David Chorlton was born in Austria, grew up in England, and spent several years
in Vienna before moving to Phoenix in1978. He divides his work between writing
and painting, enjoys listening to very old music, birding, and hiking in the Arizona
landscape. Along with poems in magazines, he has a list of chapbook publications
with Another Word (Pudding House Publications) being the latest, and two recent
books: A Normal Day Amazes Us (Kings Estate Press) and Return to Waking Life
(Main Street Rag Publishing Company).
At every corner, the signpost points
both ways. We could walk
or wait for the bus. Soup or salad
is only the beginning
of the problem; choices
stand in line
while we sink into confusion. The life
not lived comes back
to haunt us. Brand names
abound when all we want
is something to clean the floor
or dress the salad. To vote
or not to vote,
that is the question. But whose
smile is most convincing?
The runner on second
considers stealing a base,
the subject of an interrogation
is caught between confessing
and waiting for the evidence
that will clear him. It is late
and he is tired. The polls are still open.
A menu lies open on the table.
The barbarians at the gate
won't wait. They never had a choice:
they were born poor
and determined to take
the first chance they had.
A river passes through a city without bridges,
a city with one inhabitant. He must reach
the far side or face consequences
but every street twists back to the place
at which he starts out. He is walking with a clock
on his back, the weight of which
grows heavier as he wears out pair after pair
of shoes. Left through the marketplace,
right past the town hall, left again and again
until he reaches the steps leading down
to the quarter with narrow streets, he turns
and turns until the turns tie knots
in his mind. He cannot tell whether he is living
in the past or the present, only that he
is about to be struck from a list.
Late becomes later. The river widens. In an office
he can see but cannot reach
his name is disappearing, one letter at a time.
Along a road in open country
too narrow for turning back
somebody is leaving everything behind.
No lights are visible
to pin a village to the earth.
A dream has sprung its trap
and the dreamer clings fast
to a compass needle. Every night
he turns the key
in the ignition, closes his eyes,
and hopes for the best.
He accelerates to the speed of images
passing through his mind;
no sign of the law
falls in his path. The route never varies
from its long, straight line
through the desert
with its muffled heartbeat
and coyotes. This country drinks all
who travel too far, whose memories
flash before them
and disappear. Sleep was never so easy
as here, where the darkness fits like a glove,
the silence twists inside a wound,
and the dream changes places with life.
On a warm night in spring
the house sinks another inch
into darkness. It slips
a room at a time
until the furniture sleeps on its feet,
the dishes in the cupboard
fill with silence,
the clothes on their hangers
stop jostling for space,
and spiders spin webs
in corners with strands
of whispering silver
while around the doorframe
like messages sent anonymously
with their velvet torsos
and grey wings trembling
are the moths returned
from winter's dust.
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