Driving in Sleet


Driving twenty miles to Keene

in sleet as gray as a slice

of brain, I feel small enough

for powerful men to pocket

like change. The highway shudders

as it slews across a landscape


alienated by self-interest.

Timid houses cling to the swells.

A frozen reservoir looks resigned.

Last night a friend phoned and left

a message. “Thanks for the friendship,”

his drunken voice argued. No way


to return such a call. No way

to forgive myself for befriending

anyone. The facts repel me:

slick highway, surly old hills,

a voice on the radio coughing up

a congeries of headlines. Thoreau


warned that no individual

could solve the news from Mexico

or France, the fact of telegraphy

a joke too universal to earn

a laugh. I drive as carefully

as a child. The miles tend downhill,


village after village, the ruts

I score in the fresh sleet crust

look significant, and the cry

stifled in the dark of my skull

tastes like the self-digestion

I’ve always feared to indulge.


- William Doreski