The Works of William Doreski 

William Doreski teaches at Keene State College in New Hampshire. His latest collection of poetry is Waiting for the Angel (2009). He has published three critical studies, including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors. His fiction, essays, poetry, and reviews have appeared in many journals, including Massachusetts Review, Notre Dame Review, The Alembic, New England Quarterly, Harvard Review, Modern Philology, Antioch Review, Natural Bridge

All Poems © William Doresk

Since You Proclaimed Yourself Famous

As I try to change the channel
the TV sneers in colors
too lurid to occur in life.
You’re on every cable outlet,
your face garish as tropical fruit,
your designer outfits flimsy
and revealing, though only
the most turgid adolescent
would call them sexy. Meanwhile
a man too lonely to love
kneels between me and the screen
and begs me to reconsider
my commitment to your species.
I admire his desperation,
but the west wind has toppled
Boston’s most famous steeples
and the moon has become a discus
thrown by a child on steroids
and the phone has been ringing
since the Pope declared Jesus
Public Enemy Number Three.
Nothing, you see, has changed
since you proclaimed yourself famous.
The dark retains its whiskers
and the clock’s still counting backwards
the various retorts to our lives.
The man lies flat on the carpet,
writhing, and I point the remote
between your eyes but collapse
of boredom before I can trigger
that tiny infra-red signal
you’ll detect as a faint tickle
confirming how vaguely we touched.

To a Raconteur

Someone trips drunk across the sky.
The spark-trail suggests the Wendigo,
but I know it’s your ego,
disembodied by vodka sipped
ice-cold, and alienated by age.

The dark highway whispers along
not like a river but a reel
of recording tape. I’m driving
with so rigid a grip on the wheel
the antics of untethered ego

can’t distract me enough to crash
my little car into the pines.
Earlier your humor astonished
the visiting lecturer. Your tale
of the ghost elephant roaming

the campus offended a colleague
who knew when you almost split
four ways with laughter that she
was the elephant, the butt
of your imported Asian wit.

And later, at lunch, you stole
the occasion with a story
of a wheelchair ghost rasping
through the attic of a dorm
while cringing students engaged

in the grossest of sexual acts
to nullify their creeping fears.
This time everyone laughed
because the story explained
everyone at the table while

offending us so generally
we affected not to mind. Now
as the moon winks behind hints
of cloud your spark-trail shatters
onto the snowy forest and snuffs;           

and as you drowse over those books
with your nervous intellect idling
your ego flits home to hunker
in the back of your skull and plot
the dream-life you really prefer.