Archive for the Alan Catlin Category

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

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.


Home Schooled by Alan Catlin

Posted in Alan Catlin with tags on July 8, 2013 by Scot

If life were a short story in search of
an author, he’d be looking for Ray Carver
or one of his many disciples near the bus
stop, pushing aside overgrown weeds,
grass, searching for expired day passes,
ten trip tickets  to sell to the gullible
or the easily intimidated, waiting at Division
Street shelter.  His half-hearted sales
pitch fails to persuade, asks instead,
“Do you know where there’s a pawn shop
nearby?  I know there’s one on this street.”
He might have added, “somewhere”,
on this main thoroughfare that extends
from Albany to Syracuse and points West.
Finally settles on, “You have a buck you can spare?
Loose change?”  Rebuffed, he seems more
discouraged than upset, this neat, middle aged,
overweight black man wearing new sneakers,
fresh clothes, and badly in need of a drink.
“You see I really need a drink.”He says,
almost casually, matter of fact, “If I don’t
have one I get sick. My hands shake,
I throw up, sometimes I even convulse.
Doesn’t matter what it is either: flat beer,
bad wine, anything, man.  Got to have it.
First thing every morning, every day, all day.
It’s awful.  I done the rehabs.  All of them.
None of them took.  My daddy was an alcoholic.
Died young. Wasn’t but 45. I’m 50 now.
Counting my days. You could say I was home
schooled.  My mom left and my daddy didn’t
care about nothing but the booze so that’s what
I learned and I learned it good.”
Who knew if his story was true.  He didn’t smell,
look or act drunk. “You can’t know what it’s
like to need something that bad.”
Actually I could.
I gave him a buck.

Two poems by Alan Catlin

Posted in Alan Catlin on November 5, 2012 by Scot

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.

Four Poems by Alan Catlin

Posted in Alan Catlin with tags , on March 24, 2012 by Scot

Richard Brautigan Trout Fishing in America

Winter leaks from the cracked tar
sealing around the carbon stained brick
chimney forming puddles of sludge and
ash along with the spilled hurricane lamp
oil; opening notes in a cacophonous
symphony of dripping from a neglected
metal roof. The forest at dawn ablaze,
a still life framed by the cracked window
glass of this isolated cabin, flies buzzing
inside ,worrying the remains, meals left
to fester, fishing rods and hunting rifles
unattended, propped up near the barred
from inside door. Invisible fires burn,
stoked in the cold, desolate hearth,
releasing ghosts of smoke burning down
to cold absorbent stone, taking within
the very essence of unnatural heat and light;
the spent pistol shell, crumpled pages from
a manuscript no one will ever read.


  Continue reading

No Smoking by Alan Catlin

Posted in Alan Catlin with tags on March 30, 2011 by Scot

I work at a half-way
place for Nam vets,

that’s half way between
here and nowhere,

old age and death maybe.

The director is one of
those pressed short and tie

gung-ho REMF.

That’s a rear echelon
mother fucker in American.

Can’t wait until
the No Smoking rule
goes into effect.

All those guys have now
is one room to puff in.

I try to tell the director,
these guys all fought
in a war,

you now what I mean?

Had cigarettes when
they were nervous

They can’t drink anymore
can’t chase no women
or run with the wolves
so they smoke.

They don’t have anything left,
that’s why they’re here.

No Smoking appeared in GPP Reader 2007

a rusty truck tribute to todd moore by rd armstrong, charles plymell, fn wright, karl koweski, alan catlin, a.d. winans, paul corman roberts, david s pointer, misti rainwater lites, pete lally & scot young

Posted in A.D. Winans, Alan Catlin, charles plymell, David S. Pointer, F.N. Wright, Karl Koweski, Misti Rainwater-Lites, Paul Corman Roberts, Pete Lally, RD Armstrong, Scot Young, Todd Moore, TODD MOORE TRIBUTE with tags on October 10, 2010 by Scot


This issue dedicated to the memory and the poetry of Todd Moore

Poems by Todd Moore
& Friends

Todd Moore



_______________________________________________________ Continue reading

Last week by Alan Catlin

Posted in Alan Catlin with tags on August 29, 2010 by Scot

Last week

I heard two
guys I know
from rehab died

too many pills
and liquor

You’d think they
would have learned
you have to stick to
one or the other