Waste Not, Want Not – David Lohrey


Good for you is not a greeting. Good for you means congratulations.

These words say good bye. We’re not together.

There’s no but.

Good for you spells doom. It’s the American creed. It’s a celebration

of greed. Good for you doesn’t say hello.


Don’t look at the what, look at the how!

How the now cow, a sound noun, is brown.

There’s no but.

Something really vast has changed.

It’s got a billy goat brain, a hummingbird mouth.


It’s the triumph of the dog and its bone.

It’s graduation day for cave dwellers.

There’s no but.

We say it to our cat when he finds a mouse.

You hear it when you exit the toilet.


Coffee, toast, and tatami: help us understand

why we can have one but not the other.

There’s no but.

Cranks like Rousseau make solitude glamorous,

but sensible people agree that it is terrible.


Good for you masks misgivings.

Good for you means you won.

There’s no but.

We are not far in America – and is it only in America – not far

from evolving a right to feel good about oneself.


Devised, God knows when by fuck knows who,

crosshairs or crossbows: choose your weapon.

There’s no but.

Repair the damaged shelters in Atglienicke and Marzahn. Head

to the suburbs of Berlin, to quiet Aue, in the mountains of Saxony.


Good for you evokes self-satisfaction; the

smile frames a smirk.

There’s no but.

Now you should feel ashamed. Your pleasure

is experienced by others as abuse.


In a run-down shack at the edge of Yellowstone National Park,

there’s a motley crew played by a racially diverse all-female cast.

There’s no but.

Jack, a grizzly out-of-work miner has the opportunity to get his America back.

A brutal comedy about patriarchy, entitlement, and a love of the land.


The woman’s son, 14-year-old JJ Hurtado, was found dead from a gunshot wound.

The Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office is handling the investigation.

There’s no but.

Sheriff Terry Rowan said Friday he does yet know the motive for the slaying.

“I would hate to even speculate.”


There is no vapor in this poem but there is good will.

Drink unto thee, drink unto thee.

There’s no but.

One for the rook, one for the crow, one for the rot, and one to grow.

What you have accomplished can be done for others.


Good for you can be rejected through a simple gesture.

Drink unto thee, drink unto thee.

There’s no but.

One for the rook, one for the crow, one for the rot, and one to grow.

Good for you can mean thanks.


Dear friends! Another toast. Here’s a toast to them as we love

And a toast to them as loves us.

There’s no but.

And here’s to them who loves them who loves those

Who loves those who loves them that loves us. A toast!


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 he is currently writing a memoir of his years living on the Persian Gulf. His latest book, The Other Is Oneself: Postcolonial Identity in a Century of War: 20th Century African and American Writers Respond to Survival and Genocide, is available on Amazon.com. He is also the author of Machiavelli’s Backyard from Sudden Denouement Publishing.

Machiavelli’s Backyard is Available at Amazon.com, Amazon Canada, Amazon Europe, Book Depository and other major book retailers.
Paperback, 106 pages/Published September 1st 2017 by Sudden Denouement Publishing.

19 thoughts on “Waste Not, Want Not – David Lohrey

  1. “There’s no but”– seems ambiguous. Funny thing is the nature of its expression evokes the criticism that ambiguity does not exist. Facts are objective. However the poem itself is strained in ambiguity so it achieves a raw irony. The statement also expresses that there are no excuses to be made– accept things, no whining. Nothing will change. “Good for you” is also ambiguous– does it mean “So what, who cares?” or “I’m jealous of your accomplishment!” The poem contextually creates the sense of the statement being of the second quality. Overall the poem seems to be a political protest rooted in jealousy. However, the cure is seen as the right to be proud of oneself in the face of things, to own your errors and shortcomings as being part of oneself. The mention of American greed is an invitation to witness the faults of a country yet accept them for what they are. Perhaps the strain of ambiguity and the questioning of it is a poet’s way of doubting its merits. Since poetry is an ambiguous “science”, casting doubt on ambiguity is brave and symbolizes a gazing at one’s own annihilation. Overall, the poem is a conversation between the poet and the social constructs he is familiar with. He both reflects them and denies them. By using ambiguity to assert the ambiguous, the poet masterfully outwits social convention to show that doubting something sometimes proves its right and existence.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Glad to see you on here when I stopped by today. Always a pleasure to read your work! There’s so much to see in your work; intimacy, disappointment, helplessness, perseverance.

    But of course my favorite is the mention of a cat:

    “We say it to our cat when he finds a mouse”

    Liked by 1 person

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