Misfits

A poem by David Lohrey


Say hello, Guido.
Why the hell not?
Even he deserves a kind word.
Even Guido rates a greeting.
Hello, Guido. Calm the fuck down.

This Guido is an American icon.
He’s my uncle. He’s my father.
I have a brother named Guido, too.
Here’s the thing: Guido’s a thug.
Guido spends his days thinking up bad things to do.

Do you know what’s going on?
Security guards stealing from banks.
Clerks forgetting to ring customers up.
Bartenders giving away drinks.
Police robbing and raping working women.
Presidents selling arms to terrorists.

Say hello to Guido, who breaks necks
for a living. His talent is stabbing people
in the back and twisting the knife.
He just bought a house on West Clover Drive.
His son wants a tricycle for his birthday.

If you don’t know who Guido is,
I’d say you are a lucky man.
You can wear the magic jacket and
distribute coffee beans from your car.
You can sleep at night with your sister.
You can step up to the mic.

You’ll say be nice because Guido is gay.
You’ll say remember that Guido is mentally ill.
You’ll say Guido deserves a second chance.
Some will say Guido is a hero.
I say Guido should be whipped.
Take Guido to the square and tie him up.

Guido and his gang wreck havoc
everywhere they go. They don’t
deserve a second chance. Crime
is not a misunderstanding. Guido is not
your friend. He is not your brother nor your sister.

Loyalty is out of order. Stay away.
Lunatics don’t deserve mercy. Save it
for the less fortunate: you and me, just
little ants trying to make a living.
We don’t deserve to be stepped on.
Monsters do.


David Lohrey is from Memphis, Tennessee. He graduated from U.C., Berkeley. His poetry can be found in Otoliths, Stony Thursday Anthology, Sentinel Literary Quarterly, and Boxcar Poetry Review. Some of his recent poems have appeared in the U.S. publications Poetry Circle, FRiGG, Obsidian, and Apogee Journal. His fiction can be read in Crack the Spine, Dodging the Rain, and The Broke Bohemian. His book, The Other Is Oneself, a study of 20th century literature, was published last year in Germany. David’s first collection of poetry, Machiavelli’s Backyard, was released in August by Sudden Denouement Publishers. David lives in Tokyo.

Mr. and Mrs. Adam and Eve

A poem by David Lohrey


Illegals are to be called the undocumented.
Changing names does wonders.
His bastard is a love-child.
Why not move right into the fantasy?

Changing names does wonders.
Drop the love-child off at the orphanage.
Why not move right in?
We won’t call them criminals; we’ll call them underprivileged.

Drop the love-child off at the orphanage.
Plaster over all our bruises; cover our cracks.
We won’t call them criminals; we’ll call them underprivileged.
Talking filth can sound pretty if you bang a tambourine.

Plaster over our bruises; cover our tracks.
One can issue a death sentence while playing the piano.
Talking filth can sound pretty if you bang a tambourine.
We had that with the Germans: musical exterminations.

One can issue a death sentence while playing the piano.
Your killer needn’t be called a criminal.
We had that with the Germans.
We’ll call him a liberator, an emancipator, or an engineer.

Your killer needn’t be called a criminal.
I like to spit on my hand and shake.
We’ll call him a liberator, an emancipator, or an engineer.
Others like lawyers; they prefer fancy language.

I like to spit on my hand and shake.
Why can’t the government pay our bills?
Others like lawyers; they prefer fancy words.
Send someone over to clean up my yard.

Why can’t the government pay our bills?
Take the profits away from the Waltons.
Send someone over to clean up my yard.
Give us a charge account at Saks Fifth Avenue.

Take the profits away from the Waltons.
The rich can pay for it.
Give us a charge account at Saks Fifth Avenue.
What’s the deficit got to do with it?

The rich can pay for it.
We give up.
What’s the deficit got to do with it?
Call it anything you want.

We give up.
Take away the burden of daily life.
Call it anything you want.
Take us back to Eden. We give up.


