Dogs playing poker

you can feel their chants     a whisper
on the back         of your neck
the ghosts of unborn children           know
to place pennies over your eyes
                                                     when dreaming

to keep quiet
to pay the ferryman
that time requires                            a certain amount of levity
that love asks for a leap of faith        but sometimes
just needs her beauty sleep

              over their objections          death is laughing
over time, the poet             death is laughing
as if this were staten island
as if this were ellis island
as if this were the coney island
                                                     of lawrence ferlinghetti's mind
time is laughing
how long has this been going on?
the ghosts of unborn children           you know
that i was almost one of you
a loveletter placed in a bottle
strewn off some pier
in the hawaiian islands
                                                    almost never sent

            over time,              death is laughing
over our objections             the poet    death is laughing
and under a streetlight        ghost boys sit skipping stones

             ghost girls play hopscotch with spirits            emptied out bottles of dewars
             if you listen carefully         you can hear their chants
like those monks   recorded on cd
we are simply dogs playing poker                we are the ripple
death is laughing
                                        so don't adjust your
                                        tv set
that ping
that pitter patter
it's just your whisper
it's just a shadow child
it's just the laughtrack
                                         kicking in

the politics of modern dance

on the news
they are talking about war
blah blah blah

i find it all very depressing
what the american people should really be worried about
is me on a dance floor

move over fred astaire
i wasn't blessed with
the gift of tap

when they blew up the world trade center
my feet...
were the bomb we never saw coming

they are going to send our boys
to a land i've never seen
& i can't two step

i once told a woman that great poets can't dance
& she laughed
saying that i must be the greatest poet since shakespeare

don't get me wrong
it's not like i don't care
it's just that i might want to get married someday

& the thought of that first dance
freaks me out more than any stray bullet
that might hit everything but my feet

what the troops need is someone like John Travolta
as a drill instructor
i don't imagine that George W can dance any better than i can

& lately i've been thinking
that all our problems
can be boiled down to a simple lack of rhythm

so you won't catch me
doing one last tango in paris texas
my steps would be the shot heard around the world

louder than the screams
from any
fallen shuttle

so when everything passes
or until we experience
the kind of end
that jim morrison must have been talking about

i'll just send a silent prayer to mr. bojangles
who must be rolling over in his grave
with the knowledge
that america can no longer get by on fancy footwork

i was born dead

to a mother 6 months pregnant
bracelet around my wrist
like a noose
with a baby ghost heart

beating a fading truth
the kind you have never spoken
or known
and i can't remember

the last time
you smiled
waiting to be

faintly pounding
on the door of my apartment
another birthday gone by

a mute whisper
on some forgotten god's
billowing tongue          

John Dorsey is 27yrs old, and currently resides in Toledo Ohio. His work has
recently appeared in fearless, Spent Meat, James River Poetry Review, Typewriter
Voodoo, Out of Order, and Mystery Island Magazine, as well as the recent
collections, "Little Boy Beat:Selected Poems" Paladin M&E, Inc. 2004, and "The
Dusty and Lofty Dreams of Middle Class Fairy Princesses" James River Poetry Review

2004 Underground Voices