PoetryIssue 02 | December 2008

Two Poems by William Doreski

A Word I Can’t Pronounce

At dawn a word I can’t utter
stalks from the mist and sneers aloud.
A ruined city wheezes. Wild dogs
hunt the last human infants.
Vultures soar in a yellow sky.
You worried about the new war
between Russian and Georgia, worried
that the shrinking Caspian Sea
would become a mudflat wrinkled
by tank treads. You were right—

and words that don’t function
burden the tongues of survivors
like me, who slept through the shelling
of your family’s Black Sea resort,
where at the age of five you dreamt
an open-mouthed word that functions
so poorly in Russian you needed
twenty years of education
to learn to pronounce it correctly.

I hadn’t realized you also
had suffered strange words until war
broke out when and a rebel province
tried to refasten itself
to Mother Russia. Such alien
political biology numbs me
to the casualties; but reeking
of dead fish, the Caspian Sea
would like to mate with the Black Sea
and refresh itself with a draught
from the world’s contiguous oceans. 

I understand this passion but
how does that strange word describe
your dread of war? I also fear
the big guns that wrecked the city
into which I’ve stumbled this morning
with my swollen head and hands.
The wheezing and cries of vultures
harmonize, and the smell of the mist
warms me enough to greet you
across a psychic geography
split by mountains bright with snow.

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About the author

William Doreski’s most recent trip of any significance was a drive from Athens up through Macedonia and the various Balkan nations to visit a distant (third or fourth) cousin who runs a tech firm in Zagreb. Then on through Budapest (necessary food stop) to Frankfurt and home.William’s work has appeared in various online and print journals and in several collections, most recently Another Ice Age (AA Books, 2007), available at Amazon.

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