William Doreski – 3 micro fiction stories

The Beheaded

The beheaded agree that it’s painless and to their benefit. No more fussing over foolish little sentiments. Most of their worries about debt and disease have faded away, leaving only the faintest shimmer in the air. No need to solve the conundrum of body and mind, since the mind has withdrawn to a private lodging. The body goes about its daily chores with dumb persistence. Digging holes, writing briefs, teaching classes, tending the sick and elderly. The head, deprived of a blood supply, quickly fossilizes. Its new stony outlook applies itself to the political necessities of our brave new world. It succeeds by ignoring all human concerns. The seas part, the earth opens. The beheaded neither notice nor care. Their pain no longer applies to themselves but to others. To us, who sit in the long, long waiting room hoping that when our turn comes the blade will still be sharp enough to part our hair without stirring the faintest breeze.





Going Bump in the Night

We’re writhing on a blanket spread on the grave of Edward MacDowell. He approves of our midnight exercise. His music often took that form. The sickly August dark thickens with algae blooms. Planets fester in slowly decaying orbits. Meteors flash and die. You reach a moment of truth, your skin too pale to reflect the dark but your mind brimming like an inland sea. Such grist for each other’s mill. I’ve stalled like that famous elephant, the mood draining out of me. The routine dulled me long ago, but we agreed to mutual delving for the sake of our future memoirs. Yet it’s pointless. We should give up as abruptly as we began, fold the blanket neatly, and leave the gravesite grinning with wordless gossip. But no, we have to complete ourselves, the dumpling stars bumping through a silence excited by their brilliance. We gnash and grind and manage to topple each other into darkness much darker than the night itself, or any of the graves it inspires.





Ghost to Ghost

The house we’ve tired of haunting has gone on the market. We’ll have to leave, dragging our chains and informing our linen service. The owner is moving to Paris, where her grandchild is a perfect little confection. Being ghosts, we can read the future, and it doesn’t look so good. Drugs, unwanted pregnancies, and a sneer that will strip the paint from the walls. But we can’t pierce the membrane between life and death to warn our host that she’s on a fool’s errand. Let’s step outside into the sunlight where no one can see us. I love this transparency, don’t you? Having doffed our sheets, we’re as naked as sandstone, but no one can see us. We can wriggle right up to a courting couple and insinuate ourselves. We can creep into church for the noontime organ concert and slip right through the pipes, smoking into musical shapes only we can appreciate. But let’s wander down to the harbor and waft ourselves out to the islands. Don’t you enjoy the sea air? Although we lack lungs, it both fills and becomes us, and we become it. A huge cloud of ghost now looms over the harbor, over the city, over the dimpled little islands. No one sees or feels it, no one believes in it. But we too believed in nothing, and look at us now.





William Doreski


William Doreski – 2 poems

Depicted by Hieronymus Bosch



The forest creeps a little closer

to overhear my phone calls

and learn if I think the sky

will fall in pieces or as one

gigantic plastic membrane.

The trees have reason to worry.



Their plumes of foliage droop

in a toxic atmosphere no one

should breathe unless depicted

by Hieronymus Bosch. You agree

that we should fly to Holland

to enjoy the Bosch exhibit,



but your passport has expired

and you won’t be photographed

for a new one because you look

too old and tired to travel.

The forest nods as we converse.

Crows spackle the windy glare.


Chickadees percolate at feeders.

I want to hang up on you

and recover the youth wasted

on being young. The city

you haunt looms taller than hills

in Kansas or Wisconsin.



Its lights bleed the night sky pallid.

Its bridges knit together worlds

that don’t really love each other.

Hearing your voice originate

two hundred miles southwest

of me generates sensations


trees would mistake for beavers

gnawing at their trunks. I wave

to the crows, the windy treetops,

the bobcat who daily prowls

for mice that gather seed-scraps

beneath the feeders. You note


how distracted I seem. The trees

agree that the sky will fall soon,

but I can’t speak loudly enough

to assure them that such collapse

will only slightly mar the cosmos

and leave most of the stars intact.






Drift Threatens


An exploded map of Paris

marked with arrows of varied

thickness tracking tendencies

of pedestrians to wander this

way or that, pursuing the error

someone called “dérive” or “drift.”



These psychogeographic

gradients are difficult to trace,

but I catch them in your expression

as you grind gears while mired

in memory, a sinkhole into which

the ugliest silences creep


to reproduce and fester in swarms.

We can’t determine who asked whom

to marry on a drab August day

when cicadas chirred in the elms

no more than we can follow this map

because Paris has not exploded


and the erring ways of flaneurs

entered us well before our births.

Drift threatens, yes, but the cries

of unborn generations tangle

in the shrubbery where last year’s

strings of Christmas lights still lurk.


Your face, a map of our long,

long lives together and apart,

accommodates a smile so brilliant

that being beheaded by it

would be a privilege. The map

amuses but doesn’t instruct.



The arrows look like schooling fish

and the white space flowing amid

selected and depicted quarters

reminds me how blank you look

when your featured ghosts appear,

dragging us both behind them.




William Doreski