Spaghetti Dinner

I, too, only cook once a year.
I, too, cook for friends and family.
I, too, leave a mess for my wife.
I, too, am hated.

It’s not the way I intended.
It’s not what I wanted.
It’s not supposed to be this way.
It’s a shock when my wife says she can’t stand me.

When the pots are clean, I feel good.
When the sauce is simmering, I feel powerful.
When the spaghetti is done, I feel gratitude.
When she cries, I feel like shit.

My friends’ arrival is joyous.
My friends give me a hug and her, a kiss.
My friends balance their plates on their knees.
My friends thank me but forget to thank her.

There is tomato sauce everywhere.
There is a napkin in the toilet.
There is parmesan cheese in the carpet.
There are broken plates on the patio.

The oven is filthy.
The refrigerator door was left open.
The ice maker has stopped working.
The gas range is covered in marinara.

My wife has taken the car.
My friend who promised to help, left early
My brother forgot to bring wine.
My head will not stop throbbing.

I thought I could handle thirteen guests.
I thought I could clean up the terrible mess.
I thought I could offer to take my wife out.
I thought my wife wouldn’t leave me.


After 70, certainly 60, the parents have done
all the harm they can do. It’s time: to relax,
to see the world, to rest, spend some dough…
this is especially true when you have a ton
of money.

After all, the building is finished. Get out
before the rot sets in. It’s time to go.
Find out what others have done,
see the damage caused by fanatics.
Pick through the ashes, tour the churches.

Face it: you love to travel. The turquoise
suitcases…and yours, too, in fuchsia.
Get in long lines and try out the smelly toilets.
Study the alphabet. You’re a kid again in elementary,
Just waiting to be told what to do.

The cruise ship awaits, like a tomb stone in water,
floating. Get away from it all; hit the waves.
Wait out the clock; kill time. You love to stand
in lines. Two hours to get off the ship. What the hell:
you have nothing better to do.

Best of all, are the globs of food. My God, escargot
by the shovel-full. Pudding served on a paddle,
oodles of sirloin steak ice cream, au jus,
with horseradish, mustard and relish; and
all of that with a cherry on top and fat-free.

Line up for a lick of this and a taste of that.
Elbow your way to the carving station. Just
remember to save room for the filet of salmon or
try the kangaroo. Endless morsels can be had, served
on the finest china with a smear of bottled mayo.

Home sweet home is what you dream about,
especially after a bout of diarrhea.
The grandchildren are waiting for a hand out and a kiss.
Your daughter hates you but will be waiting.
Her husband’s moved to Kansas City with his boyfriend.

The real awakening comes when you try to share the highlights
of this year’s ordeal; everybody’s already been there.
Sammy knows Timbuktu like the back of his hand.
Delhi? Bahrain? Kyoto? Are you kidding? Lived there
45 years ago. Better take your sushi to the grave.

How many times must you visit Kennedy Airport?
Isn’t 17 times enough? Make it 24? My advice to you is to stay
right where you are. Learn, why don’t you, how to chill.
Appreciate Delaware. Stay home. Have the escargot in Cincinnati.
Seeing the world is great but you should try discovering the familiar.

White Studies

Back from the seminar with ringing in my ears. Today,
a special session in learning to be offended. The teacher
is an empowered victim, an obese libertarian who spends
her afternoons at the Palm Springs hotel pool in a lace bikini.

In her youth, one hears, she sued the San Francisco Ballet.
She won a space in a spring production playing the part of a fat swan.
In college she took the chancellor to court to gain admission to the men’s
locker room. She made the men shower in their jockey straps.

Now she has diabetes and wheezes when she climbs stairs. She
has taken up as a topic the Smiling Face of Whiteness. She made us
buy her book and a set of tapes read by a transsexual prisoner at Folsom
whose claim to fame is that she once sucked off Johnny Cash.

Whiteness, she contends, is a kind of one-dimensional way of being
in the world. This, no doubt, contrasts with the multi-dimensional Eskimo.
I felt instantaneously resentful, in contrast to her position that whites
endlessly forgive their own transgressions. I forgive nothing.

Curricula emphasize terms like Pythagorean theorem and pi. It’s as
discouraging, she points out, as being too fat to model. Schools
perpetuate a perception that mathematics was largely developed by Greeks
and other Europeans. She asks us to consider the proposition that 2 + 2 = 5.

Aspiring math teachers of color must learn to develop a sense of “political
conocimiento,” which means answers from whites are always wrong. She
quotes from a Vanderbilt University professor who writes that the field
of mathematics is a “white and heteronormatively masculinized space.”

“Things cannot be known objectively; they must be known subjectively.”
There are no right or wrong answers. Don’t accept your white teacher’s
corrections. When he says you’re in error, look him in the eye and tell him
that is just his opinion. (If his eyes twinkle, sue him for sexual harassment.)

Only when whiteness ends can forgiveness begin. So many minorities
“have experienced microaggressions from participating in math classrooms…”
We are tired, she insists, of being judged by whether we can reason abstractly.
White thinking leads to white ways of being. Now repeat: 2 +2 = 5.

