Not a True Believer

A poem by David Lohrey


America is the only country in the world that doesn’t
maintain public toilets. Enclosed spaces invite indecency.
Even the homeless get horny. They defecate in the open
like monkeys in Delhi. The streets reek. Men and women strut
around like pigeons. Their depravity has gone viral.

Nobody objects to the Bushes (and their billions);
it is Nancy and her lust for fine China that draws rebuke.
We fear hunger. We can smell fear. Most would prefer
war to lust. Charles Manson was more highly regarded
than Timothy Leary.

You can’t blame a man like Obama who wants to be rich. What’s
50 million dollars between friends? After eight years in the White
House he is bidding for his own basketball team. Greed is not
unseemly. But we don’t like that man in the White House
who eats McDonald’s.

Whitman called for a poetry of exaltation. Brecht: a poetry of thought.
We got a poetry of despair, written by alcoholics and the lonely.
We’ve embraced the William Gaddis school of gigantism, like
Soviet architecture and aerial photographs of four-leaf clover
interchanges. Like elephant turds, they are impressive.

Construction has been funded, but nothing’s been set aside. 3000 public
schools were built in the 1930s, but there’s no money for upkeep.
Students tear pages from school books to wipe their asses. The pipes
on the 3 rd floor are plugged with Dante. The girls’ bathroom is
flooding. The Principal’s answer is to tell the students to stop reading.

Kirwood McMann head custodian at PS109 preaches every Sunday morning
at the Magnolia Street Church of Christ. He recites the oracles of woe as he
unloads 43 rolls of toilet paper from the trunk of his 7-year-old Cadillac Sedan
de Ville. When I complained to him about my filthy classroom, he looked
up and said, “Why you gotta say “filthy” when “dirty” will do?”

Rev. McMann tries many times to explain to me the ways of the world. “The
people,” he preaches, “have forgotten how to do right. This country is filled
with wealth taken by theft and violence. Sundays are too long. People can’t wait
to get back to cheating the helpless. And you say your floor is filthy. It is you,
you sir, who is filthy!”


David Lohrey’s plays have been produced in Switzerland, Croatia, and Lithuania. His poetry can be found in Otoliths (AUS), The Drunken Llama (US), Tuck Magazine (UK), Expanded Field Journal (Netherlands), and Dodging the Rain (Ireland). His fiction can be read online at Terror House, Storgy Magazine, and Literally Stories. David’s collection of poetry, MACHIAVELLI’S BACKYARD, was published by Sudden Denouement Publishers (Houston, 2017). He lives in Tokyo.

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