Burglarizing a Neighbor
Burglarizing a neighbor whose wealth
includes flats in London and Rome,
we excite ourselves so deeply
we have to wrestle on his bed
until we shed our skins and explode.
Shuddering with aftermath, we raid
his refrigerator and gorge
on pink slices of Polish ham
washed down with expensive Bordeaux.
Otherwise we touch little,
steal nothing. Paintings by Jim Dine,
Francis Bacon, Warhol, Lucien Freud
express themselves in drape-drawn rooms
fungal with antiques looted
from shops in France and Germany.
We dance on a Chinese carpet
as his Conrad-Johnson stereo
plays Artie Shaw big-band hits.
We’re hoping he’ll catch us drunk
in his cherry-paneled library
with Jung’s collected works sprawled
open to competing discussions
of the vast collective unconscious
everyone loves to invoke.
But he’s in Tokyo closing a deal,
and unless we tell him some day
over drinks at the local pub
he’ll never know we sacrificed
two virgins of crime on his bed,
will never miss the ham or Bordeaux,
and never know why his paintings
now gaze at him with the pity
once reserved for the cuckold
too slow to notice the furniture
of his life has moved one inch.
In Honor of Your Feelings
At Bob’s Chinese Barbecue
I sample Bob’s free samples
while you flirt so outrageously
he and I laugh. The pork ribs grin
as well, seasoned to flatter
emotions some hope to accomplish.
You, though, express more boldly
than secret Chinese spices
the lust you hope to wrestle
from my state of resignation.
Bob’s food brightens us both,
but not even the sacrifice
of many, many hogs can inspire
a longing for the intersections
of your frank but standard body.
No use describing yourself
as a table-ready Renoir nude.
No use tittering that hands
as greasy as mine require washing
before deployment on yourself.
I’m too old to wash anything
to flatter another’s ego.
Bob enjoys our little drama,
his grave brown eyes watering
with sentiment. As sundown ripens
in a notch of pine hills you sigh
a patented sigh, and for this
I’m expected to drop to all fours,
then rise and praise you all over.
But you should be satisfied
that the hogs that died for this meal
clap their trotters to applaud you,
and note that yellow light bulbs strung
around Bob’s parking lot are teeth
bared in honor of the feelings
you think too playful to regret.
A Further Evolution
Sometimes a blotch of seawater
the size of an anti-tank mine
thickens and becomes carnivorous.
The specific gravity rises
and a grim intelligence prevails.
When one of these blotches attacked you
I had to towel it off you
before it poisoned your bloodstream.
Now we’ve decided to track
these rotten spots to their lair.
In a steel-hulled boat we trace
a string of these evil blobs,
scattered half a mile apart,
to a lonely spot off Madaket
where the refractive surface lies flat
despite the prevailing east wind.
I lance the sore with a boathook
and feel something horrible writhe.
You in your limber swimsuit look
unduly pleased at the agony
I’ve stirred up. After awhile
the fluctuations cease. We cruise
back to harbor, dock the boat,
and step ashore as heroes
of our own lives. Later I baste
the sore spot on your leg where
that blotch attempted to drain you
of everything I’ve tried to love.
Kissing the flesh to heal it,
I taste something bitter, and when
I look in your eyes I realize
how sea-green we’ve both become.
William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire. His most recent collection of poetry is Waiting for the Angel (2009). He has published three critical studies, including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors. His essays, poetry, fiction, 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.