The Crime of Understanding – David Lohrey

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He tells me Fashion has a purpose.
“You’re not against anything,” I say.
This is part of the problem. People
defend the end of the world, explain
it, like they don’t care. Like if they
understand it, they can control it.

I say denounce it. Call a spade a spade.
Bring back the capacity to object: tell
those boys to keep it down. Tell the
little ones to get dressed. We are losing
our will to power; we’ve given up.
That’s what Voltaire has done.

We’re not born free. We confuse ourselves
with lions. We are born with little.
They put us into cages. Tell your mother
to stick that rattler up her ass. Sucking
on plastic won’t get you anywhere. Get
dressed and stop wearing underwear.

Cry out. Protest your decapitation.
Life is a luxury. Stop playing it cool.
Renounce your throne. Cross the border.
Get yourself declared persona non grata.
Join the Klu Klux Klan. Drop acid.
Drink your own piss. Denounce Elvis.

I’m saying mushroom picking beats all.
Surfing the web is for sissies. Join the Army.
Relive Normandy. America’s falling apart.
They let Columbia crash to save a quarter.
This time around more will perish. The Report
On the End of the Human Race will be in braille.

You know the drill: pounce on these delightful
gifts. And know they will not pounce on you.
Look but don’t touch. They reserve the right
to deny service to anyone. Don’t forget your shoes.
Wear a shirt. Take out the trash. Sharpen your pencils.
One last thing: If you break it, you’ll get to keep it.

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

The Statistics of Opinion – David Lohrey

We hate the man in the White House because he eats McDonald’s.

We hate him because he orders his steaks well-done and uses

ketchup like a rube from St. Louis. Americans have adopted

the snobbery of Princess Margaret. We expect the President

to eat popcorn in white gloves.

Yes, this is who we are. We no longer want a President. We demand

a Queen. We treasure the wealthy not the greedy. He’s too much

like us, this man in the White House. The poor love him because

he eats the way we do. He spends his money in the same way

we would if we had any.

There’s a touch of the gutter in the men we send to the big house.

Some people have too much; that’s what makes us resentful. Not

Trump. We appreciate his desperation. We understand his hunger.

He’s not at all like the rich we’ve seen before. He knows his dough

is not permanent.

They’ll tell you how much they admire TR, because everyone loves

a rich man in power, but what I loved about Teddy was his delicacy,

his appreciation of nature, his love of the outdoors, his refusal to eat

with a spoon. All this came from his childhood asthma. He could ride

bareback and use a lasso.

You can’t blame Obama for wanting to be rich. What’s $50,000,000?

Change from the bottom of Oprah’s purse. After eight measly years

in the White House, he was bidding for a basketball team. Now, he is

worth nearly 800 million. And counting. Soon, he’ll be worth over

a billion. He has contempt for people who work for a living.

You turned your face away. We are deep into a period of misrule. The

Presidents are leaving power richer than when they come into office.

Clinton, Obama: trash, bless their hearts, but both now vacation on private yachts. They look down their noses at Trump. He’s beneath them. They

know real money. They can smell it.

I don’t want anyone to come down here trying to be kind. Trump teaches

us how to embody shrewd ignorant verve. Guts, not condescension. Not

the milk of human kindness. Too much of that and you’ll be ready for death.

He’s the kind of guy who’ll tell you you’re stupid, right to your face. Let’s face it: he reminds us of our mothers.

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.

Circling the Drain-Erich Michaels


Cracked sidewalks and faltering smiles

Abandoned houses are the rotten teeth

For a town always grinning

The horse has trampled the aimless young

Heroin today, gone tomorrow

Gravity wins again

You find stability in the stratum

Faulty suspended-animation

Where you do absolutely nothing

But the real world hisses in

And you slowly rot

Internal liquefaction

Your final thoughts are of immortality

You open your mouth

The surgical tube unravels


Seeping through the couch

The floorboards

Into the basement

And down the sewer drain

You’ve left a ring

This ring is the smile that will never falter

Erich Michaels describes himself as  “just trying to share the human experience.”  He has a bachelor’s degree in creative writing, but find himself writing SOPs (lather, rinse, repeat) in order to make a living, which can be detrimental to the creative process.  You can find him on the road to recovery at Erich Michaels.  Every journey begins with a single step, right?

If You Can’t Find One in Queens, Forget About It-David Lohrey


I love Japan.

I’m so into it, I eat my cornflakes

with chopsticks.

I want to fit in.

I’m so into it, I wear a fake, jet black

top-knot of my bald head.


Japan is everything I imagined

it would be. They still hate us;

it’s a chance to re-experience WWII.

On the trains at night, late, I imagine

someone might run a bayonet through

my knee, screaming, “Stand up straight.”


They greet visitors at the airport

with a test. “When,” they’ll ask,

“are you planning to leave?” If you answer,

“Never,” they send you home. There’s

only one acceptable answer to this question.



