A Journal of the Plague Year
"A crowd here wearing yellow ribbons is
crying for infants to be born."
Leslie Scalapino, The Front Matter, Dead Souls
Inside the painted city, double locked doors,
black crosses seared into the buckled paint,
yellow flags hanging from the masts of dormant
ships quarantined well beyond the harbor,
flotsam floating amidst the rainbow stained
garbage, the bloated heads of the diseased
slipped into the water under cover of darkness,
their candy apple eyes leaving wax impressions
on the skin of sleepers walking out of doors,
gauze contagion masks sucked inward covering
jagged teeth, soiled gowns bearing the marks
of inflated skins, tumors hard as fists
blackening the stilled night, powerless streets,
stricken power lines no longer sparking
in greasy puddles, mucal like burnt skin,
leaking oils on blacktop, concrete losing
definition, dissolving along with everything
else in the burning, hazing, mustard gas.
Alan Catlin has been publishing since the Seventies. In addition to more than sixty books and chapbooks of prose and poetry, he has won a number of national contests and awards. He has been a finalist for the Brittingham Book Prize from the University of Wisconsin Press, the Lena Miles Wever Poetry Book Award and been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, twenty times, in both fiction and poetry. Alan is one of the editors and founder of Misfit Magazine (misfitmagazine.net).