David Chorlton

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The hunger strikers lived
for ten days on Central Avenue Artwork by Gene McCormick
in the light where everyone
could read their signs
asking for No More Deportations
and see the photographs
showing relatives identified
by numbers first and then
their names. Candles inside glasses
bearing the image of the Virgin
of Guadalupe remain around the palm tree
where folded paper birds hang
from a makeshift frame
beside coloured paper squares
and a few appeals
hand written on poster board.
Everything was peaceful,
nothing blocked anyone’s way,
and the traffic moved past
without hindrance,
                              until midnight
when the road was blocked
and police came to clear
away anyone on the wrong side
of a chalk line marking
private property. This is a part
of the border, they said,
that goes everywhere with you,
and you can never cross.


A Sunday at the Park

A jolly little company has assembled
at the edge of the park, where the road Artwork by Gene McCormick
bends past the tennis courts
while the Ring-necked ducks float
on placid water. It’s warm
for the time of year, but welcome
when you’re setting up a table with everyone’s
favourite colours on the napkins
and enough lemonade in coolers
to last until the sun has gone down twice.
But what do the celebrants make
of the man now approaching,
with winter’s blanket draped
across his dirty shoulders? Slow as a ghost
he moves. They look shocked at first
and confused as to what is expected
in the situation, but their faces thaw
back into smiles. He has walked himself
along the pavement to a point
at which the smell of him has flavoured
all the open sandwiches on the table.
The ladies hold a short conversation,
agreeing to offer a glass
which one of them extends to him
when he is only three feet away. He,
who looks dry enough to crack,
chooses thirst over charity, and refuses
to look at any of the party, whose happiness
suddenly becomes a burden.


David Chorlton was born in Austria, grew up in England, and spent several years in Vienna before moving to Phoenix in1978. He pursued his visual art and had several shows as well as writing and publishing his poetry in magazines and collections, the latest of which is The Devil’s Sonata from FutureCycle Press. Although he became ever more interested in the desert and its wildlife, the shadow side of Vienna emerges in his fiction and The Taste of Fog, which was published by Rain Mountain Press.