Sunday, May 3, 2015

Three Poems by Alan Catlin

In the City of Pianos

the houses have no roofs
but the stars, no floors
but the dirt that engenders
snakes, pregnant with dreams
of embryonic life, of a martyred
saint whose blood is used
to paint the walls a color
like adobe during rainy seasons
when the wattle-daub
constructions lose their texture
and flee on the wings of fire flies
that carry them away like sheets
of handwritten music.

Rembrandt Departing by Limo 10/92

     after Stan Rice

He's seen it all now:
the falling towers and the statue,
railyard switchbacks and empty
boxcars, the rusted oil drums
with their force-fed-fires homeless
armies of the night cluster by along with
random heat seekers and subway detainees
chased from the depths of the tunnels
white as albino myths:  the engorged
alligators, sewer trolls, dung beetle
eating rats; seen the Hell's Kitchen
refugees, window washing fools,
donate or be damned, the paper
pushers and speed demons hyping
the flesh crawling canons of death;
seen the garbage strikers, play actors
dressed as Kabuki killers, mummers
and mimes exorcising hollowed ground;
seen the dark smeared like excrement
and blood on bullet proof glass; seen
the livery driver cursing the midtown
Manhattan traffic crawl, seen all the faces
devoid of life on the sidewalks and
beyond, seen the future and the past,
seen it all as a criminal sees himself,
leaving the scene.

Guerrilla Penetrated by Projectile Clown 2/95

"One should not think 'about' the painting
             but 'of the painting.'"
                                  -- Stan Rice

Once the Surrealists have rediscovered
war nothing is out of bounds:  not
the peasant woman holding her wrapped-
in-swaddling starving child amid a court-
yard of severed body parts, not the dis-
placed made homeless by search and
destroy missionaries, not the too-white
clouds tainted by seedlings dropped as
frozen pellets to produce acid rain, not
bearded killers for hire wrapped in
bandoleers, bullets for broadcasting
messages of peace and the lighter side
of war; clowns as missiles, props for
Punch and Judy battlefield performance
Art, new dead removed by hand puppeteers,
three burial rings making a circuit where
the circus tents should be.

Alan Catlin has published a number of chapbooks and full-length collections under the working title of Extreme Art including Self-Portrait as the Artist Afraid of His Self-Portrait.

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