dorothy terry | when patsy persons left for hollywood

26 01 2011

PoetryDispatch No. 340 | January 26, 2011

Dorothy Terry:

Cross+Roads Press #34

I began Cross+Roads Press in 1995 with the intention of publishing four chap books a year, mostly new, beginning writers I felt I could help by getting his or her first book in print the way other writer-publishers had extended a hand to me: Rick Meade (Story Press) , Curt Johnson (december press), David Pichaske (Ellis Press). This has been a time-honored calling for as far back as I can remember—“the way” of the small press publisher. May it continue.

I would be hard-pressed to describe the payback for the writer-publisher, given the amount of time and money invested in such an endeavor. But there is a special satisfaction in seeing the whole process come to completion, knowing you’ve done good for another writer, you’ve done the right thing.

Inevitably through the years, things change. Some of your original intentions fall by the wayside for whatever reasons (often the same two factors: time and money) or sometimes, in my case, the health factor enters and you either give up or try to adjust to the reality of “I can only do what I can do.” Which is where I find myself these days. Dorothy Terry’s, WHEN PATSY PERSONS LEFT FOR HOLLYWOOD was a long time (too long) in the making. And the only book I was able to publish last year. But I’m both proud and glad it’s finally out there. And I plan to continue…”doing only what I can do.”

As I tried to explain in the announcement of this book’s publication weeks ago, Dorothy Terry attended several of my advanced writing classes at The Clearing in Ellison Bay, Wisconsin. It was evident from the beginning that she was an accomplished poet, and I could do little but encourage her to first publish her poems then gather them into books. Most accomplished poets achieve some success in time. Some do not.

Dorothy, flirting with her 80’th decade, has been writing extraordinary poetry much of her life. Her work exhibits a commanding artistry of thought and language equal to some of our best poets. She remains ‘outside’ most literary journals and small presses. Some writers eventually give up, write solely for themselves. These are some of the writers who speak a particularly soft part of my heart. Especially those ‘of a certain age.’

Part of my mission as a small press publisher has been to rescue talent like hers from obscurity. Given my time and limited financial resources, there’s little I can do but depend on a small band of good readers and writers to see that poets like Dorothy achieve some recognition. A beautiful but limited edition of only 250 copies of this, her first major book, is all I can do. (Less than 75 copies remain at this date.) And what a good book it is. What a time she has captured (1930’s to the present) with such perfect poetic pitch…perceptions and feelings that reverberate long after her words leave the page and harbor within.

Your support of the press and the poetry of Dorothy Terry would be greatly appreciated. She deserves a readership beyond the desk drawer.

I would also add that my multi-talented layout editor Jan Mielke, neighbor (just down the road) and long-time friend, has been with me from the very beginning of Cross+Road Press. Her dedication, pursuit for the perfect (font, paper, arrangement of words upon the page, graphic insights, estimate cost preparations, contacts with our printer in Canada, etc.) helped me enormously, made each book project as close to a work-of-art as possible–as Dorothy Terry’s book, with the beautiful pastel cover painting by Emmett Johns, testifies.

I regret to say Jan retires with this book to pursue her own endeavors. Her loss to me, the press, the readers and writers who came to expect her excellence as a given is impossible to describe. – Norbert Blei


Her kid in the next bed.
His proposal stark
Against the black screen.

He lives in Eagle River, she said
As the Greyhound sped
Due north, past Racine
Port Washington
And Manitowoc
To Green Bay,
I left her to go on alone,
Except for the blond guy
With the scarred face,
Sitting in back,
Who was into guns,
And saving souls.


So what is the use of wondering
What happened to the girl

Who sat next to me in English class and snapped
Her crooked cracked knuckles to an interior tune —

“Claire de Loony”, we called her then,
Made up with Max Factoring mess of rouged splendor

On her sometimes sullen face,
Post post-pubescent breasts jiggled

And twenty-five silver bracelets jangled,
As she practiced cheer-lead squats and splits

Sporting a purple poodle skirt —
Changed her name to Leticia,

Like delicious, she laughed,
Kicking up, showing lacy panties with

Tiny-teeny bows, white as shell wings, yet
Next day her brand new ballet shoes were tied

With ragged bondage cords, her wrists were taped
With dirty, bloody gauze.

