Archive for the John Dorsey Category

Dying like Dogs by John Dorsey

Posted in John Dorsey on October 7, 2018 by Scot


even as a kid
i can remember
that my mother’s sister
could never let go of anything
spending thousands to
to keep a dying german shepherd alive
for a few more months

a beagle for a few more fleeting weeks

& now sitting outside
drinking iced tea
on a warm spring day
my mother says that she
is thinking about making me
the family executor

it’s not because of the cold killer instinct
that i jokingly claim to have
that thing that pennsylvania winters
just seem to instill in you at birth
like having to let your favorite sports teams hopes
go out with the frost

it’s only that my father
is not a labrador

& she is not a teacup poodle
no matter what her latest haircut
might lead you to believe

it’s just that they
don’t want to die
like dogs.


Rodney was Afraid by John Dorsey

Posted in John Dorsey with tags on December 3, 2017 by Scot

Rodney was Afraid

to have a kid
“that’s why i waited so long,” he says
now in his 40s
he points to a framed picture
of his daughter dangling on a loose nail
in the hallway

“she could’ve ended up just like me,”
he says talking about our days
in a classroom for kids with learning disabilities

he tells me she has a real head for numbers

& here he is with a 9th grade education

afraid now that soon
they’ll be coming for our guns

i tell him that the world ended years ago
that they just forgot to tell us

he just laughs

saying “that if custer’s last stand taught us anything,
nobody is getting out of here alive”

the numbers just don’t add up

& here he is making 80 grand a year

driving a fuel truck in the dead of winter

the bones of sunlight
crushed out under his boot soles

just waiting

for someone

to light a match.

The Years We Remained Anonymous by John Dorsey

Posted in John Dorsey with tags , on November 25, 2016 by Scot


waiting for history to moan our names
to carve our initials into a tree
that we can no longer find

the moonlight is no longer happy
just touching the skin of generations
& the road back home
is muddy with blood

there is very little peace

in any of it.

Rodney Says by John Dorsey

Posted in John Dorsey with tags , on November 19, 2016 by Scot

Rodney Says

the one thing he can’t stand are niggers
that the only colors we should be concerned about are-





we grew up a mile apart
with the same dirt
under our fingernails

he tells me about his heart attack

we have known each other
since we were ten years old
& looking at him now
there is a civil war raging
inside my chest.

Two Poems by John Dorsey

Posted in John Dorsey with tags on December 7, 2015 by Scot

A Fistful of Pie

it was halloween
in old city
as david and i drunkenly skimmed pebbles
across the cobblestone
and looked up to see
a group of middle aged men
waving at us to join the party

being young and stupid
we waited to be buzzed in
and climbed the stairs
toward experience

the owner of the building
was an architect twice my age
who offered me a drink
he said it was his job
to build character
brick by brick
in the hearts
of young men like me

as i looked over at david
he was getting uncomfortably felt up
by a lawyer dressed as a sugar plum fairy
when the single solitary woman there
approached me by the punchbowl
and told me we’d better get going
if we wanted ro remain untouched by time

i placed a bottle of scotch and a pecan pie
in each of my trenchcoat pockets
and motiioned for david
to follow me down the stairs
toward our dorm room
running from the possibilities
of nameless men

a while later
i reached into my pockets
for my keys
forgetting all about the pie
crushed to gooey bits
of crust and baking shrapnel
now covering my fists

looking up at the sky
i thought about how
we’re all dying stars
trying to build character
while searching for beauty
before quietly burning out
in the moonlight.



Singh’s Song

singh had been called a hindu
an arab
a towelhead
a terrorist
decades before the twin towers
ever quivered
and collasped
onto the pavement
and into the pages
of history

he had been born
in the streets
of fresno
driving a cab
almost before he could walk

a sikh
he followed a guru
to center city philadelphia
in search of true human equality

while the rest of the world
followed ronald reagan
through death valley days
and beyond

he would walk into dirty frank’s
on the corner of pine st.
and start singing
after a single beer
as the patrons groaned
and threatened to fight him
on the sidewalk outside
at three in the afternoon
he would plead
with the bartender
to just let him stay
for one more song
on the jukebox

and somehow sarah
came out cheryl i love you
after someone had left
a weathered cheryl teigs calendar
on the backseat of his jitney in 1987
as his face filled with tears
because he knew
equally was too much
to ask for on a sunny day
in a world
where happy hour
rarely comes
for anyone.