David Lohrey is from Memphis, Tennessee. He graduated from U.C., Berkeley. His poetry can be found in Otoliths, Stony Thursday Anthology, Sentinel Literary Quarterly, and Boxcar Poetry Review. Some of his recent poems have appeared in the U.S. publications Poetry Circle, FRiGG, Obsidian, and Apogee Journal. His fiction can be read in Crack the Spine, Dodging the Rain, and The Broke Bohemian. His book, The Other Is Oneself, a study of 20th century literature, was published last year in Germany. David’s first collection of poetry, Machiavelli’s Backyard, was released in August by Sudden Denouement Publishers. David lives in Tokyo.

Bluff City

A poem by David Lohrey


An idle tree wants cutting down.
If we apply the rules of thermo-
dynamics, growing radishes in one’s
back yard makes no sense. Let
it be raspberries on prickly bushes,
not dirty little roots in the ground.

This is a treatise on good sense.
Like Swift’s argument in favor of eating
children, mine is a defense of watching
too much TV. Let’s distribute footballs
to the redskins; let’s send the whites back
to Europe.

I once knew a fat chick named
Trish whose boyfriend knocked all
my teeth out. My braces held them
in place as the blood ran out of my mouth.
Even at 16, young men in the South
fight over women’s breasts; only in my
day, we called them tits.

Peaches bruise easily in the heat.
I wouldn’t leave the pool gate open
at mid-summer. The neighbors might
walk in on an afternoon orgy. One
forfeits one’s right to privacy when
one makes oneself available.
I wouldn’t advise working for a company
that withholds anything, least of all
one’s lunch money.

Pecan pie is overrated, like a lot of
Southern dishes. Half of sales go
to tourists who haven’t a clue.
They’d buy a bottle of molasses
with a ribbon tied around its neck.
Hell, they’d go down on a dick painted
red. Most tourists are out and out liars,
like first-time home buyers and
presidential candidates.

The squealing never stops.
There’s a lot of commotion.

Our President’s been caught with his pants
down; our priests have stopped smoking.
My best friend built a yurt with a marble floor
and a padded cell for throwing tantrums.
The transformation is now complete.
The destroyers are triumphant; the victims,
silent; and the observers, transfixed. Is it
time for advancement or retreat?
I’d say, where are the people of color?
That’s always the question; or that’s the always
question.

Rose bushes will snag. They’ll catch if you don’t
watch it. It’s not just your stockings that’ll run.
Roses draw blood. I’d get to work, and while
you’re at it, prune the damned bird of paradise.
After that, you can head for the basement.
When all the work is done, you can lay your
head down in the oven.

Different strokes for different folks;
we are all part of this tale.
For reasons that cannot be easily
explained, the author is distraught.


David Lohrey is from Memphis, Tennessee. He graduated from U.C., Berkeley. His poetry can be found in Otoliths, Stony Thursday Anthology, Sentinel Literary Quarterly, and Boxcar Poetry Review. Some of his recent poems have appeared in the U.S. publications Poetry Circle, FRiGG, Obsidian, and Apogee Journal. His fiction can be read in Crack the Spine, Dodging the Rain, and The Broke Bohemian. His book, The Other Is Oneself, a study of 20th century literature, was published last year in Germany. David’s first collection of poetry, Machiavelli’s Backyard, was released in August by Sudden Denouement Publishers. David lives in Tokyo.

Superman

A creative essay by G. David Schwartz


My eight-year-old son goes into a frenzy each time Clark Kent leaves Lois Lane and returns as Superman. The child is sufficiently wise, or sufficiently naive, to know that clothes do not make the person.

Clothes occasionally, however, unmake the person.

People should not be fooled by the removal of glasses or a slight modification in the way a person wears a hat or carries a glove. My son, at such a tender age, is capable of cutting through the superficiality of appearance in order to reach the ontology of identity.

He knows that Clark Kent is Superman and Superman is Clark Kent. He is not yet, at age eight, to the stage where he knows that Superman is Steve Rieves, or George Reeves.

The identities of Clark Kent and the Man of Steel are frequent topics of conversation in our house. Why doesn’t Lois notice the obvious?

