Nuance of Damage – David Lohrey

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Nuance of Damage
I.
Hope is faster than light,
its speed beyond measure.
It’s alive, today, but what about
tomorrow? Easy come, easy…
I need something to build up
my courage.

One advantage is sleep, an endurance test:
a locomotive or a pillow. We learn to calculate
the commotion. Suck the straw, hang out, hit the hay.
Who’s to say? One cedes territory, one
establishes boundaries, one signs along
the dotted line. Some choose Southern exposure.

Gross indecencies stare us down. Our calm is our
rebellion. It’s the last frontier. Benumbed, confounded,
lost in space. We escape confinement like water, searching,
but what of our aversion to chaos? Our taste for the
tranquil. Must we be held in contempt for despising
aggression, our preference for the impassive?

It’s massive: jest. Or condescension. We cultivate superiority;
we celebrate death: theirs, hers, his. Inoculation. Innocence.
Quest. It’s a matter of combining ingredients, the right balance,
justice. Too much won’t do. There’s much too much parsley.
One less grain of sand. The handyman’s muscles are too big.
The phone keeps ringing. Where’s the drain?

There’s anguish in repetition. I prefer hilarity. The monks won’t go.
Offer them a martini. Thelonious learned to tread lightly
as one should. Deer in the headlights, grizzly bear, a flamingo: there.
Notoriety ruins everything. Ask the Princess. I like to stay in bed.
Back to basics. Sunny-side up. He refuses to remove his boxing gloves;
he grunts and the world stands still. Rebellion begins with rest.

II.

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.

III.

My guardian won’t let me out to play.
She told me to amuse myself in my room.
She doesn’t want me to get wet.
She’s afraid the neighbor’s dog might bite.
I have some games I can play all by myself.
My guardian is always worried.

It’s been raining now for several days.
The traffic’s slowed to almost a stand still.
The newscaster warns people to stay indoors.
The house is insured against flooding.
A boy last year drowned in the local river.
I was told to get up on the roof in an emergency.

It’s been 7 years since they outlawed music.
My guardian told me to stop humming.
Girls are advised to always dress in layers.
The marauders use giant nets and even carry bug spray.
The men look for frightened girls like me.
I was captured and sold to my guardian six years ago.

I always wear leotards and my bathing suit at the same time.
My guardian scarred my face so I wouldn’t look pretty.
You can hear the firing squads in the distance.
Girls must avoid detection at all costs.
I can pass for a boy from a distance.
My guardian trained me to fight with a sharp blade.

We’ve been living like this for as long as I can remember.
The police dress entirely in black now and cover their faces.
If pregnant, they line you up and shoot you.
There’s an escape route my guardian talks about through Alaska.
They threw my boyfriend off the bridge and into the water.
The toxic spray they use is so strong it induces labor.

I remember hearing my mother sing.
My guardian says I could pass for a boy.
They say we have a 20% chance of survival.

IV.
Shelter in place: this is the advice one needs.
After a life of turmoil and defeat,
it’s best to stay indoors. Hide. Place your head
between your knees. They’ve been telling
us this for years, but I never listened.
I was too busy trying to take over.

Genghis Khan with a phone I was called; now,
all I wish is to get along. I just want to be free.
Don’t involve me. I’d just as well not come, thanks.
I’m content to stay, lay back, kick it. Let the world go by,
along with the riff raff. My God, what a sight. My mother
was right not to let me play with the neighbors.

What happened to the innocence? We were kind, don’t let them
tell you otherwise. These are lies. We were true blue. And
sweet, I kid you not. We were John Wayne’s children. We were
Frankenstein’s playmates. We made cakes with our mothers.
We even ate mommy’s lipstick. We sipped grandma’s elderberry
wine, but I’ll tell you this, we never took the Lord’s name in vain.

We hated our gym teacher, but we never called him a motherfucker.
It never crossed our minds. I can remember the first day that word
was introduced to the American people, the very first day it was
used in public. We said golly, gosh or darn, not shit. We said we were
sorry and bent over to bare our bottoms. We took our punishment
like a man. We didn’t sue. We didn’t curse. We never pursed our lips.

Now we have to hide. The news reporter announced that all the world’s
troubles could be traced back to us, yes, that means, you and me. The
social justice warriors, once known as scavengers and marauders, are
on the hunt; they’ve been trained in name-calling, finger-pointing, and
manufacturing nerve gas. Our well-wishers have fled the country.
They’re living in Canada with the Eskimo. They kill seal and eat caribou.

