09/26/2021

William Doreski

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.