Curtis Hayes: “Paradox”





The brilliance of the night sky
remains mostly hidden
over Los Angeles
with only the brightest stars
able to punch through the haze.
In the City of the Angels,
the dazzle of the cosmos
can only be seen
from the desert.

We were camping
deep in the Mojave,
the Milky Way above
more beautiful
than a thousand
cities of man.

We had pitched a tent
and a campfire, circled by stones
crackled and popped.
The October air was still warm
and we would instead
sleep outside,
the bed of my pickup
softened by army blankets
and unzipped sleeping bags.

We passed a bottle
looking out at the silent llano.
A shepherd rested next to her,
tired from the heat of the day.
Shooting stars crossed the sky,
so many that we stopped
calling them out.
She asked me if I thought
there were others out there
looking back at us.
I think there must be
I said quietly.
Do you think we’ll ever be able
To travel out there
And see?

I pictured miles of gravel roads
scattered houses peeling in the sun
rusted chain-link
dusty kids on dirt bikes
and the flags
that decorated the bumpers
of broken-down vehicles.
I thought about the Fermi Paradox
which is astronomer talk
for the theory that
any civilization
with the machines
needed to cross the expanse
would have burned itself out
before it could ever make the
final leap.

Her hair, golden in the firelight.
Stroking the dog
waiting for an answer.
The fire popped twice
sounding like the cap guns
I shot as a kid
and my voice
Why would we want to be
but right here.



About the Author: Curtis Hayes has worked as a grip, gaffer, and set builder in TV and film production. He’s been a truck driver, a boat rigger, a print journalist and a screenwriter. 

He is the author of the non-fiction top-ten NYT bestseller, I Am Jesse James, and his first poetry collection, Bottleneck Slide, has recently been published by Vainglory Press.  His work has been featured in numerous anthologies and small press journals.


Image Credit: Chase Dimock “Utah Sunset” (2021)

John Dorsey: “Poem for Curtis Hayes”


Poem for Curtis Hayes

you say that everything we can see here
was once a strawberry field
& talk about a girl
who once had a baby in the bathroom
that now has a busted sink
as we sit beside your empty swimming pool 
sipping gin & tonics in the sun

the past is a young man’s game
its bones good & strong

runaway birds in our infancy
we all make strange sounds
that pass for stories

before we fly away.


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, 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

Creatures of Our Better Nature

The Mark Twain Speech

Punk Rock at 45


Image Credit: Carol M. Highsmith “Used bathtubs and sinks, on display and for sale, along a road between Oxford and Batesville in Lee County, Mississippi” (2016) The Library of Congress