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Friday, April 19, 2024

New poems: John Dorsey


In a Dream Where You Have One Eye


they told you this would become your new normal

but not that it would change your dreams

birds with one wing

a beautiful girl with a lopsided head

anything to make yourself feel average

half as much rain

twice as much love

for little things

big noises 

that unfold into minor tragedies 

you listen to the sound of thunder

while sitting on the toilet half asleep

you imagine a childhood that seemed almost mundane

but it all led you here

where you realize 

that you don’t have a flashlight

or anything to put out a fire

you start coughing 

& reach for a glass of water

you remember your grandmother had rose bushes

you search for her 

in the storm you imagine every night

cool air running its fingers along your skin

the sun always hiding 

half of its face under a warm pillow

never offering a torch in the darkness

so you don’t even blink

you don’t want to miss anything.




The Dead Sea is on Life Support


& all i can write about is cancer

especially after 10 pm

when the earth shakes

& my lips taste like salt 

& worry

when all i can think about 

is how you & i are just god’s bowling trophies 

tossed aside into the dusky basements of heaven 

where it’s all sink or swim

but rarely has anything to do with natural causes

where we press leaves 

into any high school yearbook 

that will have us

as we close our eyes 

& drown every night

our limbs paddling through 

unnatural bodies of water

where we wash up in dreams

of an invisible ocean 

where we’ll never touch bottom 

in a sea of stolen memories.





 Poem for David M.Taylor


all across campus

grown men blow leaves

from one side of the pavement to another

men with families 

who don’t care 

whether they’re oak 


or elm

as long as there

are health benefits

at the end of the day

& you joke 

that every time i sneeze 

another poem comes out

but i’ve sneezed three times 

in the last hour

& all i can do is shake

while reading about an actor 

who died of cancer at 53 

while i watch a hummingbird fly away

& listen to stray gunshots 

coming from the woods

but that only makes up 

about half a poem at most

it certainly isn’t music 

on a cold morning

i wipe my nose

on my shirt sleeve

like a child

who has never had to blow leaves

only love them

& there are still no words

as i wave my arms up & down

like a dying bird

without ever once 

reaching for a pen.




John Dorsey is the former Poet Laureate of Belle, MO. He is the author of several collections of poetry, including Which Way to the River: Selected Poems: 2016-2020 (OAC Books, 2020), Sundown at the Redneck Carnival, (Spartan Press, 2022, and Pocatello Wildflower, (Crisis Chronicles Press, 2023). He may be reached at