In Line for the Future
—After the painting by David Chorlton
All these people waiting
in line for the future.
Row after row after
row of six dark overcoats, six
covered backs, pressed
shoulder to shoulder to shoulder.
Here and there, the odd person,
scattered to the side, as if
reluctant, as if straining to see.
But the familiar is gone.
Now no streets, no buildings,
no walls. Even the horizon is lost
in a confusion of ground and sky,
bursts and reflections, drained of color.
Somewhere out of sight, perhaps
a pigeon circles, considering
possibilities. But here
only this line,
fading towards the future,
only the steam of escaping breath,
these dark rows of six,
only hints of color peeking
between overcoats and hats,
wrapping the heads of women.
Six across they stand,
measuring their lives in shuffles,
waiting for History’s boxcar.
The simple truth
is chosen for its colour.
It comes in shades
with no ambition to be beautiful.
I cannot see it for you,
only guide your eye
along lines of people waiting,
and leave you to guess
the object of their patience.
is an instant at random.
Turn back the clock
or let it run
ahead, imagine bargains
or rationing. That is your luxury.
This is the spare world
I share with the enduring
travellers, where I study
timetables and meet them
at railway terminals, never asking
where they come from. Their countries
are in tatters
and the moment
is their only hope. Between bright
washed hills, I have hidden
borders. Each direction
is to the other side. We walk
faster than politics
allegiance to our breath.
I favour revolution
as the way to change
the constant rain, but armed
for nothing headier
than everyday routines, we persevere.
If you prefer
a certain red, or a story
of your own, call a taxi,
read another book. Had I
I would have used them.
Talking Back to Art
You say you have chosen
the color of truth, given it
form instead of words.
You say you have
captured the changing
quality of light, suspended
choice. But only the gods
are free to stand aside.
Only the gods can be mute.
We must speak, though we see
the truth in many colors
though we shade it every time
we see, or paint, or speak.
You tell me to call a taxi, but
I don’t need a cab to find
a line of refugees. Your painting
already led me to them. I’ve been
inside your frame, felt
the rain of circumstance as I stood,
as we all must stand,
at the center of possibility.
I, too, have chosen
my own path out,
and must speak what I have seen.
—Poetic dialogue (with Gary S. Rosin as author of the first and third poems above
and David Chorlton as author of the second, “Artist’s Statement”) was
originally published in i.e. magazine (Number 8, Summer 1993); and appears here
with permissions from both poets.
—Third poem above was published, under its original title of “Talking Back
to Art: A Response to an Artist,” in Fire and Shadows: Poetry & Prose
by Gary S. Rosin in The Legal Studies Forum (Volume XXXII, No 2, 2008).
is a poet, painter, and photographer who was born in Austria but grew up in Manchester, close to rain and the northern English industrial zone. In his early 20s he returned to Vienna, from which he enjoyed many trips around Europe to enjoy and paint its landscapes and towns.
In 1978, he moved from Vienna, Austria with his wife to Phoenix, Arizona, where his fascination with the desert and wildlife grew, along with his interest in writing poetry. His poems often reflect his affection for the natural world, as well as occasional bewilderment at aspects of human behavior. His poetry and paintings have appeared in more than 200 publications online and in print. He likes to see his poems in unexpected places, and one of them is interred, with desert legume seeds from Boyce Thompson Arboretum (Superior, Arizona), in the Global Seed Vault in Svalbard, Norway.
Chorlton is the author of more than a dozen books and chapbooks, most recently a collection of his watercolors and poems, The Inner Mountain (Cholla Needles Press, 2022); a long poem, Speech Scroll (Cholla Needles Press, 2020); Reading T. S. Eliot to a Bird (Hoot ’n Waddle, 2018); and Bird on a Wire (Presa Press, 2017). The Bitter Oleander Press published in 2017 his translation of poems by Austrian poet Christine Lavant, Shatter the Bell in My Ear. His books, A Field Guide to Fire (2015), Selected Poems (2014), and The Devil’s Sonata (2012) were published by FutureCycle Press.
As much as he loves Arizona and the Southwest, he has strong memories of Vienna, and that city is the setting for his one work of fiction: The Taste of Fog (Rain Mountain Press, 2011).
Aside from writing and painting, Chorlton enjoys watching birds and editing the quarterly publication of his local Audubon Society chapter. He often reads a poem for Maricopa Audubon meetings, and one of his poems appears in the British Museum’s anthology, Birds.
Artist’s website: http://www.davidchorlton.mysite.com/
Five poems and a painting by David Chorlton in Moonday
and three other poems in Softblow
⚡ The Crossing and In Line, two paintings in
Poppy Road Review (9 March 2014)
⚡ Ahwatukee poet David Chorlton writes with an eye for nature by
R. Dockum in Ahwatukee Foothills News (11 September 2018)
poetry and haiga have appeared, or are forthcoming, in various literary and poetry
magazines such as Concho River Review, Eastern Structures, Failed Haiku, Harbinger
Asylum, KYSO Flash, MacQueen’s Quinterly, Poetry24, The Legal Studies Forum, The
Lift, The Wild Word, and Visions International; as well as in several
anthologies, including contemporary haibun (Volume 17, Red Moon Press, 2022),
Faery Footprints (Fae Corp Publishing), Lifting the Sky: Southwestern
Haiku & Haiga (Dos Gatos Press), Texas Poetry Calendar (Kallisto Gaia
Press), Untameable City: Poems on the Nature of Houston (Mutabilis Press), and
His poem “Viewing the Dead” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Two of his
poems appear in
Silent Waters, photographs by George Digalakis (Athens, 2017).
He is the author of two chapbooks, Standing Inside the Web (Bear House
Publishing, 1990) and Fire and Shadows (Legal Studies Forum, 2008)
Selections of Gary’s poetry and photography can be found at his website,
4P Creations: http://4pcreations.com
Out of the Haze, collaborative haiga with photograph by
George Digalakis and poem by Gary S. Rosin in MacQueen’s Quinterly
(Issue 8, June 2021); nominated for, and selected for publication in, Contemporary
Haibun 17 (Red Moon Press, 2022)
Featured Poet: Gary S. Rosin in MacQueen’s Quinterly
(Issue 7, March 2021)
Crossing Kansas in The Wild Word (7 February 2020);
includes audio of Rosin reading his poem
Two Readings: “Apparition” and “Black Dogs”
by Gary S. Rosin for Texas Poetry Calendar 2015 at the Blue Willow Bookshop
in Houston, Texas (20 September 2014); see also
Black Dogs here in MacQ (Issue 12, March 2022).