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A Little Literary History | William Doreski

Another Thomas Hardy night,

trees creaking, dreams ballooning

like aneurysms. Up early

to solve all of Shakespeare’s work

with a single word, I spot pianos

in the clouds, black keys sharking,

white keys dangling their smiles.

The rain doesn’t mean itself

but something else. The trees kneel

in homage to the pagan ideals

endorsed by local government.

I try to pet the cats but fear

has smelted their mind-muscles

and they pour away in waterfalls.

Time to count the leaves shucked overnight.

Each is a tiny factory

in the larger chemical vision

that empowers the atmosphere.

Each should receive the respect

due the green ingenuity

that keeps us inflated and wise.

But infected by the cats’ fear

I rise to myself, overwrought,

and try to step into the flow.

It rejects me the way Shakespeare did

fifty years ago, when childhood

with wrack and flush of vowels

vanished in handfuls of water.

Now the rain discolours everything

in a good cause. If wires come down

and knot in the trees, that’s only

a whiff of Prospero’s magic—

the dark side of the plotting

Thomas Hardy made of everything

he learned and passed on to me.

William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire. His most recent book of poetry is Mist in Their Eyes (2021). He has published three critical studies, including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors. His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in many journals.


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