Three Poems by Alan Catlin

Three Poems

Alan Catlin



on the plain of penitents, reveals
the results of a book beyond
Revelations, pages removed for
the perpetual fires; of missing body
parts, the surgically removed right legs
of the seated, naked from the waist
down, sexless men whose chests
have been wrapped in hair cloth
shirts, tunics, swaddling the afflicted
with no arms, heads bent back to
receive the tainted host, acid rains,
diseased manna, whatever falls from
the scorched wounds of the heavens;
faces, white scars, the same color as
their eyes, once the capacity for sight
has been removed, a nuclear sunrise,
incredibly vivid, no one sees.



Night in the sleepwalker’s motel

and the walls are as thin
as rice paper and we

are about to be denied
our dreams by a kind

of music composed for two
sets of dismembered,

weightless hands,
and the ceaseless wheezing

of mating pigeons nesting
in the sagging eaves.

Our room is one of many
identical rooms set inside

this chambered nautilus shell,
walls as hard as the lumps

on the shoulders of a hunch-
backed dwarf, his flaking skin

the snow we cannot see through
when it is time to leave



Van Gogh Cup with Walking Skull

on the out of proportion table,
this work place amid the left-
overs: dinner plates stained by
smeared yolks of eggs, rinds
of bread, stale crusts and a
Museum of Art coffee cup;
Vincent, that blue scene in Paris,
cafe tables and fire lighted stars,
a spilled bottle of India ink on
the yellow cloth, not the Escher
spill unleashing a phalanx of
mobius strips, of dream creatures,
lizards and snails, optically elusive
but of another craftsman, mad maker
of demon figures like a Village
of the damned by a Hieronymous
Bosch, deformed-by-sin peasants
set free from a stomach of a mythical
ox like grotesque human ants to scurry
about the ruined doilies, soiled napkins,
matching condiment shakers, souvenirs
from a furtive War of the Roses,
their false bottoms containing secrets
of miniature worlds so easily lost in
the general confusion of warring elements,
uneasy minds, the undeniable presence
of the small, walking skull, its unhinged
jaw dropping small black pellets
like stones, like birdshot on the table
as it walks.


© Alan Catlin


Alan CatlinAlan Catlin has published over sixty chapbooks and full-length books of prose and poetry. His most recent full length book, Alien Nation, is a compilation of four thematically related chapbooks.