John Dorroh: “Old Towns”

Old Towns

I want an old town like dusted biscuits
in my mother’s kitchen, forget the stretched
chrome-and-glass behemoths, all the new shapes
that young architects sketched in their heads
in their own mother’s kitchens. I want the town
to lie down on top of me and make me earn
my breath. The breakfast diner with pancakes
as large as steering wheels, link sausages, 
eggs sunny-side-up with bottomless cups
of coffee. The family-owned jewelry store 
with shimmering trinkets hung onto tiny limbs 
of fake trees, luring customers into their dens.
The hardware store with the husky mascot, standing
on the edge of a cliff, howling at a white crescent 
moon. I want the wolf in my bed. I will rest
on the sofa and give her a good night’s sleep.
I want an old town with postal workers who
know my name and wear light blue shirts
the same color as my mother’s eyes. The candy
store with homemade fudge two inches thick
and salt water taffy made at the beach down
the road. I want an old town with copper roofs
gone green and the sound of mourning doves 
cooing as the sun slides up over the ridge
of ancient oak and maple trees. I don’t want
to grow up in faux this and faux that
and have a soul buried under the concrete 
that I have to dig out, that I have to fight for
when they unpackage another Chipotle,
clearing my grandmother’s property 
for yet one more place to bury my town.


John Dorroh has never fallen into an active volcano or caught a hummingbird. He has, however, baked bread with Austrian monks and consumed a healthy portion of their beer. His poetry has appeared in over 125 journals. Two of them were nominated for Best of the Net. His first chapbook was published in 2022. 

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