Musical Egg

by William Doreski

Soft-shelled, softer than a turtle’s,
it hums in a nest of rags and yarn.

You have to humble yourself
to hear it. You have to kneel

and cup an ear to catch the tune.
You’ve known it all your life.

Kate Smith, Bing Crosby, Bob Dylan,
and the Chantels all recorded it.

The egg knows other tunes as well.
Now it’s humming something fresh

from Puccini, an aria 
so ripe it makes big men cry.

Because you seem to want it
I would buy you this talented egg,

but soon it will hatch a monster,
a scaly thing you’d rather not

find romping in your kitchen.
Yet it throbs with the innocence

of pre-natal glory, yolk and white
having merged in a single chord—

a C major seventh from which
all lugubrious melody flows.

You look more closely and decide
this isn’t an actual egg but ball

of lint and fuzz some prankster
crafted as Easter décor.

Yet we both hear the music,
an omen of intelligent life.                                     

Would you want to risk some archaic
fauna running amok inside

your freshly rehabbed apartment?
Let this foolish construction

smelt until the holiday’s past.
If it hasn’t hatched but still

emits pop, classical, and jazz
I’ll buy it for your birthday

when every year a few graves open
and a soundtrack seems required.



Where We Left Off

by William Doreski

The last crust of filthy snow
lies in the ditch like a victim.
It exudes a cold drunk breath
that fetches versions of winter
that never occurred in memory.

Walking to the village I drift
step by step into the air.
Assigning myself fantasies
to keep me company, I snag
on a blizzard afternoon
in Boston’s Public Garden
with the frozen pond buried.

A couple snugs on a bench
despite the blowing snow.
Not a lick of traffic crowds
the streets, gray buildings blank
and aloof. George Washington
rides headlong into the storm
with brazen façade honed to lead us
into the muddle we’ve made.

I startle back to New Hampshire,
the present-tense brimming with croak
of spring peepers, the hiss of tires
as my neighbors speed into town.
When I return from the village,
toting my old canvas tote bag,
that last snow-crust will have melted.

But the snow in the Public Garden 
never melts, and that couple
nuzzling on the bench by the pond
will die a thousand little deaths
before revealing their names.


Fish Tales, Epic Lives

by William Doreski

Swapping fish tales: northern pike
in Lake Champlain, Idaho trout,
smallmouth bass in Florida,
salmon in the Connecticut Lakes,
a sand shark reeled in from a pier
in Newport, bluegills eaten fresh
from Thoreau’s Fair Haven Bay.

Men like these stories, the chrome
flicker of a rainbow leaping
for a dry fly, the heavy splash
of a big bass caught on a streamer.
Fog-veiled hills peering over
a pond of nacreous dusk.
Surf lapping Nauset Beach at dawn.

Fishing days slip past in sighs
punctuated by hiss of flip-
top-opened cans of beer.
Crude but true, the rough measure
of catch-and-release. No longer
do we kill to cook over campfires,
no more trophies stuffed with sawdust
and shellacked onto maple plaques.

Starfall on brimming nights, the tent
at home in the Adirondacks.
Reading Whitman by lanternlight
while thinking about the river
crashing down from terrible height
spawning brook trout of burnished silver.

Fish stories glib with alcohol
and the company of thick old men
like me, corrugated by sun
and wind but smoothed by weekdays
in surly offices where paperwork
snows down in rumpled strata.

We tell ourselves fish tales to live,
and the fish respond so gently
we sometimes hear them splashing
as their laughter slowly evolves.


———

William Doreski’s work has appeared in various eprint and traditional print journals and in several collections, most recently A Black River, A Dark Fall and Train to Providence, a collaboration with photographer Rodger Kingston.