“Edification,” John Dorroh

Dale Champlin, One Beautiful Face, Collage, 2021



I am spent.
I am ash.
I am fallen tree.
Yet I have worth.

You tell me this.

I catch wings and currents
eat lavish soups with you
and wake like limp dish towel
at the foot of your bed.


Birds bring wild cherry pits to the table
on the deck. I ask you what you’d
like for me to do with them. Grow trees,
you say. Until white blossoms
turn bleached smiles into snake
breath, into cow sills, into naked truths
& consequences.


Compliment you every day, heartfelt,
focused, short & sweet, like the last
note the choir sings at church. It’s mileage
and doubt fires extinguished with a cool breeze.
There musn’t ever be empty words. Every
syllable counts, every letter, so that even a snail
understands it’s wasted energy
to be unkind.


You are fresh like bread, unleavened
and pure, not to be packaged and placed
upon a shelf. You are to be smeared
with butter and jam and eaten while
you are still warm.

John Dorroh


Review by Massimo Fantuzzi

Around the house the flakes fly faster,
And all the berries now are gone
From holly and cotoneaster
Around the house. The flakes fly!–faster
Shutting indoors that crumb-outcaster
We used to see upon the lawn
Around the house. The flakes fly faster,
And all the berries now are gone! (Thomas Hardy, Birds at Winter Nightfall)

Household bric-a-brac and oddments of affection that remind me of Eugenio Montale in Xenia or Thomas Hardy in Poems 1912-1913. Added bonus here, these snapshots are not for a commemoration of a past life, nor a series of time capsules that bygone loved ones have left for us.

With their humbleness and intimacy, these 8mm pieces of footage that stand held by presence and companionship are a true celebration of the lived fullness and living present.

Narrations in the present tense, of trust, counsel, play, romance, dialogue: in them, (very wisely) the poet recognizes his blessing and sings it aloud without fear (before it’s too late, while you are still warm).

Two great lessons for all of us to take back to our homes: compliment you every day; there musn’t ever be empty words.


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