David Lohrey

What It Means to Be Human

Panic in the streets. Pompey on fire. The Peace and Freedom
Party is the only one willing to fight for peace and freedom.
All the rest love war but remain unable to win one. What we need
now are pamphlets to distribute to the masses. People
feel left out; some feel neglected. Succor awaits.

What it means to be human, or is that what
it means to be a human? Somehow, there seems
to be a world of difference. Being human
is no small thing, I’ll agree to that, but as to the
other, well, does one really have a choice?

It’s all so heady. Of course, when I was young,
the young made a point out of reading philosophy.
It was part of the humanities, along with foreign
language and ancient history. We were all so
curious about Aristotle in those days.

It reminds me of the expression, get a life. Now, here
one has an excellent example of the importance
of the English article. Get life would appear to be a rather
bland, if not benign, instruction while the added “a”
suggests a form of judgment, possibly a directive.

Aristotle is seen now as part of the problem. That he was
white has been pointed out by the witty, while others
think of him as just a male. Being male has become altogether
unfashionable, although once a year one is encouraged
to prance through the streets with one’s trousers down.

It is better to be female. People come to expect it. If not
the tears, one expects the anger. Men are more tranquil.
All subjects are brought over so much better by teachers
who threaten their students. Women teachers are quicker
to anger, and we know that proves they care. Men are indifferent.

Men I know have given up. We are all told it is biological.
Our bodies know the difference. Titty-bars attract the most
patrons. My best friend went into The Windy City, a topless
joint in central Manila. She squeezed a lime over her left
breast and asked invitingly, “Take suck?”

It’s the men who are made to feel uncomfortable.
Their heels are killing them. Now that men are wearing girdles,
things have changed. Do men in drag pay higher tips than men in boots?
Chinese tractors outsell the American, but the rich still
buy Buicks. History has not been abandoned.

Love? What’s that? Much more importantly, what’s love
got to do with it? The human condition hasn’t much to do
with humans. We are talking survival, not manners; we are
looking to hire bouncers, not masseuses. In the Pentagon’s
scenario of total destruction, no effort is made to save us.

David Lohrey grew up in Memphis. He graduated from U.C., Berkeley. His plays, available online at Proplay (CA), have appeared throughout Europe, most recently in Croatia and Estonia. Sperm Counts opened this year in Hyderabad, India, translated by Jay Jha. His poetry can be found internationally in Softblow (Shanghai), Cecile’s Writers’ Magazine (The Hague) and Otoliths (Australia), and elsewhere. In the US, recent poems have appeared in Apogee, Abstract Magazine and Anti-Heroin Chic. Several have been anthologized by the University of Alabama (Dewpoint), Illinois State University (Obsidian) and Michigan State University (The Offbeat). His fiction can be read at Dodging the Rain, Crack the Spine, and Literally Stories. His study of 20th century literature, The Other Is Oneself, was published last year in Germany. Machiavelli’s Backyard, David’s first collection of poetry, appeared in August, 2017. David is a member of the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective. He lives in Tokyo.
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  1. You are so very kind to have read and commented on my poem. Thanks.