William Doreski: “A Letter to Hart Crane”

 

 

A Letter to Hart Crane

Dear Hart: two saltwater-sodden 
bundles of newsprint arrived
today, all that remains of you
after your interrupted voyage.
I scan the headlines: MAN -EATING 
SHARK exclaims one front page; SHARK-
EATING MAN reads the other.

Whoever sent me these bundles
expects me to make a papier
mâché mannequin of you 
from this briny muddle of news
from the Twenties when you roamed
waterfront bars with Emile,
the love of your lovelorn life.

No one in this grizzled town
reads poetry except pale women
recently smitten with Robert Frost. 
The mannequin will represent you
as Walker Evans portrayed you—
serious, almost sober enough
to challenge small-town rhetoric.

You can shout everyone down
by working consonants so hard
they crack underfoot like snails.
You can describe your drowning
in the most vulgar terms and earn
the pity of men who served in wars
and had lonely sex in foxholes.

Not that a sculpted paste statue
is likely to speak loudly enough
for everyone to appreciate. 
But you and I will converse
in sundown colors too subtle
to impress anyone who hasn’t 
lived a long time under the sea.

 

About the Author: William Doreski has published three critical studies and several collections of poetry. His poetry, essays, fiction, and reviews have appeared in many print and online journals. He has taught writing and literature at Emerson, Goddard, Boston University, and Keene State College. His most recent books are A Black River, A Dark Fall and Train to Providence. He has a blog at williamdoreski.blogspot.com.

 

More by William Doreski:

Remind Me What We Believe

 

 

William Doreski: “Remind Me What We Believe”

 

Remind Me What We Believe

Last night, rain bruised so deeply
I arose with handfuls of blood
as if I’d been finger-painting
in every ghastly autumn color.
You want to inspect the basement
for leaks and weeping, but the pumps

stand silent in their sump holes.
You remind me that years ago
I dedicated mornings to writing
the unwritable tale of my life,
but now I waste the smoky dawns
parsing otherworldly topics.

Once I thought I would shape myself
after a famous Cezanne still-life.
But now I resemble a brushstroke
rendered offhand by Franz Kline.
Doesn’t matter to the sopping world
adrift at the kitchen window. 

Doesn’t matter to the cat who died
last week after sitting in my lap
for three hours watching chipmunks
upholster their larders for winter.
I miss his smooth black contours
sculpted to cuddle against me.

The rain was his memorial.
You agree that his little spirit
likely danced the dark rain dance
all night as we lay in the filth
of the Anthropocene, a place
only nonbelievers would love.

Please remind me what we believe
before more rain billows over
places we though we understood—
wooden houses, low rounded hills,
and a tremble of apprehension
when gray lichened boulders crack.

 

About the Author: William Doreski has published three critical studies and several collections of poetry. His poetry, essays, fiction, and reviews have appeared in many print and online journals. He has taught writing and literature at Emerson, Goddard, Boston University, and Keene State College. His most recent books are A Black River, A Dark Fall and Train to Providence. He has a blog at williamdoreski.blogspot.com.

 

Image Credit: Paul Cézanne “Rochers” Public Domain