June 1-7, 2009: David Chorlton and Joan McNerney

week of June 1-7, 2009: 

David Chorlton and Joan McNerney

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David Chorlton

Bio (auto)

David Chorlton is in his 30th year in Phoenix, having left Europe for the desert city in 1978 Since then he has grown ever more attached to the wildlife and landscape of Arizona and he never complains about the temperature (except on the occasionally too-cold winter mornings) His chapbook The Lost River appeared recently as the winner of the Rain Mountain Press Ronald Wardall Award and March Street Press published another chapbook, The Epistemological Question Mark.

The following work is Copyright © 2009, and owned by David Chorlton and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Grey Day

Pigeons in the shivering rain
fluff their feathers and become
a grey one shade
darker than the sky
which today has the colour of steel
and the soft

muffled texture of cloud
I’m a face at the window

watching water
pool and soak
into the wormy earth
deep as a thought
in the mind of that man
who lives on the street north of ours

and passes through the neighbourhood
leaning slightly forward
with his hands behind him
every day without responding
to friendly overtures He’s out before dawn
with his secrets He never looks up He’s at ease

with any weather He’s thunder in soft shoes.

Letter to Morandi

Dear Giorgio, Content to paint still lifes
with vessels arranged on a shelf
to simulate a world in which nobody speaks,
you impressed me before you

amazed me with the strength of your restraint
Your muted palette showed
the in betweens of grey tones shading
from truths to half truths
where others sought a fanfare and a proclamation
of the absolute I would have felt uneasy
in your studio, which must have been a model
of cleanliness and order, as I
wear the room I work in like a crumpled coat
but I would have enjoyed the silence
of soft paint being layered until your canvas

appeared as whisper beneath a crust of dried oils
I never believed that good and evil
are unrelated, rather that they depend
on one another Politics works like that It’s all about
taking sides, about manipulation, about

belonging to the party and cheering when you win
None of the sides would want me, I’m a heretic
at heart and prefer art to propaganda I’ve no idea
what views you held, but I like the mystery
of wondering I like to think of the bottles you set
side by side as being people
who had swallowed the words they knew
to be most divisive.

What the Earth Tells

“We don’t think opening a grave closes a wound,” said Laura Garcia Lorca, the poet’s niece Australian Broadcasting Corporation News report, September 19th, 2008

Germaine Montero is reading from the poet’s works,
her voice preserved for fifty years by courtesy
of recordings Excavating it
is easy as opening the player and sliding
a CD into place A las cinco de la tarde
the words shiver on her tongue
and lead back a little way toward
the bodies massed in anonymity except
for the one name
which makes them all famous They are one thousand, maybe three, but there can never
be a lament to be written for each A las cinco en punto de la tarde
It happened at five in the afternoon It happened
in the morning, in the evening, it happened
and happened and happened
until the soil was white with shock Germaine is singing now, a song by Lorca,
Debajo de la hoja
.de la verbena
something so simple it might have occurred
to anyone to write
tengo a mi amante malo
where they kept a wicked lover under the leaf
of the verbena, where they kept the bodies
under a layer of earth,
buried with the moonlight
that seeps down to silver
the bones.

Gong Meditation

On a hot afternoon we are gathered
in the shade of some Japanese trees
close to a pond where the light

floats gently on the water
A large gong is suspended
from two boughs, flashing as it sways
into a sunbeam The day
is marked for peace, some hours to spend
thinking that what is
need not have been We could observe it
by marching, chanting, writing letters
asking for an end to violence,
and we’re lying on the grass
while wars continue

beyond our reach to stop them
Muffled strokes against the gong
release waves of sound
that wash the air we breathe; in, out,
slowly, deeply, outside the jurisdiction
of the gods of war How,
in their endless desire to impress,
they must envy our ritual
of light and metal singing.

Photograph of Cesar Vallejo

.I sat alone, cross legged on a stone,
.pressing my chin against the hand
.my cheek was resting in, one elbow on my knee,
.and in this position tried to see
.how the world should live .

Walther von der Vogelweide ca 1200

A walking stick bends beneath the jewel
in the ring on Vallejo’s left hand
like a thought taking a new direction

and breaking off in mid-air
The hat on his knee

is an act of faith, placed
intuitively to test
the word balance, while an alphabet
begins in the buttons
sewn onto the sleeves of his jacket,
so dapper and precise

as to spell out disaster

on a clear day
Concentration runs through his bones,
locked into angles

where mind and body intersect
At odds with the weather
his mouth is poised
upon the shadow falling
on the right hand

that supports his chin, its fingers clenched
around a breaking storm.

Joan McNerney

Bio (auto)

Joan McNerney lives in Ravena, New York Visit her on the web here: http://joanspoems.com/

The following work is Copyright © 2009, and owned by Joan McNerney and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Winter Solstice

Ice blue mountains
Wind swept skies.
There are always these…

And you standing
silent as the sun
burning through
this day.
You are my sun
my heaven on earth.

You bring bright ribbons
handfuls of crystal
to fasten my hair.

Stay with me this
long evening. I will
hide in your arms away
from ice blue winds.
We will be warm together.

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