Late Saloon

A deep brown shine on polished wood
frames the mirror behind the bar
in which the men can see
themselves become unfocussed
as they rinse their smoke
and laughter down
with curses. A lamp’s waning light
swings back and forth
like chance
to illuminate the losing hand of cards
spread open on a table.
The air grows out of tune
as the evening ages
to a piano growing merry
while the drinkers lapse
into a starlit melancholy
and tumble into the night
from a sky of beaten tin
to one whose stars pass through darkness
like a stream of broken whiskey glasses
thrown toward the moon.

Born in Austria, David Chorlton grew up in Manchester, close to rain and the northern English industrial zone. In his early 20s, he went to live in Vienna and from there, moved to Phoenix in 1978. He has published poems widely in the small press and in individual collections. In 2008, he won the Ronald Wardall Award from Rain Mountain Press for his chapbook The Lost River, and in 2009 the Slipstream Chapbook Competition for From the Age of Miracles. Other poetry collections include Return to Waking Life (Main Street Rag Publishing Company) and Waiting for the Quetzal (March Street Press). The Taste of Fog (Rain Mountain Press) appeared in 2011, his first work of fiction.

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