Midnight, New Jersey suburbs.
Expressionless houses stare
into places I’ve never been.
Long streets warp into dead-ends.
The party ended with regrets,
air kisses, and many hurt feelings.
A long drive home to New Hampshire
past half-awake Manhattan,
through Connecticut’s uneasy sleep.
Too much outstanding mortgage,
too many kids in college. The stars
won’t reveal themselves until
I’m north of Springfield. Troopers
will ignore me. Huge trucks will sneer
as they pass at twenty or thirty
miles above the limit. Someone
will die alone and drunk on a curve
on a two-lane highway out of sight,
the wreckage folded like origami.
I shouldn’t have driven so far
to attend such a sullen party,
should have gotten drunk and slept
on the host sofa and driven home
in mid-morning glare. Instead I drank
club soda and stared into faces
ignited by gothic daydreams
no living man could fulfill. One
by one the women departed
with angry husbands simmering
with liquor. One by one the men
departed with disappointed wives.
The night’s criminal intentions
made clear, I packed myself
like a carry-on and drove away.
Now I’m lost in the empty streets,
desperate for turnpike or parkway.
Vast cemeteries gloom in lamplight
intended to discourage vandals.
I drive so carefully the planet
can’t get too firm a grip on me;
and as I exit New Jersey
over the George Washington Bridge
I glance at the bottomless Hudson
and catch myself adrift and waving,
not drowning, on the carbon slick.
William Doreski's work has appeared in various e and print journals and in several collections, most recently Waiting for the Angel (Pygmy Forest Press, 2009).