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Alan Catlin


Alan Catlin has published many books and chapbooks His two most recent chapbooks are a pair of “evil twins”: Hollyweird from Night Ballet Press and Blue Velvet winner of the 2017 Slipstream Chapbook Award.

Visions of Johanna

I don’t remember the first time
I saw her

Not exactly
The last few years of the 60’s are one long,
stoned, alcoholic blur of darkened bars,
concert venues, frat houses subterranean
homesick blues

“Sunshine of Your Love”
the song of doomed youth I most recall,
her saying, “You look like Donovan.
Before he sold his soul to a record label.”

But what I was had more to do, had more
in common with being an exploding ticket
holder on a drunken boat to nowhere
drinking because I was depressed,
the more I drank the more depressed I was,
than actually selling my soul

I was thinking she was some kind
of acidangel who could rescue me from hell
on an endless weekend afternoon of substance
abuse and self pitying gestures that made me
feel as pathetic as I was

Could see her piedbeauty face across a dancefloor,
barroom, streaked by strobelights and day glo paints,
coming colors in my mind and I thought
I could reach out and touch her but when I went to
touch, she wasn’t there

She wasn’t anywhere, was lost in some electricladyland
dream of the 60’s, a stolen muse, a sirensong;
sometimes I wonder if she was real

Lounge People Listening to “The End”

Young America 1970, half wasted
drinking from the keg of perpetual
flowing beer, sacred font open 24 hour
a day, for charter members of Roosevelt
Drive Social Club, duplex of dharma
bums, a month away from graduation
and a letter of greetings and salutations
from Uncle Sam draft board;
black robes and mortar board hats in May,
jungle fatigues by October, flag draped
coffin by the first of the year, full military
honors; it had happened before and it would
happen again.  No one mentioning what lay
ahead, but everyone aware of the elephant
in the crowded living room, the Woodstock
Live album on so loud Jimi Hendrix made
ears bleed the national anthem,  taking you
higher as Sly and the Family Stone and
the hydroponic weed smuggled in from
who knew where, classes some kind of Kent
State nightmare no one bothered with any more.
Interiors so crowded early spring afternoons
relocating all the furniture outside on the lawn
under the high flying drinking flag: a martini
with olives on a cresting wave, seemed the only
way to fly, all the summers of love over,
young ladies on the daybed/couch dressed
in funereal black, white skulls on gold chains
around their necks, dead eyes and too red lips,
all the gone tomorrows, today, that seemed to
say, abandon hope all ye who enter here.

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