Afternoon Alarm

A car horn blocks away
insists on sounding the alarm
for reasons I can’t fathom
from the beep beep or the voice
that announces on the telephone
Hello, my name is Julian,
and refuses to say more when I ask
if he’s a machine. Something’s
wrong. There’s a dry taste
to the afternoon, so long
since rain, and so close to a law
to divert the last river
with energy enough to flow
through the desert. Julian
wants to ask something
but doesn’t say what.
He goes back to introducing himself.
Beep beep. There’s a blimp
in the sky, with a company’s name
held up against the sun,
but there’s no way to tell
what we’d insure ourselves against.
Worry worry, here come
missionaries to prepare us
for the end times. Does anybody know
what’s wrong? Julian, are you
still there? Is it too late?
Can I make a donation
to buy my way out?

David Chorlton was born in Austria, grew up in Manchester, England, and went to live for several years in Vienna, before moving to Phoenix in 1978. Arizona’s landscapes and wildlife have become increasingly important to him and a significant part of his poetry. His most recent collection is The Devil’s Sonata from FutureCycle Press. The shadow side of Vienna provides the core of The Taste of Fog, a work of fiction published by Rain Mountain Press.

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