Somber as Hades

William Doreski


Fireworks blush the dark. Pink sparks

rain through the forest. My neighbor

ends his barbecue with a bang.

He doesn’t know his horses

have kicked out the stable doors

and rambled down the road to find

a quiet pasture far from the roar

of drunken middle-aged men

and sizzle of overwrought children.

He doesn’t know I’ve spotted them

ramping past my driveway,  manes

fluttering and hooves so heavy

they dent the freshly paved road.

I should cross the woods to tell him,

but the gnash of fireworks overhead

competes with ordinary starlight

and blinds me to the path. The smoke,

a cloud of dreamy rouge, sprawls

through the treetops, dissipates

in the resumption of midnight.

The barbecue breaks up. Men too thick

to drive propel their pickups

down the road after their wives

have begged vainly for the keys.

I hope they don’t hit the horses

trembling on the fern-lit shoulder.

I hope that bulky innocence

finds its way back to the stable

where gelding and mare reside

usually without fussing or neighing

or otherwise protesting their lot.

Fireworks spent, the dark seems darker.

The neighbor hosing the coals

of his huge barbecue pit looks

somber as Hades. I’d tell him

his horses are loose, but he’d shrug,

douse his fire, and let the nature

he despises take its course.



William Doreski’s most recent collection of poetry is City of Palms (2012).  His work has appeared in many journals, including Massachusetts Review, Notre Dame Review, The Alembic, New England Quarterly, Harvard Review, and Natural Bridge. He lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire and teaches writing and literature at Keene State College.