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Absolute Divisions, by William Doreski

A woodpecker razzing a tree

rousts me from a dream set

in a ruined clubhouse perched

at the extremity of Brooklyn.

Broken glass and condoms littered

a cheap brown linoleum floor.

The reek of dead sex tainted

the air. I’d taken bus after bus

through restless neighborhoods

where gangsters sat on the stoops

and counted their cash in public.

The sea perked a few yards away,

eager to sweep away the rubble

as soon as I finished exploring

for clues to the fate of the city.

Long ago I met a stark woman

in the grass near this structure.

We shared our genetic codes

in terms no one could mistake.

That was a different dream, shaped

to flatter privacies. This new one

flattered no one. It clouded

my geography by placing me

exactly where map lines intersect

to demark absolute divisions.

No one was there to dominate

the view of the Verrazano bridge,

only me with my timid footfall.

It morphs into the clatter

of the woodpecker’s exclamations.

I unfold myself upright and note

the cats watching at the window.

I thank myself for the good health

that enables me to plant myself

in both this and the dream world

without regretting either.


William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire. He has taught at several colleges and universities. His most recent book of poetry is Mist in Their Eyes (2021). His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in various journals.


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