Many foreigners love it even more

than I. They eat rice cakes for breakfast,

lunch, and dinner. They bow as they talk

on the phone. They have all their body hair

removed. They wear tattoos of men raping carp.

They regret not having slept with their mothers

during college as many locals do.


Visitors often say how they love it here.

They declare themselves smitten; they gush.

They adore all of it, even the green or pink

poodles, the boys with yellow toenails,

and the men wearing red lipstick and mascara.

I love them, too. I especially love the male retirees

who take their pants off at the cinema.


I love the soiled underwear sold in vending

machines. I appreciate the home delivery of fresh eggs. I

crave the beer-fed beef sold by the gram, at over $400

per kilo. I’m addicted to the parmesan cheese made of sawdust

and powdered soy. What I love most are the young housewives

who wear Disneyland bras and Donald Duck panties. Quack.


My ardor, however, does not compare to that of my colleagues.

They love it so much they hate their own countries;

America, England, Ireland and Canada are all in their eyes

nothing but shit. They don’t miss home at all. What they love

best about Japan is that those on death row are executed

in secret. They like the denials of war guilt, the cult of the Emperor,

and the open hostility to “inferior” nations.


What attracts them immediately and what they embrace is

the Japanese love of peace. It’s their delicacy,

their manners and their politeness that stand out.

When they chop a prisoner’s head off, they shout,

“Excuse me.” But this is not what I love most.

I love the citrus, a variety that tastes familiar but different.

It’s something like a tangerine but it’s yellow. It’s small,

but looks like grapefruit. It could be called a Japanese orange.

Its name is Yuzu.


My conclusion is that there must be something in the soy sauce.

It must cause blindness, because when I wave at the locals,

they never wave back. When I smile, they don’t react. When I whistle,

they run. Or is it something in the saké? Perhaps something in the water?

It rains every day, but they fine residents for running the tap.

My only guess is that they’ve sold their water to the Chinese.

They say that’s why there are so many of them in Hokkaido.

Heads will roll, thank God.


And with that, it’s time to leave for the airport. If they’ll let

me. My taxes may not be paid up. I made $28,000 last year,

but they taxed me as a multimillionaire. They withhold over 70%

from foreigners out of fear they might abscond. Once you do,

you can never go back.


Let’s see if it works.

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 He is also the author of Machiavelli’s Backyard from Sudden Denouement Publishing.

Indecent Calculations- David Lohrey

Miss Lion, Miss Lion! I have a question.

Miss Lion, Miss Lion! I have the answer.

The boys raise their hands and hope to be called on.

Miss Lion, however, has something else in mind.

She’s trying to decide which boy to suck off.


Standardized testing creates a lot of stress. English

teachers and their colleagues in geography, Spanish

and arts appreciation all have it easy. Female teachers

of geometry and algebra have fantasies of blowing

their fourteen-year-old male students.


Why this should be so is not easy to explain.

It wasn’t so in my day. Mrs. Mills, I can assure you,

had no such thing on her mind. It’s most definitely

generational. Like their male counterparts in the NFL,

these gals seem determined to take a knee.


Have you noticed it’s always 23-year-old blondes with husbands

who get caught in the front seat with naked adolescents? Or

they bring a couple of teen-agers home for an orgy. They arouse

the boys first by sending naked photos on Instagram. Sooner or later

the pictures wind up on the Principal’s desk.


If you read the New York Post you’ll notice this phenomenon rarely

involves men. Male math teachers seem able to control themselves.

It’s the pretty wives of working class men who seem unable to resist.

What is it about pimply faces and little dicks that attracts these women?

Boredom, no doubt, plays a part. The boys, one assumes, are nervous wrecks.


Is it their innocence or their politeness? “Yes, Miss Lion, whatever

you say.” That must be a turn-on: Their sweet dispositions and their

soft peach fuzz. I can see how the ladies find them charming. All

across America, in cities like Chattanooga and Tulsa, Albuquerque

and Des Moines, Iowa, young female teachers seem desperate.


Interesting, too, how understanding and forgiving our judiciary is.

Men who molest students, male or female, get called perverts and

are prosecuted to the full extent of the law. 20 years to life is not

too much for these monsters. But the demure math teacher is forgiven.

She gets a suspended sentence or probation. Cock-sucking is natural.


Teaching provides little satisfaction. Perhaps herein lies the answer.

There is little learning and not much teaching. English teachers can

show movies. The Spanish teacher makes piñatas. In the gym, they play

tag and when nobody is watching, the coaches make the boys do pushups.

It’s the math teacher who wants to pull her hair out when the boys can’t count.


They don’t know their multiplication tables and they forget their calculators.

So, substitutes throw up their hands and offer to help the boys pass sex

education. They gamble away their lives, their good names, and their profession

to have an adolescent cock in their mouths. Who can blame them? This is, in

many instances, all they have to give. Our culture is bankrupt.

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 He is also the author of Machiavelli’s Backyard from Sudden Denouement Publishing.