October 24, 2018 Poetry , POETRY / FICTION

Tina Leggio photo



David Lohrey




Buffalo Wings



We dedicate this poem to the city of Buffalo.


The Buffalo Police Chief’s Press Conference

a sniper

killed at least

here are five takeaways

during a Black Lives Matter protest, July 8, 2019

“We saw no other option,” Adam Wójcik declared.


July 8, 2019


Let’s hear it now from the one and only James Brown:






Please. Please. Please. Please. Please. Please.







The snow in Buffalo piles high,

enough to hide the dirt.

The days of refinement are past.

Olmsted and Frank Lloyd Wright left

their mark on a city that barely lives.

It’s been sucked dry like a bone from

last night’s pork chop.


In downtown Buffalo killed at least five officers and injured

seven more and two civilians, from the press conference

Buffalo (Buffnews. com) – “We are all worried for our safety.

We are all on edge and being very careful.” Adam Wójcik said.

Following the shooting, Buffalo Mayor Deshaun Taylor told the Evening

News, that the sniper shouted out to the police that he wanted to ‘Kill

White People, White Officers’.


We are once again reminded of our fathers’ hometown:


Buffalo was once the crown jewel

of Erie; then the city that boasts Niagara Falls

fell. Hard times never leave, but the companies

continue to do so. They take their jobs and their profits;

the city, an urban carcass: lots of bodies

left to rot, as in a factory accident, damaged

beyond recognition, abandoned and bronzed in rust.


“We’re not going to tell you anything about the suspects…”

“We’re asking cops to do too much in this country.”

“We are running on fumes.”


Police killed the suspect with a robot carrying a bomb.


“And we’re not going to answer questions.”

“We negotiated with this person.” “If you’re at your home,

your office or your school, please join us today at noon in prayer,

to bring our city together, to bring our country together,

to heal wounds, not create them.”


Let’s hear it now from our brother:








“Our hostage negotiator did an exceptional job getting this suspect

to talk before he died.” Buffalo Police Adam Wójcik revealed the suspect’s

declaration…  “You can’t crawl into the head (of someone who would do this).”

…toward the end of the press conference…

“He seemed lucid. He wanted to kill…”

“We negotiated with this person.”

“He expressed killing white people. He expressed killing white officers.

He expressed anger for Black Lives Matter…None of that makes sense.”


Some place has to be the capital of the Rust Belt and it might as well be this:


Without old money, the city would be a pit.

Like the antiques in grandmother’s

attic, the buildings must be handled with care.

They’re fragile as a little old lady. They’re valuable,

which is more than can be said for much of the country.

Unlike Las Vegas, Buffalo doesn’t have gas stations

to cherish, but splendid houses, churches and office towers.


Let’s hear it now from the only who ever made Mick Jagger feel jealous:







Please. Please. Please. Please. Please. Please.


“We’re not satisfied…” Wójcik spoke to reporters in front of City Hall.

“If there’s someone out there who is associated with this, we will find you.”

“We will prosecute you, and we will bring you to justice…”


They stock up on toilet paper here so they’ll have clean asses through winter:


Buffalo celebrates yesterday and what might have been.

The city’s greatness is to be found now in preservation,

which, in this day and age, is clearly heroic. Locals wear

their rust belts like champions. And if there is

to be a tomorrow, let it build on this, Buffalo’s wings.


They don’t put ketchup on hotdogs in this town and don’t you forget it:


Heritage week is held twice a month and rightly

Locals live in the past, for better and for worse.

Toronto glistens across the water but is empty, a city

without its neighbor’s soul. Buffalo has style. The beef

on weck is part of it but in the end it’s the spirit of a lost

cause, somewhat like the Daughters of the American

Revolution. It’s the Germans, the Poles, and the Irish.

It’s years of effort and all for nothing.


“We’re not expanding on who or how many.”  The Police Chief said.

“We’re going to keep these suspects guessing.”


The reporter asked the Chief to comment on a recent graffiti scrawled on the front

of the police station: “See the promised land, from Gilead to Jericho.”

“Pray for these families…they are not having a good time…”


July 8, 2019






Picasso’s Circle



Artists refuse to tell us why what we do every day

is drudgery, but for them, joy. They love what they do,

they declare, but they know we dig the same holes with

a sense of woe. We’re dying but they thrive. What we

do is called work, but for them it is more…it is something

entirely different. Artists have verve: bounce, brio, dash, drive,

dynamism, energy, esprit, gas, get-up-and-go, gusto, life, moxie,

oomp, pep, punch, snap, starch, vigor, vim, vinegar, vitality,

zing, zip. Art’s a kick and artists are rewarded for it.