We’ll have to keep the lights out. Our teacher has piled the chairs against
the door. She’s asked the gunman if he would please let us live. He said,
“Shut the fuck up.” He’s a nervous wreck. His eyes are glazed over and he
foams at the mouth. He called our dear teacher a stupid cunt. “Open up!”
He’s determined to kill us all. He wants to make the world a better place.
He’s fighting for justice. “We are the world now,” he says, “not you.”

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

Excerpt from Anthology Volume I: Writings from the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective- Inky Rivers./Ra’ahe Khayat

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Inky Rivers.

He mourned moons with
moans of muttered courage,
through lips of lost lovers,
and draped himself in
forbidden shadows
hidden from the suns.

There were no perhaps or maybe,
just the absolute ticking of time
that sang to his mind;
too numb from
the last bottle of Jack,
or cheap tequila,
and coke.

For his blood was poisoned
from an unavenged rage,
and an addiction, to the blood of the man
that raped his mother,
his sister,
his daughter.

And he drank away, to the sight of
those photographs
stained from the careless moments
when the bottle had slipped, and the
liquid remembrance
flooded his childhood.

The world blurred into
the black and grey pages of calendar
that turned and merged
into faces engraved
on the inside of his closet,
while he stared at them; their tears
-shining in the fluorescent light of that
damp ghastly room-
filled his half full glass.

Even death looked away,
for he held a red knife of indifference
on the throat of life,
and read the Bible,
all the while a skeleton
washed his hands
and kissed the silhouette of his neck
in prayer,
for he played the role of God,
in this Godless world.

The winds never breathed,
when he wrote poems on the graves
where the dead could chant the words of dead,
shrouded within the cries of the Lord,
as he wept under the disguise
of the raining nights.

He fucked strangers
standing in middle of the storm,
and came, to the sound of the hurricanes
howling menacingly into his ears,
in rivulets of sorrowful ecstasy
that the torrents couldn’t wash away.

Betrayed demons of his
were buried in coffins,
and those coffins he inhumed
within his soul.
And six-feet under,
he sleeps peacefully- breathless,
for he lived years without breathing.

Jagged scars crossed his eyes,
under the headlights of cars,
begging silently to those burnt rubber,
to crush the weight on his bones
upon himself.

Those lines revealed-
in the charged air of thunder
when a certain gentleness
settled within him,
for then his thoughts
found themselves clear,
to drown in the inky rivers
flooding his being.

Anthology Volume I: Writings from the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective is available at Amazon.com, Amazon Europe, Amazon Canada, Book Depository, and other major book retailers.


Ra’ahe Khayat is just another wild person with wilder thoughts, who thinks that writing them down might mean that the people around her won’t realize how out of touch with reality she really is, but she tends to write random gibberish in the randomest of places, so most already know. She likes words, and weirdly surreal metaphors, and sad songs, and has a sick sense of humor (depends completely on how you interpret sick). You can catch up with her on twitter at @ryekayas or just check out her blog, Fallen Alone.

Eavesdropping on an Anarchist’s Monologue at the Post Office – Introducing Josh Dale

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Eavesdropping on an Anarchist’s Monologue at the Post Office

Here you are,
fumbling for change in your early 60’s,
to get the fucking technology to work
Shouldn’t you be in Orlando with a beer gut?

(Copy machine fails to cooperate)

Corporate America, pssh!
I’m minding my own business at the kiosk,
listening to the Republicans taking over shit for the next 30 years.
Are you an anarchist, sir?
Or have you been left behind?
Fucking Americans, wake up!
Mid. Term. Elections. Are. The. Most. Important.
I do want to vote,
will you, honestly, dear sir?

(He’s still fumbling around with an early 00’s copy machine)

I know the woman mailing Christmas
heard your fucking shit and goddamn Democrats.
I did,
and I’m not even trying to, sir.

Will you throw your torch into the pyre
or is that asking too much?
You’ve had your whole life to tear the system down,
why is the baton covered in dirt?

I wish I could just mind my own business
and get your fucking papers in check.
Maybe a coffee.
Maybe a Guy Fawkes mask.
Something.

Because your curmudgeon self
makes me think the deck is fixed
and you’re exactly where they wanted
you all along.

www.thirtywestph.com/masthead

jdalewrites@gmail.com

[Josh Dale holds a BA in English from Temple University and has been previously published in 48th Street Press, April Gloaming Publishing, Black Elephant, Huffington Post, The Scarlet Leaf Review, Your One Phone Call, and others. If he’s not petting his rescue Bengal, Daisy, he is perfecting his stir-fry recipe, hunched over in the dark like an alchemist. He is the founder and current editor-in-chief of Thirty West Publishing House and Tilde: A Literary Journal. He calls Norristown, PA his second home.]

