A collection of 25 portrait poems of Famous and Infamous Johns.

Matt Porubsky’s John presents the reader with a glimpse of twenty-five characters who share the name John. Taken from history and pop culture, they are as unique as fingerprints. They have composed, crusaded and murdered. Porubsky’s John Phillip Sousa, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, and John Wilkes Booth share more than just first names. They are bound in the commonalty of the human experience. Porubsky’s poems are as singular as crystals, and yet, as universal as gravel—“a cumulative shadow/of you and you.” John is the journey of a contemporary Everyman. He is Johnny Appleseed, John Brown, and John Q. Public—joy-filled, pain-wracked, and hope-born.      ―Al Ortolani author Cooking Chili on the Day of the Dead


Purchase John


Portraits of the Johns by Midwestern artist Justin Marable. Please visit his website to become more familiar with his mission and his art. It is all breathtaking!


Poems from John


John Doe 


I’m a tangent

of curdled skin

stiff, kinless,

posed for



orginally in RHINO



John Dillinger 


Eyes run red

from a dress,

a match, a bullet.

Sink black.


flood the street.


originally in Four and Twenty



Mississippi John Hurt 


These farm hands.

Pluck strings

like weeds;

swift, seamless.

Sing sweet, soft dew

refrains cut deep

rows in the field, this face.


originally in alba