From: Speech Scroll – poetry by David Chorlton

From: Speech Scroll

Four o’clock on Sunday
afternoon and the clock’s heart
is still. Thrashers pull scraps
for their nests from the sky, while tunnels
the rats dig
run deep into
the mysterious earth. Time draws
a breath. Trouble’s hold
loosens for a while. There’s a seat
that swings back and forth
between worry
and sunlight. The moment begs
for music from another age,
notes piling slowly
one upon another
until they make a column
rising toward Heaven. Or just
stand there, holding up the sky.

The light climbs every rung
along a woodpecker’s back
and ignites the red cap
on his head. Tap tap tap
on the side of the house,
he’s making a hole
for evil spirits
to escape. No more waking up
in the night, no more
looking out at the dark
to check for the source
of suffering. There he flies,
bouncing on the air, from Christian
to Buddhist to Jew, one bird
for every deity. He even visits
atheists, and never asks
whose souls are hung to dry
along the washing line.

Reading an American poet who’s
reading a Chinese poet
who reads only the sky: where
does it end? May as well
go straight to the source,
that vacancy where everything
begins. It’s there tonight,
just visible between
the clouds, the gleam
in a jaguar’s eye
when he feels the moon’s pull
and it draws him along
a trail nobody else knows, to
the heart of night’s mystery. The rest
is balance on the path
from star to star, muscles rolling
underneath the skin and the lip
curling back from the teeth.

David Chorlton was born in Austria, grew up in Manchester, England, and lived in Vienna before moving to Phoenix in 1978. His newest book isReading T. S. Eliot to a Bird, is from Hoot ‘n Waddle, in Phoenix.

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