Alan Catlin

A Bridge Too Far

The Douglas McArthur days
were the best of his life, outlining
battle pans on maps, in day rooms,
no one else could see. Used broken
chess pieces to mark troop placements
for advancing armies against battalions
so well entrenched, they might as
well be invisible.

Finally, more or less socialized,
his manner in Group, ranged from
aloof to hostile. Was often openly
aggressive, claiming he had more
important issues to attend to than
discussing non-essential problems
with civilians. The others were openly
rebellious, acting out as opposing
forces would when confronted
by an enemy.

Daily medication adjusted,
he became so passive as to be
effectively inert. Sat in far
corners of every communal room,
eyeing chess boards where headless
kings, defiled queens, disfigured knights,
lay on the defaced field of battle;
so many pieces missing, there was
never enough for a game.


True Romance

“What doesn’t kill you leaves you feeling broken
and insane.”  Laura van den Berg

Theirs was a relationship of ecstasy
nights and train wreck days.
Roller balling in traffic against traffic
lights in a kind of cosmic chicken game
where there were no winners, just broken
bones and concussion protocols.
Ignored brown death cigarette pictures,
on black heart warning packets,
they extracted unfiltered off-brands from.
Used their street connections, ultra-mobile
maneuverability expertise, to run product
into places no one else would go.
Worked for guys who wore black bowling
shirts with someone else’s name sewn on
the pockets. Who smoked El Ropo Parodi
brand butts that exuded a kind of toxic cloud
so thick even the slick lanes beyond seemed
like a bad dream apparition.
Thought their lives would be determined
by a major score, one where they were dealing
hot product from a battered suitcase they
would store in a classic car lifted from a lot
with security cameras so sharp they could
determine all their bona fides down to
the cup size of her padded bra.
Saw themselves heading due South,
top down, radio cranked to mega loud
country rock, a jungle full of monkeys
on their back.

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