Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Two Poems by Alan Catlin

Sober Ten Years, Seven Months, Twenty-One Days:a Lament

The wife and I were holed up

in some place, not even sure 

which wife, they all blend together 

after a while. Might have been 

the third one, that’s when I was

at my worst, though it could just

as easily been the fourth one.

I was bad then too.

All I know for sure was we had

all this cash on us, well, I had

all this cash, and it seemed like

totally necessary, vital even, to hide 

some, bury it good, you know, just in case,

you know, for like one of those unknown 

contingencies that inevitably turn up

when you’re drunk. So we started 

putting stuff in places: under mattresses, 

cushion covers, under lamps, even in 

the room safe and off we go to do

some damage, though, we called it

something else euphemistic, something 

like a, night out of the town. There was

gambling where we were, either Vegas

or Atlantic City, you know how drunks

love to gamble and casinos love drunks.

Anyway, I’m sure I had some cards too.

Once I shot my wad at craps and cards, 

but they would have been in my wallet 

which I shrewdly left back at the hotel,

whichever one we were staying at,

like no one forgets where they are staying,

right? This is back when hotels still

had room keys. We’d lost those a long

time ago along with the car keys.

Who knew what car we were driving?

I sure as hell didn’t. I had lots of cars

back then. And money too. You think

stuff like that is going to last forever

when it’s going good. Ha! So, I asked

the wife, “You know which car

we had? And she says, “The red one.”

“They’re all red. (….)


“What am I supposed to do, go out in

the parking lot and look for a red car?”

“Why not?”

Now you understand why I got divorced.

Anyway, we’re in the lobby of

wherever, no room key, no car keys,

all my money in the room somewhere

and I’m tapped, so I ask the wife,

“Babe, you have any cash on you?”

“Gee, honey, I don’t know. 

You always say for me not to carry

cash because I spend too much when I do.”

“Could you look, just in case. We’re 

going to have to crash some place

and we can figure out where the rest

of our stuff is later on. That’s what 

room service is for.”

I’m leaning on the front desk counter

while she’s rummaging through Pandora’s

handbag, and I’m starting to freak

at all the stuff that’s flying out of there.

I’m thinking, I’m going to need a fifth 

of Jack Daniels to settle my nerves like, 

pronto, when the night clerk taps me on 

the shoulder and says, “Your room key, Sir.”

It’s almost enough to make you believe

in God. Actually, it was the drunk’s precaution

of folding up a portrait of Andy Jackson

and slipping it to the kid on the way out

“to remember me by, in case I forget later on”

that saved the day. Still, I was so relieved,

I could have kissed the guy but I restrained

myself. For all I know, the wife is still

down in the lobby rummaging through

her bag. A sensible man would have

given up drinking right then and there

but no one ever accused me of having

a grain of sense. It would take something

a whole lot worse than losing a couple

of grand, a room key, a wife, and a car to 

knock some sense into me.

The European Tour


“She was the type of woman who would

have brought tears to the eyes of John Ruskin"

Maurice Dekobra


Her idea for a gap year was

to save all the tips she made

working as a cocktail waitress in 

an upscale pub and from some soft

core hooking on the side. Soft core

hooking, to her, meant causal tricking 

without a pimp, casual hints dropped,

beverage napkin dates, cell phone

numbers exchanged. “I like the older

guys. They have more money, 

are more than likely married, 

and don’t ask questions and, man,

they expect the same. I don’t do 

perverted. Not for money anyway.”

Was planning on doing the European

tour, on her back, first hand, in depth

research for a Baedeker’s Guide

to Getting Laid, she was going to 

call, Do it on the Rails: Getting 

the Most from Your Euro Pass

and Have Fun Doing It. Something

like that, anyway. If that didn’t work

out, her back up plan was a Sociological

study on the sexual habits of the horny

European Male: You Don’t Need

a Translator to Have Good Sex.

Sociology wasn’t her major, and she

couldn’t write worth shit, but that

was something she’d worry about after

the research was finished, and recorded

in a diary she’d lose somewhere between

Buda and Pest. Thought protection during 

intercourse was “for wimps, was like playing 

Russian Roulette with an empty gun,” 

when it was more like playing with one 

chamber empty, high stakes stud poker 

with someone else’s money, drawing a card 

for an inside straight.



Bio: Alan Catlin is a former barman with way too much experience in that unchosen profession.  His most recent full-length books include, Bar Guide for the Seriously Deranged (Roadside Press) and How Will the Heart Endure (Kelsay Press)

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