Why doesn’t Jimmy? Lois claims to have a romantic interest in Superman and to resist the supposed romantic intentions of Kent. Jimmy claims to be Clark’s best friend.

To complicate matters, these people are reporters, trained with a critical eye. Perhaps the Superman series, movie, and television revival are a collective satire?

In each of the venues through which Superman has made an incarnation, including the comic book, Superman engages our willing suspension of disbelief against the hard and newsworthy evidence of our eyes. Or, as Dan puts it, they are stupid. Neither of us are convinced that the issue of putting on or taking off glasses as a disguise of identity is a secret meant to be shared between the “actors” and the audience. Dan might say the “actors” want us to be as daft as Lois and Jimmy.

In my opinion, the writers and producers are propagating the obviously false idea that small changes betoken major events, a notion that might help them sell mascara or hair coloring, ointments and creams.

I have to admit that I enjoy Dan’s agony or, more correctly, the fact that his mild disturbance results in our continually talking about the issue.

The television, movie, and comic book’s loss of recognition is our gain. I also enjoy the fact that when I was Dan’s age I, too, shouted at the television for Lois to get a little critical distance and notice that Clark was Superman.

I phrased it thus: “Don’t be so stupid.”

Being privy to secrets of one kind or another can be a burdensome thing.

Perhaps Dan, as I once did, nourishes the hope that Lois, too, has a secret. Perhaps she will turn to Clark at some point or another and say, “Hey, Clark. Want to hear something really funny? I’ve known for years you’re Superman. That’s right. I’ve known it all along. But I’ve done the decent thing, the human thing, and kept your secret because you’ve wanted it that way. But here’s the funny part. Here’s the really funny part. I have a secret, too. You see, I’m not Lois Lane. I’m…”

But I go astray.

Attributing to Lois a moral stance, the secret that she has never betrayed Clark’s secret, has the advantage of allowing us to see her in some way other than stupid. In fact, if my hypothesis is correct, Lois did such an outstanding job of keeping the secret and buttressing her knowledge by playing the utter fool that she needs to be designated the very best actor on the show—possibly in history.

Lois not only knew and did not tell; she did not behave in any manner that would have led her co-workers to know she knew. Jimmy, I assume, is just stupid.

Perhaps that’s the point of fantasy and fancy, miracle stories and other culture-bound inspiring work: to enkindle us with questions and statements of what we know to be obvious.

What is obvious to one person is a deep mystery to the next. What can best be done in those situations is to arrange conversations not between those who know it all and those who know nothing… The conversations that need be arranged are between those who know the obvious and those who know the obvious as mysterious. Each will gain by being informed by the other.

I did not understand the fact that the identity issue was a charade until I was older. Not Lois, but Clark, was in a predicament about expressing character issues.

It was, after all, Superman who purchased glasses—a symbol of seeing clearly—he did not need. Superman clothed himself in conventional clothing and hid his functional suit. Superman was the one who wanted to look like less than what he was.

I did not understand this until I had to purchase glasses. Until I purchased them, I not only did not recognize their benefits and virtues, but claimed I did not need them.

Perhaps the refusal to change appearance is vanity. Perhaps dressing in style is a vane conceit. Perhaps switching glasses, or clothing, or hair styles, is to engage in the ebb and flow of appearance.

Perhaps the becoming and changing of reality occurs, as it were, through the vessels of our clothing. Or, perhaps the identity, not the duality, of Clark and Superman is more real than any of the “spectators'” concentration on glasses in one scene and removal in the next. Perhaps consistency of change is more important than identity. Or perhaps not.

That’s the way it is with “perhaps”.

I knew my eyes were bad for some time, but thought I could live without the sheer anguish of glasses; I had been accustomed to wearing glasses to see into the distance, but slowly, ever so slowly, the lenses deteriorated—they didn’t work as well as they once had. The fact of faulty lenses did not bother me; all it meant was that I was becoming accustomed to not seeing as many things, a condition I rationalized as acceptable given some alternatives.

