Friday, January 26, 2024

Infernal Contraption By William Doreski

Clubfoot day of aches and gripes.
A big truck delivers a box.
Did you order this? Inside,
strange plastic and metal shapes
and several computer chips.
No printed directions. We build
something that looks serviceable,
although we don’t understand
its purpose. I attach a cord
to what looks like a transformer
and plug it in. Our vision blurs
for a moment, then reveals
a surrounding landscape featuring
sea cliffs, watchtowers, ruins
that look Roman. Our little house
perches on a hillock, pestered
by flocks of hungry sea birds.
The sky is clearly European.
Its fissures ooze elegant wines
fortified especially for us.
The machine we assembled hisses
and bursts into flames, stranding us
on this strange but dramatic coast.
We think of Thomas Cole arriving
in Italy, his sheaf of brushes
quivering with excitement.
We think of Byron in Greece,
ennobled by a fatal miasma.
He had a clubfoot that failed
to dampen his rage for incest.
The memory of that flaw lingers
in the skies Cole painted
to frame his allegorical schemes.
Now that we’re trapped in such a scheme
we can confess that our reading
failed to firmly anchor us.
We should have known better than
to build an infernal contraption
without following the instructions
instilled in both of us at birth.


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 various journals.