Three Poems by William Doreski

Lindens on the Avenue

Source: Siefkin DR, Wikimedia Commons


The lindens on the avenue

turn over their leaves for rain.

They will outlive you by one

or more centuries, their breath

fragile and necessary, their smiles

too subtle for cops and dogwalkers

to make time to appreciate.


You’ve overlooked this city

for so long it has absorbed you,

your powerful blonde persistence

inciting unnatural forces

to open a secret grave somewhere

among the broken warehouses

south of the financial district.


When after a night of mating

with that rich old man downstairs

you stumble into that cavity

you’ll remember the swagger

of the lindens in tropical storm

when a fallen limb stopped traffic

and seagulls blown from the harbor

cackled and sneered at the mess.


The rich old man won’t miss you

because money has blinded him

to the glare of your Renoir pose.

With both his eye and his glass eye

he also observes the lindens,

but from a lower floor, unable

to see the tops sway in the wind.


The days slip past with little cries

you mistake for your grandchildren

calling from a terrible height.

Those are actually the creaking

of linden boughs, a form of thought

philosophers more adept than you

have struggled to interpret,

snagging their beards in the twigs.




Inside the inn a man

returns from the bath, a towel

draped over his meaty shoulder.

Source ITA-ATU, Wikimedia Commons


Another man smoking a pipe

reclines while a blind masseur

kneels in the open doorway.


To the right, in their own room,

three women touch up their makeup

as they prepare to entertain.


Is this a place of sex work

or merely of roadside rest?

The rooms stand so widely open


to the plank connecting walkway

that nothing remains secret

for more than a moment or two.


Weed People


Already before May ends

some roadside weeds have rusted

the color of certain old men

who had taken too much pride

in heritage, race, and hauteur.Chicory_roadside_weed_(8689131548)


The stems look brittle and crude.

Reproductive parts have withered,

having already done their best.

You want to trim our frontage

to let certain ferns flourish


in all their asexual glory.

You don’t care that cutting

these scrawny uprights would hurt

where I’ve never been hurt before,

spilling the sickliest fluids.


It’s that kind of season, the cries

of tiny animals audible

for the first time, toads fisting

in the garden, the daydreams

of songbirds ghosting in the blue.


Today I should enclose myself

in a thicket of books and drowse

until I reach the threshold,

then pull myself back to the world

with a shameful little blush.


But I feel restless, afraid

that if I stay too still I’ll root

against my will, striking bedrock

only an inch below the surface,

confirming the slope of my pose.




William Doreski‘s work  has appeared in various online and print journals and in several collections, most recently A Black River, A Dark Fall and Train to Providence, a collaboration with photographer Rodger Kingston




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