“Ohhhhh Easy;’ they said, “she’s so easy”
“Has sly eye for boys in band” they said,

“And anyway she’s getting too fat”.
But when she left us, the only dry eye

Was hers, as she bravely
Strode away in boots not made for stalking

On switched-striped legs,
And that festering, bloody canker sore

She sometimes wore.


Snow falls on frost-seared grass,
Ore boats slice ice; silty water flows downstream.

Belching stacks rob air of air,
And steaming river bears waste to Cincinnati.

Your name limned on a crumbling headstone
Traced lightly on yellowing Kodak film.

You — a gathering of genes,
Their imperfections cleansed by careful selection.

A hundred years of cropping out the extraneous,
Until your image disappears along with all the rest.

Mouth sewn shut; eyes shuttered, sealed with glue,
Veined hands loosely folded on sunken chest.

Tell me, now, you never felt a thing.

[from: WHEN PATSY PERSONS LEFT FOR HOLLYWOOD, $10, plus $2.50 postage. Check to: Cross+Roads Press, P.O. Box 33, Ellison Bay, WI. 54210. ]

P.S. Those of you who ordered this book online, on credit, who have yet to send payment… I would appreciate hearing from you.

Dorothy Terry is a Chicago area poet. She currently lives in Wilmette, Illinois with her cat Hermione.

dorothy terry | afghanistan

6 11 2009

PoetryDispatch No. 298 | November 6, 2009


by Dorothy Terry

Was smaller than before, the pebbles washed up
On the shore, and all we ever did adore was
Turned to wormwood. We walked along the stonewall then,
We did not talk; we knew not when our time would come —
But that was yesterday.

Above, the stars had hid from sight. The longest day returned to
Night – The moon came up with portent’s sigh,
The days grew long, the nights flew by,
We hid in grandma’s tower room, where crows still cawed
Their cries of doom — explicit nothingness of Hell!

Up there among the wreck and wrack, we listened
For the call, “Give Back”, give back the all you’ll ever know,
Return the crackling icy flow. Return the stinging summer heats,
The metronomic heart that beats. Return the simple, lasting things,
The moon that winks — the sun that sings….”

You are the lost and weary ones – the ones who threw away their
Guns, to die in haven’s craggy place, to die ascending rocky face,
To die alone, and scared and cold, to die too soon, before you’re
Old, to die tomorrow or today, in one
Portentous giveaway.

Editor’s Note: This is the first publication of “Afghanistan.” Dorothy Terry is a little known Chicago poet of great skill but relatively few credits. Not because she isn’t talented—but because she tired of the publishing game. Time, no longer on her side. Excerpts of her distinguished work based on the life of T.S. Eliot, THE FANTASTICAL TRAVELS OF TSE, was published in an anthology of works-in-progress, OTHER VOICES, Cross+Roads Press, 2007. A limited edition of her beautiful poems set in Mexico was privately printed this year, OAXACA, Mañana y Noche—highly recommend. Here are two short poems from that fine book.


We drink, don’t we?
Ay, we deserve
The best, we say!
Forget the dusty cementario!
All those madres
With boring pozole
And tattered, tear-worn pictures.

Pull up a chair!
Bring out the mescal.
Living or dead
It makes no difference tonight.

Old Roberto,
Yesterday, only bleached bones
But tonight, who cares?
He drinks with the worst of us
On Dia de los Muertos.


