Just before the bar war to end all
bar wars, the 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
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.
LAST MAN STANDING (the title poem appears above) could be a crazy memoir of Alan’s 35 years in the barman/bartender business; but it is also a testimonial to his story telling abilities… consider the poem, Dead Enders…
They were coasting the long
unlighted downhill, engine off,
headlamps out, the guy in driver’s
seat holding on to the wheel as if
it could provide life support, wasted
out of his mind, the others in varying
degrees of unconsciousness, driver
telling the other clowns not to breathe
so much the inside windows were
fogging so he couldn’t see a damned
thing through the ice on the windshield,
gas gauge way below empty, near-bald
tires sliding on slick patches of black
ice; the moonlight on dented guard rails
in the hard curving dark.
Here, he builds you up to a crescendo, describing the scenery, the structural integrity of the storyline and then, almost matter of factly, he tosses out a clue as to what’s led up to this point in time.
This is an excellent book full of poetry that is, at times, dead pan it its delivery and at other times, almost sardonic. Alan has a dry sense of humor; one expects this from a man who was the confidant to countless intoxicated patrons and an observer of 35 years of sad examples of the human race!
Alan Catlin has been part of the small press scene for over forty years. During that time he has watched the evolution of the alternative presses from mimeographs to online publishing. His rich publishing history includes venerable small press standards such as the Wormwood Review. He considers that having two of his books considered the most neglected book of the year by Marvin Malone, legendary editor of Wormwood, his highest honor. One of his claims to fame is that he is only poet ever to have been published by Street Bagel, Poked with Sticks, Comet Halley, The Literary Review, Descant, The Seattle Review and Wordsworth’s Socks. Among his many full length books and chapbooks are: Visiting Day on the Psychiatric Ward, Self Portrait of the Artist Afraid of His Self Portrait, The legendary Killer Drinks Series which includes a little red book (Lummox Press), Death and Transfiguration Cocktail, Alien Nation and Beautiful Mutants. He is a retired professional barman who can now claim to be a full time working poet with a straight face and mean it.
Listen to Alan do his thing.
Read a sample from Last Man Standing…
162 pages, 6 X 9 inches, Trade Paper
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