High School Seems So Long Ago
The chatter of rain at dawn
reminds me to live long enough
to see my doctor at eleven
for a booster against the plague.
A jet plane gnashes overhead,
aimed at Detroit and Chicago.
I dreamt us back to high school
with dim and dusty classrooms
and teachers retired to the grave.
You said we needn’t graduate
because you’d invented something
that would make us forever rich.
We ran from school into the rain
and Volkswagened across horizons
that bent to accommodate our rush.
In actual daylight I wonder
if I begged in brazen colors
would you drive me far enough
from home to feel the winter fade
in the slump and tangle of kudzu?
The rain looks cold enough to scorch
the tip of my tongue. You awaken
to the same weather forty miles
west where the river of rivers
shoulders between eroded banks
with a defiant gray expression.
If the rain stops and I survive
my shot, let’s meet for latte
and parse my dream without laughing.
High school seems so long ago.
But geologic time has hardly
registered those years, the dark
we swallow every night too pale
to compete with the underground
where the earth’s rock mantle
dreams more profoundly than me.
The Text of Reckoning
The death of summer occurs
so gradually the pain spreads
before anyone takes notice.
Children lick sweating metal
and savor the toxic effects.
Dogs sniff the residue and exclaim.
You worry that our shingled house
will peel like overripe citrus,
but I assure you that treefall
will erase our greatest concerns.
Saturday, Saturnalia. Doubt
spreads through the coffee klatch,
rigging all future elections.
Someone asks me to read aloud
from pages scattered in the park.
No one believes they’re illegible.
Most assume that terrible truths
fester beneath the rough bark
of hickory and under flat stones.
Certain dark pages evaded
cancellation, and now I’m tasked
with reading them to the crowd.
Will you help? I need to borrow
a wheelbarrow load of words
no one has ever defined.
If you wield your garden spade
with proper brio you’ll find them
excreted by salamanders,
the dark ones with yellow spots.
The crowd gathers in Putnam Park.
The black sky promises thunder
to smelt my tiny voice and pour
balm on a thousand abrasions.
The ugliness is spreading fast.
Hurry with that wheelbarrow.
If I don’t survive this event
you can use it to tote my carcass
to the recycling center
where all the miracles occur.
William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire. He has taught at several colleges and universities. His most recent book of poetry is Mist in Their Eyes (2021). He has published three critical studies, including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors. His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in various journals.