Every evening I walk a mile

through late-blooming pasture rose

to a site prescribed by law.

All night I scan the Atlantic

for shock waves, screams of pain,

and foreign or threatening slang.

The distance from here to Spain

hangs in the air, a seascape

painted in many shades of gloom.

The government pays me to scour

the picture-plane for subversive

and competing points of view.

No one creeps down the path

after dark. Too cold for lovers

to roll naked on the beach

with all their loose limbs flailing.

Too dark for runaway kids

or hobos prowling for food.

The ocean slops and gobbles

in familiar if alien tongues.

Sometimes in the corner of one

or the other eye it swerves,

tilts, elongates in ways

I can’t write up in the notes

I keep in case anyone cares.

Sometimes it slurs like childbirth.

Sometimes it overflows itself

into the lives of those inert

to its constant dredging and filling.

Mostly it casts itself in hues

too subtle for the human eye,

warping my lack of confidence

to conform to faded horizons.

No security threats occur,

although government officials

drown every night in their sleep.

No one blames me, my pay grade

too degrading. Mackerel snap

all night, clams applaud, and starfish

form asterisks to divert me

from the sea-floor’s lack of friction,

the silence of pressurized depth.


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.