Issue 3 / Poetry

Poetry by Dennis Arlo Voorhees


Apologies to Frost

Flannelled, freezing,

and iPhone compatible,

we re-paint the streets

with lines of Adderall


and stage our acrobatics

with subtle instamatics—

so we can see that she

is sad enough to hack it,


or gawk at k-mart tops,

faux-hawked, cocked, and plastic

spiked—you know that hard

punk rock spirit—


dress the same and shame

the clueless look-a-likes

who can’t afford to wear it,

for counter cultured, we sit—


with wit enough to sip our liquor,

stare politely, then unzip her,

tip too well and mutter cheers


into our ironic beards

into our ironic beards.




Soundlessly, the gears

of their hips shift

like sundials in perfect circles—

sharp rotations that have reared

and ruined civilizations.


My first instinct is logical:

love under a field of stars,

but these girls and boys are my students

and I teach advanced grammar

not the paradox of desire.


Like a farmer counting ducks,

I’ve made sure each teen is tucked

inside their assigned tee-pees,

forgetting that I don’t believe

in rules nor safe conduct.


On the concrete floor of #16

I read Hrabal and watch

the shadows of Anna and Javi

skate across the canvas

and drop into the dark.


Though only on page 33,

I know Ditie will live forever,

and his erotic bouquets

will devastate a century

of content and writhing women,


and I will never take Maider,

the Spanish chaperone,

my hands firm on the dials

of her shaking legs, our lives postponed,

on the concrete esplanade.


Putting down my paperback,

I walk the perimeter of our camp,

past spatterings of sing-alongs,

illicit radios whispering,

“baby, you’re a firework.”


Fact: 15 years ago

I was neither alone nor happy.

So why the heart’s hard charge

through this barren reservation,

this flood of useless revision?


No Indian drum survives.

Even the anthems of youth

become scribbled directions away.

Lured by the lights of the casino,

I’ve crossed over to the access road


as my students lose themselves

in the jangle of authentic bracelets,

charmed by the skid of hands

and denim under the cold blush

of too many stars.


Tomorrow they’ll board the bus

back to Portland and stutter

through summer’s final lesson,

the whole afternoon repeating

goodbye, goodbye, goodbye.


A farm kid and Foolbright scholar from Rutland, MA, Dennis Arlo Voorhees works in the adult novelty industry in Portland, OR. His work has disappeared in several lit mags and his translations of Hungarian poet Petőfi Sándor are somewhat inspiring. Like every other anxious and nostalgic millennial, Arlo, too, is a Master of Fine Arts (Oregon). He thrives in the third person. Selected by Michelle Penaloza.

Image © Dan Koslicki via Flickr Creative Commons.