Two Poems

by William Doreski

A Portrait of Kafka

A portrait of Kafka propped

in a Bleecker Street window.

A distressed slab of furniture

braces him against his ruin.

Maybe not Kafka but someone

doomed to resemble Kafka

in serious Czech-tailored suit.

Photo propped in frame with photo

of a man in sleek black T-shirt capped

with cream jacket, hands in pockets,

blue jeans cropped over murky shoes.

A mysterious van. An open door,

green steel with brass fittings.

Of this pair of photos which

explains Kafka’s dusty angst?

Which photo frames the hero

of his own life? Green door, van—

or worn old wood and the somber

focus of Kafka’s misplaced youth?

Dog Don’t Care

Who let the dog out to bark at the snow? The post, dumb as a post, looms black and ominous, bracing one shade of faded sienna against another. Did you say this was a photograph long ago when photographs were chemical effusions and not pure products of light? Dog don’t care. Its bark exceeds its tail, exceeds the distant electric pole sporting a gloomy transformer. It transforms nothing. Art does, doesn’t it? Slur of foreground objects. No one objects. Only the dog, who isn’t barking but staring into the camera as if tuned into a play of dimensions about to persist.

William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire, and teaches at Keene State College. 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.

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