SPOTLIGHT: The Road to Perdition by Alan Catlan

Blood of the Poet

She fancied herself as a model
for timeless works of Art by masters
such as Reubens and Renoir but,
in real life, was someone you might
find in a painting by Francis Bacon,
Lucian Freud, or Egon Schiele.
Chain smoked some hard to find,
off-brand, sub-continent cigarette
that permanently stained her fingers
and lips, smokes that tasted like what
was left in an ashtray the night after
the day before, everything spilled or
totally spoiled. Collected men the way
social strivers or con men bought
other people’s diplomas, trophies,
awards and claimed they were their own.
Owed more money than a rich uncle,
had there been one, could ever have
left behind: despite having nothing,
she always expected the best. Saw
the future as lush and limitless as if she
where viewing the world from a balcony
overlooking a forest instead from where
she was actually at: in some uptown
ghetto, in a flophouse, where even the
fire escapes led nowhere. Smelled roses
when other people detected leaking gas.

Heart Like a Wheel

Maybe she was in-
training for a new kind
of power lifting event:
hoisting cold ones one-
handed and slugging them
down, half the contents
of a glass two quart pitcher
at a go. Only pausing to
belch and to wipe foam
from her lips with a ragged
sleeve from her flannel shirt
that had previously been
used as a drop cloth for lube
jobs by semi-professionals
or maybe she’d honed her
skills at a chop shop, holding
rear ends of cars up on her
own saying, “Lift? I don’t
need no stinkin’ lift, I’ve got
all the lift I need right here
on this broad’s shoulders.”
Maybe that was where she’d
gotten the bucks for her one-
of-a-kind world’s in collision
tattoos that rose from beneath
her customized low cut t-shirt,
unfettered tits like the hubs of
Mag wheels ‘built for speed
and for distance’. Maybe no one
would ever forget how she
polished off the second half of
her pitcher, slammed it down on
the bar so hard it split clean in
two right along the seam waking
the bar drunk from his perpetual
coma long enough to witness her
saying, “Next pitcher’s on the house!”
And it wasn’t a question.

All the King’s Men

Burning cross wisdom, firelight
readings from newly appointed
holy book of the Kloran: Klaxons
and Kleagles, bad spellers bereft
of reason, illumination provided
by hate speaking, self-anointed,
bigots, blood rituals instead of
baptisms, drinking by the defiled
river waters where a children’s choir
of unchanged voices sings the devil’s
songs at midnight: “Redrum Redrum…..”
Black magic and moonshine, white
lightning warriors, personal space
invaders, forked tongues and
carbines, “Don’t Tread on Me”
flags and tattoos, serpent spit
and viper bite, weapons for piss
Christ rednecks. Look into your
conscience preachers proclamations;
after the mob rule violence, those
who have seen inside themselves
have never been so alone.

Cape Fear

Asleep, off course, in riptide night,
on Carolina coastal waters and nightmare
alleyways of storm downed trees and
displaced dwellings. Desperation Blues on
the wireless, smashed crockery and in-shards-
glassware scattered about inboard cabin.
Adrift on the Sweet Sioux rechristened
Mary Celeste, a mosaic of forensics
smeared by wind and rain, warning buoys
white capped waved sideways in gale force
storm. Drowned paperback copy of Henry
Miller’s Sexus, fright wigs and torn rubber
face masks, life squeezed out of red-for-effect
false noses, partials missing from artificial teeth
all suggesting the party’s so over now.
Staved in lifeboat and deflated raft hung
from starboard of the listing boat like skinned
animals, skeletal remains.
Mae West water vests bayonet practice shredded,
distress flags oil soaked rags for smearing
in-board windows, even the gunnels leaking.

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.


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