David Chorlton

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An Arizona Story

            The Fox News Network should not be held liable for airing
            live footage of a carjacking suspect killing himself and not using
            a tape delay, an Arizona appellate court ruled Tuesday.

After the fact, there’s always a neighbor
or sister who says he wasn’t violent, and quotes:
he used to love to always be with the kids. Playing basketball,
doing barbecues. But in the moment
there’s an officer
who isn’t paid to care that when he was sixteen
he saw his brother shot, and later on
his mother and her boyfriend
were murdered in their Phoenix home,
which contributed no doubt to his choices
of what to smoke, which led to probation, and after that
between the drugs and the guns
there was nowhere to go but to jail. The officer
writes down the details of how
the car was taken and which direction
it took, before a call comes in that it’s reached
43rd Avenue and Roosevelt, and once the chase
is on, it’s on TV live as the ultimate
reality show, in which the desert is waiting
for the car to turn off the freeway
and when the driver gets out the commentator
admits to feeling nervous
as he’s lookin’ kinda erratic isn’t he?
and speculates that it’s always possible the guy
could be on something while he runs
a few feet then stumbles a few more
until he staggers into the scrub
oblivious to the helicopters overhead
with something in his hand, which he raises
to his temple and the picture
of his number 81 shirt crumpling to the ground
is the final frame, whereas if only
they had known how this would end
the broadcaster might have asked
for the birthday photograph
with the big plastic 3 and the 1 pressed hard
into the icing on a cake.


David Chorlton was born in Austria, grew up in Manchester, England, and lived for several years in Vienna before moving to Phoenix in 1978. Arizona’s landscapes and wildlife have become increasingly important to him and a significant part of his poetry. His Selected Poems from FutureCycle Press appeared in 2014.