California Surreal, by David Chorlton

Magritte is in the air today.
A doorstep is a bedroom
and the pavement serves
as a parlor for so many
that no one walking by
notices how thin
their occupants have become.
A massive rock is floating
above the city and threatens
to fall at any time
but is held aloft by prayer
and hallucinogens. On the trains
that howl deep under ground
are acrobats performing
for the passengers who sit,
each with a moon
just over their heads. They turn
some cartwheels and move on
without anyone acknowledging
their virtuosity. Meanwhile,
back at street level
a dancer holds a radio close
to his chest and turns a sudden
pirouette to the chorus
in a blues song in lantern light
much like that reflecting
in the water in a scene so lonely
it could only happen
in a surrealist’s mind. A rose
fills a room there, and men
in dark coats rain down
from a clear sky. All presented so
matter-of-factly as to pass
without comment, much like
the way one is expected here to walk
lightly while sleepers float
on smoke and dreams.


David Chorlton is a transplanted European, who has lived in Phoenix since 1978. His poems have appeared in many publications online and in print, 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 The Bitter Oleander Press published Shatter the Bell in my Ear, his translations of poems by Austrian poet Christine Lavant.

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