VOICES FROM THE FIRE: Alan Catlin

The Rules of Attraction

Leaning forward on his barstool

he telegraphs his best move.

One so obvious she wasn’t sure

if she should duck or counter punch.

Could see that he was an assortment

of all the bad DNA left over after

the good stuff had been handed out,

the mediocre stuff claimed and only

the dregs remained.

Was kind of shocked when he asked

asked her if she’d like to see his rubbings.

“Rubbings, huh? That’s a new one.”

Thought, maybe, he had conflated

erotic etchings with rubbings, whatever

that meant. He seemed dumb enough

not to know the difference between

Erotica and eratica.

So, she went thinking, what the hell,

she had taken more self-defense courses

than this guy had high school credits.

Found out rubbings were impressions

taken from headstones in graveyards,

like you actually took paper and rubbed

charcoal or something over the paper

and inscriptions appeared.

Was actually pretty cool and he had

a big collection.

Wasn’t even paying much attention

to the fact that she was in his house,

upstairs, where the bed was.

Requiem For A Dream

“She’s a maniac-a maniac

and she’s dancing like she

never did before—–“

Dancing the Samba

The Mambo

The Marimba

The Assassination Tango

Ballroom Dancing

Dancers Without Partners

Dancing in the Streets

The Locomotion

Step Dancing

Fox Trotting

Waltzing Mathilda

Slow Dancing

The Stroll

“Ellen Burstyn, how could you

play that role?”

Wired on high test speed

and no sleep, cutting holes

in the rug, dancing to a jagged

music of the spheres, a string quartet

raising lumps in your skin,

tumors new music is formed

from, plosive as the game show

host’s imploring of new victims

on stage, “Come on Down!”

and join a ghost play version

of Life no one survives, least of all,

you, stuck in the final phases of

of a lost requiem for dreams.

Ellen Burstyn, after this, none of us

will ever be the same.

Richard Farina Been Down So Long Looks Like Up to  Me

“—listening to Judy Collins

Country Joe & the Fish-Buddhist Chants-Pink Floyd-

Richard Farina’s ghost-classical spanish music

my skull cracking wide open—“

d.a. levy, suburban monastery death poem

All the spinning lights, emergencies rendered,

highway skid marks, paths of patched rubber

leading nowhere;

All the twelve string guitar pieces, harmonics                                              

for tainted voices, broken limbs, elegies for rusted beer 

cans, discarded refuse by

the cluttered ditch of dreams;

All the tattered road maps, Routes marked 66 like

jagged veins all along the battered highways

of your chest;

All the false proclamations like, “I am King fucking

Montezuma and this is the coin of my realm,”

the ravines it was screamed into, the unheard

echoes;

All the Life Magazine pictorial features with Mimi,

promise suggested and never kept, the smoked

tea, fractured skull, no helmet laws necessary

then, the massive hematomas;

All the facile, forgotten anathemas of a doomed youth,

45 rpm singles in your collection like the one

by the Cheers,” He wore a black leather jacket

and motorcycle boots”;

All those lyrics that sound, now, like something sung

by the possessed, “He had a hopped up ‘cicle,

that took off like a gun, the fool was a terror,

of Highway 101″;

All that was left of your life reduced to a jagged red

line of blood on black top.

Terror in Brooklyn

The streets are a back lot movie

set, a western ghost town, are

designated to be called Brooklyn

in another lifetime, a twilit

zone where the widows of a Plaza

de Mayo are imprisoned beneath

an inverted bell jar glass, all

the names of the Disappeared

lost in the deserted, unnamed

streets of a city without an alphabet

for expressing grief.  The formerly

clear skies are temporarily free of

industrial wastes before an inevitable

soiling by an unexplained presence

of unnatural clouds; the white ones

suggesting scars in the shape of weapons

used for separating limbs from bodies,

of funeral fires for lost loved ones,

warriors, whole neighborhoods;

light poles shapes as giant awls, spears,

on empty sidewalks pointing toward

unidentifiable skeletal remains pinioned

against prominent brick walls for public

displays of where we are going, where we

have been and why.

Yo Soy Porteno

The floating bodies in a sea

of foul weathering are super-

imposed upon a dreamer’s

hat, an Escher study in mixed

media for forensic evidence,

chalk-line scenes of the crime

cutouts and imbalanced Nature.

Even asleep, the artist’s intentions

are revealed by colors he denies

in the dreaming, slow tangos for

gitano lovers, tele-novelas for

everyday living–betrayed by 

Jane Russell, Rita Hayworth, all

the Judy Garlands of the underworld;

after the last kissing of these spider

women, imported from a Martian

outback of faraway places, only

the much-abused fedora of a

no longer singing, no longer

capable of laughing detective

remains.

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