the white bicycle

3 05 2012

POETRY DISPATCH No. 370 | May 4, 2012


The White Bicycle

In the dream
of red balloons,

of circus tents,
pied clowns and

highwire artists;
a white bicycle

takes you there.

Alan Catlin

The White Bicycle

I’ve painted my old bicycle white.
It is the white of a childhood photograph,
the white of my sister’s first communion dress,
of an awkward smile missing front teeth
and ill-fitting gloves covering mudpie hands.
It is the white of my untucked shirt frozen in mid-laugh.

Now my bicycle is ready to receive the rain.

Peter Kron

The White Bicycle

It’s lurking there in the shadows
of a granary,
ghost of a gone era
when the first farm motors
arrived on tractors
and young girls still rode to town
on two wheels
to fetch supplies home in baskets.

Its basket long gone,
its handlebars like bleached longhorns
on a steer’s deserted skull,
it awaits the coolness of night
and its occasional riders,
dead writers.

Tonight it welcomes
its favorite,
the lady in white.

Come quietly after midnight,
watch Emily pedaling
straddling the worn saddle.

Ed Werstein

Editor’s Note: These were my original directions and suggestions:

Consider this another “Good Morning or Good Day Door County” photo… BUT for poets and writers out there (and others who may be interested), consider this a challenge, an opportunity, an invitation to write a poem (mainly) or prose piece (preferably short) titled: THE WHITE BICYCLE. Send it to me via e-mail only ASAP.  Deadline: Thursday morning (before noon) May, 3, 2012. I’ll print, not necessarily “the best” White Bicycle poems, but my three favorites on Poetry Dispatch, Friday, May 4, 2012 or this coming weekend. Now get on that white bike and ride!–if you have it in you, if the photo, the white bike, something speaks to you.Norbert Blei

This was a much more difficult than I imagined. And though many have asked me to do this more often, I just can’t. The time factor is enormous.

There were close to thirty entries. I made two sets of master copies of everything (deleting the name of each writer in a way even I unaware of the writer) and forwarded one master copy to a qualified writer-friend with instructions to pick three, only three, which caught what I was after: good writing, originality, brevity, etc. This was not easy for the guest reader/writer/friend/judge—or me.

Whatever failed to make the final three, failed… No, ‘failed’ is not the right word for the majority of entries since there were so many fine pieces if work BUT…some of the poems were too long…some of the poems were soaring, only to crash with a poor last line, a trite final stanza, a poor choice of words from the beginning or image…or no image(s) at all, falling into heavy-handed prose. Some need just a little final tuning to make them hum. Some need to be re-worked, re-envisioned entirely. Many of these (with a little more thought and a bit of rewriting) would certainly find a home in various publications.

For the last 12 hours or more I kept trying to bend the rules a bit: Why not six favorites instead of three…for certainly another three…no four, are right on the edge?

Maybe a list (long) of Honorable Mentions…?

Or how about a category which, for want of a better term, I would call “The Second Wave”? I have close to nine pieces that would easily slide in there. ALL of them SO GOOD! But this would go on for pages and pages…

What about separating the prose pieces from the poetry, place them by themselves?

And what to do with these illustrated works that came in out of nowhere???

After driving myself crazy with trying to make almost everyone happy, including myself, I decided to stick with the original idea of printing the three favorites. Plus only one prose piece. And wrap it up with the three illustrated submissions because…because I wish to share them.

I also promise to print some of the works online in the not too distant future.

Thank you all.

I have attached the poem and a photo of a “white bicycle” that is a few miles from my studio. Here in NM they call the roadside memorials markers to people killed in car accidents “descansos.” I don’t know what they are called elsewhere. But families or friends put up white crosses for pedestrians or car drivers who have been killed, or white bicycles for bicyclists who have been killed on the roadside near the scene of the accident. They remind you to slow down and take care. I do not know where they are made but they are well cared for and decorated with plastic flowers. Some are even decorated especially for Christmas and other holidays! -Kris Thacher


No one depends

The white bi-

Parked in the

Behind the Descansos

Kris Thacher

The White Bicycle | Photo by Daniel Anderson

alan catlin | one book

25 01 2010

Poetry Dispatch No.309 | January 25, 2010

Alan Catlin

DRUNK AND DISORDERLY, Selected Poems (1978-2000), by Alan Catlin, Pavement Saw Press, 2003

Imagine if you will, a young man walks into a bar, the bar where I was working, asks me, the bartender, ”Remember me? I’m Dave Baratier and I have a small press . I want to do a book of your selected poems.” No, that isn’t a standard bar joke but how the idea for and the book, “Drunk and Disorderly” came about.

