Chicken Dinner – Nicole Lyons

We crossed that bridge
the second you came upon it,
beach blankets soaked
and the lovers’ notes
carved a generation before us
had seemed entirely too heavy
until that night when I sat down
to undercooked chicken and overcooked rice
served with an unconditional side of love.
And I remember feeling sorry for the chicken
at that moment in all of my wise teenage years,
and having an epiphany right there
at the dinner table next to an alcoholic
control freak who called me stepdaughter
and walked upon me to seal it
like the gummy flap of an envelope
stuffed with unloved letters,
and a mother who wore exhaustion
hidden inside her navy pumps.
Death, no matter how it is served
will always precede dinner
unless breakfast beats it to lunch.
And I thought myself wise beyond my years
in that moment, still warm
from the glow of your summer love
and giddy because you and the chicken
filled the pit in my stomach
that always seemed to pound
when he cleared his throat.
And when I heard him gag
behind the ball of his fist and blame it
on the weather and too big a gulp,
I almost didn’t wish he would choke
on chicken or the spite hidden beneath it.

Nicole Lyons is a writer/editor for Sudden Denouement and the creator of The Lithium Chronicles.

Tumble Weed Blues – David Lohrey

There can be bebop and billowing skirts,
hot pastrami and cold beer, but only if
we’re good.

That’s the catch. We’re weighed down by doubt.
Can all this wonder be had for free? It’s
time to take stock.

All the pretty horses can’t put humpty dumpty
together again. It’s partly a matter of will
power, sure.

It’s mostly a matter of power, pure and simple.
And the will is half-hearted. There’s no
zeal. There’s no roll.

Ketchup, but no mustard. There are eggs, but
Benedict died last June of a stroke. Whoever
said we could have it all, lied.

The billowing skirts were not the first to go, but
the girls get tired of playing. They’ve
been recruited by the army.

Now women carry guns. Our next loss is jazz.
Without the blues, there’s no rhythm. The
country’s lost its beat.

Everyone is out of step. The problem
is not the booze. It’s the money. We’re all
too rich for our own good. We’re unhappy.

Louis Armstrong was elated. Count Basie, giddy.
Think back. You remember. Jazz was rollicking: horns
toot-tooting, the pianist on his feet, the drums exploding.

We’re all miserable. Fattened up for slaughter. Now
we wait for the other shoe to drop, as the centipede
crawls toward the exit.

We know it’s just a matter of time. It can’t go on like this forever.
We’ve become too refined, far too delicate, too fat for
good music.

Anyway…no one has the oomph. It’s all petered out.
We’re out of gas. There’s an energy shortage,
you know.

For the most part, pictures will be enough, for a while,
like those of farmers. Nobody wants to get his hands dirty,
digging in flower beds, plowing, changing diapers.

No one wants to turn potatoes, feed the pigs or geld the stallions.
What is there to celebrate if there are no children?
That’s the question.

If there’s no harvest, what’s the point of drinking? And
now they say there’s no purpose in planting flowers.
The suburbs are obsolete, no pleasure in squirrels.

No need for dogs to bark. No need for evening walks. No
need for games of catch. Eliminate the lawns, they decree,
which are nothing more than symbols of Farmer Brown.

There’ll be nothing to remember, not even the sound of crying babies.
Family life is finished. Dirty floors, mother’s milk, chicken pox
are all a thing of the past.

Now the smell of grass must go. It’s no longer the Age of Aquarius;
it’s the age of exhaustion. We’re entering America’s very own
Cultural Revolution. At the end of the day, they’ll be hell to pay.

It’s the age of recrimination. People stand around pointing fingers,
as the time French women were made to pay for bedding
enemy soldiers. They were driven through the streets, naked.

It’s an age of exculpation. We all want to wash our hands of it.
The only music left is what we demand to see others face.
Otherwise we want silence.


[David Lohrey is the Shadow Lord of brain-seizing, heart-piercing poetry, and a medium for the ether words. He 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.]


Continue reading “Tumble Weed Blues – David Lohrey”