The Invention of Arson David Lohrey

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The Invention of Arson

Who started the fires? Many are drawn to the flames – men and women
in equal number. They clamber to get closer. They take off work to travel:
the flames climbing higher, engulfing, filling the skies. The smoke gets in
everything; there are ashes in the houses, on the carpets. Many stand still
and hold out their tongues. They tear off their clothing. They crave the heat. They’re excited by the smell of ruin. They’re delirious.

The fires mean trouble. The people can’t tell the difference
between fireworks and flames. They welcome the fires with tribal dances.
The women bare their breasts. It excites the men. The logs in the fireplace
have rolled into the living room but the people are too drunk to push them back. They’re laughing. They’re excited that something’s finally happening.
They’re so bored the thought of burning the house down makes them giddy.

The gals want their backsides smacked. The men get close
enough to the flames to singe their body hair. The women shriek.
The parents no longer watch the children. Many die running into the flames. The parents shrug. What’s the difference? The children carry fiery
logs about and throw them into the cars. They take hot sticks and poke
out each other’s eyes.

The parents don’t know what to do, but declare with a sense of urgency
there is nothing to be done. It’s all beyond them; it’s fate.
They move closer to the fires. They’ve burned all their clothes.
They have nothing on. They push the children away and commence
to fornicate in the ashes. The men relieve themselves on the hot coals.
Many children catch fire.

They move back to the caves when the fires burn down. They remove
the paintings from their frames to use the wood as kindling.
The museums are ransacked. Libraries are emptied. They desperately
raid the theatres for wood from the stage floors. In short order,
there’s nothing left. The fires die out. The men and women crouch
in their earthen holes and cry.

Some brave women venture out but quickly regret it.
Most hide themselves deep within. Much if not all is lost.
The fires burn out. When there was fire and music,
nudity seemed sexy, but now the women are cold.
They feel ugly like insects. The men don’t caress them;
they kick them. The sexes are not equal.

 

[David Lohrey is from Memphis, where he grew up, and now lives in Tokyo, where he teaches and writes for local travel magazines. He graduated from UC Berkeley and then moved to LA where he lived for over 20 years.
Internationally, his poetry can be found in Otoliths, Stony Thursday Anthology, Sentinel Quarterly, and Tuck Magazine. In the US, recent poems have appeared in Poetry Circle, FRiGG, Obsidian, and Apogee Journal. His fiction can be read in Crack the Spine, Dodging the Rain, and Literally Stories.
David’s The Other Is Oneself, a study of 20th-century literature, was published in 2016, while his first collection of poetry, Machiavelli’s Backyard, was released in September 2017. He is a member of the Sudden Denouement Collective.]

 

Peripheral Visions – David Lohrey

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Peripheral Visions – David Lohrey

 

They’ve outlawed torture because it doesn’t work,

but they forgot to tell my little brother.
I went to Madrid and wanted paella but all I found

was frozen pizza.
I traveled to Saudi Arabia and knew exactly what I wanted,

but found the road to Mecca closed to outsiders.
Americans claim to be welcoming. The kids in Tibet cry “hello,”

but when the Chinese visit Brooklyn, the kids shout “Fuck you.”

It’s the only language they know.
The kids in Harlem are no globe-trotters. They’ve never

even crossed the street.
Their female teacher doesn’t wear underpants, but her neighbor,

a man, wears panties. They claim it is the children who have a lot

to learn.
When the infants say they are not ready for anal sex,

their teacher makes them sit by themselves in the corner.
The six-year-old is sucking her thumb is told in no uncertain terms

to remove her thumb and find a boy to satisfy.
We’re heading for Broadway to watch a play with the provocative

title, Rotten. The actors throw tomatoes at the audience, after checking

first to see how they voted.
Righteous indignation supplants despair. Feeling superior sure beats

finding fault with oneself. The world is so stupid.
Diversity works like this: first, we take over. Children of the Empire visit

and are told they’re wonderful.
After the bombing, we legalize gay marriage. Napalm in the morning,

but the bathhouses are to remain open, announces the Pentagon spokesperson.
The President is trans. Her name is Annabelle. The debate question

she couldn’t answer was how it is she manages to look so fabulous.

