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Saturday, April 20, 2019


by David Chorlton

TUCSON, AZ (AZ FAMILY) Family members on Friday identified the woman killed in a shootout between federal agents and suspected human traffickers in Ahwatukee. Her name is Theresa Juan. —April 12, 2019

Beneath the unruffled blue
of Thursday’s sky, a helicopter
circles and circles. And circles
a vehicle bleeding
from each of its doors, and the truck
that broke a wall when it turned,
avoiding crossfire. Only the speed bumps
know what happened before
an ambulance carried
the victims away. Fifty shots,
a neighbor claims, on
such a pleasant day to sit
outside and listen to the starlings
chatter. It’s impossible
to tell whether the dead woman’s spirit
became a small white butterfly
or the drone over Forty-eighth Street
come to look back on her life.

A chorus of bees
leaves the hive in a rock
with the sun singing an accompaniment
of light. The authorities have left
the scene, one lifetime and
a half hour’s walk from the arroyo
where Rock wrens fly in peace.
The official story is
that good men chased the bad
and fire was met with fire. The doves
in the desert won’t say what ensued
and the tracks in the gravel
don’t lead to any truth but
what coyotes, who never
give anything away,
know about the bullet
that chose a woman without asking
whether she was guilty.

David Chorlton was born in Austria, grew up in Manchester, England, and lived in Vienna before moving to Phoenix in 1978. The Bitter Oleander Press published Shatter the Bell in My Ear, translations of poems by Austrian poet Christine Lavant. Reading T. S. Eliot to a Bird is from Hoot ‘n Waddle in Phoenix.