A man attempts to drown himself
in a washing machine. Dragging him
from the Laundromat by his feet
I dump him in the street, wring him out,
and chide him for shocking the women
laundering weeks of smutty diapers.
Of course he was lately your lover
but was disbarred over foolish crimes
you incite with a grisly smile.
The day looks too disheveled
to risk accidents and incidents
we’d both regret, so I steer him
to an outdoor café and ply him
with strawberry liqueur until pores
open, blackheads pop, and he talks
that talk that topples unwary souls.
He believes that pine cones evolve
into people like you, masses
of tough carbohydrate and gristle.
He believes that nose-flutes simper
reckless melodies when you pose
on an elbow after fatal acts.
I offer him half my bagel
and he scarfs it down so greedily
he must have lost the will to perish
in a slather of harsh detergent.
You shouldn’t pick on men like this,
born tender as chicken pot pies.
You should choose from the thunder
of pagan heroes, the grumble
of satyrs fresh on the gallop.
You should bury your victims with full
military honors rather
than allow them to roam freely
with their spent organs dangling—
their long and bloodless afternoons
inscribed on the faces of clocks
that tick with grim persistence
in low tones no one need hear.
William Doreski has published three critical studies and several collections of poetry. His work has appeared in various journals. He has taught writing and literature at Emerson, Goddard, Boston University, and Keene State College. His new poetry collection is A Black River, A Dark Fall.
Painting, Wotan und Brünnhilde, by Koloman Moser.