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Tuesday, August 28, 2007


by David Chorlton

You're minding your own business on a sunny day
when a man wearing a raincoat sidles up beside you
and before you have time to inquire
after his manner of dress he touches the sleeve
of your shirt with a Pssst to attract your attention.
He glances around, licks his lips, eyes you up and down
which makes you nervous, but he quickly acts
to reassure you that you're in no danger.
The weather today is idyllic. The stock market is in bloom
and there's a spring in everyone's step. Now this man
steps in front of you, peels back one side of his coat
to reveal a few inches of the lining. Do you want to see more?
Of course you do. So he shows you more. It's small print.
You didn't see this on TV and not this and not this
he salivates. You can't divert your attention
from the stories as he points to them, the one about
the victims of the war for which you're paying
and the one about who met with your senator before the vote
on health insurance. He's showing everything now,
breathing heavily. Here's surveillance, torture, contributions
to campaigns that never end, memos leaked from secret
meetings and a list of scapegoats to activate in case
of national emergency. And he's off. There he goes
gripping the edges of his coat and laughing the way
a person laughs when nothing is funny anymore. When he acts
in good conscience and when he leaves
it's you who feels dirty.

David Chorlton lives in Phoenix, writes and paints and keeps track of local wildlife. His newest book, The Porous Desert, was published this summer by FutureCycle Press, and testifies to his having internalised the desert during the past twenty-nine years. Some of his art work can be seen at