John Dorsey: “Punk Rock at 45”


Punk Rock at 45

when i look at your life now
i think nancy spungen got off easy
breast cancer at 45
you have be a fighter
to sleep in the streets
with your broken heart
just dangling there
like a locket made of bones

i remember you at 30
& sad

talking about your family
as we drove to 7-eleven
to get hotdogs on christmas eve

how it all came flooding back
your father threatening to drive
the whole family off a bridge
into icy cold arkansas river water
on christmas morning

or the near rape
by a family friend
at fourteen

or the countless bad relationships
that became your anthem
as much as nick cave
or the murder city devils
ever were

your lungs filled up with silence

as the night sky balled up
into a fist
& hurled your childhood
into the past.


Check out our interview with John Dorsey on his book, Letting the Meat Rest.


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). He is the current Poet Laureate of Belle, MO. His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He may be reached at

More By John Dorsey:

“The Mark Twain Speech”

Image Credit: Digital Art designed by Chase Dimock

“The Mark Twain Speech” By John Dorsey



The Mark Twain Speech
for mark mcclane

you talk about frontiers
that only dead men
& drunks can see

not about the blood
& sweat that goes
into words that won’t sell
the stories of heartbreak
& what time can do
to beautiful things

everything turned to bone

words careening off your tongue
& down a river
slow to offer amnesty
to those in a sinking ship.


Check out our interview with John Dorsey on his book, Letting the Meat Rest.


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). He is the current Poet Laureate of Belle, MO. His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He may be reached at


More By John Dorsey:

Punk Rock at 45

Creatures of Our Better Nature


Image Credit:  Chase Dimock “The Mississippi River in Cape Girardeau”

Letting the Meat Rest: A Conversation With Poet John Dorsey

Letting the Meat Rest:

A Conversation With Poet John Dorsey

By Chase Dimock


If you pick up a copy of Letting the Meat Rest, hoping to find tips for juicy pork chops, luckily, John Dorsey’s got you covered:

a pork chop sizzles in a pan
for six minutes tops
any longer & you’ll let the imagination
bleed out all over your plate
& escape into the woods
like magic.

Yet, Dorsey’s subject matter extends beyond pork products. Reading Letting the Meat Rest is like rummaging through a friend’s box of old Polaroids. You want to learn more about these people and moments captured in time. Some snapshots are brief, impressionistic prints of a person frozen in a sliver of life, while others have their detailed history scrawled on the back. These vignettes present us with visions of addiction, poverty, and trauma, but also optimistic moments of youthful ambition, rebellion, and intimate friendship. No matter what Dorsey depicts, whether it’s a full portrait or a quick sketch, it’s always crafted with deep humanity


Chase Dimock: I first became acquainted with your work when a mutual friend of ours told me he was driving up to Central Missouri to pick up the Poet Laureate of Belle, MO. At that moment I learned a few things: 1. That a town named Belle, MO exists 2. That a town of less than 2,000 people in rural Missouri has a Poet Laureate, and 3. That the Poet Laureate of Belle, MO is John Dorsey. Having lived for a few years in Cape Girardeau myself, I know there are quite a few cultural gems to be found in rural Missouri. How did you become the Poet Laureate of Belle, MO and what has that experience been like? I saw one poem in Letting the Meat Rest depicting the appropriately named Dinner Belle restaurant in town, so I am curious to know how this experience in Belle has impacted your writing.

John Dorsey: Well, to make a short story long, Chase,  I ended up in Belle at the end of 2015, from Wisconsin, after being awarded a residency at the Osage Arts Community and through that connection, in particular with the Executive Director Mark McClane, I started to meet more people in town,  including Mayor Steve Vogt, who seeing all of the work I had done and was continuing to do, offered me the appointment as Poet Laureate, I’m actually the first Poet Laureate the town of Belle has ever had. Since my appointment we’ve opened a Non-Profit used bookstore, Barb’s Books, and I founded, and Co-Edit, with Jason Ryberg, a literary journal, the Gasconade Review, which received grant funding through the Friends of the Belle Library, from Kingsford/Clorox. As far as the impact on my work, the first full book I finished here was Being the Fire, which was 80 new poems, written in my first two months here, and published by Tangerine Press in London in Fall of 2016. Since I’ve been here I’d say I’ve written between 300-400 poems, which have gone into 6 or 7 different books or chapbooks and have written a full length feature film, Missouri Loves Company, which was produced by Paladin Knight Pictures out of New Jersey, on a budget of around $60,000, which was shot on the East Coast and here in town, and is currently being edited. In terms of my poetry, I’d say that at least half of everything since I’ve been here has to do with Belle itself, so the impact has been significant. Continue reading “Letting the Meat Rest: A Conversation With Poet John Dorsey”