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Thursday, December 25, 2014


by David Chorlton

On a desert cool December evening
outside the CVS branch
a dark shape in the parking lot
asks for green tea and a candy bar.
He doesn’t say Please, doesn’t

want to chat, doesn’t introduce
himself, doesn’t offer a story
to explain why he’s here
with a rolled up blanket and
bad teeth; he just stirs like a conscience

with Christmas on the way
and knows what he wants
even if he’ll settle for less.
It’s difficult to concentrate
on peace and goodwill when

there are hostages in the news,
as well as police and yellow tape
around the house where a man
died of self-inflicted wounds
after killing his ex-wife and whomever

else was within range, while
the breaking story farther away
is more brutal than a video game.
A truce would be nice, or an outbreak
of compassion. Maybe a little snow

to fall on Phoenix to convince us
of the season. We select an energy bar
to go with the tea, not exactly
what he asked for, but he takes it
as he turns to leave without offering

a Thank You, just heaves
his bundle onto his back as if
to load a world of worry he can’t change
and tell us what he really wants
is a cup of hot coffee.

David Chorlton came to Arizona in 1978 after living in England and Austria. He has spent more than three decades stretched between cultures and writing poetry, the pick of which has just appeared as his Selected Poems, from FutureCycle Press.