Painting the Market Black by William Doreski

Although we’ve bought the market,
the meat cutters still cheat us
by putting their thumbs on the scales.

To punish them we’re painting
the building black, inside and out.
The brushes grow heavy. The paint

seems unnaturally thick. The building
becomes the shadow of a building;
then as we brush the last few strokes

it disappears. The meat cutters,
cashiers, and stock boys cough
a few muffled screams, and that’s that.

What have we done? We’d planned
to give the market to the college.
Business students could have run it

not for profit but to suffer
the first pangs of failure. Now
we face a pool of dark where

the building stood. Police arrive,
but after the first officer steps
into the dark and disappears

the others back away and shrug.
With your usual quick thinking
you rush to the hardware store

to buy paint remover and brooms.
From a safe distance we swab
the ruins with smelly chemicals.

Gradually the building recurs.
Meat cutters, cashiers, and stock boys
emerge, wheezing with the fumes.

Everyone has survived. The head
meat cutter clutches a frozen
suckling pig, stuffed and ready

for the oven. He presents it
to us with a bow. Horrified,
we reject the offering

and vow to donate the market
to the college tomorrow, hoping
that dead pig won’t soil our dreams.


William Doreski’s most recent collection of poetry is Waiting for the Angel (2009).  His work has appeared in many journals, including Massachusetts Review, Notre Dame Review, The Alembic, New England Quarterly, Harvard Review, Natural Bridge.

© 2012 William Doreski