Trieste, Kiev, Malta
William Doreski



Digging up the septic tank

takes only a few minutes,

but gathering the courage

to lift in the lid takes longer.


Inside, a murmur of voices.

Tiny people living there,

famous people from politics

and the arts. Smaller versions


of the celebrities who haunt

the TV screen or hog all the space

in magazines. Smaller but

actually the same. Too many


TV appearances, photos

in glossy perfumed monthlies,

radio talk-show sessions

have resized them. Now they’re living


in my septic tank because

the atmosphere’s ripe with nutrients,

and the dark preserves their delicate

complexions. As I lift the lid


they protest, squinting against the light.

I try to explain that their presence

has caused my plumbing to back up,

but from their privileged point of view


I’m no one, a taxpayer

without a voice or status,

a mortgage-holder, credit-card

debtor, merely a cog in the wheel.


They chat among themselves in tones

I recognize from Vanity Fair.

Their clothing, despite the small size,

cost more than my house and cars.


I replace the lid, open the cap

on the main pipe in the basement,

and flush powerful chemicals

down to pulverize the clot.


Tiny screams as the chemicals work

fail to move me. So far away,

so remote from human concerns,

they tinkle like wind chimes


on a balcony overlooking

Trieste, Kiev, Malta—places

I’ve hardly even imagined

and could never afford to see.





William Doreski's work has appeared in various e and print journals and in several collections, most recently Waiting for the Angel (Pygmy Forest Press, 2009).