Three Poems by Alan Catlin

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

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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