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Friday, February 09, 2007


by David Chorlton

We’re two strangers waiting
for a bus on the kind of morning
everyone prefers staying home.
When a young man walking by
slows to ask us for a cigarette
the one beside me in the shelter
croaks through a wounded throat
that he doesn’t have any
and turns to tell me he gave up
to save his life. The traffic lights
keep changing, red, green, red,
and rain begins and stops
in tune with them. A blast of early salsa
comes from a rolled down window.
It’s the Mexicans you know,
the other man says
as he tightens his coat,
taking Americans’ jobs.
Across the street logos smile
from buildings with foundations nowhere
and I respond with the suggestion
that people deserve at least
the same rights as capital
when it comes to crossing borders.
I’ve lived in Phoenix since it was small,
he says, when I smoked two packs
a day, and there isn’t room
for everyone today. The number seventeen
draws close. We count change
for our fares. They ought to put things right
in their own country, he continues,
but it’s been nice talking. We board
to join passengers
most of whom are speaking
to each other or their cell phones
in the Spanish
neither of us can understand
and the windshield wipers
speak two syllables
that repeat like the indecision
that precedes a run for the border.

David Chorlton lives in central Phoenix where he keeps watch for hawks and other urban wildlife. He has published poems in magazines including Slipstream, Main Street Rag, Poem, Skidrow Penthouse and Parting Gifts, and has several books and chapbooks the most recent of which is Waiting for the Quetzal from March Street Press.