March 17-23, 2008: David Chorlton and Michael Lee Johnson

week of March 17-23, 2008

David Chorlton and Michael Lee Johnson

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David Chorlton

Bio (auto)

David Chorlton was born in Austria, grew up in England, and spent several years in Vienna before moving to Phoenix in1978 He has become increasingly fascinated by the drama of the Arizona landscape, and continues to explore it when he can, along with his wife Roberta, with a birding field guide close at hand His newest published books reflect this concern for the natural world They are Waiting for the Quetzal, from March Street Press, and The Porous Desert, from Future Cycle Press An online chapbook, Dry Heat, is available at

The following work is Copyright © 2008, and owned by David Chorlton and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

The Lost River

Songbirds returning from the tropics
looked for their river
and found a dry bed
where deer stood at dawn
licking stones The beavers looked reproachfully

from their dams
and the frogs summoned a final
chorus before deflating
into empty sacks The bed was examined
for fingerprints Was this the work
of terrorists

or had a gang conspired
to package the river
in waterproof bags
to sell where drought planted fear
on city streets?
Had somebody come in the night
to steal it in buckets?
The moon was called in
for questioning It yawned
Miles of yellow tape
cordoned off the banks
although skunks sprayed disapproval
and garter snakes
stretched themselves out in the sun
to replicate the shape
of what they’d lost
The mist turned out its pockets
to show all it had been hiding
were the empty plastic bottles
and rucksacks discarded
by smugglers in the night We sent a search party

which brought back a cup
filled with sunlight
and a sack of souvenir reeds Photographs of the river
in full flow were circulated door
to door and posted on telegraph poles Reports came in

that rivers had been seen, but none
was the equal
of the one we’d lost Not one
possessed the same delicacy
or bristled with green
broken light
Maps cracked
along the line that once marked
the river’s passage
and the signposts
that pointed in its direction
leaned over and fell
into the dust Politicians feigned remorse

for having ignored security warnings
and tried to make up
by suggesting we replace it
with mirrors
while inside the white church on the desert
the statues wept real tears We collected them

in vials to use in our rituals,
stood in line
to raise the effigy of San Xavier
and whisper a prayer
for the river’s return We often go

to look for the painted buntings,
blue grosbeaks and vermilion flycatchers
once common where the river was
and find their reflections
floating like silk handkerchiefs
from a conjurer’s sleeve Word has it

that a miracle is at hand,
but another word says
once a river has vanished
no magic ever brings it back.

Michael Lee Johnson

Bio (auto)

Michael Lee Johnson is a poet, and freelance writer He is self-employed in advertising, and selling custom promotional products He is the author of The Lost American: From Exile to Freedom He has also published two chapbooks of poetry He is also nominated for the James B Baker Award in poetry, Sam’s Dot Publishing He is a contributor in the Silver Boomers poetry anthology about aging baby boomers, by Silver Boomer Books Michael Lee Johnson presently resides in Itasca,  Illinois, United States He lived in Canada during the Vietnam era and will be published as a contributor poet in the anthology Crossing Lines: Poets Who Came to Canada in the Vietnam War Era publication scheduled for early 2008 He has been published in USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Scotland, Turkey, Fuji, Nigeria, Algeria, Africa, India, United Kingdom, Republic of Sierra Leone, Thailand, Kuala Lumpur, and Malaysia Visit his website at: He is now the publisher, editor of Poetic Legacy, ; Birds By My Window: Willow Tree Poems ,; A Tender Touch & A Shade of Blue,; and Wizards Of The Wind, All publications are now open for submissions.

The following work is Copyright © 2008, and owned by Michael Lee Johnson and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.


more playful
than a gray
moth dancing
– skeleton wings-
and a green-eyed
cat prancing
-paws swatting-
around a
lit kerosene
-shadow boxing-
and we all
had fun
in the


Watching doves
peck away,
all day long at
a full bowl
of mixed seeds,
out on the balcony
of my condo-
the cat curls
up on the sofa,
after a meager
meal of house flies-
and dreams of
sparrows with
wide soaring

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