Circling the Drain-Erich Michaels

An-American-smile-in-the-1950s-from-a-member-of-the-same-family-as-that-of-the

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

You…unravel

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

ff433c75fa96c958eb22c1493ec3166b.jpg

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.

“ASAP.”

 

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

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”

Misery – Sarah Doughty

Sometimes all I want is for you to hold me. Let me feel your strength. Let me smell you, feel your arms around me and know you’re real.

I want to tell you how much you mean to me.

But, instead, I’m frozen in silence. And it’s only in those moments when I think you won’t really look at me, and see how much I’m feeling — how much I’m hurting — or hear me if I say something, that any sounds escape my lips.

The words you do hear are often apologies. Beneath the hundreds upon hundreds of I’m sorrys, what I really want to say is that I wish it could be better for you.

Because you don’t deserve to share my misery.

You shouldn’t have to be my savior.


Sarah Doughty is the tingling wonder-voice behind Heartstring Eulogies. She’s also the author of The Silence Between Moonbeams, her poetry chapbook, and the acclaimed novels and novellas of the Earthen Witch Universe. Good news, they’re all offered for free, right here! To learn more about how awesome Sarah is, check out her website, stalk her on Goodreads, or both.

Designer Drugs-Nicole Lyons/The Lithium Chronicles

I knew the dealer

and we chuckled a few times,

he being street and me

being neater than the rest.

I knew them once too;

back when their mamas

fucked all the daddies

and I was too much

like my mother.

I knew them, the slink

and the oils of them

spread out for the gang

banging the doors

down after the nanny

cashed her cheque

and flew home to Mexico.

He took that ten-cent

off the dollar blow

and he cut it

with bleach that burned

the high class right

out of society,

and he funnelled it too;

into dollar store bags,

variety store bags, stamped

with pink lips and diamonds,

and he cranked that shit

up 499% and we laughed

and laughed and said a toast

to those designer bitches

as we slammed

drinks on their dimes

while they bled

from the eyes

in the center of the VIP

we were too street to enter.

We lived large

in the basement

and they paid

to push in the hallways,

and now I write poetry,

and they still hit

the best of the west,

sucking and chucking

the bucks for free.


Nicole Lyons is creator of The Lithium Chronicles, as well as being an editor and writer for Sudden Denouement. As always, we are honored by her presence.