Poems by David Lohrey



Heavens to Betsy or Ivanhoe

The big city is on fire but not here.
Why must we live like bears
when we could be as proud as peacocks?
We sleep too much. We play dead.
Hibernating is for the birds. Paris is on fire
but here in Baltimore, people sleep.

You can tell from their toenails and their eyelids
that the WASPS are dead. Once outlandish,
just think of Bunker Hill, now they’re
blasé. Once outrageous, these days they shop. When
bored, they flirt. On holidays, they head for Iceland
as their capital burns.

They prefer pomegranates and pistachios to
potatoes and onions. They still listen to Herb Albert.
They pay to hear Jingle Bells in underground bunkers.
They stopped going to the theatre after seeing “Oh!
Calcutta!” The wives crave the pirouette; the husbands,
Hullaballoo, preferably in French.

They remember the Can-Can in Las Vegas. They miss
Mollie Brown. They’ve never been to Kansas but they
look down on women who wear kitchen curtains that don’t
fit. Sophistication means appearing to be foreign.
They are ashamed to be American. In Paris, everybody
wants to be French. They are ready to burn.

True WASPS tear out the shag and replace it with hard wood. As we
learned from Broadway, they give jam as gifts. Their husbands invest
in mouthwash. Their brothers build bombs. Their children cry in the dark.
The maid drinks. It’s a winter wonderland out there but they can’t be
happy. Think of T.S. Eliot in his panama hat. Privacy is a thing of the past.
In the name of transparency, boys’ flies must remain open.

The New York Times announces it is utopia time. Macy’s is having
a sale. You can buy anything including a neutered python. Race
relations have been abolished. Boys can now be girls. Alcatraz
houses teachers who refuse to call him, her. Now they say Mary
was raped. In future, no one will have genitals. Ken and Barbie
are exactly the same south of the border.

Jingle Bells. The President watches the Rockettes all day. It’s
a very Merry Christmas on TV. White trash dine at KFC. The
upper class prefers its minced meat from England. The Flower Drum Song
has replaced Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Everyone has a gun.
Standing under mistletoe is against the law. In their bunkers, people
wear camouflage. Strangers mistake them for rats.


Mt. Fuji

Mount Fuji looks like a newspaper this time of the year.
Black and white without headlines.
Winter dead. Barren. Indecipherable.
A vanilla ice cream, inverted.
Snow, dripping down one’s hand, melting.
Cold. Austere. Alone. All alone.

Want-ads appear splashed across its front page.
Help wanted. No calls.
When it is cloudy, visibility may be limited.
On a clear day, you can see forever.
Sun visors are available for purchase.
No experience necessary.
Inquire within.

Young. Vivacious, proactive.
A self-starter. Bi-lingual. Preferably female.
Easy-going, patient, and attentive.
Able to work with others, persistent.
A ready smile. Sound judgement.
Start your climb. Stay on marked trails.
Bag it! Violators will be prosecuted.

Refreshments will be served at the summit.
Public toilets are available at 1,700 m.
Pace yourself. Dizziness may occur.
Carry water. There is a rest-stop every 750 meters.
Make way for the handicapped.
Guides are available. See inside.
Mobile devices are prohibited.

Elation may be disorienting.
Interviews by appointment.
Appropriate attire required.
Mt. Fuji closes at 23:00 nightly.
Report suspicious behavior.
Abandoned property will be destroyed.
Mt. Fuji cannot be held responsible.

Good luck. You’ll need it.


When the Floor Drops

Right there, there; he’s in the show. In
the greatest show on earth, my uncle
rides a motorcycle at 100 mph horizontally
round and round from the floor to the walls
in a circle, and then the floor drops.

He risks his life to make a living. It’s the Depression:
1937, at the Erie County Fair, just steps away
from Niagara Falls. My dad was just a boy.
I wasn’t there. It was back then when America was
still young. It was when America was weird.

He flew until he was riding parallel to the ground.
If he slowed down, he would crash. A crash landing,
in point of fact. He drove without a helmet, so everyone
could see his beautiful hair, blown back, and his face
contorted. Suddenly, there was nothing there.

Did he shout, help? Before he died? My uncle Clyde
fell when his bike stalled. He and his bike were whipped
around the walls, careening and tumbling, until the gasoline
splashed around. The explosion set the place on fire;
the cylinder contained the blast so Clyde was blown to bits.

His luck ran out. That’s what people said. Some said
he had it coming. Don’t press your luck. The bottom
fell out. He learned he could count on nothing. Hope
doesn’t mean shit. It was his turn, Mac announced.
People got bored and went to watch the tattooed lady.

Step right up.


About the Author:

David Lohrey’s plays have been produced in Switzerland, Canada, and Lithuania. His poems can be found at Nthanda Review, Otoliths, Eunoia, and Impossible Archetype. His fiction can be seen at Dodging the Rain, Terror House Magazine, and Literally Stories. David’s collection of poetry, Machiavelli’s Backyard, was published by Sudden Denouement Publishers. He lives in Tokyo.