Alan Catlin

Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

They called themselves: Virgin Spring,
and they were the best band a crypto-
currency could buy: four road warriors,
part steampunk cowboys, part post-
industrial nightmares in skin tight,
imitation leather, lithe bodies streaked
with war paint and jailhouse tattoos,
speed balling three electric guitars
and a set of drums, a pair of drumsticks
and g string away from total meltdown.
Special mind bending effects provided by
difference engines: steam boilers belching
colored smoke and pyrotechnical crap
in otherwise totally completely dark, smoke
clogged night. All the gear mounted on
metal pipe stage in retrofitted factory space
stripped to bare concrete with enough
lights applied to emulate a supernova sun,
to highlight an electro-shocked blonde,
clutcher of microphones and stands like
the sex of a lover, her voice roller balling
through death metal tested speakers proving
once and for all: true wailing is not dead,
that even spawn of Bergman film extras, left
on barren beaches, among stones and storm
sea backwash, can out last winter light dead.
Can out last the afterlife spirits clinging to
the bodies of their still conscious others whose
final thoughts were going to be: even funerals
have sound tracks.

 

A Night to Remember

Nights without sleep, staring at
gray dark of not quite night,
not quite dawn and it is always
somewhere between two and four
in the morning. That time when
the barely contained rage in wild men
drinking, merges with the seriously
deranged and becomes one.
Is that time when the balanced scales
of Fate shift and unintended
contact becomes a retaliatory shove
and the shove back elicits a head butt
or a bottle becoming a club and the skirmish
that ensues goes from battle to all out war.
Those hours of first responders:
fleets of squad cars, uniformed police
with riot control weapons drawn
followed closely by the EMT’s
gurneys fully flexed and ready to go.
Those hours when the Black Maria
becomes an oversized hearse or a death
squad car conveyance.
Once inside, locked down or not,
no one will hear you scream.
Those hours when the mayhem goes
from somewhat containable to out
of control; only the spatter patterns
on the bar walls different, from each other
how they got there.

 

Man from Planet X

His was a drunkard’s path from
one crime scene to another.
Was a parable of self-inflicted
catastrophe, petty theft, shake down
jobs and the odd possessions of
forged instruments and illegal
weapons. All of which led to years
of post graduate work after jail to
larger finishing schools, with higher
walls, and better security. Places
where professionals passed along
received wisdom, fool proof plans,
that would prove to be as worthless
as funny money in a loaded dice
craps game with Life. All the chances
he took running down bad leads and
worse connections from these inside
sources, hard time mentors, were of
no practical value once he was released
and had to make his way in the real
world. Became so desperate, injections
of a kind of blue ice into his veins
seemed preferable to the kick-down
grab and run jobs he was compelled to
resort to in lieu of making a living
at serious jobs like armed robbery or
capital felony one. Anything that
provided cash for the next score was
acceptable as long as he wasn’t caught.
Was so loaded all the time his skin was
changing unnatural colors from paste
wax white to diamond match tip blue.
His fingers froze what they touched.

 


Alan CatlinAlan Catlin has been around when poetry mags used to be made in people’s basements on mimeo machines, hand stapled and sent out by snail mail never to be seen again except in rare books and magazine library collections.  His latest chapbooks are Three Farmers on the Way to a Dance from Presa Press, Hollyweird from Night Ballet Press and Blue Velvet from Slipstream.  His full-length book, Wild Beauty will be published in 2018 by Future Cycle Press.