Alan Catlin/Misfit Magazine
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.
Life was like a Bible stolen from
a cheap motel. The kind where
cockroaches move in and feast.
You can hear them scuttling in
the night, taking wing to fly,
colliding with double pane window
glass, trying desperately to get out.
There is no escape once you have
made the wrong turn down this
unnumbered highway. One with road
signs that say: Vale of Tears and all
the truck stops are haunted, coated with
radioactive atomic test dust that glow
in the night like No Vacancy signs
in a dark ring of hell.
Travelers always wear shades at night
as the moon is brighter than the sun,
casts deep shadows, tricks the eye
into believing what can’t be seen.
The desert landscape like an ultra-violet
negative that, when developed, looks like
something from another time and place.
Used car parts and shells of empty
vehicles are the new dead beasts, desert
metal like bones polished by a red sand
storm that shapes everything it touches
into a Giacometti dream, a statue that
has no structure, only shadows where
the bones should be.
Reaching out to touch what isn’t there
is what dust devils do as carriers of dry
rot diseases they never get. Oases are
sundog spots that rise from cracked
plains to stoke a thirst that can will not
be assuaged. Consulting a map suggests
alternatives to being here.
There are none.
“All the circuits to DIALGOD are busy.”
The milk train no longer stops here
on third shift nights where K-9 units
are all cadaver sniffing dogs, the uniforms
all members in good standing of
shotgun squads, all pepper spray adepts
and night stick wizards, riot geared and
Kevlar vested, their twelve hour shift
eyes so accustomed to the dark they need
ultraviolet to see. Nights they work
down amid the tombs, the mobbed up city,
lit by an eerie half-light, in a kind of surreal
Frack City where elements spontaneously
combust, where the scum coated ponds are
all poison pits, where nothing grows….
who needs DDT when you have yellow gas?
When you have Faults instead of ridge lines,
where accidental freak of nature life forms appear
like creatures from an interior heartland
Island of Dr. Moreau gone rogue, unleashing
a nightmare gallery of mutant beings no one
imagined could ever exist. Where yesterday’s
forest hills are today’s strip mines, tomorrow’s
desert dunes. Where overnight wildcat towns
appear and become prefab ghettos, zona rojas
where mesh stockinged, short skirt wearing teens
are black widows in waiting. Where drunk
workers with runny eyes, and oddly scaled skin,
enter nighttown bars and houses of ill-repute,
their soiled coveralls pitted by pinpricked burn
holes, intent on becoming praying mantis consorts
to overworked sex slaves. Where these men
are one trick pony, cheap thrill artists-in-training,
for a work-in-progress mural of the working