She bursts out laughing and then begins to sob. After a break,

she gets a standing ovation.
It has been announced that everyone in the country lives in one city,

Houston, coast to coast; zip codes may vary.
Why bother with different names like LA and Atlanta. The whole

country is one big Houston: the bars, the malls, the adult bookshops.
Now that it’s been outlawed, kissing between men and women,

there are fewer law suits. There is no population growth. What have

we learned? Men can’t get pregnant.
Houston, Illinois has higher taxes than Houston, Texas, but New York’s

Houston is the worst. People there no longer keep addresses. Their

official residence is in Puerto Rico.
I was born David but call myself Dawood, Princess of the Desert.

I like getting my nails done. What I hate is driving in the slow lane.
And my husband likes to slap my ass. I won’t go into it. First,

he bites it.
I feel diminished by modern life. The lifestyle is belittling.

How can I develop an ego? Start by killing a mosquito.
People come to Memphis seeking Elvis. They leave having made

fools of themselves. Elvis did not die in vain.
The train leaves out of Union Station at 3. Get yourself a paper.

The toilets are certain to be broken.
I never wanted anything more than love. That’s why I’ve come.

You’ve come to the wrong place.
She may be rich, but she is bitter. She wants the nurse to wipe

thrice not just once.
If only my mother had been well taken care of. She lived ‘til 93

but could have made it to 105. I’m suing. She died on the way

to the hospital.
I just want love. My lips are luscious. My dick is huge. My nails

are dazzling. My bum is plump. What the fuck is wrong with me.

 

[David Lohrey is from Memphis, where he grew up, and now lives in Tokyo, where he teaches and writes for local travel magazines. He graduated from UC Berkeley and then moved to LA where he lived for over 20 years.

Internationally, his poetry can be found in Otoliths, Stony Thursday Anthology, Sentinel Quarterly, and Tuck Magazine. In the US, recent poems have appeared in Poetry Circle, FRiGG, Obsidian, and Apogee Journal. His fiction can be read in Crack the Spine, Dodging the Rain, and Literally Stories.

David’s The Other Is Oneself, a study of 20th-century literature, was published in 2016, while his first collection of poetry, Machiavelli’s Backyard, was released in September 2017. He is a member of the Sudden Denouement Collective.]

Lost and Found

by David Lohrey

I am not interested in any poem that begins,

“I found myself.”

I found myself in a den of thieves.

I found myself a Hershey bar.

I found myself some leftover apple pie.

I found a dead mouse in the kitchen.

I found myself in bed with my mother.

If I had listened to what mama said,

If I had listened to what mama said,

If I had listened to what mama said,

I’d be sleeping on a feather bed.

Forget it. I am not about finding myself.

I’m lost.

I am lost to this world.

I am lost to myself.

I am lost somewhere between 5th and York.

I am lost in my sorrows.

If I had listened to what mama said,

If I had listened to what mama said,

If I had listened to what mama said,

I’d be sleeping on a feather bed.

I hate all lies and the liars who tell them.

I am a self-hating Jew.

I hate what we’ve become.

I hate my neighbors for coming and going.

I hate my wife for leaving.

I hate the Department of Energy.

I hate my Adam’s Apple.

If I had listened to what mama said,

If I had listened to what mama said,

If I had listened to what mama said,

I’d be sleeping on a feather bed.

You can say that again.

You can put that down to luck.

You can go to hell.

You can give me $3 worth on Pump #6.

You can put that where the sun don’t shine.

You can shut your mouth.

You can give me a kiss.

If I had listened to what mama said,

If I had listened to what mama said,

If I had listened to what mama said,

I’d be sleeping on a feather bed.

Won’t I ever see you again?

Won’t you please be quiet?

Won’t you be applying to Princeton?

Won’t your parents find out?

Won’t you live to regret it?

Won’t you please get down from there?

Why?

Why not?

Because all my cares be taken away.



David Lohrey’s plays have been produced in Switzerland, Croatia, and Lithuania. In the US, his poems can be found at the RavensPerch, New Orleans Review, Nice Cage, and The Drunken Llama. Internationally, his work appears in journals located in the UK, the Netherlands, India, Malawi, and Hungary. 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. You can read more of his writing at Writing, Musing, Poetry

Post-Partum Depression David Lohrey

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Post-Partum Depression

There’s been no birth but I am suffering from post-partum depression.
Do you know the feeling? Something’s been taken away.
I am a passéiste; I do not have my eye on the next thing.

