Poetry from Joshua Dunlap

a dance for the dead
the trees looked like matchsticks

waiting for the spark
to light up the night

& illuminate the living
& their dance

in spite of death


man v. man v. himself v. the universe
the low audible swell of bar fly chatter

drowns the buzzing

from the glow of the trusty neon
the flies linger


in the dim light
location: a small rural town; anywhere

a stranger stabs out amongst the regulars

sharp & obvious

dozens of eyes locked on the transient

unaware of their own fleeting presence
they engage in light chatter

drawing the guest further & further in

quickly escalating to argument
a battle

between willing & unwilling combatants

to test & prove themselves
such a proud species humans are

the need for flesh to meet bone & flesh

& our insides to be on display on the pavement
as our newcomer struggles with the flies

& with this experience of life & living

& fear & dying
his knuckles strike the jaw of a drunkard

his teeth, a slaughtered lamb of a smile
the wolf inside is fed

& will stay warm for another day


worse than beasts
our lives our spent


anything we find beauty in
these are the things

to be left alone
to grow
& allow us to measure

our lives against


the weight & the vessel
we danced on the ice

& watched it slowly fracture

splintering with each step & spin

made without care
our feet felt like hammers

but the warm blood in our toes

reminded us of the weight

& the vessel


the eyes of the coyotes roaming the midnight desert looked like diamonds
I remember driving across the u.s.

the year was 1968

I was misguided & needed direction

like most teenagers,

a lost vessel out to sea,

i wanted to find myself
I gassed up my convertible

& headed west

it was summer

I was going to try my luck in hollywood

I figured it was the place to be

to get paid faking it

something I’d done my whole life
I breezed by most states

without a thought or care

simple people, living simple lives

day in & day out

experiencing something real
countless diners & sore waitresses

on hobbled feet

working two shifts

serving cold food
this was the mid-west

blink & you’d miss it

except for the people that lived there

for them, this was life

this was reality
I met a shaman in arizona

he lived in a hut in the desert

I stayed with him a few nights
He told me to avoid the pitfalls of hollywood

& ways to be true to myself

“why concentrate on false emotions,

when genuine feelings are more urgent & real?”
we spent the night before I left

on the floor of the desert

the stars looked like diamonds

burning against the black, velvet sky

waiting to be plucked

one by one
we shared peyote & saw the universe

hanging like a mobile above our heads

we chased coyotes & forgot our names

entire lives were lived that night
morning saw us sober & saying goodbye

I left that part of my life in Arizona

locked away with the shaman in the desert

hoping one day I’d find it again
by the time I made it to hollywood

I’d forgotten why I was there

faking it didn’t appeal to me anymore

I wanted something genuine
the words of the shaman

were echoing inside my head

“real is what you feel,

what you do with that,

is life.”


Between 2014 & 2015, Joshua Dunlap boldly set out to find what gives our lives meaning & what we do with those things or people once we find them; if they are ever found at all.

His goal was to find what makes up everyday life & find the importance in the minute details that we tend to overlook.

The result was a 100+ poems, prose & short stories forming a larger work entitled ‘God & Other Things Found Left Out in the Rain.’

The books themes range from life & death to existentialism & nihilism.

For fans of: David Foster Wallace, Samuel Beckett, Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus & Franz Kafka.