Grasping at Special Effects

By: William Doreski

The large and pensive houses

of Pine Street have climbed the hill

to overlook certain taxpayers,

like us, who doubt the worth

of pavement, steel bridges, schools.

The houses purse their doorways

and deny us admittance. Stay home

and write the last checks to adorn

an otherwise paperless world. I thrust

the pen through my heart as if

shish kebabs were on the menu.

You sop up the blood with a towel

and pack my rind in a plastic bag

to leave at the landfill where anyone

might critique my final grimace.

None of this happens except

in a flip of the pen, a moment

of grasping at special effects.

Although the tax collector’s office

smirks within walking distance

we mail the check at the post office

that no longer sports FBI

wanted posters since everyone

has become a wanted criminal

subject to gates, bars, and razor wire.

We walk down Pine Street to dip

our fingers in the icy river.

A few empty cadavers float past.

They wave with lifetimes of habit.

The current is black and oily.

The pen I thrust or didn’t thrust

through my heart is out of ink

so I toss it into the stream

and resolve to avoid all writing

until the last literate person dies.

William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire. He has taught at several colleges and universities. His most recent book of poetry is Venus, Jupiter (2023). His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in many journals.

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