Multicultural Sushi – David Lohrey

What Europe needs is more Asians.
England will never be the same and dear
Katie can’t wait. She wants Liverpool
to look like Calcutta. Her dream
is a world of heterogeneity. Her idea
of bliss is Los Angeles everywhere.
Kuala Lumpur in Germany. Italy
without Italians, brimming with
Somalis; that’s the ticket. Germany
without whites.

Syrians will build Mercedes, according to sweet Katie. The
Algerians can bake the Stollen. Refugees from
Afghanistan will make the watches.
The Iraqis want to design Cuckoo Clocks;
get rid of the Swiss, the Germans, Swedes,
and the Danes. What do they know? They’ll be fine
in downtown Nairobi.

But Katie also likes Tokyo. She loves
the buzz and the sushi. What she likes above all else
is how safe it is for women. She can walk the streets
after midnight. But, here too, she celebrates
diversity. Bring in more Asians, Katie declares.
Welcome Filipinos and Chinese by the millions.
Why wouldn’t you? But she doesn’t wait for an answer.
She rushes to fling open the gates. Let’s erase the borders.

Yes, nothing less than 30 million will do.
If the US can take 1, 000, 000 Mexicans – and we know it can –
Japan can easily handle half of China. Throw in Manila.
Why ever not? If you dare to argue, you’re a racist.
If you express a doubt, you’re a Nazi. The more the merrier.
What is there to lose?

I ask…

If Merkel can’t get the Greeks to work 60-hour weeks,
how is she going to convince refugees from Sierra Leone to do overtime?
Is it true that economics is color blind?
Do Moroccans read Max Weber?
Do Ugandans have a work ethic?
Do Filipinos commit suicide when they’re wrong?
Do Americans have a sense of shame?

What of honor?

Japan without Japanese is China.
America is an airport with an annex.
It’s less a culture than a location, a living space.
Do we really want more and more of Houston?
A Dallas that stretches from sea to sea is bad enough.
Must it now be exported to the rest of the world?
The Japanese give up Kyoto but get Colorado?
A sea of homeless people. Mexicans without Spanish?

And the streets will remain safe?
Why ever not? Katie laughs. I wouldn’t try it in New Delhi.
Only a fool would in most of Chicago, not to mention Tijuana.
She doesn’t believe it. She knows better.
“If you’re nice to them,” she sings, “they’ll be nice to you.”
Diversity is marvelous, I’ll agree to that,
but I can’t see how a diverse Japan remains Japan.
Japan without Japanese isn’t Japan; that’s all I’m saying.
What it becomes might be great, perhaps even better, I won’t deny it.

You’ll get a better world perhaps, but you’ll sacrifice the sushi.
Have you tried the tacos in Los Angeles made with kimchi?
Many find them delicious – it’s a fair point – but remember this:
The Japanese don’t drink their tea with sugar.
When you add peach flavoring to green tea,
it ceases being Japanese and becomes garbage.
So, open the gates and cry welcome but don’t tell me
you love Kyoto. Tell me you want to live at Kennedy Airport,
in Terminal 9; the sushi there is marvelous. Try it with salsa.


[ 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.]

Poetry: Buy, Sell, or Hold – David Lohrey


Poetry: Buy, Sell, or Hold?

I sent my new poem to an old friend who replied:
“I know nothing of poetry.”
Another said about the same. “I don’t read the stuff.
Sorry.” It got me to thinking.

Had I sent in a stock tip, they would have rewarded me.
I might have received a bottle of Chablis, maybe even a good one,
had I sent in trading data on Nasdaq or the New York Stock Exchange.
Who would have said, “I’m not into making money.”?

But one comes to learn an awful truth about one’s friends.
Not just their indifference; that’s painful enough.
No. It’s that for them poetry is something akin to masturbation.
They don’t want to hear about it. It’s an embarrassment.

My friends are always buying or selling. If I had produced a tomato,
I’d have been advised to set up a stand on the sidewalk.
The price of tomatoes is high, asparagus even higher,
but poetry is nearly worthless; like trying to sell one’s teeth.

