August 23, 2018 Poetry , POETRY / FICTION

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David Lohrey




Tyranny of Neglect



Circus-like outside.

The crowd prances by;

some walk the tight rope;

others smile like French clowns.


One man’s frown deserves a call to 911;

one girl’s body is hot enough to combust.

Great displays of displeasure or delight

catch one’s eye. There is enough

hair on the women to make them look like puma

or lynx. Some of the men, hairless, look like

patients in a hospice. Others, handsome,

cultivate the look of ex-cons.


The ink spots on their bodies

do not so much decorate as distract,

like graffiti. It’s not mutilation but,

like vandalism, should be against the law.

Some of the people are said to drink

their own piss. Others like to masturbate

on the opposite sex.


All in all, it’s a display of

good cheer; like hooved

animals at mid-summer, huddled

under a tree, its trunk wrapped to protect

the bark. If you get too close,

they’ll charge. You can smell their

shit from 75 feet away. The males

have been gelded. The females play with

each other. It’s a display of stricken

harmony. Castrations are scheduled every

afternoon. The butchers await.


They might be goats. They insist they are not

sheep. There are kids running around.

Whatever they are called, they weep black gunk.

Pellets cling to their back sides.

The does’ tits are pink. The bullies await

their fate. It’s late in the summer. Soon

it will be cooler.






The Lambs Awaken



It was time. Every confession, a taunt, an effort

to denigrate, if not herself, then me.

Old age invites humiliation but being disgusting

is a choice. It’s a fashion statement; it’s a great way

to get back at a snotty son, prove him wrong.


He doesn’t come from a good family and there is not

a goddamned thing he can do about it. The little shit.

She’ll show him. He wants people to think well of him.

She’ll expose him as a fake. She’ll show everyone

his family is nothing more than trash.


He thinks he’s so refined with his fancy degrees.

She’ll get everyone to see him for what he really is,

the son of Catskill Mountain hillbillies, potato farmers,

depression-era desperados, the kind of people who pimp

their daughters to Brooks Brothers businessmen.


They were sent to the Big City to join typing pools,

spending ½ their time in the pool and ½ on their knees.

That’s the so-called middle-class from which he descends,

little clones of Clarice; yes, her!, that lost girl with nightmares

who joined the FBI. She learned to hide behind shiny shoes.


College is America’s finishing school where we learn to talk sweet.

One learns to eat brie and drink white wine when what we crave is draft beer

and a basket of pretzels. We learn to wear slippers and don silk jackets.

This is how some people live, sure, but there are many more who’d prefer to loll about,

watching TV, half-naked, looking more like a stud in a wife-beater.


The veneer of respectability is thin, we see it now;

it’s out in the open. We got it with the Clintons, we see it in Trump.

It is easier to hate than to see ourselves.

The money doesn’t disguise who we are.

Only the Kennedys had enough to hide their smell.


How much perfume can one wear? JFK knew what he wanted

from the WH typing pool; Jackie O called them the White House

dogs. Bill Clinton left the back door open. Arkansas state troopers

procured the typists. This is what made a man of Hillary.

Women learn to adapt. It’s the men who don’t understand.






Stop Resisting



“Write something cheerful,” advises my dear cousin,

a wretched girl born in a nondescript town-house

down on New Amsterdam’s Wall Street

in the early seventeenth century.

“Write something less depressing, something perhaps

about gladioli or parmesan.”

“Cheese.” “Please,” she begs.


In those days, 14th Street was uptown.

I should know.

That’s before women with wide bottoms

were body-shamed and long before

men dared walk the streets hand

in hand like adolescent girls.

“There was cow shit everywhere,”

remembers my cousin.


Now we dream of holidays

in the South Pacific: topless

girls and venereal disease.

Melville prevails.

But cheer up. There’s nothing wrong

a little life can’t cure.

“It’s all been left in good hands.”

Think of sunflowers, John Coltrane.

Remember the Alamo,

not the Holocaust.

The American dream

carries on,



The pirates are not simpletons.

All they want is justice.

Their rallying cry is familiar.

“What are you waiting for?”






Sociology 101



Not oily, not greasy: creamy.

That’s it. Liberals are creamy.

The New Yorker is creamy.

What else? Business Class.

Who? Obama.

Clinton? No. Slick.

Tonya Harding? Al Sharpton?

What else is creamy? Hollywood, north of Sunset.

No, not Hollywood. Beverly Hills. Now, that’s creamy!

Get it? Pico Boulevard is greasy.

Tom Hanks is creamy.

Seinfeld. Ellen. Definitely Oprah.


You see what I am saying?


It works. Divide the world

And it all makes sense.

The affluent prefer creamy.


New car salesmen are creamy.

Used: oily or greasy, depending on the model.

Used foreign car salesmen are definitely greasy.

Check out a ten-year-old Mercedes.


It works.


Department store clerks used to be creamy.

Now it’s all self-service, so who knows?

The Kennedys: 50/50.

JFK? Creamy. Robert? Hard to say.

No one’s creamy at Walmart.

Target’s the same. There’s

Nothing’s creamy about McDonald’s,

Except in Japan and Hong Kong.

Everything is creamy at the ballet.

I’m telling you, it’s foolproof.

Bill Gates is creamy. Steve Jobs, silken.


How about Trump? What about the new President?

His daughter Ivanka is creamy.

He’s another matter.

Gold plating is not creamy.


It’s sleazy.






What It Means to Be Human



Panic in the streets. Pompeii is on fire. The Peace and Freedom

Party is the only one willing to fight for peace and freedom.

All the rest love war but remain unable to win one. What we need

now are pamphlets to distribute to the masses. People

feel left out; some even feel neglected. Succor awaits.


What it means to be human or is that, what

it means to be a human? Somehow, there seems

to be a world of difference. Being human

is no small thing, I’ll agree to that, but as to the

other, well, does one really have a choice?


It’s all so heady. Of course, when I was young,

the young made a point out of reading philosophy.

It was part of the humanities, along with foreign

languages and ancient history. We were all so

curious about Aristotle in those days.


It reminds me of the expression, get a life. Now, here

one has an excellent example of the importance

of the English article. Get life would appear to be a rather

bland, if not benign, instruction while the added “a”

suggests a form of judgment, possibly a command.


Aristotle is seen now as part of the problem. That he was

white has been pointed out by the witty, and then some

make it a point to say he was male. Being a male has become

altogether unfashionable, although once a year one is encouraged

to prance through the streets with one’s trousers down.


It is better to be female. People come to expect it. If not

the tears, they expect the anger. Men are always calmer.

All subjects are brought over so much better when teachers

threaten their students. Women teachers are quick to anger,

and we know that means they care. Men are indifferent.


Men I know have given up. We are all told it is biological.

Our bodies know the difference. Titty bars attract the most

patrons. My best friend went into The Windy City, a topless

joint in central Manila. She squeezed a lime over her breasts

and said invitingly, “Take suck?”


It’s the men who are made to feel uncomfortable.

Their heels are killing them. Now that men are wearing girdles,

things have changed. Do men in drag pay higher tips than men in boots?

Chinese tractors outsell the American, but the rich still

want Buicks. History has not been abandoned.


Love? What’s that? Much more importantly, what’s love

got to do with it? The human condition hasn’t much to do

with humans. We are talking survival, not manners; we are

looking to hire bouncers, not masseuses. In the Pentagon’s

scenarios of total annihilation, no effort is made to save art.






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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