Five Poems By David Lohrey

Pic by Karolina Grabowska



A Good Paddling

Yes, it was better back then, far better to be alive.
They put the groceries on a conveyer belt at the A & P,
which carried them far below. They were taken outside
to a spot in the parking lot. One didn’t push one’s cart across
the gravel back then. It was called civilization, this; what is it
called now?

The angry man called me a motherfucker when I brushed up
against him in the subway. Of course, I had never laid eyes
on this man ever before. He was a fool. I could scarcely care,
I wanted to say, but I said sorry. I’m terribly, terribly sorry,
my dear, for touching your tender shoulder.

No, we weren’t rebellious at all. We obeyed. It was all about
Yes, sir, and knowing when to stop. Although there were those
among us, like Matt, who had a well-cushioned ass. He provoked
the flat-topped coach to strike; he grabbed his polished paddle
and swept it across Matt’s backside. It made him laugh.

We said Ma’am? not What? If we wanted to thrive, we had to submit.
There were rules in my day, not chaos. We had no rights. Our parents
stood with the school against us. What? was thought rude. It was not
permitted. They called it respect, but we all knew it was obedience.
The men were just back from the war. They were fighters. They were
prepared to knock our teeth out.

It was a tough time and we were expected to take our clothes off. No
if ands or buts. Get your pants off, strip. We took showers together
in the nude. Modesty was a sign of femininity. No blushing, no hard-ons.
Get your ass into the pool. Boys in those days were expected to be men;
we were in training to kill.

Those were the good old days, and don’t forget it. I was there. Kids
didn’t tell their teachers to fuck off. Not back then. Adults ran the world.
Our lockers didn’t lock. Mom and dad left the doors wide open. Mother
let the car run when she dashed n for milk. Kids stayed in the car. Some
people believe in progress. Things are always getting better. I laugh.


By Popular Demand

I noticed you have a police dog in your house.
I saw its long snout and hairy prick.
It was carrying a gun and had a pot belly.
When I tried to pet him, he snarled and barked.

Jesus Christ. What’s up?
You having bad dreams? You expecting trouble?
It’s not what people normally see in the home of a ballerina,
That and the loaded shot gun. I notice too that you’re putting on weight.

You depressed?
Saw you out last night with your dog. That was him squatting over
the Palladino’s petunias.
I take it you don’t like flowers. You didn’t bother to pick it up

The Italians threatened your life? How so?
You think the German Shepherd will protect you?
Tell me you had it trained to tear out the jugular, otherwise
you might as well forget it.

What do you mean he promised to cut off our genitals?
I’m not involved.
He thinks we’re lovers? He called me your husband?
Jesus Christ. How’d that happen? I barely know you.

No, I don’t think I’m prepared to sleep with you. Why
must we pretend to be married? You’re kidding.
You want a black eye so we look like we’re fighting?
But I don’t love you.

Okay, you can hang my underwear on your clothes line.
Fair enough. I’ll come over and you can do it with the lights on.
I’ll take the dog out right after.
I’m not leaving anything on the Palladino’s stairs. Absolutely not.

Look, you may have to get rid of it.
No, not divorce. An annulment. Right.
I’m not Catholic.
Howard Hughes is paying something like $100,000.

I have no problem with that.
You should be so lucky.
I’d guess three inches, no more than four.
It is against the law. Absolutely. And it should be.


Anyone Home?

Is there anyone home? We are
here to end all human suffering.
We have come for the tyrant. In the end,
he will be stabbed with a bayonet. There should
be no profit in profiteering.
In the future, nothing will be owned
except for human beings.

Take the Kabuki underground
to the end of the line.
Paranoia is its own species of adrenaline.
The party is deductible. Sing.
Sing a song. Just sing. Make it simple.
We all obey kings in matters
that are reprehensible.

All roads lead to St. Louis.
Just ask T.S Eliot.
There we must take our lessons; there we will learn to meow.
There will be war if someone’s taken my copy of “Set for Life.”
I haven’t had a chance to read it.
Mexican gangsters rape their prisoners with daggers
stuck in the anus and twisted.

If you will allow me to speak undiplomatically.
On the military side, we are not yet on the offensive,
but we soon will be. Writers terrorize readers with fat,
boring books. They eat rotten apples and bologna.
Doritos and yams. They chug Kool-Aid
and buy Bud in dated cans on discount.
You know, I always get my revenge in my dreams.

It is not always the fair-minded who are
in possession of the truth. So much has happened,
vile things, and glories beyond measure.
Timidity will get us nowhere. Join the party; sit here on the floor.
Eat the goat meat with your hands. I can’t look at you anymore.
You’ve become a kind of civil rights masochist with a head
full of important journals and a nostalgia for riots.


