Art

Full of Life – David Lohrey

Passing

I admired JFK, I did. 
Now they say he was white.
Shit. I am from the wrong
generation. Not the Wi-Fi,
but the Hi-Fi, you dig?
I even liked Marilyn Monroe.
Loved her for her tits, although
some said she was smart. Geez,
and let’s not forget Jackie.

What do brains count for if you are
the wrong color, huh? Riddle me
that. Will that get you a free snow
cone?  You might as well ask the girl
sitting across the aisle to pass you her
panties. Go on. Try that. I dare you.
So, now you are in a pickle, I would
say. The only thing I can come up with
is this: tell ‘em you’re black.  

That’s right. That’s it. Brazen it out.
Look ‘em straight in the eye and tell
them you like watermelon. Your favorite
writer is Toni Morrison; that’s what
they say at Amherst. Forget about T. S.
fucking Eliot. Tell ‘em you love Rita 
Dove. Sneer at the mention of Tarantino.
When it comes to movies, you gotta say
you love Alfred Hitchcock.

Only you gotta tell them you believe Hitch-
cock was black. That won’t be difficult.
Remind them he made The Man from 
U.N.C.L.E.
Of course not, but you gotta 
believe it. Tell ‘em he made 007. Tell ‘em he 
wanted a black to play James Bond but they 
wouldn’t let him. Be sincere. Sidney Poitier, 
who else? Fuck, yeah. June Lockhart, only 
she was supposed to be painted black, not gold. 

Top to bottom. Blackfinger was the antagonist 
in the original. Well, you know Hollywood. They 
are all racists. After that, I don’t know. You like
Miles, don’t you? Say no more. Tell them you 
have one of his paintings. Tell them you hung 
out with Sammy Davis, Jr. Better yet: tell them
you slept with Little Richard back in the day.
That should give you street cred. When you 
say his name, tilt your head back and squeal. 

 

Out Camping

I watch every night as the President is stabbed. 
They have at him and I love it. Hatred is rewarding.
One is praised for hating the right people. I like that.
One is praised for letting oneself go. Hatred is transgressive. 
It warms one’s insides, it caresses the soul, soothes one’s
memory of past humiliations, the sting of being passed up,
especially if one is fat and lacks talent. The indignities are 
great. When I need a boost, I tell someone Melania is 
someone to loathe. I hate her guts.

The sense of gratification cannot be measured. One feels
full of resentment and envy. One hates a man who doesn’t
follow the rules. How dare he put ketchup on his Porterhouse 
steak. The contempt. It is like rolling hundred dollars bills
and smoking them as cigars. It is an outrage. I could kill 
him just for that. There. I said it. My friends swoon. It gives
my wife an orgasm. She runs her fingers through my hair
and praises me. If I were thirteen, and in a gang, I might
get in a car and conduct a drive-by shooting. 

Shoot some bastard in the head. Laugh. They would admire me
for my cries. I’d hang my head out the window and roar, 
“The President is shit.” That’ll get me tenure. I am desperate
for a promotion and this is the only way to get it. I must demonstrate
my hatred. I belong to a gang at the state university. We all hate. 
Some have bumper stickers that say so. We send each other hand 
signals. We hate Trump but more: we hate those who don’t, all 
the more. The loss of self propels one forward. It reestablishes 
one’s identity to find somebody to loathe. 

It gratifies…it somehow encourages and strengthens one’s innards.
“I hate his guts.” It’s good for my sex life. My wife loves a hater.
The quivering of righteous indignation is especially comforting. I love 
to kick a man while he’s down. And to spit while standing over another
is bliss, to watch one’s spittle fall, especially if it hits him in the eye. 
Tonight, I boasted I had sucked Ann Sexton’s left tit. I bragged that I had
licked Virginia Woolf’s quim. I told them all I hit the ball out of the park.
And when the party was over, I had a slice of honeydew and ham, and ran 
my fingers over the crystal.

I went back to pocket a small Tiffany ashtray, and then left by the pantry
door, taking one of the cars in the driveway. I drove it into a wall at the end 
of Center Drive where it forms a “T” with Cloar Cove. Then I ran all bloodied
to the White House to join the demonstration. There we chanted until dawn.
I felt satisfied being with others, shouting our rage. We screamed in unison.
I got so many pats and hugs. I was praised for shouting, “Fuck Trump.”
I almost wept when I heard he was sick. Then we sang we hoped he’d die.
This heartless man who does not care is finally suffering like his fellow man.
It pleases me to know that I feel more. I am full of life. I am full of hate. 

