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The Blog Bog

The Mag Rack

42nd Street Satan

When the screen came down on
the movie of his life, one side of the split
screen was of a 42nd Street Satan wasted on
Purple Jesus, Peyote buttons, and pale
as death tequila, all of it Dutch Courage
used to coax little girls in mini-skirts
and tight tops into blind alleys where
Artful Dodger cronies pushed roofies
down their throats as if they were
Smarties making them prey for candy
colored clowns, white slavers accessories
to abduction and murder, working at his behest.
The other half of the screen revealed a
tweaked out his gourd self-appointed messiah,
selling End Time Insurance, indulgences
like Richard Nixon faced three dollar bills,
on street corners dressed in king size fitted
sheets with pillow cases for vestments,
the last player piano reels of his mind
droning out of his mouth like incoherent
babble, speech like something after the tower
fell; a devil's disciple psalm away from
a rubber room. All these conflicting,
wasted images in his mind competing
for equal, time and space, creating
thought jumbles no one had invented
a term to define as of yet. All of what
he said, dreamed, conceived of, headed
for the cutting room floor, little more
than an autopsy-in-progress report,
a field study in fried cerebral cortex,
brain matter as sponge to be wrung out
by hand after weighing, the matter
extracted bottled in glass, labeled toxic,
acidic, do not allow near exposed flesh.

         alan catlin

"I watch Dostoevsky in a small room drinking a glass..."

"What should it be? he'd heard the answer
at his first AA meeting. The nuthouse, the cemetery,
or jail?" Frank Lentricchia, The Dog Killers of Utica

"The first one is often fatal at your age,"
The Doc said. "You were lucky this time,
you beat the odds. Cut way back on the booze:
no hard stuff, an occasional brew, red wine
in moderation. Can the cigarettes and cut down
on the red meat and fatty foods. Eat some fruits
and vegetables. You might learn to like them."
"That's all the stuff I love. What am I supposed
to do, live like a monk?"
"It's up to you. All the stuff you love is killing you."

There he sits at the bar, mouthing off at the kid
behind the wood after a long hard day,
high pressure lobbying, major union biz,
blowing off excess steam, now, chain smoking
Lucky shorts, pounding VO Soda
like the import tax was about to double,
wondering whether it will be the Porterhouse
or the Strip Steak, hell, go for good stuff,
it's on the Union. Pauses, feeling a bit faint,
stands, figures it's been a long day, thinks,
when did he last eat, anyway? How many cocktails
was that? Seven? eight? nineŠ..holds that
thought, then his chest, other hand feeling for
a bar that is no longer there, dead before he hits
the floor.

         alan catlin

Last Man Standing
        "Let's ride the angels goodbye."
                 Jack Micheline

Just before the bar war to end all
bar wars, he girl with an unbreakable
heart leaned over the bar, ripped
the buttons off her shirt and said,
"I don't need no ink or silicone to
prove I'm a 100% Grade A
American Babe."
The way she said it seemed more
like a statement of fact than an offer
or a dare: regardless, no one was
inclined to disagree. So the barman
was thinking, momentarily distracted
before the overhead rail lights were
pulled down, long neck Buds hit the back
bar bottles and wall to wall chaos ensued:
a flash flood of violence taking out
everything in its way. If this were
an indie movie all these bodies in motion
would be slowed to half speed,
made into a grotesque ballet,
a techno Rave with flickering lights
momentarily revealing distorted faces,
flexing muscles, a strange, almost
beautiful, mise en scene only a 911
call could interrupt, could make complete,
with police whistles, drawn truncheons,
and Taser light shows; but it wasn't
a movie, only something like real life.
Hours after, the blood dries on
the hardwood floors, the click of
the muted jukebox cycling most
played songs, priming the invisible
crowds, and an almost suffocating
rush of forced wet air as the lifeless
night turns into day. The last man
standing behind the bar sips his
bottomless pint, and cut glass shots,
through a short straw, dulled pains slowly
ebbing into an alcoholic daze.

         alan catlin