you fell to the ground.
You got up,
but they knocked you down again,
so you got on your back,
and kicked at them
with your patent leather shoes.
I ran over to help you,
but you were spinning on your back by then,
kicking at Tammy and Kimberly,
who were now turning away from you
and descending on me.
Their pig tails whipped through the air
as they pushed me to the grass.
I stood up,
balled my fist,
and smashed it into their flowered dresses.

Sometimes I think of you, Joyce,
when I’m trying to get home on the 405.
You sat at the desk next to mine.
You wore a plastic patch over your left eye
that clipped onto your glasses.
You had a slight lisp,
and on occasion you stuttered,
but when you spoke
kids turned around in their chairs and listened.
Mr. Wadinski stapled the John Lennon poster
you brought to class
on the board near our desks.
The word IMAGINE floated above your head.

I can’t remember the day you moved away,
but I remember sitting with you on the floor of your parent’s livingroom,
watching The World at War.
Your father came in with his tumbler of Cutty Sark and changed the channel.
He didn’t want us to see the footage of the prisoners of war,
or the explosions, or the piles of dead bodies.
After he left to get more booze,
you got up and changed the channel back to The World at War.
You smiled, stretching out onto the carpet, reaching into the Frito bag,
“They never want us to know what really goes on,
but we find out anyway.”

_____________

Sweaters of the Dead

When I was young
I wore the clothes of dead people
I bought at the Salvation Army.
The sweaters of the dead
kept me warm
as I rode my bicycle through Hollywood
and waited for the bus on 4th and Grand.

One of my favorite sweaters
had a label sewn into the neck:
“A Mrs. Blanche Culpepper original
knitted for Mimi.”
I found the beaded cashmere cardigan
in a bargain bin
for $3.00.
Mrs. Blanche Culpepper,
I picture you waving to me
in a field of sunflowers
whose heads are swaying in the wind.
Their green stems are winding their way
up Fairfax Avenue.
I was lost, Blanche,
always waiting for the bus before dawn,
but kept warm in the sunflower sweater
you knitted for Mimi.

And Bobby Alvarez,
who gave your 1948 USC Varsity sweater
to the women’s auxiliary in Van Nuys?
It should have been kept in a cedar chest
filled with moth balls.
Instead I wore it to the bar every weekend.
Soaked in sweat,
and sloshed in beer.
I never got the blood splat out of the left sleeve
from the belt fight two punks had one night.
I got so drunk once
that I fell face down in the street
and got a taste of the gutter.
Sort of like the dirt you tasted
when you slid into home base
that one last time.

I remember the sad sweaters that found me,
sweaters desperate for love
and attention;
the plaid mohair
with a disintegrated condom
in an inner concealed pocket.
And the bowling
sweater belonging to Darla Baronowski
from the Tarzana Bowling League.
Her name was emblazoned in sequins across the chest.
On the back were two bowling balls
with an erect pin between them.
I wore it proudly.

There were the angora sweater sets
so soft to the touch
that strangers on the street would stroke them
without my consent.
I named them after movie stars;
Natalie Wood,
Marilyn Monroe,
Lana Turner,
and the sweater with the floating pineapples
was my Carmen Miranda.

When I was young
I rode the buses,
walked the streets,
and worked the jobs
in the sweaters of the dead.
The sweaters kept me warm.
The sweaters told me their secrets.
The sweaters listened to mine.
I see them on a circular rack in a junk shop
off of Magnolia in Burbank.
The sweaters are whispering to me.
The sweaters are reaching for me.
The sweaters are beckoning me
back home
to that bus stop on Wilshire and Fairfax
where I will always be standing alone
in the dark,
waiting for the dawn to come.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Letting Go by Ben Rasnic

Posted in Ben Rasnic with tags on October 23, 2017 by Scot

I believe that somewhere
a Spanish sports commentator
is still shouting “GOAL!”
for a shot made in 2007

and that somewhere
in a crowded sports bar
“tastes great!” and “less filling!”
continues to echo in the din.

I believe that somewhere
a place still exists
where it is still cool to say,
“Keep on truckin”

and that somewhere
Rob Lowe is actively
morphing new personalities
who still have cable.

I believe that somewhere
in an underground dwelling
in the Phillipines a Japanese soldier
remains ever vigilant

and that somewhere
my first love is happy
and healthy and occasionally
grasps a kind memory of me

because sometimes
it’s hard
to let go.