Poetry is not a commodity. My friends are merchants.
It’s a shameful action, like going to Confession.
Can you sell your sins? How much do one’s dreams weigh?
Nobody wants to watch a friend display himself.

It’s not that poetry is disgusting. But it may be shameful.
It’s seen as a waste of time: not an adult activity, not a good investment,
something more akin to gathering pine cones or pressing leaves in an album,
i.e., kid stuff, or a hobby for little old ladies.

I feel like a cat taking a bloody mouse to her master.
As I drop my poem at my friend’s feet, she gives it a glance
and sneers: “What’s that for? It’s not very pleasant.
Your job is to please me. Go play in the garden.”

That’s the response of my once best friend. She sees herself as an artist
or at least claims to be artistic. She wouldn’t treat a painting the way she scorns poetry.
But then again you can own an oil. You can hang it.
Even better you can resell it.

Stocks and paintings are good investments, like real estate.
Cars and furniture lose value, more like a poem.
They’re best when new, but with art, the worth is in its place,
they say. It’s not just beauty; it’s location, location, location.

Poetry is a dying art, especially when the artistic disown it.
They’d rather have crème brûlée or pear mousse with walnuts.
It’s not only prettier but something sweet. Poetry is no treat, and poets
are a nuisance. They have the absurd idea that what they do has value.

 

[David Lohrey is the author of Machiavelli’s Backyard from Sudden Denouement Publishing. He is also an editor for Sudden Denouement and a mentor for me personally – Jasper Kerkau]

Blank Verse – David Lohrey

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Blank Verse – David Lohrey

I’m asked to ignore too much…look the other way.
In fact, I should call my poems empty poems.
“Never-mind poetry,” that’d be a better name.
I’ll write poems about nothing. Poems that say
absolutely nothing but say it well. I’ll write poetry
that resemble Rothko’s paintings of voids, great hollow,
pulsating works of art, undulating existential blobs
from the bottom of the heart, written down but just
as easily forgotten.

Poems celebrating everything that’s good and wholesome,
that’ll be my racket. Easter eggs before they’re broken,
poems about Elvis as a matador printed on black velvet, with
HOME SWEET HOME embroidered in sequins and little
plastic pearls, with hymns to the Almighty. They’ll be called blank
verse and can be served with dessert toppings like apple sauce,
chocolate or maple syrup. Those would be apt subjects for a howdy-doody
poet like me. We’ll call them frozen yoghurt poems and serve them on a stick.

Today’s editors dictate the content of poetry. They remind poets
that anything found to be inappropriate will not be tolerated.
They are little Ivy League Gorkys. I’d be happy to write what
they want but only in exchange for a dacha on the outskirts of Moscow.

These sensitive souls demand a poetry that doesn’t hurt anyone’s feelings.
These self-satisfied prudes are backed by their attorneys. “Mustn’t give offense.”
Poetry is to be edited like church letters in the 1940s. They’d change the title
of Ginsberg’s “Howl” to something like, “Help Me!” Hallmark America.

By the time I’m finished editing out everything offensive, I’ll be left with
4 or 5 safe words: the, yet, then, too, and but. All the rest relegates me
to Facebook. Everyone is offended by my rubbish as every decent
human being in 1957 would have reviled Charles Bukowski’s poetry,
or T. S. Eliot’s, Henry Miller’s and surely Jack Kerouac’s, too.
The New Yorker did so and refused to publish them.

The internet editors now take it upon themselves to enforce common decency.
So off we go, back to the genteel tradition, back to placing covers on piano legs,
back to saying nothing that gives offence, back to the times when dreams
meant nothing, back before Freud, when a pickle was just a cucumber in brine.
And for what? The defense of Christendom? Not at all. No! So we can be nice.
And all this on the advice of corporate lawyers and the guys who make cereal.

The purpose of poetry after all is to make others feel good. This was cooked up
by some madman, a recent graduate of the school of insanity. Be sure that the fat
feel good about being fat, that blacks have black power, and the disabled are made
to feel they can do whatever the next man can even if they live in an iron lung.

