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.