the year joe brainard died

i was in high school
the papers didn't mention
anything it was the
year of charles bukowski
kurt cobain and the teatro caffe
all the kids i knew were
busy wearing a heart shaped
box on their sleeve
i carried a trapper keeper
with kittens on it
my poems tucked inside
sitting in the local
mall my friend mike
mason shaking as he
read one aloud smoking
countless swisser sweet cigars with conviction
i don't remember the conversation
only that mike drove
a beat to shit
73 nova and that
he spent $60 on
egg rolls in 2 days
because he had a
crush on a girl
that worked in the
food court who would
later take out a restraining order

those were the days
pre-trench coat mafia
before bill clinton forgot
to take that dress
to the dry cleaners i
did inhale saw nirvana
at tingles just blocks
away in 1991 kids today
don't smoke like they mean it
i remember that mike
had a nervous condition
had been through the 9th grade
three times and was working
on a 4th i
remember we ran into
this kid i knew
from elementary school who
looked exactly like lee majors
i remember that was
the year j.p. and i watched the
stones for the first
time from nosebleed seats
at three rivers stadium in pittsburgh
trading a poorly rolled
joint for a couple of beers
i remember later that night sitting on the curb
talking to strippers
from the good-n-plenty bar
while we waited for
my aunt to pick us up

hey joe i think
of you now and i remember
many things i remember using
a rolled up atlantic city
sweat shirt as a
pillow on hot summer
nights in south philly
i remember making out
with lauren snow in a
treehouse in penn hills
at the age of 9
around the same time my
grandmother died i remember gregory getting
me a prostitute for
the first time i remember
randall "tex" cobb passed out
drunk on a center city
sidewalk at noon i
remember running into him
weeks later and that he
took everyone to see
"spiderman" down by the
docks i still have
the popcorn box he
signed but i haven't
talked to tyrone in
years i remember the
poncho brenda brought back
from bolivia i still
have it she has
2 children now i
remember drinking for
the first time airline
bottles of vodka on
a swing set age 11
i didn't stop flying for years
i remember thoughts of
suicide at 10 having to
wear a plastic leg brace
everywhere i went
and how having cerebral palsy
meant i wasn't normal
i remember nights that
are still going on
somewhere drunk with fred
at the cheap art
cafe it's gone now
i remember christina's smell
how it stayed on
my sheets for months
after she was gone
i remember my first
lie i wish it
had been my last i
remember holding hands with
caroline while sitting on
a bench by the jewish
cemetery in perrysburg ohio
i remember that i
haven't been in love
since jessica left i
remember that every day
whether i want to
or not thanks for the
memories joe i think
of you often lately
can't say i remember
you but from what
i've heard you were
the stuff ghosts write
love songs about so
tonight when i go to
sleep i will try to
remember the last words
you sang in your dreams

John Dorsey currently resides in Toledo, OH. He is
the author of "Harvey Keitel, Harvey Keitel, Harvey
Keitel" with S.A. Griffin and Scott Wannberg,
Butchershop Press/Rose of Sharon Press/Temple of Man,
2005, and "Moshing With The Cosmos" with Iris Berry,
Magenta Press, 2005. He can be reached at

2004 - 2009 Underground Voices