I’d prefer to go back to the mimeograph machine, or back as far as the quill.
Forget internet courtesy and creative writing school notions of politeness.
Twenty more years of this and we’ll be back to where we were in the 1900s
when Ezra Pound and Gertrude Stein left the country. Back then the boobs in charge
were mainly little old ladies holding a Bible in one hand and a pistol in the other.
Now the magistrates of decency have MFAs from graduate
writing programs with certificates in censorship signed by the Governor.
They can have it.

[David Lohrey is the author of Machiavelli’s Backyard from Sudden Denouement Publishing. He is also an editor for Sudden Denouement and a mentor for me personally – Jasper Kerkau]

Glass Ceiling – David Lohrey

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Anya: she’s a cheerleader for the downtrodden.
I know because she’s ambitious.
The higher she wants to go, the more she cares.
As she fills out applications, you can hear her crying.

Oh, Anya, how she weeps for the poor.
She wails for the disabled. She loves
above all else to wag her finger. She prides
herself on her outrage, she thrives on indignation.

What Anya craves is power. She longs to join
Mothers of the Disabled. After distributing
pamphlets to the masses, she’ll drink toilet water.
She’s on the same wave length as the desperate.
She hangs a portrait of Mother Teresa over her bed.

What the fuck, she wants to be President.
She’s determined to get that promotion,
enough to hug a leper, but first she’ll read
to the blind. She’ll distribute clothing to the homeless.
She wants street cred; it’s the only way to the top.
She wants to be compared to her idol, Lady Di.

Not so long ago, the poor piano player was told
to try drums. Today the little girl is told to keep playing.
Anya has seen to that. The fat girl is encouraged
to join the ballet. The not so very bright boy is sent to law school.
This is the world she hopes to dominate.
The triumph of empathy is the next big thing.

There’ll be no stopping her. There are billions to be made off
mediocrity, a thousand times more than what’s been
made off talent. The triumph of failure. She’s tapped
into the voice of despair. Today the losers are on the move.
Everyone gets in. They’ll get a certificate for breathing,
a degree for trying.

They’ll attend graduate school on Skype from prison.
No one gets left behind. By the year 2029, 89% of the
American people will have a Ph.D. Now that Anya’s
President everyone on earth can attend Harvard; they’ll
learn to turn their despair into dread, like Franz Kafka.
The American dream is fulfilled; everyone’s a fool.


 

[David Lohrey is the author of Machiavelli’s Backyard from Sudden Denouement Publishing. He is also an editor for Sudden Denouement and a mentor for me personally – Jasper Kerkau]

David Lohrey’s Machiavelli’s Backyard

David Lohrey's Machiavell's Backyard

Sudden Denouement Publishing is excited to announce David Lohrey’s collection of poetry Machiavelli’s Backyard. Lohrey’s poetry is rife with dark humor, biting social satire, and paralyzing honesty. His work illustrates that now more than ever, in a world overrun with vapid pop culture, shortened attention spans, and loss of a collective sanity, there is a need for voices that speak truth, spreading light in the darkness–poetry is alive! All is not lost.

Lohrey is a brilliant artist, a visionary with a keen command over the English language, an ability to make fire out of rock and wood. His collection is available on Amazon and The Book Depository.  October 1st, his book will be available on Amazon Kindle. A pre-order is available for the Kindle version.

If anyone is interested in writing a long-form review, please contact me for a copy of the book. In the process of publishing, I have learned that reviews are an important part of the process. I would ask anyone who purchases the book to go to Amazon and Goodreads and leave a short review.

Jasper Kerkau

Co-Founder Sudden Denouement

 

Jasper Kerkau talks with Dustin Pickering about Rana Kelly, David Lohrey, and Sudden Denouement

Dustin Pickering, of Transcendent Zero Press, and I were interviewed by Z.M. Wise. We discussed Dustin’s new book Frenetic/No Contest,  Rana Kelly’s Superstition, and David Lohrey’s forthcoming book of poetry Machiavelli’s Backyard.

Please check out Z. M. Wise’s YouTube Page, as well as Transcendent Zero Press.