The Empire Strikes Out – David Lohrey

Robbed Blind in Vegas


What did I learn in Las Vegas, where the teachers are one-armed bandits?
I often think back on that trip to Vegas, to that town where farm girls
wear high heel shoes and no panties, and what did I learn?
We pulled into the parking lot at Circus-Circus and got a room for three
at less than $25. In those days, everything was essentially free,
including the food; all you had to do was gamble your life away.

“The war was being run by a bunch of four-star clowns who were gonna
end up giving the whole circus away.” Thus spoke the announcer,
Walter Cronkite, no doubt, or a man like that.
This may or may not have been true of Vietnam, but it certainly was true
of Las Vegas.
By the time I was old enough to want to return, the whole thing
had been taken down and sold for scrap. The days of Las Vegas
as it was once known to millions were coming to an end;
soon it really would be no better than Disneyland.

I had one look around the casino and ran back to my room.
What did I know of simpering bitches and haughty cunts?
All I knew
and figured it out right quick was that in a casino you are not a man
if you do not have money. I felt like a baby.
No woman accompanies a man to his room when he is a loser.
It is a town of winners and losers. Not black or white. It is race free.
It is nirvana. I felt like crying. I did not exist.
This was my first epiphany, my moment of universal brotherhood.
At the Starlight, there is no black and white. A man without any money
is instantly invisible. This was where Norman Mailer’s white negro was
born and died.

My pals ran off to play cards while I sat in our room and brooded.
I knocked my head against the wall and tried to stuff a zucchini up my ass.
I’d been reading Georg Lukacs and Habermas and had trouble facing reality.
Marxism is poor preparation for slot machines, let me tell you.
I may have thrived in our Berkeley seminars, but in this land of chips,
German thought didn’t count for much. It wasn’t long before I got the town’s
central message: I was worthless.
Nobody wanted to know what I thought.
Here, for the first time since I was ten, I was made to understand
what a man’s life is really worth.

What I learned in Las Vegas stayed with me for the rest of my life.
I was taken for everything I was worth.
Apocalypse Now! Just listen to its opening lines: “Well, you see,
Willard, in this war, things get confused out there. Power, ideals,
the old morality, and practical military necessity. But out there
with these natives, it must be a temptation to be God. Because there’s
a conflict in every human heart, between the rational and irrational,
between good and evil. And good does not always triumph. Sometimes,
the dark side overcomes what Lincoln called the better angels of our nature.”
I sat bereft. I had not found a seat at the table.
I wondered then what Habermas or Lukacs would have made of that.





I think Bill has been castrated and tucked away for safe keeping.
I believe he lives alone in Little Rock in a penthouse above the Clinton
Presidential Library. It is the Hill who wants power, can’t sleep at night
without it. If Biden makes it, she will be shunned, I predict, but
he might not succeed. There could be a coup at the convention.

She is still a potent player, I would say. She has the big-time name, even
if she is a lush: white wine. She cannot run a campaign as she proved, but
she would love to be anointed. She would gladly stab Biden in the back,
vote him out in some sort of party action.

Biden is surrounded entirely by women. Jill his wife, Michelle Obama, that Rice
woman vying for VP, the others being “vetted,” and then Pelosi and the witches
in Congress. The men have retreated. I happen to see the entire campaign in terms
of sex. For my money, Maxine Waters should be President. Trump, the coarse and
crude male vs Biden, the gelding, surrounded by female surrogates.

Full of compassion and understanding, Biden falls to his knees begging for
forgiveness. I think the American people are ready to take a knee, even if it means
losing their honor. Some are not, but I don’t think Trump has the majority. He seems
flustered and out of it. They speak of him and his wife as Mussolini. The mob wants
to hang them by their ankles and cut their throats.

The country will be sold to China by Bill Gates and Obama; they will make out like
bandits. Obama will be our first billionaire ex-President, a man who never worked
a day in his life. He stayed once on David Geffen’s yacht and became addicted to
the life-style. He thinks of nothing but money 24 hours a day. He and Oprah now
advise Prince Harry and his greedy wife, helping them develop lines of merchandise.

Obama wants to be president of the UN not the US. Once in charge of the world,
with ten billion dollars socked away, like Mugabe, he will be happy. Biden will die
in office, soon, and we will have a BLM socialist in the WH, selling off the furniture
donated sixty years ago, by the Dupont family at the personal request of Jackie
Kennedy. Perhaps they will use the Guttenberg Bible as toilet paper.




Earthly Delights


Gardens with no flowers,
Church bells ring silent. Our neighbor
Believes in God but calls herself an atheist
For the tax deduction. The children
Play outdoors at their peril. Their
Halloween candies were spiked this year
With drips of acid, poisoned by a neighbor
Who confuses kids with cockroaches.

