John Dorsey: “The Prettiest Girl in Byron, Missouri”



The Prettiest Girl in Byron, Missouri

hasn’t seen the sun in months
she sits cross legged in the rain
waiting for her turn to dance

scratching out the image
of a paper heart
in the mud

it’s the only way
she can remember
what her grandmother’s face
even looked like now

water rolls down her tin roof
in search of deliverance

overgrown weeds hiss in the wind
wrapping around her toes
like jump rope

squealing in an empty field.



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),Your Daughter’s Country (Blue Horse Press, 2019),Which Way to the River: Selected Poems 2016-2020 (OAC Books, 2020) and The Prettiest Girl at the Dance (Blue Horse Press, 2020. His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and the Stanley Hanks Memorial Poetry Prize. He was the winner of the 2019 Terri Award given out at the Poetry Rendezvous. He may be reached at


More By John Dorsey:

Anthony Bourdain Crosses the River of the Dead

Punk Rock at 45

Perpetual Motion


Image Credit: Frances Benjamin Johnston “Port Tobacco Houses, Port Tobacco, Charles County, Maryland” (1936-1937) The Library of Congress.

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