Two Poems by John Dorroh

May 15, 2023

Beached, Part iii


It takes a trip to some hot beach
to help you realize that your crimes are petty,
unpunishable. Getting your dreams stuck
in morning honey, the tea cup not quite
what you need. What you do need
is a big wave to roll in from foreign soil,
to hear a local yell Rogue wave—everybody run,
run as fast as you can, like Sarah in the Bible,
who couldn’t resist, not wanting to put her stock
into the future, always looking back
out of human curiosity. You need that,
a semi-violent washing of skin & spirit
without the sand scrubbing the patina off
your cheeks.


We tiptoe out of the cottage into the morning heat,
an uninviting veil of humidity that warns us to tread
lightly. We take heed, eyeing the pale blue salt water
hiding on the other side of the sea oats, the sugar-white dunes
framing the bottom of our silver seascape. All I want are a couple
of sand crabs to look at me with stalked eyes, their light
golden bodies scurry from side to side like tiny
drunk wrestlers.


I am the pot of baby palms at the back door, the lush
garden of Eden, too tropical for my delicate
complexion. The path to the beach is treacherous.
I urge you to corral your crimes and stuff them
in an orange plastic cup. Careful crossing the road,
I warn. Those crazy kids in golf carts. Do their
parents know what they’re doing, that they’re
breaking the speed limit? You text me in an hour
to say that you’re done, broiled like a filet mignon.
Too hot out here. The fish are belly up and the stench
is unpleasant. Let’s go get a drink or two.


Belly up is the best way to see what’s important,
the blue-blue sky, its hot white lemon squeeze,
wispy clouds that beg to penetrate souls,
carrier pigeons with mixed messages
and your own reflection with its history of petty
crimes, your face pressed against itself, waiting
for the sentence, one that you will find too lenient
for the horrible things that you claim to have done.
The beach understands these things.

Drinking Her Third Vodka Collins While Waiting on a Vegan Burger

Found a baby kangaroo named Honeychops
on her device. The folding chairs are ice cold

on her exposed legs, crossed, cool breeze
in her mouth. Awwwww, so cute! I want one.

No room for another living thing in her house,
in her yard, daffodils sucking all the water

out of the ground. Doesn’t like finishing
someone else’s chocolate milk but will

if left alone. Kisses deep every time. Tilts
head back so see oak leaves and a fuzzy

April moon. Waiting for the Indie-rock to lift
her up, for the fresh-grilled vegan burgers,

which trendsetters fight over. Slaw looks
like wet hair, too much vinegar, celery seeds

stuck between teeth. By the time she arrives
in the dining room the only burger left

has a tumor on it belly. Dressing isn’t easy
with loose elbows in her face. There’s her

empty glass. She resolves the issue, takes
a seat under the oak which has forgot her name.

About John Dorroh

John Dorroh’s poetry has appeared in over 100 journals, including Feral, Pinyon, Red Fez, Wisconsin Review, Selcouth Station, River Heron, and Pif. He had two chapbooks published in 2022. He’s a Southerner living in the Midwest.