The corpse of a woman strangled
by Whitey Bulger in Southie
decades ago has returned
to indict me. For what? you ask.
For haunting West Broadway bars,
for sex in parked cars, for shuffling
through eight-to-four workdays
without the faintest ambition,
for watching fires from a distance,
for hearing and admiring false chords.
How much timid breathing can a man
respect from uncanny distance?
No wonder the corpse follows me
through the streets of Cambridge where
authentic Southies never tread.
I hear it dragging its soggy bulk
along filthy sidewalks, leaving
a snail-track of slime. I see it
window-shopping vacant storefronts
boarded against such atrocities.
When I climb ten flights of stairs
to our view of the Longfellow Bridge
it slops behind me and whimpers
outside the double-locked door.
You’ve heard it. You understand
why the gangster thought that strangling it
would solve insoluble problems,
thought that it would stay buried
until bugles blew from the heights.
Yet you won’t help me exorcise
this unjust haunting because
you believe it’s good for me—
the fragrance of the risen dead
a discord rich as the seashore,
but far more quickly absorbed.
William Doreski’s work has appeared in various e and print journals and in several collections, most recently The Suburbs of Atlantis (AA Press, 2013).