Squandered gold
In veins of lilac silk
A sure hand wove that sensuous pattern
Shade on shade Sigh on sigh
Thread / under / over / under
Life binding life
Until the final sigh of completion.

dorothy terry | lady on a binge

4 11 2007


Poetry Dispatch No.140 | December 15, 2006

LADY ON A BINGE by Dorothy Terry

You now are through!
Struck down as was your want
Despite your shrink-wrapped “save”

That sassy “do”
(way, way too young)
And fifty dollar face
Did not stopper jowly sag
And lipo
Left you bleeding fat
(You’ll slip slide
On it to your grave}
But all that was
Sucked out
One hopeful
Late spring day
Returned with first fall
Set of teas
At which you
So politely “poured”,
(sneak lemon tarts
Choc Christmas trees}

Your fall from grace
That bloated face
Blurs mirror’s view
And drifts above
A turgid sea
Of coco malts,
And choco “lets!”

Can “You” be Me?

dorothy terry | silk trade

3 11 2007


Poetry Dispatch No.131 | November 7, 2006

Dorothy Terry is a prolific and talented poet who should have a long list of published poems and books to her name by now, yet remains virtually unknown — only a scattering of poems in print here and there. She demands much of the reader but offers a sense of style, a crafted language, a shining intellect that holds you captive in her world, wondering what else you’ll discover in another read, wanting more of the same magic. Norbert Blei

SILK TRADE by Dorothy Terry

Soft as moth wings
Fragile as brushed silver
The seamless night unfolds
Collects purpling clouds
On far horizon
Abandons the faithless sun

Your Dhow’s pregnant sail
Slices through milk-stained seas
Bears azure treasures
Past ghost-whistling palms
Coved massings of purple plumes
Cliffs calked with flaking chalk
Traces your journey
From Dar es Salaam
To Durban

Where, at setting
Of another ravaged sun
In fevered field
You slide from my shoulders
Silently, in gentle pool
To wind the pocked mother
And her skeletal child
In luxe and light.

dorothy terry | devil’s big take

21 10 2007


Poetry Dispatch No. 89 | July 9, 2006

“RIGHT BACK AT YOU,” as they say. Dorothy Terry (poet extraordinaire from Chicago) responds immediately to yesterday’s poem (“Triolet on a Line Apocryphally Attributed to Martin Luther” by by A.E. Stallings*) with a triolet tune of her own. For all you may want to know, and more, concerning this old poetic form, Google “triolet”. Norbert Blei


DEVIL’S BIG TAKE by Dorothy Terry
Why should the devil get all the good shoes?
The pumps and the tall boots in ‘gater and snake
The ones with spike heels you can’t wear when you booze
Why should the devil get all the good shoes?
Does he smuggle them in with a truckload of chews?
Like liquorishwhips? or his Devils Food Cake?
Why should the devil have all the good shoes?
Manolo? Ferragamo? I bet they’re all fake!

Dorothy Terry (after a Triolet by A. E. Stallings, on a line Apocryphally attributed to Martin Luther)


*Triolet on a Line Apocryphally Attributed to Martin Luther by A.E. Stallings

Why should the Devil get all the good tunes,
The booze and the neon and Saturday night,
The swaying in darkness, the lovers like spoons?
Why should the Devil get all the good tunes?
Does he hum them to while away sad afternoons
And the long, lonesome Sundays? Or sing them for spite?
Why should the Devil get all the good tunes,
The booze and the neon and Saturday night?

dorothy terry | barn silo and john gun

21 10 2007


Poetry Dispatch No. 86 | July 5, 2006


I see him sometimes on my way
Home from work when
I take that back road to the lake
You can almost miss him if you
Don’t look quick and sharp

He’s sitting out there
On a rotting buggy seat
In front of a splintered barn
With listing cylindrical silo

A vast snow-covered field
Spreads out before him
His long legs stretched out
Compass straight
Point West

He is always perfectly still
A small bump on the horizon
Or a downed bird the wind
Shifting the feathers of his broken wings

Cast aside
At end of the day he
Waits for the sinking sun to show
Who knows?
It might swallow those purple clouds again.