Well, it was acceptable until those other cars on the highway suddenly began appearing in lanes where they had not been moments before.

So I needed new glasses. So what! I would get them. Some day. In the mean time, I’ll just drive a little slower. You’ve wanted me to drive slower for years.

And now I will. So there!

What was most annoying was that I noticed, faster than a speeding bullet, that I could not see things up close.

I could not read as easily as I had so recently been able to do: When I first became aware of it, I was curious to know if the economy was so horribly bad that all books were now being printed in a fuzzy, obviously cheap, ink.

Then I began to notice that the economy was so terribly bad that even books I had possessed for years had retrospectively been affected.

“Why are you holding that book so close to your face?”

I resisted the urge to say the reason was because I was convinced it was a razor.

I thought that perhaps, just perhaps, such a statement would not make my reasonable defense against getting new glasses so reasonable. I do not know who first uttered the word “bifocal”, but I adamantly refused to purchase glasses that would make me look like my grandmother.

Split lenses, indeed! I already was bi-focal. Some things I could see, and some I could not see.

So I ended up getting two pairs of glasses. One pair was simply for seeing (which, as suggested above, I was accustomed to doing); the other, which had a secondary purpose, bore the less obnoxious name “reading glasses”.

I despise the very concept of bifocals, with their smug suggestion of growing old and their self-complacent suggestion of double vision. It suggests indecisiveness, and the one thing I am not is indecisive, I think.

So I made an appointment with the optometrist and explained sadly to Dan, “I can no longer see through these things.” I grew instantly accustomed to the reading glasses. I could see what I was reading without squinting or straining my eyes.

Reading was enjoyable again.

Because my long-distance vision was corrected perfectly with the glasses I had, and would remain so for a solid week after I received my new reading glasses, I chose to have two pairs of glasses.

Consequently, I grew accustomed to switching back and forth between corrective lenses. I grew accustomed, that is, to taking off one identity (one set of circumstances, requirements, and modes of being) and putting on another.

I became, in a phrase, a virtual Superman of the visceral world.

I felt great. I felt like I was able to leap tall buildings in a single bound—if I was standing atop their roofs and had overcome my fear of heights.

Now, if I could only break the habit of whipping off a pair of glasses and staring into my son’s eyes—or an imaginary camera if he is not available—and saying, “I’m Batman.”


G. David Schwartz is the former president of Seedhouse, an online interfaith committee. Schwartz is the author of A Jewish Appraisal of Dialogue (1994) and Midrash and Working Out of the Book (2004). He is currently a volunteer at Cincinnati, Ohio’s community center, the J (Mayerson JCC); and Meals On Wheels. His newest book, Shards And Verse (2011) is now in stores, and can be ordered online.

Bucket List

A poem by David Spicer


White noise of dog barks lingered
as I nodded off that last day together
after you lectured on rosewood’s scarcity
in Iberia. Tall in waffle stompers,
you secreted me your agenda and recited
aphorisms from my latest, Ice Skaters
in Hot Weather, while cooking spätzle.
I loathed photos of myself, so you painted
my nails crabapple green and snapped six
8×10s of me cross-legged reading Crime
and Punishment. Then you fed us lasagna,
sushi, and onions with peas, and we
barfed, demanded pizza as the football
game spit out grunting collisions. You
asked me to whip your legs with a biker’s
belt so you could relive my tattooed
childhood, but the smell of mowed
grass prevented that skinny memory.
You dyed my hair silver, pissed, stroked
the calico cat Carmen. We’re the perfect
couple, you declared, wearing the yellow
sweater and Mickey Mouse wristwatch I
presented you, suggesting we flag a taxi
to the bookshop. Alright, but I need to drop
drops in my eyes and nose. Well, you’re
a high maintenance sweetie, aren’t you?
you said. No, I just can’t stand all this food.
I’d rather play rummy in that cave
we explored yesterday than check
off another box on your bucket list.


