A mural of a massive wave

painted on a concrete wall

can’t provoke a disaster,


can it? Fenced off so no one

can smut it with graffiti,

this careful reproduction


of Hokusai’s Under a Wave

Off Kanagawa convinces

that such prehensile vigor


could claw the flesh from the bone

and leave the stony planet naked.

Hokusai liked to trigger fear


in admirers of his sentient forms.

His woodblocks invoke forces

shaped by natural enmity


to mock human fragility

and make us feel small. Painting

this image on a wall overstates


the case, but we’re all believers,

and the weight of that cresting wave

overwhelms the usual doubts.



William Doreski’s most recent book is A Black River, A Dark Fall (2018). His poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in many journals. He lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire, USA.