Many live without love.
Not I, but I do have
sympathy. I understand,
as they say in Alabama.
I get it, as they say in
Philly. Life without love
must be tough. I first heard
that at the Westside Y.
The man who said so was holding
my dick. He tightened
his grip when he spoke.
It made me scream.
Life is a shit sandwich.
I don’t agree, but I do
see what you mean.
Life is not always peachy
keen, I agree. Just last month
my cousin had to go to
about her stomach. Her
surgery wasn’t a success
so now she shits into a little bag.
She smells. She says now she wants
to kill herself. Who could blame her?
I have compassion for her and for
victims like her. I can identify
with their frustrations.
It’s not easy being angry,
directing rage while feeling helpless.
One is torn, yet one is paralyzed.
Revenge is understandable. I get that.
If you had the chance, you’d strike back,
even if it meant committing murder.
Sympathy, understanding, and
compassion are related. It’s
all a matter of relating to
misfortune, identifying with
victims, sharing feelings.
Some can do that; others can’t.
I have a talent for living
as others do, a genius
for seeing as others do.
The danger remains that one tires of
suffering. The thrill wears off. Sympathy
turns into pity. One wants privacy.
One hopes, ironically, for abandonment;
one searches for love, not just understanding;
not for patience, but for anger. Don’t
hold your breath. These feelings take time.
Can we pull ourselves together?
Not if you call the police.
Not if you involve the law.
Not if you head for court.
Think about it. So many problems
now are settled by lawyers.
Who do we sue when we’ve lied?
There’s no one else to blame. We are
talking about self-inflicted wounds.
The court of humiliation.
Who is the justice of the peace?
If only the laws were enforced.
How divine to see justice served.
Who can decree tranquility in this chaos?
Who can quiet our longings? I’d like to file
papers against all who have awakened this beast.
We’re past negotiating.
There is no ready settlement.
There is no point in holding a meeting.
It’s not that there can be no compromise.
It’s that everything has been compromised.
We are the aggrieved parties.
We’ve sold out. We’re hollowed out.
We’re wiped out. We have nothing to give.
Now we’re talking dispersal of holdings,
confiscation of property, liquidation of assets.
We’re bankrupt: financially, sure, but much more
importantly, morally. We can’t vouch for ourselves.
We are traveling without a letter of credit.
We’re liable to be detained, searched, and,
in all likelihood, arrested. We could spend the rest
of our lives in prison, left to rot.
We’re lucky not to be tarred and feathered.
Some of us will be shot. They have our guns.
[David Lohrey was born on the Hudson River but grew up on the Mississippi in Memphis. He currently teaches in Tokyo. He has reviewed books for The Los Angeles Times and The Orange County Register, has been a member of the Dramatists Guild in New York, and is currently writing a memoir of his years living on the Persian Gulf. Also, he’s freakin’ awesome.]