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Poetry Winter 2013    fiction    all issues


Alysse Kathleen McCanna
& other poems

Peter Nash
Shooting Star
& other poems

Katherine Smith
House of Cards
& other poems

David Sloan
On the Rocks
& other poems

Alexandra Smyth
Exoskeleton Blues
& other poems

John Glowney
The Bus Stop Outside Ajax Bail Bonds
& other poems

Andrea Jurjević O’Rourke
It Was a Large Wardrobe...
& other poems

Lisa DeSiro
Babel Tree
& other poems

Michael Fleming
& other poems

Michael Berkowitz
As regards the tattoo on your wrist
& other poems

Michael Brokos
Landscape without Rest
& other poems

Michael H. Lythgoe
Orpheus In Asheville
& other poems

John Wentworth
morning people
& other poems

Christopher Jelley
Double Exposure
& other poems

Catherine Dierker
dinner party
& other poems

William Doreski
Hate the Sinner, Not the Sin
& other poems

Robert Barasch
& other poems

Rande Mack
& other poems

Susan Marie Powers
Red Bird
& other poems

Anne Graue
& other poems

Mariah Blankenship
Tub Restoration
& other poems

Paul R. Davis
& other poems

Philip Jackey
Garage drinking after 1989
& other poems

Karen Hoy
A Naturalist in New York
& other poems

Gary Sokolow
Underworld Goddess
& other poems

Michal Mechlovitz
The Early
& other poems

Henry Graziano
Last Apple
& other poems

Stephanie L. Harper
& other poems

Roger Desy
& other poems

R. G. Evans
& other poems

Frederick L. Shiels
Driving Past the Oliver House
& other poems

Richard Sime
Berry Eater
& other poems

Jennifer Popoli
Generations in a wine dark sea
& other poems

William Doreski

Hate the Sinner, Not the Sin

Reading Dante has taught me

to hate the sinner, not the sin.

An hour before dawn the mirror

in the bathroom confirms that pride

defines and defiles me, the pores

of my parchment hide opened

to flattery I never receive.

I should replace myself with lust,

with the smirk of the lecher;

but you with your usual beauty

would find that expression comic

on me, a Halloween mask

two weeks early. Our barred owl

hoots his tedious medley,

each note thick as a woolen scarf.

Stars rattle loose in their sockets,

and one goes down with a shriek.

Or is that the neighbor’s rooster?

Pride offends me enough to cut

my throat, but I can’t afford

to waste an expensive razor blade

by indulging a little vengeance.

Besides, you’d have to clean up

after me, and I know you hate that.

The microwave oven beeps

that apologetic little beep

and the cat’s breakfast is done.

The kettle boils water for coffee.

I should swallow my pride in doses

modest enough to fully digest,

but the famous portrait of Dante

with limber nose and oval mien

leers on a paperback cover

to confirm how clumsy I look

unshaven and fluffy with sleep.

I pour hot water over grounds

and realize this is punishment

enough, the daily unraveling

of ego in bite-sized chores, each

modest enough to kill me.

Post-Neoclassical Poem

The blond forest undressing

leaf by leaf reminds me

how you’ve courted every man

who’s leaned even slightly your way.

Two brooks converge. A boulder

overlooks the pool where nymphs

bathe on summer nights while humans

indulge in mortal dream lives.

I’d like to creep here in the dark

and watch moonlight catch a glimpse

of metallic bodies flashing.

I’d like to compare their grasp

of the classics with your own;

but with your mastery of legal

Latin you’d probably snuff me

under a heap of edicts and writs

to enjoin me from remembering

how frankly naked you could be.

Of course you don’t want to contrast

your old-fashioned body with theirs.

Of course the brooks flushing down

from the twin monadnocks have chilled,

dispersing mythic creatures

until the next two seasons pass.

At the ruined stone dam, two deer

startle and flee. The folding chair

left to rust many years ago

still invites me, so I sit.

