Gone Lawn
a journal of literature
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Gone Lawn 37
Summer Solstice, 2020

New Works

John Dorroh

How Fast Can You Run from the City?, or Requiem for the Perfect Ditch

The suburbs are everywhere, painted over landscapes, substantial conglomerates, eating soil and woods, birds and worms; old stuff — farms that produce my food, rusted tractors, vine-clad barns without much hope. Four-bedroom coffins of three shades of gray, architectural shingles and pools with shimmering diamond crystals, save-the-planet coffeehouses, antiseptic schools, prisons behind barbed wire; white picket fences, trendy restaurants and neat concrete spillways whose grasses and reeds sway in impetuous winds of change.

Hitler made suburbs speak like French mimes, collected souls, stored them in temporary housing before sending them to gas chambers; ash-strewn hillsides, rivers foaming with bone, their ghosts compelled to haunt the gables and crawlspaces of every unbridled heart and soul; his nightmares riddled with type-O blood, tongues bit off below the base; smothering living things in his path.

Vile disgust leads me into clean spaces, green and lean with essences of clover and spruce, of water lily and bottle-green dragonflies, sweet thunder that gently vibrates the tiny bones in my ears. I flee from the burbs, scramble frantically into the middle of the search, wondering how far away It crouches from my rib cage.

I lift You, up, oh Ditch, crayfish and broken bottles; fat black tadpoles, wiggling as if bellies afire, their nerve net arching in quick, clean waves, beer cans and fast-food wrappers; sand and rocks, split bricks, useless for gentrifying more city space. You are my river into pastures and brambles, my escape route, my conduit to childhood where we talked about the city like it was a filthy, dirty place. I wallow in your shallow depths, reveling as if some Starbucks lover cannot find his way home to his overpriced apartment.

John Dorroh facilitates the learning of science with all people who are willing to engage themselves with rocks, wind, both furry and slimy creatures, and water. He hopes that his students walk out of their lab and classroom with a healthy degree of awe and skepticism. His poetry has appeared in about 50-60 journals, including Selcouth Station, Os Pressan, Dime Show Review, Suisun Valley Review and Blue Moon Literary & Arts Review.