Our ornaments were stolen. Our door kicked in.
My wife’s car was blocked by a foot of snow piled 
High across the road. When she stepped out,
A rock-hard chunk of ice hit her in the head.
She bled from the ear and wept but the ambulance
Was stopped by a mob of angry teens standing
With their pants down and their genitals on display.
One stepped over to urinate in her mouth.

It was called dancing Matilda, the kangaroo jig, danced long
Ago in the halls of Montezuma. The little drummer boy came by
to pay his respects. They shot up his car and raped his wife. The poor 
lad made a wrong turn on to Humes from Lombardy down a dark 
alley where the boys and girls played separately. The area has gone
to the dogs. The poor have Beagles and the rich, Afghan Hounds. 
My dad had a twenty-year-old Plymouth but the gardener drove 
a brand-new Cadillac.

Mother parked outside and left the engine on as she ran in. 
They called it civilization or as they say now, hahaha. If we were 
Not all happy, no one was. We didn’t dine alone. Masturbation was
A rumor. Honeysuckle hung over our heads. Jasmine awaited. 
We mixed up paradise with the golden years, 1959 to 1965, when John
Coltrane lived the life supreme and the Supremes lay in wait, to hijack
Our misery and teach us to be proud. We danced to the music, as
James Brown sang out the only answer he knew: Yes. Yesyesyesyesyes. 

We all walk the plank. For those of us who can stand. Many are left behind,
On their knees or crawling. Their ears to the ground, waiting for the train 
Of anxiety, and the promise of forgiveness. I’d prefer the sharks. Give me 
Moby Dick any day over Fear of Flying. The gals who made this possible 
Want men to share their periods. They’ve stuffed their mouths with gauze, 
Forgetting from which orifice come the lies. Bring back the holy rollers, I say,
Those whippersnappers with fat hands. Those gentlemen who wore burlap bags, 
Those men in suede shoes. They knew a thing or two about bullshit.



SOLD OUT: Standing Room Only


The news tonight is that there are rioters rioting in the streets of Minneapolis.
I go out to see for myself.

I see folks on the pavement and they look like they are having a riot but
they say to me they are dancers dancing not rioters rioting and I believe
them. One of them points out that the proof they are dancing is that
they are having a good time. If they were rioting, they wouldn’t be happy.

I have to confess to not having thought of that, that dancers are happy
while rioters are otherwise. That makes a lot of sense to me. Dancers do
tend to be happy, I can say with some certainty; I know this because
I too have done some dancing, but I really know little about rioting.

I go next to one of the ushers, a large man in a blue uniform. He’s wearing
a helmet. I figure he must work for the theatre. First thing, I ask if I need
a ticket. He, too, seems happy, because he bursts out laughing. He says
I must be joking. Don’t I know matinees are free?

This cheers me immensely. Had I known beforehand, I tell the usher, I could
have invited my girlfriend or even my parents. I notice then that the usher
is carrying a pistol. I’ve been in theatres around the world, in Tokyo, London,
even in Moscow, but I have never seen an usher carrying a loaded weapon.

When I see that, I decide not to ask for a program. I think I’d better look for
a seat. I wonder if the ushers are having trouble controlling the audience.
They are unruly. I see them setting fire to what I thought was part of the set.
My God, they have knocked an old man down and are kicking him in the head.

I start walking toward the sunken stage and public auditorium. It is crowded so I figure
that like the other folks I’ll have to stand. I want a seat in the orchestra but I notice
that there are really no bad seats. I already have a great view. I assume the man
on the ground is part of the show. I shout Bravo!

The dancers are clearly in the middle of a scene. I must have missed the opening.
They are shouting and swirling, kicking their legs and waving banners and posters.
One is burning the flag. I can’t quite make out what they are saying. I figure
they are doing some sort of medieval pageant, a festival, or perhaps even a wedding.

One thing I keep hearing is “it matters, it matters” (what matters?) and then
almost in unison I catch something like “can’t breathe.” I decide then that
I must be watching a modern version of Romeo and Juliet, which happens
to be a favorite.

It looks to have an almost entirely Afro-American cast, which
I think is a neat innovation. I like creative casting. I must have walked
in on the fight scene, because the actors are very excited.
Like me, they are having a ball and so, it seems, is the rest of the audience.

I can’t wait to read the reviews. The local paper used to have such a great theatre critic,
but now they employ a string of people who write about what’s called entertainment.
Movies, theater, Rock & Roll: it is all covered by the same people. They can no longer
tell one from the other. This is great public theatre but is it art? We shall see.