Imaginary Foxholes by John Dorsey

Posted in John Dorsey with tags on March 31, 2015 by Scot

20150303_223529Imaginary Foxholes by John Dorsey is selling out fast. No need for a sales pitch. If you know John’s work, you know it is good.  This one may be his best yet.  Illustraions  by Janne Karlsson appear throughout the chap and interpret the poems with just the right amount of edge.  You may purchase this chap published by Rusty Truck Press through John at


$10.00 in the U.S.
$15.00 outside



Review of Michael Lane Bruner’s NATURAL GEOGRAPHICS by John Dorsey

Posted in John Dorsey with tags on February 22, 2015 by Scot

For those of you familiar with the Los Angeles poetry scene of the 1980’s and 90’s, Michael Lane Bruner is probably best known as a performance poet with pioneering touring groups like The Lost Tribe and The Carma Bums and as far as those just a little bit younger, the children of the blogosphere, he may be completely new to you.

I was recently asked for my thoughts on Bruner’s newly minted collection from S.A. Griffin’s Rose of Sharon Press Natural Geographics and so here goes.

All too often I come into a collection with certain expectations, and while I was somewhat familiar Bruner’s work via the Carma Bums anthology Twisted Cadillac: A spoken Word Odyssey, (Sacred Beverage Press, 1996), as well as his contribution to the much beloved anthology The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry, which Griffin Co-Edited with Alan Kaufman, (Thunder’s Mouth Press, 1999), the experience I came away with is not necessarily what I thought it might be when I first turned the page.

brunercoverimagebybillrobertsA mixture of abstraction and poetic metaphor, combined at times with highly personal memories and an ear for metaphysical questioning, Natural Geographics is hardly a high energy performance, instead what Bruner offers the reader, for the most part, is a thoughtful exploration on the question why by examining nature, human and otherwise and his search for the answer in the every day.

While I think I would’ve preferred a more personal narrative on a whole, there are poems here that do offer more answers than questions, more light than shadow into the author himself, such as Mother Is Young and Emergency Room Rainstorm.

Perhaps there is more risk involved in asking the questions, rather than what got us there in terms of our own personal history, instead looking at the impact of civilization on its citizens. Perhaps Bruner sums up what the book is all about in his poem The Hard Truth Gets Carried-

“Strangely nothing personal
just history
what with cremation
no trace at all.”

Maybe in time there will be no trace of anything we’ve built, both in and outside of our minds, until then I suspect that Michael Lane Bruner will keep asking the questions that have gotten him this far.

If I had to recommend this book to a particular readership, I would say that it belongs with books like On The Road, for younger readers still trying to put together the puzzle pieces of what it all means somewhere out there in the greater universe, rather than those looking for truth in their own story or a strait forward narrative that they can relate to in a dirt under their fingernails sorta way. The book took me back to High School, when everything seemed exciting, or at least mildly interesting, before the internet when the world still seemed larger than your average television screen and the Earth still had more regrets than I did.

So while Bruner and I may not be at the same place creatively, I’m glad that he hasn’t lost his sense of wonder, and if you still count the stars at night, and they still whisper the invisible secrets of ancient lands past, present, and future, his voice is a strong one and whether this book is a reexamination of the author’s work or a fleeting first glance into the cosmos of his brain, Natural Geographics questions may contain the answers you’ve been searching for all along. You’ll just have to read it to find out.

-John Dorsey

Natural Geographics
Michael Lane Bruner
Rose of Sharon Press, 2014.
Editor: S.A. Griffin
Printer: Bill Roberts

Ordering info-

Paperbacks in letterpress printed dust jacket are $20 and signed hardcovers are $50 postage included. Please send check/money order to the author at: PO Box 1215 Tucker, GA 30085.