peter pan at 45

it was January 17th 1968
when you came out    after reading
kerouac   all of that bottled up
macho energy   spent
on free love

“midnight cowboy” was the story
of your life   landing on 42nd street
while joe buck was still a zygote
in search of ginsberg’s angry fix
finding hell at dawn   with
greasy fingers

your hat like a crown    strewn
from tattered green felt
should have tipped everyone off
except in the haight   you were
just considered average

everybody knew about wendy
you jumped out of that window
together   finding paradise
but things got too heavy
and you landed on earth alone

many times they had told
the story of your youth
playing you off    as a
forever boyish oliver twist type

looking in the bathroom mirror
you pondered middle age
with tinkerbell   a withering
drag queen    working the corner
of grant & green   for
cheap Mexican beer    just one
last time

your stomach sloping/sagging
in contrast    to
the sun

you had been a real hustler    once
growing older    but never really growing up
or perhaps it was the other way around
who remembers these things?

as a kid    i
felt cheated
wishing you   back
to neverland  you weren’t
that wonderful boy
after all

just a sad
middle aged has been

when I was in high school

when I was in high school

i was that kid
who never got
picked in
                gym class

i guess i didn’t look
tough enough    didn’t move
like a bullfighter       didn’t secretly weep
when the sun
                      went down

it was only when i heard
papa’s words whispered
back to me    that i became
afraid of
                      the dark

a couple of years ago
some kids shot up their school
and now they won’t
even let the dead rest
they have a name
for kids who
talk to shadows
                      the socially challenged

it doesn’t matter how many rounds
you manage to get off
if nobody is listening
except for
                  the last one

i’ve never owned a gun
in my life
the old man
always had my back
i’m grateful for
                that much

tonight i may weep
when the sun goes down
but i believe
in going out
with a little dignity
in the end
i think hemingway
had the
              right idea

secret gems
(for nicole blackman)

it’s 10:30 in the pm
when i smile
watching the little bastards
that play by the dumpster
and i wonder
where are their parents at?
shouldn’t the wind under their heels be sleeping?

& then i think these are the parents
as children
our ceiling fan turning revolutions
that never really seem to get started

children’s hands viewed through a cracked window
make me chuckle & think about college
& how we used to dumpster dive
for used volumes of plato
saliva forming into the shape of a seahorse on my lips
as if they were dinosaur bones

or that summer we built altars from tears
formed at the mouth of the ben franklin bridge
praying to oswald spangler and the salvation army

now nothing seems to help
except burgundy
& breakbeats
that swallow the rain
like my words

and listening to the trains
that skim by my apartment
like pebbles
in your shoes
the only secret gems
i’ve felt lately

& time is silly
when you glance at your watch
through a fishtank

& children hold all the marbles
you thought you’d lost
in shopping malls
being embraced by bears
in the new frontier

or forming your shaking hands
into gospel
just   by keeping it

with your fingers

       crossed for        their
own                                    salvation

John Dorsey currently resides in Toledo OH. His work has recently appeared in
fearless, Mystery Island Magazine, The James River Poetry, Poesy Magazine, and The
Dublin Quarterly. He is the author of "Little Boy Beat:Selected Poems" Paladin M
&E Inc., and is the co-author of "The Price Of Sunshine" written with Iris Berry,
Feel Free Press, Forthcoming.

© 2004 Underground Voices