White Hunter, Black Heart

“the faces in shadow,

deep creases of gloom.”


They may be thirteen, homeless,

or about to be.  Cadge cigarettes

on street corners, 40’s, when first

of the month money feels free.

Wear ragged, cut-off, short shorts,

nearly transparent tees and older

sister’s padded bra, five years from

fully developed, ten from silicone

injected.  Always travel in packs,

never less than a pair, thinking

safety in numbers, unaware of how

the street wolves are adept at cutting

strays from the herd.  Try to maintain

a modicum of innocence,

but once a line has been crossed,

there is no bottom limit on how far

down they can go, how many different

ways they can be transacted, abused,

shared, instructed in all the dark arts

a body can bear. If they make it

through their teens,  they will have

lived all the movements of a requiem

mass, their Deus Irae, a rap chant

for mother fuckers, street ho’s, and

cash money deals. Paint themselves

into a dressing room corner where

they apply false eyelashes, too much

makeup: red lipsticks and blush,

serviceable until their looks give out.

The lucky ones die young.

Alan Catlin has published over sixty chapbook and full length books of poetry and prose.  His most recent book of poetry is Wild Beauty from Future Cycle Press. Hic chapbook Blue Velvet won the 2017 Slipstream Chapbook Contest and, from the same series of books, his chapbook, Hollyweird was published by Night Ballet Press.