John Dorsey

What a Young Boy Sees in Oak Ridge, Tennessee on the Day of the Kennedy Assassination

the landscape is everything & nothing here
a fortress of trees & flowing rivers
holding in your limitless imagination
birds covered in blood
pine cones covered in blood
you learn to run your fingers through it
the sunset will always remind you of this day
which will always remind you of death
that final school bell
hiding from castro
under a wooden desk
while the boy down the street
folds his hands together
passing notes to jesus.


Tornado Dream Poem

for steve brisendine

you say you’ve never seen a tornado
but this isn’t some dance competition
where we see who blinks first

nobody ever saw a leaf
move that fast
to get over
the johnson county line

it doesn’t matter
if you know how to sing
the wind will howl


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) and Shoot the Messenger (Red Flag Poetry, 2017),Your Daughter’s Country (Blue Horse Press, 2019), Which Way to the River: Selected Poems 2016-2020 (OAC Books, 2020), Afterlife Karaoke (Crisis Chronicles Press, 2021) and Sundown at the Redneck Carnival, (Spartan Press, 2022). His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and the Stanley Hanks Memorial Poetry Prize. He was the winner of the 2019 Terri Award given out at the Poetry Rendezvous. He may be reached at