They sell the holes they dig.


But putting objects to use is not the sole talent of artists.

Anyone can do that. Life does not rate as art.

Many an artist embodies nothing more than ignorant verve.

This is why we can’t have nice things.

The picture of the dainty chick is seen as a cliché.

Its yellow hue is bright and radiates joy. In art,

this is known as kitsch. It’s junk, appealing as it does

to the sentiments of a six-year old child who loves elephants.

This is nothing more than bottled soda, whereas art collectors crave

aged whiskey or tequila, hence the preference for depictions of death.


Ants crawling over the remains of a dead bird evoke deeper

feelings than joy. Viewers seeing such a sight might even feel

an existential chill. This is thought to be good. Dread counts

as an authentic feeling, while joy is thought to be fake.

This is the impulse behind modern art; we are moving in the direction

of the real. In future, gallery attendees, if they have enough money,

will be handed a pistol; if they desire something authentic,

they will be invited to shoot. Artists will be paid to take pictures

of their corpses.


No, an artist’s talent includes the ability to wrest power.

His skill involves class warfare. She’s managed to disenchant

the gentry, to rob the ruling class of its glamour. Everyone

wants to be Picasso, not the Duke of Devonshire. The planters

of Mississippi have been displaced by Elvis. Nobody thinks the Taylors,

the McFaddens, or Walker Percy’s family are anything

special. See the promised land from Gilead to Jericho has been

replaced by the neon sign announcing the traveling show from the Met,

with posters of Toulouse Lautrec and one of those screwball dramas

about Queen Elizabeth’s love affair with Joan Baez.


One thinks of Lucien Freud and Francis Bacon with their paint

brushes. They have more in common with stable

boys than aristocrats, but are much more likely

to be called milord and greeted with applause

than some eccentric landowner with a six-car garage.

Artists did that, not the French Revolution.

“Madame Bovary” lives. “Je suis Charlie.” That’s

Charlie Parker, Charlie Hebdo, perhaps even the drunken

poet Charles Bukowski who appears in Sean Penn’s dreams.

Movie stars love his vomit. Even dreck has cachet.


Perhaps someone will invent a new poetry of thought.

Even the Chinese value Rothko. Hitler knew not to

bomb Paris. American pilots steered clear of Kyoto.

And it wasn’t to save gas. This is why the world was shocked

when the Americans left the Baghdad Museum unguarded,

not by the bombing of civilians. In modern times, you can

incinerate the people, but one mustn’t abandon the Titian. J. Paul

Getty valued Fabergé Eggs, not herds of cattle. Art is life. Today,

Elvis’s shorts lie beneath protective glass guarded by the sheriff.

His landlord’s underwear was given to charity.


Get out there and claim your hole. Put a circle around it;

name it. Learn to embrace the Eugene O’Neill school

of amplitude. Art is about making something from nothing.

It’s not enough to say muhrthrfuckr even if it is in 3-D. It is

not sufficient to think we are all tormented. Art is more than

a sum of its execrations. Art should be like an elephant turd:

impressive. Expressways are not works of art, and don’t let

anyone tell you otherwise. Art should not be confused with

the invention of arson. Artists are nobodies, not has-beens.

They belong to tomorrow.









There is no such thing

as friendliness here. One’s contact is measured to a purpose.

Hello could lead to marriage in the US, but here…one


never answer a stranger’s greeting.

He or she is just a stranger here, a gaijin.


Japanese are not too polite, no; they are not polite at all.

Americans have this idea about them,


the fact is that on the street it is a matter of silence;

there is no communication, none: not even an acknowledgment,

not even a look.


One has no part to play, one is at a loss; one

never speaks to strangers. There are no hellos,


good mornings, no smiles, no head nodding…no winks: nothing.

On the street no one ever returns my automatic American smile.

In fact, that smile is seen as a solicitation.

What do you want?


It’s simple: they are waiting to be introduced. Once

one has an identity people spring into action:

“Ah, you must live on the 9th floor. Nice to meet you.”

And from then on one gets polite good mornings


and without fail: konichiwa.


Women particularly are loath to make eye contact.

I know what he wants!


starts with merchant-customer exchanges; people know their place,

their lines. Excuse me. It all falls into place and they speak with ease.

May I help you?


There is no such thing as friendliness here.


contact is measured to a purpose.

Hello could lead to marriage elsewhere, but here…one would

never answer a stranger’s greeting. He might need something.


He or she is just a stranger.

Why bother?






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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