alan catlin


Wladyslaw Szpilman, "The Pianist",
                 with His Siblings, 1914

This is the Real Lost Generation,
Warsaw jews in their youth
posed for a studio family portrait
when anything was possible but
nothing was.

She was reading

from her super
market book of
dreams like it
was the gospel
according to
John waiting for the telephone
to ring with her
first prize wiinings
in Publisher's Clearing
House Sweepstakes
or the Reader's Digest
Sweeps or any of
the myriad other
offerings she was
sending in when not
scratching off
her lottery numbers
or playing the ones
that came with her
stale almond fortune
cookies that arrived
with her daily Chinese
take out delivered
from across the street
or else divining the ones
she would use for
the card at Belmont
ten per cent of which
never came in at all
those nights and days
she waited for the right
psychic hot line
date that would
take her away
from all of this
before it really
was too late


Truck Stop Barbie

Works the grave
yard shift
at the all night
serving coffee

home fries, eggs
over easy & ham steaks
to truckers wired on
white crosses & adrenaline

She's familiar to many
but known by none

reads True Romance
Soap Opera Digest
& People Magazine

dreaming of another life
full of adventure on
a highway robbing banks
like Bonnie & Clyde

or on the loose in another
time when Charlie Starkweather
was a household name

a long time before R. Speck
had 'Born to Raise Hell'
tattooed on his forearm

& forgot to count how many
student nurses he had abducted
and how many he'd killed


Women Applying Makeup

Living dolls apply
black mascara-

teased eyebrows-lashes-
a flutter of egregious

fault lines-
dark fright wigs

steadied or temporarily
removed-low cut

evening gowns
adjusted-new faces

created in pocket
mirrors held by

long gloved hands-
the other one removed-

a grey limpid
snake-long felt

fingers wilting-
wraparound sun

glasses to void
spotlight's glare

or the hideous facts
of natural light


Seeing that 18 wheeler
                     for marcus

sure brings back
memories-the last
time we crossed
the Whitestone a
truck right in front
of us had a load
tied down under
a tarp just like
this one-only his
was on fire-I think
the toll guy must
have clued him in-
the next time we
saw the driver his
rig was pulled off
to the side-the fire
was still smouldering
& he was looking
mighty glum


Albany's Finest

Sure, we pulled
down on this guy
and wasted him.
I don't care what
color he is, a guy
half naked, screaming
like a psycho:
Death To All Pigs,
charging offciers
with BBQ fork
and knife with
an arrest record
as long as Elberon
Place doesn't
stand too much of
a chance against
a loaded, drawn
service revolver.
I mean, what were
we supposed to do-
check his ID?
Hell, everyone knew
who he was already.


White Wedding

She was stuck
inside some crazy
groove, a younger
version of Miss
Havisham after
hours with pan
caked makeup
& tattered
wedding dress
feeding the juke
dollar bills, her
acid stained eyes
devoid of real
colors, getting
harder w/ each
long playing
dance tune w/ her
Billy Idol on
this, her last
white wedding day.


Tropical Surprise Cocktail

Either they had been
basking in the sun at
some expensive resort
sipping frozen exotic
drinks strained into
oversized goblets
& adorned with a
multiplicity of fruit
slices of all the colors
of the rainbow paper
umbrellas or they had
been left to bake in a
local tanning hut coffin
way too long as a kind of
sick joke as their skin
roasted top the cracking
stage, which went a long
way toward explaining
newly exposed face lift
seams & black melanoma
becoming visible just
beneath the latest tanning
agent no amount of makeup
or stored in thermos
Mai Tais, Frozen Daiquris
or Margueritas could remove

alan catlin


     Alan Catlin has been tending bar in the semi-legendary Washington Tavern in Albany New York for longer than he cares to admit and for more time than most of the people he works with have been alive (roughly twenty two years) He's been publishing for over twenty five years and recently published The Leper's Kiss, fourth volume of the Killer Drink series available from Four Sep or from the author.

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