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Tuesday, November 24, 2009


by Alan Catlin

"in my hometown
there's even a nightclub named
Guernica." Jessica Hagedorn

where they play nothing but
dangerous music, atonal and
dissonant, so strident unmuffled
ears bleed, are assaulted by solo
guitar riffs, percussive drum beats,
organ blasts; killer sounds one and
all. The bouncers are all armed guards,
uniform like Nazis. No one dares
to intrude, tires to leave once they
are locked in for the night of danger
and beauty, gangster love and heart
throbbing infarctions. The heat inside,
the unnatural light inspires visions,
tropical apparitions vivid as death
squads, angles from hell with pilot's
licenses, machine guns and bombs.
In my town there is a night club named
Guernica where turf wars are fought
and lost, where the innocents plead
for mercy and are denied. In Guernica,
I am the demon on the dance floor,
the one with a coat of arms: blood
splatters on a field of clay.

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 previous administration with particular attention to the cynical, criminal behavior towards the Katrina hurricane victims.