William Doreski

The Troupe of Famous Nudes

The troupe of famous nudes resides
in the paint-boxes of Paris.
High rents have driven artists
to the cheapest cafes to drink
the cheapest yellow potions.
You collect plots and trivia
and worry about the failure
of those nudes to adorn themselves
in textures warmer than paint.

Now it’s too late. Out of fashion,
contemporized in twists and twirls,
sized in whisky, sealed with aloe,
the art of the moment adheres
to the roughest old surfaces
and thumbs its forms at the cant
trendy two centuries ago.

No way for the famous nudes
to perform their excruciating
ballets without offending
properly textiled women
and those pale and self-conscious men
who trail in the Titanic’s wake
to recover the floating debris.

I’m too old to muster a rage
sculpted to the daily angst.
I can’t to fly to Paris merely
to pry open those paint-boxes
in the basements of museums
where formerly famous nudes hang
dejected in dusty galleries.
Yet you expect me to resolve
the angle at which politics
speak to aesthetics, a gray place
crammed with many carcasses.

In your boxes of trivia
and folders of time-worn plots
you must find the man who stumbles
over a famous nude in the dark.
He tosses his jacket over her
not to preserve her innocence
or dignity but to salvage
chaos from the disorder of form,
his heartbeat thick as a pudding.


William Doreski has published three critical studies and several collections of poetry. His work has appeared in various 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.

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