The light seems smaller, too shy

to support complexities no painter

since Constable can endorse.

Three miles above, a jetliner

sears the air. It’s headed your way

with fuel enough to eat all three

thousand miles between us, leaving

only the faintest taste of ash.

Moustaches of Slaughtered Heroes

Framed in expressive black oak,

your watercolors stick to the wall

like leeches. Frost hikes its skirts

at the pond’s edge where geese chat

about flying to Kentucky.

Do I hear a drumroll enter

your small conversation? Do stones

at the bottom of the pond expect

to testify? Other events squeeze

from the tubes of paint arranged

by hue and cry. Brushes become

moustaches of slaughtered heroes.

In gusts of small talk you project

the naked retorts of the moons

of Saturn and Jupiter. Half mind,

half sun, you’re anything but flesh

now that flesh has lost its fashion.

Your horizons sport crows and jays

to herd away the geese that spangle

your lawn with gray wet droppings.

Yet the bird wars occur mainly

in literature you’re too proud to read.

I prop myself against a wall and wait

for the pond to freeze with tingling

and cries of pain. Your husband plans

to stay up all night and whisper

your fetishes to the stars. Why

should you care? Sparks roughed

from visiting boulders tender

light and heat enough to ease you

into those last gestures artists

require for their celestial fame.

Your water colors resist you

just enough to cling to three

or four dimensions, honoring

or more likely blaming you.

Naked Under Our Clothes

Naked under our clothes, we enter

the famous public library

as if unaware that even

avid old scholars possess

bodies as secret as ours.

You head for the gardening books

while I descend a floor to scour

the art books for Gauguin prints

to rip out and smuggle home.

The canned air smells chemical.

The librarians nod and smile

and wish they could step outside

fresh as King Lear in the rain.

While you read about designing

gardens with water features

to foster turtles and frogs, I bless

the tropics for inciting Gauguin

to portray such burly colors.

Later we’ll meet for lunch

at the oyster bar where lawyers

and their paralegals hunker

at small tables and plot their trysts.

Someone should paint their expressions,

which prove that they’re too aware

of how naked they could be

if circumstances should allow.

I find a couple of honest prints

but lack the strength or moral

fiber to tear them from the books.

Maybe I’ll copy them with flimsy

pencil sketches from my youth.

The lines shiver, stutter and fail,

but the effort relieves and renews me.

For a moment everyone’s naked

and tropical in hue, even upstairs

where you flirt with photos of gardens

Adam and Eve would have scorned.

A Hideous Verb

Self-condemned to adult camp

to punish my political self,

I weep with arts and crafts all day

and drink with friends all night.

The weather sighs like a bagpipe.

The horizons crumple and fold.

I miss you the way a bullfrog

misses his croak. I’d phone you,

but you’d hear the hangover creak

in my voice and disdain me.

I’ve sewn you a leather wallet

and crimped several blobs of jewelry.

I’ve even woven a wool rug

that isn’t quite rectangular.

When with my fellow campers

I walk to the village at dusk

I suspect you’re watching via

satellite TV. In local bars

we slurp cheap beer and play darts.

No fights, no politics, religion.

Only the slush of draft beer, kisses

with little force behind them,

promises to keep in touch.

Porous belief systems fail

in this crystalline atmosphere.

Dawn breaks the backs of couples

caught in narrow bunks. Such crimes

lack resonance. After breakfast

of groats, instructors apply

cobbler’s tools—hammer, awl, needle—

to leather, plastic and wood.

We follow step by step. Always

with you I’ve followed step by step,

but at last I’ve learned that “craft”

not only makes a hideous verb

but encourages useless skills.

William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire, and teaches at Keene State College. His most recent book of poetry is The Suburbs of Atlantis (2013). 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, Atlanta Review, Notre Dame Review, The Alembic, New England Quarterly, Worcester Review, Harvard Review, Modern Philology, Antioch Review, and Natural Bridge.

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