It’s still the nineteen-fifties

on the rerun channel: all smiles and shining

appliances with

a track to tell us when to laugh.

The finches are arriving

and Mourning doves peck at whatever

the ground has to offer

this morning. The seven o’clock news

pushes itself between

the clouds, with fire to the west, snow to the east

and distrust in all directions. The mad

dogs of Paradise

were howling all night: it’s alright

setting fire to the planet

just leave the flag alone. Beside

the path that runs toward the desert

someone left a swivel chair

which turns to see

ahead in time

or back

to innocence and families

as solid as the rocks

on South Mountain. The words

nobody wants are circling overhead:

flames; wind; shooting; quid pro quo;

while the hawk sweeps down

and scatters them

as his talons take hold of his place

on a burning star.



Portending the onset of the mysteries

destined to pass from mountain

into every resting heart,

the interplay between last light

and coyote breath

lines the clouds with fire.

It’s the kind of sky the saints choose

for their spirits to ascend

leaving traffic noise and gunfire

here on Earth, while they

float from star

to icy star. They don’t worry any more

that they may have left the lights on

or water running from a hose

hard enough to flood

the neighborhood. Monthly bills

don’t reach them;

their debts turn into prayers

and they count their assets

in the wounds the whip left just

between their shoulder blades

after they’d been counting

sins and couldn’t sleep.

They’re all paid up.

The Earth beneath them spins now

with its swaths of darkness and

electric moments

wherein insomniacs find solace

and stores that never close

dispense salvation. But it’s lonely

up there in the firmament,

even for the pure

who long the long night through

to be among the holy predators: bobcat,

lion and the owl

with appetites enough

for centuries more.



The dawn bares its teeth; it’s a wolf

of a sky

and the hairs

all along the horizon are raised.

From sea to stormy sea

newscasters are scenting

their breath, and in grocery aisles

the early shift

is painting smiles on the fruit.

Happiness will be pursued today, even if

it takes a victim in its stride.

There’s no telling which way

the wind will turn:

toward the truth

or trivia.

The mountain glows. A miracle

may be at hand, but there again it might

be a long ago culture’s

rekindled light.



Dark petals from the sky:

the mysteries float

down to earth all night. Animals

who live between underground

and starlight

come out to meet their fates

while traffic wanders

to the limits of knowledge

where GPS can’t reach.

The after-party shootings

haven’t yet begun;

it’s quiet but

for Heaven’s gates

which creak for want of oil.

Evil’s just another word

for nothing left to do,

and while the cops keep watch

the owl picks a spot

from which to observe

the salad of the sacred

and profane

with the angels taking red-eye flights

back home.




David Chorlton
Illustration Rupert Loydell

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