John Dorsey: “Perpetual Motion”


Perpetual Motion

in the 1980’s 
everything was smooth sailing 
exploding space shuttles 
the threat of foreign wars 

we had miami vice
& a small hole 
peeking through the ozone layer
from all of those cans of hairspray 

everyone in the trailer park 
had a waterbed

our neighbors at the top of the hill
got their kids a chihuahua puppy for christmas

they would take turns tossing it
onto the bed 

watching the poor thing 
sway back & forth
like a drunken sailor

only a few weeks 
after bringing it home 
it slid right off the bed

snapping its neck 
without even a whimper

rubber ball still firmly in its mouth

as a child’s birthday party went on
in full swing in the next room

it was so quiet
that we thought 
it was playing a game

& then the youngest neighbor boy
started wailing  

as his brother approached the body 
with plastic army men
as if it was just some peaceful beast 
he had killed in battle

their father covered it up 
with a beach towel
as their mother asked us
who wanted cake

& somehow like magic
the decade was over
before it had even really 
gotten started.


About the Author: John Dorsey lived for several years in Toledo, Ohio. He is the author of several collections of poetry, including Teaching the Dead to Sing: The Outlaw’s Prayer (Rose of Sharon Press, 2006), Sodomy is a City in New Jersey (American Mettle Books, 2010), Tombstone Factory, (Epic Rites Press, 2013), Appalachian Frankenstein (GTK Press, 2015) Being the Fire (Tangerine Press, 2016) and Shoot the Messenger (Red Flag Press, 2017) and Your Daughter’s Country (Blue Horse Press, 2019). His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He may be reached at


More By John Dorsey:

The Mark Twain Speech

Creatures of Our Better Nature



Image Credit: Marion Post Wolcott “Parked cars on private yard and trailer park sign where many workers from United Aircraft live in their own trailers. East Hartford, Connecticut”  (1941) The Library of Congress



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