Two poems by William Doreski
Extinct Creatures Are Stalking Us
Dinosaur tracks in the yard
this morning. Shallow but large
Eons sometimes overlap,
arousing bedrock with new ideas
and challenging evolution
in terms science can’t define.
You worry that massive heaps
of dinosaur dung will crush
gentian and other late bloomers;
but aside from a cornflower
crushed by a clumsy paw, I find
no damage worth reporting
to the fish and game department,
which handles dinosaur sightings.
The day blooms as August days do,
winsome with a hint of thunder.
The news includes a photograph
of the President rallying right-
wing citizens, and another
of a crashed airplane burning.
Everyone survived that wreck,
but will retain the sensation
of worlds dropping away from them
for the rest of their unnatural livres.
You rake away the dinosaur tracks
before I can photograph them
and send the images to experts
who can identify the species.
Wouldn’t you like to know which
extinct creatures are stalking us?
I’ll brew coffee and toast some toast
and we can discuss over breakfast
which lost age is our favorite.
The cloudy light pours over you
as you work. For a moment
you look pre-Darwinian
as if draped in colors the earth
hasn’t seen since the asteroid strike
sixty-six million years ago,
the moment we were born.
The Last New England Elegy
We won’t feel the same about ferns
bronzing in the October gloom.
We won’t smell the burnt blue gossip
hazing above the village.
These modest deaths have wrung us dry
and left us fragile as wasp nests.
Vermont has become a monument,
while Maine has stuffed its pockets
with stones and stepped into the sea.
New Hampshire’s flannel shirt has torn,
Rhode Island has paved itself flat.
Connecticut no longer cares,
Massachusetts repents in sighs.
You read the map from south to north
while I scan it west to east.
We will never feel the same
about the snarls of numbered routes,
about the folds and tears and stains
and the mapmaker’s famous colors.
These little deaths have severed
interstate highways and stranded
motorists who were driving drunk
with all of their zippers undone.
The grief has sickened the maples,
which will fail to bud in April
when only flowerings count.
Can the outer planets console us?
Tonight they’ll shrug right up to us
and lave us in toxic ammonias
as we sleep off the steepest angles.
What’s left? Our surviving pets
mutter in their private language
as the good garden soil turns over
and over, restless and gnostic
as it sorts its worms and grubs.
William Doreski has published three critical studies and several collections of poetry. His work has appeared in many print and online journals. He has taught at Emerson College, Goddard College, Boston University, and Keene State College. His most recent books are Water Music and Train to Providence, a collaboration with photographer Rodger Kingston.