Baltimore Bouncing in Albany New York by Alan Catlin

By August the streets are full of them:
the seriously insane, the ones shelters
no longer tolerate, forced to sleep rough,
by day, in bus shelters, slowly working
their way uptown, one local stop at time.
Uptown, sleepless as the undead at night,
they stalk the unwary, keeping to shadows
cast by streetlights on less traveled side
streets, scavenging for cash, rolling
the infirm, the staggering drunks from
dozens of pubs, the licensed ones and
the unlicensed, the afterhours ones and
the ones that might as well be, envying
their prey, aspiring to be as they are:
blind and befuddled, brains marinating
in alcohol, putrefied by noon.
Their scents precede them into bars
where they are treated as terminally ill,
a volatile mix of bad chemicals in search
of a place to explode. The ones still
standing at Summer’s end the hearty ones,
survivors, all their brethren long ago
consigned to county lockups or doing
serious bids all the way upstate in max
or out West, in Marcy, with the criminally
insane playing checkers with Son of Sam
or worse.  These are the true hard cases.
one Mickey Finn shooter from a Black Maria
ride around town, handcuffed but not secured,
a veritable human football in a metal cage
about to become bruised and battered beyond
all recognition.

acatlin multi

Alan Catlin is a widely published poet in the US of A and elsewhere. His most recent book is “Books of the Dead: a memoir with poetry” about the deaths of his parents. He is a retired professional barman and the editor of the online poetry zine


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