The Works of John Dorsey

John Dorsey currently resides in Toledo, OH. He is the author of several collections of poetry including Harvey Keitel, Harvey Keitel, Harvey Keitel with S.A. Griffinand, Scott Wannberg, Butcher Shop Press/Rose of Sharon Press/Temple of Man, 2005. He is also a member of the poetry performance group THE BEARDS.


All Poems © John Dorsey

no help wanted for jessica

i want to write
a confession along the
coastlines of your
lips tapping my fingers
against the wind every
morning jesse james becomes
a dove inside my skin

no help wanted i
hold in a tired
breath you write a
sonnet become a love
poem every day you
tell me just breathe
signs are everywhere smiling
wide war can turn
grown men into beauty
queens there are flowers
only death can smell
here we plant seeds
of love in red earth
the poet's blood painted
on rocks printer's ink
is a pleasant memory

i wear jack gilbert's
tired gloves my heart
covers the sun it
is a puzzle i
can feel you gently
warming up to


sunday afternoon in a sandusky ice cream shop

i stand outside of
myself shaking in the
summer sun there are
things yet to do

moments left to pause
and think about
how if i was
frank o'hara this would
be the exact right
moment in my life to write a
list poem except i'm
not and i can't
ever seem to remember
an exact right time
for anything

so i think about
the old man who was
evicted from my apartment
building on 12th & spruce
after 38yrs to make
way for college students like me

i remember how he
liked to wear a
polyester jacket every day
no matter how hot
it got to be
outside and how the
last time i saw him
he seemed to be riding an
elevator with no real destination

i wear jackets too
made from leather
made from cotton
made from words & flesh
hung together with boyhood dreams
of suicide as if they
were a second skin
but i'm not the
red baron these hands
are not a sanctuary
and i can't really
say what direction our
dreams might take so
play it as it lays

i stand there thinking
about how melted ice cream
is a good representation
of our potential and how
that old man once
called me a spider
twice removed from miracles and how
this is as good
a time as any
to tell you that
it is august and
that my hands shaking

i want to make
a list of flesh & blood & poems

i want to throw
scrapes of this moment
to the wolves in heaven

hungry for words

whatever their final destination



the great depression

there seems to be
a cure for everything now days
just pop a pill
turn on a television
that sings lullabies and
tells you that everything will be alright

we live in a
country that says the
great depression was never
anything personal yet we
die inside its walls every day

my depression is behind
on the rent it
spent my dreams on
old bessie smith records
most days my heart
feels like a lost
blues opera by fats
waller a tall tale
by any stretch of
the imagination madness where
i sing the river
electric in ghost tongue
as my eyes fill
up with alligator tears
and voodoo dreams for the big easy

my dreams sweat every
night shaking like typewriter
keys palsied hands that
drip words from ghostwritten
pulp novels when skeletons dance here
it is usually in the rain

sometimes these walls stare
back at me looking
for answers sometimes they
want to hollow out
our language with a shotgun
and sometimes when i'm
being honest i'll admit
that i want to do that too

most nights it feels like
there is a hooverville inside
my brain built from
soggy cardboard and used
takeout menus where i
end up having to
share a bathroom with the dead
where at night i
watch neighborhood kids
make dream forts out
of the emperor's new clothes
because they can't afford
to dream of ice cream

and where when the
lights go out that
doesn't mean there's a vacancy
but simply no place
left to call home