Links to Poems, A Short Story, Interview, and Press

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/theres-always-a-reader-for-every-writer-josh-dale_us_5a157f71e4b0f401dfa7ec34

http://waxingandwaning.org/index.php/2017/03/05/3-poems-by-joshua-dale/

https://youronephonecall.wordpress.com/2017/06/12/upon-the-mirrors-edge-by-josh-dale/

https://www.scarletleafreview.com/poems6/josh-dale-poems

www.thirtywestph.com

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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]

Sentence of Sentience – Max Meunier

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Sentence of Sentience – Max Meunier

what have i
but quieted inquiries

hollowed
and echoed
through vales
of a sub-violet druse
of aversion

no tangible touch
to form valid expression

intentions adrift
amid merciless
miles of mutable morass

from which somnolous streams
softly spill
forth eclipses

in lapses
bereft of availing account

where whims slowly waft
beyond walled apparitions

fled from partition
to form in summation
a dormant despair
born of quiet desperation

awaiting conclusion
in sediments muring

a freedom reprieved
of sententious ideal

for what purpose plausible
peers within prisms

but spectacle
cradling consciences captious

enraptured in casting incessant goodbyes

alas
i digress
lest my thoughts
become i

[image credit: Wilhelm Kotarbinski]

Max states: “I write about the things going on in my life. I am a feminist, humanist, cat loving musician bound by whimsy and the incessant analysis of hyper-vigilant observations.  I am obsessed with words and rhythmically woven wordplay.” We are honored to have him as a member of our tribe.  He writes at Max Meunier Dissocative Void.

 

First Look: Machiavelli’s Backyard by David Lohrey

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I just received my proof copy of David Lohrey’s new book Machiavelli’s Backyard from Sudden Denouement Publishing. It is beautiful book. We will have copies available in the next week. It is a very exciting week for SD. I would like to think those who have purchased Rana Kelly’s book Superstition. We will have the Kindle edition available any day now. We will also be giving away copies of both books. Though we have a lot to learn, we are on our way to becoming a serious publisher of divergent literature. This process has been the culmination of a year’s work. It could not have happened without the love and support of so many wonderful writers/editors.

Jasper Kerkau

Tokyo Express: Poem from Machiavelli’s Backyard by David Lohrey on SD Publishing

Tokyo Express – David Lohrey

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Tokyo Express

That man there used to be my father.
I recognize those blue-veined arms on that corpse riding the
train with me from Shimokitazawa to Chitose-Funabashi.
That’s the corpse of my father, I swear to God.

I recognize his receding hairline and his pale skin.
It even has curly hair and wears glasses. That’s dad,
all right, sitting there beneath the sign for special seating.
That’s exactly where he’d sit if he were alive.

Dad saw himself as disabled and in some ways he was.
He was an emotional cripple, that’s for sure.
He flew into rages over nothing.

I once got up the courage to point out there were no other cars on the road but he was cursing. He was ranting. He looked out the window and stopped. When I was eleven, he’d have turned around and smacked me on the head. He was always threatening to trounce me.

Dad was a bully. When I was little, mother asked me to get dad an aspirin to go with his pickled herring and his dry martini. Years later, dad once said, “After two martinis, I’m not afraid of anything.” I like that.

Like a lot of monsters, he had a heart of gold. Like Frankenstein and all his monster friends, he scared the neighborhood children but felt lonely. Like many bullies before him, what he needed was a blind man to make
him a cup of tea. It was precisely because people were not blind that he hated them.

Oh, but how well Edward Albee understood him. What he wanted above all else was love: L.O.V.E. Just like an alcoholic, but he didn’t drink. No, his father drank enough for two generations. He once said, “You think you’re a big shot, but you’re nothing but a big shit.” I like that, too. I used to pick cashews out from father’s dish of mixed nuts. Amazingly, it didn’t make him mad. It amused him.
I did that from his lap.

That old Japanese guy sitting across from me reminds me
of my father when he was alive. The old man there looks
very thoughtful, looks intelligent. My father, too, had that look. I wish I did.

That man’s flesh is as white as a frog’s belly, so pale I can see his blue cheesy veins. I could see my father’s, too. It made him look frail. He’d get cross but with no power. He became pathetic, especially when he smelled of urine.

It’s hard to control other people when you stink.
It’s impossible to run the show when you’ve sprung a leak.
It’s hard to frighten your son when you have to wear pampers. Fear goes but love lasts. Now there’s a line for Machiavelli’s Prince. I learned that from my father. Or is it the other way around?

From the forthcoming book of poetry Machiavelli’s Backyard via Sudden Denouement Publishing.

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