Two Poems by William Doreski

Dinosaur Pants
William Doreski

Put on these pants, run your hands
down your thighs. Like the scales?
Wearing dinosaur pants honors

the common pool of DNA
from which all poetics derive.
You wonder what dinosaurs left

inscribed or impressed in mud
besides their notorious pawprints.
Sometimes prowling riverbeds

in search of polished garden stones
I find in the sandstone ledge
runic scrawls a reptile claw

might have penned in a moment
of reflection on the forthcoming
and predictable mass extinction.

Although I can’t read these marks
by touching them I feel a throb
in my brain that corresponds

to the ache for mutual expression
that binds us to trees and mice.
You know that feeling: a whisk

of fibers across tingling nerves,
a pleasure rooted too deeply
to betray its source. Wearing

dinosaur pants in public
proclaims your allegiance to facts
that foil the religious fools

who rely too much on one brave book
to shield them from the distance
that pours like milk through us all.

You look good in that tight fabric,
the green-gray scales flattering
your gunpowder complexion,

and your confident stride folding
and unfolding dinosaur-thoughts
that never go out of fashion.


Wrack and Ruin
William Doreski

Huge container ships, long black geometries, wash up in my
backyard. I’m forty miles inland, so this storm must have been
the Big One. The captains of these ships demand that I write out
receipts for their cargo, but I don’t know what’s inside those
brooding containers. May I look? If I break the seals, the captains
agree, the cargo is my responsibility. But you can’t offload it
here. No cranes, no longshoremen. I don’t belong to the union,
so I can’t help. The crews stare down from the prows of their
ruined ships. The government will have them broken up and
scrapped. Unusable parts will end up in our local landfill, at the
taxpayers’ expense. I don’t want to seem crass, though. This is a
tragedy for these seamen. They’ve devoted their lives to the free
movement of consumer goods and look at what has happened. I
prop a ladder against the nearest hull and climb aboard. With
cutting pliers, I break a seal and open the creaking container.
Boxes of plastic toys, crated toilets, a case of expensive digital
cameras, and several palette-loads of extra-large bras. I hope this
merchandise reaches the public in time to save it from creeping
angst. But I don’t see how I can help. The storm has long passed,
leaving a hint of ozone in the air. As dusk falls the captains
descend from their ships and gather around the bonfire I’ve built
to offer a note of welcome.

Image taken from page 773 of ‘[Manual of Geology: treating of the principles of the science with special reference to American geological history … Revised edition.]’ 1885 by DANA, James Dwight. (Cataloged by the British Library)

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