The Ultimate Distraction

A gunman stilled by indecision
has a young boy in his sights
and before we know
the frame shifts
                              to a different war
with people crowded underground
while the planes arrive
ready to unload their bombs, and just
when we’re about to see
the damage
                        a man appears on a balcony,
tosses a cigarette butt into the street
and answers a call on his cell phone
informing him about a suspect
capable of strapping a bomb
to himself
                     though where he’s going
remains a mystery because
it’s 1965 in Selma and difficult
to tell which stories are made up
but perhaps the answer
                                             lies in
the subtitles to scenes from Stalingrad
in which a love affair is beginning
in the rubble where a man
and woman embrace
                                       without their lips
ever meeting and the story
turns to smoke as stories do
when attention is redirected
as happens with a newsflash, marketing,
uninvited email messages,
                                                   or the shout
that caused the man to look away
before the kiss
and never see the enemy
who killed him.

David Chorlton was born in Spittal an der Drau, Austria, grew up in Manchester, England, and lived for several years in Vienna before moving to Phoenix in 1978. His poems have appeared in many small press magazines, and chapbooks, including The Lost River from Rain Mountain Press, and two Slipstream chapbook competition winners; also full-length books, including A Normal Day Amazes Us from Kings Estate Press and Waiting for the Quetzal from March Street Press. His Selected Poems appeared in 2014 from FutureCycle Press.

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2 Responses to The Ultimate Distraction

  1. Haunting and beautiful and true. A roll call of historical events combined with gripping imagery and free-flowing, fast-moving diction that makes it impossible to look away. Love it!

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