Calenda Maia

The city slips closer
to desert, while the desert claims
its birthright
in mercury rising. The Green-tailed towhee
moved out yesterday
and the smallest rabbits bounce
in and out of shadows.
It’s a flag bearing day,
a day that blossoms
into a parade with a red carnation
rising in the sky. Calenda
maia, summer’s on the way,
finches in the ocotillo, Arizona teachers
striking for their pay: Le peuple
ne veut que son dû.
The jasmine
by the front door is scenting
the step. Two adolescent hawks look out
from their nest above
the golf course, and it won’t be long
before the air
has thorns. Sit awhile
and sip some sunlight
from the rim of a glass;
when temperatures
reach amnesia point
even the lost
will find heat to be their home.


On our side of the mountain there’s
a breeze and the coyotes
are sleeping. On the far side
there’s yellow tape
at the apartments on McDowell
where the argument broke out.
The first of summer’s nighthawks
appeared at dusk
as the constellations formed
above us. It’s a story
made of fragments:
three men shooting words,
guns that talk, red lights flashing, and
traffic detoured. A fledgling here
is learning how to be a hummingbird.
After dark, the mountain
settles for the moon to press its cheek
against it.
Sleep, pale moon,
be a silent witness
to what men do.


On a cool night
for the late walk, the devil’s on
his back porch with a cigarette, minding
his own business
while the weather
forecast flickers
onto a television screen, promising
sulfur in the atmosphere
by Sunday. He doesn’t mind; he
remembers the old world
where spring marches in
to a drumbeat
and the saints
embrace their poverty
for warmth.
The cats are restless and the mail
is late. If no news
is good news, we’re happy
for the mood swing
from daylight to dark
and the tunnel the mind struggles through
when it’s winter inside it. There’s no way
back to January,
and February, when
it vanished, left no
return address.

David Chorlton has lived in Phoenix since 1978. He grew up in England with watching soccer as a major part of life although he has managed to move on to other interests since then, including reading and writing poetry. Read other articles by David.