Twanging Voices

A poem by Fred Pollack


That little bald bisexual with an earring –
you know the one –
whose work will always be better than yours
until the destruction of the sun –

For him the theatrical metaphor
was useful, i.e., valid,
even liberating. Not for me.
If the play’s the thing, what’s the theme?
Does it have legs? Who are its backers?
If we took it on tour, would it pay?
Worrying thus, I perform for ghosts,
or like a ghost for a thin and musty
audience of reals.
Early and late I muff my lines.
Have little dramatic sense.
Enjoy a more primitive, declamatory form, and
yearn for solutions:

Hamlet rejects hallucinations.
Juliet says it won’t work.
Lear takes Cordelia’s point (or else
she bullshits him like her sisters).
Caesar gets word who the conspirators are;
his troops invade the Senate and arrest them.


Fred Pollack is the author of two book-length narrative poems, The Adventure (Story Line Press, 1986) and Happiness (Story Line Press, 1998), and two collections, A Poverty of Words (Prolific Press, 2015) and Landscape with Mutant (Smokestack Books, 2018). In print, Pollack’s work has appeared in Hudson Review, Southern Review, Salmagundi, Poetry Salzburg Review, Manhattan Review, Skidrow Penthouse, Main Street Rag, Miramar, Chicago Quarterly Review, The Fish Anthology (Ireland), Poetry Quarterly Review, Magma (UK), Neon (UK), Orbis (UK), and elsewhere. Online, his poems have appeared in Big Bridge, Diagram, BlazeVox, Mudlark, Occupoetry, Faircloth Review, Triggerfish, Big Pond Rumours (Canada), The Drunken Llama (2017), Misfit, and elsewhere.

Land Line

A poem by William Doreski


All day you tie up the phone,
the land line that anchors us
to the English-speaking world.

Meanwhile the latest hurricane
twirls and spits and fizzles
in the shallows off Nantucket.

We could have used its rain
to cheer the ghost of our garden,
could have basked in downpours

the summer has wholly withheld.
The wind would have toppled us,
but also leaved us with the ghosts

of colonialism, dredged from
the mud of the Caribbean,
where treasure ships lie sulking

in a litter of wormy timbers.
You tie up the phone because
your imaginary lovers deploy

actual voices in the ether
that sometimes come to earth
to roost and crow in colors

perceptible to innocent eyes.
I don’t mind the lovers but object
to the wear and tear on the thread

of wire that leashes us to worlds
larger than this one. In these hills,
cell phones often fail to connect,

and non-European languages
sometimes intrude with phonemes
thick peasant tongues can’t replicate.

At least the land line’s secure
from that overlap of history
shy people like me avoid.

But you’re on the phone all day,
talking so briskly a stranger
would mistake this for a two-way

conversation, unaware
that no one ever answers your calls.
Instead, old-fashioned slow-dial phones

ring in demolished houses
where only the wind and rain
of failed hurricanes might answer.


William Doreski’s work has appeared in various online and print journals and in several collections, most recently The Suburbs of Atlantis. (AA Press, 2013.)