Litter

A full moon burned through the clouds
and the weight of history fell to Earth between them
as first light crackled
along the mountain ridge. The big words:
genocide, deforestation, slavery,
lie in plain sight, and the hawk
comes down to pick
whatever he can carry
back to line his nest in the eucalyptus tree.
Hard work
never ends. As soon
as one injustice has been taken, another
one appears. Then there is the Constitution
to interpret, and truth to define
while grackles hop onto the texts and snatch
punctuation marks away. It’s a grey
and quiet day: forty per cent
chance of rain, and close
to certain the police will shoot someone
by supper time
when the birds have gone to roost
and nobody is left to sweep away
unarmed, threatening, accidental . . .

David Chorlton is a transplanted European, who has lived in Phoenix since 1978. His poems have appeared in many publications online and in print, and often reflect his affection for the natural world, as well as occasional bewilderment at aspects of human behavior. The Bitter Oleander Press published Shatter the Bell in my Ear, his translations of poems by Austrian poet Christine Lavant. A new book, Unmapped Worlds, featuring older poems that had suffered neglect, is out from FutureCycle Press. He recently took up watercoloring again, after twenty dry years. Read other articles by David.