David Chorlton

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Mining the Jaguar’s Heart

Where stars flow over granite
Artwork by Gene McCormick and the stones along a creek glow blue
in icy moonlight

a jaguar reclaims his place
with every bone and muscle moving
as they had for those preceding him

along nocturnal trails
leading to a kill
that comes so quickly it is hardly felt

before the feeding and the sleep.
But below the Earth’s pelt,
in the mystery

deeper than sound
a rich vein lies:
a mineral deposit that sparkles

in an investor’s eye
when he speculates on cutting it
free, with a drill in the heart

of a mountain that is home
to an animal who has a soul
only for the world he is in.

On a Line from Cesare Pavese

          Anything can happen in the murk of the  tavern.

Once, at daylight's edge
Artwork by Gene McCormick along a road leading through the mountains
the forest parted
and a tavern door became the frame
in which a woman stood
against the glow from yellow light bulbs

with smoke feeling its way
around her shoulders
while she sang a capella to the trees

and from a deserted barn
bats poured out into the sun's last
smoldering red
before darkness took them for its own.
The voice flew after them,

working all the way
to mask whatever may have happened
back in the unlit corners
where melody and lyrics do not reach.


David Chorlton is a transplanted European, who has lived in Phoenix since 1978. His poems have appeared in many publications on- and off-line, and reflect his affection for the natural world, as well as occasional bewilderment at aspects of human behavior. His most recent book, A Field Guide to Fire, was his contribution to the Fires of Change exhibition shown in Flagstaff and Tucson in Arizona