From Speech Scroll



The fine print whispers secrets

dawn to dusk, then

issues indictments in the dark.

The fliers the wind

deposits door to door

are printed in bold type

offering twenty percent off

a new car and half price redemption

under participating

gods. The supermarket shelves cry

Freedom! while the Senate

convenes to decide

who it’s for. Petty crimes

are punished while the larger ones

just collect interest

and it’s becoming hard to tell

the difference between

a prayer and a bribe.



The wind tugs at the edges

of the brightest clouds, while away

to the north dark ones

sweep the mountains with their skirts of rain.

It’s rush hour on the freeway

with traffic slowing down

as the dark minutes eclipse

bright ones, and the undecided weather

passes through. It’s fair to ask

which costume truth is wearing

today: a blue suit

or the T-shirt

printed with a message

to rise up and challenge

authority. The emperor,

as usual, has a coat

of pure light, and he’s crossing

the world on a rainbow.



Words are flying

once again today in the halls

of power: raptors sweeping through

clusters of nouns and a panic

of run-on sentences

pecking at the ground to pick

up fallen periods. Talk, talk, talk,

and no end of it. Meanwhile

the lies are circling

in a flock with too many

to count. There’s a field guide

for facts, but it’s lost.

Vowels chase the consonants and

the consonants collide

in mid-air: Ts with the Xs and Ms

with the Bs. What a clatter, what

a wild cacophony, what a gust

the wings make when they flap.




David Chorlton
Illustration: Claire Palmer

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