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Monday, June 04, 2007


by David Chorlton

The trash collector’s aria is a shock
so early in the morning
and the day’s first chorus rises
from a hundred bus stops
where the waiting has become a test
of patience equal
to the heroine’s whose status
in the kingdom is awaiting resolution.
Dressed as help in a sleek resort
she changes endless sheets and washes
time from her hands
hoping it will pass as quickly as her next
duet, the one she sings with the gardener
about homesickness. Inmates
at the city jail
gather in ensemble, but sing so low
and quietly nobody hears their dull complaint.
A man without a home
performs arioso outside
a strip mall where his feet
move loosely as his voice
and passers by all hide their faces
in a cloud of shame
until the coloratura shines
through the gloom
and a shower of coins descends from
the clouds. Suddenly the traffic
that had stalled
is moving freely and the men
soliciting for work smile and sing
bel canto to impress, but wait; by way
of response comes the basso profundo
from the local police
and the men exit, stage left and stage right.
Decked in jewels, the diva
emerges from a limousine, declining
to perform, but standing long
enough to be envied by the cheaply clad
whose leitmotiv each day is work
in service of the king
they have never seen. Their miseries
begin sotto voce
but rise when the ballet dancers arrive
at a parking lot where the order
is given to clear away all cars
to make space for dancing and they dance
and the voices gain in power and
the libretto is abandoned
for one, glorious finale before
the curtain is drawn and nobody knows
which side of it is reality.

David Chorlton lived in England and Austria before moving to the desert Southwest in 1978. After overcoming a bias against "nature poetry" he has come to explore the landscape and its ihabitants more often in his work. His book Waiting for the Quetzal (March Street Press) includes references to Arizona, the Arctic, and Costa Rica. Later this year Future Cycle will publish The Porous Desert.