Sunrise Variations – a poem by David Chorlton

100_5404Sunrise Variations

Frost on the moon; a windy glow
moves down the street
sweeping yesterday aside.
The asphalt warms and the thrashers
thaw from their overnight roost
while long shadows crawl
back into hiding.
……………………..This is the moment
all is quiet after the long
dark hours, quiet enough
to hear hope arrive, tapping
its cane as it goes.

It begins with a tremolo
on the horizon before the violins make way
for a mockingbird solo, followed
by the woodwinds playing random phrases
between the waking calls
of Mourning doves. Cellos raise
first light
……………from the underworld, then comes
the brass in all
its shining glory, and trumpets blaze
white fire from the dark.

A dove on every streetlamp
is waiting, always
waiting for the sky to awaken. It begins
with an eyelid
folding back, then a yawn releasing
pink edged clouds, and the laser
rays of sunlight piercing Heaven.

The last strands of rain
are tangled in an ocotillo’s arms
and a cloudbank hangs
…………………………………on the slim hook
the moon has become
in the course of a nocturnal vigil
overseeing the conflict
between good
and evil
that masquerades as politics
and never rests,
……………………….not even
when the grackles flock together
to dream their one black dream
until the eucalyptus feels
a ray of warmth and spills them
into daylight.

It’s a postcard opera, the breakthrough
light makes when all
the world lies still except a sparrow
in a birdbath washing
darkness from beneath his wing.

Across its east
facing slope the mountain
glows to welcome back wild
creatures from the night. For those few
minutes rocks
…………………..give up their weight. The ravens
at the ridgeline have
their shadows projected so
they float in airborne sunlight
even when the birds descend to pick
their daily ration from the Earth.

The wooden cogs creak
as wheels turn
to pull back the curtains
from a baroque stage
upon which the sun
sits on its throne
wearing a wig with streaming curls
of light and wielding
a scepter with which
to signal time
for the fates to resume
their daily bickering.

Where two palms stand
next to the back wall, with a sheet
of reeling sky behind them,
yellow bleeds
into red and a pale strip darkens to
the day’s first blue
and a woodpecker clings
to its luck from the flake
of a trunk.

The weight of a departing storm
presses down into the space
between fact and fantasy, from which
the golden message travels
through millennia
to be a moment at the threshold
of a day.

Although the details
of each day are different, the hope
remains constant
that no iniquity avoids the searing glare
that strips a monarch
to his bones.

The clouds call out for sacrifice
on days the sun god
wakes up hungry. A gloomy mass
weighs down upon the Earth
with one small crack
where the universe has offered
its own blazing heart
to bring life to the planet or see it

Even deathly tired, the sun
always finds a way up through the earth
between roots and tendrils, up
the wall to a railing
it can balance on, or it climbs out from
the pond of dreaming water
and shakes itself dry before
it continues its infinite trajectory
inch by incendiary inch.


David Chorlton lives in a part of Phoenix where the roofline is low and the dawn view from his front door is often striking, as in this photograph used with permission. (Some more sunrise photos at: ) In poetry, his latest work is Speech Scroll, a long poem published by Cholla Needles Arts and Literary Library.

1 Comment

  1. Vicki says:



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