Brick houses step down the hill like stairs. Steep enough for each house to look over the one below and observe the misty distance where blast furnaces used to scorch the atmosphere with steel blue fumes. “Block Watch” reads a green sign on a black electrical pole. Watch what? Nothing happens except the occasional runaway car, slipping its parking brake and freewheeling down the slope to crumple a few fenders before creaking and slewing to a halt. The big verandahs offer excellent views of the sidewalk and street. Geraniums decorate several, and slat-backed chairs wait for sultry rumps to occupy them. Two-and-a-half story houses, dormers on the third floor, some with striped canvas awnings. Real canvas, not flimsy plastic. That’s the last luxury touch this neighborhood offers. That and the tree-fringed view toward the river. Metal railings, poured concrete steps, doorways into dusky rooms that never admit strangers. No one home except on the third verandah, where that fellow in the thick white sweater stares from his perch.

William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire. He has published three critical studies and several collections of poetry. His work has appeared in many journals. He has taught writing and literature at Emerson, Goddard, Boston University, and Keene State College. His new poetry collection is A Black River, A Dark Fall. He Tweets @wdoreski.

He blogs at

June 8, 2018

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