Untitled Country Review (ISSN 2152-7903), published quarterly during 2010-2013, features poetry, book reviews, photography, and short works of non-fiction. Thank you for visiting.

Issue 2: William Doreski

Hot Zone


We're looting the weathered houses,
which even the vandals have avoided;
but the Commission burned the furniture,
and the survivors packed whatever
passed the Geiger test.

In a house of flowered wallpaper
we find behind glass cupboard doors,
a set of first editions from the Fifties:
Kerouac, Bellow, Lowell, Ginsberg,
McCarthy, Roth.

Something ghostly and enclosed

deters us from handling the books;
but something pithy and cruel
pushes me through a membrane

and I grab On the Road in perfect

dust jacket, wrap it in newspaper,
and pack it in my rucksack.    

She looks startled, perhaps
a subterranean protest; perhaps
she feels the earth's gesture,

an unsentimental shudder.
I don't care how radioactive

the books are--I'll have them
anyway, I say. So we slump, tote
heavy bags to the car; the air seems
thicker and tastes of snow. The vacant
houses, for a moment, fill with faces

full of longing, an effect of cold
winter sundown.  

We drive 

as fast as we dare
over unplowed roads, escape
the hot zone, leave the warp
in dimensions rupturing

our memory of the Fifties,
when atomic energy was good for us,
when the radiance of flesh enforced
lives that assured the state

of sufficient yield to replace us
with little human isotopes
more eager than we to obey
the imperatives of a faith
that corrupts what it fails to kill.

--William Doreski

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