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Saturday, January 25, 2020


by David Chorlton

'Maybe the White House Meant “Take Her Out” and “Your Head Will Be on a Pike” in an Innocent Way?' —Slate, January 24, 2020

The usually sharp
contour of the mountain is swathed
in cloud today. When the telephone rings
it sounds as though a lonely voice
is trapped inside, but is still
best ignored
considering the robocalls from Florida
intent on coaxing
information from the innocent
among us. History, meanwhile,
is cobbled together
from statements and rebuttals
while a Costa’s hummingbird
rests on a stem
in slow falling rain and truth
slips back into the underworld with a nervous
twitch in its tail.

The chaplain’s blessing scatters
as each word spreads its wings to fly
to God and back. Such chastening
language doesn’t stand
a chance at noon beneath the western
sky when it’s strength
in numbers for the pigeon flock
startled into
the pieces of a broken prayer.

Before daylight: the streetlamps still on duty
and the trash bins lined obediently
waiting to be emptied. A first
muffled walker passes the house
with her opinions bound tight around her.
An unspoken fact hangs
in the air, and darkness parts
for the truck to pass through
that will carry away
all blind spots.

From the garden swing seat, everything
appears relaxed: there is no
rancor in the mountain,
no arguments pull to have the palm trees
lean unnaturally, and the evergreens
soak up the winter sun
whose warmth comes democratically
to Earth. But there’s a chill
between the sunbeams as the threads
that bind deception to
high office come untied, and the Red-tailed
hawk claims executive privilege
when he comes down to the rooftops.

After dawn, the sky becomes divided
along party lines. The early birds dissect
yesterday’s words on the grass. Peck, peck, they
take the vowels and leave
consonants in their shells among the remnants
of opening arguments. Here are echoes
from a vicious time: Let’s see
what he can do he’s not
a politician he’s a businessman he says what
he thinks and so on and
so on. Listen till it hurts.

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, and a long poem Speech Scroll comes from Cholla Needles Arts & Literary Library.