The streets run parallel. No cross streets, no vanishing point. I toil along a dreary stretch of abandoned warehouses. I want to reach the next street over, where restaurants and theaters gleam like rhinestones. But when I try cutting through the warehouses I find they have no back doors, and between them range high metal fences crowned with coils of razor wire. The stink of decay and wasted lives sours the night. I can’t see moon or stars. The reddish dark overhead looks solid as a concrete dome. The faint urban glow tastes salty and glib. If I could get on the roof I might see a way of reaching the populated district. I find a spiral staircase that opens onto a flat tarred surface and realize I could leap to the building facing the other street. But the long fatal drop between is daunting. I remember Jimmy Stewart in Vertigo, hanging with both hands while a uniformed cop falls to his death. So I descend and exit into the broken street with the reddish glow washing over me. Laughter and loud conversation, drifting from another world, encourage and disgust me. How much humanity do I want to assert? How much wants to claim me?
William Doreski has published three critical studies and several collections of poetry. His work has appeared in various 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.