I live in Peterborough, New Hampshire, and teach at Keene State College. My most recent book of poetry is The Suburbs of Atlantis (2013). My essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in many journals. Blog at http://williamdoreski.blogspot.com
The Sensation of Pouring Sand
Coughed awake at four AM,
I stagger into a hot bath
and baste myself to meet the storm
bulging up the coast. A pail
of beach sand yielded three gold
pocket watches. A second pail
contained a dozen silver dollars
from the first Roosevelt era.
I dreamt this because erosion
tomorrow along the sound
may expose a glut of treasures,
although the tide will rebury
rubble for which it has no use.
The bath does me good. Ginger tea
smoothes all the way down my gullet
and renders me meek as a wren.
My dreams accomplish nothing,
but the sensation of pouring sand
from one hand to another
to sift out the watches and coins
lingers. The dark at the window
looks puzzled. Why am I up
at this shapeless hour? Two nights
from now a storm might buckle
trees and crush my little cottage,
so I should hoard my awakening
for that moment of relative truth.
Drying off, I note in the mirror
a blubbery old fellow much
like the beach bum that years ago
I aspired to become. The years
have shucked me like a corncob,
but through the silence I detect
the ticking of a pocket watch
counting me down to zero.
A Soft Spot on the Map
Like the storm boiling overhead,
I’m a soft spot on the map,
a green and yellow blur.
Fear of trees falling on me,
of flood surging into my basement,
power out and no place to go,
numbs me to my breakfast. The light
assumes that hurricane shade
I associate with a childhood
fending off great winds hurtling
up the valley to cluster
about the house in which I failed
to grow up. The great elm swayed
but stands today. Church steeples
clung to competing faiths and survived.
The schoolhouse grinned like a skull
and shouldered the heaviest weather.
The long day ahead will tumble
into a longer night shaped
like a funeral urn. Who will hear
the creak of the white pine falling
to smash my little house flat
and render me shapeless? Who will scrape
my remains from the woodwork?
If daylight looked more like daylight
I could step outside and inhale
the wind, defying it. But sighs
of broken sky collapse like bags
of trash dropped on the highway.
Better to drive downtown and huddle
in the diner with thick dull men
inured to weather. The bad coffee
will render me toxic to myself
and dilute the worst imaginings
until I can swallow them whole.
I'm Not that Person
The jazz of my generator
an hour before dawn alerts me
to a post-storm mood dangling
like smoke in the trees. The dead
lie crushed under surf-strewn
breakage along the coast,
or drowned in autos stalled deep
in glad-handed rivers yellow
with smut and dross. Work crews
won’t reach this deeply in the woods
for a week. I should save my gas,
but I have to fire up the freezer
to preserve the venison I shot
only a week ago. Sorry.
Sometimes I forget I don’t hunt,
hate hunting, hate the feel
of a checkered walnut stock
against my cheek, hate the roar
of the cartridge exploding,
the thump of the bullet into meat.
I don’t even own a freezer,
but have a refrigerator chocked
with vegetables too dainty
for real men to eat. No wonder
that with the power out and small
generator roaring I feel small
enough to self-devour.
No wonder I picture myself
stalking deer in the murky forest,
my rifle gripped so tightly
I’ll have to shoot myself
if I can’t find any game.
Good thing I’m not that person.
The sun will rise in an hour
but the rags of storm will conceal it,
and the stink of exhaust will numb me
to all of its favorite effects.
©2014 William Doreski