Countdown


   From their tunnels in the foothills
Antelope squirrels flash
into sight and away: late morning, clouds
on the horizon
promise to darken
the desert, and the clock ticks
down to a moment
long awaited by the sparrows
who gather among
mesquite and stones. After noon

a dusty wind
blows across the mountain,
carrying off the colors
from its rocks and dizzy ridges
flying high above
the thirsty trails that wind
along low ground. Dusk moves in

behind the steps of a coyote.
He’s been to town.
No rain there either.
The forecast keeps expiring; now
it says to wait, it says to count
the hours first, then
minutes, and finally
to go out when the owl appears

in his favorite tree
and let the seconds take their chances
like mice on the run.

By David Chorlton

trail through desert mountains


David Chorlton is a transplanted European, who has lived in Phoenix since 1978. His poems have appeared in many publications on- and off-line, and reflect his affection for the natural world, as well as occasional bewilderment at aspects of human behavior. His newest collection of poems is Bird on a Wire from Presa Press, and late in 2017 The Bitter Oleander Press will publish Shatter the Bell in my Ear, his translations of poems by Austrian poet Christine Lavant.

Photo of desert trail by the author

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