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A Little History of Warfare by William Doreski

Halfway across Main at dusk

I stall in the flare of your headlights

You’re driving too fast with your hair

aflame and vodka soiling your breath.

But you stop in a stink of rubber

and scream about guerilla struggles

in lonely nations full of citizens

too exhausted to fall in love.

Pakistan, Sri Lanka, the former

Belgian Congo: you’ve been there,

and have lived in the dark all your life.

Shouting into your mobile phone,

you report the capture of one

sad fellow, an “army of one,”

as recruiting posters call him.

With my briefcase and tote bag full

of unreadable books I’m hardly

a threat to state security;

but tragic as Jocasta you slur

me into a strong landscape far

back in time, when grown men fought

barehanded for glory enough

to rouse drunken poets from stupors

and incite their eloquent praise.

You abandon your car in the street

and drag me to the Blue Trout bar

for a round of gray refreshment.

You confide that guerilla warfare

has lost its kick, that subversives

like me no longer excite you.

So you rake your gaze over men

young enough to marry your daughter,

but find them also lacking

the armor the classical hero

wears to ward off the mockery

that could drop him to his knees.


William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire. He has taught at several colleges and universities. His most recent book of poetry is Dogs Don’t Care (2022). His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in various journals.


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