John Dorsey: Four Poems

John Dorsey is the author of several collections of poetry, including Sodomy is a City in New Jersey (American Mettle Books, 2010), Tombstone Factory (Epic Rites Press, 2013) and most recently, Appalachian Frankenstein (GTK Press, 2015). His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He may be reached at

The Deer Hunter

in greensburg
every boy dreamt
of getting a hunting license
by the age of 12
talking about pickup trucks
shell casings and what sort of antlers
they wanted to have hanging
on the wall in their parents basement
pat was legally blind at birth
but wanted to be
the pride of his moose lodge
just like everyone else
turned down flat after an eye exam
he waited until after dark
before going into the closet
to find his father’s favorite rifle
and headed out into the woods
after a few hours spent freezing
his ass off
in faded camouflage cut offs
he heard something coming toward him
and fired rapidly into the night
as the sun came up
he struggled to push
a dying cow
across several fields to his house
thinking the whole time
that he had bagged the biggest deer in the county
and after his father
was forced to pay
a very angry farmer 800 bucks
he never heard the end of it
when he got engaged years later
someone said, “why buy the cow,
when you can get the milk for free?”
he just winced
saying that even milk
ran down his lips
like blood.


once told me i was sexier than jesus
but then everyone looks better
at 3:30 in the morning
when you’re microwaving
a frozen burrito
that was before she started sleeping
with the building’s resident heroin dealer
that was before the fights
and the restless nights
at the cherry street mission
once she invited me into her room
covered with porno tapes from the 1970’s
for a sex toy party on her birthday
i told her i had to run out
and that just because i was smart enough
not to step in a puddle
during a lightning storm
that didn’t mean
that i could walk on water.


once told terry
“i’m serving it up on a silver platter,
you’re just not coming to dinner.”
dead by the age of thirty
her heart exploded on the inside
like a malfunctioning volcano
at an 8th grade science fair
leaving behind three small children
by as many fathers
the daughter of a millionaire
whose money didn’t help
her sleep at night
an artist turned crackwhore
she said that picking
the perfect rock
was like shopping for produce
and that sucking cock
could be an art too.


worked part time as a driver
for his older sister’s escort service
and played guitar on the weekends
smoking weed sunup to sundown
once offering me the pipe
that’s when he told me
that he had switched to crack
just for inspiration’s sake
and i motioned him away
but when our friend patrice got hooked
it was eric who saved her
from a near pistol whipping
from the biggest coke dealer in the city
eric who told me about how
he had to toss his girlfriend around the room
once smacking her head into a cast iron radiator
just to get off
eric who may or not
have raped a young painter
on the second floor
causing her to run off
like a frightened animal
in the middle of the night
eric who choked his best friend unconscious
in the front parking lot on a sunny afternoon
before heading back in
to listen to curtis mayfield
and smoke away what was left
of the crumbling marble
that was his humanity.
(Author photo by Casey Rearick)

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