Three Poems by John Dorsey

Poem For Denis Johnson

every morning
i’d sit on the steps
of the university
while jesus’ son filmed
across the street

billy would stop by
and tell me
about fetching breakfast burritos
for angry movie stars

there was no lens there
to capture his pain
as he talked about
getting the orders wrong
for the 12th time in 2 weeks
before getting up to start the day
all over again

redemption stories
weren’t meant to start at 6 am
on a tuesday.


At New Derry Theater

someone had spray painted
mr. rogers was a straight edge
along the side entrance

frankie & doug talked about shakespeare
as couples made out
with hardcore bands
rumbling in the background

i came up with and then forgot
the greatest poem ever written
at least fifteen times that night
the way you do at seventeen

all i could remember
is that i was in love.


Goat Song

most mornings
it isn’t about
being able to carry a tune

death sounds the same regardless.



John Dorsey lived for several years in Toledo, Ohio. He is the author of several collections of poetry, including Teaching the Dead to Sing: The Outlaw’s Prayer (Rose of Sharon Press 2006), Sodomy is a City in New Jersey (American Mettle Books 2010), Tombstone Factory (Epic Rites Press 2013), Appalachian Frankenstein (GTK Press 2015), Being the Fire (Tangerine Press, 2016), and Shoot the Messenger (Red Flag Press 2017). He is the current Poet Laureate of Belle, MO. His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He may be reached at



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