Needless to say, it was nowhere near that simple. This is the world of small presses and absolutely nothing is simple. Over the years, and I do mean years, several of them, Dave and I hashed out what we wanted to include in the book on the telephone and by e-mail. As we had close to thirty chapbooks and books to choose on a wide variety of subjects, this was an arduous project. Dave was up to daunting projects having transcribed, often copying hundreds of pages from delicate limited edition of Simon Perchik’s work, for a previous major book. However, prior commitments, personal issues, work and attempting to run a fine small press and write as well, drew the process out longer than either of us would have expected or liked.

Of course, we had favorites from my work, pieces Dave liked and ones I was no longer fond of. Dave was partial to the early prose poems in “Joyce in Hades” and I was not. I was partial to the war poems in “An Experiment in Terror” and he could not abide war poems of any sort no matter how well they were done. As with any effort of this sort compromises were proposed and accepted and the book began to take shape. And then I didn’t hear from Dave for well, many months that became years.

As Dave had promised me this book would be a fine art edition and that he would keep it in print and that it represented, not only the past work but new, bolder, totally different directions my writing was taking in a generous uncollected new work section, the book had great importance to me. More than any other by far, as I knew, realistically, who else was going to do a book of my selected poems? During the waiting time, Simon assured me I shouldn’t lose hope, to stick with and Dave would reward you with a fine book you would both be proud of. Of course, he was right, but waiting is a bitch no matter how you slice it. And what you become accustomed to when you play the small press publishing game. Anyone who is in it for the fame or the money or for ego gratification should find something else to do like try out for American Idol; the chances of making it are about the same but the rewards are infinitely less than anything you could possibly expect on TV. Well, theoretically, anyway; it all depends upon your priorities. Writing is a love affair and the small presses are the mistress. I’m not sure what American Idol is in the scheme of things.

The last piece of the book puzzle was the cover and the title of the book. I was fortunate enough to enlist the fine poet and artist David Chorlton to provide a remarkable original piece of art for the cover. The title was more difficult. Dave didn’t want something totally bland and predictable. I couldn’t think of anything I was love in with and neither could he. Eventually, I wrote down a list of possible titles ranging from the frivolous to the pretentious and said pick one. “Drunk and Disorderly” was chosen, I think, for two basic reasons. One, that it reflects the raucous, hell raising barn burning bar poems and the other that the poet is drunk or had been drunk, at times, not only on booze but on words. Considering I neither drink nor work in a bar any longer, we’ll have to assume the title refers more to the words than the booze.

I have found that my work is an ongoing process of evolution, of growth and new understandings leading to sometimes startling discoveries that make the process beyond material reward. Directly in the center of that process, not necessarily chronologically, but intellectually. “Drunk and Disorderly”, is for me a backward glance to what has been done and a forward look into what the future has to offer. Hopefully, the process will continue well into the foreseeable future.