 

Adoration of the Morons

Is it the bacon? There is something going on,
and I wonder if there’s something in the maple-flavored 
smoked bacon that’s served now in American cocktails.
The sticks of pork used to stir our margaritas, the slivers of pork rind 
that are mixed in our ice-cream: there’s pork meat everywhere – 
even in our cereal – just as we are taught to make Muslims feel welcome. 

Something’s up. I notice now that when you disagree with someone, 
it has become acceptable for them to throw a tantrum, like a 6-year-old 
before bedtime. Men and women tear up if you say you don’t accept 
their arguments. They demand warnings printed on poems by T. S. Eliot.
When you differ, they panic and strike out, like drunks in old movies. 
They cry, and then they threaten to call their lawyers.

Demonstrators, and we’ve seen them for years, from Berkeley to the nation’s 
capital – remember the Million Man March? – are now attacked in the streets, 
pepper-sprayed and assaulted by marauding thugs who claim to represent the truth. 
They dress in black, like Ninja, but lash out like the religious maniacs in Tehran. 
Soon they’ll be splashing acid from motorcycles. Some people say they are
good Americans just expressing themselves. 

There must be something in the water. It never occurred to us to call our debating 
partners fascists or Nazis, even when they talked nonsense. They were good 
people with different opinions, that’s all.  My best friend in all the world loved Nixon. 
Another hated Reagan, but I never thought to scratch their faces, never mind 
puncture their tires. It would never have crossed my mind to do so, any more than 
I’d call the police on my father for scolding me or even for whipping my ass.

If it’s not the pork or the tap water, it must be the same shit that’s been causing autism.
Haven’t they proved that flu shots burn out the brains of small children? 
It must be. I get a shot every October during flu season; this must be why I’m losing 
my mind. If I were normal, I wouldn’t tolerate opposing views. Maybe if I weren’t 
autistic, I’d have a black suit with a hood and a mask and I’d run around punching 
people who support the President. 

Maybe if I hadn’t contracted this neurological disorder, I, too, would be set out
on this furious path of self-righteousness, shouting at the top of my lungs 
and spitting in other people’s faces. Issuing death threats is now accepted when 
someone hears something upsetting. These are not the same people I grew up with. 
We were not allowed to interrupt when other people were speaking. We didn’t 
stand and shout, threatening to defecate on the lecturer’s platform.

I think like a woman in the 1950s. My mother used to tell me to keep my voice 
down. My father always told me to keep quiet. My teachers wouldn’t let me
tell my classmates to shut up or to call them names or to touch them. If I did, 
our Principal, a big portly gent named Dr. Brookes would use his paddle 
and make me apologize. They all told me to stop making a fool of myself. 
They all said they wouldn’t have it. 

 

Tinsel Town 

I tell my comfortable friends the world is about to end,
But instead of saying thanks, they tell me what I read is wrong.

They tell me to ignore the bad news. Seek confirmation, not denial.
My friends tell me to head to the nearest bar for a drink.

They’ll meet me there if I agree to stop repeating the headlines.
Join us, they say, in our belief that all is well, everything, that is,

Except that awful man, that man in the White House, who puts ketchup
On his steaks. That man there who sings the Star-Spangled Banner

In reverse is a man averse to shock treatment; a man, in short, who wears
A red tie but doesn’t know his place. A wise guy in a nation

Of bright women, wonder women, who wear their capes over their heads,
So, when they fly, they forget their fear of flying. 

This man they say enjoys women as women, while they see themselves as men.
They demand the right to do the dirty work. They want to be called the next

Time the lights goes out. Give them a hard hat not a hard on. They will climb
The ladder, they will drain the swamp. After all, how many women does it take

To screw in a light bulb? Surely no more than men in dresses. This man is
Intoxicated with power. He trains his guns on his rivals. He is looking for desperate

Housewives to do the chores. They have kicked open all the doors. The vermin 
Rush in. This year, they welcome bats; last year, rats. They’ll poison the lot.

Ahoy, our savior is coming. He is a man who promises to fix everything, a man 
Of tomorrow arrives today. He asks for a deck of cards. All hearts.

Not Maga but Mega, he is a mega star, intent not on improving our world
But restoration. He represents hope not promise. He’ll be eaten alive,

Standing as he does at the backdoor. The storage compartment is full.
The Titanic is on the way. It has been rebuilt. The band plays on. The 

Presidents of America’s grandest department stores are on board, along with
The inventor of turquoise, standing for perfection, poised for disaster.

They demand to hear the women stop crying. They request from everyone, silence. 
This cannot be obtained. The man, my mentor, cries instead. It is the end.