Up Early

No sooner have the finches
arrived at the feeders
than morning news breaks out of
the television screen
and an accounting begins of the overnight
shootings from Mesa (three dead,
one hurt) to McDowell and 51st
Avenue (one dead, two hospitalized).
The White-winged doves
along the backyard wall assemble
peacefully while the broadcast makes its way
for the unbroken happiness
in ads streaming from the screen as though
the security guard from Northern
and 27th Avenue had never
been taken to the hospital where his wounds
won over him. There’s a joyful
chatter outdoors as the forecaster
compares the hundred degrees
with the weather a year ago,
the day after three local shootings
in a night of smoke and stars. There’s still
a little of the O.K. Corral in the air,
tradition turning deadly as freedom
where the Cactus Wren
is the state bird and the Colt
Single Action Army
Revolver is the official firearm.
The nights are dangerous now:
get outside early the newscaster says,
it’s beautiful along the trails today.
Wear daylight as a shield.

About the Poem

As accustomed to shootings as we may become, they raise questions that are rarely answered. As a European, I never adjusted to the gun culture.

About the Author

David Chorlton grew up in Manchester, England, lived for several years in Austria (the country of his birth), and moved to Phoenix in 1978. Since then he has written mainly poetry but a non-fiction long-term project was recently published: The Long White Glove from New Meridian Arts. It is the true crime story of a miscarriage of justice in the 1960s against a family member of the author’s.

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