Horse Operas

We live in a time of hero bonuses. There is talk of appreciation pay. At the strip club
it is masks on, clothes off. We don’t want the naked ladies getting sick.

There is so much pressure to stay the same. Cassius Clay turned into Muhammad
Ali… They didn’t hate him for becoming Muslim, what did they know about Muslims?

No. They hated the idea he wanted to change and found a way. This was not allowed.
“But you said” means you should say the same…stay the same.

Change was for the weak and weary. It was called giving up. In my day, there was
no divorce. No one wanted to be called a quitter. Better to give up on life.

Flat girls couldn’t go to the hospital and come out stacked. Boys didn’t become girls.
They remained sissies. Girls who liked girls became porn stars for men.

I’m talking about killing aphids. Hybrid corn. Tomatoes the size of dinner plates.
Zucchini as big as watermelon. That’s what happens when you aren’t looking.

There’s a lesson here. Keep your eyes open. It wasn’t just Kennedy’s lies that were
Killing; it was lying for the Kennedys that turned the party into a party of liars.

Once started, the liars never stopped. The first lie was that John Kennedy was a good man.
The next was that he loved his wife. The third was that he had been a hero.

Last, that money doesn’t stink. Men should never get into bed with the rich. That’s a rule. Women can, because women know why they’re there. Men think they’re there to share.

When you are that rich, the men who offer to suck your dick are not always gay. If this
strains credulity, consider the case of Kennedy’s college roommate.

I believe all women who tell the truth. Jackie was a great soothsayer. She left the country when the Secret Service told her assassins were out to kill Kennedys. “I’ve got two.”

She also called the women who worked in the White House the White House dogs. Your guess
is as good as mine. FDR sent the old man to the Court of St. James to rid the country of Nazis.

They threw the girls into the river. They registered the dead. Their bagmen met below bridges
in West Virginia and on street corners in Chicago. Robert worked for Joe McCarthy.

Some still call them moving pictures. Europeans call it cinema. As for me, it will always
be about film. Women are not the only whores.



In a tree, underwater, sitting or standing.
Isn’t it funny?
Some people can’t wait to do it in public.
They’re eager.
Back seats of cars start early. On the kitchen floor,
why not?
We are the opposite of dogs, really.
We’ll copulate anywhere – clearly –
sex is not an intimate act, not for humans,
but we’re loath to defecate in public.
Hey! Do you mind?

Home sweet home no longer includes a honeymoon
suite. Sex has gone public. Let us hope that defecation
stays in the closet.
Love turns out to be not a concession to animal lovers
so much as a take on a popular Mexican street food,
chicharrones de harina,
which happen to be vegan: ridged wheat puffs fried
golden and bombed with raw vegetables, candied peanuts,
pineapple-habanero hot sauce, and cashew crema.

This brings back the issue of public life in general,
the dropping of privacy as an issue.
People value privacy but want the right to drop it.
People want to be left alone. They wish to do as
they please. There are no limits.
The product of stultification, everything goes perfectly
with thin slices of marinated chorizo and hefty slabs of
caramelized-garlic focaccia. The question remains
as to whether one finds this triumphant or squalid.

Have you tried the iced Mexican mocha made
with condensed milk, mint, and a hint of Aleppo pepper?
Or, how about the cucumber-shiso sangria
and the michelada-like El Rey Delfina, with pilsner,
Worcestershire, and lime? It’s to die for.
They’re happy to put pins and needles into their nipples
to look more appealing. Hooks and studs look attractive
protruding from their lips and tongues. Signs of lust stand out.
Tattooed bottoms and vaginas announce they’re ready.

The degenerate feminist is a thing to behold.
She wants the power to be a sexual thing,
an object of desire, or in today’s parlance, a bitch.
The girdle’s off; she’s on her knees. The men surround her.
She’s a liberated woman. The men say, “What took you so long?”
He takes a crunchy corn tostada, slathers it in a luscious
whip of butter and Greek yoghurt, then layers on meaty
chunks of sardine and coins of radish and purple carrot,
finished with a bright, herbaceous vinaigrette.


About the Author

David Lohrey’s plays have been produced in Switzerland, Canada, and Lithuania. His poems can be found at Expat Press, Cardiff Review, FRiGG, The Drunken Llama and Trouvaille Review.  His fiction can be seen at Dodging the Rain, Terror House Magazine, and Literally Stories. Three new anthologies in 2019 include David’s work: Universal Oneness (India), Passionate Penholders (Singapore), and Suicide, A Collection of Poetry and Prose (UK). David’s first collection of poetry, Machiavelli’s Backyard, was published in 2017. His newest collection, Bluff City, will appear this fall, published by Terror House Press. He lives in Tokyo.