The righteous love to kill for their faith.
My friend in California called again
last week to tell
me that the Devil was living
in his house. I imagined
the unwelcome guest with his feet up
on the couch, sipping
margaritas through a straw
and badmouthing the saints. The problem
was his obvious
intelligence and the conviction
in his arguments
against God. The tone
in my friend’s voice
was fearful and resigned. I tried
to tell him not to worry, that the Devil
was really here in Arizona
where serious arguments end
in gunfire, as demanded by tradition.
You can see the handlebar moustaches
on billboards east of Tucson
selling the Gunfight
at the OK Corral as the most famous
thirty seconds of our history. They have
been stretched to more than a century
and always end in applause.
It’s been happening for so long
we can’t distinguish theatre from life
when neither outlaws nor believers
load with blanks.
David Chorlton was born in Austria, grew up in England, and spent several years in Vienna before moving to Phoenix in1978. He has several collections, but takes special pleasure in a very short poem that appears beside John Clare and others in BIRDS, an anthology from the British Museum.