Alan Catlin

Lady Bowlers in the Lounge

They arrive in min-buses, twin
seater vans, RV’s and SUV’s of all
colors, sizes and descriptions, wearing
their black polyester blend short sleeve
blouses, their names sewn on their
right breast pockets: Marge, Shirley,
Sandi, Delores, Roxanne…
Too tight, above the knees dark skirts,
Butterfly’s tattooed on their ankles or on
the back of their sun burnt necks, forty
pounds overweight, ordering Black Velvet
Presbyterians, sipping as if they were sleek
women, lounging in evening gowns, fondling
pearls before swine enter their lives,
perfect 10 billboard fantasies defiling all
the back road dream highways of their lives;
or else, they are anorexic thin, chain smoking
menthol lights, drinking long neck Buds without
No Damn Glass, hubby’s name tattooed in black
on their bowling arm above the jailhouse cross,
their dead eyes staring through the smoke
dense lounge at the bar TV, trying to hear
the latest NASCAR results on Sports Center,
the west coast edition, an hour to go
before last call and miles to go before she weeps.


The Road to Hell

They came with the night like
some kind of raggedy ass army
gone permanently over the hill
on mescaline and redbone white
lightning distilled into ceramic jugs
sold in off-license shotgun squats
so far in the wood they needed
blood hounds to find a way in
and out. Those who drank too soon
and too fast, still lost, food for flesh
eating critters and mythical beasts
from forests primeval like creatures
from circus side show dreams even
the freaks won’t go near after the
hurricane lamps have been extinguished
in the tents where they reside, their
eyes retaining heat of the flame,
their breath scent of kerosene,
the swords they swallowed taken in
past the hilts; if they could speak,
they would ask for more.


“her profession is her religion”

All the torch songs she sang,
albums cut, lyrics written;
all the strange fruit hung,
love found and lost, warrants
signed and executed; all the lines
etched into her face, scars on her
body, the visible and the unseen;
all the dead end bars, nightclubs,
honky tonk memories, lives cut in
bar tops, sealed with varnish and oil
then painted over; all the nights that
had no days after, the dressing room
mirrors that had no images left in them,
unending blues for unaccompanied
voice, the whiskey and the smoke
that destroyed the tone and how she
wrapped herself in a habit that wouldn’t
let go.


Alan Catlin has published dozens of chapbooks of full-length books of prose and poetry. The most recent being Near Death in the Afternoon on Becker Street from March Street Press. His most prized honor is the two most neglected books of the year designations by Marvin Malone legendary editor of the Wormwood Review.