Nineteenth-century editions of shakespeare

William Doreski


In my dream, I extended thumb
and forefinger into photos
of our enemies and squeezed
and popped their heads like pimples.
This fulfillment lit up rooms
that had stood dark and lonely
since I abandoned my childhood
on the bus to Philadelphia.

You’ve often heard me complain
of foolish gestures flung
across still waters where canoes
of boy scouts went down weeping
with frustration, the white whale
only a glimpse of lake trout rising
in the ecstasy of early spring.
You’ve often noted my angst
when sundown melds into rain
and the flesh is no longer willing
to share itself with the spirit.

Now with mock epics prevailing,
the morning dust of crow-call
showers me with punctuation
excessive for this time of the year.
As we plot Thanksgiving’s ironies
the radio bleats that certain
important citizens have died
headless in their sleep. Police
blame climate change. You smile
that steep-sloped gulch of a smile.

Testing thumb and forefinger, I feel
no great leverage. But licking them,
I taste foxed old pages torn
from nineteenth-century editions
of Shakespeare, double-columned
with print too small for me to read,
illustrated with engravings
in which every villain is me.


William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire, in a small house in the woods. He taught at Keene State College for many years, but has now retired to feed the deer and wild turkeys. He has published three critical studies, including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors. His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in many journals and several small-press books. His forthcoming book of poetry is The Last Concert (Salmon Press).