Four Poems by John Dorroh

soft cartel may 2018

The River House

They want me to move into the river house,
suspended on solid wood pilings twelve feet above the ground,
a living room surrounded by windows, early morning light pouring
into the grand room like a glorious vision of something
you might read in a novel, or an architect’s notebook.
The row of hardwoods across the river – maples and ancient oaks–
filter the first blast of morning rays, a gentle rush of orange-lemon light
arriving in time to illuminate the surface of my porcelain coffee cup.

They want me to give dinner parties with the right pairings
of wine and cheese, chilled shrimp-stuffed snow peas, grilled amberjack,
its sweet, delicate flakes melting on our forks, and no one’s in a hurry.
The people who monopolize the conversation are not there, uninvited,
to tell their never-ending stories to anyone who has a pair of ears.
No one likes a tongue that never quits wagging.

They want me to dance through the night as the owls hoot that it’s time
to go to bed. I might fight the urge to lie down in the coffee-colored water
of the Tombigbee River, to say hello to an alligator as she hunts for a place
under the pier to lay her eggs.

Too Fat to Breathe

You tell me that you’re too fat
and can’t breathe. Something’s
got to be done. So you eat half
a Mexican casserole before bed
time and wash it down with a
liter of whole milk.

You’ve said for years that you
have to stop smoking, that the
aneurism in your lungs has grown
two centimeters in the last year
but yet, you climb into your
car and drive on the ice to see the
Pakistani brothers for more cigarettes at
11 PM.

The hand rails on the deck are more
rotten than ever, but there is no time
to replace them since that would leave
so few hours in a day to argue on the internet
with people you don’t know about things
that don’t matter.

We need more shelves in the basement
for my silly dishes and cooking gear, and
I have no space for hanging shirts and pants
in the closet due to over-weighted rods.
Seven years might be the lucky number.

We need to do this, and we need to do that,
and we need to do more things together, and
you say that it bothers you that I can’t keep up
with your friends who come early and stay late
and drink and eat everything that moves and who
refuse to sleep in the cherry bed down in the basement
because they have another party to attend.

You rant in my face when I sit in the recliner
with my first cup of coffee, going on and on
about things that you cannot control and ask
me why I insist on watching network news,
which is a biased media circus. I explain that it’s
something I hate like going to Walmart but do
it anyway because they have some of the things
I need. I watch it as a diversion when you are acting
like a wild man who refuses to take his drugs.

You tell me that the soup is missing something and
that the pork chops could use a bit more time
in the oven and that the eggs are really not done
enough to eat.

You tell me once again that you are too fat to breathe
and I say, “Eat some of your words instead of my cooking
and maybe you will drop some weight.”

Long Road Home

woke up to snow
and a hard dick
it’s my own fault

i left the party early
too cold to hang out
with cool people who
complained that they
laid out incompatible
crackers with the cheese

cat licking its private
parts, and asshole on my
favorite comforter
what the hell…better him
than me

i heard that Mr. Wyndham
died last night in the hospital
from a tear in his colon from
an aquarium lightbulb that got
stuck in his ass. i never knew

izzie wants to go for a walk
in the woods in the snow so
I can watch her vapor breath
freeze in mid-air like ghosts

we make chili in the Crock-pot
and read old novels and favorite
sections of poetry books that were
left in the rain after Grandma died.
its toasty in the house and I don’t
have to work on monday. i might
get drunk tonight

carla wants to flower in my bedroom
and asks me to lick her petals
as she throws herself back onto the bed
i am wishing she were a bit older and
not so needy reminding myself
that i too was once a virgin soul
with holes in my shirt where my heart
used to beat. I ask her to go home early
because it is not a good fit she cries
and I give her a cool whip container
of chili to eat when she gets cold

How to Eat an Artichoke

First of all you look at it
admire its horny architecture
think about sticking your tongue
into the crevices without cutting it
on that tough exterior.

It is a devilish vegetable, a joke
of a plant, the porcupine of the
botanical world. What went through
the mind of the person who first saw one?

Immerse it into lightly salted
boiling water on medium high heat
for 30-35 minutes. Let it cool. Its leaves
are tender now. Pull them off one by one
and dip them into a golden lemon-butter
bath. Take your time. Savor each leaf
and reflect upon what it looked like
before you did a thing.

Whether John Dorroh taught any high school science is still up for grabs; however, he did show up every morning at 6:45 with at least two lesson plans in his briefcase. His poetry has appeared in Suisun Valley Review, Dime Show Review, Poetry Breakfast, Eunoia Review, Sick Lit, Walk Write-up nad others. He also dabbles with short fiction and plays in the dirt.

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