The Executioner’s Breakfast, by David Chorlton

When the razor slides
along a leather strap
the wife knows it is time
to heat water for her husband’s coffee.

While he spits foam
after brushing his teeth
she halves the grapefruit
and slips a blade
between its sections.

She sets two eggs
to boil, listens to the clatter
of hangers falling in the closet
where he fumbles for a shirt,
and gives him the three minutes
he always takes to shine

his shoes before plugging in
the toaster and pushing the lever.
When he sits down
with after-shave scenting his cheeks
she bends for a kiss

and asks him if there is anything
he needs, if he has
any last wish before
he leaves her to wash the dishes.


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 often reflect his affection for the natural world, as well as occasional bewilderment at aspects of human behavior. A recent 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. A new book, Reading T. S. Eliot to a Bird, is out from Hoot ‘n Waddle, based in Phoenix.

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