In the garden, the Delphiniums are in flower.
We’ll do everything together; we’ll change the world.
We’ll abolish all private property except my house.

I said in my last poem that everyone should eat popcorn, but that’s not
because I like it. I just like the sound of my voice. My fantasy is to live
in a Faulkner novel but that doesn’t mean I refuse to wear underpants.

I wanna get me an emotional-support peacock and move into Flannery
O’Connor’s old house. They prefer moist, cool summers and do not fare well
in hot, dry weather. One does still hear dreadful stories.

The greatest birthday present I ever got was a potted tomato plant from
Armstrong’s on Azusa. It cost $.79. There is nothing on this earth
as delicious as a cherry snow cone.

Who takes advice from a poet? Tamara is soaking. Robin betrayed me.
Now hear this: I don’t think women should be allowed to vote. How’s
that for a blast from the past?

I saw my first film by Truffaut in the Mission; got my first piece of ass on
Craigslist. I’ve been trying to sell the same radio play for 25 years.
I’d prefer to live in Arcadia and drive an Audi.

The plants also dislike sudden winds or rain. Except for the dwarf perennials,
most delphiniums need staking. This is why we can’t have nice things.
Who’s afraid of red, white, and blue?

Heavens to Murgatroyd, that’s about it. This is our common tale of woe. Some
thrive in the present, others not. It all comes down to the Tootsie Roll.
Things will never get better as long as we think FDR was a nice guy.

[David Lohrey is from Memphis, where he grew up, and now lives in Tokyo, where he teaches and writes for local travel magazines. He graduated from UC Berkeley and then moved to LA where he lived for over 20 years.

Internationally, his poetry can be found in Otoliths, Stony Thursday Anthology, Sentinel Quarterly, and Tuck Magazine. In the US, recent poems have appeared in Poetry Circle, FRiGG, Obsidian, and Apogee Journal. His fiction can be read in Crack the Spine, Dodging the Rain, and Literally Stories.

David’s The Other Is Oneself, a study of 20th-century literature, was published in 2016, while his first collection of poetry, Machiavelli’s Backyard, was released in September 2017. He is a member of the Sudden Denouement Collective.]

 

Meet Sudden Denouement Collective Member David Lohrey

The editors of Sudden Denouement Literary Collective know that our strength is our writers. We hope that you enjoy getting to know them through our new Writer Interview Series.

What name do you write under?

David Lohrey

In what part of the world do you live?  Tell us about it.

I live in Tokyo, Japan.

Please tell us about yourself.

I am originally from New York, then off to Memphis where I grew up. I was educated in California and lived out there for nearly 30 years. I left the country in 2009 and haven’t been back except for short holidays in Hawaii.

If you have a blog or website, please provide the name and the link.

https://davlohrey.wordpress.com/

When did you begin your blog/website, and what motivated you start it?

Just 2 years ago or so…I keep it as a repository only of my published stuff. I do not write on the blog directly.

What inspires/motivates you to keep blogging on your site?

I copy and past stuff onto there but it really only functions as a file.

When did you join the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective?

It has been a couple of years now.

Why/how did you join Sudden Denouement?

I was submitting around at the time and got a nice reply from Jasper whose support I found unique.

What does “Divergent Literature” mean to you?

Divergent suggests out of the mainstream, nonconformist.

SD Founder Jasper Kerkau frequently talks about Sudden Denouement writers using the ‘secret language’. What is it?

I think he means indirect or guarded. It suggests that writing is a survival tool.
What are your literary influences?

D.H. Lawrence, Doris Lessing, and Harold Pinter are favorites.

Has any of your work been published in print?  (books, literary magazines, etc.) How did that happen?

I submit daily, few make it.

Do you have writing goals?  What are they?

Right now my goal is to put together a second volume of poems.

Which pieces of your own writing are your favorites?  Please share a few links.

https://literallystories2014.com/2018/01/10/maximilian-or-maximum-security-by-david-lohrey/

https://www.munsterlit.ie/Southword/Issues/33/poems/lohrey_david.html

http://tuckmagazine.com/2017/12/07/poetry-1162/
What else would like to share about your writing, Sudden Denouement, or yourself?

I am very grateful to find such a supportive community.

 

Excerpt from Machiavelli’s Backyard- Poetry: Buy, Sell, or Hold/David Lohrey

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.

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


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

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And coming soon!

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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.]