William Doreski: Two Poems

The Purples in the Painter’s Eye

You can’t sneer away the clouds
knuckling their great abstractions.
You can’t rename every street

after your few brave followers.
I’ve tried to appraise you with song
on the tip of my tongue, but lack

the requisite melody. Stones
rattling in a mountain brook
would more likely catch your ear.

Today we expect to hear the truth
or read it in the New York Times
where every nation has a say.

We also expect the rain to arrive
in a cornucopia of wind
tinted by solar distractions.

You refuse to credit the mind
that mapped the atom forever.
You place no faith in the art

that names itself after silence.
You expect celestial glassblowers
to render landscapes so fragile

and elegant that your old aches
and pains will find no place to settle.
I wish you luck and favor

but don’t believe the purples
inherent in the painter’s eye
will rescue you from suffering

you wrought to punish yourself
for disowning the nation you crossed
a dozen times driving alone.

Let’s agree on something small
enough to pocket when we tire
of fondling its many contours.                           

The day exposes a yellow rind
under a sickly overcast.
Let’s read the newspaper at home

and leave the absences grinning
in the public streets where anyone
can mistake anyone for themselves.




Puddles Shaped like My Enemies

Last night’s metallic rain left
puddles shaped like my enemies.
I hadn’t known I had so many,
but here they are, bearing weapons 
of quicksilver, chrome, and filth.

You advise me to stomp right
through them, shattering their calm.
You have no enemies, no trace
residue to rebuke you for
famously missed opportunities.

The hard rain blinded the night
so absolutely no response
seemed possible. The cats cried
nervously, the windows rattled.
We stayed up as late as we dared,

aware that pale forces were plotting.
At dawn the sky was meringue,
the trees stood around embarrassed
by a night of hysterics. You roused
the household and told me to don

my boots and splash those puddles
before they sulked underground to plot.
We’re being silly. These puddles
don’t resemble people except
in their slouch and selfish glaze.

Besides, my enemies aren’t yours,
so you don’t have to worry.
I plumb the puddles and determine
that they’re too shallow to drown me,
even if I flop face down.


William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire. He has taught at several colleges and universities and retired after three decades at Keene State College. His most recent book of poetry is Stirring the Soup (2020). He has published three critical studies, including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors. His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in many journals.

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