We Are the World, Not You

Our professors celebrate the death of American citizens.
Our professors hope to see our enemies win.
Our police are shot point-blank by social-justice warriors
seeking the resurrection of slavery, only this time of whites.
Dreams of integration and harmony are dead. Those who suffer
injustice are inconsolable. In their desolation, they seek
retribution. The dreams of Martin Luther King and Mandela are
forgotten. Their celebrations of the human spirit slighted and belittled.

The aggrieved openly plot the downfall of mankind. Vengeance is sought.
They yearn not to cultivate but to destroy. They hunger after death;
they thirst for blood: heads on pikes, political assassinations, mass killings,
hopes of quick getaways and eternal glory—all filmed and set to music.

The political strategists of the American left are guided by Marvel comic books.
They’ve glanced at the Bible and found it wanting. They’ve heard of the Koran,
but find submission beneath them. Theirs is to be a revolution without a book.
They’ll take their cue from Instagram. Their idea of action is public defecation.
Once in charge, the entire nation will be eating dog biscuits.

These cretins, washed-up and angry, have never worked a day in their lives.
They live an easy street at the end of the block; it’s the brown stucco
with a black picket fence. They get their kicks out of slapping
people around. They carry pepper spray and would love to wield Tasers.
Their idea of public discourse is to call their opponents fascists. They themselves
are in training to be armed guards. This is all they would be good at:
aiming rifles at helpless people behind barbed wire or chain-link fence.
Sexual perverts, these types look forward to manhandling women and
humiliating them. They can’t wait to see their enemies on their knees.
They have the makings of true sadists. They worship Ho, Che Guevara, and Mao.

At this very moment, they are practicing spitting and shouting at the top of their
lungs. They drink too much, they shave their crotches, and they don’t bathe.
Drug-users and couch potatoes, they fantasize living in McMansions of the sort
owned by the NFL. They call themselves American progressives!
They dress in black. They’re out clubbing people and throwing acid.
Keep your doors locked. Once they get in, all bets are off.
Remember this: they are out to improve the world and you are standing in their way.
Their first wish is to see you dead. Their victory will be our end.

Trace the Fortunes

Trace the fortunes of the stars from Mary
Pickford to Steven Spielberg, you name them.
All you see are $50,000,000 mansions.
They prefer their Champagne served by little
brown people from Manila or Oaxaca. José
in the garden, María, the kitchen. Zeus steers.

The President of Nicaragua, Fidel, Saddam Hussein
are their friends. They attract the big stars:
Oliver Stone, Sean Penn, and Susan Sarandon, even
Brando, when he was in the mood. The American people
are guided by the stars. The stars care.

But there are those who see through the lie. Body
shaming must be draining for young ladies. Boys,
too, are forced to stand for inspection while burly
men like Harvey Weinstein stride around the playground.
The whole thing’s right out of Planet of the Apes.
The chimps are in power.

Won’t this sad movie ever end? It’s all so rinky-dink.
This posture smacks of impostor syndrome. It’s one
more reason boys want to wear their sisters’ dresses.
They look each other over and seriously consider marriage.
Who exactly represents what?

Is it sensitivity training? Holistic health? Expanding wealth?
Sedona on the rocks? It represents masculine power. Harassing
women. Slapping them around. Smoking pot, barroom brawls,
the good life. Let’s not kid ourselves. It’s not art.
They declare themselves servants of the true, or of “the truth,”
as they call it, but they settle for fairy tales.

These men and women fancy themselves heroes for demanding
better service. They pound the tables. They want their wine
topped up. They drink from mugs. They gulp. They grope
the waitresses. They steal kisses. What they need are bibs;
some say they drool.

Barbra Streisand is said to remove the eyes
of her servants. They are instructed to back
into the room. There are others who demand
they go topless. They’re no different from the Shah of Iran.
They resemble Stalin’s sidekick, Beria, in immorality,
or President Trump, in incivility.

We are lulled by Hollywood. We’re dazzled
by their dicks and cunts. It’s pornography.
Every bit of it. The top ten, top 20, or top 100 are decent
pictures, to be sure. I’ve seen them. But don’t tell
me I wouldn’t have done better had I learned Tibetan.

Star power is irresistible. Obama wants a TV series.
Harvard or HBO, Mr. President? They say
his daughters have auditioned for Girls.
A starring role in Breaking Bad might help Vice
President Biden forget his now-dead son. Trump can’t
sleep at night when his ratings fall. Read his tweets.

Everyone who is not a star sees himself as a loser.
We’re a nation of nobodies. And all we want is to be
somebody right now. We envy the winners. Only one thing
holds us back: one wonders how gratifying it can be to be
rich and famous when everyone else has nothing. What kind of
fun can it be to be Mickey Mouse in the middle of a desert?


“We Are the World, Not You” is an excerpt from David Lohrey’s new anthology, Bluff City. You can purchase the book from Terror House Press here.