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John Dorsey

The Patriotic Gutters of Purcell, Oklahoma

In Kansas Thinking of You

The Patriotic Gutters of Pursell, Oklahoma

the museums of the dead
were built for small corners like this
dust covering the highways
once kicked up by horses
made of bronze and flesh
where they remember the wars
but forget the bones

forget the ghost dancers
who once thumbed a ride
to wounded knee

forget the half built railroads
that cluttered the hearts of men

forget the blood
on the hands of young lovers
who died so we could hold hands
in the moonlight

because romeo & juliet
refused to throw rocks at the sun

running into half empty gas stations
in search of day old barbecue

while the dead swing chicken bones
in the rain like the warriors
they once were

while the half starved dogs
we imagine ourselves to be
become skeletons in the night air


save yourselves

there are saints
buried under your feet.

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In Kansas Thinking of You

for cherie

ted berrigan would never text
with his fingers
along your skin
he would call you
to borrow some money or pills
he would give you some story
about how the moon looks beautiful
while sipping a pepsi
he would use strong words
& dance nude with donna dennis
on your parents front lawn
they, your parents, would offer him
iced tea & cucumber sandwiches
while talking about the moon landing
about how it seemed like a lot of work

you would sit there in flower patterned pajamas
while he told you that you deserve to have words
wrapped around you like oak trees

& all i have to offer you is the kansas wind
something of the earth
my own thoughts on love
which i know isn’t much.

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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), Shoot the Messenger (Red Flag Press, 2017), and Letting the Meat Rest (Spartan 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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