Two Poems by William Doreski

Boston Salvage

At Boston Salvage we open
at seven to allow the riffraff
to sell us the junk they glean
from Back Bay alleys or steal
from parked cars on Beacon Hill.
Furniture, rugs, clothing, cell phones,
laptops, power tools, copper pipes
liberated from construction sites.

By nine the public has arrived
to bargain. The same dry faces
differently framed. The hot light
of June complicates by casting
shadows through chain-link fencing
to crosshatch expressions and render
everyone a little suspicious
of us, each other, and the world.

Machines from ruined factories,
car parts, lumber stacked outdoors
embellish the intersection
of matter and spirit. From here,
in front of our prefab warehouse,
you can spot the domes and steeples
of famous churches glooming
in the past they helped deform.

You can also count the skyscrapers
marching along Boylston Street,
down through the financial district
toward the harbor where seabirds drift
on the chop and drunken yachtsmen
try to seduce bikinis they’ve bribed
by flapping their sails and boasting
of salaries larger than Texas.

We at Boston Salvage avoid
any hint of sex in our dealings.
No checks, no credit cards: cash
only, don’t ask for an invoice
or receipt. The thick days simper
into dusk the color of dust-storms.
Goods come and go. We pocket
cash for groceries and liquor
and lock the guard dogs in the yard.

Tomorrow will bloom a moment,
splendid with chicory and phlox,
then wither, and the same old trash
will recycle through the premises
like our second or third childhoods,
fourth or even fifth marriages: doomed
by languor, indifference, and rust.


A Haze of Crystal Meth

Slack as a gourd after frost,
I contemplate the vacancy
you’ve left grinning in your wake.

A haze of crystal meth rises
over Dorchester. The landlord,
reeking drugs, tries to shake my hand

but mistakes it for a land crab
and laughs until I rush outside
and vomit on the grass. Meanwhile

in your penthouse you ponder
a bible thick as the sandwiches
they serve at that famous hotel.

You believe and believe and believe,
but the smell of illicit drugs
testifies to a silence larger

than the one the All in All claims.
I fear that silence because
it could easily absorb me,

emitting a fine yellow gas.
Slumped on that Dorchester lawn
I stare into the vacancy

and see it’s not really vacant
but bristling with clear glass shards.
I’m glad I didn’t stick my hand in.

I’m glad my only wound is mental,
or sentimental, a gesture
like the wave of a drowning man.

You admire that notorious poem,
its little flailing shape. You think
the violets and rose of sundown

after a thunderstorm applies
to both of us equally. Maybe
it does, but the vacancy between

differing modes of divinity
leaves us gasping and apart,
and the stink of crystal meth

brewed by amateur science
corrugates so deeply I’ll cry
all night while dreaming in vain.



William Doreski recently retired after years of teaching at Keene State College in New Hampshire (USA). His most recent book of poetry is The Suburbs of Atlantis (2013). He has published three critical studies, including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors. His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in many journals. You can find him at