William Doreski

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In the Goodwill Basement

Junk in the Goodwill basementArtwork by Gene McCormick
gloats with the true pride of kitsch.

Flowered, enameled, molded
to grace the average homestead,

these objects defy description,
but attract with those subliminal

powers only art possesses.
I’ve never bought such a thing,

but you browse with the ardor
of a scholar of pop culture,

your officious beard probing
for Elvis Presley or Beatles cast

in ceramic or rubbery vinyl.
I wish I could involve myself

in these shelves of cheap décor,
but plastic penguins and vases

painted with misbegotten roses
fail to hold my eye for more

than a second or two. While
you examine a large serving tray

decorated with mealy faces
supposed to be the Rolling Stones,

I spot a man stealing the Virgin
Mary, stuffing her in a pocket

sewn inside his coat. Intrigued,
I follow him to the stairs where

he pauses to scan the huge room
before ascending and strolling past

the registers where small change rattles
from creaky old leather purses                                                

and ones and fives form angel wings.
He exits, leaving a stink of crime.

With renewed respect for religion
and caution on the steep stairway,

I return to watch you fondle
a teapot so round and ugly

I know you’ll either buy it
or regret it for decades to come.


William Doreski has published three critical studies and several collections of poetry. His work has appeared in many print and online journals. He has taught at Emerson College, Goddard College, Boston University, and Keene State College. His most recent books are Water Music and Train to Providence, a collaboration with photographer Rodger Kingston