Poetry

November 29, 2017 Poetry , POETRY / FICTION

Konrad Lembcke photo

 

By

David Lohrey

 

 

 

Season’s Greetings

 

 

The arithmetic of war…

That’s why Americans are poor at math.

The peacekeepers can’t be trusted.

Charles de Gaulle and Thomas Mann had it right.

This is what I see and hear pa rum pum pum pum.

 

The arithmetic of war can’t be taught.

This is how the people live.

There is nothing you can do about it.

You don’t expect death; it’s indiscriminate.

It’s the hap-happiest season of all.

 

We will gain the inevitable triumph, so help us God.

He wants to make it new. Every Sunday

is a picnic. It’s the most wonderful time

of the year. I’m dreaming of a white Christmas.

It is time to make the journey, me and my drum.

 

New gardens must be planted –

raised beds, no pesticides. The rose is obsolete.

There are no threats the ladybugs can’t handle.

The men will arrive tomorrow. They’ll be much

mistletoeing and hearts will be glowing.

 

The planting must continue. Cotton is wrong

at many levels. Replace the radishes with books.

Melville, Faulkner and Hemingway

were the first Harlem globetrotters.

This is the recipe for a better world.

 

The nation has nothing to do with territory.

Love’s got everything to do with it.

There will be no victory parades.

We’ll have to go into hiding.

They’ll be scary ghost stories.

 

The men must be told to stop crying.

Women will have to take up arms.

Half the population may be annihilated.

People will once again learn to make fires.

They’ll be parties for hosting, marshmallows for toasting.

 

Silent night, holy night.

All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth.

Do you see what I see?

I have no gift to give that is fit to give a king.

Do you hear what I hear? Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

 

 

 

 

E Pluribus Unum

 

 

I.

 

The setting is a barroom somewhere between Okinawa and Morocco,

where Chinese girls stroke men’s egos, lick their ears and make obscene propositions.

 

These are the last places on earth

where Western men can live like kings on next to nothing.

 

How many men do you know who like sex but hate women?

We know what the girls see in the men but what about him?

 

If they can’t cook or won’t give blow jobs, what good are they?

That’s what my friend Maxwell once asked, as we sat sipping tea on the Corniche.

 

These are harsh words, said only in a whisper back home. Call it leave, R & R,

or going on holiday, a single man on his way to Thailand is not looking for friendship.

 

Most of the weddings take place before the men sober up. The bar girls start as girlfriends

and end up as old-ladies. Their panties hang from the shower.

 

He sends word back home of coconut-sweet kisses and plans for imminent nuptials.

There is bliss for a fortnight, at least, and then reality sets in.

 

This is where 50-year-old men live with their 25-yar-old wives…

he may get all the sex he wants, but he is forced to adopt her village.

 

I’d wager it is about the same with the boys, but if he takes a wife, she is very likely to

come with a hungry family and all of them have bad teeth.

 

He’ll pay or die in a traffic accident. His cute little flower wouldn’t hesitate

to take a contract out on him. Her brother might drive by on a scooter, waving a pistol.

 

By the time she receives delivery of the new bike and covers a few abortions for her sisters,

the little teacher will be broke. Now he’ll be sent out to make some real money.

 

 

II.

 

Some gals want you to buy them

a drink, but most would prefer

a house.

 

The expats in Saudi hook up

with Thai bar girls who want

it all. They’re the same as

the women in Beverly Hills.

They want it all, all right,

and then they kill their mates.

 

Take the kids, keep the house,

even the family car – they’ve

swallowed and demand compensation.

 

For some, it’s a cruel fate: to be

left in the desert for the rest

of their lives, paying for kids

they’ll never see to go to college.

“I love my daughter,” he cries,

after his fifth bottle of Coors.

 

The evening is young and he

hasn’t eaten. “Bring me another.”

His wife is a bitch, but he loves his kid.

 

He was wiped out 3 years ago, lost

several hundred thousand dollars.

He lives alone now in a dorm for single men.

He empties his groceries and throws the plastic

bags on to the floor. The bags float like amoeba

throughout the house. There are over a thousand.

 

That’s Ken, but he is not unlike Bill.

Ken and Bill resemble Keith but

could be confused easily with Tom.

 

They’re about the same, lost in the East,

masters of Pattaya and Chiang Mai, lonely

souls in search of love. When Keith died,

his wife sold his TAG Heuer watch to the neighbor.

Before she called the police, she and the other

wives stripped him naked. She sold his Nikes, too.

 

Most of these guys are fat. They have hairy noses

and pink bellies. When a man like this marries

a 20-something bar girl, he’s through living.

 

Now he waits to die.

No one white will touch him. He

stinks from the waist down. Women

his age and from his hometown want

to be in charge. They have gray hair

and don’t want their bottoms smacked.

 

These guys are drunks. These guys

are tyrants. They like to drink and to

start fights. They drool and wipe

their fingers on the front of their shirts.

They need to be put to bed.

 

Life is a shit sandwich; maybe not

for you but for some.

 

 

III.

 

Oh, Bill, Bill, do I feel sorry for you.

I remember so well being served gin by you.

When I look at your gut I feel ill.

 

But, Bill, the real reason I feel sorry

for you is that when I see you I think of myself.

I fear your stoop and gigantic gut is me in the future.

 

Your still in the sink, hissing; you made orders of fresh juniper

berries and barbecue chips. Bathtub alcohol at $25 a pint.

You passed out thimbles. “Have a taste. I take checks.”

 

Bill: you taught me to be on time. “Be out front at 8 or forget it.”

Yes, you made me hustle. I’d never been spoken to like that

in all my life. Whoever thought of leaving a friend behind?

 

Bill, you were a shit. You weren’t good for much. You bragged about

your guns and your hatred of women. All you liked was Asian pussy.

Are you attracted somehow to their indifference?

 

When I think of a redneck like you climbing all over those little girls,

I wonder how God could abandon our planet. Something about you

embodies our miserable condition.

 

Bill, Bill, Bill: you talked of a plot to overthrow the President.

Just what you had in mind I can’t say. You must have fantasies of making

things right, just like a little boy. You advised me to buy a gun.

 

You were famous for smuggling pork from Manama into Saudi at the

Al Khobar causeway. I watched you stuff your tool compartment with the

leanest chops and spare ribs. It’s a miracle you were not caught.

 

How you loved to serve straight gin and grilled bacon, English style,

cut wide but thinner than an American pork chop. You didn’t give a shit

about Islam.

 

Bill, the Vietnam vet. This is where you picked up your world view.

This is where you developed a taste for Asian women. This was when

you swore off American good-will. This is where you departed the human

race.

 

Good bye, Bill.

 

 

 

 

 

David Lohrey

David Lohrey is from Memphis, and now lives in Tokyo. He graduated from UC Berkeley. Internationally, his poetry can be found in Otoliths, Stony Thursday Anthology, Sentinel Quarterly, and Buckshot Magazine. In the US, recent poems have appeared in Poetry Circle, FRiGG, Obsidian, and Apogee Journal. His fiction can be read in Crack the Spine, Dodging the Rain, Literally Stories, and The Broke Bohemian. David’s The Other Is Oneself, a study of 20th century literature, was published last year, while his first collection of poetry, Machiavelli’s Backyard, was released in August. He is a member of the Sudden Denouement Collective. 

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