Poems by David Chorlton

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Civil Guardsmen

From a field of grasses dried
by wind, two civil guardsmen stare
toward the sun for traffic
on the lonely road
they have been stationed to protect.

They are tall
against the burnt horizon,
still as the ground itself,
and one is the reflection of the other
as, side by side, they stand
in place. Should one

turn around, the other does the same.
Each fingering of a chinstrap
is copied by the partner
seconds later and without a thought
to guide the motion.
When the first rolls back

his shoulders to ease
the tightness of his cape, the second
imitates. The hours blow
past them and no traveler

comes close. They are a monument
of two, with four eyes focused
on a single road
while inside their uniforms
their hearts march on the spot.

The Other Side

The border once ran here, between our grass
and their grass, says a man who lived to see it fall,
between our water and their water, between
life and death, between our freedom and their freedom.
Wine-deep in memories, he walks only as far
as he used to when it marked the end
of his country, and stares through a hole in the world.
I lived here, they lived there, he murmurs
to himself; I was blessed, they were cursed,
I was strong, they were stronger. Now they are coming
to take back the years once denied them.
with their unshaven faces and smiles
their dentists ruined, they are just as he was told;
everyone he ever feared.

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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 has published Shatter the Bell in my Ear, his translations of poems by Austrian poet Christine Lavant. A new book, Reading T. S. Eliot to a Bird, is out from Hoot ‘n Waddle, based in Phoenix.

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