“Daydreams, Day-drinking, and Dingoes”
The red dirt in Australia looks like clown lipstick.
The tour guide places his cap upside down on the steps
from the belly of the inside of the misplaced shark of a bus.
I see him drop a fiver inside before he lets the first victim
step over it into the parched desert sand.
Meanwhile, they pass laws in Washington state
enforcing bans on plastic straws. I see a senator place
his cap upside down on the steps from inside the Capitol
onto the imported grass; place inside a one-hundred-dollar bill.
The tour guide pushes the first visitor down the steps
at breakneck speed. He needs his straws for sipping protein
drinks in the hospital bed. He begs for soda. The nurse tells
him how bad it is for the body. He doesn’t need a lecture, please.
A pack of dingoes surrounds our bus. They jump as high
as window levels, showing sharp, white teeth. This is not
what I paid for.
Escapees sit in cool confines, sipping red wine from Queensland
and martinis under cancer-blocking screens, indigenous lizards
scaling the sides of the restaurant walls. There are spiders
as big as the back on my hand; hungry crocodiles surfacing in the pool;
and neurotic kangaroos spinning dust storms with their powerful tails.
Meanwhile, I want to dive from the 3-meter board, spinning my body
like a an rogue missile, up, up into the sky, pushing my jowls into the air
from proper perspective. My coach says no, that I will have unpaid hospital
bills and a sense of over-accomplishment. I spread the towel in the front
seat and plant my wet body into position like a seed in rich, dark soil.
“I French Kissed Winter in the Mouth”
I moved to the Ozarks in the autumn,
just before my throat closed for the dead
of winter. It saved my soul.
The stairs of my new two-bedroom
apartment in a four-story Victorian house
sits of the lip of a cliff, 400 deadly feet
down into a ravine of rock and unidentified
vegetation which would absorb blood like
a sponge. I am on the third floor with a panoramic
view of the knobs of hills that wear canopies of trees
like house slippers.
The first night I finally got to sit in my recliner
and look out the window, I saw the fog moving
in over the tops of golden leaves like a robber
in the middle of the night. My spine tingled
for the first time in months. I sat and cried
because it was so beautiful. I am old and set
and open and wet. I never knew this side of me.
Winter moved in viciously as fast as an automobile
accident. My life flashed before my eyes. They all
say that that happens, and it really does, and it makes
me feel like I’m on a roller coaster – the hills and dips
with fast blood being slung to the top of my head.
I long to be in bed with you.
I was lonely on some nights and that was fuel
for the fire. I warmed my bed with a cat and
and extra blanket. We woke at 3 AM to the sound
of sleet and ice hitting the balcony and suddenly
I was snug and warm and opened the curtains
to see the ice accumulating on the burgundy wood.
I saw your face out in the trees, your eyes full of frozen
tears. It was good.
“Coffee & Beans”
The essence of camping out can be
epitomized with cowboy coffee and
a big pot of beans. Until you take LSD
and reach the very highest plane of existence,
understand every detail of everything ever
put on the planet Earth, and fall to a new low
after shitting in your pants, falling in the mud,
and presenting yourself before a woman and her
two children walking out of the campsite bathroom
on their way to church. That’s when you know
that you may have hit your lowest low.
“A Near Lick-and-Run at Walmart”
Teenage boy in Walmart,
(bastions for truly terrible events)
standing by the frozen treats,
peering inside, then looking
back at the head of the aisle
to see a teenage girl, poised
like a ballerina with phone
in recording position. I take
my time. I am a curious sort.
Is it going to be a case
of lick-and-run? What flavor
I wonder? Ice cream or gelato?
A Mrs. Edwards pie perhaps?
They are getting impatient with
me, I can tell. Tough stuff I say
under my breath. Three can play
I scam the frozen items like I
have a built-in code scanner.
I have all day. I can pretend
I’m a Secret Shopper. The girl
sighs loud enough for me
to hear. The guy looks at me
with disgust. “Can’t make up
your mind?” I quiz. “Go away!”
he demands. “Not gunna. Can’t
make up my mind.”
There are visible butt cracks on Aisle 4
and a woman covered with pit bull
tatts and dirt house slippers between us
now. I tell Bev, the associate manager,
that she should watch those two teens
because they are gonna do a lick-and-
run, I just know they are. She looks
puzzled and asks me what she’s
supposed to do. I shrug. “I dunno,
You get the big money. Now place
“Breakfast of Champions”
Breakfast is a way to trick your body into thinking
it’s still alive. And needs attention and yogurt. Or
waffles with thick strawberry sauce. Sausage and
bacon does not clog your arteries. Your brain does
that; coagulates far-out fiction into hard-core
reality, making you think that the doctor’s orders
Breakfast is for meeting in diners with
bad acoustics and unraveling your plans, yelling
at strangers across a sea of tables that you are moving
across the country; to reveal that you are adopted
and that your new family needs you to share in their
drama. I like the regularity with which the server rounds
the corner table, balancing three platters, four half-empty
glasses, and a pot of black, robust coffee, asking
you for the fourth time if you’d like a refill.
Breakfast for Jesus, I’ve heard, was honey and
locust, protein and carbs for performing all those
miracles. He didn’t need an energy shake, or
cage-free eggs, or a fancy-ass latte. He didn’t
need fat-free milk or Eggs Benedict, no orange
juice or bacon. He just made up his mind
that today was gonna be a good day, that he
had a backlog of things to accomplish, started
early, and didn’t quit until the cock crowed
My breakfast is becoming a god. I dream
about it and pray over it and swallow it with
complete abandon. It starts my day with a punch
and solves my problems for at least two glorious hours.
Whether John Dorroh taught any secondary science is still being discussed. However, he managed to show up every morning at 6:45 for a couple of decades with at least two lesson plans and a thermos of robust Colombian. His poetry has appeared in about 75 journals, including Dime Show Review, North Dakota Quarterly, Os Pressan, Feral, Selcouth Station, and Red Dirt Forum/Press. He also writes short fiction and the occasional rant.