Book Publications

  • 1980- Joyce in Hades-chapbook of prose poems
  • 1982-The Monkey’s Raincoat, Realities Library chapbook
  • 1983- Visiting Day on the Psychiatric Ward-chapbook runner up in Looking Glass Chapbook Competition
  • 1984-Animal Acts-Quality Press-book
  • 1984-My Son and I-Timberline Press chapbook
  • 1986-A New Year’s Eve Bash-chapbook Co-winner of Gypsy Chapbook Competition
  • 1986-An Unresolved Argument with Shadows-Chapbook Geryon Press
  • 1987-A World Out of Balance-M.A.F. Press chapbook
  • 1990-A Ghost Story-Kindred Spirit Press-chapbook
  • 1990-Bar Wars-Kindred Spirit Press-chapbook
  • 1993-A Confusion of Giants, East Coast Press- chapbook
  • 1993-Down and Out in Albany New York-Green Meadow Press-chapbook
  • 1993-What I Would Do If I Owned a Motorcycle-Green Meadow Press-chapbook
  • 1993-Lorca in New York, Iota Press-chapbook
  • 1994-An Experiment in Terror-Mulberry Press Award-chapbook
  • 1995-Marching North-Mulberry Press-chapbook
  • 1995-Shelley and the Romantics-Adastra Press-chapbook
  • 1995-Downwind of the Dumpster-UBP- chapbook
  • 1995-Demonology-Mulberry Press-chapbook
  • 1996-Black and White in Color-winner of the Mississenewa chapbook award
  • 1996-Self-Annhiliation with Shopping Bag Ladies-UBP-chapbook
  • 1996-Neo-Runes, Art Mag chapbook
  • 1997-Killer Cocktails-Four Sep Press, chapbook
  • 1997-Terminal Beach at Sunset-UBP chapbook with illustrations by Michael Shores
  • 1999-Celtic Twilight-JVC Books chapbook
  • 2000-Hair of the Dog That Bit Me-Four Sep Press chapbook
  • 2000-Stop Making Sense-March Street Press-chapbook
  • 2000-ESP-Phyrgian Press chapbook
  • 2000-Ghost Road-winner of the Main Street Rag chapbook contest
  • 2002-Death and Transfiguration Cocktail-Lummox Press Little Red Book
  • 2002-The Leper’s Kiss-Four Sep Press-chapbook
  • 2003-Greatest Hits-Pudding Publication chapbook
  • 2003-Drunk and Disorderly, Pavement Saw Press selected poems book
  • 2003-Last Bus to Albany-Pudding Publication-chapbook
  • 2004-The Schenectady Chainsaw Massacre-Staplegun- book
  • 2004-Views of Mt. Greylock-Snark Publications chapbook
  • 2004-Screaming Mimis-Butcher Shop Press-chapbook
  • 2005-Dawn on the Beach-Snark Publications-chapbook
  • 2005-Playing Tennis with Antonioni-March Street Press book
  • 2006-Thou Shalt Not Kill-Chiron Review Press-long poem chapbook
  • 2006-Our Lady of the Shipwrecks-Finishing Line Press-chapbook runner up chapbook contest
  • 2007-Still Life-Black Buzzard Press-chapbook
  • 2008-Self-Portrait of the Artist Afraid of His Self-Portrait-March Street Press book
  • 2008-The Effects of Sunlight on Fog-Bright Hill Press chapbook runner up chapbook contest
  • 2008-Men in Suits-MadmanInk, chapbook
  • 2009-Only the Dead Know Albany-sunnyoutside, chapbook
  • 2009- Brain Damage-Propaganda Press chapbook
  • 2009-Short Shots-Alternative Press mini chapbook
  • 2009-Suffering Bastards- co winner Evil Genius Chapbook award
  • 2009-Insomniac’s Gift-SharkArt chapbook with illustrations by Michael Shores
  • 2010-Near Death in the Afternoon on Becker Street-March Street Press-book

Prose Publications

  • 1993-Dead Letter Office-Green Meadow novella
  • 1995-The Apology short stories
  • 2000-From the Waters of Oblivion-Chiron Review Press- novel
  • 2004-Death Angles-short stories Four Sep Publications


  • The Poet’s Job: To Go Too Far Sophie Books 1985
  • Gate’s to the City: Albany Tricentennial Anthology 1986
  • Puerto del Sol 25th Anniversary Anthology 1988
  • New Geography of Poets University of Arkansas 1992
  • Beyond Bad Times Snow Apple Press 1993
  • In the West of Ireland Enright House 1994
  • Sulfur & Sawdust Scars Publication 1995
  • Best of Impetus Implosion Press 1996
  • Slate & Marrow Scars Publication 1996
  • Diner Anthology Future Tense Press 1996
  • Joyful Noise King’s Estate Press 1996
  • Word Thursday Anthology Bright Hill Press 1997
  • A Scent of Apple; anthology of poetry on family relationships Pittenbrauch Press 1997
  • Blister & Burn Scars Publications 1997
  • Second Word Thursday Anthology Bright Hill Press 1999
  • Rinse & Repeat Scars Publication 1999
  • Beers, Bars & Breakdowns Staplegun 2000
  • To Life, King’s Estate Press 2001
  • Northern Muse; poems about and inspired by Glenn Gould James Gordon Burke Publisher
  • 2001
  • Draft Specials & other atrocities Staplegun 2002
  • No Restraints: an anthology of Disability Culture in Philadelphia 2002
  • Great American Poetry Show 2004
  • Roque Dalton Redux Cedar Hill 2005
  • Poet’s Bookshelf Barnwood 2005
  • Unexpected Harvest King’s Estate Press 2005
  • Contrarywise King’s Estate Press 2008
  • Poet’s Against the War Ars Poetica 2008
  • Poems for a Buck Twenty Nine Rusty Truck 2009
  • Empty Shoes: Poems on the Hungry and Homeless Create Space Publishers 2009
  • The Long Way Home: Best of Red Book Series 2009
  • Bar Code, Little Eagle Press, 2008


Nineteen Pushcart Press Nominations, Three Rhysling Award nominations (Science Fiction Poetry) One Bram Stoker nomination (Horror book award), finalist in Quercus Review Poetry Book Contest twice, Brittingham Award, Lila Todd Weaver Awards (Pleiades Press). Two books were chosen by Marvin Malone of Wormwood Review fame as most neglected books of the year, “Animal Acts” and “Barred on Both DES” written with Paul Weinman.