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William Doreski
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Living in a Storm Drain

 

 

William Doreski

 

 

Contorted into a storm drain

under the village, I live

a life I can easily afford.

Frustrated housewives feed me

dinners husbands don’t appreciate.

Children crawl in to poke and probe

and otherwise amuse me. Daily

I emerge to shower and shave

in the town hall, walk around town

and pose for tourists. Autumn light

flatters my wrinkles, white shriek of hair.

 

Rain flushes filth and debris

from my homestead, but because

I’d drown as deep as anyone else

I have to exit before the flood

and shelter under the hardware

store awning, or enter the café

where men who paint and plumb houses

complain my lack of housing

creates no business income

to help put their kids through college.

 

The days and seasons fester

in the world. The storm drain feels

much the same year round, body heat

warming me in winter, the natural

cool of the earth comforting me

in summer. Year after year

I elongate in my tube-space

until I’m so worm-like the people

who don’t know me gasp with surprise.

Meanwhile my pension accumulates

in the bank. Fed and housed, I live

for the sake of living, the housewives

who feed me unable to rouse

the slightest gender loyalty,

and the dark inside the storm drain

too snug to allow me to think.

 

 

 

Talking to the Hanged Man

 

by William Doreski

 

 

The small crowd disperses.  The air

hums with fragmented hymns. Sunday

always feels too vague, the hills

burdened with what Yeats called “autumn

glory” and others call “sorrow

of leaf-fall.” Somewhere a python

digests a full-grown man. Somewhere

a bomb erupts in a trash can.

Somewhere a mob of rapists

plots to ravish a tiny village

where the men have died in war.

 

Here in the brassy roadside weeds

of New Hampshire, plastic bottles

sulk unredeemed, little crimes

that define us. I consume

more than my share of culture,

but like the snake spend little time

with mastication and far too long

with digestion. This afternoon

the slant of light re-sculpts the trees

to suggest a Halloween terror

not even tiny children believe

but everyone wishes were real.

 

I recall the garage down the street

where a man hanged himself to prove

his love for his unfaithful wife.

More than half a century ago

I tormented myself by staring

into the dark of that ruin

until I saw the hanged man hanging

and forced him to catch my eye.

The creak of rope on rafter

still lingers. The whisk and shudder

of windy leaves across the highway

suggests many lost conversations;

but my foolish attempt to talk

to that hanged man is my only

instance of self-defining speech.

 

 

William Doreski’s work has appeared in various e and print journals and in several collections, most recently Waiting for the Angel (Pygmy Forest Press, 2009).

In Association with Fossil Publications