May 9, 2017

Three poems by David Lohrey: Hyphen for Me", "Attacking China", and "Someone"

David Lohrey grew up in Memphis. His poetry can be found in Otoliths, Sentinel Literary Quarterly, Easy Street and Quarterday. In addition, recent poems have been anthologized by the University of Alabama (Dewpoint), Illinois State University (Obsidian) and Michigan State University (The Offbeat). Work can also be found in The Stony Thursday Book (Limerick) and Hidden Channel Zine (Mall Sligo). David is a member of the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective in Houston. Recent fiction can be read in Crack the Spine, Brilliant Flash Fiction and He teaches in Tokyo.

Hyphen for Me

Just a love poem.
No cute phrases,
no abbreviations, no
hyphenations, no false
capitalizations. Just
that feeling we once knew
when we were twelve and
porcupines mated openly
in the forest behind our houses.

Not a LUV poem,
not a declaration, not a
pronouncement. Not
an application for membership
to the rat race, not even
an attempt at association. Nothing
general, nothing public,
not even an affirmation. Nothing
mainstream. Just a personal statement,
something completely private.

Not a L-O-V-E poem either.
Not a public art exhibit, not
a piece for the sculpture garden,
not an item for display on the corporate
plaza. Not a neon sign, not a billboard,
not a TV commercial, not an advertisement.
I’m not selling anything. I’m not presenting
myself. It’s not a pose. It’s just the love I feel
for my pet, my little guppy, an inner joy.
It’s not for sale.

Attacking China

It’s not every day a fat woman
climbs all over you.
I should have been more patient.
I might have enjoyed it.

I didn’t. I over-reacted.
I jerked and bucked
and threw her off. I got
mad and denounced her.

I regret hitting that poor
Chinese woman with
my sharp elbow and shouting.
Why did I do it?

That warm, fat body up
against me, crawling all
over me. She’d climbed right
up to get a better look.

Who could blame her? One wants
to see the glowing fish. “That big man
is blocking my view.” She might
have thought. “I’ll mount him.”

She crawled right up onto my back,
using my shoulder to pull herself up.
Had she grabbed my neck, I might have killed her.
As it was, my elbow did the trick.

She didn’t want to wait. I would have
gladly moved away. I don’t blame her
for wanting a closer look at the stingrays
and tiger sharks. All she had to say was
something like “excuse me.”

My elbow knocked the wind out of her.
She backed off and I yelled, “Hey, get off me.”
Oh, Mrs. China, come back. I regret it.
I’ll give you a ride. There’s plenty of room
for you on me.


After every war-torn week-end
Someone has to clean up.
Things don’t happen
By themselves; it takes making calls.

Someone has to turn the body
Over, identify the corpse,
Direct the traffic.

Someone has to clear the street;
Decide what’s to be done.
Police will rope off the area,
Hand the body over to the coroner.

Someone has to notify the next
Of kin, take that walk up the street.
Someone better tell his mamma so
She can say what sort of boy he was.

Someone’s got to get the SPCA
To control that stray. This pit bull’s
Been gnawing on the boy’s ear
And genitals.

Someone has to call the mayor.
We need more security. This neighborhood
Is not safe and it is only 3 in the morning.

Someone’d better get in touch with his
School. His friends are going to need
Free counseling. They’ll have to cancel
Classes and assemble in the auditorium.

The boy’s girlfriend will be all choked up.
Her momma can take her to buy flowers.
She’ll claim to have been home alone.
Can she say who might’ve killed him?

The kids waving at the cameras say
They didn’t see or hear a thing.
They don’t know nothing about it.
They just want to be on TV.

His momma can’t understand why
Anyone’d want to harm her son.
He always wanted to play for the NBA.
The boy wasn’t doing anything wrong.

The mayor says he can’t come by today.
He extends his condolences
To the family. He is busy applying
To host the 2032 Summer Olympics.

Someone needs to call the ambulance to remove
The body; the hospital can’t do
Anything until they receive permission.

Someone has to condemn the violence.

© David Lohrey

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