John Dorroh – fiction

Oyster Shells



   Trying to steal Kitt’s oysters in the south bay forced me to decide that I was trying too hard.

   Grandma Vettie placed her old, warm hands on my forehead and combed my hair with her fingers. We didn’t talk. She knew my heart like I knew that my birthday shoes would rub a blister on my heel. I dreamed like a fat baby on codeine.

   There was a knock on the door. I could see cold air bounce off the window pane, through the sheer curtain that served no practical purpose. There was noise. Too much noise. Grandma Vettie despised noise as much as I did, so I was puzzled why she had let it into her house. Something about a dead man up the road. Heart attack. Crash. Blue lights.

   There was silence again. I went to Tahiti and swam deep to collect abalone. The water was warm like baby tears. I think I drowned on my third trip down. Hazy recollections of kindergarten and teachers with long faces. Bloody eyes with fat veins wound around pink stalks. Crablike.

   “He’s gone,” she said. “Just like that. Just like your grandpa.”

   “Who’s gone?” My eyes were almost glued shut. Maybe it’s pink eye. I can’t see her face any more.

  “My neighbor, that man whose name I can’t pronounce. From another country. I liked him. Always minded his own business. Just waved. Sort of like a hello but without any noise or commotion. Anyway, he’s gone now.”

   “You wanna  go to collect some oysters?” I ask. “Got a new place. I think you’ll like it.”





John Dorroh taught secondary science for a few decades, arriving at his classroom every morning at 6:45 with at least three lesson plans and a thermos of robust Colombian. His poetry has appeared in Dime Show Review, Red Fez, North Dakota Quarterly, Tuck, Piker Press, Selcouth Station, and several others. He also writes short fiction (99 Words, Black Rose Publishing, 2012) and the occasional rant.


John Dorroh – 1 poem




I lay in a dried out cornfield with my legs up

into the sky, a wishbone, yes, a chicken-shit


wishbone. A big green and yellow John Deere

began singing a lullaby, moving toward my


mouth, my heart, all of me and I let it chew

me up, remembering mama saying chew


chew, chew on this fish. It may have bones.

Damn straight. What fish doesn’t? Don’t talk


to your mama like that. Just sayin… Anyway

I heard the crunch but never felt pain until


she tossed me into the deepest part of the

river where the triplets died last September.







The verdict is still out whether John Dorroh taught any high school science; however, he showed up every morning at 6:45 for a few decades with at least two lesson plans in his briefcase. His poems and short fiction have appeared in Dime Show Review, Sic Lit, Poetry Breakfast, Suisun Valley Review, 99 Words, and others. He travels, bikes and hikes, and plays in the dirt when the weather allows.