Philadelphia Poem for David Snellbaker
You were the first real friend I ever made here
Telling me about your days with a Mexican religious cult
Where they tried to brainwash that man
right out of your hair.
You said, “They’d have to whitewash the streets with blood”
to make you feel clean again.
You sang songs by Woody Guthrie
Not the originals
But covers by the Counting Crows
Placed your heart in a locket
Hidden under a pillow
On the third floor of a West Toledo mental ward.
You never learned how to dance
Just painted flowers on your toes
when it came time to bloom.
gave me $7 and a cigar snip
for my 25th birthday
the morning his girlfriend
kicked him out
of their spruce street apartment.
the year before
i’d watched as she passed him
love notes in hindi
across the bar
while he listened
to iggy pop
on the jukebox
as it rained outside.
i could swear he was crying
when he sang happy birthday
under the busted street light.
John Dorsey 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), and most recently, “Natural Selection: Early Poems” (Kilmog Press, 2014). His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org