There’s something all-American
about storing a boat propped up
on concrete blocks in the yard.
A lapstrake white wooden hull
capped with a blue superstructure,
big outboard motor smirking.
Someone could launch this speedboat
to rescue this neighborhood
if hurricane or sea-rise floods it.
A junky old yellow sedan
keeps the boat company. Clapboard
and shingled gables oversee
the scruffy, graveled back yard.
Chimneys and power poles assert
land rights, verticals prevailing.
But come summer enough this boat
will enter the proper waters
and leave mockery in its wake.
Closed for now, closed for good, this sad old radiator shop sheds its last coat of whitewash. The exposed concrete block looks clumsy as atrophied muscle. Although the large painted sign retains its capitalized integrity, the windows have gone blank, foggy with dust and the stale breath of dead men. The neon sign reading “Stags Radiator” will go unlit forever.
The double wooden doors have rotted from their jambs, so we push then aside and enter. A stink of old grease and sweat, a litter of paperwork nibbled by mice. Someone has already stolen the few bits of furniture left after the bankruptcy came and went. No one repairs radiators anymore. They last much longer now, longer than tires and batteries. Something’s moving in the corner, there under the outdated pinup calendar. A rat as plump as a Boston Terrier stares sleepily as we prowl about its lair.
The calendar photo features a slim woman in bikini leering over a workbench littered with tools. Hey, that’s you in the photo, isn’t it? No wonder the rat looks so puzzled. Rip the calendar from the wall and let’s get out of here before we rust through and through and start leaking.
“Rooms for Men,” Auburn, Maine
In Auburn, men are men and live
rough brown lives in rough brown
rooming houses where unwashed
labor smells riper than money.
This structure plunked by a road
that shoulders into a crossroad
looks too upright for tired men
who toss and sigh all night, snoring
into pillows too thin to support
their partly fossilized skulls.
But fireproof asbestos siding
and the green-plank basement entry
with its red door of warning
embody a plain brown ethos
of stolid and sober work.
Anyone who rents a room here
can look from a big window
into surrounding fields and smile
into a childish green distance
where the curve of the planet shows.
William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire. He has published three critical studies and several collections of poetry. His work has appeared in many journals. He has taught writing and literature at Emerson, Goddard, Boston University, and Keene State College. His new poetry collection is A Black River, A Dark Fall.