Pirate Birds – by William Doreski


Starlings attack my feeders
and shock the other birds away.
I lean against the overcast
and watch the pirate birds feed.
Everyone prefers cardinals,

grosbeaks, chickadees, titmice.
Everyone dislikes iridescent
black birds that strut and swagger
through the milky summer air
and perch with comic ferocity.

Rain today. The Sunday papers
will flop like flapjacks. The news
will stifle the gravest sympathies
with details to make one squirm.
Gunfire rakes the national psyche

with murders at home and abroad.
The dead stack themselves in layers
deeper than the final ice age,
the one Robert Frost expected
to follow in his wake. I’ll read

of funerals in Dallas, mourning
in Palestine and Libya, rage
in Germany and Pakistan, angst
in the South China Sea. Maybe
I’ll read about fashion in Milan,

soccer in Kenya, poured concrete
architecture in Spain. But drought
in Bolivia and a typhoon
in the Philippines may convince me
that the starlings merely punctuate

horizon after horizon;
they aren’t the grammar of despair
that has gloomed this drizzly morning,
and their mechanical little cries
don’t mock but merely echo 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).

Like an Existentialist – by William Doreski


After you crumpled me up
and tossed me like a soiled tissue
I crept to the edge of the flat earth
and peered into the vacuum
from which creatures like me evolved.
Stars fizzled and became black holes.

Spaceships collided in bursts
of shrapnel, spilling their crews
into bottomless places beyond
the boundary of the creation.
Now I’ve seen so much dark
I’m no longer afraid of your fits

and moods, your expression rumpled
to intimidate. Living alone,
sleeping in weeds by the roadside,
suits me. Collecting bottles
to redeem for nickels and dimes
provides exercise and cash

for apples, bananas, yogurt
in little cups. I could live like this
long enough for you to tire
of your Manhattan condo
with its view of the Hudson
and the sprawl of America beyond.

Eventually I’ll decay enough
to topple into a drainage ditch
and pull the ballast over myself.
You won’t feel the universe ripple,
but you’ll notice that buzzing
in your ears, faint and distant, has stopped.

When I’ve distilled to my essence
I’ll rise like an existentialist
and stand at the foot of your thirty
floor building and stare up so hard
you’ll think lightning has struck you—
a white flash exposing your bones.




William lives in New Hampshire and his work has appeared in various online and print journals and in several collections, most recently The Suburbs of Atlantis (AA Press, 2013)