Three Poems — William Doreski
SOMEONE JONESED SOMETHING
Meat rains from a cloudless sky.
Desiccated shards exploded
a hundred miles away when
the mother of all fixes occurred.
Meanwhile I’ve returned to work
in the bookstore because the owner
died of boredom and stuck me
with a sense of duty alien
to my lack of education
and dislike of sitting still for long.
Someone wants anatomy books
so I direct her to the Harvard
Medical Coop. Someone else
wants to steal the collected poems
of James Russell Lowell. Go ahead.
Wherever that vulgar rain began
someone jonesed something so badly
his lobes made fists and his bladder
inflated him into the blue.
At what height he exploded
only airline pilots know.
The bookstore’s too modest to prompt
a day’s worth of profit.
No wonder the owner ran off
to San Francisco with flowers
in his hair and checkbook flapping.
No wonder I’ve reverted thirty years
and slump at the register
with my folded hands twitching.
The meat plopping on the sidewalk
disgusts the beat cop and mailman.
They duck inside for shelter
so I serve them instant coffee
and we chat about the old days
when my reddish hair flourished
and junkies in the alley shot
the purest horse into veins as tough
as brambles. Later I‘ll declare
the bookstore bankrupt and drive home
a hundred miles with a last box
of first editions no one wants—
the flyleaves inscribed by authors
so dead the dinosaurs stomped
their graves flat, erasing all clues.
IN CASE OF APOCALYPSE
My room at camp rattles like
a bathtub full of gravel.
Too old for this place, the stink
of the chow line, the urine
haunted pool. I’d like to go home
but authorities have labeled me
subversive, taken my keys
and wallet, canceled credit cards.
I could walk away, but what’s the use?
Rain wrinkles tarps and soddens
the vegetable garden where youngsters
croon over lettuce and kale.
At breakfast no one speaks to me.
The others clot in chatty moods
while I crouch beneath a thundercloud
and nosh my corn flakes in private.
I haven’t been convicted
but my sloppy habits exposed me
to neighbors who warned the FBI
that I kept my hands in my pockets
and hoarded spiders and roaches
in case of apocalypse.
I can’t return to that dreary room
with its framed print of Moses
parting the Red Sea. Instead
I sit on the porch and observe
teenage couples sprawled on the lawn,
indifferent to the rain. Their crimes
don’t coincide with mine. The gloom
rises from the earth rather
than fall from the sky. I’m sure
I’m guilty: every bone creaks
and every muscle thrums with glee
as the invisible stars rain down
split atoms to embalm me.
GOLEM OR GHOST
You’ve dug up an antique bottle,
elaborate cut glass complete
with stopper. The liquid inside
boils in the sunlight. Unstop
the bottle before it explodes,
dump the contents on the ground.
Look at it sizzle and hiss
like a science-fiction acid.
Now wash the bottle and maybe
an antique dealer will buy it
to sell to a New York tourist.
But look where you spilled the liquid.
Something gray and moldy rises
in semi-human form. A golem,
maybe, or a ghost. Maybe
the ghost of a golem. It sways
on shaky limbs and scans the yard.
It sees us and advances. Run!
We duck indoors, leaving the bottle
on the deck. I load the shotgun
and we stand ready at the window,
but the creature stops, bemused,
then spots the bottle. It’s open,
the stopper beside it. Shrinking
to fit, the creature returns
to its source, extends a smoky arm
and stoppers the bottle after it.
We rush outside and examine
the bottle. The liquid inside
looks like gin or vodka. Maybe
spilling it whiffed us drunk enough
to imagine we made a monster.
We should reinter this artifact.
The day fades and a chill blows
from Monadnock, summer already
dropping to its knees. I seal
the bottle with duct tape. Place it
gently in the garden. We’ll transplant
a hosta to mark the spot. Then
we’ll pour authentic drinks
to commemorate our afternoon:
authentic ghosts of gin or vodka
inspiring us with hues and sighs
from this world rather than another.
William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire, and teaches at Keene State College. His most recent book of poetry is The Suburbs of Atlantis (2013). He has published three critical studies, including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors. His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in many journals.