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Tuesday, August 19, 2008


by Alan Catlin

This is what the News channels
don't show you: the photos cropped,
the devastation localized, sense of
proportion denied, the wreckage
after the bombing, the suicidal rage,
black robes and hand grenades, satchel
charges and plastic explosives,
the pillaged crowded village square,
city streets redesigned as craters,
sheltered stalls and outdoor markets
made into charnel houses, uncensored
scenes from Brueghel, Bosch: the gutted
fowl, deformed monsters, headless
horsemen and their horses flung about,
reduced to pieces of an imperfect whole
bathed in a blood wash amid the buckled
pavement, the concrete blast protectors,
alleyway mazes flushed by sewage and
marked by detached retinas, the eyes
that see everything no longer human.

Alan Catlin's latest chapbook is a long poem, Thou Shalt Not Kill, an updating of Rexroth's seminal poem of the same name. Whereas Rexroth riffs on the abuses of the Eisenhower adminstration, the update observes abuses of power in the current administration with particular attention to the cynical, criminal behavior towards the Katrina hurricane victims. More than one year later, the victims are not forgotten. No matter how many candles the Bushes light, the appalling lack of humanity and the blatant hypocrisy of the folks in charge is as apparent as the disenfranchised, the homeless, and the poverty stricken people of the Gulf states.