Petty Theft by William Doreski

Writing with a pen stolen from the elegant shop in the mall, I feel tough as Pancho Villa. As the day thickens with impasto I compose unlikely rhetoric to peddle to whichever demagogue outbids the others. Meanwhile wine and cheese shops fatten for the holidays. Celebrities divorce and sue each other while draped in the modes of high fashion. Their children decay inside, emitting green or blue gas. Writing hard, writing against the magnetic fields that web the planet, I allow the distance between me and the boulder-slope hills to expand until I’m isolated on a treeless plain. A simple horizon encircles me. A file of electric poles marches into the gloom. Snow will ply layer upon layer upon this scene. Eventually it will tilt with the weight and form a new mountain range fanged like a museum of vampires. Guilty of petty theft, guilty of subverting place names, guilty of misspelling my own name, yet innocent of the bad taste left in my mouth, I emerge in the same old coffee shop downtown, panting like a sailor. I should return this pen as stealthily as I took it. Never mind how much ink I’ve already spilled. No one will mistake it for blood.


William Doreski recently retired after years of teaching at Keene State College in New Hampshire (USA). His most recent book of poetry is The Suburbs of Atlantis (2013). He has published three critical studies, including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors. His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in many journals.