Alan Catlin has been publishing for five decades. His most recent chapbook is Blue Velvet winner of the 2017 Slipstream Chapbook Award. Another in a series of ongoing chapbooks of movie influenced poems, Hollyweird will be published by Night Ballet Press.
The widows come all dressed in black,
lace veils clinging to the sides of their
faces, hair tied back in buns, faces
powdered white, pale as death.
Their casseroles are overcooked in
Pyrex baking dishes: from macaroni
and cheese to green beans and tuna fish,
burned bread crumbs turning black,
straight-into-the garbage or ready to
feed the birds fresh from the ovens.
They travel in groups of five or six,
ringing door bells at random, burnt
offerings at the ready, never willing to
speak, their eyes say it all in tears,
their lips bloodless and chapped.
Every neighborhood has them though
few admit to their existence, never
advertise for new ones once the older
ones become infirm or die; replacements
simply appear as if summoned by need,
assume the rounds, making their way
from one tree lined street to another,
children clearing paths for them to
proceed, terrified their house might be next.
and couldn’t decide which was worse.
Overhead, low flying war planes
rattle the display plates, knock glasses
from counters, dislodge pictures on walls.
Someone suggests hiding in the storm cellar
or under the dining room table far from
window glass but no one moves.
What would be the point?
White noise on the emergency radio station.
It’s like that scene in “The Sacrifice” when
the family stop talking, look up to where
the bombers are, nervous eyes and silenced
voices, trying to pretend an ending is somewhere
else far away. Or it is like that von Trier movie
where the couple is hiding in the reverse Eden
place, a scene flawlessly cobbled together
from shots from Tarkovsky and the darkest
places inside, where impossible weather
unleashes debris like hail, frozen fire instead
of rain, and the furies that follow the escaping
man are revenants from a not-so-distant past.
On a newly wasted uncontrolled burn plain
bewildered sheep look up.
This is how we live now.