David Spicer has had poems published in Mad Swirl, Reed Magazine, Slim Volume, The Laughing Dog, In Between Hangovers, The American Poetry Review, Easy Street, Ploughshares, Bad Acid Laboratories, Inc., Yellow Mama, and Dead Snakes, as well as in the anthology A Galaxy of Starfish: An Anthology of Modern Surrealism (Salo Press, 2016). He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and two of Sundress Publications’ Best of the Net prizes. He is the author of one full-length collection of poems and four chapbooks; and is the former editor of the poetry anthology series Raccoon, as well as Outlaw, and the publisher Ion Books. He lives in Memphis, Tennessee.

Baloney!

A poem by David Spicer


I knew Buddha, a peach of an old
hippie, in Elko, where she pulled
a slot and sneered Baloney! when
she won. She’d glare with scorn at my
badge, never flinched when I yelled
Scram! One time I followed her
to her boyfriend’s bungalow she lived
in with a sister, eating stale pretzels
from a red bucket, sleeping on plywood
stacked on the floor. The boyfriend, Cuba,
a tall metrosexual gigolo from Vegas,
chewed taffy and tobacco, drank civet
coffee, and wrote sonnets with a blue-marbled
fountain pen. A former prison snitch,
he survived by swallowing soap and dirty pencils.
The sister, Oasis, a local wrestling promoter’s
star attraction, whined to strangers about her
amputated leg, and kept a lavender journal
of rich clients. How do I know this? Buddha
confessed after she discovered my spying,
right after she called me a fucking creep
and threatened to rip off my pecker and rape
my brother, right after she yanked the slot extra
hard, shouting Baloney! as three cherries
appeared on the antique machine and a small
mountain of money tumbled onto the carpet.


David Spicer has had poems published in Mad Swirl, Reed Magazine, Slim Volume, The Laughing Dog, In Between Hangovers, The American Poetry Review, Easy Street, Ploughshares, Bad Acid Laboratories, Inc., Yellow Mama, and Dead Snakes, as well as in the anthology A Galaxy of Starfish: An Anthology of Modern Surrealism (Salo Press, 2016). He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and two of Sundress Publications’ Best of the Net prizes. He is the author of one full-length collection of poems and four chapbooks; and is the former editor of the poetry anthology series Raccoon, as well as Outlaw, and the publisher Ion Books. He lives in Memphis, Tennessee.

Dead Aunts, Convents, and Open Spaces

A poem by David Spicer


In our lemon-crème Packard
convertible, Dora and I smoked dope
to the memory of Aunt Mitzi—
not much, just a pinch to flutter appetites.
The prairie roads tormented us with dips,
a phobia of open spaces presiding
over feet that stomped to the rockabilly
beat of the stereo. Dora was my fourth
cousin, so incest never attacked my moral
balance when she suggested in the top-down
speeding wind, Eat my snatch, horny boy,
I’m not in the convent anymore. I didn’t,
even though Dora, a blue-eyed blonde charmer,
reddened after my refusal. I’m no checkers expert,
but I figured it was my move to a concrete
alternative. Let’s go see the cedars,
let’s follow this highway and scoop
up a little chow, maybe biscuits and jelly.
Dora wanted to go horseback riding.
You won’t regret it, she promised,
its joys are no myth. Let’s rent
a couple Appaloosas. She had a point:
we could no longer battle our grief,
but we could trade our rags for a costume
of brand new jeans and cowboy hats.
O.K., I said, ripping rubber on Highway 2
outside Revenge, North Dakota,
let’s stain this town with stoned graffiti.


David Spicer has had poems published in Mad Swirl, Reed Magazine, Slim Volume, The Laughing Dog, In Between Hangovers, The American Poetry Review, Easy Street, Ploughshares, Bad Acid Laboratories, Inc., Yellow Mama, and Dead Snakes, as well as in the anthology A Galaxy of Starfish: An Anthology of Modern Surrealism (Salo Press, 2016). He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and two of Sundress Publications’ Best of the Net prizes. He is the author of one full-length collection of poems and four chapbooks; and is the former editor of the poetry anthology series Raccoon, as well as Outlaw, and the publisher Ion Books. He lives in Memphis, Tennessee.